Monday, October 31, 2016

Just Start Typing

Just start typing. Even on those days when you don't feel like doing it. When your mind is blank and you can't think of anything to write at all. When you don't feel very creative. It really just starts with one word. Then one sentence. It doesn't matter if it is grammatically correct or not. Don't think of creating a masterpiece, just go. Do it. Type what you are thinking. Don't filter anything because its that mental filter that is preventing any work from being done. Get all of that shitty work out. You need the bad to get to the good stuff. You can't get to the good stuff immediately. So focus on the creation part and the rest will take care of itself. It will evolve magically. Trust in that process. So just go. Write word after word and slowly those start to build into sentences. Finally you have something. Not necessarily good or bad but very real because you made it yourself. Then make sure to share it. Don't worry about the criticism. Or if anyone will care or see it at all. That's not the point. The act in itself is plenty worthwhile. Just hit Publish and then come back tomorrow and do it again.

Friday, October 28, 2016


I just finished the book Siddhartha yesterday. It offers the idea that some advice, even really good advice, shouldn't necessarily be followed. Everyone needs to think, feel, choose for themselves. In the book, Siddhartha decides not to follow the wisdom of the Buddha because he feels like he must go out and experience the world for himself. After feeling greed and lust he realizes he is not truly happy and decides to revert back to a simple life living next to a river. He is reunited with his son who grew up in a rich lifestyle and his son is unwilling to heed his fathers wisdom. No matter how much Siddhartha shares his experience with his son and wants his son to follow his ways, his son can never really accept his father's advice.

The reason for this is that your thoughts and feelings are derived from your experience - not from words and wisdom of others. We all have to walk the path and sometimes to get from A to B we must go to C first - it is NOT the same path if someone tells us there is a shortcut.

Keep this in mind when thinking about others and the paths that they are on. Don't think you are better than them. Maybe they are on their way. Maybe they must first experience the greed before they can be generous. Maybe the gain of 100 pounds and feeling the toll on their bodies and lives at that level becomes the switch they need for change. I know some of my best moments came from the lowest points in my life.

It seems funny that there always seems to be this cycle of failure and success. "History always repeats itself". Is it possible that we can learn from the wisdom of previous generations and not go through the same lessons? Maybe not.  Maybe we grow not despite of failure but because of it.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Mind and Body

Can you change your body without changing your mindset? Think hard about that one. If you go to the gym and workout your body, can you do so without working out your brain as well? It kind of depends how you believe the mind and body are related. This belief may also be culturally related as well where in western cultures we kind of think of these as separate things, but in eastern cultures they are one and the same.

I believe in the latter. You cannot possibly change your body w/o changing your mindset as well. They are one in the same. When you change your body, you also change how you feel about yourself, your confidence, mental strength, ability to handle pain, mood. When you lift that bar in the gym, you are also lifting some "muscle" in your brain. Even if you don't believe that you probably believe the studies showing that when you exercise, you actually increase your bodies ability to deliver oxygen to the brain. This has to affect how your brain functions right?

So if you wanted to change your "general self" for the better (become happier, more confident, more successful), then you might want to start with your body first. Although hmm... does the chicken or the egg come first?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

How To Quit Your Job

I had the pleasure of going through this process so I just want to keep a record of what went good, what went bad, what I would have done differently. 

You don't necessarily need a solid plan of what you will be doing instead, although it certainly does help. For me, I had some ideas on what I wanted to do. But a lot of it was I wanted to spend some time learning and exploring. The main decision that I had to make was whether or not I wanted to stay at my current job. For me I had been there for 7 years (which is an eternity for people in tech) and my rate of growth slowing to a crawl. I still loved working with specific people, but a majority of those that I worked and bled with had left. And management was starting to add layers and bureaucracy. So I made a decision that I wanted to leave.

