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.
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).
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 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.
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'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.
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.
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.
As they say, the best time to start is now. I've had this blog for almost 3 months now, and I have yet to write a single post. I won't bother going through every excuse I've made, but here I am. The timing to start a new project like this isn't perfect, but it never will be. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to write about, but that's fine, too.
As a basic introduction, I'll say that I hope this blog becomes a useful way for me to organize my thoughts, learn from readers through their comments and messages, and hopefully help my readers gain something valuable as well. My first several posts will likely be based on a cool website I found, or a new book I read, or any other review-based stuff. This is mostly because it'll be hard for me to run out of things I think are fun/neat/interesting/helpful/cool to share, which means I won't have any excuses for not writing.
Having a blog has always interested me, so I'm excited to officially get started and see how things turn out. I don't feel like I have any groundbreaking ideas that everybody should hear, but I do feel like I've found a lot of interesting things worth sharing. I'm not looking to become a full-time blogger, I'm not interested in growing my reader base simply to brag about it, and I'm not committing to any overall theme that will cover all of my posts. I'm simply logging parts of my life on the web as a means to becoming more involved with the online community.
Thanks for reading, and wish me luck!
“I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.” - Stephen Jay Gould
I love this quote. More than anything else I've heard, this sums up why I believe everyone should do what they can to help others. If we can come together and solve basic problems for everyone in the world, all of humanity will benefit from the increases in the collective knowledge. Just imagine if Einstein or Newton had been born in a situation where every single day the only task was to find food and clean water. As Gould says, this is very likely the case with other individuals of equal talent right now.
There are plenty of problems to fix, and plenty of reasons that each of them remains a problem. I guess this is just a good reminder of how philanthropy and other investments can ultimately pay back a thousand times.