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Why I almost shut down LinguaTrek and Bibliobird... and our BIG dream!

27 Mar 2012

Usually I write articles or record videos with language learning advice or information about Polish or American culture. It's almost always somewhat personal.

I've told the story of how I learned Polish (despite failing to learn other languages) many times. For example, just last week, when I finally published my "About me" page!

Today, I'm going to get more personal than ever before.

Since the beginning of the year, I've hinted that I have some big plans to share with you...

And the time has finally come to share them with you!

P.S. Today is Carrie's (my wife's) birthday! Please be sure to say "Happy Birthday" to her in the comments below. :-)

Dreams can be scary

Actually, I could've told you about this two months ago - but to be completely honest, I've been terrified!

That's the thing about big dreams: it's very scary to pursue them, because if you fail - that dream is lost forever!

It's tempting to keep your dreams to yourself and not take that risk - but then your dreams will never come true!

So, I decided it's finally time to take that risk! But first, I'd like to tell you about a personal realization I had several months ago...

The New Year

Towards the end of every year, I like to think back on the previous year: about what has happened, what was accomplished, what wasn't accomplished, what was awesome and what wasn't.

It helps prevent the years from just sliding by, unnoticed.

It's a personal obsession of mine: I try not to lose track of anything, especially time.

I've been an obsessive note-taker since I was a teenager. I have dozens of notebooks full of thoughts, song lyrics, "to do" lists, letters, ideas for computer programs (I'm a professional software developer), and much more. At certain times in my life, I even kept detailed calendars, not to record what I planned to do - but instead, I recorded what I did each day.

Time goes by so fast, and when you're caught up in the rush of day-to-day life, it's so easy to lose perspective about what's really important. Occasionally reviewing my notes helps me keep perspective.

Near the end of 2011, I began reflecting on the year by going through my notes. And I was disturbed by what I saw!

The path I didn't choose

During the first half of 2011, my wife and I were both unemployed and living at my parent's house. I spent all my time practicing Polish, writing articles, recording videos, and building Bibliobird (my web application designed to help Poles learn English). I even gave some one-on-one English lessons over Skype.

It was a wonderful time!

In June, the realities of life caught up with us:

  • We rented our own apartment
  • Carrie found a stable (but low-paying and mindless) job
  • I started doing contract software development work
  • ... and I co-founded a technology startup company (H2OScore.com)

We had enough money to live and everything with my company was going very well!

In fact, it was going too well... We created the first version of our product. We hired more than 10 interns. We moved into an office downtown. We were talking to customers, investors, and to the media. I even had my first real radio interview. :-) The project was constantly picking up steam and taking up more and more of my time.

Before I knew it, I practically stopped recording videos and I absolutely stopped both practicing Polish and working on Bibliobird.

I didn't decide to stop doing all those things; it just happened.

My realization

When I actually sat down and thought about it - I realized I only had enough time, energy and passion to do one thing.

I had to make a choice. I couldn't go on pretending to do both things.

But which path should I choose?

  • Should I shut down LinguaTrek and Bibliobird and continue to focus on my technology startup that was obviously going to be something big?
  • Or should I give up on that promising opportunity to pursue my passion for helping people learn languages?

Since you're reading this article here on LinguaTrek, my choice should be pretty obvious. :-)

In January, I decided to quit H2OScore and devote my life to helping other people succeed learning languages.

But how?

Note: You can find more details about H2OScore and my decision to quit in this video from 2012-01-17 (in Polish).

Our BIG dream

Notice: I wrote "OUR dream" and not "MY dream." That's because this plan involves not just me - but also my wife, Carrie. So it's especially fitting that I should publish this article on her birthday. ;-)

Over the last four months (since the 2012 New Year), I've been talking with lots and lots of people about their problems, needs, fears and desires with regard to language learning.

And I think I've finally found a way to give you more articles, more videos, more features for Bibliobird, and more advice - while also realizing our biggest dream.

But we're also going to need your help to make this a reality!

And that way is... going to be revealed in the next post. ;-) Don't worry, you won't have to wait long!

(UPDATE: Here is the next post -> Our BIG announcement! (We need your help!))

In the meantime, please write a comment below and tell me about YOUR dreams! Do you have any dreams that are so precious that you're afraid to pursue them? Have you ever pursued a BIG dream? What happened? Please write a comment below!

Anonymous's picture

Happy Birthday Carrie ;)))

Posted by: Powell (not verified) | Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 10:23
Anonymous's picture

Howdy David!!! What is my a pipe dream???I don't know. Maybe I will visit your country.I know what I need. I would like to be a teacher in a Primary School in England. I used to look after children ( twins) as an Au-pair ( a boy was terrible sometimes, but ''boys will be boys. Many people are dreaming of money etc. Money helps, but cannot make happy 100%.

