Skilling up without getting distracted

When I hit my two year anniversary in San Francisco, I realized it was time to start giving back to the tech community.

Throughout my career, I’ve had a number of incredible mentors.
From moving overseas to starting and selling my first company, I’ve learned that asking for help is a strength and not a weakness.

So I started weekly office hours and 30 minute jam sessions in Hayes Valley to give more time to my GA students and fellow Y Combinator alum.

Through many conversations and matcha lattes at Boba Guys, I’ve found many of the best and brightest young entrepreneurs I meet are missing one thing: focus

For some, this can be attributed to a recent move to the Bay Area.
They’re frantically exploring all facets of technology and hitting every Meetup and startup event in town.

For others, they’re bouncing around in what I call the pinball effect. They pull the trigger by moving to San Francisco and then bounce, bounce, bounce hopping to hit the jackpot.

Here’s a quick summary of insights shared in my office hours:

  1. Start with a goal – write it down and track it in Trello
  2. Conduct a skills gap analysis – be honest with yourself
  3. Skill up – take a class, learn from peers, find a mentor
    • Reduce the number of networking events
    • Go deep – develop one or two skills at a time
    • Take a class that tactically teaches this skill
    • Find a peer or mentor to help build this new skill over time
  4. Stay focused – refer back to 1.

Some examples of tactical courses: 

My morning routine

I’ve been spending lots of time on Whale. I have to admit I’m a total sucker for social apps and will download just about anything, but I generally lose interest after a week or so.

With Whale, I’m hooked. You meet awesome people and you ask them basically anything you want. Lately, I’ve been asked some really great questions which warrant a more thoughtful, long-form response.

Someone recently asked me how I start my day, which got me thinking about overall productivity and life hacks. So, I’ve been asking friends, mentors and randos* on the street for their best tips.

*Currently writing this from Sydney and rekindling my love for Aussie slang

For now, here’s how I start my day:

Gym or some form of exercise 

Having spent four years living in Sydney, I quickly assimilated to the early morning Bondi lifestyle. This is something that’s stuck with me and I’ve found my most productive and memorable days always start with an early morning workout.

When I first moved to the Bay Area, I joined ClassPass and found this was the best way to discover new neighborhoods and meet like-minded, fitness-loving girls in the city. Now, I’ve transitioned to developing my own workouts using a mix of apps and trainers I follow on Instagram.

Artsy 

This may sound like a peculiar way to start the morning, however I’ve found Artsy’s recommended works and explore functionality to be very inspiring. Now that I’ve spent a lot of time on the app, the recommendations are great and it’s my own personalized creative outlet.

Recent recommendations include: Massimo Vitali, Yoshiyki Ooe, Alec Soth

"Sari" by Alec Soth
“Sari” by Alec Soth

Google Alerts 

When I started out my career in advertising, I made it my mission to learn everything about my clients. In agency land, there’s a very thin line between personal life and professional life.

During my time working with Nikon, I did everything possible to understand the whole journey for a photographer. I geeked out on hardware, invested in great editing software and spent a lot of time with professional photographers. Hence, all of my wonderfully creative friends in Sydney.

As part of my morning routine, I found Google Alerts to be the best way for staying on top of client news and discovering relevant content. To this day, I have a dozen alerts set for trending topics and companies I’m watching closely.

Product Hunt 

It’s obvious that PH is the best place to catch the latest tech announcements and discover new and trending gadgets. For me personally, I’ve learned so much from the PH community. It’s a great way to connect with new people and share your thoughts on the latest technology.

By geeking out on PH each morning, I find water cooler convos at work get instantly more interesting. For example: While everyone is talking about Spectacles by Snap and the random vending machines across America, it turns out you can create instant Spectacle-like videos with SnapView.

watch-snapchat-surprise-a-mom-and-her-two-kids-with-spectacles-after-they-couldnt-get-any