It has been nearly two years since my last update here, and exactly two years since the post before that one, a 2015 year end review. It’s mind boggling to me that only two posts ago I was explaining how I had jumped ship from the Umlaut and had launched Sweet Talk; the latter has since wound down due to a project that launched this year. But more on that below.
My life has changed a great deal since last I posted here. The biggest change by far, which I would only just have become aware of around the time of that post, is that I became a father. Elliot Taylor Gurri just celebrated his first birthday at the beginning of this month. I cannot even begin to describe how he has transformed our lives, much less do justice to the ups and down, the struggles and the joys, of the first year of his life. If you’re a parent, I needn’t explain it to you. If you aren’t, you’re probably tired of hearing the same story from the new parents you have known!
Not only does parenting demand time and attention, but somehow I seem to have less energy or mental clarity left during those hours I am not paying attention to the baby or at work. This is my current excuse for having made basically no progress on my book since my last update, but it’s a rather weak one given that that update occurred in March and the baby wasn’t born until December! Fact is, this book has whipped me. I went in knowing that everyone says writing a book is damn hard, but feeling cocky because of the quantity of my writing output. I was humbled, repeatedly, as I wrote about several times here.
If you want to read the only bits I have written for it that are worth salvaging, read this piece followed by this piece, the two of which (slightly modified) were originally joined together to serve as the introduction or first chapter. My current thinking is that the framework only has any value or concrete meaning in as much as it is applied to real examples. This, however, only means that I need to do more legwork, in gathering cases that are both instructive and compelling to an audience. The plan of the book has changed so many times, however, that I’m not sure it’s even worth the pixels on your screen to say anything more on the matter. And I won’t insult you with an ETA; the book is on the backburner right now, there’s no getting around it. I can’t bring myself to abandon it entirely but for all practical purposes it has remained untouched for more than a year.
What I have been working on is Liberal Currents, where co-founders Paul Crider and Jason Briggeman and I have been attempting to bring together those who share a bond of mere liberalism, while pushing a vision of our own. Jason Kuznicki joined us at launch and has contributed a tremendous amount as both an author and editor, and Samuel Hammond and Cathy Reisenwitz contributed to the launch and since as well, along with our growing coterie of contributors. You may be aware that some things happened in this country and the world, politically, in 2016. These events drew me out of the greater and greater levels of abstraction that I had delved into at Sweet Talk and towards matters of more concrete urgency. Or so I would like to say; my own writing remains…more philosophical than practical. But the goal is to foster a discussion of liberalism from a philosophical as well as practical, tactical, and strategic point of view. It launched early this year and it has been very rewarding. I’m proud of what we accomplished this year and hope we can kick things up a notch in 2018.
In my review of 2015, I talked about trying to get into a data-focused career trajectory. If I had written a 2016 review, it would’ve been far more pessimistic on that score than I am now. I had hoped to transfer to the data analysis team at Tapad, my employer at the time. For various reasons, that fell through in the middle of 2016, and by the end of the year it looked as though I’d be stuck in operations for the foreseeable future. But starting in October of this year, I have been working as a Business Analyst at Outbrain; doing basically the same sort of work I had hoped to do exclusively at Tapad. It has only been two months but it has been exactly what I hoped it would be. I am honing my SQL and my Python skills every day, and learning to use other tools like Tableau that have become standards and I had little previous exposure to. I am very happy with my team, the people I work with, and just the general culture and attitude of the people at Outbrain. It’s been very exciting!
It’s also the first time in almost five years that I have started at a new company. Tapad was very good to me. It was an extremely welcoming environment to go to after a very bad experience at the company that brought us to New York in the first place. In my first year I learned SQL and grew from a pure operations role to a yield role, which (for those outside the industry) involves a great deal more analysis, but still sits within the operations arm of an organization. Last year, they were purchased by Telenor, and the options I had at that point were cashed out. I didn’t strike it rich by any means, but it was a boost to our savings right at the moment we were about to have a baby. Moreover, they changed their parental leave to be something extremely generous, allowing me to spend more time with my wife and Elliot in his first months of life. I’ll always be grateful for the opportunities Tapad afforded me and especially for the people I met there.
That’s all I’ve got; that’s a broad outline of what has happened these last two years. I’m an optimist by disposition, so it would perhaps be cheap to close by saying that I’m feeling optimistic about 2018. But I am! I’m looking forward to further growing into my role at Outbrain, and excited and nervous to see how Elliot will grow and change himself every month (and every week, or every day, it sometimes feels like!).
Happy New Year to you; good luck!