Surfing in the digital era

This time last year I was surfing Southeast Asian waves, simultaneously searching for some shade and sunscreen. It goes without saying that I had it pretty great then, but I can’t discount the waves we received this past fall. There were multiple swells with glassy head high hollow waves. This was the first fall in a long time I was able to really take advantage of hurricane season.

Unfortunately, winter was a different story. I never wrote about it, but I had a great surf this past Christmas. A few days afterwards, I separated my AC joint frivolously racing my friend down an icey mountain while skiing. 

After a few miserable months and a few pounds, I started exercising and am feeling strong enough to get back in the water. I write this on the train going back to my surf storage facility (hi Mom and Dad).

When it comes to surfing New York, it’s all peaks and valleys. Most people don’t even know there are waves on this side of the Rockies let alone overhead monsters. The best time to surf is roughly September – February with the worst time being this very moment (May – August). However, the water is warm, my friends are home, and I don’t have to wear 5 millimeters of rubber. 

The reason for this post isn’t to announce my return back to mediocre surfing, but to comment on the way I get my swell info (punny, you’ll see). Over the years I’ve learned the ins and outs of picking the right spot and paddling out, but without the internet, I don’t know if I ever would. In NY, there are a bunch of ways to check the waves, and they include:

1. Going to the beach and praying
2. Checking the newspaper for wave heights and wind direction
3. Surfline
4. Swell Info

Surfline and Swell Info are websites that track both buoys and wind patterns to forecast surf. I’ve been using both for years, but recently I noticed something interesting. A ton of companies were redesigning their UX on websites and platforms ranging from Reddit, and Instagram, all the way to Swell Info and Surfline.

I usually check each SwellInfo to get a basic understanding of what waves are shaping up to form, and as the swell approaches I navigate to Surfline for a more detailed report.

Previously, when I visited SwellInfo I’d see this homepage:


A few weeks ago, I saw this update:

Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 9.12.23 PM.png

Similarly, this was the old Surfline: 


And then this beautiful image appeared:

Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 9.10.33 PM.png

It’s amazing to see an iconoclast culture like surfing catering to the global consumer. I used to think both these websites were fairly easy to run and maintain. It was simple, license out the buoys, track everything through offshore buoys and make forecasts based on that. Now, Surfline has transformed into a hub of surf information with live streaming, Op-eds, news, and so much more.

Historically, one of the most iconoclast industry’s undergoing to a digital transformation goes to show you that if you don’t invest in an experience, you might as well quit now. There’s no question about which is more valuable, but SwellInfo will always have a special place in my heart.

Hopefully I’m not a total rusty kook tomorrow morning.

Reminiscing after one year

Prior to graduating college, I secured two full-time job offers. One being in equity research and the other in business development for a clean-tech energy provider. I was interested in both, but neither made me excited to wake up in the morning. I wanted to help companies succeed, but these jobs didn’t give me the freewill and range to do that. To the dismay of my friends and family, I turned down two impressive offers to pursue something I wasn’t sure I’d be able to ever have.

However, that wasn’t the hardest decision of my life, in fact, maybe one of the easier ones. I knew I wouldn’t find my dream job sending cold applications, but rather through connections who knew and understood the type of person I was along with the ambition I had. I wanted to connect with everyone who was driving change. I was exchanging emails constantly, researching companies and hosted skype chats sometimes twice a day all while balancing school, a venture fellowship and pro-bono consulting work for an up and coming startup.

I got a taste of what I ultimately wanted – a life symbiotically intertwined with work and pleasure. During that year, I was positively impacting the companies I helped, and the people I met. I had exciting conversations that made me feel like I was on the path to attaining my goal, and I was. I met people from all walks of life ranging from VCs and startup founders to designers and carpenters. However, changed when I received two more full-time offers.

 In the palm of one hand, I had an offer from a strategic financing startup that specialized in helping small businesses scale. I loved everything about the company from the team to the dream.

 In the other, I had a great learning experience at one of the largest tech companies in the world. I was promised a role in strategy with the opportunity to help grow companies and startups alike.

This time around, I was happy with both offers and excited to start. The only problem was that I couldn’t work at both. For days I was unable to figure out which was best for me.