Even though I made that decision, there was still some things to sift through. The number one thing was to get finances in order. If you don't have your finances in order then you should not quit your job. This is so important because having the ability to not worry about finances gives you important leverage. You can turn down job offers (which I have so far). You can take your time to thoroughly execute your plan instead of rushing. You get to choose. If you have time against you then you can be forced into a bad decision which is not idea or even counter productive. How much do you need? Well a lot of internet advice says 3 to 6 months. But I'd put that as a minimum. First you really need to know how much you spend. Track your spending with an app. I did this for 2 years and will continue to. Not to quit the job but more to make sure stop any bleeding that (compounded) would hurt my financial future.  A rule of thumb is that the more unclear your plan is the more you should save to account for the flexibility you need.

Ok so finances are good. Check. One thing that gave me so much confidence of doing so was faith in my work ethic. I actually took a couple weeks off straight from work and did not go on a vacation. I wanted to simulate what life would look like when I was off from the tight work schedule. Would I be disciplined and excited? Or would I be lazy and wake up every day at noon. I was really paying attention to my discipline. I woke up every day early, went to the gym, read, devoured books and info as it was my job; all habits that I slowly put in place months before. I'd say that if you don't have strong habits in place then you want to start building these before you quit.

These habits are important because before you can quit you need to commit to a system of getting better as I've wrote about here. Regardless of what the next endeavor is (finding a better job, starting a startup) you need to know what you will absolutely fail at them and the solution is to push through the dip and not give up. Commit to learning and improving regardless of the obstacles.

Lastly theres the specific work aspects that you need to clean up before you leave. Absolutely give as much notice as possible. This also gives you plenty of time to spend with them - its much harder to get together after you leave. It also gives them a chance to appreciate you. Work hard in those last weeks and make sure to document everything and hand-off. When you do give notice put it early in the month so that you are covered for an extra month of healthcare. Think about who you'd like to use as possible references if needed. Ask them if they could. Its easier to do it while you are still working. 

When giving your exit interview, remember that it is not the place to air your complaints. Talk about the positive impacts of your coworkers. If you do have anything bad to say you should blame yourself for not taking initiative to influence or make things better yourself. Complaining to HR is never the right way; even if you thought they had the power (or will) to change anything (which they don't)

After you leave make sure to leave positive LinkedIn reviews for your coworkers. Don't expect them to return the favor - some will some won't. Do it regardless. 

One thing I didn't do was exercise stock options ahead of time to avoid AMT. If you think you will eventually buy the stock its worthwhile to exercise early to buy it at a lower fair market value and also to avoid any extra AMT. 

So there you have it, just some considerations before quitting. Absolutely go for it just make sure you put a little bit of thought into it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

I'm Too Busy

In today's world we are all so busy. We are always working. After work, we have extra-curricular activities. Try planning a dinner with a group of people and some portion always commits but ends up flaking because some important things came up or they had to work late again. We are so busy that we don't leave time to do things we love. We are money rich, yet so time poor.

There are certainly cases where we are busy working hard on things we love; things that make us happy. However, it is important to look up and take a look around and reexamine if this is true as busyness is often just a guise for procrastination and avoidance of the hard things. Being busy can be a sign of laziness; not putting in the hard though or trying to avoid a tough decision.

I think busyness could be a cultural thing. Society pushes us to load our lives up with as much as we can handle. We might even brag about how busy we are. I've seen city dwellers laugh at those from Hawaii (island life) and their slow pace of life. As a type-A go-getter I myself have said that I could never lead such a life. However as I grow wiser I have come to see the beauty of not having to be busy all the time.

I think its important to put some slack back into the system. Having this time to think is not inefficiency but rather makes you extremely flexible, well minded, and productive. Adding more work is like adding more fuel, but if you aren't heading in the right direction then it only makes matters worse.

Take time to prioritize, to make sure you are doing the the right things. Be less busy and more efficient.

