Friday, December 2, 2016

Practicing Mindfulness

I am on Day 9 of Take 10 and it’s stressing me out! I have been meditating every morning since about February this year. About two months ago I got the new Apple Watch and started using the Breathe App. A month ago I tried some of the apps on my iPhone and really don’t love any of them. But now I’m reaching the point where I feel pressured to buy the apps or start paying for this. Is this a thing? Have we really come to paying for meditation apps?

I liked the girl’s voice on Calm, so I’m thinking I might go back to that. I don’t love the guy’s voice on HeadSpace. I like to picture Andy as looking like Jemaine Clement, and that makes our time together more fun. But these aren’t like $3 and $5 purchases--these apps are like $99 a year?!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Day 14: I’m Grateful for Robyn

I think I was maybe twelve when I learned that my older siblings were overachievers. It was probably when we were at the state capitol for the second time in about a month, receiving another award and having our family photo taken with our Congresswoman, who knew my mom, dad, and oldest brother and sister personally, and she said, looking at me and my two other siblings, “How many more children like these do you have?”

The state senator and congresswoman knew my family because Todd and Robyn had both worked at the capitol and had both received recognition for civic service. They’d always just “been like that.”

Robyn in particular is the kind of person that truly thinks of others before herself. It is a pure, Christ-like and unconditional love. She has a ridiculous amount of talents, really just so many talents, it’s pretty unfair, but she has always used them to help and serve others. I remember as a teenager she used her abilities to sew and make clothing so that she could modify second-hand clothes for children with disabilities so that pants, shirts, and stuff were easier to put on and take off. I know, right? What kind of a teenager does that? She’s always just been like that.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Day 15: I’m Grateful for Todd

Not everybody can have the ultimate big brother. Todd is eight years older than me. And he’s always been setting the bar of awesomeness and achievement for me. Not wanting to dive into too many details of his pretty incredible life, suffice it to say that he is the most accomplished, driven, hard-working yet low-stress, patient, humble, and Christ-like human being that I know. Even to me that sounds hard to believe, but I just re-read that sentence and, yeah, it’s true. He’s pretty amazing.

After my grandma’s funeral, I enjoyed the unique experience of having about a three hour conversation with him and his wife and I was utterly astounded at the level of problems, I mean trials and stuff, sure, but like actual, life-threatening crises, that they have been through. Their lives are unbelievable.

But the result of it all is that Todd is an example of wisdom, insightfulness, and pure, faithful living that I aspire to emulate. I remember thinking as he talked about what he’s learned from his experiences, “I would love to know what he knows, but wow...I am not sure I would have made it through those trials or have handled them that way.” It’s a testament to me that God knows the lessons we need to be taught, but he also knows the tuition we are willing to pay to learn them. My brother has paid the tuition for the highest-level of education in faith, forgiveness, and love.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Day 16: I’m Grateful for Dad

I’ve really had two dads in my life. The same guy, just two different people at two different periods of my life. My earliest memories are of a guy who could do anything. My dad is an outdoorsman, a do-it-yourselfer, a craftsman, a born teacher, and a gifted storyteller. He was tall, deceptively strong, and just knew how to do everything. I remember working with him to split firewood, I was eight or nine, and he showed me how to use a maul and I just thought there was no one smarter or stronger. I remember changing the oil and brake pads on our car and thinking that no one could be more capable or competent. I remember pulling up old carpet and laying down new, watching him trim and notch it with perfect foresight and was astounded that anyone could know so much. As a teenager and young adult, I relied on him for things that I didn’t know how to do. He got a lot of calls from me at college asking about money, electricity, and car repair. He was a comfort and an inspiration to me when I was a missionary, remembering the stories he’d told me and the example he’d set.

