The Man in the Mirror

When you get what you want in your struggle for self,And the world makes you king for a day, Then go to the mirror and look at yourself, And see what that man has to say. For it isn't a man's father, mother or wife, Whose judgement upon him must pass, The fellow whose verdict counts most in life, Is the man staring back from the glass. He's the fellow to please, never mind all the rest, For he's with you clear to the end, And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test, If the man in the glass is your friend. You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years, And get pats on the back as you pass, But the final reward will be heartache and tears, If you've cheated the man in the glass. — Dale Wimbrow (Popularized by Bill Parcells)

My New Gig

If you read my last post, then you know I've been looking for a new job over the past several weeks. I have really enjoyed this September Sabbatical. The extra time with my wife and kids has been a blessing in disguise. Alas, all good things come to an end, I suppose. I start a new job this Monday.

I'm happy to report that I've accepted an offer from SPS Commerce to be the new UX Design Manager. I'm really excited about it because I'll be taking on a position that allows me to wear multiple hats and it also presents some pretty significant, but fun challenges and some tough problems to solve. It seems like a fantastic company and I'm really looking forward to working with some bright people.

Thanks to everyone who has networked with me over the past month and a big thanks to anyone that passed along my information with a good word. I never really put much stock in LinkedIn, but through the past few weeks, I've realized how powerful that network can be for someone actively looking for a position.

I feel very humbled and very grateful for this gift.

How I Survived Bloody Wednesday

For the first time in my adult life, I find myself unemployed. Three weeks ago, I succumbed to the axe on August 28, 2013, which will forever be known as Bloody Wednesday in Sport Ngin folklore. Throughout the past several years, as the economy declined, I really never feared for my job. I always thought, naively, that I was safe. That if there were going to be cutbacks, they would cut the slackers and underperformers first.

I was living in a fool's paradise.

Bloody Wednesday was, without a doubt, the single worst day of my career and even one of the worst days of my life. The news of the layoff came from out of the blue and caught me completely off-guard. It was a gut-wrenching experience.

I absolutely loved working at Sport Ngin. In almost every way, it was my dream job. The perfect blend of two things I really love - design and sports. I had a tremendous amount of influence over the direction of the product. I built a team of user experience designers and we were doing some fantastically fun work, designing Sport Ngin's next generation of tools to manage sports leagues, teams and tournaments. I had a blast designing two iPhone apps while I was there. I worked with some really smart people, worked for a great boss and made some good friends. I thought it would last MUCH longer than two years. I had mentally ripped up my resume and would have been content to work there the rest of my career.

One day, you're having a blast designing a new sign in screen for the app, the next day you are sitting at home, locked out of your laptop and wondering, "why me?"

I dealt with a good measure of rejection and quite a few "no, I do NOT want this!" moments for a couple of days. Thanks to the unending support and encouragement from my awesome wife, I was able to get back on the proverbial horse and prepare for the next phase of my career. I still don't know what that looks like, or even when that next phase will start, but my LinkedIn network has proven to be pretty valuable and I have several leads I am following, some definitely pretty promising.

In the meantime, as I proactively wait for the process to play itself out, I am learning a few things about life and about myself.

  • As painful as this is/was for me, it is nothing compared to the hardship and turmoil many others have to face on a daily basis.
  • Being mindful of the previous point, I have tried counting my blessings, but they are too many.
  • Even when you think you are in control, you are not. So don't act like you are; instead give control to God and walk in His will.
  • Companies are in business for one reason and one reason only - to make money.
  • From now on, I will put much less stock in the "operating values" of any company.
  • I am thankful for the talents God has given me to earn a living and take care of my family doing something that I am not only good at, but something that I really love doing - not many people get to do that.

All the unexpected time I have now has really been a blessing in disguise. This all happened right before school started. So for the first three weeks of school, I've been able to say good-bye to the kids in the morning and be there when they get home, help them with homework and, in general, just spend more time with them. Being at home more during the day has also been a fun time for Cori and I to spend more time together. We've been able to eat lunch together almost every day, we have time to take walks together and have even gone on day dates while the kids are at school. And the weather has been perfect. A guy couldn't have asked for a better time to have days off.

If you know of any great user experience design opportunities, feel free to send them my way. I am confident that this period of my career/life will be over soon. Until then, I'm enjoying what I get. And if what I get is more time with my family, then I have been given a wonderful gift.

