Reflections on 2018

This post is the third of its kind. Follow these links to read my reflections from 2017 and 2016. Each year I take stock of the accomplishments, ideas and reflections that have stood out to me. It’s always been informative and eye-opening and only takes a few hours.

P.S. It works better when you share it publicly.

Professional Updates

Dual School

The Dual School Spring 2018 Exhibition

As the director of Dual School, nearly all of my professional energy has been spent trying to grow our organization’s impact on the community. In 2018 alone we worked with over 100 students and 20 educators, together representing 19 different schools all across the county. These students launched summer camps, published books on Amazon, won pitch competitions, spoke on panels, and much more.

Dual School also launched many innovative partnerships with the State of Delaware, William Penn High School, Design Thinking Academy, Blue Dot Education, and Summer Learning Collaborative. In November I appeared on an education podcast called the Human Restoration Project on behalf of Dual School. This was a second piece of national attention along with the T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge award (more on that below).

UIF Annual Meetup Student Leader

Duo talk at Google in March

In March, I was invited back to Silicon Valley again with University Innovation Fellows as one of six team leaders to help organize the international meetup of 300+ students innovating in higher education. I gave another talk at Google, this time with Matt Criscuolo, my partner in crime in radical events at UD and current colleague at Dual School.

At the Stanford d.school, I led a workshop on the importance of space and had an amazing time connecting with some of the most impressive, yet vulnerable student leaders in the world.

Giving a TEDx Talk

TEDx talk in April

Perhaps the most impressive accomplishment to many people is that I gave a TEDx talk. It was a lot of work and a tremendous learning experience. I write in more depth about it in this post: The lesson I learned from freezing on stage.

T-mobile Changemaker Challenge

On a whim I entered Dual School into a contest called the T-Mobile Changemaker challenge during the spring. Fast forward to August and we were one of 25 teams out of the 350 submissions that would be flown out to T-Mobile’s campus outside of Seattle for an all-inclusive trip to take our projects to the next level. I learned a lot about storytelling and connected with some amazing people from Ashoka, one of the oldest and most respected social entrepreneurship organizations.

Teaching at Stanford

The teaching team for SGSI 2018

During September I spent 10 days on Stanford’s campus teaching an intensive one-week design thinking class for graduate students entering the University. It was a perfect case study in imposter syndrome, as I felt like a complete fraud for the first two days leading a room full of people who completed their undergrad degrees at MIT, Oxford, Berkeley, etc. who are now enrolled in graduate programs at Stanford. By the end, I become more comfortable, made some great memories and tapped into a newfound confidence.

Personal Updates

2018 started off with a big move about a mile south of our previous apartment. My girlfriend Sophia and I moved to the Wilmington Riverfront. It’s a slightly more expensive spot than before but it comes with amenities, such as a gym in the building, a pool, easy access to some of the best restaurants and a beautiful walking trail, that have far outweighed the costs.

In November, Sophia and I adopted two dogs. They’re both shih-tzus and they’re a bonded pair. They might be sisters, or mother-daughter. I’ve never been a dog person, but they have me rethinking that!

Mavis
Sophia (human) and Elvie (dog)

All in all, I spent a lot of time flying, for me, at least. I went to San Diego, Seattle, Denver, Mexico and San Francisco twice last year. Along with many flights up north to Boston to visit family.

A video from my Mexico trip

Reflections

2018 has been a challenging year full of growth and discovery. My first full year of life after graduation proved amazing in some ways and difficult in others. To start, I have an amazing job doing what I love. I have flexibility over my time and with that comes lots of responsibility. As the director of a new organization, I have been very busy with everything that comes with keeping the initiative moving forward.

I didn’t read as much as I wanted. I hit a dry spell in the fall and started many books that didn’t grab me.

I started producing more videos as a method of creative expression (see Mexico video above). I get a lot of joy from capturing footage and putting it all together.

I found a great meditation app and I’m on a 30+ day streak of ~10 minute meditations. This has been a massive help during a very stressful past few months.

Closing Thoughts

In last year’s reflection I stated:

In 2016 I set an intention to do better, not more in the new year. I feel that I’ve lived that intention and now it’s time for a new one: Stay more active.
I want to do get outside more, do more yoga, hike more, bike more, run more, play more sports. The other stuff will come. The emails will get sent. The blog posts will get written. Those habits are ingrained and now it’s time to add more healthy tendencies back into my life.

Despite a lot of professional success this year, I can’t say I’ve lived out that intention fully. I did go on more hikes (slightly), biking stayed the same, running stayed the same. I did finally joined some sports leagues, but it’s been hard to find a groove in the activity department. During the summer, I had a two week period of waking up at 6:00am and going to the gym before work. It’s difficult and tiring, but it’s the only way I’ve found to maintain a consistent gym routine. Intellectually, I know that’s the right thing to do, but late nights kept me wanting as much sleep as possible. Hopefully in the New Year I will be able to get up earlier and get into a solid routine.

That’s my intention for the New Year, as cliche as ever: Wake up earlier and don’t hit snooze.

See you next year,

Zack