Holiday letter 2015!

ආයුබෝවන් (Sinhalese) ~ chào bạn (Vietnamese) ~ g’day (Aussie) ~ halo (Bahasa Indonesian) ~ hej (Danish) ~ halló (Icelandic) ~ ciao (Italian) ~ tere (Estonian) ~ 안녕하세요 (Korean) ~ sveiki (Latvian) ~ guten Tag (German) ~ labas (Lithuanian) ~ هتاف للترحيب (Arabic) ~ salut (French) ~ grüß Gott (Swiss) ~ yo dude (Portland) ~ hello (Singapore, Canada, the UK & US) & happy holidays to our friends, family and loved ones!

Every year, we seem to say “Wow, this year eclipsed all others. How did all that happen?” 2015 is no exception, but we think it’s really really true this year. :)

Here’s the TL;DR version:

    • Stumptown serendipity: Fell head over heels for Portland, Oregon. Bought a lovely little loft there. Roots still in San Francisco but we’re shifting our center of gravity a bit northward in 2016.
  • Lots of sharing: April’s speaking and advisory work has grown nicely, along with the sharing economy. Combine the two, and: she traveled to 17 countries this year — including five (5!) new passport stamps — and was on the road 36 out of 52 weeks. A few too many air miles, but lots of reasons to be grateful.
  • More Brain, more REX: You can find Jerry’s face in the App Store! It’s called Jerry’s Brain. He also started a project with an Australian insurance company to make the Relationship Economy real.
  • Finding our groove: We stretched ourselves a lot — on several occasions we’d look at each other and say, “What are we doing? But it feels right…” and, in retrospect, it was. We started doing co-advisory work opportunistically. Discovered we love it and do it well. Keen to do so more, and more intentionally. We are both represented by the same speaker’s bureau, which we absolutely love. We’re grooving and it feels great.

Now for the full version… returning to January 2015, which feels like at least a decade ago!

We arrived in Portland on New Year’s Eve 2014, and little did we know how it would transform the next year. Our first visit was a combination of memory lane (April had lived there briefly many years ago, in the immediate aftermath of her parents’ accident) and co-advisory work. We liked Portland. It felt good, open, quirky, super-outdoorsy, eminently walkable. It functions better than almost any other city we’ve been to. We left wanting to come back.

So we departed long enough for another trip to Davos, where April spoke in five different sessions. It was distinctly less “wow” than the first time, but we were doubly honored to attend again — and still pinch ourselves at the tremendous community that the World Economic Forum has opened up for us. YGL remains among our biggest sources of joy, friendships and inspiration ever. April stayed on in Switzerland a couple of days to ski, which was more humbling than anything else — though magical to be stuck in an Alpine hut nursing a cup of cocoa, wondering how telemarking seemed so easy as a child.

jerrys-appJust before leaving for Davos, TheBrain, the company that makes the mind-mapping tool Jerry’s been using now for 18 years, shipped an iOS app called Jerry’s Brain. (It works on iPhones and iPads, though it works best on the larger screens. It’s beautiful on an iPad.) He loves that the app has his face on it, which is a rare thing in the App Store, where all the icons are stylized or cartoony. It was even more fun roving the floors at Davos sharing Brainy context with journalists, diplomats, CEOs and other attendees.

Come February, we returned for a second time to Portland (again for work, though tacking on twice as much time to explore). It dumped rain but we loved it even more: community gardens, a truly progressive local government, and little delights like an entire parking lot converted into 42 food trucks (so much better use of space than cars!). April made some low-key queries about real estate. Then we left, April went to DC to lead a sharing economy workshop — the first ever by an international development bank, as far as we know, and a lovely blending of her entire career path. Jerry went to Tuscaloosa to give a talk about the future of media, journalism, PR and more for the University of Alabama.

At the end of the month, April left for her first bonanza trip of the year: first stop Berlin, for a keynote on the sharing economy and tourism, then to St. Moritz for her first-ever cross-country ski marathon (the Engadin) with 20 other YGLs — truly magical setting and a genuine sense of accomplishment!

From the Alps it was time for a long-awaited visit to Estonia. April is an advisor to Jobbatical (a platform that is as cool as it sounds — at the intersection of talent mobility, P2P technologies and the future of travel), which is based in Tallinn. She finally got to spend f2f time with the team, completed her Estonian e-residency application (Jerry had already found his way to the little state office to apply in 2014) and fell in love with the people and the city. It turns out that Rinne is also an Estonian last name, and it’s entirely possible that she has some Estonian blood along with Finnish. Time for 23andme! From Tallinn, April spent a week in Latvia and Lithuania — marveling at the Art Nouveau architectural wonders of Riga, exploring Trakai Castle near Vilnius, and jogging along rivers and semi-renovated industrial parks. The Baltics are so much more than what we read in history books!

