Categories
Life

Creative energy rant – a water jug approach

Yes, this a rant about creative energy. I’ve been traveling for work and personal reasons for the past few months, on and off. Sometimes close by, sometimes far away. I’ve also had a very intense, productive past few months at work. All good problems to have.

Creative work

The type of work that I do is highly intellectually intensive – strategy, decision-making, writing, conceptualizing. I also enjoy working with entrepreneurs outside my regular working hours, I read a lot of news, and sometimes I do research to justify financial decisions. On top of that, I try to keep learning, at least a few months. I know I need to cut some of these down and prioritize sleep and relaxation more, but that’s not always easy.

Water Jug of Creative Energy

The problem with this type of lifestyle is the cognitive overload that comes with it. The good news is that there are ways to reduce it. I imagine my creative energy like a water jug. Sometimes it’s full, sometimes it empties up.

When I’m in full busy mode, I pour all of my creative energies into my work, so when I try to write on my blog, for example, I’m tapped out.

When I’m out snowboarding, hiking, or traveling, and my mind has a few moments to stand still, the jug slowly begins to fill back up. Sleep sometimes does that too, but only when I do it enough to be fully rested.

There are shortcuts to filling the jug temporarily. Music works sometimes, coffee also works. Reading non-related things or hanging out with people can fill some of the creative jug, but it’s those moments of idle-ness that help the most.

I love what I do. But I need to constantly remind myself that doing too much in one part will end up sapping all my creative energy and leave none for other activities.

They don’t teach this kind of stuff in school. I wish there was more out there than generic advice on how to relax, disconnect and do mindfulness exercise every day. By the way, I found that I need some creative energy for those, too.

So far, I’ve been failing at one of my main goals in 2020 – making space to relax. But it’s only late Feb, there’s time!

Photo by Kouji Tsuru on Unsplash

Categories
Life

Guest post on HavingTime.com: Freedom through seeking closure with your former selves

People who know me well can already see the transformations I’ve been going through in the past year or so.

While working on myself has been a top priority in the past 10+ years, in the past I have shied away from doing anything too radical.

Not anymore.

Check out my latest guest post on HavingTime.com about redefining yourself and letting go of the past, especially if you remember certain negative things after 15+ years.

If you’re like me, try some of the closure tactics I describe in my article. I’m curious if it works for you the same way it worked for me.

Also getting an apology from a person that bullied you in the past is super-strong. Definitely a must try, if you haven’t already.

I’m working on a bullying related post, where my hypothesis are:

  • people who were bullies generally end up less successful than people who were bullied
  • parents of bullies are unsuccessful themselves, maybe not financially, but personally; or both
  • parents of bullied children are either conflict-avoiding themselves and believe in a greater good/peace, or haven’t resolved their bullying issues from their own childhood

More to come in a separate post.

Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash

Categories
Life Strategy

Competitive people, choose your battles

Yes, you. I’m talking to you, the one that wants to win at everything. If it helps, I’ll admit I’m one, too, although this post is a way of toning down that overly competitive self that can drive to some pretty nasty consequences.

Communist catalysts

First, a little bit of background. I was born in (still) communist Romania, in 1987, from communist educated parents, and attended a fledgling post-communist school system. Our only goal was to get 10/10, and to get the first prize in class. My mom and my friends’ moms would always ask who got the highest marks on term papers, exams, tests and homework. If I didn’t get the highest, I’d get told off. If I got the highest mark, then they would ask who else got it, too.

I remember the only time I competed for marks by my own free will. It was when I bet with my parents that I would get a snowboard if I would get 10/10 in math over a whole semester. Obviously, they thought I wouldn’t do it, but I did and I’ve been snowboarding for over 15 years, as a result. Looking back, if they had given me similar milestones and if I had identified similar rewards, I would have been more involved in my first years of schooling.

Even childhood games were competitive, sports and any other stuff. I wrote about it earlier last year. This negative competitive attitude then went on to shape people, business and life. It creates bad work environments, bad relationships, bad friendships. It also takes a strong personal toll. If you have an internal conversation going on inside your head (I found out some people don’t, and that’s ok), even that can become competitive.