Another dream- I have pass very imported exam ( CAE), which is not easy. I hope that I will be agle pass it. I have many dreams, but most imported dream is to find a Miss Right ;-)

Kings regards

Peter

Posted by: Peter from High Wycombe (not verified) | Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 10:35
Anonymous's picture

I don’t want to discourage you, but you have to work harder to pass any exam, not to mention the CAE one.CAE is more difficult than the FCE, and if I were you, I would not even try to take the latter because you make many basic mistakes.

Keep it up and don’t give up!

Posted by: Wojtek (not verified) | Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 13:49
Anonymous's picture

Hi Wojtek!!! Did you pass CAE??? I have to pass this exam, because I am going to study at Bucks University in High Wycombe in the next year. I study English at College, but in the classroom are 12 students ;-( and I have no money for a private tutor ( they want sometimes £20 per hour). What should I do??

Look forward to hearning e-mail at this Website or e-mail. r.wtyklo@wp.pl

Kings regards

Posted by: Peter from High Wycombe (not verified) | Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 01:48
Anonymous's picture

I have not passed any exam, and now, don’t feel like doing this. Actually you don’t need to pass any ones to become fluent. But I understand that the university demands it.

Your English is pretty good (you are understandable), but I’m not sure that you would pass CAE. Why? Because exams tend to test stupid little grammar nuances. And you know that knowing grammar rules are not so important.

Compare such test to Polish grammar one. My grammar education finished in the primary school and I’m sure that now David know more about Polish grammar than me. And he would probably pass Polish grammar test, and I would not. Really.

I don’t know your situation. I don’t even know how long you have been learning.
Do you really need to go to the university in the next year? Couldn’t you wait?

You say that you learn in a classroom. And that you have no money for a private tutor. But do you need one? You live in the country the language you learn in spoken. So what do you need a tutor for? Go out and speak to people.
Learn books. Many of them. They teach you correct grammar and correct word order.

Hone your skills and be patient. You have to have a lot of patience!

Posted by: Wojtek (not verified) | Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 03:26
Anonymous's picture

Perhaps as a non-native I won’t be proficient enough, but let me point you out your mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t do it spitefully. :)

• Did you pass CAE? → Have you passed CAE? The CAE? I’m not sure.

• …but in the classroom are 12 students → but in the classroom there are 12 students

• Look forward to hearing e-mail? I’m looking forward to your e-mail

• Kings regards → It’s funny but you write it over and over. And the correct form is ‘kind’. What actually you wrote is ‘królowie’ :P

My English isn’t perfect and it never will be. One learns a language, even his mother tongue all his life. For example, as a native Pole, I still have problems where to put commas in a sentence. :)
But I feel quite comfortable in expressing myself and translating my thoughts into words.
I have been learning English for 5 years and have made many mistakes in my method. But what you can read now is mainly a result of reading books. Books about technology, IT, programming, web design/development/etc. Because I’m interested in them. I have read many of them.

You also should find your own method. Do what you like to do. Read about what you’re interested in! And never give up!

Posted by: Wojtek (not verified) | Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 03:50
David Snopek's picture

Thanks for sharing your dreams! I hope you do have a chance to visit my country. Also you seem to be well on your way to your dream of being a teacher in an English speaking country with your focus on taking the CAE! :-)

I wish you the best of luck in all your endevours!

Best regards,
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 17:43
Anonymous's picture

Feliz Cumpleanos a su esposa

Posted by: Br. Jerry, ssp (not verified) | Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 11:45
David Snopek's picture

Writing in Spanish is very apropos. :-) We want to a Spanish restaurant for her birthday. ;-) Thanks! Best regards, David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 17:41
Anonymous's picture

100 lat Carrie!!

Posted by: Anonymous (not verified) | Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 11:50
Anonymous's picture

Happy Birthday, Carrie!
Make your all dreams true!

Posted by: Inny Paweł (not verified) | Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 11:56
Anonymous's picture

Happy Birthday Carrie. All the best from Poland ;)

Posted by: Paulina (not verified) | Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 12:44
Anonymous's picture

100 years for Carrie. Happy Birthday

Posted by: Zed16 (not verified) | Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 12:53
Anonymous's picture

Hi there,

First of all Happy Birthday Carrie !!!

This post really hits me home. I also have a lot of things on my plate. I have not studied languages for some time (unless financial French counts).

I think that the key is to figure out what your goals are and go for it. It's extremely easy conceptually, but it's also very difficult to follow in practice. One needs to say "no" and, well, saying "no" is not easy.

