Day Three: The day I met Miss Liberty

Today, was statue day! At 8AM I toon an early subway to Battery Park and made my way to the Statue cruise! I then realised I booked the 11AM slot, so then I had a couple of hours spare, and the sun was blazing!

I ended up spending most of the time sitting on the bench by the harbour and looking directly at the open water with the Statue of Liberty in the right of my vision in the distance. She still seemed rather big even from a distance, you could see the detailing very clearly.

When I was sitting there, I had time to think and let it sink in where I was! I have always seen the statue from a picture or on the television, but now it was real, and right in front of me. It took me back slightly I must say.

After various phone calls and me ‘bragging’ haha where I was, It was time!

I went through the airport style security at the gate and was sent to board Miss Liberty (The name of the boat).

It was a very pleasant ride, I sat on the sun deck, with the breeze flowing in my face, and my hair… and the sun shining directly on us. It was amazing.

When then docked, and thats when the sheer size of the statue was understood. She was huge! Also she was the only thing on the island so it made her look even larger! She was stunning, and she definitely still looked like a beacon of freedom and liberty, just as her sculptors had dreamt she would be.

The sun again, blazing down made her look even more phenomenal.

After I had lunch, at this time I had also found out about the crash in Times Square. This was rather scary considering my hotel was only two streets away from where the crash had happened.

But that was soon forgotten when I did lap around the bottom of the statue. I said it before and I will keep saying it, she looked amazing. The colour and the torch, the sheer size. She was so amazing and again something you can only get from being in person.

Afterwards I then boarded the ferry ‘Miss New York’ back and this time we passed Ellis Island which again looked amazing with the lovely weather and clear sunshine.

I then headed back and took some rest in my hotel. I also walked past the crash site, which was still closed off to the public and was eerily quiet.

Once at the hotel, I kicked off my shoes and shorts and slumped on my bed with the AC at fall blast, the heat was now fully on!

More to come 🙂 x x x

Day Two: Bus Touring and Night Cruising

Today was a greatly busy day! It started at 8AM with me boarding the bus tour, the first of three tours to commence around New York city. The first took me around similar to where I walked on the first day. It went around Times Square, It went uptown around Tribeca, and then the World Trade Centre and Battery park.

I then, after two hours came back to Times Square and boarded the Mid town bus, that took me around the Empire State building, Guggenheim Museum and the Rockefeller centre and the North side of Central Park.

The third and final bus was the down town bus and that took me all over Brooklyn and did a full loop of the enormous central park.

This was great, as I got to experience three different tour guides, all very different and put a different perspective into the different parts of New York city. It also was good to retrace my steps in a way from the day before, but this time sitting so my feet and legs got a well earned break from the 45,000 steps they did the day before!

Night Tour

The night tour was sensational.

It was a cruise along the New York skyline and it started when the sun was just setting and finished with the sun fully set.

It started with the view of the Empire State building and the Chrysler building in the background, with the sensational view of the sun beginning to set behind the two mega structures. The gentle breeze on my face and the gentle sway of the boat as it sailed past the skyline, was an amazing feeling. I just felt so peaceful, no stress, no fuss, no mess. Everything faded to the back of my mind and I felt at one with the city, and with myself.

We then moved to the tip of the city which consisted of Battery Park and again the World Trade Centre. Just like the rest of the city, the trade centre and the surrounding buildings leaped into a whole new life when the sun went down. They illuminated brightly showing a new side to them, a new life, they look alive at night. Looking at the buildings on the way back when the sun was fully down was breathtaking! Truly incredible!

We then headed back to the dock and I walked back to my hotel! Ready for the next day of festivities, which consisted of a ferry to the State of Liberty! Exciting times!

Brandon x x x

Day One: Ground Zero, serene, sad, and humble

This was one of most emotional aspects of the trip. Since I can remember I have wanted to visit and pay my respects, and witness for myself the now peaceful place where such terrible destruction and plain right evil had occurred.

I remember when I first set eyes from a distance on the north pool. My heart instantly started to get faster, as this was it! I was finally doing something I wanted to do for years and years, and it was just there in front of me. It wasn’t until I stood next to it that I realised the sheer size of the footprint the trade centre towers had left behind, in the pictures below, the specs on the other side of the pool, those are people, just to put some perspective into place.

One of many facts I learnt is that the footprint is exactly an acre. Each floor of each tower was an acre big. So pretty big one could say. I wasn’t due to go to the museum until Friday, but just being there was so emotional.

