Posted on May 6, 2013 by

Unplug

I spent past four days in New England. Used Airbnb to find place and lived for several days as a local. There’s just something about going to a place where you know no one… not a soul, and just go about as you are living there. Going to the local artisan coffee shop and people watch. See how people from another place lives. Just taking a break from your own life for a bit.

It’s been a while since I’ve done this…. It was much more common when I was at University, and when I worked at Capitol but not as much the past few years. But I had to… I had to unplug. There are many reasons why this is something I do. I know my limits and this is a way to keep myself from burning out, not only at work but in personal affairs.

When I was at school I had a lot things to keep up on while still trying to make a living, plus the added benefits of family drama. Every so often I just when somewhere. Just took some time to readjust, clear my head… but as time went by I notice that I needed more time. I know my limits and I know when to just stop before I do burn out.

People don’t understand why this happens. I work hard, but only on things I am extremely passionate about. At my current job, (which I haven’t gone into much detail here even though there is a draft of blog post but thought it was too of a brag to post) I hold a title, but as any one that has worked at a Startup knows, titles doesn’t mean much of what you do. I do what I got to do. If you have paid any attention, you’ve notice that my twitter has gotten quieter, I haven’t written much lately and my foursquare has gotten busier, sometimes around airports. These are three things that correlate to me being busy and working my ass off, which is good. What’s even better is that I’m not complaining because things are actually pretty awesome. But there is only so long I can set you thrusters on over burn until I need to just stop.

Then we go in the personal. Stuff, stuff and more stuff. That’s all you’ll get about these types situations. I don’t talk about family drama. All I can say is that I needed time way to just stop ‘feeling.’ Just reset how much I feel, if that makes any sense. (I’m in the middle of another post that will probably explain how I ‘feel’) I just needed to get away…

I was reminded that I didn’t do this last year… And that is true, but I was working on someone else timeline, the product had been planned out for years, I was just helping out at the tail end of a long development cycle to make sure the execution was the right one. And even within that time I visited Berlin and Tokyo… Travel puts me at ease for some reason.

So I was offline… What did I miss?

Posted on January 24, 2013 by

Spare Keys

Yesterday a friend of mine locked himself out of his office and he called me as I have his spare keys. It wasn’t much of a drive or a hassle. I went over and helped him out and then he asked, “Why don’t I have your spare?”

It’s odd. I can count on one hand the times I have locked myself out of my home, 1. It was sophomore year in college and the side window was always unlocked because my roommate had a habit of forgetting his keys.

But this comes at a time where trust is brought up… he thinks that because I have his keys he should have mine, keys are more of dependability subject. I have his keys because he knows that I would drop almost anything to help him out if I am within 100 miles radius. While I trust my friend, he not as dependable. He has other responsibilities, and I haven’t had the problem of locking myself out of my car, home or office. Heck I am going through some lengths to stop having to carry key. I bought a Lockitron for the sole purpose of getting rid of physical Keys. I dislike carrying around physical keys, With the exception of my office key I have a keyless entry to my car, and soon enough, my home.

Maybe I have trust issues, maybe I don’t want to be dependent on others.

I go out of my way to make self redundant arrays to do so.

Posted on January 17, 2013 by

Depression

While at dinner with friends last night, Aaron Swartz came up. I won’t go into detail about his life. You can Google him and you can learn much about his life. I did not know him personally but knew of him. Part of me envied him, we are roughly the same age and yet he had done more by the time he was 14 that I have done to this day. He will be missed. But something was amiss. These friends aren’t really internet type people, or even the social justice people… something was up.

The conversation turned to suicide. There were signs that Aaron was depressed and then the guilt that some people feel because hindsight is always 20/20.

Then it happened. I was asked point blank about my depression.

It’s odd. I mentioned a few times taking Prozac but never shared my depression when I was depressed. It started after my soccer injury and I quit cold turkey my last semester at University. I took a small does once more in June of 2008 and then stopped in three weeks later. I wasn’t cured, it didn’t go away. I just dealt with things differently. I aspired to do things.

