Marcus’ Interesting Things #5

  1. Cooking in Quarantine – This is hands down my favorite content since AQ (after quarantine). What an AWESOME newsletter. Some really great interviews with mostly chefs such as Bobby Flay or Anthony Mangieri, but also other interesting people, Seth Godin appeared on one recently. And considering that all of us are home chef’ing these days, I’m sure you’ll find some good tips for yourself too.
  2. Clifford Brown – I’ve been enjoying this album by Clifford Brown. I’m not sure how I stumbled onto his music, but he’s got some real fun, upbeat, bebop trumpet music.
  3. Miles Davis: Birth of Cool – I haven’t gotten through all of this yet (as mentioned previously, I really just feel like watching comedies these days). However I am really digging this. If you’re into this, check out this list that I plan to work through.
  4. John Prine – I never heard of him till last week, sadly he passed from Covid-19 complications. I started digging into his music, and reading a bit of his story is a nice way to enjoy his music.
  5. Ozark Season 3 – I am all in on this show. It might crack my top 10 of all time (I haven’t sat and written that list down yet). I can’t believe what started in season 1 for me as “let’s check out what Jason Bateman is like playing a serious/dark role” into one of the most anticipated series on right now. I continue to tell this to people, but it has many hints of Breaking Bad, which is regular people who get thrusted into a life of dark crime and really start to “break bad”.
  6. Curb Your Enthusiasm – I don’t have anyone around me watching this, but I saw Larry David’s video on staying at home and laughed my ass off that I thought I should give him a shot. The pilot did not disappoint and I look forward to another 10 seasons of episodes.
  7. I’ve seen several people posting about how much money they have been saving the last month. I’ve gone the complete opposite way, spending way more money. Since my family and I moved to the Sunshine Coast, we’ve had to restock on all sorts of crafts and activities and toys, even clothes, and we even bought a trampoline for my daughter as the top physical activity.
  8. This week I had some fun participating in trying to spread this project across the world. In 24 hours, my colleagues and I did a hackathon style set up using Keboola, Zendesk, AWS Services, and CleverMaps to build a solution.
  9. 30-50 Feral Hogs – One of my favorite podcast episodes ever. I was just reminded about it a couple hours ago cause I stumbled on this article (read it after listening to the podcast).
  10. Lone Wolf Provisions – Seriously some of the best coffee and sourdough I’ve ever had comes from Sunshine Coast. If you’re ever up here, try and stop here every chance you get.

Marcus’ Interesting Things #4

Beginning of quarantine edition!
So after less than a week of quarantine in my apartment with my family, we decided pretty quick that it made sense to go from our home in Vancouver to the Sunshine Coast where my parents live, so that they can help out with childcare while my wife and I still have to work from home.  So we need to first quarantine by getting out of the city before moving in with my parents (my dad is 70), so we ended up getting an amazing AirBnB on the beach front.  Definitely been enjoying it.

So asides from scrolling twitter all day and overwhelming myself with anxiety with COVID-19 articles …

