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Mornings at Martin’s

Over the past two months Cam and I have created a new tradition at LuckyBird.  Every Tuesday morning we wake up around 5, walk over to Martin de Porres House of Hospitality, help out for a few hours, and are back in the office by 8:30.

I’m embarrassed to admit, but Cam had been helping at Martin’s for about six months before I started.  Multiple times he urged me to go with him, but I never went, justifying it by telling myself that “ill give back after I make it big, but right now I have a lot of work to do”.  I eventually broke through that BS paradigm and started helping out.  But this post isn’t about limiting beliefs and the excuses we come up with that hold us back from delivering value to the world.  This post is about abundance.

Martin’s is a soup kitchen that serves brunch on Sundays and hot breakfast and lunch during the week.  It’s mission is to “serve in the spirit of compassion, understanding, and love,” meaning that everyone who comes to Martin’s is welcomed as a guest, and treated as such.

Martin’s is based on gentle personalism, or that “all persons have dignity; and all persons have the right to be respected.   Each person who comes to Martin’s is a guest and is to be treated as such.   Eating is a right, not a privilege, and that feeding the hungry is a matter of justice, not of charity.”  Martin’s lives this every single day.

In the beginning of the month, Martin’s is relatively calm, but by the end of the month patronage swells with people living paycheck-to-paycheck who can’t afford to buy food.  On these busy shifts the mood tenses and sometimes tempers flair.  It doesn’t seem like we will have enough food for everyone, but somehow loaves of bread keep appearing, oranges are magically sliced, and oatmeal stuffed with fresh fruit never runs out.  There is so much food that even after everyone has had seconds, thirds, and fourths, Martin’s gives out doggie bags so that patrons can take a snack on the go.

The first time I experienced the power of abundance was while working at Martin’s on a busy day.  We had just finished serving the morning rush and most of the patrons had a smile on their face, relaxing after a good meal.  The calm in the room contrasted so dramatically with the tension experienced minutes prior, it didn’t feel like the same place.  Of course the only real difference was that people had food in their belly, and that they no longer worried about getting enough.  Abundance felt good.

I’m thankful that helping out at Martin’s has become a LuckyBird tradition and I  look forward to sharing it with our future employees.  Not because they should feel thankful or motivated by what they see (if you work in tech you should already know you’re blessed), but because experiencing abundance first hand is a pretty incredible experience.

Have you thought about donating some of your time to improve the community around you?  Stop making up excuses and find a great opportunity here.

If you live in SF and want to experience Martin’s on your own, set up a time to volunteer here.

See you next Tuesday!

6 Tips to Cure Burnout

Work and life are stressful and everyone gets run down from time to time.  I thought I had been burnt out before, but last month I experienced the real thing (pressure in my head, extreme dizziness, exhaustion, painful joints, etc).  It was so bad that I had to stop working for a few days and just lay in bed, and ain’t nobody got time for that.  Here are some simple things I did to get myself feeling healthy, and that I continue to do to ensure I never get burnt out again:

#1 Sleep

When you are building a company or doing anything you feel extremely passionate about, you can get into a state where you have boundless energy and feel like you don’t need to sleep.  While in Silicon Valley this is called being “turned on,” in most other places its called a manic episode.  Being in this state can feel pretty amazing, but ultimately if you don’t take care of yourself, its destructive.   Get at least 6 hours of sleep a night to keep your body and mind healthy.

#2 Exercise

Human bodies have not evolved thousands of years to spend ten hours a day hunched over a keyboard staring at a screen.   To stave off burnout, do something physical that makes you sweat, and do it at least three times a week.  I hate working out, so for me this means hitting up a Yoga class and getting my Shavasana on.

#3 Fruits and vegetables

Eating a few servings of fruits and vegetables everyday gives your body the vitamins and minerals is needs to stay healthy.  And no, Rockstar does not count as a fruit or a vegetable.

#4 Learn to say no

You’re busy – really busy, and everyone wants a little bit of your time.  If you don’t learn how to say no to people you are seriously fucked.  I’m a people pleaser so saying “no” is a lesson I had to consciously learn to accomplish what I want to in life.   If you need some help, here are some practical ways to learn to say no.

#5 Write down three things you’re thankful for

No matter how overwhelmed and stressed you get, you still have a ton to be thankful for.   While first world problems are still problems, if you have the time and resources to be reading this blog post then your life is pretty good.  At the beginning of your day, write down three things that you’re thankful for.  It will put a positive spin on things before diving into work that normally feels stressful.

#6 Smile and laugh before bed

I was fortunate enough hear Tim Ferris speak at an intimate fireside chat.  One of the “life hacks” he mentioned that really stuck with me, was that every night before bed he watches part of a Disney or Pixar film.  No matter how crazy life is, watching a silly movie before bed will take your mind off the stressful stuff and put you in a better mood for the next day.

If you’re burned out, hopefully these tips help get you on the path to taking care of yourself and feeling better.  Feel free to share any tips or personal experiences in the comments that might help someone going through a stressful time.  If you’ve been there you know how much it sucks.  -Noah

10 Days Coding. I’m Hooked.

As the business side of LuckyBird, I had never considered learning to code.  I’m pretty bad at math and the idea of trying to understand lines upon lines of zeros and ones scared the shit out of me.  Then I saw the code.org video.

So I took the plunge and after only 10 days of Codecademy, I have a good understanding of basic HTML and CSS.  I even started doing some JavaScript, which is making me think in a totally new way.  I like it.  I like it a lot.

Is 25 too old to learn how to code?  When I put in perspective, I’m going to be building things my entire life, so I don’t think so.  Plus, how many opportunities will I have where I can be working right next to a programming savant who can give me instruction on what I’m doing wrong and right and more importantly why it’s wrong and right.

So far my fear of drowning in ones and zeros has been completely unfounded.  Coding is like Legos for grownups and that’s awesome.  While I’m still a total noob, I really enjoying being able to write a few lines of HTML or tweak the CSS and immediately see the result of my efforts.  It’s pretty incredible to be able to create things with your mind, and at this very early stage, that’s how I understand writing code.  I think I’m hooked

I want to give a huge thank you to Codecademy for creating such a great service that gives the perfect bite-size chunks of information, while also giving me the immediate satisfaction of seeing and interacting with the things I build.  I also want to thank my cofounder Cam for helping walk me through some of the parts that need more clarification.  Also, having someone that I can bounce ideas off of and talk about theory with is priceless.

If its something that you’ve always been curious about or wanted to do, stop thinking about it and do it.  I recommend starting here.  Thanks for reading, but its time for me to go.  I have code on the mind and its just waiting to be written.