The Extroverted Introvert

ExtrovertedIntrovertSince I arrived in Boulder, I’ve worked very hard at behaving as extroverted as possible. I made a commitment to engage with my new community by meeting as many new people as I can.  While not an extreme introvert, my happy place is in front of a computer – not interacting with my fellow humans.  Sitting alone with my computer may be appealing, but acting as an introvert is at odds with my professional ambitions and personal goals.

While I’m absolutely drained at the end of every day, it’s very rewarding.  In my last startup, Jon Oropeza (my co-founder and best friend) encouraged me to step outside the office every day and talk to people. I wish I’d listened to his advice then. For some reason, in Palo Alto I struggled with this idea. Here in Boulder I find it easier to reach out to others. Here are several possible reasons why:

Timing:

I’m open to acting as an extrovert because failure opened me up to the idea. I clearly learned from Jon & my prior failures. Otherwise I wouldn’t have made the commitment that I did. I’m practicing extroversion and hoping that it becomes less draining over time (like building a muscle).

 Location:

In Boulder, meeting peoples is a bit easier for me.  Here, everyone takes time for hobbies, hiking, exercising and for other people. This is one of those often-discussed cultural differences between smaller towns and bigger cities. Neighbors don’t just say, “Hi”, they’ll stop and talk. As an introvert, it is easier to meet people if they’re prepared to take the time.

It surprised me how many people in Boulder want to “pay it forward”. Neighbors host welcome parties and drop off goodie baskets. Entrepreneurs hold office hours and meetups for newcomers. Boulderites genuinely want to help each other. Even the recent transplants take on this characteristic. Having arrived about two months ago, I see the power of “paying it forward,” and want to follow suit.

 Traffic:

Rather than getting in the car and driving an hour, I can walk 5 minutes to my next meeting. Sure, I may have to get in the car sometimes, but far less often than I originally expected and it usually doesn’t take long to get where I need to go. I can meet more people in a day because I spend less time in a car. I also arrive at my meetings without traffic-tension.

At the End of the Day:

ManWithPlugWhile the activation energy required for reaching out to my community may be lower, I am still an introvert. Each conversation saps me. As a result, I’m drained by the end of every day. I can’t wait to sit down with my thoughts and computer (and a glass of wine). During this time I recharge and take stock. I note what I achieved by stepping away from my computer. I observe how I am changing. By engaging my fellow humans, I feel closer to my community. For work, I’m more focused on other people’s needs and desires. Unfortunately, if I take too many meetings, I’m useless to my family at nights and on weekends.

Balance:

Just because it is possible to engage humanity all day, every day doesn’t mean I should. I’m still committed to stepping away from my computer. I just need to strike a better balance. I haven’t reached a proper balance yet. In fact, I suspect that there is no single ratio for alone-v-together time. I bet that my ratio changes as I take on different responsibilities, as stresses wax and wane, and hopefully as I build my “extroversion muscles”. There are advantages to introversion (focus, independence, …). By striking a better balance, I hope to use those advantages more purposefully, with a focus on community and other people’s needs and desires. Wish me luck…

The Walking Meeting

sky-81718_1280For those who don’t know, Boulder is known for it’s physical active population.  In Palo Alto, I’d say my kids were roughly average in physical fitness.  They have their strengths and weaknesses like most kids.  In Boulder I’d say they are on the lower end of physical fitness (for now).  Their dad may be a step or two lower.  While I’ve been working hard to get into shape, and I’m getting healthier, I’m definitely not “Boulder fit”.

A little while ago I had my first walking meeting followed promptly by my second. It’s an awesome approach, particularly when getting to know someone.  You get to stretch your legs and enjoy the outdoors.  You break the monotony of conference rooms.  The concern is, when does the walking meeting transition from a gentle stroll along the creek to a technical climb?

With a gentle stroll, I can listen, think and respond.  With the just-shy-of-needing-a-rope climb, I could barely hear anything over my own panting, not to mention listen to what my co-climber was saying.  The only thought running through my brain was ,”Oh crap, what did I get myself into?”  My responses were limited to more panting and occasional grunts.  Of course, my counterparts probably thought both meetings were just gentle strolls.