Manifestation

The way that manifested in mine for the longest of time was through comparing myself and my achievements with others. I know, slippery slope to depression and anxiety. It also fosters imposter syndrome and other nice side effects! If it’s not clear enough, I’ll spell it out: It’s really bad for you.

Naturally, I wanted to fix it. So here’s a few strategies I’ve been applying in work, life and sports.

Sports (for fun)

If you’re a competitive athlete, this obviously doesn’t apply to you – that’s more in the work section.

If you’re like me, and do sports for fun and casual work out, then hear me out. Up until last year, I was snowboarding and playing basketball like my life depended on it. While this was fun and I pushed myself to perform better, I often didn’t have as much fun. I was too focused on extracting every ounce of value or at beating my/others benchmarks. That took the fun out of my hobbies. Needless to say, when I stopped being competitive there, I started having way more fun.

At work

This is a tricky one. While in most situations, I would strongly encourage you to be competitive, there are different ways to approach this.

Not every battle is worth winning, and sometimes you need to give some ground in immediate battles to be able to get what you want long term. It’s like the long term greedy concept I talked a bit about in the fat cat/hungry wolf post.

So next time you’re in a work exchange of opposite views, ask yourself – do I need this win to achieve our collective long term goals, or will conceding here will buy me enough good will to get what I want/we need next time we have to negotiate? Good old fashioned politics, yes. While some people might hate it, it’s inevitable the higher up you move in your career.

Side-thread on politics – if you want to convince a large group of people to follow your lead, you’ll need to use some politics to do that. It’s as simple as finding the group leaders, the loudest people and the most likely to challenge you and working with them, not against them.

So while at work, choose your battles carefully. You might end up competing in a race that’s not yours.

Personal improvement

Here’s where I vote for going 100% competitive. Personal development is about yourself, and improving who you are every single day is a competition I love to be in.

Sure, there will be ups and downs, but overall, I’m ready to beat my previous results when it comes to being a better person, being inclusive, being kind to people, being generous and loving.

That doesn’t mean you have to beat yourself up about it. They way I see it, it’s like with my snowboard bet from high-school – you need to find that positive motivation that pushes you forward. I’ll share mine in a later post.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Categories
Life Startups

The trade-off of management roles

Over 10 years ago, when I started my professional career, working as an individual contributor, I couldn’t wait to become a manager. It sounded so cool – to have a team, to lead, to create strategy, run meetings, build agendas. Little did I know of the downsides of being in one of those fancy management roles.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a manager, and all the great things that come with the role – team, impact, benefits, comp, learning, status (in random order). It’s what I’m great at and will continue to practice it as long as I can build teams or teams invite me to lead them towards greener pastures.

Starting out as individual contributor

Coming back to my younger days, when I was IC-ing, I took something for granted that I soon saw going away as I rose in ranks. People saw me as one of them, and treated me openly and freely. I would get invited to every party and every going out group. I would hang out with the cool people and be able to rant about our managers (yeah, we did that, I know all team members at some point rant about their managers).

Manager roles in the US

That went on for the longest of times. When I moved to the US, I joined a tech startup as their Growth Manager. I helped them grow the team and recruit a lot of the people in the San Francisco office. As we grew, both the company and I felt the need to specialize and I went to focus on Marketing only, becoming Director. That’s when things started to change. Since I was hanging out with the founders, the VPs and Directors, I was no longer part of the group. I had become management and people started treating me like one.

When I moved on to another company, again, I started with more of an IC role. In a few months, however, I had recruited my team and had become Director again. Same story, there was the management layer which kind of hung out together, and shared stories. Everyone else had their own separate group. Sometimes I would get invited to the other group, but it was not the same as 2009.

It’s little things like who hangs out with you at the lunch table or goes out to get coffee with you that change, too. The otherwise rowdy table might quiet down a little when you want to join. Or people might not even want to sit with you in case you start asking about customers, projects stuff related to their day-to-day.

When you’re a manager, you also can’t just party like everyone else. We set examples of what the company culture should be. If we party until dawn at company events, or overcharge corporate cards, this sends the wrong message to everyone else. Sure, you’re not going to be as cool as the life of the party, but it’s easier to lead if you haven’t lost face the night before.

I’m not even going to talk about romantic relationships at work as a manager. There’s no such thing as a no-consequences one.

