#MentalNote · Learning · Self-Revelation

Jesus Year

The Jesus Year is age 33, the year that scholars believe Jesus started a spiritual, political, and intellectual revolution. The Jesus Year is the age at which young people decide it is time to get serious about life, time to accomplish something.

I turned 33 at the beginning of April and to be honest, between COVID and some deaths in the family, there hasn’t been much to celebrate. My sister and Crystal mentioned they both do gratitude journals and I thought I’d share out 33 things I’m grateful for this year.

  1. I’m grateful for improving and overall good health
  2. I’m grateful for my parents and their health
  3. I’m grateful for my siblings.
  4. I’m grateful for Crystal.
  5. I’m grateful for my sister-in-law to be.
  6. I’m grateful for my extended family
  7. I’m grateful for my framily and family beyond blood.
  8. I’m grateful I get to do what I love every day at Google.
  9. I’m grateful for what I’ve built at tiphub
  10. I’m grateful for my past mistakes.
  11. I’m grateful for the time I enjoyed in Chicago.
  12. I’m grateful for my mentors that have guided me in this journey.
  13. I’m grateful for all the impromptu adventures around the world
  14. I’m grateful to be alive at this time.
  15. I’m grateful for having the opportunity to teach and share more about product management at General Assembly.
  16. I’m grateful for my car. It’s beautiful.
  17. I’m grateful for the pain and the joy in my life… It’s given everything more color.
  18. I’m grateful for the wisdom that comes with age
  19. I’m grateful Jay – Electronica actually came out with an album and I got to listen to it in my lifetime.
  20. I’m grateful for my time in DC. What a time.
  21. I’m grateful I had the chance to volunteer two years of my life for a greater cause.
  22. I’m grateful for my ability to continue to learn new things.
  23. I’m grateful for the luxury of watching all the bad movies on Netflix.
  24. I’m grateful for my youtube music subscription.
  25. I’m grateful I survived COVID-19
  26. I’m grateful for Jonathan Perrelli. He gave me my first shot at venture capital back in the day.
  27. I’m grateful for all the entrepreneurs I’ve had the chance to collaborate with.
  28. I’m grateful for Moderna.
  29. I’m grateful for Twitter.
  30. I’m grateful for Bollywood and Nollywood movies.
  31. I’m grateful for rainy days.
  32. I’m grateful for Cape Town’s beauty.
  33. I’m grateful for all my DM subscribers.

I’m grateful for all these things and more.

History · Learning

This Question Came Up Today

A good friend of mine, who is a well-known agitator, asked a question about Africans role in facilitating the transatlantic slave trade. I guess some people weren’t too clear on what happened. So based on the history classes I’ve taken and books I’ve read, I tried to answer as best I could. Of course, it turned into a book.

Ugh… I wish it was easy to deconstruct but I’ll try.

Most European countries were not able to build solid enough networks to acquire slaves without the help of a network of African leaders and traders who had struck commerce agreement with each other. It started off as raw materials exchange but slavery became one of the main requests after a while. You’ve probably heard that most slaves were captured as a result of wars.

What people don’t understand is how this scaled. At the time, there was no collective identity and Africa as it is now with countries and nationalities. It was mostly tribal (for some exemptions like certain empires that did exist) and fragmented. As Europeans started to see how profitable the slave trade was, they started to encourage conflict among tribes. They signed military agreements with opposing tribes, armed others and leveraged conflicts to accelerate the number of slaves that would be taken as a result of wars.

People also fail to understand that many groups we’re not going. There were certain villages that build fortifications, came up with tactics to make it not worth their while to take slaves from that area. For example, collective hunger strikes, actually going to war with traders, Killing them, “special ops” teams that would sell slaves to see where they went and would set them free after. Europeans, over time, saw these groups as “not profitable” to engage and stayed away.

There are so much context and fragmented narratives here… but from this, you can take away three things.

1. Yes, there were people who collaborated with the European traders to facilitate commerce in which slavery became a big driver. There are Africans who benefited from this.

2. The only way chattel slavery scaled is by European intervention. By supplying guns and protection to specific groups, the Europeans increased their supply of slavery and manipulated political and economic realities in West Africa.

