Now that my career is over…

Reading “The Scarlet Letter: A Romance,” back in high school in the early 1980s I never imagined I’d have to wear a letter of shame on my chest while moving around Silicon Valley (don’t understand? Just Google my name and you’ll see my “Letter A.”)

That book tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an affair and then struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity, says Wikipedia. Hester’s “Letter A” stood for adultery.

My “Letter A” stands for that, along with abuser and, mostly, asshole. Shame is a heavy thing to bear, for sure. A little heavier than those new Apple headphones. 🙂

Lately, I’ve come to accept that I’m an asshole and that my career is over.

One part of that acceptance is coming to understand that my shame has given me so many gifts, including a 9,000-mile road trip with my kids and a life that doesn’t include traveling. Now that is gone I see just how hard it was to stay sane on the road. So happy we did that road trip in 2018.

Last year was pretty tough, though. At Christmas Maryam and I remembered all our family and friends we had lost. The year took my dad and one of my best friends, along with five others I used to know. I have a feeling more losses are ahead, as COVID keeps going up exponentially. Yesterday alone America lost 4,500. On top of that I was still learning to deal with my new roles as the kids were home all the time, and Maryam was home for the first time in a number of years too. I am tasked with getting them up most days and onto Zoom school, which is what I call distance learning, since both kids are on Zoom.

There was also a problem popping up in my mental health, though. Depression got a deeper hold on me.

Some days I couldn’t get up. I just didn’t want to do anything. And when I was up I had a ton of household and emotional work to do, which just took my energy. Of course that strained relationship between me and my company cofounder, Irena Cronin. I was unfair to her, and sinking because I just couldn’t tell anyone what was going on.

My wife asked me to see a therapist again last Fall because she could see I wasn’t dealing with life well. I did, and he put me on depression medicine. That helped me a lot. In just a few months I’ve lost more than 20 pounds, now more than 50 down from my high four years ago, and it feels like it filled in a bunch of potholes in my soul.

Another part of what I didn’t like about consulting work is that my stock market investing was doing a lot better than what I was doing with Irena. The last year was extraordinary in the market, and brought us good fortune, even while my mental health suffered. Over the last year my investment returns were 15+x times higher that my other income, despite writing a critically-acclaimed book about Spatial Computing and doing a lot of consulting for big companies and small.

Which brings me to what is next. In talking about the changes with tons of developers and entrepreneurs I see that the changes are going to be extraordinary and quick. Autonomous cars will become much more available in 2022. Tesla’s Cybertruck will be next-level in all ways. So much new tech is being readied for it. Apple is readying what I have heard is the biggest product introduction of all time. So big that it will come in two parts. Part One comes this year. More on what Apple is up to soon. It’s big and most people, even the smart analysts, haven’t figured it out yet.

Anyway, that brings me to my next project: a science fiction ebook about what life is like in 2022. The premise of the book? That the next 24 months will see more new technology ship than human beings have ever shipped and deep change is about to hit. Not to mention you will give companies a LOT of new data from these things. Privacy will radically change over the next 24 months due to new devices from Apple, Facebook, Google, and others.

I always wanted to try my hand at science fiction but most science fiction, like Star Trek, depicts a future that’s either way off, or unattainable. I wondered if I could write about something much more short term. A family who gets 2022 technology early. That morphed into a fictional neighborhood that Apple, Tesla, and other companies, are using to test out new devices, services, and more.

I’m noodling around, still at the beginning. It might massively change as I write a new ebook between now and June. And, yes, my “Letter A” is helping me build characters with some depth in human experience. I’m lucky that I don’t need to make money at the moment, so can take the time to do that and continue figuring out how to be less of an asshole. It’s a work in progress.

Anyway, now that my online media career is over it’s OK. I have these new Apple headphones which really rock. Most people haven’t figured out how much Apple is using neural network here. Last week I was talking to someone and a lawn mower started up. The guy on the other side of the conversation told me that the lawn mower was “turned off” within a second or two and he couldn’t hear it, despite it running right next to me. Here’s my son, Milan, wearing a pair. He loves them. He hates VR. Which tells you just about the kind of human factor work Apple is doing and the kinds of things we’ll have to go through as we enter a new paradigm of computing.

As I write the book I’ll be online a lot less. Hope to be done by June. As for the “Letter A” I am wearing around town? Well, I’ve found another gift it gives: it helps other people deal with their own troubles. Helping others is the only real way out of the burden it brings. I have a long way to go.

Milan wears Apple's new AirPods Max headphones.
Milan wears Apple’s new AirPods Max headphones.