Peace. /cm

Two Years in Minnesota

It was early morning on February 26, 2011. I was saying goodbye to my family. Not the most pleasant of days. Two years ago today, I began the journey of moving to Minnesota. I left the family behind to work onsite at my new job in Minnesota until our house in Texas sold. Its one of those scenarios that "seem like only yesterday" and at the same time I think, "that was 2 years ago?".

Looking back, everything worked out almost perfectly, even though we didn't realize it at the time. All we knew was that we were moving to Minnesota, but that our family would be separated until the house sold and they could join me. We had no idea of knowing how long that might be. We had no idea if we would like Minnesota. But we did know we were ready for an adventure and believed everything would work out in the end.

Boy, has it ever. It turned out that I was only up here without the family for about a month. It was difficult, but it could have been much worse. We found a great house in what we now know to be a perfect community for us, with outstanding neighbors.

On one had, it was difficult to leave Texas. We lived there most of our lives. Cori and I grew up together there. We were married there. All three of our kids were born there. We still have friends there and a ton of great memories.

But Minnesota has not disappointed.

A lot has happened since we've been here. I've changed jobs since then. We've done some remodeling. We've taken vacations. And we've had many visitors from out of state. All of this activity makes it seem like we would have needed more than two years, but that's the way its worked out. We absolutely love living here.

Here are just a few reasons we love living in Minnesota:

All in all, it was the right decision. And if you're ever looking for a great place to live or take a vacation, you might consider Minnesota - it might be right for you, too.

Driving in India

The other day I came across an old thumb drive. One of the forgotten files stored on this thumb drive was a video I shot back in 2008 when I was on a business trip in Chennai, India. I thought I would post that video here, just for fun. I remember just being a passenger in the back of the cab, I was constantly on the edge of my seat, thinking after each close call, "I can't believe we didn't hit that person!" It really reminds me that driving here in the states is a walk in the park compared to this. Remember this on your way home from work today.

A small snippet of a typical driving experience in India.

All in a Day's Work

Me: Now, for my next trick, I will attempt to open this 47MB PSD file with Fireworks. Should be no problem. Alert: An internal error occurred. [ok]

Me: Fireworks, I'm not in the mood today. You WILL open this file or die trying.

Screen Shot 2012-02-21 at 8.24.56 AM
Screen Shot 2012-02-21 at 8.24.56 AM


It's not even 9:00am yet.


When John Wooden was a boy, his father gave him a piece of paper with seven principles that his father hoped would guide him through life. Young John folded the piece of paper and put it in his wallet. He kept that piece of paper in his wallet for the rest of his life. John Wooden grew up to be the greatest basketball coach in history and his thought leadership has inspired millions. The seven principles his father gave him that day would later be known as John Wooden's 7-Point Creed, which has been used in leadership training around the world.

John Wooden's 7-Point Creed

  1. Be true to yourself.
  2. Make friendship a fine art.
  3. Make each day your masterpiece.
  4. Build shelter against a rainy day.
  5. Help others.
  6. Drink deeply from good books.
  7. Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.

What a great legacy to leave for your children! These principles are certainly full of wisdom and good advice for all of us. Wooden's father clearly demonstrated that one person can truly effect the lives of many. I often think to myself what kind of legacy I am leaving for my kids. What will they remember most about me after I'm gone? How will my role as their dad impact their life and the lives of others?

So what would I say to my kids that could be as impactful? Most probably, it wouldn't be anything I say at all; they watch the things I do — my attitude and actions — and use that as a kind of standard. Hearing the story of John Wooden's father giving him that piece of paper reminded me that being a dad is the most important job I have. Much more important than being a UX Designer.

Thanks, Mr. Wooden!

Pursuing a New Opportunity

I hate the process of moving. Its one of the times in life where teleportation, transmogrification and The Force would really come in handy. But as much as I dislike it, I'm actually looking forward to doing it this time because of the exciting opportunities that lie ahead. Last week I accepted an offer to join The Nerdery in Bloomington, Minnesota. And about a month from now, I'll be moving there to start the new job — up there in the Land of [Frozen] Lakes.

Why Minnesota?

For several years now, we've been wanting to move out of Texas. Somewhere closer to family, maybe. Or maybe a place with lots of trees. Or maybe to a place with mountains - or the beach. Actually, we weren't sure where we wanted to go, but we've kept an open mind. We never really targeted Minnesota, but when the opportunity at The Nerdery came along, we took a long hard look at Minnesota and the more we thought about it, the more appealing it became. Yes, I know its cold there. Its cold in a lot of places. I have family in the area (I lived in Minnesota during my elementary school years before we moved to Texas) so its not a completely foreign place — to me, at least. In addition to being close to some family members, we are looking forward to lots of outdoor activities like hiking, camping, tubing, skiing and generally a slower pace of life. And yes, snow.

