What I've Been Up To // October 2017


Fall seems to have finally arrived in Delaware and I couldn’t be more excited. Man was it touch and go there for a bit but the forecast (for now) shows the consistent 60 degree temps I’ve been waiting for. At least probably until I brought attention to it just now. 

Backyard camping

Jenni and I have already taken advantage of my favorite season with a few crisp morning hikes. Event spent a couple nights out in the tent. Sure, it was in the backyard but it was fantastic. Got down to high 30’s one night I believe.

I think some of my favorite days of Fall are these first few. There are some crunchy leaves fallen on the trails but most of the trees are still plenty green while the air is brisk. Just has a little bit of everything and makes for nearly perfect trail running and mountain biking.

Trail running

Oh and a new tradition I’ve started is greeting these cool mornings with a cup of coffee and a biscotti while rocking in the rocking chair on the back porch. I highly recommend you try it.

The Strenuous Life

While I’m working on a separate post solely on The Strenuous Life, I wanted to at least touch base on it because I’ve just spent the last 12 weeks living it. 

More specifically, I recently completed The Strenuous Life Challenge which is basically a 12-week boot camp designed to start you off strong in the program. You get out what you put in and honestly, just click the link above and you'll know quickly if it's for you. 


All I can say for now is that without a doubt, these last 12 weeks have been an incredible learning experience. And I’m continuing to learn more and be stretched in new ways every week. Huge hats off to Brett McKay and whoever helped him build this program.

New House

It’s not exactly new but we’re still in awe of how blessed we were to get this house. It just fits us in every way and we’re not taking it for granted.

One thing we love is the neighborhood and we’re currently gearing up for our first trick-or-treaters. Surprisingly enough, we’ve never lived anywhere that had them but we expect that to change this year. And I’ve bought a couple bags of the mini candies as well as some boxes of full size candy bars. Yup, we’re going to be ‘that’ house.

I’ve also been working on my office but it’s still not ready just yet. Here's a few select photos to give you an idea though.

So that should just about get you caught up with me, what's new with you? There's always something. Don't discount the minor things either.

Answers to Random Questions: 01

As an exercise in transparency, I thought I'd share some insight into how I think and operate. It may sound like a job interview at times and that's because of where I found some of these questions. Please enjoy.

What's your expertise? What's your weakness?

The term is undesirable for many but I can't keep from describing myself as an expert "Swiss Army Knife." I pride myself with having a multitude of abilities and skills while being teachable in the areas I'm unfamiliar with.

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

-Robert A. Heinlein

My attitude towards anything can be summed up as this: "It won't fail because of me." I believe that saying originated with NASA though I found it recently through Tom Sachs. Just one example of my dedication is through my use of the 1 Second Everyday iPhone app. I try to do something interesting enough to make a quick one second video snapshot and then mash them all together at the end of the year. Here's 2015 (with links to 2013 and 2014).

My weakness? Being concise. And while I'm constantly working on that, I make up for it with passion. I also suffer from a touch of imposter syndrome. One way I combat the feeling is by looking back at what I've accomplished. Especially looking at tasks or roles I previously labeled as impossible because they were unlike anything I've done before (leading weekly group activities, training volunteers, etc.).

What makes you tick?

I like a challenge and constantly working on making things better, no matter what it is. I'll go the extra mile because I set my own bar high. I don’t do well with monotonous tasks just for the sake of them but I do enjoy getting into the rhythm of a task with a decently paired soundtrack.

My professional resume may not be as full and polished as others so I created more of a "life resume" I call my Walter Mitty Resume. I feel it's a much better representation of me as a person.

Where do you consume content?

There's always the usual "checking the pulse" of people I know by surfing Facebook and Twitter for a few minutes, just to get a feel for things. I’ll frequently check out Reddit to see any big news things I’ve missed though I end up just saving funny stuff to share later. As far as podcasts go, I have a variety that I keep up with: Hello Internet, Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project, The Talk Show with John Gruber, The Tim Ferriss Show, G.O. Get Outside Podcast, and a good many others actually. I use the Overcast iPhone app to listen to my podcasts and I’m quite proud of my “smart speed” savings which is a little over 30 hours.

For blogs, I often will go just to certain sites when I need something. Wirecutter/Sweethome for reviews, The Verge for tech news, stuff like that. In my Feedly list, I’ll skim through blogs such as A Continuous Lean, Adventure Journal, Huckberry’s Journal, Seth Godin, Semi-Rad… I like more of the “adventure” (in any loose variation) flavor of posts.

Oh and I’ve actually been really enjoying BuzzFeed’s News app. It’s surprisingly well done and helps keep me updated on true current events (because I don't watch TV news very much). Digg also has a great selection of both “real news” and fun stuff and their copywriting is well done. When I can, I’ll check in on Meh.com. Their copywriting is impressively hilariously and they do it on a daily basis.

I also look forward to getting my email newsletter from The Hustle. Great updates on news I’m interested in (tech/business) and like the other examples, great copy.

What’s your favorite ice cream?

If I have to pick one found everywhere, it's going to be cookie dough. If I can find it, a new favorite has been the Double Dunker from Turkey Hill. But I also have deep rooted childhood memories of the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Sundae from Friendly’s. The absolute best of the best I've had? The classic hot fudge sundae from Ted Drew's. If you're in St. Louis and don't swing by Ted's, you've wasted your time.

Have a question you want answered? Let me know and I'll add it to the list.

