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Definitive Top Ten Awesome Things I Did in 2017

Definitive Top Ten Awesome Things I Did in 2017

I saw Bradley Brownell’s “Definitive Top Ten Awesome Things I Did in 2017” and decided to make one for myself. Like his, it’s a touch braggy, but I think it’s good to sit back and reflect on accomplishments from time to time. When you’re constantly chasing “something” it’s easy to believe that you haven’t achieved much of anything and it wasn’t until I sat down and wrote this list that I realized just how awesome 2017 was. Thanks to everyone who was a part of it!

1. Played in the Mountains

I rang in 2017 sleeping on a snow ledge smaller than the average dining table just above Surprise Lake surrounded by stunning views of Teewinot, Mt. Owen, and the rest of the Tetons with my friend Adam. We woke up on January 1, 2017 and skied back to our rental–a Chrysler 300–which was entirely inappropriate for the winter adventure. A couple months later Adam and I skied into Mt. Washington’s Huntington Ravine where we strapped our skis to our packs and climbed the first rope-stretching pitch of Pinnacle Gully before testing our self-rescue skills and skiing back down to Pinkham Notch. Jenna and I took a quick break from the snow and circumnavigated St. John down in the U.S. Virgin Islands then, as Summer approached, I found that winter was still lingering in Yosemite and convinced my friend Steve and his buddy Jonah to ski in to Tuolumne Meadows. It turned out to be more of a hike, but it was June and we skied Yosemite. It was glorious. Only a month later I flew out to a remote lodge in Alaska with some family for ten days of fly-fishing 180-miles from the nearest major road. Everything about our trip to that lodge was incredible, even if we did get in a pretty epic speedboat accident.  

2. Survived a Speedboat Accident in Alaska

Speaking of which, trips do not always go according to plan. I suppose that’s how they become adventures. While coming back from fly-fishing up the Iliamna River our shallow water speedboat hit an uprooted tree, became airborne, and flipped. Our guide, my uncle, and my cousin were tossed out of the boat and were able to swim to a sandbar not far away. Unfortunately, I was trapped under the capsized boat clutching my Sony Alpha DSLR and trying to keep it from becoming submerged. I was not successful. As I sunk underwater, arm extended upward, the camera I use for part of my living sank with me. Jenna had been in a speedboat in front of us and, as I swam up towards the surface, she (stupidly) jumped in the river after me. My head and body was trapped under the boat but, by now, my arm was extended outside of it and Jenna rescued the camera for me and swam back to the sandbar. Eventually, I escaped from under the boat, climbed on top of it and swam through the freezing glacier meltwater to our small island. My uncle jumped in as I came closer and hauled on my clothing to get me ashore. My cousin, Kevin, one of our guides and our friend Madeline took the remaining boat to go find help and, for the next few hours, we waited patiently for rescue huddled around a small campfire made of driftwood and kept aflame with gasoline. We all made it out alive and, surprisingly, without any real injury. Except for the camera, that is. It was 2017 so, naturally, my cousin captured it all on Snapchat:

3. Moved to and from Manhattan

I have moved a lot in my life. I’ve moved so much that I’ve literally spent part of my life debating exactly what it means to be “moving” in the Court of Law. Off the top of my head I must’ve lived in a dozen places since high school. Utah. New Jersey. Colorado. New Jersey, again. New York. Hoboken (New Jersey, again). Wyoming. New York. Atlanta. New York. San Francisco. New York. Austin. New York. Vermont. New York. St. Louis. New York. There are two common themes here. For one, I can’t stay in one place. Secondly, I’m addicted to New York. We had a great apartment just South of Columbus Circle–walking distance to 5th Avenue, Hells Kitchen, and Central Park–forty-two stories above the chaos of Broadway. Then, realizing we are both nomadic by nature, we decided to invest in something more suitable for our lifestyle. I’ll tell you more about that later in 2018.

4. Career Growth

I joined Assembly as their Vice President of Social Strategy, hired amazing people like Jeff, Taylor, and Glenn, helped bring in $45 Million in New Business for Assembly by landing clients like Red Robin and BBC America, and grew my division’s budget management by nearly 400% over the previous year. For Alister & Paine, I finally automated some operations, built more service offerings, and aggressively grew our reach and revenue. We also continued our corporate philanthropy by donating $25,000 in services to help raise money for Prostate Cancer research and men’s mental health awareness. It’s been a record-breaking year in terms of financial growth and I’ve been working for months on a new concept I hope to launch this year in collaboration with the National Park Service.

5. Motorcycle Adventures

Robert Pirsig, author of Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, passed away on April 24, 2017 and I think that may have struck a chord within my subconscious. I sold my Triumph Street Triple, used some Delta miles to book a one way flight to Oklahoma City, and picked up a used Triumph Bonneville T100. I then proceeded to ride it 1,636 miles cross country–through rain and hail–back to New York in under three days. A few weeks later and the bike was completely transformed thanks to British Customs, Dime City Cycles, and A&J Cycles (here’s the build video: Almost immediately after transforming the bike I participated in my first Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) through New York City. In all, 93,000 riders in 582 cities from 92 countries rallied to raise $4.85 million dollars all while donning some dapper clothes and twisting the throttle. It was a good year for me and the motorcycle but not necessarily for my friends. My cousin sold his bike and still hasn’t replaced it. One friend went down on his bike and totaled it. Another had his motorcycle stolen. I’m hoping these guys get back on the bike in 2018 so we can log a few more adventures together this year.

