Detachment

For a little while earlier this year, I was telling people that I needed a vacation from my life. There's work which is always going to be a challenge (they don't call it "work" for nothing!) and then the multitude of personal responsibilities (fitness, friends, family, cleaning the house so we're not living in squalor) we want to balance against that. And, oh yeah, we occasionally want to have fun, too.

Through the Bars
Through the Bars

Now, don't get me wrong, some of the personal things are definitely fun! I love spending time with family; in fact, I'm probably one of few people who really enjoys spending time with her in-laws. And fitness is generally fun for me because I get to focus on a practice (Muay Thai) set to music which appeals to that geeky problem-solving little punk that lives inside my brain. I'm also fortunate that I've made friends at the gym so I can kill 2 birds with one stone there!

However, as you've probably surmised, these things do come at a cost — which ultimately makes them worth doing, but also sometimes hard. Family time can be flippin' impossible to schedule because schedules. And my training time is typically in the early morning which means a dedication to getting my ass out of bed at 5:25 in the morning and then being ready to leave the house exactly 20 minutes later.

I can go on and on about how hard it is sometimes to schedule with friends or even my husband, for that matter! I don't like to be busy for the sake of being busy but I definitely prioritize my workouts and some other activities (like drying my hair because that takes forever…) which means I have to plan my life around them. And I love that. Overall, I enjoy how I spend my time (except for any time spent mopping floors) and who I spend it with. Continue reading "Detachment"

Why I Can't Read the Googler's Manifesto

I think you may have heard about one Googler's manifesto, but I can't bring myself to read it.

Segmentation Fault
Was I not the only one who wanted to throw her computer out the window after hearing about the manifesto?

Let me preface this by saying that I strongly believe in free-flowing discourse and dialogue. I believe that we should question our assumptions and seek solace in facts and figures. I also believe in seeking out patterns in our past behavior to help predict future actions, or break out of them. But first and foremost, I believe that we owe it to our fellow humans to empathize with their experiences on this earth.

And, from what I understand of this manifesto, the writer doesn't seem to understand the shifts that women have seen in the last 30 years with regard to technology. The number of women graduating with Computer Science degrees is steadily decreasing; as Wired Magazine notes in their interview with Melinda Gates, 1 in 3 women in the 1980's has decreased to less than 1 in 5 earning a Comp Sci degree. Continue reading "Why I Can't Read the Googler's Manifesto"

The importance of feedback in user experiences

I wrote this piece on Medium first about my work as a Product Manager:

I work in a large room that’s offset from a larger and more public area. The room is locked, so that only people who work for my company can enter as long as they have an ID badge with the appropriate permissions assigned. There are two doors through which one can enter the room. These doors can be opened by anyone from the inside of the room, but you must first push a red button adjacent to the door.

Buzzers
Buzz Me by Jen Gallardo

Continue reading "The importance of feedback in user experiences"

Let’s Just Start Over or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About the Product and Comfort a Cranky Stakeholder

I wrote this piece on Medium first about my work as a Product Manager:

Last week, colleague walked over to my desk to ask me about the product I just started working on. And by started to work on, I mean I inherited this product in part because there was some significant “clean-up” needed and rumor has it that I’m good with fixer-uppers. His question to me was, “How about we just start over?” In short, stating that he’d almost rather walk away from this dumpster-fire mess than somehow try to put out the embers and make something of the leftover half-burned pieces of fresh garbage. Well, this isn’t exactly what he meant but that’s probably how I felt when I heard the question and realized the hole I now needed to climb out of.

Bonfire at Night
Bonfire #8 by Jen Gallardo

Continue reading "Let’s Just Start Over or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About the Product and Comfort a Cranky Stakeholder"

Finding a Home

Finding a home is probably now one of my new-found least-favorite activities. I think it ranks up there with cleaning floors and doing laundry, which are some of my least favorite chores. I should probably clarify; finding a home that is within the realm of what I want to pay, doesn't increase my already hour-long commute and has laundry within the unit is a huge chore. Continue reading "Finding a Home"

Can't. Hardly. Wait.

I got back from New Orleans a few days ago and soon I'll be back on the road visiting London on business. London is one of the few places I've been where I can see myself living. The pace is similar to that of New York and there's a ton of culture every way you look at it: old buildings alongside new, diverse food options and a ton of museums and theaters. Of course, I will mostly be in an office building but that's merely a minor technicality!

