Tag Archives: Everyday stuff

10 Strategies To Do More, Be Happy & Surprise Yourself #gofarther

Yesterday, I wrote about being “deliberately emergent.” In that post, I talked about the foundations and structure in my life that enable me to be “emergent” – to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

As I reflected on what I tend to do each day and week, and what advice I give to others that ask me how I “get stuff done,” I discovered ten strategies and principles that I try to follow daily and weekly. (I say “try” because while I generally do a good job of sticking with these, like everyone, I fail at maintaining the discipline to apply these every day to every situation.) I’m sure there are more than ten – and these may not even be my top ten – they’re simply the ones that revealed themselves as I reviewed myself and my actions.

In the coming days and weeks, I’ll follow with a deeper description of each, and specific ideas on how you might to implement them.

Here’s the list, with links to detailed posts for each:

  1. Schedule Everything
 
  2. Make Time

  3. Work in “Sprints”

  4. Put Your Self First
  5. Find Your Routine

  6. Find Experts

  7. Read

  8. Sleep
  9. Mind, Body, Spirit

  10. The Journey is the Joy


1 – Schedule Everything: If you don’t plan your day, the world will do it for you. You can’t always be in control, so the more you own your day when you can be in control, the happier you’ll be.

I have one calendar for my life, and for convenience, it is housed in my work calendar because that’s where I have most of my obligations each week – calls, meetings, work with clients, work sprints, etc. I’m looking at that calendar several times daily, so it makes sense to make this the coordination hub of my activities.

I schedule EVERYTHING, including days that I’m having breakfast with my son and taking him to school, when I’m picking him up, lunch, holding time before and after key meetings to make sure I have time to prep and time allocated in case the meeting runs long, workouts and when others can schedule time to talk or meet.

The byproduct? Once you schedule EVERYTHING, you see how little time is left to get done what you want outside of your required obligations. This forces you to prioritize where you focus and what you do.

2 – Make Time:  I am unapologetic about scheduling time to write and train. These are two things that bring me joy and help me maintain an even keel across my mind, body and spirit.

When’s the last time anyone asked you –  “So Scott, are you getting enough time to do all the things you enjoy – reading, writing, training for endurance races, spending time with your family? Have you skied lately? When’s the last time you went on a 10-mile trail run?”

You’ve got to make time for what you want to do. Then schedule it…

3 – Put Your Self First:  “Self” is the being in the mind that is happy or sad, stressed or relaxed, present or elsewhere, accepting or resisting, while controlling the physical body that others know as “you.” The most challenging aspect of “Self” is its responsibility for self-awareness – it exists in the mind as an entity while also responsible for acknowledging feelings and regulating behavior.

Don’t allow others to trespass upon and trample on your Self. Anxiety, distraction and committing to obligations for unappreciative others will bury you. Doing for others too often without doing for your Self will crush your mind, body and spirit.

You’re better than that. Care for your Self, because it is you deserve it, and no one else will do it for you.

4 – Work in Sprints: The completion of small tasks is required to accomplish bigger outcomes.

”Sprinting” is an idea taken from a style of work productivity called Scrum – popular in the software world – in which a team decides on the set of outcomes for a given 1-2 week work period. Within each week, individuals and smaller teams set aside “sprints” that break down these outcomes into smaller tasks.

When you Schedule Everything and Make Time, you can complete at least one 30-60 minute “sprint” every day or week without interruption on whatever outcome you want to achieve.

Say you want to do your first 50-mile ultra marathon this year… A good “sprint” would be spending an hour researching race calendars or training programs. Say you want to start blogging… Spend a “sprint” setting up an account on GoDaddy or BlueHost to buy a URL and set up WordPress.

Say you want to write a book… Block off an hour a day to write every day, even if it’s garbage that you throw away.

5 – Find Your Routine: Read this post from Maria Popova on BrainPickings: “Daily Routines of Great Writers.” Successful people have routines and stick to them no matter what.

The more disciplined and regimented you are throughout the day, the more room you have to be creative and productive. This is all about reducing the number of small decisions you need to make so that you brain has the time and space to create new ideas, and your body has the energy to take action.

6 – Find Experts: You can’t do it alone, and the glut of bad information requires you to find real experts in whatever endeavor you choose.  Most experts are experts because they’ve made tons of mistakes. Learn from them because it’ll save you decades of time and anguish.

7 – Read: Stretch your brain.