In the first walking meeting I made it clear that I am not acclimatized to Boulder’s level of athleticism. In the second, I wrongly assuming it would be similar to the first.  Now I know to preface every walking meeting with a disclaimer of non-athleticism.

AthleticDisclaimerI’m looking forward to more walking meetings.  Over time, I may even be able to handle some steeper terrain.  You never know…

-JFL

Superpowers

Superpowers. We’ve all got them. They’re the traits that we take for granted. Humans have superpowers compared to other animals, mostly as a result of our overly large brains. Grasshoppers have amazing jumping powers. Kids have imagination powers.

If you Google the term “What is my superpower?” you’ll find a list of silly quizzes that help you identify which fictional superpower fits your personality. Recently, I started asking this same question quite literally. Superpowers are often easier to identify in others. It’s that trait you wish you had.

We’ve all met “eidetic memory guy” and dreamed of waking up with that ability. But other abilities are just as valuable, and often not considered. I used to work with a woman whose ability was cataloging people’s superpowers. If you need someone to engineer a better hamster cage, she either knows a premiere hamster expert, or knows someone who will connect you to said hamster expert. I miss “eidetic-people-finder-woman”.

OutOfTheBoxFor those who don’t know me well, I’m Dr-thinks-outside-the-box.  I know I am Dr-thinks-outside-the-box because it is hard for me to understand why solving certain problems is challenging – the answers are just there.  Unfortunately, being Dr-thinks-outside-the-box comes with its own kryptonite.  I struggle with repetitive linear progressions like checklists, calendars and ordinary tasks most people take for granted.

Identifying my superpower and kryptonite helps me focus on how I should and shouldn’t spend my time.  It tells me where I need help – either through technology, coaching or outsourced assistance.

When hiring, it’s often hard to distinguish what is different about one applicant relative to another. Asking an interviewee about their superpower helps me clarify and distinguish between the candidates. Some interviewees don’t know what their superpowers are. This means they haven’t done enough introspection or don’t want to say. I suppose they could be afraid that I’m Lex Luthor, but probably not. Most people take a moment before responding. It’s surprising how honest the answers usually are.

In professional networking, identifying people’s superpowers helps me remember who they are, and what they’re about. Job titles change. Keeping names and employers straight is downright impossible for me. What I can do is remember faces and superpowers. Today I met find-your-customer-woman, empathy-guy, intellectual-property-man, prototyping-engineer-dude, marketing-demigod, mentor-maestro and slow-and-steady-product-sidekick.

Some superpowers lead people to be villains. For example, last night I met Dr-Bad-Advice, who gave advice without learning anything about who he was talking to. He advised me to finish my undergrad before thinking to ask me if I was a student. I’m 37, I have multiple degrees and was a professor. He just kept talking without providing a break for response. Eventually, I just walked away.

Here are a few of the superpowers I most admire:

  • Distilling and communicating complex ideas
  • Executing plans despite the challenges
  • Paying it forward
  • Motivating & empowering others
  • Resilience, resilience, resilience
  • Coding anything anywhere anytime

And some superpowers I hate:

  • Wasting time on conference calls
  • Literally using literally as the antonym of literally
  • Shitting on everyone’s parade
  • Playing gatekeeper to the cool-kids-club
  • Adding red tape where it doesn’t belong

Do you know your superpower?  What about your kryptonite?

Working at Galvanize 1

Galvanize-Boulder-23rd-Studios-Photography-Boulder-Startup-Week-Startup-Crawl-172A while back I posted about the cowork spaces I found.  I ended up doing some more research and talked to various people.  I really liked most of the cowork spaces, but ultimately chose to start at Galvanize.  Here are the primary reasons I chose Galvanize:

Events: Galvanize seems to host more meetups, classes, mentor office hours and happy hours than any other cowork space in Boulder.   Given that my goal is to make connections and meet as many people as I can, events are important.  Now I could have attended many of these events if I wasn’t part of Galvanize, it just makes it a few steps easier.

Focus: As I mentioned in my previous post, each cowork space seems to have a focus or flavor.  Like me, Galvanize is definitely focused on techie entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial techies.   At Galvanize I’m surrounded by techy people of all sorts.  Everything from IOS developers to makers of home brew equipment.  I get to nerd out each time I meet someone.  For example, Fuse @ the Riverside is geared for consultants a bit more, though they host one of the best startup meetups in town, the Boulder Startup Meetup.  Impact Hub has a broader focus, but attracts a higher concentration of socially conscious entrepreneurs and consultants.

