j.j. toothman

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Tag: ticketfly

OK blog, I’ve got some things to say

Hello blog.  Happy to see you’re still here. No, I haven’t forgotten about you.  Though if you thought that I had abandoned you for something like my posterous account, I could see that would be running through your database tables and php scripts.  Don’t worry.  I’m only using that for that for quick publishing photos and videos taken on my iPhone.

But I’m sure you’re wondering why no updates for since last Fall.  Let me bring you up to speed.

I spent the last half of 2009 working with a dot-com startup in San Francisco called Ticketfly. I told you about them before.  Working there was wonderful in so many ways.  I met a lot of great people and made some new friends.  I got to work with a lot of web technologies and social APIs that are right in my sweetspot of interests.  And it was about live music.  And you know how much I like that.

In so many ways, Ticketfly was a perfect match for me.  But in other ways, not so much.  As I write this I’m tuned into a live video stream of the Twitter Chirp Conference.  I’ve already heard a couple of the speakers talk about how working on a startup completely takes over your life.  I definitely found that to be the case in the last half of 2009.  Even though I was having a great time, other parts of my life were being impacted.  I have to admit that I was not completely self-aware of how little quality time I was spending with Mason and Jude.  The people at Ticketfly were great and super understanding of the demands of two children.  But that doesn’t change the fact that there were a million things to do there every single day.  Many of which simply couldn’t wait until a more convenient time.  And yes there were plenty of days when I left the Ticketfly offices in San Francisco around 4 to head down the coast to Half Moon Bay and pick up the boys from daycare.  And yes, I would get them home and spend dinner time with them.  But it didn’t take long for me to look at them and start thinking “OK, when are you two going to be ready for bed so I can open up the laptop and so work until 10 or 11 pm?” That’s no way to look at  your children.

Sure, Keturah is around to share the load, but she’s working with her own start up.  So it was a double whammy as the requirements on our time were constantly smashing into each other.  The Obama administration recently held the Workplace Flexibility Forum in which they talked about the “juggler family.”  Here’s an excerpt from The President’s remarks:

Today, two-thirds of American families with kids are headed by two working parents or a single working parent, and the result is the rise of what one expert I know refers to as “the juggler family.”  For these families, every day is a high wire act.  Everything is scheduled right down to the minute.  There’s no room for error.  If the car breaks down, or somebody gets sick, or there’s a problem at school, that begins a cascading domino effect that leaves everybody scrambling.

That’s our family.  Described with frightening perfection.  Except in addition to things like car break downs throwing us off course, Keturah and I were dealing with late afternoon meetings that started late and ran until well past 5 pm.  Or last minute phone calls.  And even worse, business calls to our cell phones while we were trying to enjoy a family dinner or read a bedtime story to our kids.

To say that our lifestyle was unsustainable is an understatement.  And something had to give.  So in January, when Ticketfly indicated that, due to budgetary constraints, they were going to be unable to continue to retain my consulting services, my initial reactions were of sadness and disappointment because of the fun work that it was and because of the good people that I was working alongside.  Good people who had become my friends.

In fact, it was so disappointing that I didn’t even say goodbye to them.  Nothing personal.  In fact, it was a pretty rude and immature move on my part.  But it was just something that I didn’t really want to do.  So I avoided it by slowly and quietly drifting away.

Sorry ‘Flyers.   You’re a great group of people and I have no doubt that you’ll help Ticketfly achieve greatness.  I wish you all nothing but the best.  Proud to call you all my friends.

And eventually, my disappointment washed away into relief and a true understanding of what I was really disappointed about in the first place: the recurring conflict of my personal and professional ambitions with the realities of being in a juggler family that includes two toddlers.   Living that existence is extremely difficult.  The challenges are extremely physical and emotional and they took a tool on me last year.  In addition to creeping close to exhaustion at times, healthy nutrition became a term completely lost on me, and exercise…does stretching on the couch count?

Ultimately the relief I felt was because a decision that I didn’t want to have to make was made for.  I had often said to Keturah in 2009 “I’m not so sure we can both be involved in startups AND raise these two kids AND keep our sanity. “

Now I know it sounds like I’m complaining, but I’m not.  Yes, I did go to Vermont last Fall to visit some friends. And the last night pig roast was something only a bunch of idiotic college friends would do.  And in that same trip I went to Fenway for a playoff game with my parents.  And we had a wonderful family Tahoe trip a couple of months ago that included Mason’s first time on skis.

