2013: Goal, Theme & Challenge – Review

At the beginning of 2013 I wrote about my goal, theme and challenge for the year. I’ve posted a few updates throughout the year but want to take some time now to review them more in depth.

2013 Goal: Create With My Hands

Self Grade: 8/10

Going into the year I believed that there was value in creating things myself and that often they also would better serve my needs and/or last longer than mass produced alternatives.

After building a number of items, I have only strengthened my hold on those beliefs. There is a joy of craftsmanship. Each time I use one of my self-made items I feel a sense of renewed accomplishment.

Here are the five projects I completed this year:

  • Surfboard
  • Cribbage board
  • Sleeping/storage platform for my truck
  • Tool storage dolly
  • Wetsuit glove drier

hoverboard-top-green

surfboard-and-wave-cribbage-board

kroleski-family-adventure-mobile

toolbox-cart-in-action-1

glove-drying-rack-with-gloves

2013 Theme: Grow As A Leader

Self Grade: 8/10

Just to be clear, I am not scoring my leadership abilities, but rather my efforts this year to grow in them.

Starting early in the year, I immersed myself in a leadership role, taking a step back from most of my individual contributor responsibilities and doubling down on leading teams as a product manager. I of course supplemented this with a few books, many philosophical conversations with mentors and a good bit of experimentation.

I’ve learned a lot about different team dynamics, personality types and one-to-many communication. Though I understood the importance of these before, in theory, I now have a few more notches in my belt and arrows in my quiver.

I suppose this is something I’ll continue to grow in throughout 2014 as I take on a new leadership role – my wife and I are expecting our first child this spring.

2013 Challenge: Surf Mavericks

Self Grade: 0/1 1/1

My rating for this challenge, unfortunately, has to be binary and as of today I have not yet surfed a big wave at Mavericks.

That said, since this was my challenge, I am using my discretion to make an adjustment.

Mavericks typically breaks during the winter season between November & February. Although I have prepared, I have not yet, in the first half of this winter’s window, had an opportunity that I felt was satisfactory to attempt to conquer the giant.

So in the last days of the year, rather than hastily rushing into a dangerous situation in non-ideal circumstances, I decided to extend my cutoff to the end of this winter season. If I surf Mavericks before the season is over, I will consider the challenge complete – though I might dock myself some points for the late delivery.

I will of course loop back and update this post.

UPDATE: On January 25, 2014 I surfed Mavericks. Shy of a month late, but a success nonetheless.

Conclusion

I did pretty well at these efforts this year which tells me I need to reach a little more next year. I’ll be reflecting for a few days at which point I’ll set my 2014 items.

Create With My Hands: Update 1

Back in January I set a goal for the year to create things with my hands. A quarter through the year I had yet to do anything – not a result I am happy with.

So, to correct this, on Sunday I set out to get some supplies and started three new projects, two of which I completed and will share here.

Problem One: Wet Surfing Gloves

I am a So-Cal surfer and always will be. My hands go numb after about an hour in 55*F water. I currently live in San Francisco, which means I have to wear 3mm neoprene gloves (associate link) for about half of the year. Getting them dry is a pain because they have to be upright – the outer shell of the gloves is somewhat water tight and the inside is a fleece-like lining that absorbs water.

Here is how I solved my wet surfing glove problem.

Requirements:

  • Hold two sets of gloves upright to dry
  • Be freestanding & stable enough that it doesn’t fall over
  • Fit inside a Rubermaid tub for storage & possibly indoor drying someday
  • Under $15

For supplies, I bought an 10′ length of 1/2″ pvc, a few pvc joints and some pipe cement. I already had a saw and sand paper. Total cost $7.55 + tax.

glove-drying-rack-materials-

My plan was to have a rectangular base with the four glove holders sticking straight up. Here is a 2D version of the plan.

glove-drying-rack-design

The pipe cement I bought came with a brush in the cap, which makes things easy. I had a ton of cement left and only used about half of the 10′ pvc pipe – so the next project only requires joints. Making two of these could get costs down around $5 a pop.

glove-drying-rack-glue

Half way assembled. To make sure everything was straight, I started with segments that were 2D and made sure they were straight on a piece of wood.
glove-drying-rack-half-done

Finally, I brought everything together and made sure the glove holders were at a 90* angle.

glove-drying-rack-done

Here it is with two sets of gloves, drying like a boss.

