It's hard to quantify the value of the internet. For those of us lucky enough to have access, it can mean unlimited opportunity to learn the skills we need to learn. Every day new innovations are born that have the opportunity to change the future.
Two sites that I recommend are Quora.com and TED.com, both for the same reason. They are great thought-provokers. I'm still a fan of reading books, but these are both essentially condensed versions of books. The wisdom that used to be written down in book form can now be expressed to similar levels of audience without near as much effort.
Green smoothies are nothing new, but with summer coming I thought it'd be a good idea to share some basics. I enjoy Smoothie King and its clones as much as the next guy, but nothing can compare to the health, cost, and taste of a smoothie made from scratch. Adding in some veggies, particularly greens, adds to the health without detracting from the taste, making smoothies a quick and easy way to get several of your daily servings of both fruits and veggies.
I'm not much of a blog reader, but there are 3 blogs that I follow heavily: Tynan, Seth Godin, and Steve Pavlina. If you're looking for some good reading, you found my blog - good work. If you're looking for more than just me, check these guys out.
For those of you who don't know, Tynan is co-founder of SETT, the blogging platform I'm using now. He's also the reason I'm interested in blogging, and one of my main sources of motivation when I'm feeling unproductive. I have a few projects right now that deserve more attention than I usually give them, and reading Tynan's posts usually have the effect of making me more productive. If I had to categorize his posts, I'd say he writes about how to live life in an optimal way. I believe there is a very narrow group of people that share his philosophies, and that's who he writes for. I happen to be one of those people, so if you find yourself enjoying my blog, I'd suggest you check his out (it's way better).
Ever since being introduced to polyphasic sleep in The Game and on Steve Pavlina's blog, I've been interested in trying it out for myself. Like most people, though, my school and work schedules made it basically impractical. That's changed recently as I became somewhat self-employed and in control of my own schedule, so I thought I'd give it a shot. It's been a week so far, and I thought I'd share some of my thoughts for those of you curious to try it yourself.
I decided to start with the 'Everyman' schedule, which is a 4.5 core sleep and 3 20-minute naps. This is supposed to be easier and more flexible than the stricter schedules. If I miss a nap, or need to postpone it a bit, no big deal. Eventually I hope to shift to a 3 hour core nap and shave another 1.5 off of my daily sleep, but that can wait.
After a week, I'm right on point with the 5.5 hours of sleep per 24 hour period, but it definitely hasn't come in the desired schedule. Some nights I'd sleep 5 hours and then take two naps later that day, and one day I only slept 1.5 hours at night and needed another 1.5 hour nap later. I've overslept a couple of times, but not by much. Oversleeping for a nap means an extra 10 or 15 minutes, not the hour or two that I worry will happen. Overall, I can't complain because technically I've already gotten the results I'm looking for, but I'm definitely hoping to be a bit more strict with myself this week now that I know what to expect.
Over this has been easier than expected. The very first day was tough, but ever since I've been fine. Mental clarity hasn't suffered much, and the 20 minute naps are surprisingly refreshing. I'm expecting things to be even better this week after I've adjusted even further. The only major downside I've noticed is my eyes don't seem to be adjusting as quickly as the rest of my body. I've been using eye drops and don't wear my contacts as much as usual, which has been helpful. It's not much of a long term solution, though, so I'm hoping to see some improvements in the next few days.
My favorite part of the experience so far has been the unexpected side effects. Primarily, not only do I remember my dreams easier, but the dreams themselves seem to be much more rooted in reality. At some points it's almost as if I'm not even asleep, but continuing something from earlier in the day. Then, when I wake up, I barely even realized I had been asleep because the dream was so real.
For long projects, momentum can be the difference to success and failure. Once you become burned out, or too frustrated to continue, the chance of reaching your goal begins to rely on pure chance. A great way to get past this, then, is to gain momentum early on to carry you through those roadblocks.
To do this, break your goal into small steps, and make the steps extremely easy to complete. Each day one of the first things I do is make a To Do List for that day. Some of these tasks will take only a minute or two each, and I make sure to knock them out immediately. Take out the trash? No problem. Flip the mattress? Done.
These tasks won't ever be enough to turn my day into a productive one, but they get me going. Once I have 2 or 3 items moved to the 'Completed' side of my list, I start getting excited to move the next one, and then the next one, until the list is empty.
I've also found that there are a couple of side benefits to this method. First, it's great for building habits. Every day I have 'Take supplements' and 'Work Out' (which is more detailed, but you get the idea) on my list. Because they are in front of me throughout the day, there is little chance I can forget them. Smaller habits, such as flossing or taking vitamins/supplements, can easily be your early win each day.
The other benefit is that things I consider low priority are actually getting done. Rather than wait until tomorrow to do laundry, I now have an incentive to do it today because it's so easy. I spend less time playing games on my phone or checking TheChive, and more time overall being productive. So far, these low priority tasks are simply being replaced with more low priority tasks. I'd normally have to set aside half a day or more to clean out a closet, but now I'm doing one or two items per day, and the project is complete within a few days or weeks.
I'm in the middle of trying to start a business. One of the main focuses at this point is creating several agreements between partners. In these negotiations, the other side almost always wants more than they deserve. Part of this is probably my fault for not setting realistic expectations, but it's also partially due to human nature.
