Sabbatical Update: The Interesting Stuff (Weeks 1-2)

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You need to take a sabbatical. There is nothing that compares to waking up in the morning and knowing that you can spend your workday hours on your own agenda, not someone else’s.*

Start with a bang

4/22 – I left the office on my last day of work and headed to the LDS MBA conference. I wrote that up here, so I won’t repeat myself, but there was something awesome about starting my sabbatical off with learning.

Professional fantasy novel author or board game designer?

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4/25 – PAX East, a massive gaming convention (video games and board games) is held in Boston each year. My friend Justin Call started a board game company called Broomstick Monkey Games, and successfully Kickstarted his first game, Imperial Harvest. He attended the convention to demo and sell Imperial Harvest, and I spent Monday afternoon with him.

We played Splendor, an awesome game that feels like a simpler version of Dominion, but spent most of the time discussing his fantasy novel, The Hand of Keos/Son of Seven, which he has sold internationally and will be published in the next year or two. I learned quite a bit about the publishing industry.

Fresh air

4/26 – An important part of my sabbatical is spending time with my 2-year-old son. I switched the bicycle child carrier to my bike so I could do the morning drop-off and evening pick-up from preschool. It’s also easy to keep riding after the drop-off and get in some exercise.

Visit family, relax(?)

4/27 – Vacations with a kid are not nearly as relaxing as vacations without a kid were. 5-hour flight to Utah.

Geek out, learn JavaScript

4/28 – I attended a 45-minute CodeCademy webinar entitled Build a Website from Scratch with HTML, CSS & jQuery. It was a live coding webinar, so the presenter started completely from scratch and built everything. You can find the finished code on GitHub and see what it looks like running on MediaSpine. It’s basic and persistence wasn’t added until a later webinar, but it was fun to see it all take shape.
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The Startup Building

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4/29 – Utah has recently become a hotbed for major startups: Mozy, Omniture, Domo, Pluralsight, Qualtrics, and InsideSales. Adobe opened a massive office there. The NSA built their highly controversial data center 5 minutes just down the street. There’s a lot of tech going on.

Provo has a relatively new co-working space, The Startup Building, which is built on the same concept as the Cambridge Innovation Center or WeWork. I wanted to check it out, so I called the manager, hopped on a Vespa, and scooted down. The tour was interesting and I was able to chat with Colt Henrie, one of the co-founders of DevMountain, a coding bootcamp.

The Godfather

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5/2 – Speaking of the Utah startup scene, you can’t turn around without bumping into John Richards. He’s a successful entrepreneur, angel investor, co-founder of Startup Ignition (bootcamp) and Boom Startup (incubator), and entrepreneurship teacher at BYU. While eating lunch with my friend Aaron Hardy, who gave me some great perspective on Adobe and the Utah tech scene, John Richards walked in the restaurant and sat down two tables away. I couldn’t be on a sabbatical exploring technology and startups and pass up the opportunity to speak with him, so waited in the lobby until he was done and we chatted for a few minutes. It was great. Did I feel a bit like a stalker waiting for him to finish his meal? Yes. But hey, when an opportunity comes along, you take it.

Vomit, vomit, vomit, ER

2-year-old + norovirus + vomit + vomit + vomit = ER visit for fluids, changed flights, sleepless nights. It also put a damper on my tech activities for the rest of the week. Survival mode will do that.




*Unless that person is my wife, who also has an agenda for my sabbatical. When I told her “not working is my full-time job”, she didn’t buy it. But for the most part she’s been very supportive and minimally invasive.

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  • Ryan May 19, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    I’m jealous Derek. Keep us updated on your sabbatical.

  • Steve May 19, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Fun read. Didn’t realize you had a blog. Will come back to read more!

  • Manisha May 20, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Looking forward to more updates and some day having a blog on your own startup. Hope the little one is doing better now.

    • derek May 20, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      Thanks! He’s back to normal now.

  • Anonymous (JK, It's Will Mendoza) May 20, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    Derek! Great to see you haven’t changed a bit (at least in terms of being hungry for knowledge). It’s very inspiring! Thanks for letting us follow you on this journey.

    • derek May 22, 2016 at 7:01 pm

      Thanks Will! We should catch up soon about your post-MBA life.

  • Matthew May 21, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    Excited to tune in today and catch up on all your comings and goings. Looks like you’ve hit it off strong. Not surprised. Glad the little guy is feeling better. Keep learning, growing and exploring.

    • derek May 22, 2016 at 7:03 pm

      Thanks! Lots of fun opportunities and serendipitous happenings – weeks 2-4 coming soon.