Reading all the names wrapped around the pools, emblazoned into the surface, put into perspective the level of human life lost that day, and that each and every one of the people who died that day were individuals, all had names, stories, quirks, talents and skills. All lost. All gone.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom in my mind however.

While I was sitting there, looking up at the now finished Freedom Tower, North Towers replacement, otherwise known as One World Trade Centre. All the surrounding buildings, all the trees, greenery and of course the two beautiful pools. This shows that we didn’t fall to the terror that happened, we rose. We came together and a beautiful place of remembrance and solidarity rose from the  ashes of the graves of where two magnificent towers once stood.

The feeling I felt that day, being there, after such a long time of dreaming. Its something I can’t describe with words. That feeling will stay with me to the day I die, and will never mellow or go away.

I strongly urge you if you are reading this that some point in your life, pay ground zero a visit. Its something you will never regret, and something where you will left a changed person.

More on that coming in the next post when I actually visit the Museum!

Stay Tuned!

Day One: An amazing first day New York Bound!

So On a Monday afternoon, at around 5 O’Clock, I departed from my Family at Heathrow airport, went through the security gates, and I was officially on my trip to New York, alone. It did seem daunting at first, but the thrill of it far outweighed the nerves.

I boarded the British Airways 747 flight, bound to JFK International Airport, New York.

After the 7 and a half hour flight, I landed, at 10:30pm US time. Climbed into my Yellow Taxi and made my way to the hotel.

I remember the first time I saw the Empire State building in the flesh, emblazoned in Green and White. It was stunning and made me remember truly where I was. Before hand the trip hadn’t seemed to have sunk in, the full realisation that I had finally made it to New York! This cemented and ended that thought.

I struggled with my phone signal and that took up most of my night but afterwards I had a sound first sleep in my lovely bed and great hotel!

The first day

The first day I didn’t pre book anything, as I wanted to adapt to the atmosphere of the place. Get my bearings. The first place I went was for a walk to Central Park! It was only 10 mins away from my hotel!

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This was my walk to the Park! 

It was beautiful. The park itself was very unlike any other park I had been too. It was very quiet, even though the bustling city of New York, the city that never sleeps, was business as usual on all sides of the park. All you could hear was the tweeting of the birds overhead, and the quiet talking of the people walking around the park and sitting on the grass. The park was also very quiet because of the time of day, I got there at about 8:30AM (Im a very early riser!), so that made it even better.

The park itself is also huge. I spent two hours walking along the park, and got to a map to see how far I had got too. I hadn’t even made it half way, and Im a fast walker! So this shocked me greatly! There was many different areas inside, there was great lawns, dense forest, and wide open lakes. One of which you could boat on which I did and shall explain on another post on another day!

The sun shone so bright too. Walking around in shorts and a t-shirt was very liberating after the cold winter jackets and jeans for the British weather I was accustomed to.

I sat on a rock next to the lake for a little while and saw little turtles! They were so sweet I wanted to take one home but that would be cruel, and could also pose a problem when I eventually had to leave! Haha but that was saddening haha!

I walked through the nature reserve which was also just as silent, just the birds singing, the birds tweeting, and the water flowing. It really was a very serene atmosphere here.

After the park I took to the city, and walked a good distance of 5th Avenue. Walked unknowingly until the last day past Trump Tower, and also went by the Apple Store 5th Avenue! I then took a subway to Battery Park. Within Battery Park, I saw the Statue of Liberty again very serene to actually see it in person. It was rather small due to the distance but I would go to see it in person very close hand and again this is for a later post!

After chilling in battery park and having my first New York hotdog for lunch, and some ice cold lemonade (Its now around 30 Degrees) I decided to take the walk to Ground Zero. I had mixed emotions of this trip as this was something I’ve wanted to have done for a very very long time. I have always found the story and the details of the attacks on the World Trade centre so fascinating and heart breaking and wanted to go and see the ground zero site in person to pay my respects and be able to feel the atmosphere that surrounds the site there.

I will end this post here, and my next post will go into more detail of the next part of my trip! Stay tuned!

Brandon x x 

Planning for the future

I always think to the future.

There is always a time in the day, everyday, when I think about what my future looks like. Academically, politically, socially, all of these factors.

I feel I am odd in this respect.

