Your body is stronger than you think: Notes after two months on ClassPass.

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Note: ClassPass is now running a promotion where you get $50 off when you sign up, so use this link to get the deal!

I am not a “gym guy.” Other than a very brief stint on an elliptical machine as a sophomore in college, and a second brief stint on a stairclimber at Crunch Fitness in LA in 2008 (conveniently located across the street from my place of residence), I haven’t been to a gym in years. I have always preferred outdoor sports – cycling, flag football, hiking, and tennis. Part of this is because I’m an unabashed germaphobe, and for a while I feared what microorganisms were waiting for me on various machines and in locker-rooms.

I have never been able to motivate myself to work out regularly. It’s been a serious problem that I anticipated would get worse with age: I had a small belly that for years I couldn’t get rid of. (Eating and drinking right is — or was — easier for me than partaking in fitness regimens.)

During the summer of 2014 I heard about ClassPass from my friend Anastasia Leng. I was intrigued by ClassPass’s value proposition, but I didn’t immediately join: I figured that with so many weekends away in the summer, it wouldn’t be worth it.

However, on my 29th birthday, at the start of Labor Day Weekend, I had a mild existential crisis (really mild, don’t worry!) and thought it would probably be better if I lived to 100 instead of 75. So I joined ClassPass. I decided to plunk down $99 per month to go to dozens of gyms (3x maximum each per month). Yes, this sounds expensive at first, but for me, it was a lifesaver.

What do I love ClassPass? It is perfect for Millennials — especially Millennials with ADHD. There is no commitment to one gym, and every day is different. Sure, some classes I love more than others, but all have value in improving the body.

And I’ve realized: The locker-rooms and machines at 90% of the gyms I have attended are sufficiently well-cleaned so my germaphobia was misguided!

Here are some of my favorite ClassPass classes:

1. BCL Fitness (Prospect Park and Central Park) – Melissa Carter is a lovely person and inspirational teacher. This is a simple boot camp held in Prospect Park or Central Park. You are drenched with sweat after it is over, and it feels so good.

2. Swerve Fitness (at 18th and 5th in Manhattan): I love that this is a cycling class with built-in sprints and competitions. I have become (psychotically?) competitive  – I scored an 809 here recently and was #1 in class – and it felt great. Halston is my favorite teacher here, but the others are equally inspiring. I also love that Swerve emails you your scores 15 minutes after class ends, making great use of data.

3. BFX (at 17th and 6th in Manhattan) – From boxing classes to cycling, this (new!) gym is great. Helpful instructors all around.

4. AQUA Studio NY (78 Franklin St – Tribeca) – This is cycling (spinning) in a pool. Yes, the concept is a bit crazy, but it is an intense workout, but it works wonders after a stressful day/week at work.  Anne K. is my favorite instructor as she doesn’t stop pushing you to your limits.

5. FlyWheel (Multiple locations) – Ah, FlyWheel, the redheaded stepchild of SoulCycle. The teachers here (I have had many) are all special and do such an amazing job of motivating you. One small problem: Waiting in line for the showers after class. Oy!

After two months, I have noticed significant changes in my body: My stomach is flat, my legs feel lighter, my hair looks thicker, my disposition is cheerier,  and either I now have delusions of grandeur or I really feel like I can conquer the world. Despite the unending stress of startup life, I am dealing with it far better than I have previously.

There have been a couple of classes that I haven’t enjoyed as much as the ones mentioned above, but it has probably been a mixture of my personal preferences (e.g. lack of showers or difficult to get to) that have led my to these conclusions. I was excited to learn that ClassPass raised $12 million a few weeks ago and will therefore be around for a while. Give it a shot. I promise you, it will be worth it.

Entrepreneurship is hard, so don’t claim that it’s easy.

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Entrepreneurship has definitely become cooler and cooler in the minds of Millennials during the past 10 years: Facebook was founded in 2004. That gave the Millennial Everyman hope that he too could start a multi-billion dollar business and retain ownership of it to the end. Then, the 2008 stock market crash and subsequent recession erased the traditional job opportunities that Millennials and the respect of America had grown entitled to.

I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007, majoring in English and History. Why? Because I was told by countless professors and mentors and business people to “study what I loved.” In retrospect, I should have probably focused on Marketing or Computer Science in tandem with one of my two humanities choices, but c’est la vie, those days are behind us. Now, Millennials are unemployed in record numbers, and many see “entrepreneurship” as the only way out of unemployment. Plus, entrepreneurs wear t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops to work year-round, and don’t have to answer to anyone…

But let’s get this straight: Being an entrepreneur is hard work. It is far more difficult to run your own company than it is to be a cog in a wheel at a large corporation. There are many late nights at work, far more sleepless nights of nervousness, and you never know where you will be in six months time. Plus, working on weekends isn’t the exception, it’s the norm. That’s stressful, and it’s really not for everyone, despite what some pro-entrepreneurship organizations would have you believe. (Yes, many entrepreneurs become depressed from this stress too.)

