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  • Writer's pictureDean Nelson


When I was 16, I had a chance to spend a day at a corvette body shop in Colorado that my brother Dan managed. As I gawked at the sports cars and dreamed of driving one, I noticed something interesting. Everyone who came into the shop had one thing in common - they were old. They all had grey hair! I set a goal right then and there to have a sports car before I was too old to enjoy it. I chuckle now because I am one of those old men. :-)

I set a goal right then and there to have a sports car before I was too old to enjoy it.

Fast forward 21 years. As I looked in the mirror one morning, I noticed my first grey hair! I had a flashback of the corvette body shop and my goal. Could it be true? Was I officially getting old? I immediately started looking for a sports car to replace my Toyota SR5 pickup.

On Christmas Eve 2005 I bought a Mercedes SLK350 hardtop convertible! I lived in California and wanted to have a car that would let me enjoy the beautiful climate! I drove home with my daughter Nina (7 years old then) with the top down even though it was 50F outside. The car was amazing! As we raced down the freeway with our hands raised like we were on a rollercoaster ride, we sang songs and peered up at the stars. We were giddy! To commemorate this fun new toy, I created a picture with my new custom license plate - GEEKISM.

In the picture I was able to clone myself. My seven identical brothers surrounded the car. Each of them had one grey hair (ha!).

For the next fourteen years my daughter and I enjoyed that car. I drove her to school every day. We found excuses to take trips all over California with the top down, enjoying the two seater. It was an amazing feeling. While I had more grey hair coming in, I still felt like a kid with a new toy. 

I have had many life experiences since I set that goal 35 years ago. I’ve been blessed with a 30 year career in the digital infrastructure industry working for some great companies driving $10B in infrastructure projects in 9 countries. One of the most important parts of that work has been sustainability. I gained that passion early on at Sun Microsystems working with some incredible people - David Douglas, Mark Monroe, Lori Duvall, Mike Ryan, Serena Devito, Petr Vlasaty, Brett Rucker, Brian Day, and many more. Sun was green before green was cool.

For the last two decades I’ve been focused on global digital infrastructure deployments to reduce, and ultimately remove carbon emissions from data centers. I am proud of the work that our teams did at Sun Microsystems, Ebay/PayPal, Uber, and the two professional communities I founded along the way - Data Center Pulse and Infrastructure Masons. While there is more work to do, we have significantly reduced the impact of data centers on the environment even with global demand and corresponding capacity continuing its staggering growth. Today, we continue that work at iMasons. We are uniting the iMasons community on a 100% renewable future for all digital transactions. #IMsustainability

I left Uber in July of 2019 to start the next chapter of my career. I formed a consulting firm that advises startups and enterprise companies on digital infrastructure. As I neared the end of 2019, I considered purchasing a new vehicle for my business. I noticed something interesting as I did my analysis. I was no longer motivated by having a fun sports car. While I loved driving my convertible, I had this voice in the back of my mind reminding me of something. While I was driving sustainability in my professional life, I was not mirroring that behavior at home.

While I was driving sustainability in my professional life, I was not mirroring that behavior at home.

I still drove a polluting vehicle. That decided it. I wasn’t all-in!

On Christmas Eve, 2019 I purchased a Tesla Model X! This was my first electric vehicle, and oh my, what a car! Not only was it 100% electric with free supercharging for life, Tesla has future plans to power all charging stations with renewable energy -and- take them completely off the grid. 

What shocked me was the Model X performed better than my SLK! Zero to 60 in 2.7 seconds (wow!) and the tech...oh my...again. It has every gadget built in it. This car is a geek’s dream. I FaceTimed my daughter from the Tesla fulfillment center when I picked it up. She said she loved seeing the huge smile on my face. She said I looked like a kid with a new toy. That sounded familiar. :-)

As I drove the car home, I thought about what this meant. Was it really possible that I could have my cake and eat it too? Yep! I have a sports car (nearly as fast as a Lamborghini), it has the latest tech gadgets (like a car sized iPhone but better), I never have to pay for gas again (free supercharging for life) -and- I am helping the planet every time I use it! It was a win-win-win-win!

To commemorate this momentous occasion, I decided to recreate my GEEKISM photo. My seven identical brothers returned to the shot again but I added a bonus this time. My daughter Nina and her doppelgänger. Note - there are a few more grey hairs in this picture now. :-)

Thank you Elon Musk and Tesla for giving this old man childhood wonder once again! My Model X is a clean, green, earth saving speed machine!

My Model X is a clean, green, earth-saving speed machine!

What is my next step you ask? We’re going to try and beat Elon by adding the Tesla Solar Roof to our house! 100% independence from the California energy grid here we come!

This article is also posted on LinkedIN.

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24 mar 2021

Great stuff, Dean! The world needs more people like you. Very impressive and I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say, we can't wait to see what you do next! Feel free to reach me anytime!

Joe S.

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