A few days after touching down in San Francisco, we were back in Portland. April was invited by the University of Portland to do a sharing economy deep-dive, which included a fun evening with the Mayor. As usual, we stayed a few extra days — and this time April looked at some real estate, in a sort of “well, why not?” way.

It’s noApril Iceland intervieww early April, and we’re preparing for an upcoming trip to Iceland, where both of us spoke at the inaugural Point Zero conference. What an amazing trip. We loved Reykjavik, spending time with our dear friend Hrund, seeing an air-cooled data center mining Bitcoins and April getting interviewed by Iceland’s Charlie Rose, Thóra Arnórsdóttir.

 

Budir from the cold outside
Budir from the (cold) outside

We also took a few days to explore the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and stayed at the truly-unlike-anywhere-ever Hotel Budir — on a volcanic lava field and straight out of a Hitchcock movie. Wow!us in iceland!

 

We never anticipated that two days before leaving for Iceland, we would become owners of a gorgeous, small loft in a converted lumber warehouse in the Pearl District of Portland, a few short blocks from where April lived before. But we did. Life karma shined on us in a big way. More on that below…

From Reykjavik we flew back to Austin, Texas, for Jerry’s semi-annual REX meeting, where the group experienced the cool “gameshifting” facilitation process, dove into Relationship Economy issues and visited the bats that live under the Congress Avenue Bridge. They were, however, too bashful (or chilly) to make an appearance. From Austin, we headed back to SF for a few brief days before our summer adventures began…

The Endless Summer

We’ve become avid Airbnb travelers, and we often host others in our home in San Francisco when we’re away. Earlier in the spring, we received an offer to rent our place for the entire summer. We looked at our calendars, realized that we would be gone 70% of the summer anyway, and thought: “wait, isn’t this a great opportunity for us to travel a bit more? Let’s experiment!” So in early May, we said goodbye to our San Francisco digs for four months… and proceeded to have probably the most interesting, rewarding, and peripatetic summer of our lives. :)

Istanbul screen shotFirst we headed to Philadelphia for Jerry’s Wharton reunion and our first time exploring that city together. Next, Jerry headed to Istanbul to give a talk at the Sustainable Brands conference there, followed by a workshop in San Diego for the same organization at their main annual event. (Iceland and Istanbul were both on Jerry’s bucket list: check, check!) While in Istanbul, Jerry stayed in three parts of the city: Sultanahmet (the historic center), the modern downtown north of the Golden Horn and the Asian side across the Bosphorus — the part everyone seems to forget. The contrast was wonderful, as was the food (try menemen for breakfast).

Meanwhile, April headed to Toronto for work with Canadian sharing economy stakeholders. We both also became advisors to Trov, a startup that’s fundamentally rethinking risk management (and enabling potentially unparalleled growth of the sharing economy). And The Harry Walker Agency began representing us (individually) as speakers. The HWA team is extraordinary and our HWA relationships have been a true highlight of this year, both professionally and personally. Needless to say, our gratitude buckets were overflowing by now.

Moving into June, Jerry headed Down Under for the first time, for two weeks of getting acquainted with Suncorp, the 2nd-largest Australian insurance company, a connection that sprang from our relationship with Trov. On this trip Jerry learned about Suncorp’s excellent strategic innovation process (and team), and they got a feel for how his Relationship Economy ideas might affect Suncorp’s future. Those conversations turned into a consulting engagement that brought him back in October and will again in 2016.

Sydney is a beautiful city designed well around its magnificent harbor. On his second trip there, Jerry stayed in an Airbnb that was fortuitously located near a ferry stop. So instead of commuting downtown by rail, he enjoyed one of the world’s most beautiful commutes coming into Sydney’s downtown by boat for two weeks. That while exhausting the Southern Hemisphere’s supply of Post-Its working with the wonderful strategic innovation team at Suncorp.

While Jerry was in the southern hemisphere, April headed far north to Denmark (for work, though got a huge bonus in the form of a 5.5 hour, 17-course lunch at Noma!), then back to Los Angeles, then to Italy (including a visit to EXPO) and back to Estonia for more time with the Jobbatical team and to pick up her e-residency — all in three weeks. Midsummer in Tallinn is not to be missed.

