Showing posts from 2016

It Starts with Food (Fuel)

Are you putting premium in your tank and garbage in your mouth? When was the last time you took a close look at the results your lifestyle have had on your body? To paraphrase author/thinker Tim Ferriss - If you're getting your car checked out more often than you're having your own blood work done, you need to get your priorities straight! Whether you've been suffering from the same health problem for years or just can't quite get to the level of fitness you're aiming for, chances are what you're eating is a major factor. Think about it, the things you put into your body are what it uses to operate. It's the gasoline to power the generator, the bricks that make up the walls, the oil which lubricates constantly moving parts, and it feeds the system which washes out waste. If you're supplying your body with sub-optimal fuel it's going to give you sub-optimal results. That being said, I'm not a doctor, dietician, or even a wanna-be online person

From Coinstar to Bitcoin: How Tech is Shifting Revenue Models

Does anyone remember Coinstar, the friendly little vending machine that would turn two years of dropping pennies into an old Jack Daniels bottle into spendable cash, for only a mere 8.9% cut? As we rely less and less on physical cash to operate in our daily lives this machines have slowly started to disappear, or at least become much less relevant. It's a little bit funny, but at least in the United States the idea that change is essentially worthless has penetrated the minds of the many for some time. I think because of this we think about almost all pricing in terms of dollars - not cents. The $x.99 and $x.95 were lovely pricing tricks aimed at duping our subconscious minds a bit for this exact reason. And in a world where it was a pain in the ass to complete a monetary transaction - get your wallet out, count out the bills, hand them to a stranger, and awkwardly cup your hands waiting for change - it made a lot of sense to price all products high enough to warrant going throug

Change or Die

It's the oldest law of nature, yet somehow it's so one of the most difficult concepts for us to truly accept. The vast majority of people talk about how they are open to change and we talk about how great change is in public forums, but I'm afraid the truth is that when it really comes down to it most people are not willing to actually accept, embrace, or incite change. On a biological level I can somewhat understand that. Change is a shift away from the unknown, and why shift to the unknown when the known is perfectly safe, especially in the big scary world we live in. Yet there are many instances in which as a species we have made the conscious effort to resist our instincts; in fact "civilized society" is often defined by this ability to overcome some of our basic human instincts. Even more interesting is that living organisms are constantly adapting to their surroundings, both on a biological level and a behavioral one. Nature has long since proven out the b

Go Outside - Why Not?

Just outside Barton Springs - Austin, TX There's a beautiful world out there if you'll just open your eyes once in awhile. One of my favorite aspects of the wave of technological innovation that we're experiencing is how much easier it is to immerse yourself in nature. From access to information on far away destinations, to the infrastructure to cheaply reach them, to the tools that allow you to continue to be productive and connected (should you so wish) once you get there. I find it troubling that most people haven't made a very simple connection yet: just as easily as you can check your Facebook on a flight to Brazil you can add value to team meetings from a hammock in your backyard, respond to emails from a picnic table next to your favorite swimming hole, or engage with clients to accomplish projects from the front porch of a cabin deep in the Rocky Mountains. For the vast majority of you, there's no reason you can't too. The question we need to be

Let's Talk About Debt - You Can't Afford It

How in the hell did we become so accepting of the idea of indebtedness? When did the word usury - which is referred to as a sin in many religious texts - shift from the practice of lending money and charging any  interest to lending money and charging too much  interest? How did we build a society in which people decide to purchase goods and services without even checking how much money is in their bank account? That's like saying I'll trade you this cow for that lumber but you don't even know if you have a cow. That's insane, and the fact that no one thinks twice about it is even more insane. These questions and a 1000 of their closest reincarnations fly through my mind in dizzying fashion. I'm afraid we could spend the rest of our lives talking about how we got here - from greedy profit-seeking useless-widget makers shoving consumerism down our throats to banks who lock their customers into contracts with language that might as well be hieroglyphics the story is

Just Pull the Trigger

Today we have more options than ever before. From what to eat, to what to wear, to how to get around the list of choices is almost endless. In a lot of ways that’s really great - for the first time you can get incredibly tailored experiences that match almost exactly to your specific wants and needs. But it isn’t all good. Having so many choices is actually an incredibly daunting reality because now you have to consciously make those choices. At each decision point, there is some level of stress involved in evaluating the options and selecting just one from a potential myriad of them. With exponential increase in decision points, there is a possibility for exponential increase in stress, something your average American is already up to their eyeballs in. In a vein related to the low-information diet recommended by many people such as Tim Ferriss, this environment has added increasing value to the skill set of being able to make a decision and stick to it. To transcend analysis par

