Participating in Techstars Smart Mobility Program 2020 in Torino Italy.
In an effort to become more mindful about my life, I decided to "go analog" on Sundays. It doesn't mean I won't use anything digital. But...
- The TVs are the easiest part.
- Computers are harder. After all, that is how I make a living.
- Phones are the hardest. I practically live on my phone. There is constantly a message between email, skype, whatsapp, text, slack, etc. I am pretty much using any channel of communication to reach all friends, family and clients around the globe.
For this to make sense I have to go back a little bit. Around the beginning of 2019 I was the CTO of our company, then called The Nickel Ride. We were a scrappy little startup with a lot of potential, but also a lot of pressure. When times got a little harder, and we were short staffed for certain roles, I also took on the role of COO.
As CTO at the time I had 3 full time developers on the team over two continents. As well as a team of ~10 devs overseas. We managed about 30 different servers which ran a fairly large ride-share application. The product was not exactly yet prime time ready yet. But we were in 6 markets, and our app was used by hundreds (maybe thousands) of riders a day. S*it kept breaking, and always needed fixing asap. Of course. But that's how that goes. We knew it was jsut a matter of time until we get most of the kinks worked out.
However, since there was nobody else at the time to take on our operations. I had to step up. What that meant, was that I now had 6 cities under my belt with roughly 30 vehicles, 30 drivers (part time employees) and all the mechanical issues and staffing challenges that came with it. In average I spent 1-2 days in our northern market of St. Petersburg FL per week, and the rest of the days I ran to any of the markets around me for whatever issue that popped up. Flat tire in Cape Coral at 8pm on a Thursday night? I drove out and patched the tire, so our driver could get back on the road. Crash in Naples on Sunday? I am coordinating between drivers, tow trucks, and possible replacement vehicles from the distance to make sure every nothing is missed. Driver and passenger safety first, then insurance, police report, towing, etc.
These are just some of the challenges on the ground at the time. In the backend I had to manage angry customers if something went wrong with their pickup requests, manage our lead drivers, ensure driver schedules are working out, and so on.
Needless to say it was a rather busy time and working 16h days was the norm. After all, the CTO duties and product development could not stop either or we would never get into calmer waters.
There is a lot I could write about this time, and we could have of course hired mechanics, etc. We tried, some worked for a while, some didn't work out, and in the end someone just needed to do what needed to be done.
This time took a bit of a toll on my over the months, and I knew I needed to find a way to balance myself out a bit more. I like to work, I like to work hard and a lot. But I also needed to recognize that my mental and physical health needed attention. Which I wanted to provide before I got to a point of hard to reverse damage.
What is Analog Sundays
Simply put, its my way of balancing my life. As an entrepreneur with a busy lifestyle, I have always struggled to recognize where the line between "a lot" and "too much" is. So I toyed with the idea of having one day a week where I could eliminate most of the common distractions in my life.
Since my wife has a Philosophy major, we often have long, intense and deep rooted conversations about life, the meaning thereof, whats good, whats bad, and so on. You know... the light small-talk type of conversation you have between your coffee and reading Tolstoy. And I absolutely love it.
On multiple occasions have we talked about what our digital society means for us, and the world. Especially since I am in tech startups and practically spend all my time in front of screens, these conversations take some detached objective thinking on my part. After a few months, maybe a year of the thought of Analog Sundays in my mind, I decided to go for it in October of 2019.
My first time
I remember the Saturday before the first Analog Sunday, we set some ground rules. Since I am very much a black or white type of guy if it comes to my personality, it was clear to me that it had to be very strict. I made sure my alarm was turned off to ensure I would not have to touch the phone to turn it off in the morning (or I would have for sure looked at my notifications "just for a second"). We also tried to plan our day. What would we do tomorrow?
Slight panic started setting in... It had been many years since we had no means of communication, no means to look up where to get a bite to eat, no means to check for any events in the evening. And once again we dove into a deep conversation about what this must mean for us. Isn't it nuts that we let a few devices control our lives to such a massive degree? Over are the times when we just hopped on our bicycle and drove into town. Going from one friends house to the next until we found someone or something to do.
There we were that Saturday evening, trying to get in some last minute television watching, made sure the board games are ready for tomorrow, and as a final step, I set the time on the microwave (its always off due to power outages). Neither of us uses any other means of referencing the time of day other than our phones anymore.