At first, the startup provided me the proximity to the companies I wanted to help, but not necessarily the mentorship and skillset I desired. I was scared to throw myself into a role while being so nascent to the industry. I thought this might actually hinder my chances at breaking into this type of role later in life.

When it came to the tech company, I didn’t want to be pigeonholed or sucked into a technology that didn’t interest me. I was told that I would be in strategy, something I saw as the perfect runway.

After toying with these ‘what if’ scenarios for days on end, I made my decision. Despite having a sexy title at the startup, a little bit of equity and enough dogs to play with until I became allergic, knew this was the right move. Being self-aware, I realized I didn’t deserve the role they gave me. I was confident in my skills, but figured they might’ve had clouded judgement if they were willing to give me such a key role so early in my career.
I felt like giving me complete autonomy and decision-making power over others wasn’t the best move for where I was in my career – the start. I didn’t build the company from the ground up and I didn’t help finance the operation. This was a company that was growing fast, and rather than finding the right person for the role, they found the first person for the role. I was extremely grateful, but wanted exposure to the wide variety of the technologies I so craved.

Looking back, I couldn’t be happier with all the choices I made. I’ve grown tremendously since my original skepticism and found I’m able and willing to help others even if I don’t benefit immediately. I was originally scared to be pigeonholed into a bad group, but quickly realized that hard work, networking and a little bit of luck trump any computer-generated pigeonhole.

Today, I’m a digital strategy consultant at IBM where I’ve worked on blockchain offerings, helped kickstart a Tech Talk series and even pushed a Fintech platform to market. I’m happy to be bridging the gap between the corporate world and startup ecosystem and can’t wait for the next adventure.

My Mom and Dad basically met on Tinder

I was eight years old when my mother passed away. I consistently asked my dad questions about her. How did you meet? What was she like? What could have been different? I wasn’t really sure what I was asking, but knew their story inside and out.

From 2003 to 2004, my dad was overworked, commuting, and tired from running to different little league games. In late 2004, he started ‘going out with friends’, leaving my brother, Jon to babysit me. However strange this was, Jon and I had a great time. He never brought anyone home to meet us except for the woman, who would go on to be our mom, Janet. In fact, he didn’t even bring her home to meet us. It was 2005 and my dad retired from coaching my older brothers little league team to coach mine. It was an important playoff game for my team, and I pitched a stellar three innings. After we won, I met the one woman in the stands I didn’t recognize. Unaware and the affable kid I was, I told Janet to come over and eat dinner with us. She complied, and the rest is history. 

However, as great of a love story as it is, I later learned that my parents met on J-Date (an online dating site for Jewish folks). I didn’t even know that this was thing. All I knew was how my dad and mother met in a past life. I was confused as to how and why people would subscribe to such a strange means of encounter.

As time went on, and life was normalized, I learned about online dating through apps like tinder. Fortunate to have met my girlfriend in a more holistic real-life setting, I thought online dating was being used purely for casual hookups, and anyone who met their significant other on an app was weird. In 2013, I met a pretty cool guy in college who legitimately met his girlfriend off Tinder. He was the first person I met who actually admitted to meeting his girlfriend off of Tinder. I still found it odd. 

Since then, I’ve learned that my parents were early adopters to what I would consider normal if not expected for contemporary times. With the emergence of better technology and algorithms to more effectively connect people, it’s plausible to say that in five years the majority of new relationships will be from apps. There are apps for all different types of encounters, whether casual or more serious relationships.

Part of me sees a dystopian future straight out of Black Mirror where people are unhappy with their matches and constantly swiping. On the flip side, I think the more unique and personalized the dating app, the better likelihood of a true match. I’d be interested in seeing relationship data behind between Tinder Vs. Hinge. As you can see with Coffee Meets Bagel, dating App founders are asking for venture funding to build empires, not just meaningless hookups.

Some of my best friends have met their boyfriends and girlfriends on apps. It’s interesting how something went from being a faux pas to a $3 Billion industry. I’ve learned that dating apps are changing the world, and my parents were of the first crusaders.

Hey kid, you should learn to code!


Here is a link to an article that made me want to kick myself. I recently proposed an app idea to a friend in which I wireframed the design and basic function of an app that would curb social media usage. I figured it would be pretty simple to loop in data from the background of user’s phone battery and screen time. From there, I wanted to create an adviser that would access said data and then make a recommendation based on what applications were consuming the phones battery and screen time. I still think it is really easy to do.