Before I started SkillBridge, I had worked at 3 funded startups and started 2 of my own businesses. Both businesses “failed” in the sense that they never were acquired by anyone else, but they were both incredible learning opportunities and earned me a bit of money along the way.

However, as I wrote on LinkedIn, you are NOT wasting your 20s working at a large company. My article says, “Many of my most intelligent friends from the University of Pennsylvania and other fine institutions started their careers at Google, McKinsey, or other large tech or consulting firms. Some of them are still there — and those who stuck around seem quite happy. For example, my good friend Josh Steinberg works for Google and now lives in Tokyo, his dream city, and has traveled all around the world, on Google’s dime. My other good friend Anastasia Leng founded Hatch.co after working at Google for 5 years. Neither of them would change a thing about their 20s. They were able to pay off their student loans, travel, and live excellent lives.”

Alas, there is also a grammar problem in the world: You don’t have a “startup” if you are not seeking to scale your business. You simply have a small business, and that is an excellent accomplishment. No, your nut butter stand may never achieve the scale of Nutella, but it’s cool that you can derive income from it.

Second, there are so many “pre-revenue” entrepreneurs out there, who are great at selling themselves but once you dig a bit deeper realize they’re all fluff. Putting up a LaunchRock page for your idea doesn’t make you an entrepreneur. Go build something, and then tell people you’re an entrepreneur. Go assemble a world-class team, and then say you’re an entrepreneur. Go make enough profit to live off of, and then call yourself an entrepreneur. Too many people out there are selling this entrepreneurial dream but not detailing the amount of work involved to create it. Sorry kids, there are probably 100 people out there with the same killer app idea that you have, yet having the idea is only the beginning. Strategy and execution are everything.

I wouldn’t change anything about the path that I chose, because I value adventure and not knowing what is around the next corner. However, there have been many times when I’ve been ready to turn in my towel. Unless you can tolerate this on a regular basis, you won’t be going too far as an entrepreneur.

ClassPass, Fitness, and Data = The Perfect Storm

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It is rare that I advocate so strongly for a brand (other than SkillBridge of course), but ClassPass is truly amazing for the urbanites out there: For $99 a month, you get to take 3 classes at any of dozens of fitness studios in New York City. Typically, these classes cost $25-$40 each, so if you go 4 times in a month, you’re already saving yourself quite a bit of money. From yoga to cycling to bootcamps, there’s something for everyone on ClassPass.

As a dude, I admittedly had some reservations about joining, thinking it would be all women in the classes. However, this isn’t the case at all.

Some things that I like about ClassPass: Easy reservation system, synching classes with Google Calendar so I don’t forget about them, and solid descriptions of classes. It’s also pretty easy to cancel classes (more than 24 hours before they begin).

Additionally, I love that in many of my ClassPass classes, such as the ones at FlyWheel, there’s a data driven approach. I’ve hit 280 as my “Power Score” at all of my Flywheel classes this month and next month I”m pushing for 300.

Another bonus: I’ve discovered great gyms, teachers, classes in and around my neighborhood that I didn’t know about! Hat tip goes out to my friend and fellow entrepreneur Anastasia Lang of Hatch for first telling me about ClassPass and saying how awesome it was.

Boyhood, America in a Post- 9/11 World, and our Techno-Frenzied Future.

Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing the new Richard Linklater film,Boyhood. Boyhood is unique among films in that it was shot over the course of 12 years. The film starts in an America that was still contending with the post-9/11 world and continues through to the modern day. Boyhood is full of nostalgia — the soundtrack is excellent — and you’re likely to hear lots of “oooohs” and “aaahs” and “I had one of those…” while you’re in the theatre, but that is really just the beginning.

Similar to how The Wonder Years captured the 1960s in a beautiful way for my parents’ generation, Boyhood does this for Millennials. There are many themes and motifs in this film that resonated with me. Here is my analysis of a few of them:

Economic hardship — Life is expensive. From paying bills to putting kids through college, our world is expensive. You may have wanted to be a musician, but sometimes you’re forced to put those ambitions aside to take care of your family, as it is necessary to pay the bills. (At SkillBridge, we have certainly provided supplemental income for hundreds of consultants, and it is our hope to continue doing this for many years to come.)