View from the Deck: Yes, I can easily be swayed by such simple things.  Having a view of the Flatirons from the 5th floor deck is awesome.  I really enjoy sitting out there having a short meeting with another Galvanize entrepreneur or enjoying a beer after hours at a meetup.  It has an incredible view.

So far my experience has been wonderful.  The staff think of almost everything.  Reserving conference rooms is easy.  The Internet is smoking fast.  The space is light and modern.  Most importantly, they take care of you.  I made the mistake of eating a burger with sauerkraut before a meeting.  They had me covered.  There’s mouthwash in the bathroom.  It’s the simple things in life that can make a big difference.  🙂

Ultimately, I may switch cowork spaces after a while.  That way I can immerse myself among new people and keep learning and building relationships.  But Galvanize will make is going to make it hard for me to leave.  I can already see myself identifying with the community there.

 

 

 

Recovering Academic

RecoveringAcademicI received a call the other day from an amazing academic scientist. This awesome scholar was concerned about his/her present and future in academia. They’d lost their motivation as a sense of academic malaise (my words-not theirs). It eroded their passion for scientific inquiry.  Fortunately,  they reached out to me because after hearing I’d left academia.  I was happy to hear from her and to lend an ear. In all honesty, it was uplifting to hear another academic talk about academia openly without towing the party line.

It got me thinking. I haven’t really written about why I left academia. That isn’t to say I haven’t tried.   It’s very personal and mixed up in all sorts of emotions that span the gamut. But after that call, I realized I owe it to other academics to tell my story.

Let’s start by saying I never planned on being an academic. I went to college thinking I’d get an econ/finance degree, get a great job and live my life happily. Then I got hooked on geoscience by the fieldwork, a fascination with how the world works, and the computational aspects of crunching data. At each stage I questioned if I should continue on the academic path or jump ship. I almost jumped ship many times. But I was having fun, so I stayed the course.

It wasn’t until I was a professor at Stanford when jumping ship became more appealing than staying. There were a series of factors. First, my field of study has changed in the last 15 years. From my perspective, the maturing nature of academia and our funding sources has pushed science towards incrementalism, non-confrontation and science-by-consensus. From my experience, the most tantalizing ideas are sidelined while the sure bets and incremental improvements are funded and published with ease.

In order to do what I considered good science, I often had to lie. I’d get funding for an incremental task, do it in 40-60% of my research time and then do the cutting edge stuff in the remainder. After I published the cutting edge stuff (which was harder to push past reviewers), I could get funding for further incremental improvements – which I’d use for my next big idea… For a while I was happy to do this, but the unspoken assumption by the community that this was the ‘only’ way to produce cutting edge science, frustrated me.

Another thing that frustrated me was that I have diverse interests and liked to collaborate. The number of times I heard from senior scientists that I had to “be the best at one thing” really pissed me off. My goal was not to be the best. It was to make the greatest impact on science that I could.  Doing things in different ways and joining techniques in new combinations and out-of-the-box collaborations, were exciting to me as well as my colleagues.

About two years ago I took a leave of absence. I co-founded a startup in my basement related to video technology (a new field for me). I had more fun than I’d had in years. I learned more in those six months than the last several years as a professor. When I returned to academia I tried to continue on as before. It was during this time that I started battling health problems, both mental and physical.  Having realized I wasn’t learning as many new things, I was always stressed about funding, and never having the opportunity to pursue unconventional topics meant I’d lost the drive to continue in academia.

In those next few months I found that I missed the concept of providing a service directly to people.   A decade ago I worked on the assumption that pushing science forward and thinking outside the box provided a valuable service to humanity.  The longer I worked as a professor, the less rewarding it became.  Sure, teaching the next generation of great minds was intoxicating.  Moving forward, I found myself encouraging students and postdocs to pursue  other options first and choose academia only if their passions wouldn’t allow an alternative.

