Optimize for Survival

Although we often glorify risk taking as a general principle, optimal outcomes are the result of pushing the limits only within a threshold of which you can survive. To assume a position completely void of optionality is to paint yourself into a corner and given enough time will result in catastrophic loss or death. You Can’t Know Try as we might, humans have thus far failed to prove an ability to predict the future. Sure we can make decent guesses in certain domains and that ability has increased in the age of data science, but to date even our best predictive models are akin to child’s play when you take a hard look backwards in time. If you don’t believe me, write down your local weather forecast for the next ten days, record the actual weather each day, and compare the two afterwards. We’ve been trying to predict the weather for the entirety of recorded human history and we can’t even get that right a lot of the time.  As it turns out, the more rare the occurrence of an eve

Mitigating Financial Risk: Practical Steps to Guard Against Economic Uncertainty

Worried about what the future of the economy looks like? Me too. We live in a world where both disease and panic can spread faster than ever before. So what do you do when the majority of economic activity comes to a screeching halt? Here are some practical strategies you can implement immediately that (I think) will help mitigate the financial risk related to uncertainty in the current economic environment.  *Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor, these are simply my own opinions which reflect the actions I am personally taking. Please consult with a licensed financial advisor for specific advice related to your situation. Prepare an Emergency Fund Hopefully you already have a dedicated savings account for emergencies, but if not, now is definitely the time to create one and put any extra money you can save into it. Experts recommend having enough to cover at least three months of expenses and ideally twelve. Personally I like Ally Bank’s High Interest Online Savings Account

AGILE Product Development Adapted for Business Transformation Projects

In agile product management, the primary focus is on iterating quickly in order to provide incremental value through product enhancements. This is based on the assumption that it is difficult to know if an idea will actually provide increased value, so it is best to try something, measure the results, and adjust accordingly in quick succession. This method was developed as an alternative to the "waterfall" approach in which groups often failed trying to solve for everything at once since it is difficult to understand the full scope of any problem from the onset (i.e. you don't know what you don't know). Within the software world, this often manifests itself in practices aimed at delivering incremental functionality as quickly as possible, where teams are evaluated on velocity above all else. In many domains, that works incredibly well. However, there is a nuance which I feel is too often overlooked in that business automation software, particularly that which support

The Truth is There is no Truth

Roses are red, violets are blue, so I was taught in school, but what's it to you? I noticed something about myself recently, which I imagine might not be quite so unique to me: whenever someone asks me a question and it's clear by the way that they ask it that I'm expected to have an answer (often, a solution to their problem), I'm able to come up with an answer. Those answers come in many forms and some are much more useful than others, but I seem to always have some sort of answer. When my younger brother asks for advice about his career, or someone who I coach at work asks what the appropriate next step is on a project, or a consulting client asks for my recommendation on how to optimize a workflow, I'm full of answers. But are they the "right" answers? In these situations, it seems that the expectation creates both pressure to perform and is simultaneously empowering, creating a space to create something. That's poorly worded, I know, which is

You Are What You Repeatedly Do

On the paradox of choice and why routines are important in preserving mental energy for the most important tasks: Traveling to new places with different cultures is one of the most exciting things I've had the privilege to do. You know what else it is? Exhausting. The same qualities that make it so interesting and enjoyable also make it stressful and incredibly mentally taxing. Having to consciously evaluate and choose between seemingly infinite options on everything from where to eat and how to get there to which mountain or temple to visit next takes a lot of work and mental energy. In this paradox is a truth which you can easily flip onto its head in order to improve your own day to day life. The reality is, no matter who you are, every waking second of your time can't be filled with brand-new, exciting activities (though most people's Instagram accounts - including my own - would lead you to believe otherwise). There are plenty of tasks that simply need to be comple

A Question About Stars

Sometimes I forget that behind all of these bright city lights there's a sky full of stars. It's funny to think that many of them no longer exist, that they're so far away that it takes the light years and years to reach your eyes. As words like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) become more and more prevalent, it's interesting to think about what reality even means. Those stars we see, the ones which aren't actually there anymore, are they real? When are they real? Are they real to everyone simultaneously? I have a feeling between new technologies and mental frameworks this question of what is reality will only become increasingly blurry.

Trading Time for Money is Stupid: But Everyone Wants to be a Doctor?

Are you trading time for money? Is your entire business model built on that idea? There are some people who would argue that the direct exchange of hours for dollars is foolish, limited in potential upside, and simultaneously difficult to scale. Generally speaking, I agree with all of those arguments. Service-based businesses can't explode like SaaS companies or even physical product companies can. But that being said, some of the most esteemed professions that exist today - doctors, lawyers, management consultants - all do just that, the direct exchange of time for money. Sometimes this exchange is based on a Fixed Fee model, and the practitioners who are particularly efficient may ultimately profit at a higher rate than their pricing is designed to provide but most of the time businesses in these industries are based on some sort of hourly rate. Their potential earnings are capped by the number of hours in the day and vacation days come at a high price to the organization (parti