It would be quick turnaround. Maybe two weeks after downloading the app and allowing it to monitor ones background, the adviser would send a push notification telling the user that he/she has been on App-of-choice and maybe they should take a break.

Unfortunately, my friend didn’t want to learn iOS and help a brotha out. It’s okay.

I wasn’t upset he declined the offer. Times like this are when I wish I knew more than basic code. However, stretching oneself too thin on external projects doesn’t serve anyone well. I kind of hope someone sees this and builds it. I’d rather see it built than just sitting in the back of my mind. Lucky for future me, my blog isn’t popping off to the point where people visit to poach my ideas.

Passover – the ultimate cleanse


To all my faithful fans out there anxiously waiting to read some hot takes regarding my bread of choice, favorite cheese, and whether a hot dog is a sandwich, I’m sorry. I outwardly advertise myself on this site as well as my twitter as being a lover of sandwiches, but I haven’t paid attention to those of you who rely on me for news and advice on the NYC sandwich-verse.

A few weeks ago, I decided I would cut sandwiches out of my life. I came to realize that whether I’m eating basic deli turkey between wheat bread, with American cheese, or a chili flake crusted grilled chicken breast with homemade honey mustard, roasted red peppers and arugula topped with pepper jack cheese – neither were healthy options. My sandwich consumption wasn’t in moderation, and I’m proud to say, that I am one month sandwich free. It’s been a hard journey, but an important one. I’ve always loved food, but opted for the easy way out, a sandwich.

I used to eat sandwiches a lot, almost every day. I thought sandwiches were an easy transition to learning how to cook. While basic, I found that perfectly combining the necessary essentials for any sandwich gave me a basic understanding for the chemistry of taste as well as an in-depth opportunity to show some creativity in the kitchen. When you’re eating something as simple as a sandwich, it’s important to consider how you can improve something as easy as bread and meat. Without a creative view on sandwich making, including a variety of breads, meats and cheeses, I don’t think we would have made it as far in our relationship as we did. In hindsight, they aren’t an easy transition to cooking, they’re just easy.

During my observance of Passover, I realized I didn’t need bread in my life at all. Once I cut out sandwiches, it was easy to forget about the heavenly rolls and the crunch of a toasted ciabatta. Life is full of sweets and treats. It’s up to each of us to decide what we want to indulge in. In moderation, I can be a sandwich king, but until then, I think I will try to continue this sandwich hiatus.

Being open about my love for sandwiches, I don’t want anyone to think I’m addicted to sandwiches and blogging about it as a means of rehabilitation or a cry for help. I just really like them. Then again, who doesn’t like bread? I wanted to take a break and experiment with salads, quinoa and other lunchtime foods. In fact, I haven’t had a sandwich in weeks. I miss crafting something so simple as a sandwich, but have used my talents for other culinary treats, like muffins, tacos, and… cereal, a lot of cereal.

PLZ send me some recipes.

I should probably keep my day job.

I was asked to take part in a diversity series. Upon entering the room and introducing myself to the team, I subsequently knocked over and destroyed their $8,000 camera. It was even more embarrassing considering there were around 20 other people in the room waiting to be interviewed.

So, watch me stumble over my words in timid monotone fashion – all captured on an old iPhone 7.

I’m too cheap to host video capabilities, so here’s a link to my interview! Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 13.03.17

Johnny Tsunami, the ultimate sell out

I’d like to think surfing is mysterious considering the epistemological nature of the act. In practice, a reclusive sport, surfing is undergoing a steadfast transformation towards total commercialization despite failing surf companies charging outrageous prices for goods.

Living in NYC, my water time has significantly diminished from what it once was. No more dawn patrols, or evening sessions. Now, I have to maximize my efficiency while in the water. Aside from the rhythmic oscillation of the oceans current and soothing affects surfing has on me, I am there to ride waves! I can’t ride every wave, but nothing infuriates a surfer more than getting cutoff.

More often than not, I am being cut off by people in bright colored wetsuits with an off the rack surfboard sized way too big. There is nothing wrong with being a beginner as everyone once was, but surfing has an unwritten code of ethics. Similar to how you respect someone else’s shot on the golf course, you do not go for a wave with someone else on it.