2015 Family PortraitWe finally reunited in California towards the end of June. (We are in vehement agreement that while this year has been off-the-charts for travel, too much of it has not been together. We are fixing that for 2016.) We picked up our car and took a long-awaited road trip in segments: first to Salt Lake City for a family reunion, on to Aspen to visit April’s Italian sister Jessica who now lives there, and on to Denver to visit April’s older sister, brother-in-law and awesome nieces Ella and Amelia. We left Santiago (our car) in Denver for a couple weeks while we traveled elsewhere.

That brings us to the close of the first half of 2015. It was really neat. But we gotta say, it was mundane compared to the second half. Ready?

Old Faithful handstand
Handstand by Old Faithful

After a few days in Denver, April flew to Singapore and Jerry flew to Portland. April spent the next two weeks with the Singaporean government’s futures team — exploring how the sharing economy could affect the country’s economy, city-state and more — while Jerry closed on our little loft (wahoo!). April ducked to Bali for a several days of rice paddies and rose-petal massages (seriously!), then back to Denver, where we hopped in our trusty car once again and drove to Portland via Boulder (to visit dear YGL friend Sara), Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington state. Mandatory handstand at Old Faithful, charmed by Bozeman, inspired by the vastness of Big Sky Country, and who knew that Spokane had such lovely neighborhoods and a Japanese garden? We arrived in Portland with our eyes, hearts and minds open and happy and full of excitement for the coming days.

Lovejoy w Road SignWe spent all of August in Portland, living like monks (even today, an airbed and cardboard boxes pretty much sum up our furniture status there) and loving it, despite an unseasonable heat wave. Jerry would make daily discoveries about the city’s wonders, while April could take 15+ mile jogs through Forest Park from the back door. We have a running bet to think of anything we really need that’s not findable within 3 blocks (so far IKEA is lonely in this category).  The city government is in the midst of a 20-year planning strategy — something that we’ve only seen ambitious governments in Asia do, yet so crucially needed for long-term urban well-being — and our biggest challenge is probably not sounding too much like the tourist board. :)

We returned to SF at the end of August, and while it was nice to be back, it felt different. Jerry then headed East for a conference with telecom geeks that he’s attended often, then some time in New York City, including a talk at the very cool Civic Hall civic innovation space about his Brain (60-min. video here).

April's Sept-Oct 2015 travels - map copyShortly thereafter, April left on what turned out to be a 14-countries-in-14-weeks travel marathon, beginning in September and ending in mid-December. It started with speeches in Colorado and Milwaukee, then off to Seoul for the annual SmartCloud conference. She had a chance to meet with visionary Mayor Park Won Soon and many sharing economy entrepreneurs, as well as explore a traditional hanok village where she would have gladly moved in. Seoul’s Sharing City initiative is unparalleled in the world and a real inspiration for how cities worldwide can embrace the sharing economy in thoughtful, balanced ways.

From Seoul it was a quick pit-stop in Portland, then up to Vancouver for another sharing economy presentation, a pit-stop in San Francisco, and then departure for country/passport stamp #91: Sri Lanka! For many years this pear-shaped gem of an island had been on April’s travel wish list, but three decades of warfare had thwarted any plans of a quick hop-over from India. This time, she was invited by local tourism stakeholders to give an introduction on the sharing economy and what it means for sustainable tourism. After work was done in Colombo, she was then taken on a private “best-of” trip around the country. She rode shotgun in a six-seater plane across the island, and took her April Sri Lanka shotgun airplane!first sea plane trip, too. The (very bittersweet) silver lining of the civil war is that the country has pristine beaches, unspoilt monuments, and a culture of hospitality that is largely untarnished by mass tours. In other words, visit as soon as you can!


The next leg of the trip was one of our favorite shared memories of the year: we flew from opposite ends of the globe to Jakarta and spent the next week in Indonesia and

HCMC pano
Ho Chi Minh City skyline

Vietnam together. We had been brought in by a multinational company to help them with their bigger-picture innovation strategy, and this was a great opportunity to dive first-hand into the social enterprise ecosystems in these countries. We loved the work, were reminded of how much we like to travel together (and how well we do it :)). Our kind of business trip, including April doing a handstand at the Communist Party Palace HCMC scooter photoand getting a thumbs-up from the guards. Jerry took a couple of days at the end to explore Ho Chi Minh City further, including a moving visit to the War Remnants Museum (originally called the Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes). There he saw the written constitution for a democratic Vietnam that Ho Chi Minh tried to present to several US Presidents, to no avail. (One of the HCMC banh mireasons the Vietnam War was completely avoidable.) All that added some gravity to the $1 banh mi he bought on the street afterward.

