Archive for November, 2010


Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion

I just read this book in one sitting.  It took about three hours, and now I’m going to…

CRUSH IT!!!!111

Single most inspirational book in terms of having a successful online presence.  Ever.  This book applies to everyone as we work our way into the 21st century.  It applies to all of us, as we continue to discover how the Internet continues to change the world.  It’s particularly pertinent if you have any interest in maintaining an online presence, or are actively involved in running your own business.  This book can guide your way to reaching not only more people – but more people that actually care about you and your product, and that’s great ROI.

After reading this book I literally revamped my entire blog, and took a completely new approach to finding readers.  It actually came down to one basic concept – be true to yourself.  Write about what you’re passionate about.  Care about your readers and the community.  Flex social networking as an advertising tool.  Don’t be fake, and don’t BS.

I’m also actively working through applying concepts in The 4-Hour Workweek (Expanded and Updated) which in a way provides a polar opposite view.  Crush It tells you to work longer and harder than ever before, but it tells you to work on what you love.  The 4-Hour Workweek tells you to work less, but work on something you don’t love – for the purpose of freeing up your time to do that which you love.  Crush It tells you to be extremely in-tune with social networks, and that every single person is important and should be treated as such.  The 4-Hour Workweek tells you to disconnect from the network, drop social networks in general, and cater yourself only to the customers that result in the highest return, for the minimum effort.

Sounds like quite the conflict, no?  In truth, I think the books compliment each other magnificently.  The underlying message of using your internal drive to follow your dreams and accomplish great things is the foundation for both books.  The 4-Hour Workweek can tell you how to start a business to support you, and give you the time to follow your dreams, and Crush It will show you how to make money by following your dreams.  Dreams that you now can follow because you took to heart the things in The 4-Hour Workweek.  Awesome!

It’s like – could two things go hand-in-hand better?  Peas and Carrots?  Horses and Carriages?




The Catalina grand prix

Next weekend we’ve got this goin’ on.

I’m going, are you?

December 4-5.  Chillin’ in Avalon.  ;-)

Who says on-camera flash has to blow?!

Common misconception:  Using the built-in flash always results in awful pictures.  Case in point:


A sexy picture of me using built-in flash

Alright, I know you can’t resist that lovable face, but let’s be brutally honest – this picture sucks.  I s’pose I could have chosen a picture with better composition, or one that was in focus, or without such a doofy look on my face, but I’m trying to prove a point here – on-camera flash often achieves terrible results.  Many people think it ALWAYS achieves terrible results.  I beg to differ:

Yours truly

Slightly more flattering on-camera flash

Same photo shoot, taken approximately 10 minutes apart.  Much better, no?  Ok, so I admit – there’s more going on here than just the lighting.  The second picture is a completely different composition, and I actually managed to look half decent.  It’s probably the only shot in the entire series where I don’t look mildly retarded.

But I digress, I’m not here to talk about my modeling capabilities, I’m here to talk about being creative.  Let me give you some background – I wanted a profile picture for this blog.  For a variety of reasons I don’t want to use any of my stocked photos, so I decided to do some self-portrait work.  I don’t actually own an external flash, I always borrow my roommate’s when I need one.  Problem is – he’s out of town with all of his camera equipment.

I have motivation to do this photo shoot RIGHT NOW but no proper flash equipment.  The solution?

A hair brush.

Specifically, a hairbrush Lufthansa gave me when they lost my luggage, two or three years ago.  Also a rubber band and an extra Compat Flash card… Oh, and a white wall.

A mirror for the flash

Bounce that Flash, Lufhansa hair brush!

First – I apologize for this crappy photo.  Instead of using a complex mirror setup to have the camera take a picture of itself (I did think about doing that) I just used my cell phone camera, which is awful, at best, but it gets the job done.

The setup:

The hairbrush has a mirror in the handle.  It is also a folding brush, so I used the rubber band to attach it to the pop-up flash on my camera, then angled the handle approximately 45 degrees.  The compact flash card just adds a little more support to keep it propped up properly.  Bounce that flash on a white wall, and voila!  Studio finish lighting!

Note:  I am holding a white reflector behind the camera in this shot, but I didn’t use it for my portrait photo as I had a nice white wall to bounce off of.  Also it’s worth noting that I turned the flash exposure up to +2, the highest my built-in flash will go.

