What are Moonshots? Well, at Google "Moonshots" are defined as something that "lives in the gray area between audacious projects and pure science fiction". The Moonshots that I'm talking about here are slightly different. I define them as the creative projects that are slightly outside my skill or comfort area. These are the type of things that I pursue outside of work or find fulfilling. My fun-chievements.
2014 was also the big year of my side project The Positude! Up until today (09/2014), I have published 32 essays at the intersection of Life, Love, Leadership and Happiness. Some of my work has been widely shared online (like Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz) and offline (in internal "newspapers" at Google). My objective is to share my perspective on life and inspire others to grow beyond their circumstances. You can access the Positude here.
Taking my friends to Iran
After 4 years, I returned to Iran in the summer of 2014. This time however, I took three of my German friends with me. For two weeks, we traveled the country and I very much acted as their tour guide. Organizing, translating, explaining, leading – it was a truly amazing experience and honor to share my country with some of my dearest friends.
In addition to that, the trip was very special as we met ±25 like-minded people throughout our entire journey – people our age who we all met through Instagram. Through this simple picture-sharing app, we were able to build some strong connections and friendships.
Ever since my return, I have used any opportunity available to me to share our experiences with a bigger audience. Be it a talk at Google, a lecture at San Jose University or a recent article on Iranwire. It was important to me to share our experiences so that more people can get inspired to travel to Iran and to better understand what is going on "behind the veil". Find my pictures here.
UXD (User Experience Design) Course
After a 2014 full of travels, I decided to cut down my trips during the last 3 months of the year and to take a SF-based in-person course in UXD. Think of design not just as the visual appeal of an an App/Website, but of the overall experience you have as a user. As a tech aficionado, it was important to me to improve my understanding in this realm and to formally educate myself at the SF-based institution called The General Assembly. As part of the 12-week part-time course, I decided to design a platform that will bring together non-profit/charitable institutions that are in need of non-financial resources with people who have the time, skills and interest to support such institutions.
From April until July of 2014, I took part in a 6-day workshop across the world to become a certified "Storyteller". Storytelling is a skill that can help you lead teams, sell products, motivate people and communicate a vision. The course took place in San Francisco, London and Sydney where we spent 2 days in each city over a period of 3 months. I was fortunate to be among a very small group of ±25 participants.
Tree of Deeds
December 2013 was time to give back. My friend Thais and I had the idea of decorating a tree with little gift boxes full of "random acts of kindness". So we went to Hayes Valley and decorated a public tree with 100 boxes full of different deeds. From "When you receive good service, tell the person’s manager" to "buy flowers for a friend in need". Within 2 hours, all the 100 boxes were gone and we received wonderful reactions from every single person. It was so much fun to do something good! Give back, help someone, change the world. All pics from the day are to be found here.
MOSAIC is an hourly-updated lifestyle blog and community. Each MOSAIC on the page is meant to bring you to a place worth visiting.
My friend Felix and I started this project many years ago. In fact, he and I had been working on different online projects for many years and MOSAIC turned out to be our latest iteration. With MOSAIC we created a platform to which we have invited some of the internet's most experienced bloggers who use this platform to re-share some of their most popular posts. We therefore don't create content, but we curate it. At the same time, we offer these blogger the opportunity to have much wider reach as our platform attracts tens of thousands visitors each day.
For my 27th birthday I wanted to bring all my friends in San Francisco together and cook Persian food for them. I had never really cooked by myself for more than 2 people, nor had I cooked Persian, but the idea of pulling this off motivated me a lot to give it a try. With a bit of (phone) support from my aunt, I cooked 7 different Persian dishes, all of which turned out really delicious - according to me friends :). The place was provided by my dear friends Mamie and Kayvon and I couldn't have thought of any better location to do this!
Here is a gallery with all the pics.
Late 2012 I started a new project called "@fromwhereomidstands". The idea was to create an Instagram feed that would show my perspective from where I was standing and in December 2013 I reached my 100th picture. From Bondi Beach to Machu Picchu and from Mexico City to Dubai, all pics can be seen here. Eventually I took all those pictures and created a framed collage.
I always liked listening to music (and even played bass in a High School band), but I had never dedicated much attention to it until I discovered Spotify. Ever since, I've put a lot of effort into creating and maintaining Playlists for all kinds of occasions. Some come as fix releases with a certain theme, others are continuously updated playlists. Click on the covers to get to the playlists. You can find more of my stuff on Spotify.
Feature on Instagram's Blog
Instagram has a weekly round-up of some share-worthy pics from its community and in September 2013 I was very lucky to be featured on it. My picture was taken in Munich's subway. It was the night before the Oktoberfest began and I had just arrived to Munich coming from Berlin. Here is the official post.
Ammo Books contacted me late 2013 to license some of my photography work for their upcoming book on instant photography. Their request was specifically targeted at the picture on the left which I took in New York City's Chelsea district in November of 2013. The book will be released in Fall of 2014 and be similar to their existing book Contact Sheets. Here is the actual picture.
The Harlem Shake
Right before the Harlem Shake hit mainstream, we recorded a Google version with folks from my team. Not only was it tons of fun, the video also ended up receiving quite a lot of attention at both Google and in the press. You can read a guest post that I wrote on a friend's blog to learn more about the story of this video.
Las Caras del Chile / Pepper Faces
Earlier in 2013 I was featured in an exhibition about "Chili" by Bernardo Nuñez at the Mexican Embassy in San Francisco. They gave us some really spicy chili sauce and took pictures of our faces as things got hotter and hotter. In the words of the artist:
"I wanted to do something that involved the city of San Francisco in some way. When we think about pepper from a design perspective is really easy to perceive its color, shape, size, and even its flavor. But its a little hard to imagine the feeling that is generated when we eat this polemic ingredient. The facial expressions we do and don’t see when there is nothing else to do but let the burning that some of us love, go away"
Here is the full article that Bernardo wrote and some additional pictures.
The idea of jumping out an airplane never really appealed to me, but I couldn't say no to my aunt's offer when I visited her in Dubai in December of 2012. Fortunately, I'm not superstitious at all, because only a few hours before the jump I realized that it was the day as the Mayans were predicting. A very thrilling experience.
Charity Water Donation Campaign
Early 2013 I had the idea to start a fundraiser and to use my network to raise money for Charity Water. "Water instead of Alcohol" was the theme of the campaign and I encouraged my friends and colleagues to save up on drinking and spend the money instead. Through Google's matching program we were able to raise 8,210 USD! Having built water taps in Rwanda 4 years earlier, this campaign was very important to me and I was extremely impressed by the support I received from all my friends, family and colleagues. Here is the page that I used for the fundraiser. I had taken the picture on the left in Rwanda
Feature on Trig & Polished
One Sunday afternoon in Hayes Valley, I was approached by a group of three ladies. After a brief introduction, they presented themselves as fashion bloggers and "appreciator of men who know how to dress" (their own words).
"The first thing that caught our attention about Omid were those gorgeous shoes. Turns out those shoes used to belong to his father who bought them on a trip to India in the 80′s. Looking at them says a lot about how Omid and his father take care of their shoes. That and the fact that those shoes have held up for all these years."
Here is the full post.
Social work in Rwanda
Probably one of the most defining experiences in my life was to travel to Rwanda in 2009 and to work/life in an orphanage in a small rural town for a month. It was defining because it made me realize that I wanted to dedicate great parts of my life to making this world a better place to live. There are four galleries that show the life we lived there.