About 10 years ago, my dad had a stroke and a seizure. It was the beginning of the progressive effects of non tremor Parkinson’s disease. I don’t really know what that must feel like to go through, but as someone watching it, and in my own parent, it’s a very scary and hopelessly unnerving experience. I feel helpless to witness his deterioration--it seems like he suddenly got old very fast. And I feel lost that, with the time I can spend with him, he isn’t the dad I remember. Fortunately, he is a very optimistic person. He tends to be upbeat, unjudgmental, and fairly at-ease with his situation. But it’s been hard on the rest of us, especially Mom, to lose the patriarch, the DIY-er, the man who could do just about anything. He’s simpler now. He still likes telling stories. And he still inspires me to live a good life. But I already miss the first dad in my life. And I’m trying to make the most of and be grateful for the time I still have with my dad, stage two.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Day 18: I’m Grateful for Graham

I have heard many times from many parents that you need to have “one of each” to really appreciate the differences between raising a boy and raising a girl. I now add to that, you need two of each to appreciate the difference between the very unique personalities in every individual. Graham has always been his own man. He is brave, fearless, quick to get angry, and quick to forgive. He isn’t cuddly. But he is full of love and trust. My earliest memories of this baby are of him lighting up when he saw me. I’ve always felt that he liked me, admired and looked up to me in a way that made me feel responsible to him. Graham is the kind of person that makes you want to be as awesome as he thinks you are. And I hope I can be.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Day 19: I’m Grateful for Finn

Finn is my second child, but my first son. Just like with our first, I learned again with this baby that each person is unique and individual. With all three of our children, I have found that I learn as much from them as they might be able to learn from me. But Finn is special. He is truly the most pure, most angelic human being I have ever met. He is just so good! I am astonished anew each and every time that he demonstrates love, kindness, unselfishness, and pure charity. With Finn, Ginny always uses the word “sweet.” And that’s just it, like the taste of sugar, Finn makes people happy, brings a smile to their face, and makes you want more. He’s just the kind of person you want to be around. And an example to me of what the Savior meant when he said, “Become like little children.”

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Day 20: I’m Grateful for Charlotte

Aside from getting married, having a child was one of the biggest moments of my life. The first lesson I really learned in becoming a father is that I did not just bring into the world “a child,” I brought in a very specific person, an individual, who just like me, has her own ideas, understanding, needs, and desires. Being a dad to Charlotte has been among the most unique and rewarding experiences of my life because she is unique and interesting and so full of life. By becoming not just “a dad” but “her dad,” I feel I’ve become a better person. One who is interested in stuff I never would have been (princess movies, musical theater, Wimpy Kid books), but also a person who is seeing this world and experiencing life in a fresh new way. I’ve heard that kids do that for you, make you relive life and see it differently. But this is not just any kid, this is my Charlotte.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Day 21: I’m Grateful for Ginny

This may be the hardest one of these I write. I’m already telling myself to not go too deep, to not be too personal. Writing why I’m grateful for my wife is really attempting to write about the person I know the best in the world. Yet every day I’m impressed at how interesting, smart, and dynamic this person is. If the goal of getting married is to find your best friend, the person who brings out the best in yourself, and someone who will love you more as she or he learns to know you more, then I found the best possible companion for me.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Day 22: I’m Grateful for Brandon Sanderson

So it wasn’t until about 2008 when I learned that Robert Jordan had passed away that I remembered a series of thick epic fantasy novels called "The Wheel of Time" I’d read in my early teens. And I was amazed, maybe a bit bewildered, to learn that Jordan’s editor and widow, Harriet McDougal, had picked some unknown upstart to finish the series. With the resurfacing of this series, the memories rushed back of adolescent late nights following Rand al’Thor and Mat Cauthon picking fights way beyond their skills, and Egwene and Nynaeve tugging reproachfully at their braids.

I’d never heard of a writer handing off his unfinished series to someone else, and frankly, I didn’t trust it. So I picked up my first Sanderson book to see just who this guy was. Like most new-comers to Sanderson, I began at Elantris. And it wasn’t love at first page.

I was an older reader, now. A grown man, with real worries and hopes in my life. It had been a long time since I believed that picking up some magic spells and a heron-marked sword could solve my problems. But I thought Arelon was wonderful, Elantrians were compellingly complicated. The characters tackled topics I hadn’t remembered from my earlier dive into fantasy: politics, human and civil rights, religion, and a very personal search for purpose and meaning that I could identify with. It was rich and complex, conflicted in the right ways, but containing a beautiful, elegant reveal that made for a fun, relatively fast (it’s 600+ pages), very immersive experience and I saw what McDougal had seen in him. This guy can write!