I’m reading Stephen Pressfield’s “Gates of Fire” right now. I’ve never been interested in his novels, but I read his book about writing – “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.” (see: Find Experts) and I thought I’d give one of his novels a try. I’m glad I did.

Other recent reads include:

 8 – Sleep: You need 7-8 hours a day, minimum. This is fact. You are not a superhero. You brain and body needs sleep.

Hint: Make time and schedule naps.

9 – Mind, Body, Spirit: To help myself detach, I look at these three components to see which is in tune and which is out of whack. I thought a lot about the “Mind, Body, Spirit” trifecta frequently during Uberman – a way to check in mentally (Mind), physically (Body) and psychologically (Spirit). Isolating each of these three helps me identify how, why and where I’m feeling “bad,” because “bad” is a general state just like “good.”

When I communicate with my wife and my Self about how, why and where I feel “bad,” there’s usually a root cause – one event, one interaction, one conversation, one pending outcome – that is causing the “badness.” From there, I can determine if there’s something I can do to repair the situation, or if I just need to accept and move on.

This is useful in your relationships. Everyone has a pebble in their shoe.

10 – The Journey is the Joy: Accept. Be Present. Walk The Path Of Happiness, not The Path To Happiness.

That’s my ten for now… More details on each in the coming days and weeks.

Which of these are most impactful for you?

 

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Being Deliberately Emergent #gofarther

I’m not a resolution kind of guy. If I really want to do something, I’ll do it whether it’s January 1st or July 29th. Setting expectations on January 1 hinders my ability to make decisions and seize new opportunities. I think it’s important to have goals and outcomes, and those should be set as they become important and available, never set just because it’s January 1 when the world tells you that it’s time to set your goals for the year.

Clayton Christensen describes “Deliberate vs Emergent” strategies in his book – “How Will You Measure Your Life?” Setting goals on January – identifying specific outcomes to achieve and how to achieve them – is a “deliberate strategy.” Taking advantage of opportunities as they arise is an “emergent strategy.”

I guess you could say that I’m “deliberately emergent.”Bright Hope of Life

Disappointment comes from having expectations. Instead of establishing specific outcomes, I’ve found it more useful to focus on creating a foundation on which seizing opportunities becomes possible. Uberman is the best example I can think of on this. In January last year, I was less than a month removed from finishing my first 50-mile ultra marathon. Competing in any type of long-distance endurance wasn’t a priority for me, and it wasn’t until March 31 that I even knew about Uberman. But because I set up the foundations of my life accordingly, I was able to take advantage of it as an emergent opportunity.

In my Morning Pages yesterday, I recounted the past six years of my life. What I learned from this exercise is that one constant in my life is change:

  • 2011: Ironman #2; Starting SalesQualia as a side project while at Altos Research.
  • 2012: Birth of our son; Leaving Altos Research to work at CoreLogic.
  • 2013: Ironman #3; Leaving CoreLogic in August to be a full-time consultant, leading me to accept a full-time position at Blend.
  • 2014: Focusing 100% on Blend to see if we could make it grow, then realizing that my self-established shelf life there would be no more than two years.
  • 2015: Deciding in January that I’d make SalesQualia my full-time work; Finishing my full-time work at Blend on September 30th (two years to the day I started…); Lena finishing her PhD.
  • 2016: Building SalesQualiia; Uberman.

Arguably, every year has been a “transition year.” The job changes and endurance races were done with thought and care, but with the exception of 2015, I never started the year with a set of specific outcomes in mind. The only year in which I had an extended “deliberate strategy” was 2015, when I decided early in the year that I wanted to step away from Blend and focus 100% on SalesQualia. This was a momentous life decision for my wife and I considering we had a young son and she was still in graduate school (read: health insurance + mortgage payments). This step required significant planning and methodical execution in the plan throughout the year.

But… even in that, I chose to be emergent on how I got there. For example, Hult International Business School offered me a teaching spot for the Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 modules that eased that transition, and even when I gave notice to Blend of my pending departure, they provided health insurance and a small base salary to stay on as an advisor through the end of the year. No way I could have predicted either of these support mechanism in January.

Whenever I’ve tried to plan several specific achievements at the start of a year, I’ve rarely reached them. For example, I posted a number of desired achievements in 2014 – learning martial arts, a new language and standup comedy, and moving back to San Francisco. None of this happened.

The empirics reading this are thinking – “This is a sample of N =1 with no control group.” Yep, I know it. This doesn’t work for everyone for every situation. I get that.