Yeah, there have been some good times.   But I want more of those.  So I’ve been making changes recently.  I’ve been regrouping the last couple of months.  I did dabble in a few freelance projects, but none were really what I was looking for long term.  Mostly I’ve been relaxing, spending time with my family, reading books (another thing that went in the waste bin last year), trying to eat better, and get myself on some exercise programs.  As you can tell from the lack of posting here and on Twitter and Facebook, I went into hibernation a bit.   I’ve talked with a few startups, but wasn’t looking to dive into the questionable work/life balances that came with those types of opportunities.  Being in a “juggler family” isn’t something I want to do long-term and I’m ready to tackle that from another angle.  This post is long enough.  I’ll write more on what’s next for me in my next post.

What I did this summer

Where exactly did summer go?  I know there’s there are still 10 days left, but we all know the state of mind known as summer comes to a halt after Labor Day weekend has passed us by.  I haven’t done much blogging beyond the occasional posting of a photo from my iPhone (yup, got a iPhone 3GS this summer – my first iPhone!), so here’s a recap.

First day of summer

The first day of summer was actually Father’s day and I wanted to spend a family day down in Santa Cruz on the beach and the boardwalk.  It was a blast.  Mason went on his first amusement park ride.  And with that came a look of extreme intenisty on his face.  I guess Keturah and I drilling “just hold on tight” to him over and over had an impact.  See for your yourself.


I really wasn’t sure Mason was enjoying this.  But when I got off he not only said he did, but also couldn’t wait to go on the next ride.



Summer concerts

Summer always means concerts for me.  And the big deal about this summer was that Phish was back.  I managed to make my way to Boston for Phish at Fenway and a great show close to home in Mountain View.  I’m happy the boys are back.  And even more happy that they’re playing great shows again.

But even more memorable was Wilco’s show at The Greek Theatre.  It was a PERFECT summer night and a fantastic performance.


Our New Yard

So we gutted our yard.  That’s story best told in pictures.

Right before things started getting totally ripped up



There used to be a lot of brush and a tall tree there…



It took some heavy machinery to get the job done right…



But here’s what we’ve got now…



Mason likes it…



More milestones for Mason and Jude

If you haven’t put two and two together yet, the trigger for that new yard is that the boys are growing up and spending more time outdoors.  Mason is now three (and is now onto a bigger bike as seen above).  And Jude turned one year old on August 4.  In addition, Jude can now walk and Mason is out of diapers.  There was a crazy few weeks this summer when Mason was getting potty trained while at the same time, Jude was learning to walk.  If you have kids, I’m sure you know how nuts that was.  If you don’t have kids, I’m sure you can just imagine.


Just for good measure, here’s a two final mega cute pics of the boys



Lastly… more career changes for Keturah and I

We’re both working at startups in San Francisco right now.  I’m at Ticketfly and it pretty took over my life during the last half of August.  But among other things, I helped roll out a brand spanking new web site for them.  Keturah started working with a new advertising agency in August. 

Bye Stanford. Hello Ticketfly.

While some of my close friends, colleagues, and trusted peers have knowledge of this, I have yet to publicly disclose that I parted ways with Stanford University at the end of March.

So I’ve taken some to recollect.  Even did some exploring regarding what I want to do nextSpent time with my kidsWatched the Red Sox pretty much every dayGot excited to go see Phish at Fenway.

Sadly what I found in the I spent working at Stanford’s Office of Development is that, institutionally speaking, they are an enterprise not ready to explore the utilization of the web and social media technologies in the same fashion that I am. There is interest to be sure, but there is not an equivalent amount of action supporting that interest.  I will say that much of the responsibility for igniting that interest fell upon my shoulders and while I was able to get certain corners activated and excited, doing so on a broader level was something I did not achieve.

What’s next


I’ve accepted a contract position with Ticketfly. And I have to say, I’m bursting with excitement.  Ticketfly is a startup still in stealth mode so I won’t be writing too much at this time.  I will say that their business is centered around live music, which couldn’t be more of a perfect fit for me.  I’m also excited to head back to an office in San Francisco, to an office on 2nd Street to be precise.  Keturah and I were chatting yesterday and realized that I’ve been working down in Silicon Valley ever since we began dating.

So to all my friends working in South of Market, lets grab lunch!

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