I devoured the Mistborn series, then Warbreaker, and finally The Way of Kings before I came up for air and looked around for what Sanderson was doing next. At this point in 2011, I was pretty much current with all of his published fantasy. So I looked around for more of his stuff and found his podcast Writing Excuses. And that's what I am most thankful for now in my life.

I love to write, I've been writing personally and professionally for years, but I have never studied the "craft of writing" sufficiently to really see myself improving at it. Listening to Writing Excuses now for over 4 years and hundreds of episodes, I feel like I'm growing, learning, and improving as a writer. It's giving me exactly what Sanderson promised in Season 10, a masterclass in writing genre fiction. And that has given me hope that my dream of publishing one of my novels is achievable.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Day 24: I’m Grateful for John Lee Dumas

I started listening to podcasts in 2011 when an ad agency friend, Scot Singpiel, first gave me some recommendations and really sold me on the idea. One of the first I downloaded was EOFire. I came in around the episode he did with Marcus Sheridan and was immediately hooked.

The style was brief, fast-paced, a bit formulaic (okay, a LOT formulaic!) but the content was compelling and ultra-relevant to my situation. John Lee Dumas, who later renamed himself JLD, was interested in the same thing I was interested in: creating a smart, automatic, content-focused business model that didn't require me to trade hours for dollars.

In five years, I've heard almost every one of his now more than 1400 daily interviews. And I'm glad to report that John has gotten better (a LOT better!) at interviewing, really hitting his guests with questions that get to the core of how they think and built their business. And I love when he doesn't let them off the hook with a weak or "backhanded compliment" of an answer!

For those of you like me that are preparing for our one-day-in-the-future interview with John Lee Dumas, or whoever is successfully following in his well-defined footsteps at that time, here is the basic outline of the questions we'll need to answer:

JLD Question #1: Are you prepared to ignite? (You just have to basically find a creative way to say "Yes, I'm ready" and no matter what you come up with, John will laugh over your response)

JLD Question #2: I've given a little bit of your background. Now tell us a little more about yourself and give us just a little glimpse of your personal life. (Not really a question, but he will pause and wait for you to come up with an answer. And yes, he says "a little bit" a lot)

JLD Question #3: (He will segue from whatever you gave him in the last question and then say something like:) Well, it takes a lot of dolla's to do (whatever that awesome thing you claim you're doing in your personal life). So where does the revenue come from? Where are you making your money today?

JLD Question #4: What is your worst failure to-date as an entrepreneur? (And don't even try to not make it a story or to say you have more than one!) There's only one "worst" (he'll remind you) and I really want you to take us to that exact moment. Really tell us that story.

(And be prepared for the follow-up of "What do you really want to make sure Fire Nation gets from that story?" Nine times out of ten, John's gonna make you spell it out!)

JLD Question #5: Now what's your greatest "Ah-ha" moment? (This is the question he upgraded to from his previous "Have you had an 'I made it' moment?" question that got a lot of ambivalent or otherwise not-helpful responses)

JLD Question #6: What's your biggest weakness as an entrepreneur? (And he's a shark sniffing for blood on this question. I love when the guest tries to get away with the ol' college interview answer like "My strengths ARE my weaknesses" or "My biggest weakness is probably that I work TOO hard and I care TOO much." He will laugh it off, but then he'll hit you again with something like, "Really? THAT'S your biggest weakness? Come on. What's it really?)

JLD Question #7: And what's your biggest strength? (This answer is usually the briefest of the whole interview, so stay trite and save your best snappy answers for the upcoming Lightning Round. It's nominally John's favorite.)

JLD Question #8: You are busy and you've got a lot going on that you're justifiably excited about. But I want to know, what has you most fired up about your business today?

And then it's time for the Lightning Round!