  1. Marc Maron: End Times Fun – This is my first time really getting into Marc Maron, and I’m an instant convert.  Great comedy for any millennial or older, to relate to some of his jokes (for instance, cassette tape jokes).  I’ve been having to distract myself and decompress at the end of the day with stand-up comedy, and I loved this one.
  2. Where I Am – Doug Boneparth writes an honest blog after the 1st week or so of COVID-19 being a serious issue in North America.  It really resonates with me all the feelings that I feel as far as trying to be a father, trying to protect, feeling scared and anxious, and all the emotions being felt right now. 
  3. My First Million – with Tyler Herro of the Miami Heat.  Gosh I wish they had like 20 of these for NBA players for me to binge.  Tyler goes through the 1st million dollars he spent after getting into the NBA. Went down a rabbit hole of watching his high school highlights too.
  4. Just a super sobering thought … think about your favourite restaurants in your own city … now consider that you may have already eaten there for the last time ever, as COVID-19 is decimating independent restaurants :'(.
  5. The Freakishly Strong Base by Morgan Housel, is a short essay on how a strong base and the power of compounding leads to unthinkable growth as you give it time.  
  6. Money is the Megaphone of Identity – If you follow along, you know I read and refer to a lot of personal finance content.  On one hand, I do have a natural bend towards it, on the other hand it’s cause I get high anxiety about money.  It’s some deep rooted emotions that I have, and this article helped me sort out what money means to me and what part of my identity it affects.  I imagine this would be reflective for anyone.
  7. Learn Python 3 The Hard Way — Part of the reason that I didn’t post a newsletter for awhile, is because I spent all my extra time for about a month learning Python.  It halted pretty hard once COVID-19 started though.  However I can’t recommend this book/course enough.  The way that he teaches is right up my alley, and cuts through a lot of BS.  He starts by saying that it’s important to do the hard work, write things down, google things yourself, and basically says if you don’t get it, to keep going at it until you get it.  That is part of writing code, getting frustrated and having to debug it yourself.  I look forward to continuing to learn, as unfortunately it’s been several weeks and I’ve probably forgotten some of it. 
  8. Bill Simmons has been posting some old school basketball games available on YouTube that are iconic games.  I started watching the ’97 Bulls vs Bullets game, and it’s amazing watching Strickland attack MJ so hard, it’s super impressive.  Also check out a dominant young Webber. 
  9. Zoom Happy Hours — Once we started working from home, I barely interact with some of my colleagues that I sat next to everyday.  We started a happy hour every Friday where we get together and drink at the end of the work week.  It’s been seriously nice to catch up, and I realize how much I miss office life.  If you haven’t already, get a group together on a Google Hangouts or Zoom or whatever, have some drinks, snacks or what not, and continue staying in contact with your circles. 

Marcus’ Interesting Things #3

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last. I had a business trip visiting customers in Chicago and Jacksonville, FL, that kept me busy from morning till night and I didn’t consume much interesting content other than some airplane movies.


Thoughts on Chicago
This was my 4th or 5th time in Chicago, but my first time having a friend who’s a local share more about the city. I met several people this trip that just absolutely swear by the city and love it, which really opened my mind to the possibility that it’s a great city. Some things that make it great …
Great restaurants – I didn’t realize how few good restaurants Vancouver had, until I compared how many good restaurants that Chicago had.
Good burgers – similar to above, but the number of good burgers that can be found in Chicago is just insane. My friend told me that he can think of 20 places that have seriously good burgers. In Vancouver, I can think of Pourhouse, and Uli’s in White Rock. That’s probably it.
Summer – I’m told the summer is just amazing in Chicago. I’ve been there a couple of times during the summer but didn’t notice so much.
Big city, without the cost – It’s one of America’s major metropolitans, but it is still affordable, with great wages, and didn’t seem like people were killing themselves working. Seems like quite a decent place to settle down if you were young, where there is lots of opportunities.

So with that preamble … let me share some interesting things …

  1. The most important truth about hard work, and also reading, that you can find by Tyler Cowen. Which is really just a long quote. But I feel like it is one of the most important lessons in life, which is using compound interest. Compound interest is insanely powerful not only in finances, but lends itself to knowledge, friendships and relationships, career, skill building, it’s a model that can be applied in many aspects of life.
  2. Stop Doing Low-Value Work — a quick reminder, that doing high value work is not only more rewarding, but is necessary for career growth and future career stability and opportunities. Always focus on doing the hard things, and learning new skills, that have high leverage and give you high accountability.
  3. Finding Time to Invest in Yourself — pairs well with the above article. If you’ve never heard of Naval Ravikant, he has some awesome ideas, and some of the best podcast episodes out there. I loved his Tim Ferriss one, while others like the ones he’s on with Joe Rogen, or The Knowledge Project. He also has a super popular podcast series that’s all compiled here on How To Get Rich. For a quicker read, his most popular tweet storm on How to Get Rich.
  4. An Elite Athlete’s Real Life Training Plan — The contents of this article are not what you would expect from the title. Learn how on mother of two daughters, husband, and an author fit’s training for an ultramarathon.
  5. Table Stakes — by, which is a cool fund ran by Brent Beshore, that from what I can tell is trying to be the next Warren Buffett. The fund exists to invest in private businesses, for the long term, where the businesses require an influx of capital, are stable businesses that they understand. The article describes how to unlock growth in a business, in the order of 5 buckets.
  6. Love what you do in front of your kids — If you haven’t noticed, Austin Kleon is one of my favorite inspirations. Being passionate in life, is one of my top, most important “parenting rules”. I think setting an example of a passionate life, that’s worth living, and making that your children’s “normal” is one of the best gift’s you can pass to your children. And you’re making your own life better and more worth living at the same time.
  7. “Here’s the point that I tried to convey to my students: As wealth grows, diversification—and rebalancing—are critical. Don’t get caught up in the herd mentality and invest in what’s being talked about, such as Japanese stocks in the late 1980s or gold in the current century’s first decade. Instead, draw up your own investment policy statement and have a plan to build wealth over time, while still being flexible to whatever life throws at you.” — Mike Zaccardi via If Only. This is a really timely and important quote for me, as I’m figuring out what is my long term investment strategy. I’ll share what my investment system looks like sometime in the future.
  8. How Will You Measure Your Life — this week, a notable business scholar passed, Clay Christiansen. Though I’ve never studied any of his work, this one has always been on my list and it certainly was well worth the short read. I’ll certainly keep it as one of the most important essays to read, and re-read during my life.
  9. Study links 1 type of extreme exercise to reverse aging in the heart — I’m not gonna lie, this article is making me re-think running as a sport, which I’m heavily considering picking up.
  10. Booksmart — Hilarious, great acting, soundtrack was poppin’, and actually really well filmed. Certain sequences were shot really well, my favorite was probably the underwater pool scene. Also, a directional debut by Olivia Wilde. I give it a really solid A-.

