2019 Mid Year Perspective

I found the following quote on the Virginia Happy Trails Club (VHTRC) website and frequently find myself repeating as I navigate life obstacles:

There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.

–Will Rogers (http://www.vhtrc.org/news/theRing)

This quote hits home as I reflect on the year thus far and the adventure ahead. Let’s do this.

On Managing The Unexpected

I can’t recall a six month stretch that went so fast and seemingly unexpected. 2018, and even years prior, had been surprisingly very structured. While never boring, I was able to maximize time with family, time on the trails, and meet commitments with rigorous focus and planning. But the first half of 2019 threw me some curve-balls. Uncle Charlie’s that taught me patience, adaptability, and countless other things. Here are the highlights:

  • A January injury (peroneal tendon) that set me back 6 weeks. Lots of time rehabbing and rescheduling my training plan.
  • An impromptu trip to Boston in late January to hang with childhood friends. One of the best decisions I made. Friendships are only as good as the time you give to each other.
  • An early February trip to Disney. What a blast with Nicole and the boys. Plus some fun, easy running in sunny Orlando.
  • Discovery of a third Zinnfant coming this year, due in Sept. Damn you Michael Buble!
  • Houston in mid February to see extended family. I ran each day and took advantage of the warmer temps.
  • A late February trip to Toronto for work. It snowed and getting home was a thing.
  • The sad passing of our dear pup, Stinky. Still hurting. I rediscovered the healing power of running. And discovered what it’s like to cry and run at the same time.
  • A super late registration for a tough 50 miler in the Blue Ridge Mountains (Belmonte Endurance 2019). I gutted this out with minimal prep.
  • An impromptu trek of the W&OD rail trail (~45 miles).
  • Trips to SF and Seattle (April, May) and making a big life decision (keep reading).
  • Another late registration for a tough 100k in early May, also in the Blue Ridge Mountains (UROC 2019).
  • A week spent with family in the San Juan Mountains. SJS50 was cancelled due to snow pack and avalanche damage but I spent the extra time with family.
  • Another impromptu trek of the W&OD rail trail (~45 miles) in late June, this time going East to West. This was a sufferfest.
  • My last days at Comscore after 9+ years of sweat and tears.

All these things added up to a very busy six months. Everyone is busy so I dare not claim to be busier than anyone else. In fact, I’m certain most are busier than I. I’m thankful for the time, energy, and unwavering support from home to constantly squeeze in things. I set two first half 2019 goals that quickly unraveled as injuries and snow shifted everything. But I held true to the first goal, to listen to my body, back off training when necessary and focus on my overall health over arbitrary mileage goals. While I didn’t get that TWOT revenge or my 50 mile adventure in the San Juan Mountains, I’ve strengthened my body, accomplished a lot in the face of uncertainty, and prepared myself for a few more adventures before Zinnfant #3 arrives. Onward and upward.


On Making A Giant Leap

In late 2017 I found myself starting to wonder about my next career move. My soon to be former employer had has a well documented crisis that worsened in 2018 and somehow continued to worsen in 2019. There are still a ton of amazing people at Comscore and still a real chance to right the ship. I hope to look back and take pride in how we endured a crushing stretch from early 2016 to when I left. But in that late 2017 moment, I wrote down seven things I want in a my next opportunity. I used this list to evaluate over a dozen companies and eventually landed on Stripe. Here’s the short version:

The right leadership opportunity.

I’m less excited about stepping into a leadership role at a large company as that may come with the organizational pains I’m currently experiencing. It also doesn’t have to mean leading large teams. I’m hoping to surround myself with exceptional leaders to help me grow as a leader. The right leadership opportunity is going to be more gut than science, more about the leaders above or around me, and more about future than immediate opportunity.

The right executive team.

I want work for and with people I truly respect. Individuals that have goals outside of work, are family minded, and value organizational culture as a backbone to deliver quality results. I firmly believe culture is organically created by the values a company rewards. I’m eager to find a company that establishes, nurtures, and rewards their values above all else. No excuses. No fake culture. Deep, honest, strong-hearted values.

An element of risk.

I have no dreams of retiring at 40 50 but I don’t want to grind through another 30 years to see life pass me by. I’m confident enough to know I can take risk and land on my feet if the next company goes belly up.

Location is surprisingly high.

There are a few places in the US I would work outside of Virginia: Colorado, PNW, or back home to Ohio if I’m exploring options. Location is high as I’ve spent 25 years in Virginia and would like to live elsewhere for some period of time. I’m eager to deepen my family bonds with an adventure that forces us way outside our comfort zone.

I would like to get back into a startup org.

Doesn’t have to be early stage but something that has grown slowly opposed to doubling overnight. Less than 100 people is a plus. My best professional experiences and memories came from livingsocial and the early comScore days. I want to get back into this mode but be smarter about vetting companies.

Continue in a data oriented role in some capacity. 

I’ve crafted a career in data/analytics/leadership, demonstrating capabilities to solve complex data problems and scale teams. I’d like to carry my experiences forward but hopefully in a domain beyond digital media. This opens up a lot of doors. The impact and scale of the work will matter most.


Last on this list. This becomes an exercise in don’t be stupid, particularly with three kids in pre-school / daycare.

I’ve come back to this list repeatedly in the past 18 months. I found a lot of neat companies that didn’t quite align with my priorities. That all changed in February on a long text exchange with a friend and current Stripe. A few months later, with trips to SF and Seattle, I’m officially joining Stripe!

I’m still pleasantly surprised how many boxes Stripe checks. This still made the decision extremely tough. I’m moving the family to Seattle. Our roots are in Virginia. Our support network is in Virginia. Everything we know is in Virginia. But the only thing scarier than taking a new job, in a new city, with a third baby on the way, was to pass on the opportunity. To play it safe. To be content. It became clear that embracing the unknown, pushing myself and the family outside our comfort zone, and pursuing a big adventure was the right thing. It’s time to pee on the electric fence.

A select few have asked if this decision is a near mid-life crisis. Or if all my running plus this decision is a means towards running away from something. I quickly dismiss these comments (denial?), stating I’m still aggressively pursuing the best version of myself. That’s it, each day, every day. To continue bettering myself while keeping the family mindset above all else.

A month after accepting the offer and the realities of what lie ahead are starting to settle. I’m beyond excited to start a new journey with Nicole and the boys. I’m beyond excited to grow personally and professionally. I’m beyond excited to learn from my soon to be fellow Stripes, in ways I expect and certainly in ways I’ve yet to imagine. Onward and upward.

Final Reflections

The next six months will certainly pass by faster than the first six. I’ve reset a few running goals, putting the family and new job first. I hope to tackle a 71 mile race over Labor Day Weekend and then, just maybe, give another go at Hot TWOT in early Oct. Then we’ll kick into high gear with our move to Seattle and get ready to make the trek in early 2020! To finish this somewhat random post…

I’m thankful.

I’m thankful my body allows me to continue chasing big goals.

I’m thankful Nicole provides unwavering support and encouragement.

I’m thankful for my growing family and the time we get together.

I’m thankful for the opportunities in front of me and the adventure ahead of me.

I’m thankful for the courage to pee on the electric fence. Onward and upward, Seattle here we come.

First time visiting Seattle. Had a wonderful dinner at Matt’s in the Market.