Next steps

Next steps

What’s next? It’s a common question many people ask first.

  • What’s for dinner?
  • Where should I get my next job?
  • What should we do today?
  • Who should I speak with next?
  • What’s the next turn?

The above questions aren’t bad questions. The just shouldn’t be your first question. Many people rarely ask why but that’s exactly the type of question we should all be asking ourselves.

  • Why are we doing things this way?
  • Why do we turn here?
  • Why do I need this?
  • Why am I here?

In Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why, he discusses the importance of starting your questions here first to eventually find your answer and inspire the people around you. It’s a great book you should read if you haven’t already.

Photo Credit: qimono CC0

Why Data Science & AI

For the past few years, I’ve decided that my career in analytics needed an upgrade and that I needed to improve my data skills which lead me to studying data science. Since that time, I’ve taken Coursera courses, learned Python and some R, moved over to technology and focused on data full-time, I’ve almost worked my way through DataCamp’s Python Data Scientist certificate, and for the past few months I’ve started moving to the next step in my plan, Artificial Intelligence.

To do this I’ve started with some foundational training in Deep Learning. I’m been learning about and coding gradient descent, neural networks, and I’ve recently began studying Convolution Neural Networks (CNNs), some of the things I’ll be writing about in the coming days.

This is why I haven’t been writing as much but I want to start using this blog to write about the things I’m learning each day. That could be data science, artificial intelligence, financial markets, economics, books or articles I’ve read or some type of life lesson.

Why AI? Similar to how, a few years ago, that I decided that the future of my career path was headed toward data science, or at least a better understanding of data science. Today, I think the next step of that path is to better understand the field of artificial intelligence and how data science is moving in that direction. It’s a natural progression from my interest in data science. It’s the future. It’s also changing right now and i want to be a part of it.

Every day I want to learn something new. I’ll be using this space to write something about it each day.

A voice

A voice

I’m writing to have a voice so others don’t try to speak for me.

I need to have a voice…

To give my opinion.

To speak up.

To ask questions.

To recommend.

To decide.

To lead.

To predict.

To teach.

To manage.

To protect.

To welcome.

To share.

To give.

To move forward.

My biggest regret of 2017

My biggest regret of 2017

If you looked at the attached chart then you already know my biggest regret. It’s not investing in Bitcoin even though I’ve read Fred Wilson about it almost every day for the past four years. It’s been a wild ride where a small bet could have made a fortune.  It’s completely out of control. I’ve referred to it a few times as funny money.

My biggest hangup with Bitcoin is that it doesn’t work with the typical investing mindset. I view it as a purely speculative play. There isn’t anything wrong with some speculation in your portfolio. It’s just different. Bitcoin is made up around the idea, or faith, that it has value. Though you can argue that almost any investment is based on the perception of value and not hard assets. Bitcoin is a digital currency. Stocks are a piece of paper. You can’t cash your stocks in for a piece of the business. Certain bonds are tied to hard assets but that doesn’t mean you’ll get all your money back. Futures are a little different, they are tied to assets based on the commodity you’re trading. Most currencies like the US Dollar, Pound, or Yen are tied to the country and the solvency of the country. Most country currencies can be impacted based on the monetary policy of the home country. Bitcoin doesn’t have that similarity to most currencies. That’s why we’ve seen the wild swings. Those swings have been great investment opportunities while it tries to stabilize. We’ll have to wait and see.

What we do know is that Bitcoin hysteria is upon us. Whenever there is a run-up in any asset, I’m always interested to see when people who usually aren’t interested in financial markets begin bringing the topic up during typical conversation. The holiday season is almost upon us. I imagine I’ll be having a number of conversations over this holiday season about Bitcoin, a product most people had no idea existed until a week or two ago.

All of this hysteria feels like the typical top in any financial product where the unskilled investors get into a market only to get knocked out with a big correction. Look out for the Bitcoin articles on the front page of the big newspapers.

In times like these I like to remind myself of the following: investing is usually never this easy.

As Jim Cramer used to always say, “Bulls make money, Bears make money, and Pigs get slaughtered.”

Generosity of someone who’s gone to soon

Generosity of someone who’s gone to soon

Last week, I found out that a former coworker and fellow toastmaster had passed away after a battle with cancer. It has been about a year and a half since I lost saw her at the Summer Toastmaster Leadership Institute for our local district. I had just completed a training seminar when she told me the news. I said the typical awkward things you say to someone after they tell you some bad news. That would be the last time I saw her. It was also around the time I took a break from toastmasters. I’d gotten involved in too many clubs and felt burned out.

For the past few weeks, before finding out about her passing away, I had thought about contacting her and joining a local toastmasters club again. Then I found out the news in a Toastmasters email.

This event has me thinking about generosity, specifically the generosity of my former coworker. She had a big impact on my public speaking. One of the most important impacts she made was simply being a person to give good constructive feedback on my speeches. If you’ve ever found this person you know it is so valuable. To find someone that cares about your improvement, who takes an interest, and isn’t hurtful when you’re at your most vulnerable. This is why I’m writing about my former coworker today but what made her a special person is that she had done this exact same thing for hundreds of people.

She impacted the lives of hundreds of people. That’s what helping others does. When you positively impact someone’s life, they don’t forget. They care and they’re sad when you’re gone.

What I’m grateful for

What I’m grateful for

It’s a few weeks away from Thanksgiving and for the past year I’ve been working on practicing gratitude. Each day I write a sentence about what I’m grateful for that day. Here are the common themes:

  • Family (spouse, kids, mother, father, relatives)
  • Friends
  • Life
  • Health
  • Freedom
  • Work
  • Hobbies/Interests
  • Good books
  • Time to think
  • A conversation
  • Something that moves me
  • Delicious food
  • A song that makes me dance or sing
  • Travel
  • Opportunities
  • Learning something new