I don't really know

December 15 2015

In case you don’t make it further than this line, I’d like to wish you an early merry Christmas and happy 2016! J

Over the past 2 years or so, I have attempted many times to plan what I would write to 20K+ people from all over the world. I often imagined how excited I’d be when I received that email. But when I opened the email, it was a nonchalant event. I remember thinking “oh”; and a few hours later, thought “oh crap”.

When I was filling out the survey from Chris on Evolving the Listserve, I got hung up on the question “What do you know most about?” Suddenly I felt like I don’t know much about anything. I manage corporate strategy and run analytics in my day job, but does putting that down make me interesting? Do I know anything well enough (outside work) that I can teach others?

Speaking of work, Kobe Bryant’s recent retirement announcement inspired me to start thinking about professional success. In a way, he has it easier than most people – his success is defined by clear metrics: points, wins, championships. I don’t have the privilege of having numbers to measure my career, so I’m still searching for the answer, if there ever will be one.
I feel that measurement is a part of human nature. People buy wearables (smartwatches, fitness bands) so that they can assess how well they are doing, but unfortunately the most important things usually cannot be measured: quality connections and relationships with others, positive impact on the world, etc. I don’t know whether measuring these things is a matter of utmost importance, but I do think that if we could ever put a metric on them, we will be more focused on achieving “success” in those areas, instead of focusing on numbers that may not bring long-lasting happiness, such as higher salaries (see Easterlin Paradox).

I love traveling. This year I went to Spain and Portugal, and next year I am planning to go to Iceland and Czech Republic (please send recommendations!). Also, if any of you are ever in the San Francisco Bay Area, my roommate and I are happy to host you on Couchsurfing (username: sbwpchen).

If you made it this far, thank you! I have a small favor to ask. Recently I started a blog to talk about beverages from the Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington). If you have a minute, please take a look and send over your feedback! I’d love to hear your thoughts. The blog is at pacnwbrew[dot]com.

Thanks again for reading!

Ethan Chen
[email protected]
San Francisco Bay Area

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