6. Did Some Writing

I’ve never really written for the magazine I founded nearly nine years ago but this year I decided to change that. After writing about my 1,564 mile adventure in the Frankfurt Flyer last year for the Porsche 356 Registry I decided to do some more automotive writing. This year I wrote about my collaboration with Rolls Royce and what it’s like to drive the new $3 Million Bugatti Chiron. Outside of the automotive world, I wrote about my experience getting LASIK at the Manhattan Lasik Center and I interviewed entrepreneurs I found inspiring, like Mark Hawwa (CEO of The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride) and Nate Checketts (CEO of Rhone). My 2018 bucket list has me doing much more writing.

7. Made Some Body Modifications

Most of my family isn’t used to seeing me without glasses. In 2017, I finally got LASIK and shed glasses forever (ok, maybe just for the next decade or so before I need reading glasses). It’s been incredible to be able to ride my motorcycle and go skiing without trying to squeeze glasses under my goggles and helmets. It’s a life changer and, if you’re thinking about doing it, you owe it to yourself to go find out if you’re a good candidate for the procedure. I also added some ink from three amazing tattoo artists including Mike Rubendall, Henbo, and David Bruehl. Check my Instagram for pics.  

8. Went Keto

Perhaps this belongs in the body modifcation section, but since it requires constant willpower I’ve decided to give the Ketogenic Diet it’s own section. I succumbed to Joe Rogan’s incessant podcast nagging, tried the ketogenic diet, and lost about 20 pounds in the first three weeks (combined with some workouts from Mountain Athlete). I’ve pretty much stayed “keto” all year and feel fantastic. I noticed better performance skiing in the mountains, dropped several pant sizes (from a 34 to 31), have more energy, and greater mental clarity and focus. I don’t think I’d be able to do this without Jenna, who’s made it her mission to track down the best keto recipes on the planet. Cutting out delicious IPA’s has also been incredibly helpful and maybe that deserves a bullet point, but I’ve really reduced my alcohol intake. Now, instead of grabbing a beer or a glass of wine at night I just make myself some tea and think about how happy I’ll be that I made that decision when I’m in the backcountry lugging less body fat up a mountain.

9. Logged More Miles Driving Fancy Cars Than My Jetta

In 2017 I put more miles on exotic cars than on my own VW Jetta. In fact, I had so many amazing cars delivered to me this year–from the Rolls Royce Wraith to various Ferrari’s and Alfa Romeo’s–that I got rid of my daily driver and added a 1967 Porsche 912 and a pickup truck to the fleet. 

10. Babies and Such

Last year was an amazing year for family. Great friends got married to people they loved. My nieces and nephews are growing into amazing individuals. I’ve somewhat reunited a disparate family by inviting them on some of my adventures and, after months of doctors appointments, we are expecting our first child in July of 2018.

I’ve got a lot planned for 2018 but, if it’s anything like last year, I doubt it will go according to plan. I hope everyone has an incredibly successful 2018 and, if you haven’t done so already, take thirty minutes and really reflect on the last year and all you’ve accomplished and where you can take steps for personal and professional growth. At the very least, it’ll bring back some great memories from the not-so-distant past and might even make you crack a smile.



You Can Now Find My Memoir at Duke University’s Law Library

You Can Now Find My Memoir at Duke University’s Law Library

Duke University’s Michael Goodson Law Library recently became the fourth Law Library to stock my memoir, which readers are calling “Outstanding”, “Gut Wrenching” and an “incendiary, long overdue call to action”.

The memoir–which is dedicated to my father and son–debuted at #1 on Amazon for both Constitutional Law and Penology eBooks, temporarily beating out John Grisham’s The Innocent Man, Piper Kerman’s Orange is the New Black, and Glenn Greenwald’s No Place To Hide.

If you find yourself at Duke University’s Law Library and have some time to spare, pick up a copy and read a few pages. It might just make you think twice the next time you’re about to say “there ought to be a law…”

The Blue Tent Sky is Now Available at Portland’s Iconic Powell’s Bookstore!

The Blue Tent Sky is Now Available at Portland’s Iconic Powell’s Bookstore!

Self publishing is no easy task. I was fortunate to pre-sell 1,200 copies of my book before writing a single word but, after turning down two commercial publishing offers, I worried I might not be able to get my memoir into traditional brick and mortar bookstores without the benefit of the distribution network of a traditional publisher. If you’re interested, I wrote a post for Medium about how I crowdfunded $42,000 and why I turned down those publishing offers.

Over a hundred bookstores have since agreed to carry my memoir, including one of the most iconic indie bookstores in America: Powell’s Books of Portland, Oregon.

Since 1971, Powell’s has grown into one of the world’s great indie bookstores, with five locations in the Portland metropolitan area and one of the world’s most successful digital bookstores. Only a handful of shops have refused to carry the book–and some were very outspoken about banning it–so it feels like a huge victory to have my memoir stocked at the legendary Powell’s Books. To their credit, Red Emma’s–Baltimore’s radical bookstore and vegan cafe–has also agreed to carry my memoir.

At first I thought it was strange that a bookstore that prides itself on it’s communist and anarchistic literature would be more open-minded than some of the other indie bookstores I’ve talked to. Now, I’m not so sure. I suppose it’s difficult not to judge my book by it’s cover when it has such a polarizing subtitle, so I can understand why some stores wouldn’t want to carry it, but I think those same people would find a lot they actually agree with if they only set aside their preconceived notions of bipartisan politics and read the book. They’d probably be surprised to read about what happened to me, how it happened to me, and the criminal justice reform I call for in the pages of my memoir.

You can support Powell’s by buying the memoir through their website or, if you’d prefer a limited edition printing, you can buy a first edition directly through Amazon.