AJ Cihla

The Great Outdoors

Camping, fishing, hiking and other activities that have to do with being outdoors give me energy and regenerate the most elemental attributes of myself. Quiet getaways to the mountains, spiritual retreats to Gorda, CA (between Hearst Castle and Big Sur on HWY 1), and soaking in the sun and saline water of the Pacific coastline reminds me of what it feels like to be completely content. The violent tick, tick, tug of a fish biting at the other end of your line brings forth the most primal giddiness I have been able to find in the modern world.

The uncomfortably crisp air of exiting a tent in the early morning coupled with the vegitative-state-inducing warmth of a newly awakened fire from the previous nights coals. The enjoyment of eggs, coffee, and the thawing effect of a blazing fire while being serenaded by a growing chorus of morning birds. The deep bass of crashing waves on the rocky coast and unfathomable battle of strength between surf and rock.

Take me along for an outdoor adventure and I will forever be your friend.

Food, Fitness, and Friendships

I have been blessed with the best friends one could dream of. Time spent on the Cal Lacrosse team and through founding of the Chi Phi Fraternity at UC Berkeley has exposed me to an amazing source of friends and extended family. The hardship of restarting a social fraternity from scratch not only failed to squash our original intent, but ended up birthing a true brotherhood. The losses to historic rivals led to a more passionate practice the next day and an undoubtedly closer family of players. These are the bonds that WILL stand the tests of time. I'm looking forward to continued growth alongside these individuals.

In the scheme of "being better", fitness is a major subcategory. Lifting more. Pulling more. Running more. Feeling, looking, and being stronger is what it is all about. No workout schedule needed in most cases. Get tired in any way that you can and eat healthy. Simple as that.

I love sushi and music festivals. Is that a weird combination? Yet to try them both on the same day though... I will add that to the bucket list.

Seeing the World

I have thought about travelling ever since my uncle told me about his adventures in the 80s as he travelled Europe and Asia by himself. However, the thought of being liberated from my status as a poor student and having a steady income sounded too irresistable to put off. I was lucky enough to have been forced into a late start date at VMware after I graduated from Cal. So off to Asia I went with a backpack and a list of countries to hit... and not much else.

This first trip was about 6 weeks long and I hit Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Japan. Each country was very unique and a great experience in its own way. Thailand beaches were beautiful and the nightlife was active. Laos was quiet, slow, and relaxing. Cambodia was surprisingly friendly, the food was amazing, and the ruins were breathtaking. Japan was clean, orderly and modern. The architecture was amazing and the food was delicious.

Next trip will be to Europe sometime within the next 2 years. However, I will be returning to SE Asia sometime in the near future as well.


The Tipping Point

A Malcolm Gladwell classic. Appropriate anecdotes and a quick read that I highly recommend.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

An absolute must read book for anyone and everyone. Dale Carnegie is an amazing writer and his books are a pleasure to read. Take Notes!

The Power of Full Engagement

A self-improvement book with helpful actionables to get you to never-before-seen productivity levels.

Universal Principles of Design

Highly recommended for anyone dealing with product decisions. An immense help when it comes to attaining a deeper understanding of how people interact with objects in everyday life.

Drunk Tank Pink

Every wonder how your environment applies unseen forces to your decision-making process? Read this book.

Rich Dad Poor Dad

A perfect surface-level intro to personal finance. Focuses on general financial mindset but still worth a read.

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

If you are a neat-freak/worry-wort like me, then please read this book and do the world a favor. Another Dale Carnegie masterpiece.

The Design of Everyday Things

Want to know how to best design a new product? Check out this highly readable breakdown of how and why products are designed the way they are today as well as what works vs. what does not.

Breakthrough Entrepreneurship

A well-condensed beginners guide to how a majority of startups make it past the first fateful years of business.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

This man is a baller. I always thought he was just the fat, bald guy on a $100 bill. The guy had legendary strength and endurance apparently... he was good at other stuff too. Read it.


Similar to my wildly disillusioned understanding of B. Franklin, Churchill did more than smoke cigars and be English. This is an excellent action-adventure book. But the stories are real.

Beyond Good and Evil

A Nietzsche classic. Get your dictionary ready for this one. A slow read if you read it right. Take your time and juice these pages for every bit of genius he has to offer up.


22 Habits of Happy People

Rules to guide you towards a happier, more fulfilling life.

Busy != Getting Right Things Done

Calculate and apply your limited forces to make the most change. Live smart AND work hard.

Product Management

The importance of PMs and why the role is vital to a successful business.

Biggest Regrets In Life

Some thoughts to keep in the back of your mind as you make your day-to-day decisions. Have no regrets... but also 'be better' every day.

Listening to Social Media

Check out these articles for a better understanding as to how we can better utilize data being created through social media activity.

Effective Leadership

An accurate summary of The Effective Executive by Drucker... another recommended read.

Elon Musk

More than an amazing innovator, creator, and general badass; Elon seems to be a humble and grounded individual with little egotistical interference. I will NEED to meet the man in my lifetime.

The Future of Education

My first hand experience in, what I see as, an inefficient educational system leads me to believe that massive innovation will be coming from this sector in the near future.