Category Archives: The Big Picture

Surround Yourself With Positive People Birthday Wish [VIDEO]

Every year I make a YouTube video for my birthday.  I spend the day reflecting on my life and what I’ve learned in the last year.  I especially focus on what I’m grateful for.  Last night I thought about what had added the most value to my life and a sense of well-being came over me.

Why?  Because I have  fantastic people in my life who are doing awesome things, achieving their goals and helping others.  They’re part of my exceptional support network known as “Team Adria”.  Scott Hanselman wrote a post on this about having a Life’s Board of Directors.

So here is my tribute to to you wonderful people!

2013 Birthday Video

My birthday video on positive people has struck a chord and many of you have left awesome comments.  I’m so glad to get this feedback and want to say thank you!

Happy birthday! I hope this day was wonderful and full of positivity. I love watching your videos. I am not that into tech (I found your channel by way of the video you did a long time ago about your curly hair care routine lol)l, but your energy and passion are inspiring and refreshing. You should definitely make more videos:-) Thanks for sharing this.

Anjuan Simmons
Happy Birthday, Adria! You enthusiasm is as inspiring and infectious as the first day I met you. Your legacy is already well under way!

Wow, I was just looking at Proverbs 27:17 then I came across your video in my subscription talking about what else? Being around positive people. Good stuff.

Beautiful video Adria…positivity and being surrounded by positive people is truly an elixir for the soul… ;)

Ok, that said… back to the story

When I was going through a hard time six years ago, I used to pray for God to help me surround myself with positive people. I named the qualities I wanted in these people and imagined how they would be my support network. I had no idea how I would accomplish this and left it in the hands of God.

Sometimes all you have is your two hands.  For the first time in my life, I began to pray.  I mean really pray.  Not pray “for” things like we do as children; trying to bargain with God for things we want.  I prayed to God to receive guidance, strength and courage.  My father had been an alcoholic and so had the ex-boyfriend who had laid his hands on me.  I found Al-Anon — A support group for people, friends and family, whose lives have been affected by alcohol.  It’s where I learned about the power of letting go and letting God.

I began to pray furiously — Whenever I felt scared or alone, I would pray.  I prayed out loud and in whispers, I’d pray in the morning and before bed, I prayed in the car (yes, got it fixed) and kept on praying, even when I didn’t feel like it.  Prayer got me through a lot over those next couple of very rough months.

All this praying brought clarity and that’s how I realized that I needed more people in my life to help me, to support me and to lean on.  Back then I could barely list 3 people.  Seriously and I had my doubts on if they would even help.  I felt like I was a selfish person for  even considering to ask other people to help me.  I’d be hogging up all their time and that wasn’t fair.  It’s  a common feeling for people who come from an upside down world.  I had to change how I thought about things; to see that receiving help was just as good as giving it.  I’d always helped others.  Even when they had mistreated me.  This was another lesson I had to learn; when to say no and protect myself.

Well I’m happy to say it worked! I now have a generously sized group of people in my life who are honest, direct, in touch with their feelings, who think about me and do nice things for me just like I do for them (being reciprocal!). No matter where these friends are, I feel close to them because we have an authentic connection. My friend Bill in Scotland is a great example.  I trust these people and feel totally comfortable asking for help, support and feedback…and they give it.  Man I’ve come a long way in six years!

Success is the reward for meeting your goals but you don’t have to get there alone; surround yourself with positive people like I’ve done and your journey is made infinitely easier.

I’m going to be taking things pretty easy on my birthday but each year I always make a video and do a blog post to summarize where I am and what I’m grateful for.

I hope the next time your birthday comes around you’ll be able to smile and think of all the things in you’re life that make you happy.

Birthday Gifts

Thanks SendGrid for the ThinkGeek gift card! Tweet

Thanks Jeffrey of Geekazine for the Starbucks coffee! Facebook post

Some send virtual gifts or gift cards while others collect things to give to me later…like the texting gloves secured at a Warriors game *smile*

Good memories with friends are the most precious gift.

Shout outs on Social Media

One of my favorite new traditions has been looking forward to all the nice shout outs I get from friends.  They wish me a happy birthday on Twitter, Facebook, by email and phone.  I wake up to several text messages as some prefer that and then there are always the packages that show up from someone I haven’t talked with in a while but where we hold each other in our hearts ;)

All of these bring me joy and I feel that much more connected to everyone and everything the world.




Birthdays from the past


This was the first year I told the Internet it was my birthday.  I noted that I share my birthday with Facebook and 37Signals’ Basecamp.  My post was short and I focused on the surreal feeling of people wishing me a happy birthday online.   This was about a month before I got my big break on the Rachel Maddow show so most people I knew on social networks lived in Minnesota and I knew them from real life.


