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That's So Reg



This Was In My Pocket (Labor Day Edition)

Reggie Leonard II

This Was In My Pocket

To say that I've taken a break from blogging would be an understatement, given that my latest post before this was over an entire year ago. Nevertheless, one of my goals for this year is to write more, regardless of how non-technical or short-form it may be. With that being said, I'd like to revive this "series" of posts, since I tend to come across some great content while scouring the internet. 

Without further adieu, here are some things that I've been reading from my Pocket over the last few days: 

1. Ways to Think About CarsThe word "disruption" is being thrown around a lot these days. As much as I'd like for it to go in ear and out of the other, I can't help but see its effects in market disruptions like Uber, Airbnb, Relay Foods, Warby Parker, Spotify, and many others. With all of the news about self-driving cars and the various Tesla projects Elon Musk speaks of, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the automobile market is in the cross-hairs of innovators everywhere.

How will services like Uber and Lyft influence the purchasing of self-driving cars? Couldn't Uber just buy self-driving cars, allowing for less overhead (cheaper insurance than accident-proned human drivers, and no more paychecks to drivers)? This article presents the most thorough train of thought regarding these changes, and brings some non-traditional points of discussion into the conversation.

2.  5 MAJOR WAYS FREELANCERS WILL CHANGE THE ECONOMY BY 2040 - Did you realize that 34% of our current workforce is comprised of freelancers? This project-based phenomena in the world of work has been something I've been tracking for the last 3+ years, and the stats are more alarming each year. One of the biggest, and most consistent implications of a more project-based economy, as pointed out in this article, is that everyone will truly be responsible for her/his success. While that sounds obvious, the current systems and structures we've relied on for decades (i.e. upward promotions, retirement plans, domain expertise, etc.) will not necessarily be the standards of our impending economy. The future is up for grabs, which excites me to no end.

3. How to Write: A Year in Advice from Franzen, King, Hosseini, and More - Since I've always liked the idea of writing to taste life twice, but struggle with literary malnutrition (e.g. I rarely actually write anything), I found this article to be particularly encouraging. As the tagline of the article suggests, this consists of, "highlights from 12 months of interviews with writers about their craft and the authors they love." 

4. 7 Events That Can Rock America In September - Since it's pretty easy to miss some major news amidst the typical shock & awe tactics employed by the media, I appreciated the brevity of this informative listicle. For similar reasons, I love Forekast, as it displays important events around the globe, on a daily list-based calendar. 

5. The World's 16 Best Cities for Design Anyone who knows me knows that I am a design fanatic. I love design in all forms, whether that be graphic design, industrial design, product design, and most certainly civic design. It's one of the reasons I love travel, and the main reason I posted this article about the world's first crowdfunded bridge. I am fascinated by the local color that cities personify, especially when citizens take an intentional approach to representing their culture within its physical confines. 

*Leon Bridges - River | A Take Away Show - Consider this video a "bonus" addition to this post. I've been listening to this guy's album a lot since it first released, and this is definitely one of my favorite songs from it. Also, if you're not familiar with Take Away Shows by La Blogoteque, do yourself a favor and look up the ones featuring Lianne La Havas, Local Natives, and Beirut. You're welcome. 

So, This Was In My Pocket

Reggie Leonard II

Throughout the week, I run across some pretty interesting content, articles, and ideas. I typically keep track of track of them in my "Pocket." Though I intend to read and explore these things later, I often find that I forget to do so, or simply do not make the time to revisit what I've saved. Instead of being a hoarder, I've decided to start sharing some of my "finds" on a regular (probably weekly) basis. 

So, this was in my Pocket...

1. TechSpiked - Branded as "Entertainment for Techies," I knew that I'd love this site. Sometimes the videos are quirky, sometimes they're informative, and other times they're inspiring. I'll probably end up here at least once or twice a day for the next couple of weeks. 

2. 10 Free Courses for Professionals You Can Take Online - This link is pretty straightforward. Given the rapidly evolving nature of society these days, the demand for new jobs and subsequently new skill sets seems to be the mark of our generation of work. Professional development is no longer simply a good idea, it is the new job security. The courses included in this link provide practical and relevant material that cover some of the today's top content areas. 

3. 15 Twitter Hacks That Will Turn You Into A Twitter Ninja - Twitter is more than, "Eating breakfast with the bae. #Bacon" Twitter is a powerful, real-time professional networking tool and a powerful way to crowdsource consumer and sociological/anthropological information. This very specific and practical list of "things to do right now" is a great place to start when it comes to using Twitter for all its worth. 