 

I know many of my academic friends and colleagues are baffled by my choices and key values. Perhaps my view of academia is wrong. Perhaps I should have just shoved my round self into a square mold. But having a job for life was starting to sound like a life sentence, not the gift that others seemed to view it as. The idea of tenure felt suffocating to the point where I struggled to come into work. It wasn’t a matter of ability to get tenure. It was the life that tenure meant – forcing myself into a mold that didn’t fit right, locking myself in and throwing away the key.

I enjoyed every job I’ve ever had, until the idea of tenure came into being. I loved working in IT. I loved working at a country store. I liked clerical work. Accounting was not my favorite, but it was a lot better than my last year as a professor at one of the top institutions in the world. Hell, I enjoyed cutting and stacking firewood in my youth. I knew I could do a lot of things that would make me happier.

Even knowing this, it was nearly impossible to pull myself away from the “academic dream”. I call it a dream, because other academicians talked about my job (and others like it) with envy, respect and reverence. I was working with some of the smartest people (students, postdocs and faculty) at one of the most respected institutions in the world. I had more freedom than many to pursue my own goals and interests. In many ways it was the perfect job. I had flexibility, amazing students and awesome administrative staff. Expressing dissatisfaction seemed silly and petty when I was at the pinnacle.

Each time I talked with other academicians, it was painful to admit how I felt. As a result, I rarely did. How could I complain when I had the “dream job”?  I tried to put on a good face. Above all, I didn’t want to derail my students. I worked very hard not to lie. I loved the science that I did (and still do). I’d often focus on that. I’d focus on my amazing students. But in the end, it wasn’t enough. I just didn’t fit in the academic mold. I am envious of people who do. I wanted to.

So now, I am a recovering academic. I am mending. I am excited about a future that is uncertain.

P.S. If you are a closet non-academic, living in an academic world, please reach out to me. You are not alone. You can change paths even if you are good at what you do. If your productivity is plummeting, reach out and talk to someone who understands. If not me, talk to someone else. We are out here. We are supportive.  You are NOT alone.

Lounge Chair Game Theory

I like nerding out.  It doesn’t matter whether I’m on vacation, or in a meeting.  For some strange reason I really like inefficient systems that highlight game theory.

imageThe Rules: So here I am on vacation at Disney’s Aulani resort in Hawaii, looking for a shaded lounge chair near the kids’ pool.  Each lounge chair has a towel and sometimes another token (like a hat, shirt, one flip flop, or a camera case).  Aulani staff perfectly fold one towel on every lounge chair every hour to mark the ones not being used.  If they come around again to a perfectly folded towel, they collect the stuff, freeing the chair for someone else. As all of the Disney cast say verbatim, “That way it’s fair.”

imageThe Winning Strategy: The observed behavior is that towels and tokens start appearing around 6am, when nobody is actually in the kids’ pool.  Every hour the “occupant” of each chair comes by and ruffles the towel, so their stuff isn’t moved by the staff.  The net result is that the chairs are devoid of people for most of the day.  At peak occupancy (around lunch) maybe one in three lounge chairs are occupied.  Usually only one in six chairs is occupied (yes I’m geeking out – I love it).

imageSecondary Considerations: The first chairs to fill up with tokens and towels are the ones with shade in the hottest part of the afternoon and nearest to the pool.  These are ideal for sipping an umbrella drink while watching the lifeguards soberly keep our kids safe.  The first lounge chairs to fill up are also the most fiercely protected by towel-ruffling occupants.  People will split up their family on vacation to get the shady spots.  Throughout the day, people shuffle from chair to chair trying to find adjacent chairs in the shade.  Industrious vacationers claim more chairs than they could possibly use for bartering, for shade at different parts of the day, and just in case the adjacent seat opens up.

Rule Breakers v Rule Followers: Some people are happy to walk up and move others stuff (you know who you are), while others wander around and eventually give up, obviously annoyed (you also know who you are).  This whole process probably would have annoyed me if it didn’t fascinate me so much.  While some clearly enjoy playing this game (because they know how to win, they’re sadistic, or they thrive on competition), it results in a suboptimal (Nash Equilibrium) lounge chair usage.  It also disturbs the calm of many, like the wonderful Ex Pats sitting next to me, who worry about some long-gone occupant return annoyed, drunk and belligerent.