So when people ask me about it, It’s really difficult to explain. Words fail me to describe what was happening in my life, in my head, how I felt towards the world. It’s odd I attended university for 3.5 years… and in that time frame no one knew I was on anti-depressant. It wasn’t until after, when I was going through withdrawals, that one a handful of close people notice.

For me the way of dealing with it was keep it to myself. I did not talk about it… just like I don’t talk about a lot of things. I had a good therapist that I attended regularly and the counselor at my University did an adequate job. I was also fortunate to afford good mental healthcare. When I was younger under my parents insurance, and when I was no longer under their care I sought out my own health insurance to continue taking medication for this illness. I was described medication that kept me functional until I stopped taking them. I made the decision that it had been enough time to adjust, so came the time to deal with “real” life. This came after failing to raise enough capital for a venture that I wanted to start that summer. A month later I was informed that I had been kicked out of school due to poor grades. A month after that I started a consulting job for Capitol Records. I just dealt with things, and you know what… things turned out ok.

Do I still feel like used to?

No. But it’s different. I really can’t remember that last time I felt depressed. I’ve been bummed, sad… but not distraught or unconsolable. It seems like me not giving many fucks on how other perceive me was my way out. Having goals, and reaching some of them helped me out of that phase.

This is how I “beat” depression. I am not saying that this how everyone should. I am just sharing my little experience. Will my depression return? Maybe. Am I genetically susceptible to depression? Yes, a little bit. Do I really give any fucks… no, not really.

Comments will be close on this post. As I stated before, I do not talk about my depression. That’s not what helped me. But you are suffering from depression and need someone to talk to, call Depression Hotline: 1-630-482-9696 or Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-8433.

Posted on January 14, 2013 by

Little Changes

I’ve been on the internet for a while now and I’ve gone by many screen names and handles, but since 2005, my “real name” has always been Kenn R.

It’s weird when I would give out or typed out my blog, because it was much longer and gave out my “real” last name. I was also competing with Kenn Rodriguez, a Slam poet, and, Kenn Rodriguez, a Texan Sports writer.

Yet for the past 5 years I have never given out business card or even introduced myself as Kenn Rodriguez… it was always Kenn R. and today that’s who I am known as.

Today I reintroduce my blog. It has been redone, with a responsive design (it looks great on tablets and smartphones) and I have the pleasure of now using kennr.co. Making it easier to remember and less confusing.

I’ve been working on this redesign for a while and have been planning the move but I wanted to a lot of other things before hand. I soft launched in late December and complete redirects were finished in the past week. It’s not a big change… just a little one. A short name change. Still same old me.

I waited after the New Year’s resolution idea died down because this was not a “New Year, New me” thing. It’s just an evolution of my blog, a shorter url which I’ve owed since March but hadn’t done anything with.

Posted on November 12, 2012 by

Where was the Pink?

Last month was Breast Cancer Awareness month and for the past few years I have changed the color scheme of the site to pink and written a small post on why we should bring awareness and how to donate, usually to the Susan G. Komen foundation. But things have changed since then. The Susan G. Komen foundation has had some changes in policies that I personally don’t agree with. Another issue was, just adding to a noise. Would my single post even make a dent in the ever increasing “noise” in social media sites?

It was also brought to my attention that it might have been sexist that as a man I was doing something that is mostly a woman issue. But I do because even though it’s a specific type of cancer I think finding a cure for it is something that I truly believe in.

While genetically (thanks to 23andme for the info) I am not a carrier of the a modified gene for breast cancer my mom had a lump removed a few years back. Early detetion is critical this for type of cancer and why I’m a supported of Planned Parenthood.

So… Why no pink?

I decide to raise funds myself. The profits of October and November on the stock market were going to be donated to two Cancer charities. One for breast cancer and the other for prostate cancer, (November or Movember is a charity that raises awareness with moustaches for male health issue such as testicular and prostate cancer) and then Sandy hit the North East.

There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to be helping the relief efforts. I donated to the Red Cross as soon as I could, but wanted to do more. I made a bigger effort in maximizing profits. Since then I have been able to doubled what my original projections where going to be. The whole pot will be split 3 three ways.

