Ep. 2 - Another Project! & Proj. Ulysses Origin

Much has happened this week. Well, more so much in my mind. 

Guess, that's what happens when you journal everyday. It's essentially the toned-down socially accepted version of talking to yourself profusely. 

Talking to yourself is underrated. People should do it more often.

So whilst Project Ulysses has entered week 5, I'm concurrently building out my podcast project. 

I'm excited to note I got my first confirmation for my podcast guest. A venture capitalist. Getting this project off the ground has been a slow process. Lot's of internal debate on it. But I know I'll regret not having tried it. So just have to fight that resistance. The pitch went disgustingly in my opinion. I had a whole script. Value prop, target audience blah blah all lined up. Then at go time I just rambled on. Jesus Christ. Despite loving to talk with people, it still physically sickens me to reach out to people. It's the thing that makes me question my extroversion. Weird how I'd much rather talk to a stranger in a coffee shop than have to draft an email to someone. There's just more comfort with sitting face to face across someone than imagining someone's reaction to opening some email. 

Nevertheless, will have to do more of the those emails to build out the podcast. Godammit. 

So last week I had introduced Project Ulysses. For my love of long form writing I had a whole essay on the name, the origin story and everything. But... now that I realize. The short form is just as informative:

  • Reason for name? Ulysses = Odysseus = hero in Homer's Odyssey = project is about everyone going on their own odyssey + my own odyssey on learning about my own skills and strengths
  • My aim for this? To learn: Do I like coaching + Can I add value to self-development of others + what elements of this project will i like + dislike

There. Saved you 1200 words of reading. You're welcome. 

If you'd rather have my long forms please let me know! I very much do enjoy the dramatization and ramblings of my stories.

Oh right, and why I even decided to do Project Ulysses?

After starting my sabbatical approx. 2 months ago I caught up with friends who I couldn't see from living in a different city for my last job. During this period I was focused on training for my upcoming powerlifting competition. I had also spent months performing introspection on the personal data I've collected over the last 3 years and designing a path forward. 

A common comment made by my friends was "Dan you are so lucky. I wish I didn't have to do this". Then I would reply "It's not luck, it's a choice to be doing this and you can resign too". To this my friends would say "I wish, but I can't + insert excuse founded by fear". I also suggested making time to do some introspection. Of course came a barrage of excuses. Inaction with a side of BS excuse is like a McD****** Junior Chicken. Cheap and easy to get but with every purchase is slowly killing you faster than you realize.

But this got me thinking. I do agree that resigning is too big a leap for many. Everyone has different levels of risk tolerance after all. Though choosing to just live your life without much direction and letting things happen to you... it just didn't sound right. FYI I don't believe in that whole fate nonsense, the perfect job isn't going to fall on your lazy-ass lap while you pray faithfully. 

Then I thought about the one thing I knew I loved doing. Powerlifting. So what if I could bring elements of that into a project on introspective design for self-development (another obsession of mine)?

I knew people didn't like going to the gym (yeah.. fucking weird). But some force themselves to go to the gym 3 times per week. They're also looking for the best "return on time invested" kind of exercise too since they hate being there so much. 

If this wasn't true then the health industry would be much smaller because people should only squat for the first few years. 

But yeah..... so there it was! I could make introspection a workout! The idea was simple: Perform a set of introspective exercises 3x a week for 10-15minutes each. Minimize time commitment for max return? 

Well, I thought it would be easy for most... but everyone is definitely different. 

Next week I'll fill you in on losing 2 participants and some surprising thoughts to being unemployed. To find out, subscribe to my newsletter to get updated on the blog for future stories AND get 3 learnings I found valuable from the week. 

Ep. 1 - First 4 Weeks of Project Ulysses

So what does a 26 year old do on a sabbatical after leaving three lucrative white collar professions?

Travel around the world? Nope. 

It's funny because my parents actually suggested I just buy a one way ticket to travel somewhere. I'll do this eventually. But it's actually not a "want" of mine at this point.

What has continued to occupy my time are personal projects. Can't call them "side" since they have become my main endeavour. 

This post, and a series of it to follow have been inspired by the Startup podcast that tracked the creation of Gimlet Media (Thanks Andy and Scott for introducing this to me) + further encouraged by others to release more content on my journey and thoughts (Thanks Shubham and Vikram). 

So, being the creative genius I am, I named this the OMD Series. If you don't know what OMD stands for just think about it. Through this series I hope to take you on a ride through my journey of exacting the various sets of personal projects I conduct. 

The first project I'll introduce as part of this series is Project Ulysses.

So what is the project?

To perform introspective design. As the name suggests, the participants do self-directed or guided introspection and work to create systems that fit their personal design. For this I gathered 8 professionals from different professions, age groups, industries, gender, stages in career and personalities. 

I meet with each participant one-on-one twice a week for an hour + the participant spends 15minutes a day 3x a week doing personal reflective exercises. Estimated 25hours/week of time commitment on my part. 

I originally committed them for 18 weeks but I'm now realizing (Week 4 as I write this) most may go through faster. Faster as in, 9 weeks. This is also due to realization that a concurrent execution plan (#agile) may be more effective. Confirmed again how bad humans are at forecasting anything. 


How it's going so far?

It's fun. I actually find myself looking forward to the one-on-one sessions. #winning.

I've also been collecting feedback weekly and most have been positive so far so that's been great. I mean, the problems I'm trying to solve for them are problems I'm actively learning about myself so we are aligned here. 

There definitely is a sense of adding value to someone else's life in doing this project. Especially since I am literally interacting with the customer. 

I've also been discussing my project idea with various individuals in the Toronto Tech scene and have been getting very supportive feedback. Kind of like pitching I guess?

I was surprised but the number of people who've applauded me starting these projects on a sabbatical at my age have been enormous. While I know I want to be as intrinsically scorecard driven as possible, getting external encouragement helps. 

I wouldn't look at it as a means of external validation though... but just emotional support from the spectators as I run my marathon. 

The four weeks haven't been without bumps though. I started with 8 but now I'm down to 6. Mixed feelings about this. I think long term it's for the best. But we'll see. 


Wait so why is thing thing called Ulysses? Why the hell are you doing this? To find out, subscribe to my newsletter to get updated on the blog for future stories AND get 3 learnings I found valuable from the week.