Give Some Photos Away, Get Invited To Speak at The Apple Store

I've been using Unsplash for various work projects since they launched and a few months ago decided to "give back" in my own way. I selected some photos I shot that I considered to be my favorites (and ones that I thought might just be good enough for the Unsplash crowd) and uploaded them to my account. Turns out, some of them were well received.

Back in August, a photo that I took with my iPhone was featured at the Apple Store in Montreal during an Unsplash event. It was blown up to something like 40”x56” which is awesome and something I wish I could’ve seen in person.

Well recently, Unsplash invited me to two more events. One was an event at the SoHo Apple Store and the other was a very casual get together where I was their featured photographer. Both in New York City, which I love visiting whenever I can.

Why am I telling you this? Because while I don't consider myself a professional photographer, I think it's kind of amazing that Unsplash opened some doors that I'm sure many would be jealous of. If photography is your business, wouldn't you want to show off your work like this?

What I'm recommending is that you give something away (Jeff Goins gets this idea). In my case it was photos, in yours it may be consulting time.

I feel confident in saying that if I didn't give my photos away on Unsplash, I wouldn't have been asked to be on a three person panel in front of 70 people at the SoHo Apple Store. While I don't know what's going to come from my [limited] involvement with Unsplash, I'm proud to have been given the opportunities they've extended.

Consider loosening your grip and you may be amazed at what possibilities present themselves.

What do I do well? What should I be driving towards?

I don't know what I'm supposed to be working on every single waking moment of the day. In all of my jobs both past and present, there were/are duties and responsibilities I enjoy more than others but what's the one thing that people would call my "passion?"

I really don't know. It used to bother me but I've learned to not dwell on it and just keep doing what I'm doing until I find it. A video (which I can't find now) from Gary Vaynerchuk got me thinking about it again.

A couple of my creative inspirations are Casey Neistat and Tim Ferriss, for very different reasons. When I look at what they're doing I get jealous, in a good way, but also question where I am in life and if what I'm doing is something I'll be proud to show off.

That's a poor way of saying it though because I actually am proud of what I do. It just seems that my "purpose" continues to elude me. Rest assured however that I'll be going all in once I find it.

"What man needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him." -Victor Frankl

Recommended: Chris Brogan's Newsletter

I’ve never taken one of his courses before but I've been subscribed to his newsletter for awhile and it often has these nuggets of wisdom in them worth sharing. If you like this, definitely subscribe to his email newsletter. Below is just one of those nuggets of wisdom that I copy/pasted from my email inbox to share with you.

No One Is Reading

I’m not saying that to whine, Mike. But it’s important you know this. No one is reading what you’re writing. I have proof. Mountains of it.

I’m drinking some amazing organic pomegranate white tea that someone was kind enough to send me (and I totally lost the card, so I have no idea who!) What are YOU drinking? Hit reply and say hi!

No One is Reading

One of the “unique” aspects of my business is that I’m the front lines of customer service. I like it, most days. What better way to know how things are going than to hear people’s questions, challenges, and complaints.

But I can tell you this: no one is reading.

I got an email from a guy saying, “I want to buy your course. How do I do that?”

It was a reply to an email that had three (3!) links to the shopping cart to buy the course. The only three blue underlined parts of the mail (thus making it even more obvious) were somehow not obvious to him.

Plus, he missed the deadline. Plus, I’d sent him five (or six?) emails inviting him to buy the course. So he was late, and couldn’t buy it, even if he’d found the links in the previous five or six emails.

I’m Not Complaining About That Guy

I’m saying NO. ONE. IS. READING.

They’re not reading me. They’re not reading you. YOU are not reading.

You’re skimming. Maybe not you specifically. But “you” at large. And by “you,” I mean me. Us. We. All.

We are not reading.

We are “Hurrying” Because we are “Busy.”

I wrote about being “too busy” in February and in April of this year. I’ll probably write it another two or three dozen times. Because 1.) I have to because no one is reading, and 2.) because we’re all doing this THING where we are just “grazing” our way through life.

Your attention is a valuable asset and you (me, us) are wasting it. You’re diffusing it. You’re turning the same power that can burn through two inches of steel into the soft and diffuse light that warms a field of daisies.

And it’s one reason that you’re not as successful as you want to be.

Focus isn’t the answer

I know that might have rushed into your head. In a guilty way. “I know. I have to focus.” (First off, the phrase “have to” means you won’t.) Second, focus isn’t the answer.

Find a path. Stick to the path. Do what’s germane to the path.

Do the work that moves you ahead. Stop “checking out” all the other things.

Every time I see another person say they’re “trying out Periscope,” I cringe. Not that I care or don’t care about that particular technology. I just know that it won’t grow your business. It won’t get you a new customer. It won’t help you land another sale.

We have to dust off our internal compass, empty out our mental backpack, and only put it in those things that will move us forward. We MUST ignore all the superfluous things, so that we can focus on what needs doing.

And if my newsletter (or anything else out there) isn’t part of that path, stop it. Get off that path and get on yours. Be merciless in this process and you’ll see the growth that’s eluded you.


Quit it. Quit the cult of “I’ll just see if THIS will change anything.” When people want to lose weight, they pursue a whole lot of diet plans. Know which plan works the best? The one you can stick to and maintain.

Stop looking for new things, new programs, new systems, new books. Look for where you can keep growing what you’re already trying to do.

Start with your wants and needs around those areas you’re trying to develop. Let NOTHING in that doesn’t fit that development.