Even though I was doing all of this I still wanted to do more. Living on the west coast, I saw the hurricane happen, saw pictures of the destruction that was left behind. Places I have been to are no longer there. In the following days decided to volunteer. This past weekend I cashed in flier miles and traveled to New York and met ups with several people at the Red Cross of New York. There donated blood before heading out to Staten Island to help out the relief efforts.

Did I do it because I’m better than others? No… I did because I wanted to. New York and the surrounding area was where I lived for apart of my life, it holds a dear part in my heart and visit it frequently. While I live in Los Angeles, I am a citizen of the world and would do the same anywhere else if anything of this magnitude would happen. (I also did something similar last year for the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami relief efforts.) And after couple of weeks the conversation is no longer about these places that were affected, but the people there still need to rebuild. It will take time, its not an over night thing. The media attention has faded but there are still people without electricity, there are those that lost everything.

I did the bare minimum and in the coming year I will try to donate as much as I can, be it time or money.

If you are inclined you can donate to the Red Cross.

Posted on October 16, 2012 by

My Machete and I

I burn bridges. I cut of ties with people. In very rare occasions do I pull strings for things or call in favors. I understand the social contract in doing favors and I understand that the social structure is somewhat dependent on it but I don’t use it often.

Years ago I burned bridges with a group of very influential people because I thought I was going to be moving to the New York/Boston. Long story short, I didn’t move and then crashed an invite only event here in Los Angeles. I worked back to graces of other people who gave me shot. I worked my ass off to get new jobs and new connections.

After I left my job at Capital Records I also burned bridges. I wanted to have a “normal life” so I did things a normal person would do. I dumbed down my résumé and even at times was told I was over qualified but took it in stride. After a year I knew it was stupid of me to be “normal” and set out to find a better job. I quit and was a few months before I found a new job.

Here I am again, doing the same thing. But this time is different. People have offered to help me. Friends trying to set up meeting with X company or Y person that has ties with a VC or Z person that does PR for a Start up and while I’m grateful that they are enough to lend a helping hand I will politely decline.

I did not get or learn my skills by taking hand outs. While I was am thankful for those that gave me a shot, it was my drive and determination that led me to jobs and skills. It’s something I pride myself upon. I have never gotten a job because of a favor that was owed or because I knew someone in the inside.

Does it sometimes make it harder to get a job? Maybe. But I know for a fact that I earned it. It wasn’t a friend playing inter office politics that got me the position. I was me. I did it.

While I’ve burned the bridge and now am in a thick jungle I will go forward, my machete will carve out a trail.

Posted on October 3, 2012 by

Set Up

Last night married friends invited me over for dinner. It’s not uncommon but I knew something was up, the tone in their voice, a gut feeling. They where trying to set me up. It’s not the first time, it won’t be the last time.

It’s been a while since I’ve been in a relationship. I make no excuses, it’s a fact. I have casually seen people over the past 2 years but nothing too serious. But people think I’m lonely because I don’t have a single person to share things with. Maybe that’s what works for them but not for me.

I didn’t grow up in a broken home or was emotionally scarred as a child, I won’t use those as excuses… I just don’t see me, or at least this version of me, as the marrying type. I’m complex person that does a lot of different things. One day I can go to a musical beer crawl and then the next day have to be at black tie event. One day I would like to go see post modern art at a-hole-in-the-wall gallery in downtown La and the next want go white river rafting. While I’m able to do a lot of these things – knowing how act, how dress, etiquette, etc — some significant other might not. I remember once inviting someone to a play, sadly that person was unable to dress correctly for the event. I was not embarrassed for her, but she did feel out of place.

Sometimes I just want to cook for someone else or just relax and read my own book while another person is just there. Sometimes I just want to be alone, with my thoughts, my learning. I want to build something. I want to travel, and I don’t have tell anyone. I’m narcissistic but not vain. I take pride in how I look but don’t have to take a multitude of pictures of myself, or see my reflection in every shiny object.

It could also be that I’m unequipped to be in such a relationship. So much of my successes have been because I work hard on “work” and not me or my significant other. I neglect lot of things, friends, family. It’s possible that one of the main reason there is discord with me a certain people, I’m able to just see friend every so often and not need to talk to see then on regular basis. It could be that me dating someone will instill social pressures of my long standing patriarchal family. Going to formal dinner parties, acting, dressing the part of something they might not be completely familiar with. Scrutiny in family history, and “etiquette”, social norms. That for a some time I have been able to stave off, but for how much longer?

