Week #10: Mike Visits Vermont

March 25, 2018

Hi all,

Here I am back in the old farm house, amongst the snowy mountains of Vermont where these weekly writings began. At the turn of 2018, I had a hard time figuring out how I could possibly have a better year than 2017. 2017 marked a year filled with travel, adventure, amazing food and amazing people. A year filled with incredible experiences shared with new friends, with old friends, and sometimes with both new and old at the same time. I had doubts that it could get much better than that until this weekend.

My best friend Mike, who lives in New York, surprised Andrew and I once again by showing up at the snow house here in Vermont. As we sat by the fire in our cozy family room, he leaned over and in plain words gave me the answer. He looked over and said “Josh, I just quit my job and got a new one at GitLabs — a 100% remote work company. I am now a remote worker”. This exciting news means that the four original roommates to our S Whitney Boston Apartment – Hochiang, Andrew, Mike and I, are all now entirely remote. What this means is that 2018 will be just like 2017, full of travel, adventure, amazing food and incredible experiences. The big difference is that I’ll get to live it up with my closest friends!

It was exciting times this weekend having all the snow house ski crew back in Vermont. It seems like nearly everyone in the ski group did some sort of traveling over the past three weeks, and with everyone back together came a refreshing, exciting and positive energy. I left Boston Friday afternoon to drive up to the house and most people made it up here on the earlier side as well. A lot of guitar playing and dancing in the kitchen ensued that night. On Saturday I rolled out of bed and walked down the steps from the upstairs dorms. What filled my ears in were the shuffling of people zipping up snow pants and jamming their feet into ski boots, coffees being poured and eggs frying on the stove. It was a blue bird day once again at the mountain, we skied through lunch, met some new folks on the mountain and stopped in the early afternoon to do some Après Ski in the mid mountain lodge.

On Sunday Andrew and I decided to do a little switch-a-roo, he donned the ski’s and I donned the snowboard. Tyson, Christina’s old boyfriend and a bit of a newcomer to the ski group, had a whole extra snowboarding setup and ski boots that he said Andrew and I could use whenever! I figured it’s late in the season and a golden opportunity to try out snowboarding for no cost, and boy did I love it.

My years of skateboarding paid off and snowboarding came naturally to me. After taking a warm up run or two down some side trails, I met up with the group and even managed to stick with them down the mountain. Both Lauren and Andrew were snowboard instructors, so they helped a ton and gave me a couple pointers. So many different muscles are used to snowboard, so I was really feeling it even halfway down the mountain. Still, the even the thought of hitting moguls or any technical terrain made me really appreciate how talented the boarders are in my group. The things we’ve hit in the past season or two seem so much more impressive now that I’m back at beginner level.

Andrew noted that before I joined up with him on the mountain, he couldn’t picture me snowboarding. Though he said the minute he saw me go down the mountain, he could see the snowboarding version of Josh. As if there was some alternate reality where I picked up a snowboard instead of skis, and today was a small suggestion of what that reality would have looked like. I wondered who that version of Josh would be. Am I the best version of myself? Existential questions for later.

We finished up Sunday early as well. Brian Im (“Bims”) brought a grill to the mountain and we all made it down the mountain to do some tailgating in the parking lot. Couple beers passed around, fold out chairs appearing from seemingly nowhere, hot dogs and veggies landed on the grill, music started playing from cars and general afternoon shenanigans filled the rest of the day. As the evening started winding down, people packed up and started making their journey back to Boston and New York. As usual, Andrew and I hung back at the house. Tyson stayed with us on Sunday per usual, so we got to have another good old-fashioned boys night with some home-made beef stew and a red-box movie from the local supermarket.

This weekend is fresh on my mind, but I want to make special mention to the week I spent in Boston, where I paled around with my friend Melissa who works at a shared office space called CIC (Cambridge Innovation Center), where weekly Venture Café nights are hosted and the place where I volunteer. Melissa got me into the building every day as a guest, and we splurged on the free teas, coffees and all the snacks the building offers. These chic co-working spaces make for such an incredibly enjoyable work week, I’ll need to figure out a way to afford them. On Thursday we had a “Women’s Entrepreneurship” theme for Venture Café, and this time I was the camera man.

That night I wandered around all the talk sessions and booths and took portrait shots of people, which was actually pretty fun. Might try to keep doing that. Everyone left around 8pm except for the Venture Café staff, who ended up continuing to party at Venture Café until around 11pm. That was so much fun, never got a chance to hang out with all the staff after hours. Completely different vibe, and great bonding experience. I really like those little communities like Venture Café, it would be great to be able to use digital technologies to foster these sorts of relationships at a global scale.

Still the hunt for a business around relationships, experiences and A.I continues. I interviewed a lot of people about journaling, thinking maybe a tool to help people write down their thoughts would be useful. There are still a lot of thoughts floating around these concepts, and I think when I can distill down a business idea to a simple and concrete sentence, then I’ll have enough to start working. WeWork (coworking space business) is offering 100k to a convincing enough individual who is pursuing their life’s work. I need a 90 second video with a crystal-clear pitch on what I’m working on to get it. I’ll probably be focusing on that for the next two weeks.

Anyways, this is probably enough of a brain dump for one week. See you next week.