Thank you for your interest.
I’m an urbanist, a technologist, a futurist and a definite optimist. I am passionate about cities, the internet, and startups, and am hopeful that various new combos of those three inventions will solve many of our big problems over the next two decades.
I live in San Francisco with two very pampered cats, Jackson and Franklin. I grew up in Maryville, Missouri. Go Spoofhounds. I started off wanting to be an engineer as a “townie” at Northwest Missouri State University. Go Bearcats. I switched to studying cities at University of Missouri Kansas City’s Department of Urban Planning & Design. Go Kangaroos. I did grad school at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Go Beavers.
I recently failed as the CEO of a once-promising company I co-founded called Neighborly. Our mission was to change the way communities fund vital projects of public importance, such as schools, parks, libraries, and the various pathways connecting those things. We started in Kansas City, with donation-based crowdfunding, with the goal of bringing meaningful change through municipal bonds, the instrument that used to fund innovative public projects throughout America.
By late 2018, we realized that no matter how much we wanted to improve the flow of capital to public projects through municipal bonds, it didn’t matter if the communities where we worked lacked strong broadband, which is the case for most American communities, even major metro areas. We realized that access to information had become the defining infrastructure challenge of our time, and that the municipal bond market wasn’t going to solve it. So we tried to refocus the company on community broadband, inspired by the pioneering networks in Sweden, the Australian financing model and the new era of possibilities that stem from software-defined networking invented at Stanford.
In October 2019, at what was supposed to be the closing step of an interim financing, Neighborly failed suddenly. Someday, I’ll write more about our journey and lessons learned.
Over the course of 7 years, I got the chance to work alongside insanely smart, driven people. The journey changed my life for the better. Even though the end was especially challenging, and the sudden death was a major disappointment to many, I look forward to applying the lessons I learned to build something stronger and faster.
Things I love doing:
- Pondering a few years ahead what might become
- Helping others achieve what they aim to achieve. Deeply rewarding
- Getting folks excited about the future of digital services, which needs information infrastructure currently missing in 99% of the U.S. Though nap time level boring for most people, the thought of what’s just ahead is super fascinating to me, and a source of great hope.
- Public speaking, I’ve spoken at over 100 talks since 2008 on topics ranging from saving historic buildings to information infrastructure. My favorite technique is using memory palace to store the talk in memory, then deliver with eye contact in a way that appears off the cuff
A few personal weaknesses I’m working to strengthen:
- Time management. ADHD is a sharp double-edged sword. Most of my habits stem from trying to optimize for focus. Harder than it looks
- Related: knowing and accepting the right “good enough” tolerance for a given undertaking: when I find the work rewarding, sometimes I obsess too much over it
Safety thirdRisk management
- General workaholism
- Being an effective leader. What an insanely hard job. Major respect for those who do it well
- Related: Micromanaging, when I care about specific details of a desired outcome I am very vocal and this has proven highly ineffective many times.
- Bi-rite cookies & cream ice cream. Sucrose scrambles my brain. I know it, people who know me know it, and yet.. Newman-O’s…
Things that drive me batshit crazy as we enter the 2020’s:
- Bottled water, straws, disposable plastic in general
- Daylight savings time
- U.S. customary unit measurement
More #random about me, for the bio-curious:
- Thankful for every second. While the cosmos might be indifferent, and our present world can be pretty dark at times, it’s an honor to be a small part of it all, and an astoundingly beautiful experience.
- I am deeply fascinated with and moved by the fractal nature of the cosmos, especially the boundaries between order and chaos. I got the chance to meet Benoit Mandelbrot a short while before he passed, attending a pop-up lecture he gave in 10-250 that was announced by way of a cryptic handwritten note in the lobby 10 elevator just hours prior.
- I was randomly in the audience at Steve Jobs’s Stay Hungry Stay Foolish 2005 Stanford commencement address to watch my friend Saumil graduate, another life-changing moment
- In middle school I spent most nights tinkering with old computers, with heavy emphasis on wringing every last bit of performance out of available resources. I wanted to be an engineer from 6th grade to sophomore year of college, when I switched to studying cities.
- Agree w/ Sagan: “We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself”
- Agree w/ Rogers: “You can grow anything in the garden of your mind”
- Disagree w/ Longfellow “music is the universal language.” Math itself is the universal language. Mathematically sound forms of music are maybe romance languages
- Agree w/ Asimov re The Last Question, except Multivac’s form factor is distributed: all earth’s minds and machines linked via the internet, Elon’s Starlink will eventually uplink to the Galactic AC, and the Cosmic AC is the Cosmos itself. Also I’m pretty sure neutrinos construct omniscience
- Agree w/ me: Competition is healthy. Eat healthy.
- I mostly listen to music without lyrics: instrumental Bach, synthwave-chillwave mixes, miracle tones (esp. 432hz). Or noise mixed in the white noise app, white noise + rain for sleep, running water for aiding flow state
- Mostly ketogenic flexitarian diet, primarily veggies, frequently fish, rare occasion really good meat
- Intermittent fasting typically 4-6 hour eating window daily
- daily workouts: walk 4-8 miles / day most days, some variant of tabata, favorite is trail running
- I keep a moon journal, do daily affirmations, and life log quantitative and qualitative things
- Early riser: typically up by 4 am PT weekdays, minimal morning meetings / information intake
Thank you again for your interest. Please ping me if you’d like to connect.