Loneliness, career growth, support

This part of management is rarely talked about. It’s a lonelier journey, as you get higher and higher in roles and responsibilities. Some people get there and are surprised by the fact that everyone seems to be gone suddenly. I know I was. Some even get depressed or anxious about it, and I can understand why. I think we have to talk about it more openly. We have to embrace that what leaders in organizations are doing is hard, both professionally and personally. And there’s often little support for it.

I’m lucky to be married to someone who understands this and whom I can talk to about my professional life. Not everyone is. Life at the top comes at a cost, and work social interaction is one of them.

For me, I found my groups outside of work, too.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Categories
Life Startups

Retrospectives, these powerful tools for growth

At the end of last year, I did two massive retrospectives for Romanian IT (2019, and since inception) and a personal one (private).

For the personal retrospective, it was the second time in a row when I did it. The first time I did it, at the end of 2018, it was super hard, and it felt like a huge chore. This time it felt a bit easier, and I had more of a put together process to lean on.

The 3 retrospectives I did got me thinking about the power they give you, as the person performing them.

Journey to finding retrospectives

There’s a ton of literature on journaling, on making lists, following up and looking back on quarters, years, months, days, whatever works. Unfortunately, for the longest of time, I thought that was mostly self help bullshit and avoided it like the plague.

It was only when I started running teams in a business setting that I discovered that Agile/Scrum can be applied for Marketing and PR, and that was my gateway to retrospectives. If you run sprints, at the end of them, usually, people spend time looking at what worked, what didn’t and what can be improved in general. This is how you spot overloads, missed goals, successes and opportunities for growth.

Back then, I didn’t pay it enough attention to formalize the process in writing, but I stuck to it religiously. I took it with me in every team that I build moving forward, in the past 3 companies. It allowed our work to focus on the right goals. It also allowed us to spot communication issues early, adjust and improve.

Seeing the power of looking back

Fast-forward back to present day. I didn’t expect what the 3 retrospectives would give me. If you read my previous piece on the imposter syndrome, you know that’s a struggle for me. I also have a few strategies for it. Retrospectives turned out to be one of them.

See, if you’re like me, you moving fast, with little time to look back. There’s very little time to look back and celebrate success or be grateful. Retrospectives give you that and more – if you take the time and go through every day, and every thing that you did, and allow yourself to relive those moments, at the end of it you might find that you did do all that you set out. And more than that.

That’s an incredibly empowering feeling, and it’s remarkably easy to do now, thanks to Google Calendar.

Try going through it 12 months ago and move forward. It’ll surprise with you what you’ll find in there!

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Categories
Change Management Life

From “hungry wolf” to “fat cat” – how culture can promote or hinder growth

I’ve been sitting on this concept since a conversation I had with a friend who visited me in San Francisco last month. She had been traveling since she started studying for her MBA degree at INSEAD and had left a successful career in commercial real estate in Romania.

Both of us have friends who are successful people in their fields in the country and we discussed the concepts of hungry wolves and fat cats, and their relationship to growth – both personal and systemic. I had already written a post about attitudes in the US vs Romania, so this intrigued me to the point where I had to write about it.

Hungry Wolves

A hungry wolf is the metaphor for relentless ambition, the kind that you need to break through glass ceilings, to start great companies, to win impossible races, to build amazing products, and, in general, to improve yourself and the world around you. It’s that inner fire you feel every morning and the drive to go beyond what’s expected of you and over-deliver. It’s that drive to change things for the better, instead of letting them fester. This is the kind of person that pulls communities forward, both economically, politically and socially.

It’s usually associated with under-privileged people, who usually have to fight harder than others to move up in the world. Immigrants, minorities and people from lower income backgrounds tend to be hungry wolves. Sometimes, the environment plays a key role in keeping wolves from turning to fat cats – high cost of living, working culture, social norms, competition can influence this behavior.

Fat Cats

A fat cat is someone who is content with what they have achieved. Generally, people become fat cats when they don’t feel their success is temporary and they stop growing/advancing. They stop and settle, and every day starts to resemble the previous one. There are two main kinds of fat cats: made and born.