I love creative solutions to absolutely unnecessary problems.  ;-)



New Theme!

I kept having some formatting problems with my old theme, and thus wasn’t particularly happy with it.  Unfortunate.  I spent a good while getting the colors and the patterns all setup.

Lesson learned:  Try a theme for a while before committing time to it and modifying it.  This should’ve been obvious.  Anyways, this one looks really similar, just black/grey instead of blue.

Dreamlines and Fuzzy Math

Note:  This post is related to The 4-Hour Workweek.  Reading the book first will help your understanding of this post.

In review of the math behind costing dreamlines, I have one major problem with Tim’s approach:  The Aston-Martin.  With this example it’s evident that he’s taking at least a 5 year loan.  He really pushes figuring out minimum payments to determine what lifestyle you can afford.  The net result is obvious – the minimum amount of money you need to generate, on a daily basis, to make it by.  When considering the Aston-Martin example, this is pretty much only possible with a car loan, assuming we’re starting from zero.  One of the main themes of the book is to eliminate needless expenses, and the least needed expense of all is interest on debt.  His intent is to show you that living like a millionaire is much more attainable than you probably thought.  The goal is to motivate you.  The truth is that when you convert the numbers to more familiar metrics (annual income) then we see that the true goal is not to have debt for a fancy car, so much as to expand your income.

He doesn’t really say anywhere that he advocates debt, but using his Aston-Martin example, the income needs to be generated for 5 years – either before or after buying the car.  This is not a 6-month dreamline in my book; it’s a 5-year dreamline.  It’s not an “unreasonable goal” to buy a car with money you don’t have – that’s what American’s have been doing for 100 years:  Have your cake now, pay for it later.

A car loan is most typically 5 years.  It’s reasonable to buy a car which costs 1-years salary, and then pay 20% for 5 years.  Tim claims that his dreamline requirement is about $200 (I’m rounding up from $197) per day.  This works out to be $73,000/year… after taxes.  If we assume he pays 33% in taxes, then he has to make $110,000/year.  I know; he stresses not to think about money in this way.  Before addressing that, let me make my point clear:  Buying a $120,000 car with a 5 year loan, when you make $110,000/year is not impressive.  It’s merely reasonable.

Does making $110,000 in a year sound difficult?  For the average person, yes.  Does making $300 in a day sound difficult?  Not really.  I did it a few times as a teenager without really trying.  I think the main point is that if you can consistently make a reasonable target daily income, then over time it adds up to be quite a bit.  That’s the key:  consistency.

Elimination of debt should be near the top of anyone’s list, if they truly want to be free.  Yes, there are ways debt can work in your favor, but that’s not an excuse to buy luxury items you don’t need.  By eliminating debt and generating some savings, you have the benefit of getting your money to work for you rather than against you.  This truly is automation of income – you literally do nothing, and you make money.  If it’s up to me, I’d rather be the guy earning the interest than the guy paying the interest.  Ultimately, buying a car with a loan may be commonly accepted, but it seems like just another “fat man in a red BMW convertible” scenario.  The goal shouldn’t be more stuff with more debt, the goal should be to make your means expand to your lifestyle.

If you lack motivation, then use these tricks to realize it’s within your reach, but don’t buy more stuff with more debt; expand your means.  There’s just no way around having to pay for the car eventually, and you’re better off not having to pay interest on it, too.  Luckily, the next section of the book is exactly on that topic:  generating income.

Stories, not journals

Way back when I started this blog, I immediately undertook a long, aggressive, solo motorcycle trip which involved crossing the rocky mountains on a motorcycle in February (no fairing!) and riding 1,000 miles in one day.  It involved 15-nights on the road, with only one night in a tent, and one night in a hotel – the rest spent with friends, both old and new.

Since this blog was new, I decided to try and keep a journal of the trip and post it here for content.  I think I had delusions of writing a story reminiscent of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (which is a fantastic read, by the way).  Oh right – no editor or anything.  Just post, and do it right the first time.  Hah!  There is a big problem keeping a journal:  When being so aggressive, there’s little time to write.  Damn.  It definitely wasn’t what I wanted.

I removed them because they don’t add the right kind of value.  If I feel motivated (and I’ll admit that this truly is an “if”) then I will make a singular post about the experience, and why everyone should do something similar.  It ultimately is a cornerstone of lifestyle design.  It definitely fits in the realm of a mini-retirement.  It’s a great example of how to make the best of what is commonly considered a bad situation, and the associated repercussions.