Understanding Privilege

It's time to stop blaming poor people for being poor. There is a bullshit misconception in this country that a person can become whatever they want, so if they're poor it's essentially because they're too lazy or too stupid to do anything about it. In reality the vast majority of poor people were just born without privilege. Yes I too have heard the bits of narrative evidence that are flooding your mind right now - the rags to riches stories we all love to tell ourselves - but the simple fact is that while there are examples of some people who have beaten the odds in awful situations, they have beaten the odds . For everyone else - you know, the vast majority of us that are not child prodigies - the odds largely determine the outcome. I'm not saying that hard work isn't important or that it doesn't play a role in the outcome, that's certainly not true. What I'm saying is that it's relatively easy to get your marathon time down from 5 hours to 3

Designing a Photographic Memory

Some people are born with photographic memories. Most of us, including myself, are not. Personally I have an especially difficult time with rote memory, which is memorizing something that doesn't follow any particular logical pattern, such as the English spelling of the word corps (pronounced "core"). Like really, who in the hell decided to put that P there? Anyways if you're like me and worry about what you might forget at the perfectly inopportune time, there's good news: this problem is largely solvable. What I have found is that I don't completely forget the particular information that I need, I just don't have it in focus at the right time. For example let's say it's Tuesday evening and I check my calendar for the following day. I realize that I have a very short window on Wednesday to eat lunch between different client engagements, so it's important that I have food at the office and don't have to go pick anything up. I go ahead a

How to Change the World in 90 Seconds

If I could give someone only a single piece of advice, it would be this: Make someone's day today. Repeat every day. It's about as simple of an idea as there's ever been, yet it has the power to change the world all the while costing you practically nothing. Often times I find myself so caught up in grandeur notions of "changing the world" that I forget the world is really a small place when you break it down. Each of us holds the power to have an incredible effect on those around us if we open our eyes to the possibility and put in just an ounce of effort. Hold the elevator door that extra second. Ask your cashier how their  day is going. Tell someone in your life how proud you are of them. Give someone a real hug. Buy the person behind you's cup of coffee. Share an interesting article with someone it made you think of. Remind the world that we're human. Take a minute, literally right now, to stop and think about the last time someone comple

Success = Positioning + Opportunity

“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.” - Bob Dylan I figured it's important to frame the conversation with a definition of this elusive "success" we all talk about. So far I haven't come across an answer that resonates better than this quote. What I've come to realize over time is that building good habits and eliminating bad ones is the primary driver of success. There isn't one specific thing, this unicorn we all seem to seek, but instead consistent small steps forward. Now I think it's important to understand the differences and relationship between habits, position, and opportunity and how they relate to "success." Habits  are actions that you consistently take and that can be intentionally designed. Often times it is the sum of many good habits and the removal of bad ones that positions someone for greatness. Position  is being in the right place at the

Online Voting - Duh

You can do all of your banking online. You can review medical lab results online. You can buy drugs online. You can send people pictures of your junk online. You can buy your groceries online. You can hire someone to do just about anything online. But you can't vote online? Really? I thought we were living in 2016. I thought what made this country so great was its commitment to the democratic process. If I remember correctly, we're the country that invented  the internet. So why exactly can't we vote online? It sure seems like a government who truly wanted active participation from the people would make this their first move. I realize many people's initial reaction to that idea is fear of the "security" risk. Those people, however, I would argue are naive. We put a man on the moon nearly 50 years ago - are you really going to tell me we can't figure out secure online voting? GTFO. No instead we insist that you take time out of your day, a wor

That Emergency is Bullshit

You roll out of bed and grab your phone. Finally, that awful noise we refer to as an alarm clock has been silenced. You notice several e-mails from a co-worker, all flagged as urgent. Your heart rate quickens, blood pressure rises, and your mind starts racing. This is what we call panic. You have been drawn into someone else's frame. Another person's perceived emergency has now become your perceived emergency. And because perception is reality, you are now living in a real life emergency. Two hours later you're finished. The corrected reports have been sent out to all of the people who aren't going to read them and your heart rate finally settles. Now what was it that you meant to focus on first thing this morning? That thing you identified as really important, the kind that should have transcended all of the other busy work. Suddenly you can't remember but you realize you haven't eaten breakfast yet and you have a meeting starting soon. Return to panic. A