Travel somewhere with a relatively consistent break on the east coast and you’ll get some ill humored words and some even worse looks if you resemble anything like the character depicted above. Being moderately experienced, this past hurricane season I was surfing a new spot where there were perfect head high waves. I just exited a fun left (I’m goofy i.e. left foot back when my belly faces the wave) and paddled back over the break. Immediately after I stopped paddling, I was approached by a guy who said something along the lines of ripping my arms out of their sockets for paddling near him. He then proceeded to splash water at me. The point is, surfing isn’t all smiles and rainbows the way Johnny Tsunami made it out to be.

The surf community isn’t as bleak as I’m portraying. Despite everyone being a wave hungry iconoclast, people look out for one another. Like the time I was in Phuket and a local gave me the leash off his board when mine ripped. Or, when I was surfing in Tel Aviv and some local’s invited me and my friends to go north with them to Bat Galim for the upcoming swell.

With no brand logo or flashy color schemes, the surf company needESSENTIALS encapsulates what contemporary surfing should be. Founded by two ex-Quiksilver executives, NEED supplies everyday surfers with quality gear free of obnoxious designs and designer price tags. They’re looking out for the everyday surfer by producing premium quality goods at a fair price.

“The whole idea behind needESSENTIALS came from not wanting to over consume, it’s about not wasting resources on what is not important. It’s about trying to make the best premium products for surfers more accessible. The concept is to have less, to have only what is well made, what is premium, what is timeless, what is useful rather than useless. What surfers can save by only buying what is needed in a product they can spend on what is important in their own lives.”

Screen Shot 2018-02-23 at 13.59.44

While large entities like Quiksilver and Billabong have gone bankrupt selling flashy ostentatcious apparel to commercialize the sport, it’s refreshing to know there’s a company pushing quality products for everyday surfing needs, not logos. With no marketing or sales team, NEED is completely advertised through word of mouth.

Despite big money having commercialized surfing, thus making it harder for me to catch solo waves, I’m fascinated by the direction the surf industry is going. Whether it be new-comers like HaydenShapes or revitalized companies like Quiksilver and Billabong backed by PE money, surfing is trending up. The total market cap for surfing is estimated to be $11B by 2022, contributing almost $50B to the world economy. Hopefully NEED and other new businesses can get a chunk of it.

Suit up, Ted!

A lot of my friends unfamiliar with tech ask me what I do at work and I usually respond with the classic P.L.E.A.S.E  (Provide Legal Exculpation And Sign Everything) response from How I Met Your Mother’s own, Barney Stinson. After a chuckle, they say something like, “Okay, really what do you do?” The answer I give is that I solve business problems. Pretty cliché, but true.

The projects I work on vary, but are mainly related to product development, go to market strategy and digital reinvention. I helped to develop offerings for a $600 billion market that could drastically improve the way the world views an emerging market. It went like this.

First, we started to size the market – an extremely difficult task with constant fluctuations. Once we had a fair representation of the market we were targeting, we thought through the areas we could become a major player. We brought in subject matter experts, technologists and leveraged similar offerings. We were able to implement some important proprietary technology to ensure some key features were met.

On top of my normal project work, I am building a FinTech Incubator. It started with IBM Tech Talks – a collaborative discussion based forum connecting IBMers with innovators throughout the NYC startup ecosystem. We then came up with the idea to engage VC’s and incubators like TechStars to help us partner and onboard startups that have differentiated technology to create value driven offerings for Financial Services clients. I have been meeting tons of inspiring people with great ideas. As well as searching for interesting companies, we’re strategizing the program elements. I can’t wait to share the first batch of incubees.

Finally, I frequent the local kitchen where I fetch my gourmet hand-crafted lunch sandwiches. Typically, I feast between the hours of, but not limited to, 12-1PM. Mmm tasty.

So, if you discount everything I do at work, I basically have the same job as Barney Stinson. Next time someone asks me, “What do you do at work?” I am going to respond with P.L.E.A.S.E.

Jambo! Shalom! Hallo! I’m Danny!

Welcome to my space! On this publication you will find a wide variety of thoughts translated into what I hope to be digestible English language! I can’t promise to bring expert level knowledge in anything.

Some topics you might find include consumer tech, surfing, sandwich commentary, funny (I hope) anecdotes about my life, and many more.

You can only have one first ever post, so here it is.

Bye for now, Danny