Earlier I overheard (eavesdropped in on) a conversation that went something like is:

Daughter: Should we leave the towels here?

Dad: yes

Daughter: but we’re not coming back

Dad: but we might if our plans change.

Daughter: They won’t, but I guess it’s easier than taking  the towels back.

Take-Home Points: People watching usually reinforces my world view that systems are set up with little attention to how people really behave in unique ecosystems.  Here are the take-home messages of the day:

  1. Some people will always act in their own best interest, even at a cost to everyone else.
  2. Others will act in their own best interests because if they don’t, the first group will make sure they have nothing.
  3. People are prepared to incure a cost (scheduling their vacation day around towel ruffling – even early in the morning) to gain a little benefit through the day.
  4. Most people are happy to play a game that clearly doesn’t work, rather than buck the protocol and move other people’s stuff.
  5. When there is no cost (like leaving a resort towel behind) people will guard an asset even if it has minimal value to them and high value to others.
  6. Disney looks good for setting up “fair” ruses while the other guests look bad.

If Disney didn’t police the lounge chairs, what would happen?Pretty much the same thing, but with more fluid adjustments towards a more optimal outcome.  People would still lay claim to their preferred spots.  By folding the towels, Disney just encourages people to play the game more consistently, rather than enjoying their day.  Because Disney defines the system as “fair”, people are more likely to adhere to the rules.  If not, I bet more people would just start encroaching on unused chairs faster.  By trying to be “fair” with a top down rule, they’ve made the system less fluid for the game players and actually less fair.  For their policy to work effectively, Disney should consider changing the game.

Alternatives: Rather than paying someone to go around folding towels, Disney could buy a few more umbrellas, buy some regular chairs that take up less space, buy lockers so people have an alternate place to stash their junk.   could institute a shorter turnaround time so people can’t lay claim to their chairs without higher personal costs (loosing out on enjoyment).

Another option would be to allow guests to reserve spots for a limited duration – say an hour – or provid a random lottery for seat assignment.  Those would be fair, but might place Disney in the seat of making choices people didn’t like.  There are all sorts of systems that could work, like having a set of seats that have use-it-or-loose-it policy.  That grandma tourist can ac tually get some rest rather than wondering arround until I open my spot.

imageSo Who Wins? Have I mentioned that I love broken systems.  Disney’s persistence of this system fascinates me.  My usual conclusion is that persistent broken systems exist because changing the paradigm has little upside on profit for the rule makers or nobody is paying attention.  I bet Disney pays attention, because they became a household name by paying attention.  More likely, they also know that pitting guest against anonymous guest is much better than having guests annoyed at them.  Well played Disney.  Well played.

The Boulder Welcome

Pixar's Inside OutOK, so moving to a new town and rebooting our careers is scary.  We’ve uprooted our family, quit our jobs, and transplanted our lives with the goal of a more purposeful existence.  Of course we visited Boulder (and many more cities) before relocating, and we chose our new home with care.  But it’s still a nerve racking experience.  It’s no surprise that the emotions caused by moving are at the center of this year’s biggest family movie, Pixar’s Inside Out.

One of our major fears is the daunting process of making new friends.  Within the first year of Moving to Palo Alto, we were invited to four non-work social events (dinners, parties, …).  Even after eight years in Palo Alto, we did most of the inviting.  Perhaps this is because we’re the jerks, but I don’t think so.  Granted I’m a contrarian introvert, and find myself awkward in many social environments, but my wife makes up for my deficiencies.  Ultimately we befriended some truly amazing people and formed lasting bonds, but not without tons of false starts.

The welcome matSo, here we are, out of one home, on our way to the next, fearing another monumental effort to make friends.  But this time is starting off different.  We haven’t even landed in Boulder yet, and we have three dinner invitations, two party invitations, a kids play dates, and several lunch/brunch/coffee meet and greets.  We couldn’t feel more welcomed.

On a professional level, I feel the same thing.  Perhaps this has to do with a career change, but Boulder entrepreneurs are not just inviting.  They’re helpful and community oriented.

Thank you Boulder community.  I can’t wait to reciprocate and pay it forward. People, not money, make the world go round.