But for me, I think that being “deliberately emergent” has served me well. I feel happy and right now, today, I have the ability to do almost everything that I want to do:

  • Making time to stay fit and eat really, really well.
  • Sleeping at least 7-8 hours most nights, even getting 9-10 hours on the weekends.
  • Spending lots of time doing fun stuff with my son – going to the Farmer’s Market, playing soccer, hiking, ice skating, skiing and traveling.
  • Supporting my wife’s love of flight.
  • Traveling as a family to Tahoe, Portland (twice), Lake Tahoe, Death Valley and Boise.
  • Building my business’s success, as measured by client quality and outcomes and business income.
  • Donating a significant sum to charity in 2016. (We chose Mercy Corps for a number of reasons…)

This year, we have trips booked or planned to Las Vegas, San Diego, Orlando, New Jersey, Montana, Portland and Australia. Maybe all of those trips will happen, and maybe they won’t. I’m okay with either. Yes, I am very, very fortunate. This is also why we donated a significant amount of money to Mercy Corps – because we highly sensitive to this.

What if I was more deliberate in life? 

I don’t know. I guess that’s gamble…

I can’t really think of much else that I really want. I drive a 2002 Saturn that has a “check engine light” that comes on sporadically. We live in a two-bedroom, 1100-square-foot house that feels small sometimes and needs it’s share of work. But it’s home. I can afford decent coffee at the local coffee shop everyday. I just spent more than three hours writing this post, plus early drafts of several others coming in the next two weeks.  Later today, we might go flying or go to the movies.

Tomorrow, I’ll wake up and do my Morning Pages and meditation. I’ll officially start the new work year happy and motivated for what I’ll deliver to my current and future clients. I’ll go for a run and pick up my son from school. On Wednesday, we’ll go skiing, I’ll work some more on Thursday and Friday, and next Saturday I’ll take my son to the Farmer’s Market after I go on a 9-10 mile run. I know what I need to do with my business the next three months to continue building and growing – I have a plan for that built around the theme – “Build Stronger, Sell Better, Launch Higher.” It focuses my day-to-day work and daily outcomes.

And eventually this year, a new idea or opportunity or situation will emerge, and I’ll be ready to hop on and take it for a ride. I expect the something new will be positive, and if it’s not, then may I have Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Love, peace, happiness and acceptance in 2017.

Go Farther.

 

What I’m up to lately…. February 2015

Read Time: 4-5 minutes What I’What

If we haven’t chatted in a while, feel free to pick-up the phone and call me. If there’s anything I can do to help you with anything, please please please let me know…

Work Stuff:

  • Blend is the focus of my work life. Lots of travel to and from Dallas, with occasional travel to NYC and Washington DC. It’s been more than a year since I joined the team full-time, and we’ve grown the team about 3x since last January – 30+ people now.
  • The work is challenging, mostly because of the complexity of the projects and our target clients. We sell software to banks and lenders in the residential mortgage market, which in today’s world of regulation and compliance, plus the path dependency of existing systems and models, makes the decision and implementation process highly complex. In one implementation, I’ve counted more than 75 people on the customer side that have been involved with the process. That’s just one project at one customer.
  • It’s not particularly difficult work, just challenging from the standpoint of balancing the self-interest of everyone involved with each specific sale, plus the extenuating affects on other systems and people not directly involved.

Daily Practice:

  • Morning Pages: I wake up every morning and journal three pages – a practice I learned from Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way.” I’ve been doing this for more than a year now. Very effective to figure out what’s going on in my head before the day gets going, and writing out three full pages is enough to talk myself through whatever is bugging me.
  • Meditation: This started with 15 minutes of simply sitting still and focusing on my breathing. After about a month, I’m now able to go 30 minutes and about 25% of days, I do a guided mediation. Tara Brach has been my go-to on this so far. I download the podcasts so I can have little session even on a train or plane.
  • Evening Journal: The evening journal is a quick sketch of the day – what I accomplished. This is a very short exercise – 5-10 minutes. It’s been super useful to bookend the day, and offers some closure so that I’m not waking up and writing my morning pages about stuff that happened yesterday. I learned this from a Tim Ferriss podcast with Josh Waitzkin.

