Matt Gornick

Vibram FiveFingers at the Gym and Running Day 3

Posted in Health, Personal by mgornick on May 1, 2009

So, I decided to experiment with my new Vibram FiveFingers KSO at the
gym today. I’ve worn them almost exclusively for 2 days in order to
build up the endurance I need to work out with them.

Lifts: Squats and leg press were great as I received more feedback
from the KSOs and my contact with the ground. It was much easier to
focus on correct form, stability, and using a variety of muscles to
stabilize.

Running: I was a sprinter back in high school so I was used to running
on the balls’ of my feet, but the design of the KSO’s pretty much
force you to do that. Running heal-toe isn’t possible as the shock
runs up your ankles, knees, etc. for each stride. Instead, your body
becomes pretty comfortable running on your toes/balls’ of your feet
which shifts the shock to your calf’s, Achilles, and arch which
actually feels quite comfortable. I ran on both concrete and a
rubberized track surface for a variety of 100-m sprints and 400-m
strides. Both felt very comfortable and didn’t cause any pain. I did
notice being sore after running on concrete, but I’m assuming that is
to be expected. I will continue to use these for my short distance
running and training.

Balance and Stability: Balancing on plates, planks, balls, and such
varied in difficulty. I found myself engaging a wider variety of my
muscles to stabilize and balance. I think this is going to greatly
help with rock climbing where flexibility and balance are critical.
On certain exercises where balancing on a plank (with a ball folcrum)
I performed quite poorly. I believe this was because using flattened
shoes push the stabilization and center of mass higher (possibly
knees); whereas, with the KSOs I felt that any slight change in my
ankles or specific points on my feet caused me to lose balance. This
was definitely a better workout with the KSOs than my Sauconys.

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Vibram FiveFingers Arrived: Review coming soon

Posted in Health, Personal by mgornick on April 28, 2009

I finally received my Vibram FiveFingers KSO from the Champaign
Surplus. I’ll be following the recommended 1-2 hour usage per day
before I start running with them. I’ll try them out at the gym soon
and see how they feel.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

OrangeQC Office Space

Posted in Personal, Work by mgornick on April 26, 2009

http://mattgornick.posterous.com/orangeqc-office-space

This weekend a bunch of us cleaned up the office space at Research Park.  That basically involved taking down all of the cubicles as they were blocking communication and innovation.

Once we setup the space with all of our stuff, I’ll post more pictures.

New Shoes for Barefoot Running (Vibram)

Posted in Health, Personal by mgornick on April 26, 2009

A few months back, I saw a few students wearing a pair of Vibram Five Fingers shoes and I would definitely agree that they are an attention drawer.  For those who’ve never seen them, they looks like a glove that would fit over your foot while leaving spaces for your individual toes.  (See http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/)

I at first dismissed them for a recent fad (similar to the Croc’s), but after reading more and more about the actual mechanics of barefoot running I’ve become interested in them.  Popular Mechanics ran an article a few days ago discussing modern shoe companies vs. barefoot running (http://www.popularmechanics.com/outdoors/sports/4314401.html?page=1) and recently research has been surfacing about the benefits or lack there of additional shock absorption and support.  As humans, we’ve been evolving and modifying our running abilities naturally for thousands of years and thus it seems a little silly that we can’t even run without the evoluvationary advantages that we’ve acquired.

This leads me to Vibram; they are obviously a shoe company that has taken the approach of building shoes for barefoot running and sports.  Their prices are inline with other luxury vendors (Nike, Puma, etc.) while their brand is barely known.  I decided to by a pair of the KSO model to try.

Since I’m a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I had doubts that any nearby store would carry these niche shoes but to my suprise Champaign Surplus had several in stock for me to try on (http://www.champaignsurplus.com/).  They didn’t have the particular pair I wanted, probably because they haven’t sold enough of the shoes to have frequent shipments.  The sales staff was helpful and helped me get sized properly and let me try on a few different pairs.  I tried on a pair of the Vibram Five Fingers Sprint and they felt amazingly comfortable.  At that point, I was sold on ordering myself a pair and trying them out for running and lifting.