The Storytelling Pitch

StartupStreetAndPitchDriveThe other day I was listening to yet another startup pitch, desperately trying to stifle an irresistible yawn.  I felt bad for the bored expression that must have crept its way onto my face despite my best efforts.  Glancing around, I spied the same look all around me.  It’s heartbreaking to see that moment when a CEO realizes he’s lost most of his audience.  After all the hard work, extra hours and countless practice pitches, nobody in the room is really connecting with his passion.

Unfortunately, I’ve been through this experience myself and watched it countless times.  If you’ve experience this moment, you’ve failed to get the audience emotionally invested.  You probably focused on what founders always have to focus on: the million details it takes to go from idea to funding.  This particular pitch wasn’t much different in content from other pitches.  He covered all the bases.  In fact, the presenter had a solid idea and his enthusiasm and planning were readily apparent.  Unfortunately, the pitch as a whole didn’t resonate with the audience.

Later I had a chance to chatted with the CEO/presenter.  Here was another case of a bright motivated entrepreneur with a great idea but struggling to find the right pitch.  It wasn’t until several minutes in that I started to take real interest in his company.  This transition happened when he started telling anecdotal stories about his customers and their needs.

While his company wasn’t right for me, I wanted to help him.  So I gave him some advice that I’ll share here.  “Focus on the story, not just the details of your pitch.  Start your pitch with the most compelling story in your arsenal.  The idea is to get your audience as emotionally involved as soon as possible.  Once they’re connected with the story, your audience will remember more details and respond more emphatically.”

He seemed to really appreciate this advice.  We discussed the stories some more, and you could see the gears turning in his head.  He asked how he should choose which story to put first.  I suggested he use the tools at his disposal, and try an A/B test.  I’ve tried a similar thing with Mechanical Turk, and suggested he try the same.  I wasn’t sure if he was being sincere or not, but it seems that he did.  Today I received an email saying he’d “found some great ways to improve [his pitch]”.

For some CEOs, it seems wrong to take up valuable time with stories when there’s so much info to convey.  Yet, how many details do you remember from a typical 10 minute talk? Most of us only take home a few details and a general opinion of the talk.

If you don’t believe me, let’s try a little A/B testing here.  Follow these three steps in this experiment:

Step 1: Read these two fictional intros:

shopping-35594_640Intro A- With our IOS app, anyone can have fresh groceries delivered to their door.  Millions of people want to cook at home, but don’t because they don’t have the time or energy to go grocery shopping.   Our mobile app, connects customers with personal grocery shoppers.  Problem solved. We’re the “Uber of groceries”.

enetralna prehranaIntro B- Leaving work late, Sandra Baker, a 25 year-old nurse, remembers that her cupboards are empty, again.  She’s too tired to go to the grocery store for fresh veggies, so she orders out, again.  With our app, a personal shopper delivers fresh groceries to Sandra’s door before she gets home.  We’re the “Uber of groceries”.

Pink_Elephant_Slide_(3909355634)Step 2: Ask yourself what this pink elephant is thinking (yes I’m trying to distract you for a second).

Step 3: Finish the following survey to see which one people connect with.

Moving Made Easier (Hopefully)

There are soooooo many steps to moving. This is particularly true when you’re moving to a new state, with kids, and a dog, and a cat, and a car, and into a new house, and and and…  While moving is exciting, it’s also stressful.

Relax_at_the_beachThat’s why we’re going to Hawaii for a few days between packing up and unpacking.  The moving truck takes 5-10 days from Palo Alto to Boulder, so why not spend that time unwinding?  Of course, the average vacation with children is anything but relaxing, and usually makes me wish for a vacation from my vacation.

Thanks to a fellow twin parent, we’ve learned about the beauty of Disney hotels.  Disney hotels have three essential features:

  1. Swimming Pools: smiling kids and happy parents
  2. Lifeguards: stress free for parents
  3. Poolside Service: relaxed parents with drinks in hand

Sure the travel to and from Hawaii will be filled with, “Hurry up! No, not that way.  Common, stop pounding on your sister! Please stop kicking the seat in front of you. Sure, take the iPad.  That’s too loud, the pilots can hear Jake and the Neverland Pirates all the way up there! Uggg!”  But hopefully we’ll get a few days of, “This is what I’m talking about!”