The Nerdery

Working at a place with outstanding company culture is huge for me. That was one of the "must have" items on my list and The Nerdery definitely embodies that. This is from the The Nerdery Profile Page on LinkedIn:

Based on staff surveys of nearly 200 web pros who blur the line between work and play, The Nerdery ranked #1 on Mpls-St. Paul Business Journal's 2010 Best Places to Work list. A popularity contest? You bet. We’re also #6 on Minneapolis Star Tribune’s 2010 Top Workplace list. Founded by three programmers in 2003, The Nerdery has made the Inc 5000 and Biz Journal’s Fast 50 list of fast-growing privately owned companies for the past three years. The Nerdery was honored in 2010 with The Quality of Life Award and The Jefferson Award for corporate philanthropy/nerdy-deeds-done-dirt-cheap through our Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge, at which volunteers have donated a million dollars worth of web development services to 39 nonprofits.

I'll be working as a UX Designer on the User Experience Team. I'm really looking forward to joining a talented band of professionals and working on exciting web projects and expanding my skills on projects like mobile and social media applications.

These are some pretty big changes, but we, as a family, are excited about the opportunities to grow, learn and experience new things. If you have any tips for living in arctic climates or any suggestions for exploring the greater Minneapolis-St.Paul metropolitan area, please do share.

In the Galaxy

My son is learning a bit about writing and analyzing poetry in his literature class. He decided to write a Pantoum poem.

In the Galaxy

In the galaxy, spaceships fly
Traveling from planet to planet
Carrying passengers of all types
Wookies, Uganaughts, Gungans and more


Traveling from planet to planet
Circling around, and coming again
Wookies, Uganaughts, Gungans and more
Landing, flying and taking off


Circling around, and coming again
Cruisers, star fighters, and royal ships
Landing, flying and taking off
For business, vacation or Jedi missions


Cruisers, star fighters, and royal ships
Carrying passengers of all types
For business, vacation or jedi missions
In the galaxy, spaceships fly


— Gavin Mallott, age 11

Pretty dang awesome, huh?

Don't Be a Me-Monster

If you your lips would keep from slips,
Five things observe with care;
Of whom you speak, to whom you speak,
And how and when and where.

If your ears would save from jeers,
These thing keep meekly hid;
Myself and I and mine and my,
And how I do and did.

Photos from our trip to San Diego

A couple of weeks ago we took a family vacation to San Diego, CA. Instead of flying out there, we decided to drive, which at first doesn't seem like a very smart or efficient thing to do, but we made the road trip part of the vacation, so it actually turned out to be a blast. In the slideshow below you'll see sites we saw on the road to and from through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California as well as the fun stuff we did in San Diego. LaJolla Cove, Laguna Beach, The Zoo and Legoland highlighted our time in SoCal. Driving through Tonto National Forest in Arizona and seeing the Palo Duro Canyon in the panhandle of Texas on the trip back home was unforgettable.

San Diego is a beautiful place, but there's no place like home.

Leaving Rosetta Stone

After 2 tours of duty over the past 4 years, I am leaving Rosetta Stone. Some of you may not be surprised, as I've been looking to make this move for some time now. I started working at Rosetta Stone on the web team in 2006. Since then, I've learned a lot about web development and I've learned a great deal about myself. The company produces an absolutely top-notch product and I'm sure they will continue to be successful. But for me, it is time to move on.

Some things I will miss about working at Rosetta Stone:

Working from home

This is the big one. For most of my tenure here, I've been fortunate enough to work from home every day. Its something for which I will always be thankful. I'll miss listening in on conversations as my wife homechools the kids. I'll miss the daily chats and occasional games with my wife over lunch each day. The opportunity to have the kids nearby and watch them grow and learn every day is something I will never forget. For this reason, I think one day we'll look back on these last 4 years as some of the best years of our lives.

The people

I've had the chance to work with some interesting characters and some genuinely nice people. Shared food, shared laughs and even some shared adventures will be etched in my mind forever.

Unfortunately, that's where the list stops. The rest, as they say, is history.

My last day will be May 19th and then I plan on taking a few relaxing days off before starting up again. I will follow up with a separate post later this week explaining the next step in my career.