I’m currently waiting for my shipment to arrive, but it should be in this week.  Hopefully everything goes alright and I get my new shoes in soon!

Here are some reviews I read before making my purchase:

http://www.keith-in-training.com/2007/03/running-in-vibram-five-fingers-sprint.html
http://mygaragegym.blogspot.com/

Going without Coffee

Posted in Health, Personal by mgornick on April 17, 2009

Recently, I’ve noticed that my daily “school” routine consisted of waking up 1 hour before class, drinking 2 cups of coffee with breakfast, then going to class.  When done correctly, I’ve been able to stay awake, alert, and ready for the day by drinking coffee.

The problem comes when you need coffee to wake up in the morning, so I’ve decided to give up coffee for a while and instead rework my daily schedule as follows:

5:45 a.m. – 6:20 a.m.: Wake up, check stock market, catchup on email, write daily todo’s

6:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m.: Go to the gym

7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.: Make breakfast, get ready for the day, pick up Wall Street Journal/check Bloomberg for news

9:00 a.m.+: Go to class

My goal is to replace my need for coffee to wake up with a solid gym workout in the morning and green tea for breakfast.  I’ve read Steve Pavlina article on getting up early (1) so I’m going to be using some of those techniques to reach my goal.

(1) http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2006/04/how-to-get-up-right-away-when-your-alarm-goes-off/

Getting back on my A-game

Posted in Personal by mgornick on April 11, 2009

I’ve been on a slight hiatus since last summer and am attempting to get back into the grove of blogging again.  I feel that blogging is a great exercise in expressing my thoughts and opinions, so let’s see how I do.

80+ Hour Week and lack there of…

Posted in Personal, Work by mgornick on July 6, 2008

I recently read a post [linked below] that discussed “How to work 80+ Hour Week.” Not only would I highly recommend read the post but also brush up on the “Cliffs Notes” version of the “4 Hour Work Week.” Essentially, the book describes ways to optimize your time, produce a business with reoccurring revenues, and outsourcing various parts of your life.  Some parts I agree with, but most are too fanciful and idealistic.  As alluded to in the linked post, you need to do what you love.  If you love sleeping late and not working, then maybe starting up the next YouTube or Facebook isn’t for you.  I guess it all depends on one’s definition of success.

I am from the breed that believes that the quality of work outweighs the quantity of work (speaking specifically to hours).  I would rather spend 1 hour coding, designing, etc. then 5 hours producing something subpar.  This belief comes with a catch and that is to put quality work into those 5 hours, 40 hours, 80+ hour weeks.  Yes, it seems impossible at times and immensely difficult.  Physically there is no way to maintain “optimal quality of work” for prolonged periods of time just as a runner cannot run a 2 mile at a speed of a 100m sprinter.  The goal is to get the very most out of yourself when you are working.  When you begin to slip, one need to be cognizant enough to refocus their efforts and continue on.

The emphasis on quality of work is important.  Through my experience in New York, people put in ridiculous amounts of hours into there work (100+ hour work weeks aren’t all that rare).  Some do it out of necessity; others out of the shear lack of putting in quality time to work and running through the motions of the day.  I easily put in 80 hours of work into my internship (and I don’t get paid for working past 40 hours per week).  When I am slowing down or realize that I’m not producing quality work, I know its time for me to take a small break.  I’ve made a list of things I do in order to help refocus my attention and get back to performing quality work:

1. Simply get up, walk around, talk to people/teammates/fellow interns.  As simple as this sounds, the small change in environment helps clear your mind.  

2. Get physical!  Go to the gym for an hour, run, swim, play a game of basketball.  I’ve been going to the gym during lunch to get a good workout in and once I return to my desk I’m clear headed and ready to start.  Sometimes getting your body moving and exercising is the best cure to focusing on work.