Lightning Round Question #1: (He starts with the indispensable and perpetually awkward:) Are you prepared for the Lightning Round? (Where you have to be ready with a snappy, "Yep," "Sure, John," or an awkward, "Let's light it up!" Oh, and there was one terribly bad one where the guy was like, "I'm a Buddhist monk dipped in kerosene" or some similarly scarring visual reference. I'm not gonna be that guy. Let's prepare a simple answer. Let's not be that guy.)

Lightning Round Question #2: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? (Most common answers John will accept: "Fear" or "Nothing!")

Lightning Round Question #3: What is the best advice you’ve ever received? (Best if you can quote a celebrity or your dad. Bonus points if it's a nod to a previous answer)

Lightning Round Question #4: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? (Basically an opening for you to brag about how you're super into meditation)

Lightning Round Question #5: Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation. (And he will bust you up if you try to use Evernote. He's like, "Seriously? I just said 'like Evernote.'" But man, his guests seem to LOVE Evernote)

Lightning Round Question #6: If you could recommend just one book for our listeners, what would it be and why? (Then he used to plug his team up with Audible. 'Cause he knows we love audio! I mean, we listen to podcasts, we're not the kind of people running out and buying bound packets of dead wood!)

Lightning Round Question #7: The $500 question. (And yes, it's a doozy! Always a "doozy") Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world identical to Earth, but you know no one. You still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have, your food and shelter is taken care of, but all you have is a laptop and $500.00. What would you do in the next seven days?

John Lee's Question #8, or #9, or #15, I'm not sure how I was keeping count: I want to end today the same way we started–on fire!–with you sharing a parting piece of advice, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye. (This complicated three-part finale of a question usually throws them, so make sure you don't leave a part out, or he'll inevitably follow up with a reminder for the part you forgot)

Bonus Question from John Lee Dumas: And where is the best place that people can find you?

John Lee will remind us all: Fire Nation, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. (And then the part you've been waiting for, he's gonna change your name to initials. Will you get three? Maybe just two? Does John even know your middle initial?)

You’ve been hanging out with SPB and JLD today–so keep up the heat and head over to Just type Shawn in the search bar and his show note page will pop right up with everything we’ve been talking about. (He may remind you they're the best show notes in the biz, Fire Nation, with links and time stamps GALORE!)

Then you're done! Twenty-five minutes of unedited, immortalized podcast fame.

But I love it. I can't tell you how many of my rough, ROUGH mornings have started off with me feeling miserable and uninspired at 5am and become 25 minute personal mentor and motivation sessions for me because of the awesome content that JLD is putting out through EOFire. And for that, I am grateful. And I’ll catch you on the flipside!

Monday, October 31, 2016

24 Days of Gratitude: Focusing on People Not Things

24 Days of Gratitude: I’ve done “24 Days of Gratitude” leading up to Thanksgiving before. But this year I’m doing it differently. One, I’m putting it on my blog. And two, rather than doing the vague, almost impersonal “things” I’m thankful for--“friendship,” “second chances,” “indoor plumbing”--I’m doing my list of 24 people I’m grateful for in my life. This is harder. This will require more tact. This will involve other people and is much more likely to expose my vulnerabilities and personal feelings. But Brené Brown says people love that stuff, so here it goes. Starting tomorrow, I'm going to try to post every day for a while. Hopefully this is turning over a new blogging leaf. And we'll see if anyone reads this stuff...

1: Day 24: I’m Grateful for John Lee Dumas
2: Day 23: I’m Grateful for Dan Wells
3: Day 22: I’m Grateful for Brandon Sanderson
4: Day 21: I’m Grateful for Ginny
5: Day 20: I’m Grateful for Charlotte
6: Day 19: I’m Grateful for Finn
7: Day 18: I’m Grateful for Graham
8: Day 17: I’m Grateful for Mom
9: Day 16: I’m Grateful for Dad
10: Day 15: I’m Grateful for Todd
11: Day 14: I’m Grateful for Robyn
12: Day 13: I’m Grateful for Scott
13: Day 12: I’m Grateful for Jeff
14: Day 11: I’m Grateful for Cameron
15: Day 10: I’m Grateful for Jared
16: Day 9: I’m Grateful for Nick
17: Day 8: I’m Grateful for Jeff
18: Day 7: I’m Grateful for Chase
19: Day 6: I’m Grateful for Larry
20: Day 5: I’m Grateful for Cathy
21: Day 4: I’m Grateful for Jared
22: Day 3: I’m Grateful for Adam  
23: Day 2: I’m Grateful for Grandma
24: Day 1: I’m Grateful for Jesus Christ