 

 

Jerry flew from Vietnam back to Sydney for a deep dive into the Relationship Economy with his Suncorp teammates (most of the core crew pictured on the right).

Jerry's Suncorp pals
Jerry’s Suncorp posse

They examined the “consumerization” of every sector of our society and the effects that has had on trust, society and more. They started an exploration of design from trust, and laid out plans for their work into 2016. They also consumed a great deal of coffee.

Sculpture on the beachThe end of Jerry’s Sydney time coincided with the marvelous Sculpture by the Sea exhibit, which starts at the famous Bondi Beach and heads south for 140 pieces of art, installed with love along the shore. Every city should aspire to an exhibit like this.


While Jerry was hanging with Aussies, April headed to the South Indian Ocean and a life bucket-list experience: a week in
The Maldives — an atoll of 1,200 islands, only a fraction of which are inhabited. Sri Lanka and The Maldives share the same visa, and her colleagues were all too happy to help arrange a trip. The Maldives gained fame for hosting their parliamentary session in a glass submarine a few years ago, to highlight the potential effects of climate change (the entire country will disappear). April’s experience was a bit more mainstream: a private water bungalow on stilts, encounters with incredible marine life, and — finally — she learned how to surf and do a handstand on a surfboard!

An extended summer in the tropics came to an end as April left the atoll and flew to London, where autumn had definitely arrived. She spent a week there, for CityLab (one of her all-time favorite conferences) and other meetings. Then back to San Francisco for a few days, then back to Toronto for more work with policymakers, then to Palm Springs for a keynote to credit unions (unsung heroes of the way finance should work), and ultimately back to Portland long enough to do laundry and be smitten with Stumptown all over again.

April - map of NovDec2015A few days later, April was on her way to Paris where she gave a keynote at Airbnb Open, Airbnb’s annual host gathering. It was a phenomenal experience with 6,000 hosts from 110 countries — and huge honor to speak there — all of which was tragically cut short by the terrorist attacks. Thankfully April was not harmed (nor amazingly was anyone affiliated with Open), though she was uncomfortably close to the action. It’s hard to put feelings into words for times like this; Paris will always be the City of Lights, but unfortunately it will never be the same.

Leaving Paris with the entire French National Guard on duty, April made her way to meet Jerry in New York City, where he had gone to attend two nearly opposite events. The first, with the unlikely title Platform Cooperativism, explored the dark side of software platforms that are “eating the world.” The second, run by a hedge fund manager friend, sought opportunities in the current wave of change. We spent a fun few days in NYC, especially with the HWA team and planning for the future. We also enjoyed reconnecting with our dear YGL friends Valerie and Max and took our first jog along the East River Promenade. From there, we finally landed back in Portland together… only briefly, but we’ll take what we can get.

A few days later, April was off for her final extended trip of the year, while Jerry set to getting things ready for our Portland 2016, part of which involves renting out our SF place.

April’s first whistle stop was Copenhagen, where she keynoted a conference on the sharing economy and cities. Copenhagen is such an inspiring city, even though the sunshine factor was 180 degrees different than her summer visit. From Denmark she hopped down to Italy, where she met with policymakers, tourism and sharing economy stakeholders in Rome and Florence. Then an unexpected stopover in Bergamo (to catch a flight) collided with serendipity: thanks to Airbnb, she ended up staying in a flat (with frescoes from the 1400s, no less) literally next door to family-of-choice members whom she has known for years!

morocco master storyteller at Volubilis
Master storyteller at Volubilis

Bergamo’s good karma was the perfect send-off for the trip’s final leg: a storytelling course in Morocco. April has wanted to learn about storytelling for her public speaking, as well as exploring her personal journey (and how to reach others with this message). This was a perfect opportunity to do so. She and ten other writers, artists and neat people spent 9 days with “master storytellers” in the souqs and cafes of Marrakech, Fez and Moulay Idriss (Morocco’s holy city — apparently six trips to Moulay Idriss equals one trip to Mecca). She also finally started to slow down work-wise; both happiness and exhaustion set in.

We reunited back in Portland, as Jerry drove a small U-Haul up with our bicycles, clothes and a few sentimental items. We gave each other a big hug and high fived, and then hopped on a plane to Colorado where we spent a fluffy white Christmas with family. Our awesome nieces Ella and Amelia are growing way too fast for either of us to admit, and we are grateful for every moment with them. We’ll be back in Portland to ring in the new year… and reflect on how our lives has transformed since New Year’s Eve last year! (As usual for the adventurous, here’s Jerry’s summary of the year, in his Brain.)