In the end, I fail at relationships. I’m not good at them. At this point in time, I am content with the people I spend time with. I don’t need more. This suits me.

 

I understand that they do this because they care. They want me to be “happy” and have what they have. I frankly don’t want that. There’s no need for more Rodriguez’s in the world. Of course this how I feel right now… time sometimes changes things, sometimes things stand the test of time.

Posted on September 27, 2012 by

Playing With Other People’s Money

I don’t fear many things… but I not fearless, but I know that what I do will either fail or succeed. For the most part I have been very good streak and do calculated risks. So I quit my job without anything really lined up with my only plan was to develop skills. In the last month I have met with companies in LA, Boston, Barcelona and while some of those companies offered me great things, there was just somethings that didn’t click. In Boston, it was the first time I traveled to a place where I was not at peace. I was not able to adapt to city. It was odd as it was not my first time there but something just didn’t vibe. In Barcelona there was just something off with the company. Its structure, the backers; It just didn’t sit well. This is something most people don’t think about when joining a company, but when joining a start up knowing the company and product is only part of the story. You need to know who the investors are, if the company is making money, are they cash flow positive, if not, is there 6 month cash reserve while the founder(s) is/are raising a new round of capital. These are not normal thoughts that people have when looking for a job. Good thing I’m not normal.

While I’ve been courted by startups, I have also been approached my potential co-founders. Having coffee and talking about what they want to build. I’m not going to lie some of this stuff I hear is cool, other are just iterations of what is already out there.

But I’m hesitant. I am new into this world of startups. While I tried once before, it failed before I was able to secure funding, while my partners signed with other studios. This was several months before the crash of 2008 and was able to get promissory notes to a tune of 6 figures, but it didn’t matter. my partners bailed, then the money bailed.

While I’m not completely technical I do have that type of drive, I also know my way around business plans and talking to people with deep pockets. Heck, I did this earlier this year wherein I created a small fund to buy private Facebook stock in secondary markets. While the stock is down now… the fund made money on opening day. I did my part, and from then on everyone was on their own. I have that hustle, I don’t mind working 18 hours days. Doing whatever it takes. I have lost relationships over work and don’t regret it. Things I’ve learned and what I’ve worked on is a reflection of me (to some extent).

People took a risk on me… Heck I took a risk on myself. It was calculates, but risk nonetheless. I was all in. While other investors had some money… I put every cent I had into the fund. I not only wanted it to succeed, I needed to at least break even.

Going back to startups, if I were to become a (co)founder I would want to be financially invested. Have some skin in the game so to speak. It’s only natural that if a VC or an Angel is going to put their trust in me with their money I should do the same. It would be my “child” and would do anything and everything to see it succeed. This drive facilitates getting capitals for these types of endeavors.

But startups fail… a ton of them fail. It’s not because of the talent, or because of where they are located, the culture… the product, they just do… Some are too early, some are too late. It’s common practice to take money. The VCs understand that not all of their investments will have a return, the one that do are usually due to an exit (being about out) or, the very few, IPO. Millions of dollars are invested in good and not so good ideas. I can’t play with other people’s money that in that fashion. If I can’t guarantee success I can’t, in good conscience, take their money. It’s one of the main reason I’m not a stock broker.

Maybe down the line… I’ll be a (co)founder, I’ll find the great idea with right problem to solve but right now… I’ll get back to polishing my skills and build solutions and tools for myself.

Posted on August 17, 2012 by

Feeling at Home at Outside Lands

I spent a few days up in San Francisco partly because of Outside Lands. It was a great line up and wanted to see what the fuzz is all about. I have set an unofficial goal for myself to see all major music festivals by the time I’m 30. Will it happen? Probably not, but I have the same to visit all the continent before I’m 30 and all I need now is Australia and Antarctica.