3. Take 10 minutes to grab some food/drink.  Many people will swear by the craze of “Energy Drinks,” but if you care about your health and possibly dying of a heart attack at 25 (lol), I would recommend eating fresh fruits or having a smoothie/tea.  Natural food/drinks are not only much healthier but also contain natural sugar/caffeine to get you through the day.  If you’re used to drinking energy drinks, the slight amount of a boost you’ll receive from eating healthy will be pretty insignificant.  Try to ween yourself off of them and make healthier food choices.  It will pay off in the end when you are eating healthy, feeling better, and are more productive throughout your day.

Alluding to the second part of the title: “… and lack there of.”  All too often do I see people that work a lot less, produce less meaningful work, and are perfectly fine going through the motions of their current job.  I don’t think that working 80+ hours a week is for everyone.  Like I’ve said before, “It depends on your personal definition of success.”  To be perfectly honest, it is okay to work 40 hours per week (or even less) if you can survive and do what you truly love.  That style of living is more inline with the 4 Hour Work Week.  I can’t imagine my life without something on my list of “Things To Do”.  It keeps me occupied and always awaiting the next project.  

Take away point: Focus on quality rather than quantity of work.  Once you have quality, you can find ways to keep your endurance up and maintain better work habits.

Reference: 

http://jtame05.wordpress.com/2008/07/02/how-to-work-80-hour-weeks/

How to be Successful: Timeliness

Posted in Personal, School, Uncategorized, Work by mgornick on July 6, 2008

“If you are on time, you are late!”

This seemingly contradictory yet true quote still resonates with me to this day.  I first heard it during my freshman year of high school and only until recently do I see its impact on pursuing success.  

First, what is being “on time.” If you are in high school/college, its the simple act of arriving 1 microsecond prior to the lecturer uttering their first words of the class.  As much as people in this age group (myself included) will tend to disagree with this definition, we all know it to be true and live by it as we prioritize our lives.  This leads me back to the point that you are either one of two things: early or late.  I’ve found that being “on time” doesn’t cut it anymore.

I’ve listed the consequences of being “on time” to a business meeting:

1. I am not prepared.  If I sit down as people are talking, I’ve missed any handouts, preliminary conversation, and the chance to organize my notes and thoughts.  This is detrimental to myself as I will not get the most out of the meeting or be able to contribute my ideas.

2. I will delay the meeting. Because most people will wait until everyone is situated, I will have essentially wasted other people’s time.  Others will be waiting for me to “catch up” to what everyone was doing earlier.  In general, people don’t like their time to be wasted!

3. I will not be in control. This is probably the most detrimental to one’s success.  If I show up “on time”/late, I obviously didn’t schedule my day, prioritize, or manage my tasks well enough.  Although this is sometimes unavoidable, it hurts to lack control over a situation.

This leads me to a story of a friend of the family that was interviewing for a job.  She’s worked in various fields throughout her life, has a presentable resumé, and landed an onsite interview with a nearby company.  She *assumed* she knew where the location was and how to get there.  When the day came for her interview, she arrived “on time”; literally walked in the door at 8:30 am for an 8:30 am interview.  Do you think she was ecstatic that she made it in time?  Of course not.  The secretary told her that if she couldn’t make the effort to arrive early for an interview then she obviously didn’t care enough about the job.  The secretary was right! If you show up late for an interview, you might not be dependable with a project or task that needs to get done.  Being “on time” is being “late”.

Lets take my story from this summer’s internship.  We [the intern class] were told to meet at a particular location at 8 am.  What time do you think most people got there?  If you guessed between 6:30 am and 7:00 am, you’d be correct.  Especially if you are not familiar with the area, you should give yourself enough time to find the location and travel there if you’re lost.  If time permits, you should try to visit the site a day in advance to judge the time it will take to get there.  A point I will leave you with: what if you were the only person to show up at exactly 8:00 am?  How would you feel?  I suspect that it will coincide with the 3 points I listed for being “on time”.