As we look towards 2016, we are filled with awe and contentment. If even 10% of this manifests next year, we will be on cloud nine. We know already that April will be in Singapore in January, Jerry will be in Australia in February, and we’ll both be in Cuba in April (business + bucket list = double happy!) and Japan in October. A big highlight will be a long-anticipated family trip to Ecuador with Allison, Stefan, Ella and Amelia in July, which we are now co-planning with our nieces (with unabashed wishes to help them become avid globetrotters too). We’re both focused on continuing to build our business portfolios and doing more strategic collaborations together. And last but not least, we can’t wait to spend as much time as possible in Portland: getting to know the city, its neighborhoods and people; sampling as much coffee and microbrews as we can; decorating our flat (creative design tips for small space are welcome!); and figuring out how best we can contribute to make it even awesomer.

We wish you peace, love, joy and a wonderful year ahead!

Holiday letter 2014!

Hello friends… or true to form, with greetings from (at least a few places) where we’ve been this year:

Sain bain uu! (Mongolian, but they also say…)

Нохой хор! (“nokhoi khor!,” literally “hold the dog!”)

καλημέρα (Greek)

Hei, kuinka voit (Finnish)

Tere (Estonian)

Hallo hoe gaat het (Dutch)

Dia duit (Irish)

您好 (“ni hao” in Mandarin)

Plus of course the holas, buon giornos, saluts and guten tags you’d expect from places we’ve been before.

2014 has been a doozy. Our first year as Mr. & Mrs. — in this wonderful way, even better than we ever imagined. Our first (and so far only) year of both being almost completely independent professionally, with all the advantages and challenges that presents.

We delivered our first co-keynote speech, which was fabulous fun on all counts. April has a new website, and in a couple weeks, Jerry will be the first person on Earth to have his brain available to all in the App Store (no foolin’!). We ticked off many lifetime bucket-list items, like riding semi-wild horses across the Mongolian steppe and marveling at the beauty of British Columbia. Despite many firsts, however, it’s our umpteenth year feeling incredibly lucky, excited, joyful and in love with life.

So let’s get started with this year’s annual missive!

January 2014 feels like a lifetime ago. We began the year quietly, enjoying a week at Laguna Beach (Jerry taught and April tagged along) and then Jerry took off to Zurich shortly thereafter to teach a group of Swiss and Germans about the Relationship Economy (in English), hosted at a think tank called GDI. From there he went to Geneva to give this talk at LIFT. (What’ll it be? Stalk or serve?)

April ducked to Florida for a quick speech, but made it back in time for her birthday — which Jerry managed to celebrate like none other (including buying a mini version of our wedding cake, which had been eaten by guests before April managed to devour the icing on our special day)!

1402 Vancouver CelebrationFebruary was a busy month with one of the year’s biggest highlights: April’s cross-country Canada Sharing Economy Tour. Over the course of a week, April delivered 15 presentations and other events (yes, 15 in a week) on the sharing economy in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. She collaborated with SiG, the country’s social innovation organization (if only every country had one!) and Cities for People. It was a true delight to play the role of catalyst and guide, and underscored the kinds of things she loves to do — and made plans to do more of…

Continue reading “Holiday letter 2014!”

Holiday letter 2013!


Mingalaba — G’day — Saluti — Bun Di — Greetings!

It seems that each year, when we sit down to write our annual missive, we think “goodness, how could next year possibly top this year?” And then somehow it does. 2013 was definitely among the most notable examples of this. Because of the number and diversity of neat experiences, we’re not able to go into as much detail about each — unless we want to finish in 2020 — but hopefully still a fun read. Here’s to a banner year, now let’s get started!

ceremony-137

TL;DR version: Got married — finally, yaaaaay! Attended Davos. Explored Myanmar for 3 weeks. Built (rather, continue to build) a new company, new role, new speeches, new clients. Went to Australia for the first time. Delighting together in the terms Relationship Economy, Sharing Economy and Collaborative Economy: how are they similar, different, predictive of what’s ahead for the world? April’s travel mileage reduced by ~50% — mostly direct flights to places with no vaccination requirements — which was great, yet somehow didn’t lessen the intensity of our lives.