MovingCheckListTo help with the move, I found several checklists and have compiled them here.  I’ll continue to add Boulder-centric links to make it easier to move to Boulder with less stress.  Let me know if you have suggestions…

-JFL


Moving Check List


Several Years Out:

2-6 Months Out:

  • Visit to make sure it feels like home (send an email or post a question if you’d like suggestions)
  • Start looking at real estate (Redfin, Zillow & Trulia rock!)
  • Call realtors (for a new home & the old one).  Daphne Queen found us the perfect Boulder home before it even hit the market.  She was easy to work with and put in lots of time.  Thanks Daphne.
  • Get a grip on your finances (think, new home, moving, and insurance, internet, …)
  • Tell the kids we’re all moving (they’ve probably overheard you talking about it).

2 Months Out:

  • Started filling out this checklist (think about all the info you’ll need to collect).
  • Get estimates from moving companies
  • Calculate a budget for moving.
  • Secure your housing (purchase or rental)
  • Arrange home insurance.  I got a bunch of quotes in Boulder, but Helen Wagner’s office at State Farm came back with the best rates, services, and responses to questions.
  • Arrange to have school records and veterinarian records transferred.  There’s a handy link here.
  • Pinpoint your move date.

1 Month Out:

  • Gather copies of legal and financial records.
    • Checking
    • Savings
    • 401k
    • Investments
  • Create a list of services/clubs/professional accounts to cancel/transfer (See the list down below):
    • Gym, YMCA,
    • organization (Mileage programs, Rental Clubs, Costco)
    • Wine Club(s) (I’ll post on this soon)
    • AAA roadside assistance (Of course the link changes per state).
    • Accountant/Attorney
    • Health provider/insurance
  • Request referrals from your current doctors/dentists/vision specialist
  • Compile medical records (including vision, dental, shots and prescriptions).
  • Start scavenging for used boxes
  • Begin purging your home:
    • Keep: Anything you’ve used in the last 12 months.  It’s hard to get rid of older things, but if you’re not using them, you’re not using them…
    • Donate/Sell: Stuff that is still functional.  Friends and family get first dibs.  We often just put stuff to the curb, and it disappears.
    • Recycle: Anything you can.  You’ll be surprised what can be recycled.
    • Landfill: Anything left.
  • Let teacher know to watch out for kids behavior changing as move date approaches
  • Change healthcare: I hadn’t heard of Rocky Mountain Health Plan before, but it provided a wide range of flexibility and works for Boulder Medical CenterBoulder Community Health and University of Colorado Hospital.  I found the best range of options at eHealthInsurance.  The other standards seem like they’ll also work (like Aetna & Anthem).

3 Weeks Out:

  • Start cancelling/transferring accounts
    • Auto Insurance
    • Bank/Investment Accounts
  • Start eating random food in the pantry (throw a “random food” party on Thursday)
  • Begin packing items
  • File change of address with USPS.
  • Make travel arrangements for your pets (If you fly, you’ll need to see your vet).
  • Start notifying utilities:
    • Electric & Gas: Xcel Energy
    • Water: Boulder Utility (this is done automatically if you purchase your home)
    • Telephone: We went with Comcast. Lesser of all evils…
    • Cell phone: AT&T then Verizon seem to have the best coverage.
    • Cable/Satellite and internet: We went with Comcast for the bundled package. Again, lesser of all evils…
    • Sewer: Boulder Utility (this is done automatically if you purchase your home)
    • Trash/Recycling collection: Western Disposal