I’ve found that being punctual and organizing my time has helped me take proper steps to success.  Refer back to my post on JP Morgan to help prioritize your schedule and maintain timeliness.

Intern Guide to Success in Manhattan: Housing

Posted in Personal, Work by mgornick on June 22, 2008

If you are an intern in Manhattan, finding a place to live for the summer can be a daunting task.  You want time to be successful, spend time with friends, explore the city, and of course live in a somewhat decent apartment.  I firmly believe that the environment that you live in contributes to your lifestyle and success.  If you live in a complete dump, that is the way your life will turn.  If you live in a clean and functional apartment, you will be that much better off.

The old adage, “The early bird gets the worm,” applies here.  Obviously, your first step is to actually know if you’ll be working in Manhattan/New York City area.  In line with that, you should *speak* to your employer on the telephone and ask for any resources for finding a place to live this summer.  A lot of firms have recommended living areas or prearranged housing for those that act early.  If your employer doesn’t have any valuable information, start looking at the near by universities and educational housing services.  For example, search for *university* on Google Maps for NYC you’ll receive various locations of local universities, small and large, that can help you with your housing decisions.  Do some research of the top 10 university housing options you can find and call their summer housing department.  Most of the time, they can provide you with critical application deadlines, information about other housing options, and guide you through the application process.

If you missed the cutoff for the applications for the university housing options, you’ll need to do a little more work.  Look into EHS (http://www.studenthousing.org/) because they have housing options open relatively late in the semester and can place you on a waiting list to get into the apartment of your choice.  You can browse Craigslist of something similar but odds are you will be spending too much.  You’ll need to consider living in a different burrow of NY or moving far north in Manhattan.  At this crossroad, start to look at your commute time and cost of transportation.  I know a quite of few interns that live in several cities in New Jersey or Brooklyn Heights and commute to work.  This is completely acceptable especially if the living conditions in your northern Manhattan options are unfavorable.  Living outside of Manhattan can be a good thing if you are down to the last minute.

The key to remember is that 1) time is of the essence and 2) you need to find a decent place.  There are plenty of apartments that are more spacious, less expensive, and will still be relatively close to your work in other parts of the city/surrounding areas.  Don’t be afraid to ask around or talk to your recruiter for questions about the area or apartment you’re looking at.  Working in Manhattan is stressful enough, you deserve at least a chance to live in a relaxed environment.

Personal Outsourcing for Success

Posted in Personal, Uncategorized by mgornick on June 20, 2008

Outsourcing is considered a cliché in today’s society.  Surprisingly, I find the culture in Manhattan very open to “personal outsourcing”; that is to say, taking tasks that you would/could normally do and hire/pay someone else to do them for you.  For example, I can go to the store and buy groceries.  Unfortunately, I work 12+ hours per day, want to go to the gym for an hour, better myself, and sleep.  Luckily for me, I can simply spend 10 minute online and order a weeks worth of food and have it delivered next day to my apartment at the time I choose.  This is a huge convenience for me and the people I spend time with.  This leads me to the point of personal outsourcing.

For those that have read The 4Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss , you know that the goal is to delegate a lot of tasks to others in order to gain free time to do the things you want to do.  Personal outsourcing is just that.  Look at what you want to do and find time to do it.  I’ve picked up countless hours throughout my week which has enabled me to explore Manhattan, try new foods, meet new people, and enjoy the activities I love. 

My first step in finding out what I can outsource was simple: laundry.  I have to wear a suit and dress shirt every day to work and washing/ironing/etc. every week is monotonous and a waste of time.  I started with 4-5 loads of laundry per week and now I’m down to 2 (these are very small washers/dryers).  The remainder I take to the dry cleaners and they wash, press, starch, and hang all of the laundry for me.  Yes, I have to pay for that, but this simple outsourcing enables me to focus on what I want to do.

Now I focus on work, helping with a university club, brainstorming new startup ideas, rock climbing, and cutting stress from my busy life.