This also was a year in which we adopted the sharing economy (or collaborative economy — more on the distinction below) in full force as a lifestyle. In particular, this was our Year of Airbnb. Families from around the world have stayed in our home while we’ve been away, and our own travels have been revolutionized in the best of ways. We use it for business trips, personal travel and local getaways. Speaking of which, we’re writing this from an incredible, cozy cabin near Big Sur!

Us in Davos HallBacking up to January 2013, which feels like a decade ago… we were blessed to be invited to the World Economic Forum’s annual summit in Davos. Neither of us has ever experienced anything quite like it. Full security at every building, despite snowcoats and boots with skid-proof grippers. April slept on average 3 hours / night for nine nights straight, and yet was wide-awake in her happy zone. Highlights included presenting in the YGL “state of the world” plenary session, meeting heads of state, world-renowned CEOs, visionaries and even royalty (!) “committed to improving the state of the world” (WEF mission) at every turn.

At one of the receptions, despite being super careful with our gear, a distracted German journalist took Jerry’s laptop bag from right behind him, absconding with all his valuables until we sleuthed what had happened and texted the journalist back toward us. On a more fun front, Jerry discovered a two-hour “Audi driving challenge,” which involved drifting (turning while letting your wheels slide) on an icy slalom course with coaching from professional drivers. We both did an intense poverty simulation, and had very different reactions to it. We left Davos on a high, inspired by the Alpine air, inspiring ideas… and utterly exhausted in the best of ways.

Continue reading “Holiday letter 2013!”

In which our protagonists wed

We got hitched!

On the most gorgeous October 5 in California history (we swear), on a hillside overlooking the broad Pacific with a wee San Francisco in the distance, we exchanged vows and rings officiated by two dear friends in the presence of 75 friends and family. It was beautiful, and just the way we wanted it.

But it almost wasn’t. The story of how gives us chuckles now, but mostly in hindsight. Several times in the week right before the wedding it looked as if it wasn’t going to play out according to plan. Rehearsal evening, and literally up until the morning of The Day, we hit two roadblocks.

#Shutdown? #Shutdown!

One of the effects of the 2013 Federal Government #Shutdown was the closing of national parks. It was April who realized that Rodeo Beach, the beach we’d chosen for the rehearsal dinner picnic Friday evening, is part of the Golden Gate National Seashore and might be off limits. We did some scouting of options — Rodeo, Crissy Field and Golden Gate Park (which was definitely out due to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival) — and saw that while facilities like parking lots and bathrooms were off limits, the beach and park grounds themselves were not.

So we launched Occupy Rodeo, telling everyone coming to the Friday picnic about the predicament and that we might have to bounce off Rodeo Beach to another spot.

When we got to Rodeo that Friday afternoon, there was indeed an officer standing next to a small barricade blocking off the parking lot, but she waved us on with a cheery “enjoy!” as we followed others out onto the beach. The weather cooperated wonderfully as we enjoyed locally made international food and drink. Once the sun set and stars came out, though, it got chilly quickly, sending us home.

It’s been dry and windy…

On Thursday at 1pm, while we were figuring out what to do about the #Shutdown, April got an email from the person who had given us the permit to hold our ceremony on Trojan Point (which is luckily not a national park), who asked her to call him right away. This time it wasn’t the Government interfering, but Nature: the local fire department had put a Red Flag Alert out for the northern part of Mt. Tam due to heat, dryness and high winds. Our reception spot was still safe, but the ceremony site was off-limits until further notice.

Continue reading “In which our protagonists wed”

Holiday letter 2012!

Happy Holiday Greetings to All!

As this letter takes shape, April is sitting on the shores of Lake Kivu in northwest Rwanda.  It’s pouring rain outside, with giant hibiscus dancing under the drops. Just a few kilometers down the road is Goma, Congo, where civil unrest rages and the M23 rebels have just taken control of the city.  What she thought was thunder turns out to be gunfire (click the map to make it larger).  Some might say she’s in a war zone, but she just thinks of it as an exciting albeit unexpected travel adventure.  Given that she should probably keep a low profile until the situation settles, this is a terrific opportunity to say muraho (“hello” in the Kinyarwanda language) to our international friends and family of choice!

Jerry may have been a bit further from Congolese rebels and gunfire, but he wasn’t sitting still. For him, 2012 was a year of broadening and deepening the Relationship Economy thesis, manifested in a series of speeches and videos we’ll point to as they happened during the year.

2012 has probably been one of the most intense, learning- and experience-filled years so far for us (though we’ve said that before).  In a word, it’s been extraordinary.  It has not been particularly balanced though – April spent the better part of 8 months on the road – and we are both committed to spending more time together, even if not always at home.