That being said, the lesson I've learned is to not be greedy. By offering these partners more money and/or equity, I could choose to react by recognizing that I will not make as much money. Every dollar I give them is a dollar I do not receive myself.
The better way to view this, though, is that every dollar that I give them is spent on something that benefits me. We're creating this company as a team, and the whole reason I offer them anything is because they are providing a benefit. In a few cases, I can honestly say that without a specific partner I would not have a business. Every dollar I give these partners is not a dollar lost, but actually several dollars gained.
Overall, this is the attitude I try to take when spending any money at all. Spending money on a gym membership is not a waste, but rather an investment and a savings on future doctor bills. Spending money on good food is not expensive, it's a low cost health plan. Spending money on education, of any kind, ultimately can pay dividends way beyond the original investment.
In many cases, I'm a big fan of stealing other people's ideas. You shouldn't take credit for ideas that aren't yours, of course, and I also wouldn't recommend stealing ideas if the sole purpose of stealing them is to stay competitive with the person/company you're stealing from.
In most other situations, though, I encourage stealing ideas. First, actively looking for ideas to steal means always keeping an eye out for improvements. Need some help on getting organized? Call the busiest people you know and figure out what their secret is. Want to open a new business but not sure how to make it unique? Travel to a few cities and look to see what other people are doing. I know several restaurants that are great, but the owners clearly have no intention of expanding. Talking to the owners about how and why they are successful can go a long way in helping somebody else start a (noncompetitive) business of their own.
Of course what I'm really talking about is sharing ideas. However, many people have great ideas, but for whatever reason the people don't take any action to spread their ideas. I'd love to see a website similar to TED, but 1,000 times bigger and with way simpler concepts. Essentially, it would aggregate all of the useful, daily tips and suggestions that people can use to improve their lives. The internet already has this information available, but finding it won't happen unless we all know how to search for it.
This reminds me of a story I once read (help me out if you know the source) about Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Supposedly, he would often gather a team of some of the best doctors and scientists he could find, representing several different specialties. Then they would all sit in a conference room together and just talk. Each individual would get a chance to talk about the top need in his field, the one thing that would mean saving the most money or saving the most lives or whatever the case was. In many cases, somebody else in the room would already have a very similar solution developed in their own field. In other words, the answers to our biggest problems exist already, but we're all looking in too narrowly.
I first found out about Lending Club last summer (in 2012) after Tynan posted an article on his blog about it. There seems to be a healthy skepticism about using it, so I thought I'd offer my two cents after 9 months of activity.
If you haven't checked it out, I encourage you to visit the website a bit. The company is a middleman for lenders and borrowers. A typical customer may want to consolidate their debt, or pay some unexpected bills, and ask for a loan from Lending Club. The company itself will do some due diligence to make sure what the borrower is claiming as income, employment history, etc. is true. The loan itself is then listed on the website, and lenders (us) combine their money to fulfill the loan. This is a very simplistic explanation, but it's enough to get you started.
Alas, while I would like to say that there is a single one-stop shop about bitcoins, there is not. As a general rule, avoid most news articles, as many are inaccurate, oversimplified, and repetitive.
As a background, read what a crytographic hash function is and how RSA cryptography works. You don't need to know every step of the algorithms, just what their inputs and outputs are, as the algorithms are purposely designed to be so complicated that nobody knows everything they do (that's the reason for a hash function).
Teach yourself the basics of bitcoin mining, transaction fees, and the blockchain.
For development, I would focus on locating things produced by specific sources who are involved in the development of bitcoins. Read anything written by Gavin Andressen, as he is the primary developer of bitcoins at the moment and everything I've read from him seems to be accurate. Review his plans for development in bitcoin version 0.9, and find his roadmap for future features.
Research the current technical issues facing bitcoins. The only issue I see that can prevent bitcoins from becoming the world currency is the 1MB transaction limit. Get an understanding of how it takes 95% to upgrade the network to get rid of the 1MB transaction limit, and how bitcoins may have already passed the point where everyone can agree on a solution to this issue. Also, read about mining pool centralization.
I am a big fan of Netflix, and enjoy their streaming service. I don't watch much tv, and paying a cable bill is not something I'm happy to do. I can only imagine that Netflix is going to play a prominent role in creating the future of televised entertainment, so with that in mind I wanted to share two quick things I'd like to see.
First would be a paid section of the site that allows users access to the same content available on iTunes, Amazon, etc. Even Youtube has a section where you can watch movies, including some to rent. If I want to watch tv, I want all of my options in one place, and Netflix seems to be in a position to do this. I'm not sure how this would change the negotiations with the production companies, but I imagine there is a way to make it work.
The other feature I think could be fun is to have some cloud storage available for every user to upload their own videos. As long as I'm watching all of my videos in one place, why not include my home videos? This will mostly be great at the individual level, but it also could create a huge opportunity for aspiring film makers. Youtube is great for short clips, but this would be another avenue to market amateur videos.
I'm curious to hear what plans Netflix has for the future. I haven't specifically looked around to see if there are rumors or anything, but I imagine that the company does not plan on sitting around with the same business model for the next 10 years. If anybody has thoughts on other ideas Netflix could explore, feel free to share in the comments.