Taking a break from politics: an update on what I’m doing with my life, my living, and my work!
Last I wrote here, I had decided to stop my travels at the end of December after about four months on the road. After the holidays, I started into planning what I was going to do next. As I wrote previously, while I enjoy travel a lot and still plan to adventure around for a couple weeks at a time, extended leave made me feel like I was putting my life on pause a bit too much after the first few months.
In the past, I have outlined some plans for entrepreneurship here. But this is also a route I chose not to go down immediately. It is a path that I plan to go down at some point, but none of the ideas felt imperative to capitalize on once I really dug into the concept, the ease of building, and potential business plans.
So for the most part that would leave going back to work, but this quickly became something that I was quite excited to do. Time off is great, but I missed the busyness that work provides, and the feeling of accomplishment and purpose that come with it. These can be had from other sources as well, but work presents a built-in way to do that. Oh, and having an income is good too.
There was also the question about where to live. I opted for a fairly unoriginal route here as well, choosing to return to Washington D.C. I moved in about a month ago to an apartment near Woodley Park, about three miles from my old place in Chinatown. It is a very valid question to ask: why move back to DC when you could have moved pretty much anywhere? Maybe there was a hint of nostalgia, but the reality is that I really like DC as a city. It is such a clean, open, and pretty city – these matter for a runner (and should matter for everyone). There’s also a great variety both to nightlife and to the people that you’ll meet here, and the city has a lot more cultural events and other activities that I’m determined to take better advantage of now that I’m back. That all aside, I also have a lot of good friends in the area. In any case, that’s a bit of why I moved back. Of course there is a chance I get dragged out to the greater San Francisco area at some point, but that’s not my plan currently.
As noted, I moved back to DC at the beginning of February, but did so without any employment lined up. One route that had seemed quite promising early on had not worked out, and because of the promise of that route I had put off a broader search for companies that could be a good fit.
But being back in DC and paying rent that most of the country would consider absurd helped to put some urgency on things. It’s here where it is worth mentioning that the reality of the job market (and the business world more generally) is that it operates almost entirely off of connections. It really is who you know first, followed by what you know. It’s why elite business schools can justify charging absurd amounts of money for a two-year networking party.
An aside to all my B-School friends: hey y’all, look, I’ve seen the Facebook photos, don’t try to tell me that B-School is anything other than two years of alcohol, funny costumes, and exotic vacations. Admittedly, I can’t say it doesn’t sound and look tempting. Also tempting: grabbing your Facebook photos for a great montage here, but I’ll resist the urge.
But anyway, back to what I’m up to: fortunately I was able to connect through folks in DC locally through some of the former APTers who are still in the area, who were all very helpful.
That all eventually led to finding out that there was an opening at Curiosity Media for a Director of Revenue where I received the offer and accepted it just over a week ago, and at this point I already have my first week in the books.
So a bit more about the company and the job, since it is probably not known to many. Curiosity Media runs the leading Spanish-to-English dictionary on the web, SpanishDict.com, and Fluencia: a monthly subscription platform to learn Spanish.
The former differentiates from Google Translate and other services by being human curated and focused on Spanish to English, so it provides multiple definitions and meanings, example sentences, conjugations, and more that wouldn’t be practical in a platform serving many languages. This difference has paid off: SpanishDict is the primary source for most students and serves close to 150 million visitors each year.
Fluencia offers a similar distinction from Duolingo – it’s content was written by actual Spanish teachers and is curated and built for the express purpose of learning Spanish, so it features meaningful sentences for practice and exercises specifically designed for Spanish. Subscriptions here have leveled since Duolingo has picked up steam, but is still a better way to learn Spanish if you are serious about it and want to put your money where your mouth is (and support a great company while you are at it/make my job easier).
Those products are supported by a team of ~17 people based in Roslyn that I am now a part of. My role broadly is to identify and maximize our effectiveness in generating revenue off of our traffic, most of which comes from advertisements and the burgeoning world of adtech. This merits it’s own post at some point, suffice to say it is an interesting mix of engineering challenges, business challenges, and analytic challenges. I’m working with a great team of two engineers and one analyst who have been helping me get up-to-speed in the first week while continuing to push on work to increase the amount of revenue each page view generates.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: the Woodley to Roslyn commute is ripe with possibility! It’s about 25 minutes no matter if I run, bike, metro, or uber in and back. So far I’ve opted for the morning bike ride (bike share) and evening run as much as I can, which is a phenomenally free and healthy way to commute.
So that’s where I am today! I will plan a later post or two on the world of adtech, likely after returning to politics a bit more so that I have a better sense of how to explain it. In any case, I will be in the DC area for the foreseeable future (aside from vacations and weekend trips that I’m already looking forward to), so let me know if you are in the area or find yourself in the area and want to catch up!
Also published on Medium.