35,000 feet above China.  That’s where this next post is being written.  Can you imagine what it’s like?  Sitting in row 38 seat C, right elbow being smashed everytime a stewardess or passenger walks down the aisle.  I’m forced to type with my elbows glued to my sides.  Arm rest stolen by the passenger on my left.  He’s asleep and looks about 70.  Not messing with that.  Trying to formulate my thoughts is hard enough in silence.  Here I am surrounded by conversations in Chinese, the pilot speaking over them encouraging us to join a frequent flyer program, a steward handing out surveys, and as I look to the senior on my left I ask: did he just fart?!

Distractions!  Yet none of them hold a candle to the excuses that I tell myself…that I tell everyone…for why I haven’t written anything in 3 and a half weeks.  Everyone knows I’ve been busier than usual, being a student in Startup Institute.  I’ve been working through marketing assignments, researching companies I want to work for, corresponding with the awesome people in those companies, progressing with my partner team (akin to an internship), and cultivating relationships with my cohorts.  I’m just prioritizing, alright?  Think of the utility in all these tasks, the benefits I’ll later reap as an employed marketer with a strong network and even some boastworthy experience!  Because that’s what matters most: utility, value, and advancement!  And hopefully…after reading that last sentence…you’re just as ashamed as I am for how soul-less that sounds.

What happened to thinking that what matters most…is simply me?  After all, what is blogging?  Me sitting down (though I’d rather stand after being on flights for 20 hours) and thinking out loud for absolutely no tangible, measurable, or immediately beneficial reason?  YES!  And that’s the point.  Blogging is a way for me to be completely self-serving.  Stealing time away from those precious activities so that I can exhale my thoughts and feelings.  Even as I write this now, surrounded by distractions, I feel calmer.  The activity is serendipitous.  I don’t want to stop writing…even though the plane is landing soon and you’ll get bored eventually (still there?).

So I learned a valuable lesson up here, now 35,000 feet above Thailand.  Make time to do whatever it is you selfishly want to do.  Prioritize THAT and let the rest fall into place.  Because it’s too easy to lose sight of what’s really important: YOU.  Lucky me to rediscover that all the way up here in the clouds.  Signing off.

Today is my second day at Startup Institute Boston.  The first day…was…BANANAS.  I honestly have never been around so many creative and forward thinking people since my senior year at MIT.  It’s incredibly reinvigorating for someone like me who just spent 6 years in the same place, doing the same thing.  Nothing against that place or that thing!  It was actually pretty awesome.  But the staying-in-one-place for so long has taken a toll on my self-confidence as an idea maker, wearer of multiple hats, and all around interesting guy.  For this reason, I’m incredibly happy to be going in a really new direction.

But I’ll have more on that another time.

Yesterday we did this individual exercise where each of us told the cohort something we sucked at doing.  It was a really deep, introspective exercise.  It got very personal and honest.  Here’s what I suck at: expressing disagreement.  I don’t like being the non-conformist when a decision needs to be made.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like conformity one bit.  I believe wholeheartedly in individuality.  But it’s a lot easier said than done!  It’s difficult for me to muster up the courage to disagree with the group.  And I do this to myself often.  I punish myself with silence for daring to think differently than the rest of my peers, someone I respect, or someone whose feelings I don’t want to hurt.

I’m sort of introverted and occasionally socially awkward…which I think is absolutely fine.  I love people who fit this description because we get each other! But mix that with conflict-phobic, and you have a person who is afraid to say to a group “I think you’re all wrong.”  I’ve seen this social tendency occur throughout my professional and personal life, with my coworkers and my loved ones.  I’ve always been aware of it, but too afraid to confront it.

This exercise of admitting “what I suck at” keeps me from continuing to ignore it.  When I admit it loudly to a group of respected peers, I’m really admitting it to myself.  I’m telling myself “Wake up! You have a problem. BUT…it’s OK.  Start working on it.”  I know now that I don’t need to solve this problem today.  But I do need to start.  Now that I’m painfully, ultra-cognizant of this flaw…I can take small actions to treat it.  The next time I hear an idea I disagree with, I can remind myself to boldly state my dissident thoughts and worry about the consequences later.  I can remind myself that sealing my lips only reinforces the problem and guarantees that it’ll happen again.  I can remind myself that even if I’m wrong I deserve to be heard and considered, even if people don’t want to hear and consider me.

So there you go.  A little piece of Tarikh being really deep.  I’m glad I did this exercise AND I’m glad I shared it with you.  Maybe you should give it a try.  Really if there’s anything you’re struggling with, try it out with a group of people.  Tell them what you suck at.

HELLO INTERNET!

My name is Tarikh Campbell and this is my very first blog!  With this being my first post, I’ll share something that’ll help you get to know me better: 10 reasons why I’m excited for this summer!

  1. I’m starting a new adventure.  One week ago…I closed out a 6 year career in biotech as a chemical engineer.  Tomorrow…I begin a new chapter with Startup Institute Boston!  SIB is a program that guides people through a transition toward working in a startup.  My transition takes me into marketing, which is a field I’ve been dying to break into for years.  There are tons of amazing people at SIB and I can’t wait to work with them all summer.
  2. I am a hip hop dancer and choreographer.  I’ve been dancing at a high level for years, but I feel like this summer is going to be full of new opportunities.  I’ve been getting a ton of support from the Boston dance community which has opened new doors to working with very talented students, studios, and artists.  It has fueled my creativity and allowed me to create some really cool pieces.  I can’t wait to reveal them this summer!
  3. I’m going to THAILAND!  In July, a great friend of mine is getting married…in THAILAND!  It’ll be my first time visiting and I couldn’t be more excited.  I love traveling.  My most recent vacation was a road trip from San Diego to Seattle and before that I visited Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong.  I can’t wait for beaches, elephants, and authentic Thai food.  But most of all, I can’t wait to witness my friend marry the love of her life.
  4. I’m going to San Francisco for another wedding!  One of my old dance buddies is a co-founder of Infer. I get to be present for the happiest day of his life.  And as an added treat, I’ll be checking out SF Pride in the same weekend.  I support the LGBT community and can’t wait to join their celebration.
  5. J. Cole is coming to Boston (well…Mansfield, MA…same difference)! I love his music, with his most recent album being one of my top 3 for the year.  Not only is he a talented artist, but he’s a great live entertainer.  Those don’t always go hand-in-hand but he makes doing both look easy.
  6. My girlfriend just re-launched her bowtie business, The Magnetic Bowtie.  One of the things I love about her is how fashion forward and creative she is.  This is one of her dreams so it fills me with pride to see her going after it.
  7. MOVIES.  Let’s see: Mad Max, Jurassic World, Terminator Genisys, Ant-Man, and the Fantastic Four just to name a few.  I’m going to be spending a lot of time at the Fenway Regal theater this summer.
  8. Caribana!  Which is?  An annual celebration of Caribbean culture held in Toronto.  I actually haven’t been to one since I was a middle schooler.  A lot has changed since then and I’m long overdue for a cultural reawakening.  I can’t wait to party it up with good island music and an endless supply of Caribbean food.
  9. Summer in Boston is simply amazing.  Whether it’s watching the fireworks over the Charles on Independence Day or spending a weekend in Cape Cod, there are a million ways to enjoy Boston in the summer.
  10. Last but not least…it’s not winter anymore.

OK that last one was a bit of a cop out, so I’ll leave the 1oth reason to you.  What are you excited about this summer?  I’d love to hear about it!