How We Use Names

Dictionaries are collections of names. They collect the names of all the things we do and say to define them and standardize their usage.

I never used to think of dictionaries that way. When I was younger, especially as I was learning my spelling and grammar, dictionaries seemed not like a collection of words that people use, but as the source of those words. When you needed a word, you just looked in the dictionary. I never thought to think of where the dictionary came from in the first place.

Lots of the words we use are like dictionaries. In retrospect, they seem like the source of something; in truth, the name came after the thing or action it describes.

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Rise. Personal nutrition coaching made affordable.

When I got back from Oxford, I was looking for two things. First, I wanted to join a mission-driven company, to work for a cause I believe in. Second, I wanted the opportunity to learn a lot, and quickly. Which really means I wanted to work with great people.

I’m very fortunate to have found both. Nearly eight months since joining Rise, I’ve seen our team grow, our product launch, and most importantly, I’ve seen our members begin to reach their goals.

What is Rise?

Health, nutrition, and weight loss are very personal things. These are humanproblems, and we’re using the expertise and empathy of real people to solve them. Diets will come and go, but we believe that working with a real, expert nutritionist is the most effective way to achieve sustainable, long-lasting health goals.

This insight itself isn’t revolutionary. Registered dietitians and health coaches have been helping their clients lose weight and be healthier for years. But working with a nutritionist was expensive. Most nutrition coaches charge between $150 and $300 per month, putting their service out of reach for most people who need it.

Rise delivers personal, one-on-one nutrition coaching from these same experts for a fraction of the cost. We’ve built a platform that enables our clients to develop meaningful relationships with their coaches through technology. The core interaction is simple: members take pictures of their meals and receive timely, insightful feedback from their coaches. We’ve found that the consistent feedback our coaches provide reinforces the small habits that lead to lasting change.

Over time, we’ll be adding features to make the experience even richer for both members and coaches. We recently released the first of those features, a dedicated messaging tab for extended, one-on-one conversations with your coach—it’s almost like having a nutritionist in your pocket.

In the months since our launch, feedback from members has been incredible. We’re hearing stories of meaningful lifestyle change and real results. It’s what makes it all worth it.

Where are we now?

Rise launched in February. After selling out of coaching availability in just days, we’ve recently reopened our service to new members. It’s an exciting time for Rise as we continue to grow the number of members and coaches on the platform.

Teaching music to our kids…it’s not pointless.

141286730_05699b0e44_zMark Oppenheimer’s recent piece in The New Republic likened learning the violin to playing foosball and equates ‘pointless’ music lessons with his annual viewing of Dazed and Confused. Perhaps realizing he had missed the mark, or at the very least been misunderstood, he later wrote an apology. But his apology fails to address the faulty premise of the original article.

Mr. Oppenheimer proposes a simple test to judge the usefulness of music lessons:

“Go on Facebook and ask your friends to chime in if, when they were children, they took five years or more of a classical instrument. Then ask all the respondents when they last played their instrument.”

Maybe a few will chime in, maybe none. He’s suggesting that if we won’t do something in adulthood, we shouldn’t have our kids learn it during childhood.

Now, ask your Facebook friends if they use calculus or recite Shakespeare regularly in their adult lives. Mathematicians and english professors notwithstanding, you won’t hear much. But we wouldn’t extend his argument to math and literature, would we? Of course not, because learning calculus and Shakespeare is important not only for the content we absorb, but because it changes how we think. Only by understanding math and literature can we appreciate how science and culture evolved to their present moment. And in the sometimes painful process of learning, we develop the tools necessary to make our own contributions.

The same holds true for music. Learning an instrument is difficult and there can be no guarantee that kids will continue to play throughout their adult lives, but the process of learning music itself has value. And not just for the appreciation of music, but for the hours of practice and patience required to learn a musical instrument. Anything worth doing takes years to master, and our kids won’t come to understand that playing foosball.