In other words, I learned a lot.  It’s worth writing about.  This post is a placeholder.  If there’s significant backlash, then I’ll either re-post them, or be more motivated to do the re-write.  It’s up to you, dear reader, to let me know.

Experimentation in Lifestyle Design.

Hi friends,

I recently read The 4-Hour Workweek (Expanded Edition) by Timothy Ferris.  Upon finishing the book, I restarted at the beginning to go through it, step by step, to try my own personal experiment of “Lifestyle Design.”  I have no idea where this journey will take me, nor how successful it will be.  Actually, I take that back – it’s already successful.

I learned about this book 9 months ago when doing research in creating a successful blog.  In the sense of making money, this blog has been largely a failure.  In the other sense it has been very successful learning tool, and a push to get me in the right direction.

A few months ago I started my first full-time job after college.  I quickly found out that I have very little time to do the very long list of things I want to do in my life and I was on the verge of starting to hack and slash that list down.  In the meantime, my job has shown me how to hack and slash unimportant things which consume time and add little value.  The Four Hour Work Week is basically centered around this concept, so these skills both read and learned hands-on from my job combine together to give me a complete lesson on what’s important and what causes unnecessary “noise” in my life.  I should mention at this point another influence recently has been Rework.  The job and the two books have given me a lot to think about in recent days, particularly in pursuit of the lifestyle I want to live.

So here I’ve found myself with both knowledge and motivation to rework my lifestyle, and pursue the concepts of Lifestyle Design.  In the sense that this blog has both been a success and a failure, I expect that this initiative will be a similar experience.  I find that when we undertake these types of projects (or any project for that matter) there is both success and failure, which usually is determined by not really knowing what we get ourselves into.  If I fail, it’s only because I didn’t know what I was aiming for.  Likewise, my successes will partially be hitting targets I didn’t know I was aiming for.

So where am I at now?  Well, I’ve taken a few steps to start laying out the groundwork, and this is where I’ve already met some success.

If you haven’t yet read the book, the next part may be a bit confusing.  I’m going to write it assuming you have read the book so I don’t waste time explaining the concepts.  After all, I’m not here to rewrite the book.  I’m just giving a statement of my experience thus far.

D is for Definition

I’ve basically completed this part of the book.  I haven’t completely hashed out my dreamlines yet, but I’ve been brewing on them for a few days (and yeah, every day I think of more things that I want to do).  I know the big ticket ones and the costs involved.  I’m really content with my current budget in a lot of ways, so this is the base for my Target Monthly Income.  There are a few additions though – I’d like to get all my debts paid off within 12 months.  I’d like to buy a car in 3 months with no additional financial load to my lifestyle.  So my TMI is what I currently make, plus an additional amount to cover the vehicular expense and student loan debts.

Those are the “Having” things.  Being is a little trickier.  Through thinking about my dreams and aspirations, I realized that what I’ve always to be was an inventor.  I never did my engineering degree with the aspirations of being a staff engineer.  I’ve always just wanted to follow my creativity and insipration wherever it would take me.  So this is one of the big “being” things – an inventor.  This is actually not too bad.  it will take some initial startup costs, but if my goal is to be an inventor, then it shouldn’t be too difficult to turn any given invention into a “Muse” in and of itself.  Thus, if I get my first muse set up and running (and it’s successful enough) then that will enable me to pursue this dream of being an inventor and to follow my whims.  I also want to learn to play a musical instrument and learn a new language.  I want to learn new forms of partnered dance, as well.  I enjoy swing and blues, but I want to expand my reach.

So on to the last one – “doing”.  Well this one is easy for me, there’s a lot of things I want to do – Skydiving, hang gliding, race in the Baja 1000.  Oh, also I ‘ll use Tim’s example and add “find smart and gorgeous girlfriend” to my list, too. :)

Comfort Challenge #1 – Eye contact.

This has been the biggest success I’ve had so far.  I’ve been trying to act out the book as a workbook (on that note, I’ll say that services like evernote are a lot less useful without a smart phone.  Tim advocates “killing your crackberry” but at the same time, these services are nearly useless without an all-in-one device like that.  Using my DSLR camera is pretty pointless for evernote.  And inconvenient.  And it takes up a lot of disk space.  The bane of Lifestyle Design is NOT the smartphone – it’s e-mail and being constantly connected to that.  Turn off e-mail push.  If you still don’t have the self control, then get rid of the electronic leash, but for me it’s worth having multi-functional devices.)