4. Social Networks As Search Engines - This weekend, I heard a song lyric that made me reflect on all of the turmoil I've seen in the news lately, both here in the states and abroad. The lyric was, "I'm still figuring out this thing called freedom." Aren't we all? Given my background in the social sciences, I wanted to see what people associated with freedom, so I took to Instagram and searched that exact hashtag (#freedom). The results were fascinating. Stay tuned for a blog post. 

5. Classic - The Knocks ft. Powers - This Soundcloud find is reminiscent of Daft Punk meets Pharell Williams meets Jackson 5 (in terms of fun/high energy). It's a great summertime song to enjoy with wonderful weather.  

That's all for now. Let's see what I find in my Pocket over this next week. 

Why I Love Coffee Shops

Reggie Leonard II

Last week, I drove to a city 45 minutes away from where I live to give a “talk” to 40 complete strangers at a Pecha Kucha Night about why I love coffee shops. Despite the things that I’ve done of much greater magnitudes, it was one of the most exhilarating things I have ever experienced.

Here’s some quick context: Over the last 4 years, I’ve given countless talks to hundreds of college students and their parents, with audiences of as many as 900+ about preparing for the future, choosing a major, and excelling in today’s job market. I have been afforded the opportunity to offer trainings for professionals who have been in my field for as long as I’ve been alive, and have done a ton of cool things in between. Yet, somehow, this small experience, my shortest presentation to one of the smaller groups that I’ve spoken to, moved me in a way that none of the others have. I think that it was because what I gave the crowd, more than my words, was a piece of myself.

So, aside from the unanimously agreed upon aura of innate inspiration that they possess, why do I love coffee shops? Most simply, because they serve as a common ground; no pun intended.

A common ground is defined as, “a basis of mutual interest or agreement; A place where both parties are equally comfortable or uncomfortable.” The “commons” or a “common” area is historically symbolic of a safe and public place, accessible to everyone. For those who are in a new and unfamiliar place, this area represents a point of comfort and familiarity. The beauty of coffee shops is that regardless of our respective positions in life, coffee shops communicate that we believe in a common ground. A place where presidents and pimps, students and staff, atheists and angels can collide. Waiting in line for a double-shot cappuccino with more milk than foam has led to many a conversation with individuals I would not have otherwise had access to.

Another reason that I appreciate coffee shops is that they celebrate the diversity of culture. Whether I’m drinking an Indonesian Sumatra with a Filipino friend in a Slovakian cafe while ruminating over the implications of socialism in Europe, or enjoying a Papua New Guinea Peaberry with a native North Carolinian over a warm conversation on a cold winter evening in Lynchburg, I am able to experience multiple layers of culture through the context of a cup.

This is beautiful because, in all of its brokenness and all of its fullness, culture displays our humanity.  

Here is what I see: The homeless man grabbing a free cup of coffee and a warm bistro meal paid for by a coffee shop regular; the successful lawyer grabbing a latte on his way to meeting a client; the young family with their newborn infant planning their budget over Saturday morning muffins and chai; the recently divorced man introspectively learning to reframe his new identity while maintaining his connection to others over his daily double ristretto shot; the college couple on their first date, grabbing Flat Whites and French Macaroons before dinner because life is more exciting that way. The pageantry of life is manifested in the seemingly mundane ruminations of coffee shop denizens all over, and the shops’ owners serve as our temporary curators in the public museums of “us.”

Sunsets piercing downtown windows, providing havens for creatives in the midst of suburbia, serving as a respite for their untamed souls. Lattes turned lotuses; brown beans brewed into beautiful beverages buried in breve and brûléed bliss. The open-mic nights and literary readings, the creative meetings, the inspiring conversations, the solitude for reading; I can’t get enough.

At the risk of sounding pretentious, over-exaggerative, and disingenuous, I decided to share the above thoughts with this crowd of strangers, and they listened intently. Without having practiced my presentation a single time, my words flowed seemingly effortlessly, because I was speaking from my heart. Afterwards, several people mentioned appreciating the talk, and shared with me some of their favorite coffee shop experiences. Then there was the woman who said that she hadn’t been to a coffee shop in months, but planned to go within the next week after hearing my talk. I even received a couple of business cards from people who wanted to get-together for coffee in the near future. Mission accomplished.

This entire experience confirmed a belief that I’ve held for quite some time now. We all want to be known, and for our humanity to count for something. We want to share our lives with other people, but our current individualistic societal structure does not foster many experiences that allow us to feel safe in doing so. I want to be increasingly and ever more intentional in the pursuit to share life with others, new and old acquaintances alike, especially after this experience. 

So if you’re reading this, I’d love to grab coffee with you!

::raises mug:: To humanity. To new experiences. To being known and sharing life. Cheers.

P.S. Below are the slides, sans commentary, from my talk.