Piccadilly Circus, London
Piccadilly Circus, London

After London, I've decided to book a mini solo trip to Paris since the proximity can't be beat (by comparison, it's like taking a train from New York to Philly). I've never been to Paris so I'm excited to take pictures of and explore the city. I'd also like to try to practice some of the broken French I've learned thanks to Duolingo. I know how to say the cat is black (le chat est noir) and other not too useful phrases. I bought a phrase book to carry with me so hopefully that can help jump start me a bit.

I do love to travel but I'm starting to feel somewhat ready to get back to my real life. Though I'd like to pretend that I'm some sort of jetsetter, I'm really not, especially when it's cold. I don't mind cuddling on the couch with my dear husband and some warm white rose tea (my new favorite tea from T2). I'm also trying to be good (cooking lunches and dinners at home, exercising) so that's going to be a little bit wrecked — but hello, per diems and happy hour!

In truth, when it comes to getting back to my life, I more than anything want to be back from my trip so we can officially start the search for a home. I've been stalking properties on Trulia and Streeteasy which is definitely not the same as meeting with a realtor. However, this is the year that we feel confident financially to buy a property within the city limits.

And every time I come home to find, ahem, surprise visitors of the creep-crawly variety, I can't wait to get started on that search!

My 10-Year Test

I use the Pocket app which I love. It allows me to hold on to interesting articles to read (or re-read) later on the subway (where I still often have little signal).

One that I finally got around to reading is titled The 10-Year Test: The Best Way to See if You're on the Right Career Track.

The gist of the article is that, when you feel stuck and you don't think you are making progress, reflect on how far you've come in the last 10 years. I've been thinking a lot about my life trajectory, especially in the wake of this crazy election, but I never really thought of it this way.

The author makes a compelling argument against the constant anxiety around our forward-looking plans.

Continue reading "My 10-Year Test"

#RealTalk Life Advice about Work

At least a few times a year, I'm prompted to think about work. We all go there most days a week but rarely give any thought to whether it still makes sense to be there or if change is needed.

I receive a lot of email newsletters that are focused on career ladies, like myself, and they typically follow the same tired career tropes:

  • Find what you love and you'll never "work" a day in your life!
  • Take a risk and do what you love!

The reason I call these tired is because we all know that doing what you want, in any given moment, is often more fulfilling than doing what you think you should be doing. For example, sleeping in on the weekend is way more fulfilling than spending those hours doing laundry or cleaning. This is common sense and not worth repeating.

Continue reading "#RealTalk Life Advice about Work"

Married in Manhattan…on a Budget

After being together for thirteen years, my then boyfriend (now husband) proposed to me. As he nervously put the ring on my finger my first words to him, after saying yes, were, "Wait, does this mean I have to plan a wedding?"

Married in Manhattan
My Husband and I on our wedding day at Washington Square Park

At that point in time, the majority of our coupled friends had already gotten married. I happened to be in a couple of weddings so had seen firsthand what I did and did not want in my own nuptials. However, even with that knowledge, planning a wedding was not easy.

The additional challenge for us was that our families were unable to financially support us so the burden of paying for the wedding fell squarely on our shoulders. That said, this is not necessarily a bad thing! Saving for a major expenditure, together, is actually good practice for saving for other things like a house, college fund or a nice vacation.

When the dust settled, we were able to get married in Manhattan for just under $15K which is well under the national average for weddings in this country. This is also WAY under the average for Manhattan which is currently at a ridiculous $88,176.

Additionally, I should note that this amount is inclusive of our honeymoon flight and lodging which ended up being a wonderful reward for all our saving and planning. Some folks suggested maybe we should wait until later and have a longer honeymoon but it was actually really nice to get away on an adventure that included our passports, however modest.

So, without further ado, now that it's been a full year since the wedding and I've had a chance to reflect on that day—and all the planning that led up to it—here are some tips and tricks on how we did it: Continue reading "Married in Manhattan…on a Budget"

The Real Issue with Hillary's Email

I don't usually write about politics but The Washington Post recently published an article about how Hillary Clinton reached out to Colin Powell to understand what he did to have access to email remotely. There's a scanned print-out of exactly what they discussed over email which I found fascinating!

When I read the exchange between Powell and Clinton, I could instantly relate. It seems that working at the State Department is a lot like working in financial services. And, quite honestly, it wasn't until I worked at a bank that I realized just how oppressive IT policy could be. Email on your personal phone is a relatively new concept at my current employer in the financial industry and even then, it is significantly locked down via a special app that doesn't let you navigate to links or download files to your phone.

In my opinion, the real root of the problem here is the risk-averse IT policies in place that often impede folks from getting shit done. Continue reading "The Real Issue with Hillary's Email"