I celebrated my birthday with a spa visit and a nice meal and talked about how I missed my sister who suffers from depression.  My blog was about 2 years old.  I was exploring sharing my offline experiences online.  I had owned the iPhone 3GS  and been on Foursquare for about 6 months.  I started taking more photos of things around me.  I knew I would be moving to San Francisco soon and that was both exciting and scary.


I focused on my accomplishments, items of gratitude and my goals for the year.  I worked to keep things in perspective.  My dog Bluey had just become ill the month before with congestive heart failure causing her to pass out.  I cried a lot offline because she was ill.  I was angry.  I was in shock.  I did my best to keep my head up and stay optimistic.  I had hope Bluey would get better.  I had just returned to consulting full time.


Last year I didn’t make a video.  It was probably the worst birthday ever.  I had gone to Tahoe with an IT consulting firm I was working for.  I fell on mushy snow and had broken my wrist.  I didn’t have health insurance.  I was scared.  I was in constant pain.  I hid the injury for weeks for fear they’d let me go.  I was still mourning the loss of my dog Bluey from the year before.  Everything seemed to suck.  Eventually I healed. I never mentioned this online until now.  I made a commitment to protect my health.  I never want to be in that situation again.


For me life has been about perseverance, self improvement, setting goals, achieving goals, helping others and being a better person than I was yesterday.  We all experience things, good and bad in life.  Don’t give up.

Here’s my recipe for happiness and success:

  1. Create a game plan and plot your life journey
  2. Surround yourself with positive people
  3. Give to others without expecting anything in return
  4. Be grateful and thank God often
  5. Be direct yet forgiving with yourself and others
  6. Do what you love and delegate the stuff you don’t
  7. Reward yourself when you do well
  8. Laugh as much as possible
  9. Expect to be successful
  10. Share your story to inspire others

I Won A Trip To Tahoe Thanks To General Assembly and Getaround! [VIDEO]

It’s nice to get a present during the holidays when you’re not expecting one and that’s what happened to me.  On my way to IKEA last Friday, I checked my work email and saw a something a bit strange, “You won the GA + Getaround giveaway!!

Several questions went through my mind including — What was this?  What did I win? Was this legit?

As I read the email from Paul Gleger, New Markets Producer at General Assembly, I realized this was on the level and I had won an all expense paid trip to Tahoe for New Year’s Eve!  Wow!  My heart skipped a few beats and I told myself to calm down and reread it.  Yup.  Free trip.  Hotel room at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe.  Car from Getaround.  Champagne.  Bring three friends.

Yes, I made a video:

Concerned YouTube fans warned me to be careful as it could be a fake contest.  Don’t worry, it’s real.

Now my origional plan was to stay home and do geeky stuff like repair the LCD lens on my Canon T2i.  As a self-proclaimed nerd, I’m so over the whole New Year’s Eve party bash thing.  Everyone promises if you go to their event it will be a night you will never forget.  Unfortunately this has meant cramped night clubs, sad looking buffets and rail drinks with a skimpy champagne toast at midnight.  When you’re young, it’s fun to seek out the best party.  I was lucky and spent 1999 in New York City seeing the ball drop in Times Square for 2000.  This year was going to be a quiet one of reflection until this email arrived.

In case you’re not familiar with the companies who gave me this awesome prize, allow me to explain:

General Assembly provides classes and workshops on technology, business and design topics for working professionals.  They started in New York City and are now expanding to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Boston, Berlin, London, Hong Kong, Sydney and more so make sure you get signed up to get notified.  Their classes are affordable and range from evening classes like the Hands-on introduction to Wireframes and How API’s work to courses that last several weeks like Intro to Rails and User Experience Design.

Getaround solves the problem of too many cars sitting around in the United States not being used.  It allows owners to rent their cars out to others.  You can choose hourly, daily or weekly.  They received a lot of exposure at TechCrunch Disrupt when they launched few years ago featuring everything from low cost to luxury cars.

General Assembly and Getaround have reserved this awesome 2011 Nissan Rogue AWD for the drive up.  I’ve actually rented this vehicle before for a work event down in Palo Alto.  At $70/day and instant unlock with my smartphone, it’s faster than a regular car and cheaper than Zipcar.

Are certain people more lucky?  Are there techniques to winning contests?  I did win an iPhone at a conference and personally do feel that I am a lucky person.  I also wrote a blog post on winning online contests as well after winning several things in 2009.  It’s important to look at the contest rules, decide if you’re going to be committed to win and then execute.  Random drawings excluded, many things in our lives are like contests including dating, getting a job and finding a place to live.  Start with an optimistic attitude that you’re going to win.  People will feel that and you just may win something!

That said, I’m super excited and have my friends all ready to go!  I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year’s tonight and may 2013 bring you prosperity, success, wisdom and good health!