3. A lot more folks in Africa were not going than people give credit.


I decided to give a long answer because the relationship between Africa and the African diaspora has been on my mind for the last couple of days. I’ll probably follow this up with a longer post on what I’m thinking.

#MentalNote · Learning

Ideas That Changed My Life

A couple of months ago, I read Ideas That Changed My Life by Morgan Housel, a Partner at the Collaborative Fund. I thought I’d make my own list as a reflection exercise.

Life is suffering

Rough one to start off a list with. Buddha once said that “Life is suffering”. A more pessimistic and often times wrong way of looking at this that life is nothing but suffering. What Buddha means, or at least what I think he means is if you have to accept suffering as much as you accept the happiness in your life. The more you accept that you’ll suffer, the less likely you won’t feel as entrenched in the situations that cause suffering. A great practical example is working out. I work out and I feel sore after I’m done. Underneath it all, my muscle fibers are breaking themselves apart to become stronger in the long run. If I want to enjoy my gains in strength, I have to accept the soreness and discomfort that comes with it.

Understanding life is suffering opens life up to a bunch of new opportunities. It decreases fear of the unknown and allows people to take more risks. It also allows you to maintain a stoic outlook on things that happen to you in life.

You can’t change things outside of your control, but you can change your attitude.

This saying takes from the stoic practice of being a micromanager of your thoughts and feelings like the only thing you can really control. Honestly, by following this practice, I’m always surprised by what happens but always enter a situation with the knowledge I can manage my thought and emotions more than I can dictate the outcome.

Real happiness comes from trying to be the best version of yourself

The real happiness is in growth. Imagine all times you’ve struggled through something or learned a new skill and then seen growth in that activity. Challenging yourself to continuously grow to the best version of yourself is one of the few areas where you can achieve true happiness.

Innovation happens at the intersection of traditionally unassociated areas.

The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts, and Cultures is a book written by Swedish-American entrepreneur Frans Johansson in 2004. In this book, Johansson describes that disruptive innovation often comes from people who are not in that specific industry and the biggest innovations happen at the intersection of unrelated areas.

This idea provides a process/map where people can find brilliant ideas…Most of the time it’s in a totally random place where most wouldn’t think to look.

You’re a walking miracle

The probability of human birth alone is close enough to zero. The idea that your body didn’t give up on you as many ways as it could, or the fact you survived the day to read this is a testament to miracles. Your existence continues to compound in improbability until you grow old and pass on.

Remember how special you are is super important but it also helps you realize how special those around you are and how lucky they are to have you in their life and for you to be in theirs.

Belief is one of the most powerful tools we have as humans

The power of belief is a testament to the power of the brain and mindset. We can trick our brains into doing things just by believing a couple of fundamental truths, for better or worse.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

Perfect is an unattainable, ever fleeting benchmark that really doesn’t exist. Good, most of the time, is enough and perfection gets in the way. This resonates as a product person. They’ll never be the perfect time to launch or the perfect time to refactor, or the perfect set of features. At the end of the day, just get out there. You’ll be better with an executed good rather than waiting on an ideal perfect.

80/20 Rule

I didn’t believe the 80/20 rule but it just proves to be a universal truth. For those who are unaware, 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. This has wide crossing implications but it comes into play when you focus on where to allocate time and resources. Think of businesses, for example. Let’s take Google. Search and Ad business accounts for about 20% of the company and accounts for around 80% of Alphabet/Google revenue. Even personally, when you work out, the last set when you’re tired account for a majority of your gains. I’ve found this to apply in nature, society, life, etc.

Visualize The Worst-Case Scenario

Sometimes we fear the unknown and it festers in our brain which leads to uncertainty, doubt and a lack of confidence. Something I learned from a professional speaking class that made a lot of sense is imagining the total failure of speech/situation. What are the steps you take or don’t take to get to that situation? How do you feel? What happens as a result of the worst-case scenario coming to bare? Visualizing the worst that can happen reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Littlefinger:

“Don’t fight in the North or the South. Fight every battle everywhere, always, in your mind. Everyone is your enemy, everyone is your friend. Every possible series of events is happening all at once. Live that way and nothing will surprise you. Everything that happens will be something that you’ve seen before.”

Littlefinger – Game of Thrones

I’ll write a follow up next year…….