Because of all that’s happened, a caveat that this letter is long is probably in order.  We’ve received loads of wonderful feedback over the years saying “please, share more!”, but we also realize that not everyone wants to read everything. We hope you’ll take this in stride and enjoy however much (or little) feels right. So let’s get started… Continue reading “Holiday letter 2012!”

Happy Holidays 2011!

Happy 2011 Holiday Greetings to Loved Ones Around the World!

What a year it has been: many highlights, many travels, a few challenges and heaps of gratitude.  It’s hard to believe – and a tad embarrassing – that we didn’t manage interim updates here since last year’s holiday missive, but perhaps that’s indicative of how occupied we’ve been with living life in the present.  Now it’s time to make up for that and provide a past-present-future update.  So, here we go!

2011 in a nutshell:  A year of goodness, happiness and restlessness.  A year in which we remained engaged-but-still-not-married.  A year in which April took at least one international trip per month for eight out of ten consecutive months and somehow managed to remember the time zone when she got home.  A year of REXiness for Jerry, building on the REXpedition platform he described in last year’s letter, and including REXperiments and more (keep reading).  A year in which we gave thanks every day for our blessings (we love this TED talk about gratitude), and remembered that our worries are pretty “lucky worries.”  A year of good health, more time with our families-of-choice, adventures, blending new and old friendships, and deep anticipation of what is to come.

Rewinding to January, we took a quick getaway to Laguna Beach, where Jerry played faculty to a group of public affairs pros (for him, kinda like being in the lion’s den, something he loves) while April enjoyed Laguna’s “winter.”  Big news came at the end of the month, when April learned she had been selected as a Young Global Leader (YGL) by the World Economic Forum – yes, the folks in Davos.  This honor framed the rest of the year in the most incredible and memorable of ways (which you’ll see peppered throughout this update; hear more of her views on global leadership in this video done for WEF).

In short, April gets to be a YGL formally for five years, during which time there are a variety of summits, forums, task forces (on everything from water to urban mobility, dignity, youth financial education and happiness) and other initiatives to join.  She’s part of the WEF community which comes with all kinds of perks – not least, the people!  It was hard for her to keep this information confidential for six weeks like WEF required; her poker face is pretty bad.  Meanwhile Jerry wonders if there is an Old Global Wizards club that he might join… (hey!) Continue reading “Happy Holidays 2011!”

Holiday letter 2010

Dear Friends, Families of Choice and All-Other-Wonderful-People-In-Our-Lives,

Happy, festive holiday greetings!  We hope this finds you thriving and having enjoyed a fulfilling year.  We’re not quite sure where the time went, except quickly and full of neat and meaningful experiences.  And before you wonder (or lest we leave you in suspense), we’re still engaged but not married, still haven’t set a date, still overwhelmingly grateful for each other, and still appreciate life’s myriad blessings every day.

On the beach in San DiegoAlso before you ask about our globetrotting this year, let’s just say that April started writing this letter in the Himalaya… but that’s getting ahead of ourselves, so let’s go back to the decade’s beginning first.

2010 got off to a great start, with a happily laid-back schedule compared to last fall’s whirlwind travels.  April took work trips to Toronto, New York City (where she met Natalie Portman at a SoHo gym!) and Kansas City.  She continues to enjoy leading WaterCredit at Water.org, which is expanding in exciting ways (keep reading) and gives her ample opportunity to learn and grow professionally.  In February, Jerry hosted the latest of the agenda-less Retreats he’s run since 1996, this time at the Marconi Center near Point Reyes. At 90 people, this one was the largest ever, and full of good people + good ideas + good intent as always.  We took many a weekend cycling diversion, especially as April got a new bicycle (christened Silke) – happy to be two-together-on-two-wheels again!

In March April took her first of two trips (this year) to India.  She got to experience World Water Day first-hand at one of the largest such gatherings in the world in Tamil Nadu (watch this video, with nifty time-lapse starting at :52). She also got pretty horribly ill, prompting her first trip to an India doctor, which turned out to be a memorable lesson in the kindness of colleagues and strangers.  On the way back she swung through Cambridge, Massachusetts for more meetings and a bonus Beantown happy hour with some of you.