The fat cat that made it is, usually, a former hungry wolf that decided it had enough and it’s time to focus on other things, and not fane those inner flames anymore. Maybe it’s early retirement, or desire to pursue a slower life, or they just had enough of the rat race. They stop giving it the extra edge, stop over-delivering and settle to do the bare minimum to keep things going, keep the lights on. You can spot them at work, in your friends groups and in the way the talk about their goals and ambitions. They don’t shine anymore.

The other type of fat cat is the one that was born like this. They usually come from wealthy backgrounds, have had safety nets their whole lives and are the representation of privilege. They don’t have to worry about the future, so they don’t invest time thinking about it too much. They share the same symptoms as the fat cat that made it, but the difference is that the born one might not have had a flame to begin with. They are easy to spot in the wild – spending money that’s not a result of their work, making poor life choices and surrounding themselves with fake friends to run from their own lack of purpose in life.

My Romanian and US experience with fat cats and hungry wolves

It’s 2020 and we’re still in growth mode globally, still let by the US economy, in spite of the crisis super-cycle that historians have identified. The US has had crisis ever 1-2 generations, and every time it has recovered because its culture is built on the hungry wolf concept. Some argue that socialist measures might stifle some of this drive and turn hungry wolves into fat cats, as more safety nets get built into the system. In key places in the US, though, there are some key factors that will delay and even prevent this from happening.

I have been living in San Francisco since 2016, and in cities like this it’s hard to see a majority of people turning into fat cats. The cost of living, its growth, the work culture and competition, the lure of the next biggest thing in startups, growing companies everywhere keep that flame alive. Hell, it even sparks flames in former born fat cats. This type of economy, while taxing for the average individuals – sometimes with burnout, depression, social anxiety, drives growth. It’s a price people pay for their advancement. This perpetual hungry wolf doesn’t think their prosperity can last forever, so it works hard so it has a base to land on if things go South. They create to invest, they prepare for long term prosperity.

On the other hand, I lived in Romania growing up and for a good part of my early adult life. The culture there, while still rewarding and encouraging for hungry wolves, has a very specific local flavor. Parents and other people in social circles that are risk averse repeat a very damaging mantra: “isn’t this enough for you?” (I wish there were a good explanation for this. Here’s my take on it: When you get a mortgage and a car, that’s when people start to say that you made it, and your mom tells you to stop pushing, because you have enough).

This type of culture socially punishes overly ambitious people and helps create an environment where it’s ok to settle for enough. While this can be great to the individual’s immediate quality of life, if prosperity goes away, and the fat cat becomes a skinny cat, then will it have enough drive to turn back into the hungry wolf it needs to be? Or will the former born fat cat have the strength to spark that flame on its own?

But back to the hungry wolf. The trap there is not to overdo the hungry part, and end up bursting from over-eating. It’s ok to be just a little bit hungry sometimes and not terribly hungry all the time. I’ve seen some people call it the long term greedy approach. Seems to work for successful and happy people.

This is the Romanian article (EN translation) that contributed to a few of the ideas this post.

Later edit:

I had a cool exchange on LinkedIn with a friend of mine, Ciprian (Chip) Borodescu (Co-founder & CEO at MorphL), and I wanted to share it with people reading this later here:

Hey Titus, interesting analysis and I think I agree 99% of it.  One thing that I struggle with is the very last thing you wrote: “I’ve seen some people call it the long term greedy approach. Seems to work for successful and happy people.” In my opinion success ≠ happy. I think the fat cat is very happy, don’t you think? (that’s certainly the case for my cat, haha!) Is that cat successful? It depends on the definition of success. Success for some people is external: if they have a great professional career or other people think highly of them, that immediately translates into success. If not, it’s a total disaster. Success for other people comes from inside – their own sustainable definition of success, that’s not attached to the success of a startup, project, deal, etc. Success is found within and they don’t seek validation from outside. Both have a growth mindset, only the latter has a more mature and balanced approach to life. You’re encouraging hungry wolves to find a balance: “a little bit hungry sometimes and not terribly hungry all the time”.  However, this places the balance in the realm of wolves still. How about placing the balance in-between the two? Cats are predators too – which I read as a “growth mindset” 😉

To which I replied: Great point! I think fat cats can be happy and successful too, as long as they are able to stay fat 🙂 for me, the two concepts are.about active and passive approach to life/growth. I like your internal / external lens, and to the definitions in the article, if you take an active approach to either success paths, you’re still a hungry wolf, seeking improvement. A fat cat is happy with where it it is.