As for me, my big dream is to have a job which would allow me to have some free time, and a location independant job, which practically translated into opening an online accounting practice.
Well, I can not tell you what happened (it's a work in progress), but I can tell you that I still have work to do to on saying "no" having accepted a project which does not help me on either marketing or on advancing my skills (my 2 priorities: all of my to-do list falls in these 2 categories).

I wish both of you the very best,
Olivier

Posted by: Olivier (not verified) | Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 18:42
David Snopek's picture

Hi Olivier!

Thanks for the birthday wishes and sharing your dreams. :-)

I absolutely agree about saying "no," this is something I personally have a lot of trouble with. I would love to have more focus in my life and work on fewer projects - if only I could say "no" to more things. ;-)

I wish you best of luck in all of your projects!

Regards,
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 17:47
Anonymous's picture

My dream is to move outta city and live in the country. Another dream is to see Japan or Korea or any Asian city.

Happy birthday Carrie. :)

Posted by: waspoza (not verified) | Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 03:25
David Snopek's picture

Thanks for sharing your dreams! I actually share them, sort of. ;-)

Right now I love living in the city but I fantasize about one day living closer to nature. However, I'd definitely like to someday live for a while in some Asian city, that'd be amazing!

Best regards,
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 17:49
Anonymous's picture

very good blog, I think the article that you create can be helpful to all who read it. I must wait for your post at a later time.

Posted by: Paul Zuniga (not verified) | Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 07:06
Anonymous's picture

I looked at your Bibliobird and carrie reading... that natural speed in the video games article was very unnatural... did you slow it down?

Posted by: Brooch (not verified) | Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 09:47
David Snopek's picture

We're still trying to find the right speed for the recordings. Carrie speaks very, very fast in real life, so she has to slow down to speak a normal human speed. ;-) But I agree that now that we have two versions she should speed up the natural ones. Anyway, we're still working on it! :-)

Posted by: David Snopek | Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 18:50
Anonymous's picture

First of all, Happy Birthday, Carrie. You are really a lucky woman with man like David.
Dreams... Your post moved me strongly, that even few tears droped out of my eyes. I'm really so proud of Your choice and I can't even describe in any language how wonderful, good and amazing person You are. Thank You. I know it's not enough, but, thank You David for Your hard work and effort, for helping us, people who want to learn languages and discover new things.
And what I believe is that, Your work is not only about giving us good advices, but also to motivate us, make us stronger, and simply having good time and fun.
Thank You once again.

I guess it's my time to say something personal, so here we are...
I'm 20 years old guy, with two dreams.
First of them, is to become a director movie. I'm in love with making movies, and It's what I do since young age. Lately it has got more seriously, I do not stop working on that, I join lot of movie competitions, read lot of books, write own screenplays and realize them, going to a movie school.

The second, more important one, is my small love. A chinese girl. A chinese girl that I have met 2,5 years ago and since then I can't imagine my world without. But here problems are coming- She has come to Europe to study for few years, and then she will come back to Asia. Her parents know about me and they are highly against me. There is a different culture than ours, so if they won't say "YES" to me, I have no chance to be with her in the future. She asks me to work hard, to earn a lot of money, because her parents are rich people, and speak chinese well. I worked so hard that I have learned over 500 chinese characters to read and write by myself, in less than 5 months. I was using lot of books, records, just stay at home and study every day. The way was a little different than Yours but it really worked.
The second part is, how can I earn money? By making movies? I hope that's posible, I hope I can put these two dreams together and the story will have happy ending. But here comes the fear, what if after all this time I will have to choose between staying Europe and being a filmmaker, or going to Asia and be with her working with a normall job, trying to do some bussines, and earn enough lot of money to satisfy Her parents.

Even the choice can be pretty far. It's so obvious to me- SHE. Even if I will have to leave all I have worked on behind, I will do it for Her.
But fear follows me every day, and every simple day I wonder how things are going to happen.

Well I hope now You won't feel shy since You are not the only one that speak out his personaly stuff.

Thank You, and I look forward to talk with You soon.

Posted by: Anonymous (not verified) | Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 15:57
David Snopek's picture

Thank you for your kinds words and sharing your dreams - which were very personal! I do hope you are able to find a way to be with the woman you love AND persue your dream of film-making. But like you, I would make the same choice and put the woman first. ;-)

I wish you the best of luck in your endeavours!

Regards,
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 19:06
Anonymous's picture

[...] This article is a follow-up to this article from 2012-03-27. Some tapas at [...]

Anonymous's picture

[...] fact, at the end of last year, I seriously considered shutting down my blog and Bibliobird because I didn't have enough time for them. Instead, in [...]

Anonymous's picture

[...] can't believe our presale is finally happening! Back in January, I decided that I was going to try to turn my hobby of helping people learn languages into my job. And I had [...]

Anonymous's picture

[...] we are successful, we'll be able to achieve our dream of working full-time to help people learn [...]

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