From April (the month) through June, we were both hard at work.  There were a few updates on the home front – a rebuilt deck, a stolen motorcycle (RIP Thumper, we miss you) – though rather miraculously neither an iPhone 4 nor an iPad showed up on our doorstep. (That will change in 2011 for sure!)  We ran the Bay to Breakers together; it was Jerry’s first time experiencing the only-in-SF-costume-party-you-call-this-a-run? extravaganza.  We took some independent work-related travels, April to Washington DC, NYC and KC (again) and Jerry to Paris.  And perhaps most memorably, we enjoyed several local getaways together:  Cavallo Point (part of Jerry’s IFTF advisory work during the year); Carmel for seaside and sunshine (on a different gig of Jerry’s); and a gorgeous, hiking-and-wildflowers Point Reyes home-swap. Continue reading “Holiday letter 2010”

Colorado 4th of July

We’re just back from a fantastic trip to Colorado.  Although the new decade is off to a good start for us, our IDLO adventure is over, so this year hasn’t included nearly the shared travel experiences that 2009 did. We’re happy to journey closer to our own backyard.

We spent the better part of the week in Denver, Colorado Springs and Boulder.  Despite having traveled halfway around the world a half-dozen times together in less than three years, we still hadn’t made it to Colorado (where April spent many years growing up).  So we were overdue for a “trip down memory lane” and to reconnect with family and friends.

April and niecesWe were blessed with great people, great weather, and great fun throughout our time.   Continue reading “Colorado 4th of July”

Holiday letter 2009

Eid Sa’eed (Arabic) – Christmas aur Nav Varsh ki hardik shubkamnay (Hindi) – Trevlig Helg (Swedish) – Melkin Yelidet Beaal (Amharic) – Krismasi Njema (Kiswahili) – Buone Feste (Italian) – Frohe Weinachten (German) – Christmas Mattrum Inia Puthaandu Nal Valthukkal (Tamil)

Warm, Happy Holiday Greetings to All!

We hope this finds you well and enjoying the holiday season in peace and among loved ones.  What an extraordinary year it has been, once again full of changes (mostly wonderful, alongside a few hiccups), international travels, fulfilling work, friends and gratitude for each day and one another.  We’ve also both found our Twitter-strides, so if you’re looking for even more details about what we’ve seen you might want to check out our Twitter streams too (Jerry and April).

Last we checked in (at least for those of you not checking our website or April’s blog more often), we had just returned from east Africa and were gearing up for “a year of being open” to the world.  It’s probably safe to say: mission accomplished!  Wow.  So let’s take a deep dive into this year (you’ll understand the water analogy soon) and what we’ve been up to.

January seems like a very long time ago.  We spent a lovely week in Atlanta with April’s Italian family.  April decided to leave her job at Unitus (come March) because it wasn’t a good match for her longer-term professional goals (in particular, not wanting to be pigeon-holed into “lawyerly” responsibilities). Later that same week, on April’s birthday, Jerry proposed! The setting: Crissy Field in view of the Golden Gate Bridge, on a glorious sunny day, under a stand of maritime pine trees. April was caught completely off guard – and very happy.

Continue reading “Holiday letter 2009”

Summer and Fall = Busy, Wet & Traveling

Lots of good things have happened since our last post.  So many changes, yet at least a few things have stayed just the same.  (One example:  We’re still engaged, and still haven’t set a date.)

April has mostly been traveling in her new role with WaterCredit.  It’s a perfect fit for her; Jerry likes to call her “a fish in water.” She’s been to some 12 countries in the past 4 months, taken close to 50 flights (no comments about her carbon footprint, please) and had more meetings with MFIs than she can count.  East Africa, India, Europe (three times) and various domestic trips have kept her fully occupied and happy.  You can read and learn more on her blog and — most of all — Twitterstream.

Jerry continues to win fencing tournaments and intends to be on the first spacecraft that lands on Mars.  He’ll tweet there too.

We’re together in Rome right now, connecting with the IDLO microfinance posse that we’ve trained over the past 2+ years throughout the developing world.  It feels kind of like a family reunion, with participants from 30+ developing countries and many stories to share.  We’re doing our best to enjoy the city outside of work as well — sunrise jogs through the Villa Borghese grounds, proper espresso and fresh gnocchetti al tartufo bianco (white truffles) around the corner, and wandering among golden- and rose-hued Renaissance architecture in giddy awe.  April’s rusty Italian is coming back with a vengeance, and Jerry’s isn’t half bad either; bonus is that we get to speak Spanish and French with our microfinance colleagues too.

We’ll be writing a holiday letter-post in the coming weeks but wanted at least to say a quick online hello before then, if nothing else than to let you know that we’re still together, well and doing our best to carpe diem, appreciate life (and one another!) every day.  It’s almost time for the un’aperitivo romano, so until the next post — ciao!