But I was there for another reason. As I am starting to transition in a more into a tech person, I wanted to see if I could live in San Francisco. I understand that it is not the only tech scene in the country with New York and Chicago being other hotbeds, including Los Angeles. But when you talk about tech, you talk about start ups, you’re usually talking about Silicon Valley. And while I wasn’t there for anything official I made it seems like I was already living there. It was dry run. I’m glad to say that I would be in good company if I were to move to SF.

But there are very big IFs. While many of the people I bumped into and met up with said I should move, and trust me, I want to, I still need 2 things. 1) A place to live. 2) Employment.

While I am able to do many things and ‘hack’ things together I am not a great computer engineer. I would be competing with great engineers for a job. Not to mention the great talent shortages that have plagued many companies that have resorted to acquisitions of companies for talent. I also know that I am not the person for certain positions. I was actually told by someone that I was being too modest of my skills.

I found it very strange that I was able to adapt so quickly to the city. I’ve visited several times over the last few years but never to where I was this time. Yet I knew my way around. I was able to just go out and find the things I needed. I felt at home without being at home.

People where surprised when I told them I had my own Clipper card (a public transit prepaid card), that I had taken the Bart from SFO and that the first night of Outside lands I had used Uber to get to a speakeasy in the Tenderloin (To be fair, I have used Uber in the past to get around SF and use it from time to time in LA). Not to mention that I was in a coworking space, and used Postmates to order a grilled cheese from The Melt and a 6 pack of Churchkey beer.

Yes, I am a tad hipster at heart.

Where does this leave me? Well… I don’t know.

I would like to move to San Francisco. But I also want to invest my talents in start ups here in LA. LA has a ton great startups, Silicon Beach is really pushing and getting exposure with the way Viddy has grown, and there are ton VCs, incubators here to make it happen.

At the end of the day. I don’t know.

I would really enjoy finding a great career in this city… or in the Bay Area or in New York.

All these place have a part of me and I am able to adapt to them easily but I’m not sure why. I thought it was hard for introverts to assimilate to new surroundings. Am I the exception that proves the rule or am something else?

Posted on August 7, 2012 by

Burn Bridges

Recently I’ve been busy… very busy. Work had basically taken over my life and while some of my friends have notice, it really hasn’t been a big deal. I have little responsibilities in immediate personal life, and don’t have a steady significant other or a child of my own. So while I was putting in 16 hours days, I didn’t have to apologize for missing dinner or not tucking the little one in.

I’m fortunate. I’m very much a beta male. I’m timid. Introverted. But in even as a beta male, I’m have alpha tendencies. I’m extroverted. Very competitive and have to be the best. I understand that this is an oxymoron. Welcome to my life.

 

While talking my co-worker, which is 12 years my senior, he asked what was next for me, as the project we are working on started winding down. I’m the youngest person in my department. He is appreciative that I have been able to step in to handle various “hats” but he thinks that I should look for greener pastures.

This is true. I have this affinity with knowledge, but not only that, I want and need new challenges. I am able to work effectively because I need to fix the problems. I understand that this stems from a character flaw, but fuck it. Even if it means learning a new coding language (I learned a scripting language to be better at QA, effectively making myself an extra QA Engineer and not to mention my previous knowledge of Objective C). I do this because I care about the project. I care about my work. No one will ever know that I pushed for a graphic to have a 2 pixel drop shadow instead of a 1 pixel. No one will know that I spent time doing the math to make sure the scrolling physics was correct. But the user will have a great product.

Work is something I spend a lot of time on. I want to do my best, and when it’s done I want to top it.

I need to be better. I need to be not only my best, but the best. Because of this, I am leaving Line 6.

Why leave a this job without a next one lined up? I feel like I’ve out grown my skills for this position. I  enjoyed building tools and coding, talking about UI and the product as a whole. But these skills are very rustic, basic. By leaving I am giving myself sometime to work and develop these skills. Learning to code better will become my job. I notice that is a way of burning a bridge and by doing so I force myself to grow. Too many people clocking in and out of a job they don’t love, they don’t enjoy and become bitter. I’m too young to become that. I want something and I have halved ass it for while. I now want it to be my only priority. So I burn this bridge while standing in middle forcing myself to move forward. This can be for the best or the worst, only time will tell.

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