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Restarting My Computer

My laptop was running very slow last night and I thought, “It used to be so fast, I wonder what happened?” Then I thought, "It must be time to get a new computer..."

Now my laptop is only about two years old. It's really doing everything I could ask of it and more, and yet I was completely ready to throw it out and get a new one. Luckily, I was not that hasty.

Instead, I went to my settings and saw that I was running about 40 applications, including a Chrome browser that hadn’t been closed in two weeks (see image!). My computer wasn’t too old, it was just being overworked at the moment!

Like a computer’s hard drive, my mind carries a log of all the open files, programs, and tasks I have running. And every so often, I can feel that I start to get bogged down. Just like overloading the RAM on my computer, carrying too many unfinished tasks takes its toll and seems to slow my mind, burdening me with a general sense of anxiety, and increasing my stress level.

The way to fix a slow laptop is to close everything down and restart the machine. This principle works the same for the mental computers we all carry. In order to combat the drain on my mental and physical energy of too many open tasks, I need to close projects and unfinished to-do items that I’m stressing over so that I can feel the psychological release of being “done.”

Our bodies crave this feeling. In fact, we’re wired to NEED the endorphin release that comes from checking items off that list. And when I have closed projects, at least for now, I can feel the mental freedom to look at my to do list and see what I need to do next. That way, I keep my energy high, my work pace fast, and my mental and physical state from getting bogged down like my poor laptop does every couple of weeks.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Hustle and Grind

I stay pretty busy. Maybe too busy. I have a family, friends, several volunteer organizations, and a lot of projects that I love staying involved with. These things all take up time. And I also run two companies.

One of these companies is a digital marketing company where I'm a W-2 employee, expected (required!) to spend A LOT of time being in one place, the office, trading the traditional hours for dollars in order to do my work. Most entrepreneur-minded people refer to this as "the grind."

I also have "the hustle." My side company, which focuses on customized business development strategy, is built on a system that scales rapidly without my direct involvement. Although it does require time to build and run these systems, it does not require me to trade my time for dollars. In fact, if I compare these two primary income sources by dollars per hour, I make a lot more in the hustle, like 10-20 times more!

My third "job," which is funny to think about as a "job" because I haven't made a penny doing it yet, is writing. Writing for me, at this point where it produces NO MONEY, is a pretty specific trade of hours for word count. When I'm going--actually writing, not editing, planning, plotting, etc.--I can do between 500 to 1,000 words an hour. So, at best, a whole book takes me 5-6 months depending on how much time I can carve out each day.

So, knowing all of that, here's what the typical day has looked like for me for most of 2016:
5am - Run 5k or Workout at home
6am - Work on the Hustle or Write for an hour
7am - Shower, dress, etc. for the Grind
8-6 - Killing it at the Grind for myself and my team
7pm - Family time, dinner, bedtime with the kids
9pm - Work on the Hustle, Write or Read for an hour (or two)
10pm - Crash for 7-ish hours
As I wrote that I realized it is more of an "ideal day" than a "typical day" because, as anyone knows who's running this kind of schedule, no two days are really the same. That schedule's affected by myriad little changes like weather, work trips, increased client load (both from the Hustle and the Grind), my wife and children's plans, evening events, church and club activities... So, yeah, that's the schedule I'm shooting for, but I realize that most days actually vary to quite a degree from what I posted above.