Forgiveness — Moving on is a trait that is undervalued. It is necessary to forgive to move forward. As we see in this film, Ethan Hawke’s character goes from being a 30-year-old bum to a 40-year-old family man. Sometimes people make decisions based on timing, and these aren’t the right decisions, but people shouldn’t be punished forever for decisions they make when they are young.

Personal growth — Not everyone makes the right decisions when they are young. People become single parents, people fail to study subjects that are relevant to their careers, and more. These should all be considered learning experiences. You can go back to school to study the subject that interests you. You can raise your children to become fine people without a spouse. And you can pursue your passions, even when some people may discourage you from doing this.

America — Living in New York, I often forget about America’s natural beauty. America is vast. In such a large place, people have differing opinions on politics, religion, etc. This diversity of opinions, whether we agree with them or not, is what makes America interesting and sustainable in the long-run. The American Dream is still alive, and with hard work and dedication, it can still be achieved.

Family — Families grow, families shrink, and the dynamics of the American family in particular is changing. As we see through Patricia Arquette’s character and her significant relationships with three different men — none of which works out for her in the long run — relationships have become more transient, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fulfilling.

Immigration — America has long been a land of immigrants. Those who work hard, succeed. It may not be easy, but it is still possible. Nothing happens overnight. Life isn’t one big reality show.

Technology — For better or for worse, technology has grown to be an essential part of our lives. In some places within America, technology still lags. You needn’t be tethered to your iPhone for six hours per day, and there is still quite a bit of beauty in the world, but technology is improving so rapidly that we forget to make time for nature and the other wonderful things that our world offers us. Let us use technology for good, and not for evil.

Life is short — In one of the final scenes of this film, Patricia Arquette’s character starts to cry, as she realizes that she will now be an empty-nester, her kids grown up and moving out of her home. Of course Millennials tend to “return to the nest” at higher rates than previous generations, but this film really puts things in perspective. Enjoy your life, love the people who are close to you. Be thankful to your parents and the other adults who made you who you are.

If there’s one film you should see this summer — dare I say this year — it isBoyhood, as it encapsulates so many of the ethos that have guided our lives since the turn of the millennium.

With all the vitrol in the universe, I hate you Verizon Wireless!

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UPDATE: This must be a sick f*ckin joke. I was sent a second replacement iPhone 5 today (March 28) and it doesn’t even charge properly.

 

With all the vitrol in the universe, I hate you Verizon Wireless! (And Apple, you are a close second.) Here’s the situation:

I have been stuck on my parents’ family plan going on 15 years now. This is the predicament that many-a-Millennial find ourselves in: We’re committed to something our parents’ chose for us when we were merely teenagers.

I had the iPhone 4s from Verizon for over 2 years. Then, when it came time to upgrade to Apple ioS 7, everything started NOT WORKING. The wifi didn’t work, the phone started acting slowly, and apps started crashing left and right.

I went to the Verizon store. They said “Don’t pay to upgrade now. Wait until the iPhone 6 comes out. Try to upgrade to ioS 7.1.”

I went home, upgraded to 7.1, and the phone still didn’t work. In fact, it got worse after the upgrade.

I then visited a different Verizon store, where I was told, “Yes, we have had tons of problems with the iPhone 4S and ioS 7. We’re going to replace this phone with an iPhone 5.”

So I gave them my details, and a replacement  iPhone 5 arrived at my office yesterday. It turns out the thing doesn’t work at all. I can’t make phone calls, and when I have been able to make a few phone calls, the person on the other end hasn’t listened to me. The phone is used and scratched up on the exterior – not how I would keep my phone, and not what I expect a phone that was kept immaculately to be replaced with.

I have not been able to speak to important clients all day (as I was at a conference), as the phone didn’t work properly. It is a super annoying situation, made worse when you realize that to a large corporation like Verizon, you are worth less than nothing, even if your family has used their services for 18+ years, paying them every goddamn month.

The Verizon staff — both at the store and on the phone (after waiting on hold for 30 minutes!!) — weren’t  helpful at all, despite oodles of kindness to them. Of course, they’re ostensibly following a horrid corporate policy.

I will venture to the Apple store tomorrow, hoping to clear things up with what I think is a better organization. We’ll see.

If that doesn’t work, I’m heading to a conference a few blocks away from Verizon Wireless HQ in New York City tomorrow morning. You can bottom dollar I will be meeting with the upper echelons of their organization if I am forced to go there. Watch out, Verizon. You messed with the wrong dude.

UPDATE: I went to the Apple Store where the staff was kind of but not really helpful. They told me they’d give me a new phone for $269, which doesn’t make sense since I pay $10 a month for insurance from Verizon, and they literally just sent me a new phone 24 hours earlier. Furthermore, the phone that Verizon sent me was first used on November 18, 2012 — more than a year ago — and was thus out of warranty from Apple. I loathe this world.

