Like every year before it, 2011 went by in a flash—even by busy, fleeting and amazing 2010 standards. I try to end every year with some reflections about the successes, failures and teachable moments with a smattering of humor mixed in for good measure.
You're only as smart as your dumbest moment. I've had many. Starting a business is like birthing a child. You have an idea and you want to incubate it, care for it, prepare for it in a way that births that idea into a healthy screaming baby. You read books and blogs about the subject. You talk to friends and people who have been through it before. No matter how many children you've had, nothing can prepare you for the next one. Every child is different and presents their own set of challenges. As a parent (business owner) you've got to look out for your family, see into the future to anticipate problems or growth spurts, and find that happy balance between being the cool parent and the authoritarian one. It's a battle. Failure means death and that's just not an option. Influential is my eighth or ninth child. I lost count after number five. I've already started on my next child. I hate being called a foodie. I come from a Southern family so food has always played a predominate role in my life. I like to cook and experiment in the kitchen. I measure butter in sticks not spoons. That last one will be on my tombstone. Great ideas are like fire. Not the kind you make on the stove. It's like caveman fire. You don't know where it came from, but you will spend every last bit of energy making sure the fire doesn't go out. Friends are the most important family you can have because you choose to share your life, your secrets, and your treasures with them. Every day I thank God for being so lucky that there were people who took a chance with me. It takes bold and brave souls to join a startup in its infancy. I probably sold it better than I should have, but If I said to you "Hey, I'm gonna go base jumping without a parachute over shark-infested waters. Wanna join?" would you? I didn't think so. #winning Politics can be a messy game, but I keep my head above water by recognizing it for what it is. A game. A game that determines the future of our country and our world. Pretty high stakes game if you ask me. I heard someone say to someone once "That's a dirty old-school Vegas trick." My unsolicited reply: "No it wasn't. That's a DC welcome mat." I still believe in the power of producing quality work, honest communication, and determination. I am terrible at business development. I hate it actually. But get someone into my conference room and I will sell them my vision like Ronald Reagan at a Lincoln Day Dinner. I have the greatest clients in the world. I mean that. The 2011 victory I'm most proud of is Bryce Reeves for Virginia Senate. He's a really good guy, with an amazing family. He's going to do amazing things for Virginia. Just you wait. You never get the help you don't ask for. Asking for help is the most humbling experience one can have. You're basically saying "My life is in your hands. Will you please help me?" It's why the rejection can be so painful. It's not their fault. Honestly, I really try to think about what Jesus would do. He'd probably react differently than most people would expect. Open hands, open heart, buckets full of crazy. I think I'm done with my house. All I really need now is a bigger couch so some of my friends aren't relegated to the floor of my living room. My brother reminded me of a long-unfinished art project I started nearly ten years ago. I probably won't finish it in 2012, but if I've made some headway on it, I'll be happy. Scream and yell only if you know that you're the loudest, otherwise you'll just look like an asshole. Before you can forgive someone else, you must forgive yourself. One my greatest triumphs of 2011 was defeating Bowser in Super Mario Bros. Wii. I'm working on my first short film. It's going to be based in DC, but it's not going to be about politics. Yeah, I went down to the White House that night. I wanted to feel connected. I wanted to feel connected to those people who were lost that day ten years ago. I wanted to wash away the pain in my heart. I don't know if I'm ready to go back there, to ground zero. The memorial looks pretty on TV and in photographs, but the memorial I wanted was the tallest building in the world with a monument in the sky. One that shouted to the heavens, "Fuck you. This is America and we are proud to be bold, brash and unapologetically patriotic." I wanted a giant steel and glass middle finger. We got two balls and a average-sized shaft. Fuck you Osama bin Laden. God bless our men and women in uniform. Especially the brave and strong members of the LGBT military community. Dealing with crazy people—especially family—should make you feel more sane. But it doesn't work like that. #houseguest I only tweeted a small fraction of the absurd gems that came out of his mouth. Then Houseguest got a Twitter. He's just not as funny without an editor. My grill misses me. We've become estranged this last year. I promise to use it more. The hair. People always comment on the hair. You know, it's a lot more work than I bargained for, but man, when it's looking good, I look good. Maybe in 2012 I'll cut it. Maybe. I don't make New Year's resolutions. That's just ripe for failure. Instead I reaffirm my goals to be a thoughtful, earnest and compassionate human. I make a pilgrimage to The Container Store every New Year's day. Usually before 11:00 am. I like to start my year off more organized than how I ended the last one. Who wants to start the new year hungover? Not I said the blind man.
I'm looking forward to 2012, to making new memories, and to putting even more distance between me and my twenties. So here's to a new year filled with peace, serenity, and prosperity for all.
Happy New Year! -Justin