An interesting thing I've learned from about 10 months of running on this schedule is that I sometimes manage just fine with a lot less sleep, say 4-5 hours, and other times I need a lot more, like 9+ hours. I'm curious if other people experience that and if it has something to do with biorhythms or falls into some sort of pattern. It's just strange to me that I feel like I go full speed every day but there are some days where I'm falling asleep at the dinner table and others where I lay in bed from 10 to midnight struggling to fall asleep at all.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Another Monday - Excuses to Sleep In

It's a brand new Monday. Which means a new chance to start a new week on the right foot. Many of you know that 5am comes earlier on the first day of the week, and that every day, especially every Monday, begins with a choice. No matter what else is happening in my life, I know I have to make the right choice--to do what needs to be done, when I need to do it, rather I want to or not. And I have just come off of a hard weekend.

Last week my grandmother, my last grandparent, passed away after several weeks in the hospital. She lived a good, full life and we were all expecting the announcement, but the death of a loved one is always a time of reflection, change, and a brief upheaval of the normal, everyday schedule we all call "life." She passed away late Tuesday night, the announcement was made Wednesday morning, and the viewing was scheduled for Friday night in a hard-to-reach part of Colorado.

Of course, that day, Wednesday, I had a final meeting scheduled to close a $4m account, so I didn't even start thinking about arrangements until Thursday morning. I called my three brothers and found out their plans to arrive from different parts of the country--Florida, Georgia, and Washington, DC--to determine where our plans overlapped and I booked a rental house and flight for that very night.

I left work about 7, ate dinner, packed a carry-on bag, and my wife dropped me at the airport about 9pm. Flight left SLC at 10:30, landed in ABQ at midnight, then I met my brother and his wife and we made the three-hour-plus drive to Alamosa, CO. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow about 4am and didn't budge until after 9, a mere 5 hours later. In the flurry of activities and reunions with family I hadn't seen in several years, I went to sleep after midnight again that night. Saturday was a similar schedule, funeral at 10, cemetery at noon--I was a pallbearer--and a long afternoon of potluck lunch, family photos, and some therapeutic storytelling of great family memories. At 1am Sunday morning, I said my goodbyes and with a different brother and his wife, made the 3+ hour drive back to Albuquerque to catch a 6am flight to Salt Lake City.

Needless to say after the three paragraph whirlwind-weekend spelled out above, I felt very...unprepared to face life when my alarm blared at 5am this morning. But, as I've done for nearly 10 months now, I reminded myself that I'm happier when I'm proactively choosing how I'll live my life, and made the herculean effort to haul myself out of bed and into my morning routine.

I don't know how it is for anyone else, but for me, every day is full of the same conversations with myself where I reaffirm my commitments to do more, to work harder, to be better. It gets exhausting. It feels so repetitive. It seems like I'm holding still, but I remind myself that all forward motion can be interpreted as progress and my only goal is to be better than I was yesterday. Which means that every time I'm asked to re-make a decision that I've already made correctly before, I need to make the right one. Every time. Even on Monday.

Friday, September 30, 2016

What I'm Reading Right Now

I've been told that I do reading "wrong." Sometimes in conversation, in a total not d-bag sort of way, I mention that I'm reading such-and-such book. I have apparently said this more than once to the same person in the same conversation--enough that they've called me on it, saying, "Wait, you just said you're reading a different book right now. You mean you're reading more than one book at the same time?"

Yes. I read multiple books at the same time. And this is apparently "doing it wrong" to some people. There are just so many books I want to read. All the time. At the same time. My defense of this is partly that I get most of my books from the library and they're all due back at the same time, so it makes more sense to finish them all about the same time, rather than trying to do one, then the next, then the next. I certainly want to START all of them at the same time.

My other, weaker defense is that I'm reading all sorts of different books. And I'm in the mood to read something different at different times. For example, on a Monday night, I may want something non-fiction about my career. By Wednesday night, I'll want some escapist fiction/sci-fi/fantasy. On Sunday afternoon, I tend to be ready for more of a "life purpose," self-help type of book. So I need to have all of these on-hand. Anyway, this is the list of what I'm reading right now.