Ok, so I digressed a lot – let me get back on subject:  Eye contact.  This is the first comfort challenge and one that I’ve had a lot of success with.  The simple act of making – and holding – eye contact with people in everyday life, especially people that intimidate me makes me much more confident. It’s a big difference.  I just feel better about myself and more confident.  Being able to hold eye contact with someone until they break it not only made me more confident, but also made me realize how frequently I usually break eye contact first.  I will definitely continue to work this comfort challenge into my everyday life, even though I’ve already completed it.

E is for Elimination

I haven’t got into this chapter too much yet, however I did start cleaning out the clutter from my life shortly after starting the book.  I’ve been focusing on selling things that I don’t use, and over the past week alone I’ve made about $150.  I’ve still got a $1,000 bicycle to get rid of and a few other things that should pull in some good money.  Just today I donated clothes I  never wear to the Salvation Army, and brought my old skis to a used sporting goods store to sell on consignment.

I know that in the coming weeks there are going to be some bigger challenges.  It’s felt so good to actively work through this book so far (on that note I just remembered I sent someone an apology letter that was 10 years overdue, simply because I’m working through this book).  I’m more confident, and feel better about myself and happier in general.  I have less clutter, less noise, and less to worry about.  I’m quicker to make decisions, and focus on the things that matter.  I used to fret about every little detail, and be very meticulous to make sure that everything was all taken care of.  This often would result in neglecting other things completely, and now I’m finding a lot of comfort in just letting unimportant details slide.

Once again – I know it’s going to get tougher.  There’s a comfort challenge or two that I’m legitimately nervous about, but having actively worked through the first comfort challenge, and actively done some action items, I’m pumped up and confident to charge headlong into what’s coming down the line.  I’ve felt nothing but good from working through this book so far, and I can only imagine that successfully completing future action items and comfort challenges will also feel good.

On a final note that I don’t think I’ve covered yet: Reading this book has definitely made me more effective at work.  It has reinforced concepts and management strategies that are practiced at the company, and given me insight into why certain decisions are made.  It has also pushed me to learn how to make decisions quickly, and focus on what really matters.  My job involves working with a lot of different people, and while I’m not a manager, I do have some control over a few interns.  The concepts in this book have helped me to steer them to be more effective.  It has also helped me recognize ways I can exercise their strengths to make the entire team more effective.  I think overall my output is higher and the quality of work hasn’t significantly gone down.  This is all due to applying concepts of the “80/20 principle” and focusing my efforts accordingly.

Ok, that’s it for now.  Even if I put the book down now, it will already have had a positive impact on my life.  I’m looking forward to the future :)

The Page-A-Day Calendars

In December, 2009 I got two page-a-day calendars for 2010.

Today, November 11, 2010, they’re both still showing February 12th.  Why did I save them, and why do I feel guilty at the idea of throwing them away now?  Why do I feel obligated to use them?

When I packed them up almost exactly 9 months ago, I felt the need to save them.  When I was cleaning my desk out just a few hours ago it struck me that it would do a disservice to the people who gave them to me to throw them away.  Yes, I feel guilt at the idea of throwing them away, unfinished, before the end of the year.

But the truth is I don’t really like page-a-day calendars.  I think they represent gasping for air while in a job, situation, or just generally smothering life.  They supplement real experience, and real enjoyment for “good enough” by taking away just that little bit of mundane and giving a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how faint.  Or maybe they’re just kinda annoying.  Let us not forget the fact that I let them sit idle without a second thought for 3/4 of the year.  In fact, for those 3/4 of a year while I was actually living life I don’t think I gave them a second thought.

And here I am, debating whether I should throw them away, keep them, or go through every page I missed one by one.  The only reason I’m looking at them now is because I’m cleaning out the clutter from my life, starting with the material clutter.  Since I evidently don’t use them, and in some ways they cause me more stress than pleasure, it’s time to throw them away.

I apologize to those who gave them to me.  I value you in my life, but a page-a-day calendar just isn’t the right thing for me, at this time.  I do hope you’ll understand.  I don’t understand why I feel I need to apologize, but I do.  Thanks for the thought, but next time just give me hug or something.

Return top