One of my previous and still a sort of weakness of mine though is over thinking the past. Now not all things about the past is bad don’t get me wrong. Thinking to the past to not repeat mistakes in the future, is how you should look at the past. However, I used to think of the past and make it something that takes over my mental capacity, and basically in normal terms overthink everything. If I did this then this wouldn’t happen, or if I did this that would have happened. This made me very down at times and sometimes even ill, and this wasn’t right. So lately I focussed my full attention on the future, with a small beady eye on the past, for the reasons above.

One of the first things I thought about was living. I have so many dreams, places I want to go to, things I would like to eat, businesses I would love to experiment with. The mantra ‘You only live once’ often comes into play here.

So to fast forward to now, its a week from my 19th birthday, which is the last year of the teen years and I haven’t done anything purely sporadic and for myself for a little while, being so focused on work. I decided to write a list of things I would love to do.

The winner by far was travelling to New York. I have always loved this place, before I have even been there. Just the place itself, the sights, the culture, the bustling nature of New York fascinates me and entices me. So then my next debacle would be who would go? My family were grounded for the time being and to bring everybody would up the costs by a large margin. Friends also suffered the same problems. Also part of me wanted alone time to clear my head, and release this stress and built up emotion by exploring a great new place I’ve never gone to. The decision was then made I am to do it alone.

The first week of May, I intend to visit New York for a week, explore the Statue of Liberty, explore the city in the sky with a helicopter ride, visit the iconic Apple store on Fifth Avenue, and most importantly do something I have always longed to to do, visit and pay my respects at Ground Zero. Even describing the trip excites me and I cannot wait. Some people called me mad, by saying, ‘you are stressed and want to relax, so then you decide to go to the busiest city in the world?’ and they have some sense in the questioning of my logic here. However that’s me, I have always been immersed in a city. I love the country and the country is somewhere where I have fond memories and intend to continue making great memories, but my life is the city. I live in London, ‘arguably’ another very, very busy city. So to visit New York with no business or work agenda is my relaxation, I always dart around London to meetings, trips, appointments, and never act like the stereotype tourist and take it in. Thats what I want to do in New York, be a tourist, walk around with no agenda at all, just be free and do whatever my heart desires.

Thats what I want the most!

Now of course, I shall blogging everyday and giving in-depth looks into what I do there, for me to reflect upon afterwards, and also for you the reader, as It may, and I hope inspire you to do the same. When you feel overworked and work becomes a chore and not a job, then thats when you need to let go. Theres a quote I always love to refer too, ‘Sometimes it hurts less to let go than to keep holding on’. Now I’m not letting go of my business per say, however Im letting go of all the stress and the built up emotion that comes with being me and running a business at the same time. Im a holder. I hold in my emotions and hope they stay, however they don’t. More so now that I have come to realise that they don’t stay and they do climax and come out in ways I don’t want them to sometimes. This is partly why I love writing blog posts. This is my way to reflect and gently let them out in the form of words, even if no one reads them.

So stay tuned, I shall be blogging before hand but my May segment shall be focused on New York! I will also be making a tabbed page especially for the trip to keep those blog posts in one place!

Goodnight x

B 🙂

How I want to change the world with my business.

Changing the world is such an over used term these days, and this annoys me. The term ‘changing the world’ is almost only for marketing purposes now, and this again really annoys me.

When I set off on this journey with my business Serenity, I knew exactly what my long term goals were for the business. I want to make Serenity a game changer, now thats what everyone says, however I feel today Serenity has an advantage.

Currently, the market in technology is highly saturated, and you may think well this is the perfect reason not to go into the industry, however at this present moment in time, the technology sector is also becoming very same – same, for example smartphones. Now, I don’t intend on ‘reinventing’ the phone once again at any point in the near future, who knows down the line, but this is the perfect example of things getting complex. All phones are now made of metal and glass, all are predominantly black and look very similar. Once upon a time this wasn’t the case. However as technology progresses, people are getting left behind, because they simply can’t use the tools at hand because they are too complex, enter photoshop.

I want to make Serenity a game changer, now thats what everyone says, however I feel today Serenity has an advantage

This was my eureka moment. The moment the oversized lightbulb lit up above me. This is where Serenity comes in.

I wanted to make the complex simple, thats the mantra of the business in anything it does. The first app we made was built to be simple and secure, welcome Switch into the family (Or Swift as it was known then) in 2013.