Helping Others:

  • I’ve made it a sort of personal challenge to seek and find people to help in achieving their professional goals.
  • Just before Christmas, I downloaded my LinkedIn contacts and I’ve started pinging 2-3 people every couple of days that I haven’t spoken with in a while. I send them a personal message to the effect: “It’s a been a while. Looks like you’re doing great. Need help with anything?” Pretty interesting to see the types of responses. A few (just a few…) haven’t responded. A couple people respond back with – “Great to hear from you. Hope all is well.” And then a good chunk of people send back specific requests, most of which are things for which I can actually help – connecting them with people I know, sending them articles and ideas, etc. Check out this James Altucher blog post on how to be a “super connector.”
  • Coaching, Workshops, etc. – I’ve gotten involved with lots of different groups over the past six months, mostly around entrepreneurship and startups. Meeting really great people from all over the world, literally. A few groups with which I’ve worked recently – The Nordic Innovation Group, BelCham, Startup Weekend, Social Venture Partners, SAGEGlobal, Women’s Startup Lab, Hult International Business School, and UC-Berkeley Extension.

Life Tips:

  • Free days – I almost always take a “free day” on the weekends – one day when I don’t check email, or even think about work, an idea I learned from Strategic Coach, a coaching program I tried out about a year ago. It takes some real discipline to avoid checking my phone during idle moments – whether short moments in line at the store or longer stretches like my son’s nap time over the weekend.
  • Naps – Yes to these. I try to nap every Sat and Sun when my son goes down.
  • Decluttering – Been tackling areas of the house to get rid of stuff I don’t need or use. Worked through laundry room, living room, and kitchen so far. Started on my closet. Found receipts and documents going all the way back to the mid-1990s. WTF… Liberating to throw stuff away, and give away that which might be useful to others – clothes, office supplies, etc.

Training & Racing:

  • Coming off knee surgery back in September. Took me much longer to recover than I expected (which is why professional athletes retire at 40…) I’m finally back to 5-6 mile runs and nearly 20 miles a week.
  • Planning on a half-marathon this Spring, a short triathlon or two this summer, then a marathon and ultra-marathon in the Fall.
  • Ironman? I get asked if I’m doing another. I usually tell people that I have another 1-2 in me, just not this year. But soonish…
  • Learned lots of cross-fit exercises over the past year – has really helped me with balance and running with more of my body, not just legs. Here’s an example workout from New Year’s Day.

What I’m feeding my brain:

  • Podcasts: Tim Ferris, Tara Brach
  • Blogs: James Altucher, Jason Lemkin
  • Books (recent & current):
    • “The Art of Asking,” Amanda Palmer – Indie punk musician that figured out how to ask people for help. Great lessons in here that you don’t have to do everything on your own. Here TED talk is a good summary, and thought I do recommend the book for the full story and context.
    • “Annals of a Former World,” John McPhee – A book about the geologic history of the US. It’s a tome that I don’t plan to finish. It’s really five books consolidated into one, and the book that’s most interesting is “Book 4 – Assembling California.” Big focus on Northern California and researchers based at UC-Davis. It’s good bed-time reading. Three pages and I’m ready to snooze. I’m amazed at the amount of research and learning that went into this book.
    • “Influence,” Robert Cialdini – Re-reading. Good airplane/business read on exactly what you’d think from the title. Research based – not a “manipulate people” book.
    • “Principles,” Ray Dalio – Dalio is the founder of Bridgewater, a huge hedge fund. Super interesting read on how he approaches learning and communication.

And a huge thank you to Matt Slater, a friend and former student for the inspiration for this post.

Don’t troll me man

That’s the response I got when I told one of my new housemates that he can my leftover pizza. He stood there with his T-shirt pouching 10-15 random Clif, Odwalla, and Nutri-grain bars that he swiped from a buddy’s office.”We’re fucking poor man.  We need to get some funding.”

He’s one of three guys running a start up from the downstairs, who are a few of the 12 of us living here that includes another start-up crew that I haven’t met. They have technology, customers that aren’t paying them, and kind of a product that they aren’t quite able to articulate in a reasonable way. I suspect my rent is a little higher because I get the back upstairs bedroom complete with a private bath.

They’d rather run on high-fructose corn syrup and Diet Cokes than have someone providing the creature comforts of a meat-lover’s delight from Round Table handed to them by some random guy. Silicon Valley is alive is well. 

 

Davis 4th of July Criterium

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These guys sustain a higher heart rate over 40 minutes than I ever get to in my races.

I guess ‘12345’ would be too obvious


From Evernote:

Screen clip – Gogo Inflight Internet – activate service – Windows Internet Explorer

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My Birthday Run

Birthday_run