2 Weeks Out:

  • Begin packing items you don’t use often.
  • Clearly label each box with:
    • contents
    • floor & room
  • See vet less than 10 days before you leave to
    • Collect pet medical and immunization records
    • Get certified for safe pet travel.
  • Host a garage sale or post items on Craigslist.
  • Dispose of flammables, corrosives, and poisons.
    • Use disposal service, or
    • Given them to friends/family
  • Have your car checked up.
  • Notify these professional services of your move:
    • Accountant
    • Attorney
    • Doctor
    • Dentist
    • Financial Planner
    • Health Insurance Provider
    • Insurance Agent
    • Notify these services/accounts of your move:
    • Loans: Auto Finance Company
    • Bank/Credit Union/Finance Companies
    • Credit Card Companies
    • Health Club/YMCA/Gym
    • Home care service providers (lawn, exterminator, snow removal etc.)
    • Magazines
    • Monthly memberships (Nexflix, book of the month, etc.)
    • Newsletters
    • Newspapers
    • Pharmacy
    • Store/Gas Charge Accounts
    • Notify these government offices of your move:
    • City/County Tax Assessor
    • State Vehicle Registration
    • Social Security Administration
    • State/Federal Tax Bureau (IRS form F8822 is optional given the IRIS uses USPS records.)
  • Confirm travel arrangements for pets and family.
  • Confirm parking for your moving trailer or moving container. Obtain permits if needed.
  • Plan meals for the last weeks to use up your food.
    • Throw a party to empty liquor cabinet and pantry
    • Make it an experimental foods party
  • Assemble a folder of important info about your house for the next home owner.
  • Have USPS hold mail at new address until you arrive.

1 Week Out:

  • Review your moving plans.
  • Notify friends and family of your new address and phone number.
  • Pack an essentials box/bag to keep with you during the move.
  • Drain gas and oil from lawn equipment, gas grills, heaters, etc.
  • See if larger furniture will fit through the door without disassembling.
  • Empty fridge and defrost freezer.
  • Fill any prescriptions needed during the move.

Moving Day:

  • Check every room and closet one last time to make sure nothing is left behind.
  • Leave a note with your new address so that future residents can forward stray mail.

Move In:

  • Pick up any mail being held at the local post office
  • Unload your items and begin organizing your new home.

WIthin 30 Days:

  • Register your dog:  You need to register your dog within 30 days.
    • First you’ll need to get a dog checkup by a participating vet clinic.
    • Then you can register online, via mail in or in person.
  • Throw a “bring a mug and a cereal bowl party” (Great suggestion CJ)
    • You provide coffee, tea and cereals & muffins
    • Invite the neighbors over anytime Saturday morning
    • They bring a mug and cereal bowl

Within 90 Days:

Wine Wine Wine

Shiraz GrapesThose who know me know that I love wine.  For me, wine isn’t just a tasty beverage, it’s a hobby.  Over the past decade in California I assembled a pretty decent collection.  But now I’m moving to boulder … so, what should I do?

I don’t spend much on wine because I purchase at club rates (30% off) or auction (50% off).  Yet, the collection is worth a lot to me.  It takes a long time to collect 264 bottles that fit your palate.  It takes a lot of patience to age your wine until it hits peak performance.  My collection reflects a mix of my particular preferences (bold reds) with those of my wife’s (crisp whites & spicy reds).

Feel free to use this image just link to www.rentvine.com

Image from: www.rentvine.com

The bad news: 😦

My wife and I searched for the best options to ship our collection to Boulder.  The initial quotes were pretty expensive ($1100-5000) for shippers like bottles direct.  Of course it costs an arm and a leg to ship our precious liquid grape at a perfect 55 degrees fahrenheit in mid-summer.  I just wasn’t prepared for the sticker shock!

We also need to store our wine in Boulder.  We’re moving into a smaller house while our permanent home is remodeled (another post coming soon).  So we have to pay $50-200/month to keep our grapelicious wine gems preserved at ideal temperatures.  This can add up to a whopping $600-$2500/year.

All told, moving and storing our wine could cost more than we spent collecting it!  Of course the true value of the wine is higher because we found good deals and have stored it for years.  I know, #FirstWorldProblems!  I started considering other options:

  • sell it all and start over,
  • throw an endless series of parties to dwindle our supply,
  • give our wines away before leaving.

The good news: 🙂

Fortunately, we found Corkscrews.  Not only will Corkscrews store our wine for us (at a reasonable price), they’ll coordinate the move into their lockers in Boulder.   They arranged to ship our wine on a pallet at a hugely reduced price ($650 all told) if we schlepped our 22 cases over to a local wine distributor.  Brooks, the owner of corkscrew, is responsive to both emails and phone calls.

It turns out, I don’t have to give up on my 10-year collection.  With that hurdle out of the way, we’re one step closer to landing in Boulder.  I can’t wait…

-JFL