Adventure

2015, in Review

What a year! I have had some incredible professional and personal experiences in 2015 and I thought I would share a few of my favorites:

  • At MasterCard, we launched several new API services for a variety of customer segments.
  • We launched Masters of Code, a global hackathon competition from MasterCard that enabled us to work with some of the best software developers in the world.
  • We focused on expanding our customer base globally and ensuring that our global growth was sustainable through the creation of a decentralized process. This allowed me to work with some incredible technologists and organizations all over the world.
  • We launched the first ever global internal hackathon at MasterCard in which more than 5% of the entire company participated.
  • We worked with highly skilled and creative NYC developers at events such as the NYC FinTech Hackathon, TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon (at which a group of MasterCard developers won third place overall) and with Cornell Tech students at an internal event.
  • We facilitated Commerce Forum meetups in MasterCard’s NYC Tech Hub, bringing in a variety of speakers to talk about what’s happening in the commerce industry. This was in addition to our NYC involvement in great organizations such as the NY FinTech Meetup and the NYC TechDay.
  • I had the opportunity to represent MasterCard at fairly large events in the community this year, including an Inter-American Development Bank event, Front End of Innovation, AnDevCon, and more.
  • I was honored to be a formal mentor for a variety of organizations this year including XRC Labs, Techstars, Startupbootcamp, AngelHack Hackcelerator, and NYC Generation Tech.
  • I had a (short) conversation with and was retweeted by pmarca.
  • We closed out a successful year for Ignite Stamford (and will have relevant news on the organization soon).
  • I have continued to serve on my city’s legislative board and with my colleagues have continued to improve our community.
  • I was very excited to attend tapings of new talk shows that launched in 2015 including Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah, David Letterman and Stephen Colbert.
  • I attended some games including those of the Yankees, the Red Sox and the UConn Huskies. I’m a fan of two out of those three – I’ll let you guess.
  • I attended a few concerts, my favorite of which was U2 at Madison Square Garden.
  • I saw the new Star Wars movie. Multiple times.
  • I am always trying to learn new things, so I took some time to study the fundamentals of quantum entanglement, machine learning, cloud architecture and venture capital.
  • I became engaged to an intelligent and loving woman.

Here’s to a great 2016!
CUGfCuTWUAATku9

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Adventure

A Real Vacation

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I don’t usually like cruises since I’m the type of person who likes to take the time to explore places I visit. I have to say, though, it was nice to do a little Caribbean island-hopping: You enjoy the ship with all of the food and activities included, spend a day on a beach, and repeat. The best thing about this vacation was that it was just that: a vacation. Instead of one of my usual traveling adventures, I was able (forced, really) to disconnect from technology and let my mind wander. It was very refreshing. For those like me who often find themselves keeping busy even on vacation, I highly recommend taking time to do nothing.

If only I didn’t have to go through a mountain of emails now that I’m back… and so many Hulu shows… 

What are some of your favorite vacation memories? Tweet at me with #vacation to let me know!

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Adventure, Community, Technology

Film Review: The Square

I was fortunate to attend a showing of The Square, a documentary focused on the political and social tensions in Egypt we have seen during this decade. This Oscar short-listed film purports to show the revolution from “behind the headlines,” and I have to say it did an excellent job of doing so. The film took viewers into the often chaotic situation in and around Tahrir Square of the clash between a revolutionary force, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Egyptian Army. As a character-driven film, the story focuses on six individuals who are not afraid to show their hearts to the camera. I was thoroughly impressed by how the filmmakers were able to capture the emotion of given situations for most stakeholders rather than provide a dispassionate review that we often see in the media and other films. I highly recommend that anyone who has a chance to the see this film does so.

On the business side, it is interesting to note that Netflix has acquired exclusive streaming rights for this film. This is a continuation of a trend we will continue to see, which I pointed out in a previous post.

Tweet at me with your own reviews and thoughts on the @TheSquareFilm.

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Adventure, Entrepreneurship

Unappreciated Detail

Cambodia

I recently returned from a trip to Cambodia where I spent a few days exploring the ancient temples. It was an amazing trip, and I wholly recommend it to anyone interested in these types of excursions. One thing I noticed immediately about  all of the temples was the level of detail put in to them.

To think that these were built hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago with no electricity or modern equipment is incredible.

CambodiaWhat was equally impressive was that this detail could be found inside as well as outside the building that weren’t exactly small. I cannot imagine the thousands of man-hours it took to create these buildings (or the consequences for those who made a mistake on them). As I walked through these temples, I found myself thinking about a lesson I quickly learned in the startup world: focus on your core. At Startup Weekend, we often describe this as an MVP, or minimum viable product. Working for a small startup or a large organization, you have a finite amount of resources to build products and services for your customers. As you work on your product or service, remind yourself of what is necessary and what is superfluous. Without this focus, human and capital resources will quickly become scarce, much like the Khmer Empire.

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