 

The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need To Improving Your Life Because Of The Freelance Economy!

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At SkillBridge, we are certainly working at the heart of the freelance economy: For nearly a year, we have provided white-collar workers with freelance business consulting jobs that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to find. We have enabled individual consultants to win, as they no longer need to be associated with a firm to work at jobs that are of high-quality and well-paid.

There are many other amazing companies out there that are using freelancers to help people. Together, we’re all focused on disintermediating old school companies and dysfunctional/bureaucratic organizations so that individuals can directly connect with the people and services they want. Whether you work at a small business or a large one, your life is going to become much more efficient in the coming years.

Without further ado, here’s SkillBridge’s Ultimate Guide To The Modern Freelance Economy, and please let us know in the comments section if you have more examples, as this will be a regularly updated list:

Hire Great Engineers:

TopTal – Founded 2010. Connects start-ups, businesses, and organizations to a growing network of the best developers in the world.

AirPair – Founded 2013. Connects companies to Software Developers they can book and pay 1 hour at a time.

Use Peer to Peer Taxi-Like Services:

Lyft – Founded 2007, as Zimride. A mobile app for friendly, affordable rides at the tap of a button.

Uber - Founded 2009. Connects you with a driver at the tap of a button.

Summon (formerly Instacab) – Founded 2012. Mobile application that matches customers needing transportation with a taxi driver or a community driver who is willing to provide a ride.

Hailo – Founded 2010. Free smartphone app that puts people two taps away from a licensed taxi, and lets cabbies get more passengers when they want them.

Sidecar – Founded 2012. Smartphone app matches everyday people in their own car with people nearby for shared rides.

Accomplish Your Small Tasks:

Mechanical Turk –  Founded 2007. A marketplace for work by Amazon.com.

TaskRabbit – Founded 2008. Matches people who need tasks done with runners — aka “rabbits” — willing to do them, for a price.

Fiverr – Founded 2010. The place for people to share things they’re willing to do for $5.

Freelancer – Founded 2009. Outsourcing & crowdsourcing marketplace for small business.

oDesk – Founded 2005. An online workplace that enables businesses to find, hire, manage, and pay talented independent professionals via the Internet.

Elance – Founded 1998. Connects the world through work

Hire Workers:

WorkMarket – Founded 2010. Where workers and companies come together and manage work.

Get Your House Cleaned And Your Handy Men (and Women):

Zaarly – Founded 2011. Find and hire the best house cleaners, handymen, and lawn-care staff.

HomeJoy – Founded 2012. Get your place professionally cleaned for just $20 per hr.

Design Your Life:

Behance – Founded 2006. Showcase and discover the latest work from top online portfolios by creative professionals across industries.

99 Designs – Founded 2008. The #1 marketplace for graphic design, including logo design, web design and other design contests.

Made – Founded 2013. An invite-only marketplace that matches top freelance creatives with the people who want to hire them.

Hire Journalists and Acquire Content For Your News Org Or Brand:

NewsCred – Founded 2008. Pairing cutting-edge technology with world-class content, we transform brands into storytellers.

Contently – Founded 2010. Empowering journalists and brands to engage audiences with compelling content.

Get an Education:

SkillShare – Founded 2010. Teach as a freelancer. A community marketplace for classes.

Invent Cool Things:

Quirky – Founded 2009. Invent as a freelancer. If you have product ideas, bring them to Quirky.

Hire Your Legal Services:

Rocket Lawyer – Founded 2008. Make legal services accessible.

UpCounsel – Founded 2012. The easiest way to get legal services.

LawDingo – Founded 2012. Talk to lawyers. Find lawyers online.

And yes, in 2013, business consulting also became a freelance economy sub-genre whenSkillBridge was born (originally spelled SkylBridge, ha!). We’re proud to be a part of it, and we look forward to connecting you with the world’s best business consultants.

The Melting Pot: Leading chefs dish on diversifying dinner

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Ok foodie readers based in New York City, this one’s for you. I typically write about diversity in the workplace, but now I’m writing about diversity in the kitchen. My former employer from eons ago, Mother Jones Magazine, is hosting a pretty delicious night this coming Monday, featuring chefs of color who command the top echelons of the culinary world. Join chefs Marcus Samuelsson, Gabrielle Hamilton, Floyd Cardoz, and Charlene Johnson-Hadley in conversation with Mother Jones food and agriculture reporter Tom Philpott as they discuss the faces behind our food. Plus, there’s an open bar and appetizers, so get your tickets now!