Brandin’s Year-in-Review 2013

Happy New Year! (if I’m not too late)

It looks like time was on my side this year granting me the duty to write this before the onset of life became mainstream and the simple pleasures of receiving a real letter via snail mail never seem to stop the clock for a change. I promise I’ll be optimistic throughout the year! So much rushes through my head when I sit down to write. I guess life is always in progress. In that case, I hope you are doing well.

I continue to wear several hats as the #3 of RockLive Inc. What was once a small tech start-up in Mission Viejo became an independent game studio in Newport as of this past year. My second year anniversary with the company was in October. Over the years people have asked me what the heck I do here. A lot of the time, I had no clue what I was doing either. To say I do IT work seems mundane. I was originally hired to be a designer, but quickly found myself being, to keep it simple for all of you, “the guy who keeps things running.” If you want more detail, you better ask me some other time. Since then, we’ve made a lot of publicity in the news, even on TMZ, because the one and only, Justin Bieber, made an investment in the company. You can guess that we deal with a lot of drama at times. In January, the company launched a “beta” of our photo sharing network. Basically, it was to test that most of my stuff was working. Picture one person running something like Twitter or Facebook. Now you know everything I do. We no longer work with any design firms overseas (thank you!), but it didn’t take long until the company made another big move to get more talent, up to heart of the foggy city by the bay, South of Market in San Francisco. Due to all of the other things happening in the letter, there was no way I could just let everything go and head up there full time. I was about to abandon ship until it became very evident the company was serious about keeping me. I agreed to try it. I now fly up there for about eight days each month. Now I know what it’s like to really travel on business. The company’s new office is right at the end of Market Street on the Embarcadero. You can usually find me at the famous ferry building for lunch.

In November, our product was re-branded as “Shots of Me”, a “selfie” sharing service aimed at the teenage market to provide an environment free of cyber-bullying. Go take a look at it sometime. You can find me on it, but I don’t personally use it much.

Over the summer I attended my usual tech conferences at the Moscone Center in San Francisco and another one in Portland, OR. Somehow I’ve impressed the right people when a company like Apple sends you an invite for special VIP seating at their annual keynote address in June. After the big event, I was able to have a nice conversation with the CEO icon himself, Tim Cook. As for the event in Portland, I have been invited to propose a seminar, and if approved, will get me further up the ladder in the industry. I’m still writing the proposal as I write this to you. Wish me luck!

My duties with the Beach Crew Alumni Fund (BCA) at the CSU Long Beach Foundation continue to be in high demand as the Director of Outreach, led by a group of distinguished rowing athletes of the past. Their funds have doubled and the annual membership has expanded another 30% from the previous year. I continue to hear from many alums across the decades since 1957. On top the regular money matters, the BCA successfully started a “Saturday Row” program for alums to get back into a boat and relive the camaraderie from back in the day. It also gives them a chance to meet the athletes of today. This has sparked some attention to other colleges across the country, some even ringing me up asking questions about how we pull off such a thing. In November, the team hosted their annual Fall Regatta, a “head race” around Naples Island. Since the traditional SoCal landmark event of the fall, the Newport Autumn Rowing Festival (NARF), excluded collegiate rowing, many schools in the area started looking at us to bring our event up to par of NARF. The BCA now sponsors the event and we hope to expand it a lot in 2014. This year, eight colleges attended, but that is expected to grow rapidly. The Saturday Row gang also participated (as an excursion). To show them off, I gathered some alums of my own, but only younger and still in shape. Well, we won them over, even with a 25 second head start behind them. There were no medals or shirts to be won, but what was a celebration in itself was that I finally got to race in the boat that I christened a year ago that day, “The KillaGrams”. People were complaining that for an entire year I never bothered to take her for a spin. Now I can say that she (yes, it’s a girl because I said so) glides just fine on the water.

A good portion of my efforts this year were spent leading a $50,000 project replacing the chase boat fleet for the coaching staff. The old fleet of vessels were worn out Boston Whalers, or even from its predecessor in the 60’s, Fisher Pierce. They were pretty ugly and embarrassing to use. There’s a problem when the coach can’t even keep up with their athletes every morning. We needed to do something now, and fast. In order to bypass a lot of red tape of approvals, campus finances, and consuming time in general, I took the project into my own hands, gathered my own resources, supporters, and backing on the project. Some were stunned that this was actually happening. I first envisioned this project five years ago. After years of pondering and questioning the risk of investment, it finally broke ground in February, delivering the first one in April and second one in August. As I write this, the third and final one is being built and should be done by June 2014. I will take a picture of the new fleet on the dock and compare it to the same photo I took in 2009. Out with the old, in with the new. I never saw myself working on a fleet of boats, even building them, but it’s nice to take a break form work and doing something different from the norm. I will say that this has probably been the most challenging project I’ve taken on so far in my life, rivaling that of my old Eagle Scout project back in 2002. This time, my budget was 100 times bigger, had to produce IRS Form 8283 for each donor, work with marine appraisal officers, work between several campus departments, sell off the old vessels with crazy people from Craigslist, comply with a June 30 fiscal year deadline in each phase, and not to mention the six times (one to go) to and from the Costa Mesa DMV field office. It is insane to see in my “Statement of Facts” slammed on the desk each time explaining the procedure they needed to do, down to the exact page where the vehicle code lies just to exempt a “government undocumented vessel” from taxes. OK, enough of that.

The most challenging thing I will admit is it’s not easy being the youngest one in the room, but I can see why the school wanted me here in the first place, to help keep a balance on the matter. There are many times I have to give another crash course about today’s athletes. I am proud to be the young non-voting “techie” of a crowd of seven board members, ranging from a judge of the California Superior Court, a city manager, an aerospace engineer, a CPA, a financial planer, and a dental ceramist, all rowers in their days. We make a good bunch doing what we can for a worthy cause. We started with nothing and am proud to say there’s something well established. We still have a long way to go.

Related in the rowing scene, I am working on obtaining my USRowing Referee license. Since last March I’ve been observing positions on several courses in Mission Bay (San Diego), Newport Harbor, Port of LA, Alamitos Bay (Long Beach), the American River (Sacramento), and a new course that has been formed right here in Huntington Harbor. Wish me luck!

In the coming year, the Newport Harbor High School Class of 2004 will be celebrating their 10 year reunion in June. I’ve been brought on board to help plan this exciting occasion. Thanks to the connections we all have today, we already had 150 people signed up to go in less than 24 hours. I dug out the list of 464 graduates that I got 10 years ago from the school district while the yearbook was in production. I knew it would come in handy some day. That just made everyone’s job a little easier. Believe it or not, some people are still M.I.A., no where to be found. We also learned that four of them unfortunately have passed on, with the most notable one, Brian Campos, who I grew up with going back into my Cub Scout days. A wake on the beach was held for him back in 2008. His ashes were spread into the ocean.

This year, let us remember all of the great times from our past and even those that weren’t so great. The greatest source of true wealth in life is the associations you have with other human beings, most importantly, the person you fall in love with, your family, but also the people you work with who become friends.

Someone once labeled me as a cross between Iron Man’s Tony Stark and Angus MacGyver. That’s what you get from growing up with German engineers.

What do you do once you’ve changed the world? Do it again… Now go out and change the world again, keep up with the pace, and take good care of yourself.


Best Regards,