The birthday bird from Katroo visited me this year in the form of my sweet daughters who reached out to 60 of my friends and asked them simply to, “…please write a little something to my mother. It can be whatever you want. There are no rules.”
What came back was a magical mystery tour of love and memories from friends, family, former colleagues, neighbors, and well, fans and “social network” connections from all over the world. It was completely surprising and deeply moving.
What a beautiful, selfless gift of love.
The hardest, and most gut-wrenching letters to read were the ones from my three children whom I love so much.
One of the letters included my inscription next to my high school yearbook photo where in the caption I had stated my ambition was to have money, regardless.
Ha. That makes me laugh today. Indeed, I made a lot of money in my life. Maybe more than some in my high school class. But, at the last juncture where I could have made a lot more, and achieved financial security, I literally walked away from it. Took a different path. Disappointing all my atheist friends, it reminds me of a biblical quote:
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”
1 Corinthians 13 : 11
We’re only on this planet a short while. If you feel the need to invest in something, invest in the character and integrity of your children. That time and energy will pay dividends in the Universe for generations to come.
And if you don’t have children, (probably better considering the state the planet is in), consider ways you might endeavor to change the world for the better.
Apparently, people really appreciate you for trying this, and they are very happy to wish you the very happiest of birthdays.
I admit, at first, it began as a vanity project. I was high off the success of my two prior Internet-based startups and felt invincible. I had a lot of friends. I felt empowered that I could do this. I brought a whole lot of arrogance and conceit to the fight.
Then, nearly as soon as I began, I got knocked off my my pedestal. I had to learn how to really work… how to really do research, how to make a real relationship, how to inspire someone to work for me for free with no guarantee of any return at all. I had to learn how to persuade people very different from me that I could be trusted and that I was sincere. I had to learn how to accept rejection, in the face of all logical evidence to the contrary that what I was selling was highly effective and worthy of investment.
I was told, “YOU HAVE NO STANDING” to have conversations in this field. In other words, GO AWAY.
Nevertheless, I persisted. But maybe, (h/t Stevie Wonder), like I fool I went and stayed too long–– I actually made progress against my goals. I believe what I’ve set in motion will pay substantial dividends in the future. I’ve said it hundreds of times: The Answers are in the Data. The problem in domestic violence is the offender, and we can identify, track, predict, and control their behavior with proper data analysis and monitoring. I’ve even filed a provisional patent for a software tool that will save lives if implemented properly.
Yet, after three years, I’m quitting. Maybe quitting while I’m ahead, but quitting nonetheless. The reason is personal, not business. You see working on domestic violence brings me to the front lines of my own personal horror show every damned day. I simply cannot continue to work on this for health reasons. Let’s call it a graceful exit.
I will leave behind the seeds of an important beginning conversation about the vast potential of data, and the powerful transformational story told by High Point, NC in our film. We should have a final cut soon. I wholly underestimated the toll this work would take on my mental health. At my peril.
Over time, I’m contemplating writing a short ebook about my experiences working in this field featuring what I learned–– the challenges and opportunities as I see it–– but there I go being thought-leadery again. I may also consider doing some public speaking aligned to the film, but we’ll see.
For now, I’m going back to tech consulting, and continuing with my R&R time in the comfort of the Florida winter chillzone.
Namaste. And a sincere thanks to everyone who helped Big Mountain Data and our ambitious goals.
Update 4/15/18:I was asked to speak at a National conference in the fall and looks like the software tool is moving forward in the hands of some industry experts who can take it to the next level. So, not exactly gone for good. Plus, I have a meeting tomorrow with a local data scientist who’s interested in our work. There is that UPenn machine learning case study I’ve been interested to replicate on the assessed risk of DV bond hearings…
Update 3/16/19:I still speak about this from time to time. I will be speaking Monday evening to an ACM-W group of students at the local university. And I did get to speak at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence national conference in the Fall, and show our film.