What I’m Reading Right Now:
The Devil’s Only Friend, Dan Wells
Copywriting: Successful Writing for Design, Advertising and Marketing, Mark Shaw
Stop Acting Rich--and Start Living Like a Real Millionaire, Thomas J. Stanley (GSU!)
The Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod
My Name is Red, Orhan Pamuk
Over Sea, Under Stone, Susan Cooper

What's on My “To Read Next” List:
The Five Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me about Life and Wealth, Richard Paul Evans
The Traveler’s Gift, Andy Andrews
The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
The second list of what I want to read next is stuff that people have recommended. I've heard several people mention awesome stuff by Steven Pressfield and am guessing, based on what I read on Wikipedia, that The War of Art might be a good place to start. I've heard the same about Andy Andrews. If I like these books, obviously that'll steer me towards a bunch of new books I'll need to add to my reading stack.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Shipping: One Thing at a Time

The key to productivity is to not do too much. If you've read more than a few posts on this blog, you may already know about my approach to Mondays, I hate them, and that same aspect of human psychology is at work on a daily, and even minute-by-minute basis. Human beings want to feel productive. We are chemically wired to love getting something done (“let me beat one more level” or “just one more chapter, then I’ll go to sleep”). So the challenge is to channel that human instinct to “feel productive” by not just letting ourselves be busy but to be focused on getting something done. Seth Godin calls this concept “shipping.” I’m just calling it “one thing at a time.”

When I work, I try to do one thing at a time. I have a notepad next to my workspace where I write down what “done” will look like on my current project.
For what I’m working on right now, I would write on my To Do list: “Write Shipping Blogpost.” Notice I broke it up into tasks. I'm just working on WRITING the blogpost now. Later, my list will include “Edit Shipping Blogpost” and “Post Shipping Blogpost.”

Human nature loves crossing things off of lists, so I get the extra endorphin release of crossing each task off as I complete it, and I’ll get three endorphin boosts for the price of one project.

What I have had to learn to do is not get distracted from the task at hand. Emails, co-workers, and telephone calls are all simple distractions that defeat productivity. But the worst is my own mind’s efforts to be productive. I’ve written before on the myth of multi-tasking [link], but the worst part of that myth is that our brains WANT to believe it! We FEEL productive when we’re doing lots of things at once. So don’t fight it, learn to channel it.

On my same notepad, when a new idea comes to mind or I think of something, I quickly write it down in a sentence or two that will jog my memory later, then I get back to the task I’m working on. Usually that requires me to re-enter the current task, often by putting an arrow next to the project I’m working on and need to get back to. So some projects will end up with many arrows next to them, meaning I’ve been derailed a few times during the task.
I just remind myself that it is better to finish a few important tasks than to start and stop many tasks that make me FEEL productive.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Another Monday - Waking Up at 5am

For the past few months, with very few exceptions, I have been waking up very early. I’m having trouble sleeping anyway and I’m trying to pin down why. I know I am under stress, but after 8 years in the ad business, I should hope that I am used to stress.

I feel very anxious. I am anxious to get things moving, to build my company, to get started on client work. To prove that this idea of mine will work. But I think that stress has been an important reason that it’s been so much easier for me to get up and get going each morning.

Anyone who is thinking they'd like to become a morning person should try just getting stressed out of their minds. It's like starting each day with a Red Bull, Jolt Cola, and 2-3 cups of coffee.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Excitement and Feedback

Saturday morning around 9:30, after I’d been up, exercised, had my own breakfast and made pancakes for our kids, my wife walked into the kitchen and I started telling her about a great message I got from a potential client on LinkedIn. I may have blurted. It was probably too much, too early for her. She looked at me over her plate of pancakes and said, “I haven’t seen you this excited about work stuff in years.”

I want to believe she was saying it with support and empathy, though I may have detected a note of bitterness in her still-groggy voice. I like being in a positive place. I choose to make the best of the circumstances I’m in. I refuse to let myself get bogged down by what isn’t going right, the things I wish were happening, the problems I can’t control, and the outcomes I really can’t affect.

But she’s right. I’m motivated by what I’m doing right now. It’s great to be able to say I’m building something for myself and doing work I believe in. That gets me excited.

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