Photo by Patrick on Unsplash

Categories
Life

One thing that’s ruining travel around the world

As you could probably tell from my last post, I’m in Thailand. We decided to head to Phuket first and then see Bangkok on our way out of this one week away from the craziness of SF life.

I love traveling because it helps me disconnect, unwind and recharge after giving it all and more to all our ongoing projects. But most of all, I love traveling because it allows me to discover cultures and foods that I can’t easily experience back at home.

We didn’t know what to expect coming to Thailand, so we chose one of the most touristic places in the country thinking it’s a safe bet – beach, weather, islands, elephant sanctuary. It has it all. Sure, it smells like trash in some places, the sewer is terrible, but that’s the result of sloppy city management and an unforgiving weather. The islands and beaches are great though, and the water is a heavenly blue color.

I was talking to Elena about one of our biggest shocks regarding Phuket, and not in a good way. We were surprised to see Central and Eastern Europe has started to creep into Phuket through Russian, Hungarian and Austrian restaurants. I can live with the smoking everywhere, the loudness of some of the tourists, but I get concerned when their habits start to change the local scenery to something too close to home.

From what I could gather, the Thai culture is extremely accommodating and that didn’t play to their advantage with this particular aspect – regarding food. Now there are tons of Thai places that serve local food AND a collection of pierogi, potato salads, Russian salads, all sorts of European soups and sausages – for the traveler who wants to feel at home, literally. I’m not saying Europeans are the only ones who do this, there are Australian chains, a Hooters, McDonald’s, Burger King and other stuff like that, but you didn’t find burgers next to Pad Thai in most restaurants.

I feel like this type of food blend/fusion is slowly eroding local cultures like the one in Phuket and I hope more people write and try to educate travelers to avoid eating what they would have at home and try out the local cuisine.

At the end of our Phuket visit, our question to the world is: why on earth would you travel 9+ hours on a plane and then go and eat potato salad and borsch, or wurst, if you have those at home?

Photo by Alyssa Kowalski on Unsplash

Categories
Life

Thailand visas for Romanians and an airport confusion (2020)

As you can probably imagine, I’m on vacation, yay!

Before we got to Thailand, I have read a lot of confusing stories about getting a visa on arrival in Bangkok, as a Romanian national. So I decided to document our process.

For Romanians, the visa on arrival process is like this:

  • before you land, you fill in the arrival and departure forms on the plane
  • you land and head to the Visa on Arrival area
  • pick up a big form and fill that in with the same data you put in the landing card
  • you exchange 200 bhat (~$7) per person for photos and get Visa photos next to the Visa on Arrival area, where you pay the attendant upfront and they take a quick passport size photo, cash only
  • depending on the season, you might have to pay a tourist visa fee of 2000 bhat (~$70) per person, cash only. There are several exchanges there, so bring cash with you. The rates are ok, don’t be scared. The visa fee is currently waived until April 2020
  • Then with everything in hand, go to the Visa counter and you should be good to go. They will ask you for your address in Thailand, so have that prepared, as well as the return ticket

The other point that got us confused was the two airports in Bangkok, both international. We landed on the Bangkok International BKK Suvarnabhumi. When we did our research, we found great tickets to Phuket from Bangkok International DMK Don Mueang. A quick Google Maps search for the acronym DMK took us to the same BKK airport we were arriving on, so we thought it would be a piece of cake. It wasn’t.

When we tried to find the flight, we couldn’t see the code and had to go to the AirAsia service desk to learn that for over 5 years now, Phuket flights were no longer running from BKK but from DMK. Mind you, we had about 1h and 15mins until takeoff at this point. Even the visa guy smiled at us, but we only understood why when we realized the mistake we had made.

This other international airport is about 40-45 min away by taxi, and it costs about 400-500 bhat (~$15) to get there. Our taxi driver went the extra mile and got us there in time, about 20 mins before the plane was leaving. We ended this adventure with a run, but made it in time. Ah, one more thing to note AirAsia is not super strict when it comest to the 7kg policy, so we took our bags onboard. Security is also way quicker and easier than anything in the US or Europe for domestic flights.

