Archive for January, 2012

Happy New Year!

January 10, 2012 - 12:20 am 1 Comment

It’s been a while since my last update – 2011 finished with much needed rest and relaxation at home, while I’m ushering in 2012 with fresh expectations and anticipation for new adventures and epiphanies. Given that so much time has transpired, I’ll list the most eventful highlights over the last few months (in no particular order).

Thanksgiving at home: Since discovering a newfound passion for cooking, my dad has mastered the art of turkey roasting. As my little sister has taken a part time job at Whole Foods, we had the great joy of relishing a succulent, all-natural turkey – perhaps the best I’ve ever eaten. My little sister now drives regularly (unlike me who has a driver’s license only in name…heavens forbid that I’m actually on the road), so we left our parents at home to do our own midnight excursion for Black Friday and a (special) movie with much tradition! Dave also came to visit us for the weekend, joining us for some tasty Peking Duck and a mind-boggling visit to the Marine Corp Museum. After pulling a Flags of our Fathers marathon earlier this year (read the book, saw the movie, and then watched its compliment Letters from Iwojima), I had a better appreciation of Marine Corp history, notwithstanding all that I’ve learned from covering defense as an investor. At the museum, we even met a veteran of the Iwojima, one of the few survivors of the famous 28th battalion!

Reflections on Givology: In November, we published our 2010-2011 annual impact review that highlighted our accomplishments over the past 3 years. Looking back, I’m really proud to see us grow from just an idea to a vibrant online community of 2,500+ donors and 44 grassroots partners, raising over $225,000 to help over 2,800 students in 23 countries! We underwent a couple key core team member transitions, but I’m very confident of my new team in place and excited to see where 2012 will take us. As a 100% volunteer-driven organization, it’s inevitable that people move on as they face personal transitions, but the beauty of our network is that our supporters remain a body of knowledge and expertise we can draw ideas and inspiration from. We’re launching our Spirit of Giving campaign with the intention of publishing a book at the end of next year. In addition, with funding from the M. Night Shymalan Foundation, we’re undergoing a substantial web re-design to improve our features and engage users more fully. In December, See Beautiful selected us as their featured non-profit ($1,030 raised for the Kakenya School!), and we had chapters & individual donors organize creative fundraisers within their own communities. As a personal reflection looking back, I’ve learned so much from experimenting with ideas and initiatives on Givology – testing what works and what doesn’t (right now I’m focused on analytics and social media engagement). Moreover, in building and growing Givology, I’ve discovered so much about the meaning of teamwork, community, and friendship. Given the length of my working day, it’s sometimes hard to go back home to a cluttered inbox of unread emails and ever-growing list of tasks, but when I think about our network of partners, volunteers, team members, and supporters, I feel such a high sense of gratification and inspiration that motivates me so strongly from within.

January 28th “Night of Promise” Event at Marquee: The NYC chapter of Givology has expanded with new members and exciting ambitions! On January 28th, we’re holding a joint event with More than Me to raise funding for the construction of a community center for girls in the slums of West Point, Liberia. Since meeting the More than Me team at the Ford Global Test Drive in Madrid, I’ve been so impressed with their complete dedication to the mission and impact (check out the video below). Hopefully, we’ll make a dent of at least $20,000 to give more than 500 girls a safe place to stay off the streets and engage them with extracurricular activities & educational seminars for empowerment. In addition to a keynote speech by the founder of More than Me, we also have Skip, Katie, and Lorenzo Borghese from the Italian Royal Family in attendance. Notably, Lorenzo Borghese recently starred in ABC’s “The Bachelor” – hopefully, this will help us get more media coverage! To reserve your spot today, check out our event website and purchase advance tickets today to guarantee entrance to this unforgettable night!

More Than Me from What Took You So Long? on Vimeo.

Columbia Social Enterprise Bootcamp: I had a chance to present at the Columbia Social Enterprise Bootcamp for the second time, which was a lot of fun! The event had so many inspiring and phenomenal speakers, from the founder of Seventh Generation to key investors at the Acumen Fund. Most notably, the seminars have such an incredible level of energy since nearly all the participants have an idea in mind or have started their own enterprises already. As such, the presentations featured practical advice and hands-on experience.  If you’d like a copy of my presentation, please email me.

Life in NYC: With the winter more benign than anticipated, I’ve taken full advantage of wandering the streets of Manhattan with an occasional excursion to the other boroughs. With the city awash with Christmas lights and cheer in anticipation for the holiday season, I delighted in just walking with no particular aim. After a full year of living in Manhattan, sometime around late November, I suddenly felt like a native New Yorker. I’ve grown to truly love the city – the collision of cultures, amazing restaurants, world-class museums and exhibitions, never-ending bustle, and endless possibilities of things to do, all accessible by public transportation. Notably, I highly recommend the New York Historical Society – what a great introduction to the rich history of the city, packed with photographs, mementos, and odd curios of the past to the present!

Winter break at home: For the first time since joining Goldman, I took a week off for vacation. Rather than travel to an exotic destination, I chose to go home to fully enjoy being with my dear parents and sister. As I spend almost the entire year looking forward to Christmas, I delighted in giving my family the gifts I bought them and to celebrate all together! My dad had the great idea of taking us to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. I was amazed at how they preserved the town and captured the history of its evolution, almost in a similar set-up as colonial Williamsburg with historical buildings to enter and explore. Notably, we learned about John Brown and the polemic of his raid – the debate over his role as either a martyr or violence-loving incendiary. I hope to return to Harpers Ferry for the hiking trails one day, appreciated by Jefferson himself as one of nature’s greatest splendors. The next day, we went to Charles Town casinos (the first casino I’ve ever been to). Grace and I had little interest in gambling, but we sure did enjoy seeing the horses! We didn’t arrive on a race day, but we got up at 6 AM to view the jockeys and trainers practicing with their horses. How beautiful they run (alas, despite the cruelty of their fate after retirement…)! My family then drove up to NYC on Thursday to enjoy being in the city for the remainder of the holiday. I booked a lot of different theatre, dance, and musical extravaganza performances, including Shake, Rattle, and Roll at Tobacco Road, a piano duel at one of the last remaining dive bars in Manhattan, which was a lot of fun! In treating my family to tasty food and fun events & sights, I had a really terrific time. In continuing with our family tradition, we wrote our New Year resolutions together and discussed our hopes for 2012! Grace stayed an extra day, which made me very happy! We went to Mitsuwa for some tasty Japanese food and mocha pounding, followed by wandering around town for some of our favorite snacks. Alas, taking a full week off left me refreshed and excited for the opportunities upcoming in 2012. Nothing really beats spending time with my parents and sister.

Actually, the holiday season for me doesn’t end until Chinese New Year. Due to timing, I’m going home early this weekend to celebrate with my family with traditional dumplings and festivities. The year of the dragon will hopefully bring many new exploits! I’m actually heading to Las Vegas right now for CES 2012…really excited about it!