Our second project however, was when we went fully into the research. We wanted to solve this complex into simplicity debacle. Sketch was born when we realised people wanted to do high grade photo editing but simply didn’t because they didn’t know how to use photoshop. Or sometimes felt scared to use such a feature rich, and heavy program. Sketch was built to be the stepping stone into using Photoshop like apps. Its built in an incredibly simple way, with one bar at the bottom housing everything that you need, with a studio option to do more high grade editing and the main screen mainly for previewing and viewing and cropping your photos. Its still a project with a lot of new features and more in-depth technology being built into it and it shall explode with new features in the next year or so. However when we saw the success of Sketch, we knew we were onto something.

If we could do this for Photo editing, why not another high grade complex application.

Now this part is where I would love to unveil our next projects but I won’t do that just yet, as it hasn’t got a patent! However I just want you to know its there.

This the basic structure of the business and mentality of Serenity, and this is the mentality it shall share and use for years and years to come. Its a mantra that we believe no one uses to the extent we do. Other companies and big corporates say they make things simpler, but they don’t, its based on marketing. We do not making anything that we would use and think this is little hard to use. We don’t even feel that we need a support page on the website, we are that confident. However we have a basic one in place just in case something doesn’t work, as thats the nature of tech. Sometimes things do go wrong, same as a human, same as anything.

This is where Serenity Co, and I, want to change the world. The buzz of something new is electrifying, I love working on new things, and especially when its technology, as the barriers in technology just don’t exist, the opportunities tech gives to change peoples lives is infinite!

This infinity of opportunity and creativity was the main reason that got me into the world of technology in the first place. Having the tools to change someone even if it was a small change that could make a big difference to their lives, that was enough to sell the wonder of tech to me.

This is where Serenity Talks comes from. We gain no revenue at all from Serenity Talks, and we don’t intend to. Talks is intended to teach and inspire people in the way that technology can impact peoples lives and other industries. We want to get people from different industries, industry leaders to express the way tech impacts their business, and the way it helps for the better. This is was main reason for the existence of Serenity Talks, not to have another revenue stream.

I want Serenity to inspire and engage people into the practical applications of tech and the way it can help one another and change peoples lives, in developed and developing counties alike

I feel this is a good note to end this post on. Serenity Co is all the above and more. I want Serenity to be a beacon for people who find tech frustratingly hard to use, I want Serenity to inspire and engage people into the practical applications of tech and the way it can help one another and change peoples lives, in developed and developing counties alike. Technology is not a luxury, nor a product restricted to certain elites of people. Tech is everywhere and it should be, and we want to spear head a new technological revolution that makes Technology easier to use, and harness the creativity of people had previously doubted tech as they couldn’t fully understand its huge value.

This is me, and this is my company.

Time Management is difficult, but not an impossible thing.

I have always thought that I was a good manger of my time. I was never late to anything, I was always on time or mostly early. I always hit my deadlines and overall was good at time keeping, and still am.

However, when I took the role of Team leader, my mindset changed drastically. I saw myself was several deadlines for academic work, the company deadlines, personal business deadlines. I was overwhelmed by the amount of deadlines I had to hit!

However this isn’t uncommon! I had spoken to a friend of mine about my situation, and they had literally the exact same thing! Thats when I realised I had been taking it easy all this time. I then asked them how did they do it? I had no clue how to manage my time, I was getting stressed, felt really low and wasn’t in a good place, I had felt like like a failed honesty, but thats when they said, you don’t have to change a lot to make your life easier, just simply write down what you have to do.

I seriously felt angry at this rather simple, easy, and rather condescending remark of just write what I have to do down! I have! However it never worked! Then It came to me, he was right!

I wrote down what I did, not what I have to do next. I was relying on past dates, to predict future dates, which didn’t work when I had multiple big deadlines ahead of me.

The way I improved my time keeping was simply writing down a daily agenda, hourly what I need to do. This is when technology shows its true colours. I had 20 min prior notifications to tell me what I needed to do next, and this helped me so much! Just logging them in the evening or a few days before, so your ready for the next day, makes all the difference! It only takes a few minutes of your evening, and it makes your day run a lot smoother, and just raises the pressure off a little.

Once I did this, I hit my daily goals, and even had time to spare! Also those deadlines, I hit them, after feeling definite I wouldn’t!

So the moral of this story, is to not turn your nose up at the simple solution. Simple solutions are the best solutions, solutions that will make the most impact. Writing down what I had to do for the next day, literally made me a happier, less stressed person, and hit all my goals!

And I continue to do this to this day! And will continue!