glove-drying-rack-with-gloves

Project Two: Better Access To My Tool Box

Part of the reason I haven’t been working with my hands very much is that my tools are a bit hard to get to. Right now I’m living in a studio with my wife so space is at a premium. I built a bed with storage underneath it last year – which works out great for the large tubs of surfing and camping gear we keep under there (not to mention various lifetime supplies of things from Costco). My tool box, however, is metal and would scratch the floor if I dragged it, so I try and lift it out of its place. Life Lesson: It is incredibly hard to reach under a bed for a 50lb toolbox and then try and lift it and bring it out – especially if you have a shoulder injury.

toolbox-cart-problem

I want to make it a bit easier to get to my tools, so I’m going to put some wheels on them. I thought of buying a toolbox dolly, but this seems like a problem I can solve by hand. That is always more fun.

Requirements:

  • Rolling platform for all of my tools
  • Must support ~50-60lbs
  • Limited to 20″ wide and ~2′ deep

This one was an easy fix, but it feels great to have it done. I got some scrap particle wood and cut two sheets of 20″ x 24″ and picked up a set of castors (wheels that spin). A few screws and it’s done.

toolbox-cart-wood-and-castors

toolbox-cart-in-action-1

It doesn’t roll perfectly, but it is much better than before. The best part about making something by hand like this is that I can always cut it smaller or get a new sheet of wood if my size requirements change in the future.

toolbox-cart-in-action-2

So, despite a bumpy start to the year, I feel like I’m back in the groove, ready to create some cool things with my hands. The next one I’m working on is a fun one, stay tuned…

2013: Goal, Theme & Challenge

Every year since 2008 I’ve done an exercise on December 31st where I jot down a few notes about the previous year and make predictions about the next year. I make guesses on 20 items regarding my life, the world, etc. The answers usually resemble a probability density function that I then evaluate the following year.

This year I wanted to add something new to my repertoire of yearly focus that I think fits well in a public setting like this blog. Stating these items publicly and providing regular updates should provide a bit of extra accountability and pressure to achieving them.

Goal – Something I want to accomplish that is measurable and relatively continual. eg. exercise more or watch less TV.

Theme – A central topic for the year – something I can look back on and pinpoint that N was the year of X. eg. develop independence or work like crazy

Challenge – Something big that I want to conquer. eg. climb Mr. Everest or run a 10 hour Ironman


Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/44282411@N04/

2013 Goal: Create With My Hands

I am more and more realizing the consumer state I am immersed in and the many unintended consequences of it. Where once there were imperfect hand made goods we now have conformity.

A lot of my furniture is from IKEA – you probably have some of the exact same furniture. When I was younger I had furniture and toys that my grandfather made with his hands in the wood shop. These are some of my favorite things. They are unique and they were made with love. They took time to make and that time leaves room for thought.

I’ve made a few things with my hands; a surfboard, a bed frame and some art. I always enjoy it, even if it doesn’t work as well or look as nice as the store bought kind. It has a story to it and I get to tell that story to friends when they come to my house. I enjoy having company over and being able to share with them those stories and the use of the items I made.

So for 2013 my goal is to create more with my hands. To not buy when I can build.

Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/calsidyrose/

2013 Theme: Grow As A Leader

In 2012 I was introduced to a lot of new leadership opportunities. At home, I got married – at work, I started managing a team that grew to 5 people. Leading is tough. No longer can you optimize your patterns and goals to your own interests and styles. You have to be flexible, you have to communicate more than you would think necessary and you have to be prepared for a lot of the unexpected.

Leading is something I intend to do a lot more of in my life. I would like to start another company and grow it. I would like to have kids. I have a lot to learn, but fortunately for me I have a lot of people to learn from.

Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dennis/

2013 Challenge: Surf Mavericks

I set this goal for myself last year on Facebook.

2012-goal-mavericks

I took a few steps towards it, (including getting a board) but unfortunately, I never achieved it.

In June I injured my shoulder taking me out of commission from surfing for a few months. I thought things would heal up, but it is taking longer than I would like. I can surf some, but not enough to paddle into a 25ft+ wave.

Mavericks breaks in the winter, which means my next real window is next November-December. I’m hoping to be able to heal up, start training and get it done next December.


I plan on making regular updates for each of these to show what steps I am taking and how I have been progressing at each of them.