I hope people visiting Thailand will be less confused than we were. First time I ever confused airports!

Photo by Diego Muñoz Suárez on Unsplash

Categories
Life

Romanian IT in San Francisco – 2019 retrospective

Later edit: Thanks Andrei for the extra info I missed!

After I set up the Mailchimp list earlier this month, time to complete 2/2 of my Romanian IT in San Francisco bucket list for this year. It’s been a great 2019 and I think it’s worth going through it month by month and seeing what happened in the local community, our events, hikes and announcements, and how the group has grown to 454 members to date.

January 2019

It was a quiet month, with no official events. We helped the Cassiopeia – Zero Robotics high school team connect with a few Romanians in the Bay Area, as they were visiting the US for a robotics competition. We also announced our first meetup of the year, and a visit from one of the Romanian IT founders.

Oana, and the Find My Mentor team, kick-started the 3rd (or 4th?) edition of their program in mid-January. Find My Mentor is a 3-month mentorship program, designed to connect entrepreneurs and tech professionals with mentors, in order to accelerate their personal and professional growth. It featured 30 mentors, and more than 360 mentorship sessions, in over 20 countries. We had several mentors that participated from the Bay Area, including me and Andrei.

February 2019

We had our 1st meetup of the year, thanks for those who showed up. We had a few people traveling in the Bay Area and we were happy to host them at our usual venue, in the Mission District.

Later that month, a few members decided to celebrate Valentine’s day together in San Francisco, at the Emporium SF – no pics.

UiPath also hosted their first meetup in the Bay Area, in Mountain View, which we helped promote via the group. There were three more events we announced in February – Google’s Cloud conference in April (we got free tickets for the community, thanks Victor), a South Bay Romanian IT meetup organized by Ionut and Adrian, and the European Chamber of Commerce May 9 cruise to celebrate Europe day.

Last but not least, Oana, one of the Romanian IT co-founders, decided we should expand to be Romanian IT in USA. Let’s just say the local community wasn’t very happy about the change, but we had to live with it for 30 days, due to Facebook Groups rules

March 2019

This month, we held the first San Jose meetup at the Three Sisters bar (in San Pedro Square Market) and it had a pretty good turnout. We announced our April meetup for San Francisco. I was away in Utah for a few weeks, so things had to be scheduled around that.

We also promoted

  • The Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce 2019 Spring European Pitch Night, where Romania was to have one startup. I’m not sure if anyone from our community attended.
  • A Don Lothrop meetup about his Romanian projects, organized by the Romanian America Business Networking group

This month we were able to go back to our Romanian IT in San Francisco name. Business as usual.

April 2019

We met again at El Rio, but I didn’t take any pics of that meetup. I’m sure we had a blast and that’s why :). We also met at the Easter picnic, so overall it was a pretty busy month.

We also started planning hikes again, since the rain/snow season was coming to an end. With Easter and elections coming up, there were a few more things to promote:

  • Easter picnic in the South Bay, as usual (see pic, via Oleg)
  • Two projects via Alin Zainescu – Teleleu and Code for Romania HackDay in SF
  • Alina spoke at StemEd SF, where a few community members got together
  • Volunteers for the voting precinct & the polling station location for the May European Parliament voting session
  • A Declic / Mircea Bravo GOTV campaign for the May elections

May 2019

May was all about hiking and elections. We went to Berry Creek Falls (12mi), Stinson Beach/Cataract Falls (~8mi) and we also got together to vote and catch up afterwards in the East Bay.

This month, a lot of the focus was on elections, volunteers and the Code For Romania hack day that was to be held on June 1st.

June 2019

We started off the month with pics and videos from the hack day. I couldn’t make it, but a few of members did. We also connected with RoMADE – Romanian Mobile Apps Developers and Experts, an action financed by the Romanian Government and organized together with Romanian Creative Industries Business Federation. They were in San Jose to explore the business opportunities in Silicon Valley.

We then met for drinks again, at El Rio, and afterwards we headed out to the traditional El Farolito. Good turnout, fun night.

Later that month, a few of us connected with Cristian, one of the Meetin VR founders, who was visiting the Bay Area looking to network and potentially raise capital.