Monday, October 10, 2016

On Health and Fitness

Exercise and eating right isn't just something that I do. Its everything. Its core to who I am. In Maslow's hierarchy of needs we have physiological needs at the very bottom. 
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wikipedia: Physiological needs are the physical requirements for human survival. If these requirements are not met, the human body cannot function properly and will ultimately fail. Physiological needs are thought to be the most important; they should be met first.

Although its not explicitly mentioned. I'll add health and fitness to those physiological needs. Being in great health is a gateway to everything else. I am a better friend because I exercise. I am a better employee because I eat right. 

I've noticed that after I've been in such great health that after a short period of not eating right or not doing physical activity my body starts craving it. Although I won't die like if I were to not have air or water, I do consider it essential to life as a part of me is missing; and maybe in a Tony Robbins sense that when we aren't growing we are dying.

I feel strong. I feel like a bad-ass and it gives me a sense of happiness. I feel more confident and feel smarter. Maybe I am smarter as supposedly exercise helps increase the airflow to my brain. I'm less stressed and more prepared to handle the toughness of life.

So make time to treat your body right. Make time to eat healthy means and get some physical activity. Its not just some thing that you should do once in a while when you think you packed on a few pounds. Rather your health and fitness is a basic physiological need and I'd start thinking of it as something core to you rather than a fringe thing

Friday, October 7, 2016

Push past the dip

"I worked really hard at something and it paid off and the only person to blame is me" - Sean Plott (Day9)

What was the last time that you truly worked really really hard at something. To be happy in life we all need to be growing and pushing ourselves. Seth Godin calls it "the dip", meaning that we all need something hard, something challenging that we need to push ourselves through and come out better on the other side. If you are finding yourself unfulfilled in life, maybe its because you are missing this dip or challenge in your life.

For myself I want to recapture the feeling of working really really hard at something and being proud of my accomplishment. I want to be able to marvel at how I persisted to get from point A to B even when the path was not necessary laid out and there were doubts that I would even get there but I persisted anyway. I look back to the times in my life that I pushed through the dip and realize that those were the most memorable moments. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Systems, Not Goals

In Scott Adam's book How to Fail at Almost Anything and still Win Big he talks about systems vs goals. System oriented thinking is way better than goal oriented. Why? Because each time you apply a system you win. A goal oriented person lives in temporary failure because by definition once you set a goal you are in a current state of not accomplishing that goal.

Some examples of goals vs systems:
Loosing 20 lbs is a goal, eating right is a system
Running a marathon is a goal, exercising daily is a system
Making a million dollars is a goal, being a serial entrepreneur(trying things, learning from it, moving on when needed) is a system

I was thinking about this and came to the conclusion that as long as you do not quit, if you follow a system you will be successful. There's an important nuance that sometimes it is not you that quits but that you are forced to quit because of your circumstance. So its important to keep in mind to not to fail in a way that forces you to quit (lose all your money on one startup idea) but to make tiny mistakes and adjust accordingly so that you fail and learn but are still in the game. This ties in nicely with the quote "The person who fails the most is the most successful".

I've created the above diagram to illustrate a general solid system. 

I'm following it now as I've recently quit my job to look for new, exciting opportunities and am aggressively learning and exploring. I have faith in myself doing so and know that I will be successful since I refuse to take the red path to real failure.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Ship it

I've been reading a lot of Seth Godin's work lately. I love his thoughts on writers block.

You don't have writers block, you are just afraid of shipping. It's easier to not ship and talk about it then to ship and have it not be "perfect". There are many reasons for this fear, one is that you are thinking too much of the applause, what critics will think of your art. Not shipping is a way to silence the critics since they don't have anything to talk about. It takes courage to be able to put something out there, even the bad stuff. If you say that you have writers block, lets see your bad art, your bad ideas. You probably don't have it since the fear of it being criticized is what is preventing all work. 

I'm on a personal mission to work on my fear. I need to stop with the excuses. I'm always busy but I know that I am doing it to avoid some difficult work. I'm going to start creating, start shipping.