July 2019

This month was all about meetups again, with South Bay members getting their second event, with Adrian and Ionut hosting again in the San Pedro Square Market, Downtown San Jose. There was no SF meetup this month, but we promoted more Romanians doing cool things in tech and also kicked off Presidential elections voter registrations.

I had been organizing meetups by myself for a few months now. It was time for a change.

August 2019

The month kicked off with great news, Andrei joined me as co-host and organizer for the Romanian IT community in San Francisco. It was a few months after Mihai had left town and I had been looking for people to help out with event hosting, moderation and other responsibilities.

In August we organized a hike to Rodeo Beach (4.8mi) and the monthly El Rio meetup, which we had to move to the next-door bar, due to a wedding taking place at El Rio! Still great fun and good turnout.

This was the month where we decided we needed a WhatsApp group, so we can include people who went off Facebook. The group link is on the Facebook page, had to remove it from the blog due to spammers coming in. We also started promoting events for a very busy September.

September 2019

This month, besides elections updates and voter registration, we met and hiked not once, but twice each – Angel Island early in the month (6mi), then Coastal and Fox Trails Loop (6.3mi), plus 2x El Rio meetups.

I think by this time we found that everyone’s sweet spot with hiking is around 6 miles. I tried not to go over that so we don’t exhaust everyone after a full day on the trails. Love the feedback!

We also promoted Alianta‘s event in Washington DC, that was organized in October, the 7th edition of the Romanian Film Festival at Stanford University, UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University, also in October and more voter registration for the November elections.

Towards the end of the month we met with with Tudor, founder of Floating Dots and Studhub, who was visiting the US to look for new partnerships, and grow their development outsourcing business based in Cluj-Napoca.

October 2019

We took a bit of a break in October, with only one meetup at the end of the month, after the 4 events in September. It was great to see everyone again at El Rio.

We continued to help with the elections volunteer recruitment and posting regular updates for the community, as well as promoting the film festival.

We also met with Bogdan and Alex, the founders of Plant an App – a low code development platform for custom business applications. They’re spending some time in the Bay Area, as their company is part of the 500 Startups program (early-stage venture fund and seed accelerator).

November 2019

November was again very busy, with 4 events, 3 meetups and 1 hack day. 2 of the meetups were all about the Presidential elections, that take place in 2 rounds in Romania, usually.

We met twice in South Bay, where for the first time since I had arrived in the Bay Area, we had another polling station. Both were fun, thanks everyone for coming out to vote and chat afterwards!

This time elections lasted for 3 days outside of Romania and almost 1 million Romanians in the diaspora came out to vote.

In November, Code for Romania hosted their second Hack Day in San Francisco, which I managed to miss, again, due to business travels.

December 2019

We hosted a last meetup in mid-December, wishing everyone happy holidays and promising to see each other in the new year

(It poured, so we had a smaller turnout, and Adelina was our host, since El Rio was taken over by some office party with increasingly drunk people).

This month, we also promoted a Romanian night in the South Bay, and a few more movies in Berkeley. Unfortunately, due to rain and cold weather, I had to cancel the last hike of the year, much to the disappointment of a few of us.

Overall, we had a great year, with 19 events, two elections and the bar is high for 2020. Looking forward to more meetups, hikes and more people getting involved in the community. If you know someone who’s looking for likeminded Romanians to hang out with, Romanian IT in San Francisco is a welcoming group, granted we share the same values.

My commitment for next year is that we’ll do at least 1 event in January 2020, #promise! Happy new year!

Categories
Life

My first guest post in a few years: Havingtime.com

I used to write a lot at some point and even guest post on other sites. Recently, I started writing again, and with the intro of a friend, I was invited to contribute to HavingTime.com, a platform for people with stories to tell.

I chose to share my thoughts about my own impostor syndrome, and how I managed to overcome it. I found it very ironic that it was the very first thought that struck me while I was searching for a first topic to send them for review. It was basically telling me I have no authority and that my story is not interesting enough to be shared there.

Plot twist, it is and you can find out how I did it by reading about my take on What is Impostor Syndrome & How Can You Manage it?

Photo by JOHN TOWNER on Unsplash