Marcus’ Interesting Things #2 – Parents Corner

I’ve read plenty about parenting that has been inspiring my own practices lately. To be more specific though, it’s more about not parenting while parenting … let kids be, make sure their basics are well covered, healthy food, good sleep, plenty of exercise and stimulation, interesting activities, and then generally allowing them to do anything unless it jeopardizes their safety/livelihood.

Letting our daughter jump over these cracks from a height was terrifying as a parent, but she was having the time of her life.
  1. Austin Kleon shares a nice little morsel:

Most parents conceive of themselves as teachers when they would be much better off thinking of themselves as librarians who provide their children with the time, space, materials, and resources to grow into whatever they want to become.

2. Abandon Parenting, and Just Be a Parent
Authors argue to just allow children to explore the world through play and observation. There’s no need for us adults to impose our notions of the world that are largely built on experiences of failure, poor parenting, heart break, hurts, etc. We bring all sorts of baggage from falling, getting hurt, fear of being judged, insecurities about our children’s wellbeing and safety, that we can over-parent or hover over our children, when what really helps them thrive is figuring things out on their own.

3. Kids who engage in the arts feel better about themselves
In The Top 10 Insights from the “Science of a Meaningful Life” in 2019, one of the points is about how kids have more self confidence when they engage regularly in art. Both drawing/painting, but also from reading. This article, in combination of Austin Kleon’s time, space, materials post, has inspired me over the past month to invest way more into all sorts of materials for my daughter to play with. From new blocks, new duplo, paints, markers, the amount of materials and mediums for kids to engage in are endless, and have great benefits for their development.

4. Purchase I’m happy about
Check out Duplo blocks on Ebay if you are a parent looking for a set of blocks. I found all the sets on Amazon are pre-made structures and things, rather than just the generic set of blocks that allow kids to imagine and build whatever they want without instructions. I got 100 blocks for $40 shipped, which is probably double the amount of blocks for the same price as I would get from an Amazon set.

5. New site to order toys from …. has some really awesome toys. I’ve ordered this awesome marble run duplo set (not genuine duplo of course, but great reviews), to add to our duplo collection.

6. This picture from Austin Kleon again, really sums up parenting really well. Yelling, bossing around, and lecturing are not effective ways to speak to your child (Joanna Faber’s book is excellent for alternative methods of communicating). Giving kids choices is a great way to help them develop their own decision making skills, and experience the negative emotions with choosing poorly.

7. Children need to play outside
If you read parenting articles, you will have read tons about how europeans and nordics parent their children (seeing as they are amongst the happiest, and academically strongest in the world). Finland has a different view of what kids should be doing in school, and that includes plenty of outdoor play, even if it’s cold outside. I remember as a child, playing outside, jumping on rocks or ledges, climbing trees, rolling in grass, all of this is physical learning and motor development that also helps how you see the world. I do my best to model and practice going outside with our daughter, often.

8. When is it too cold for toddlers to play outside?
Pairs well with the wall street journal article above.

9. Not limiting screen time for children
First off, to get out of the way, there is no scientific studies that show that there is some sort of optimum screen time. Obviously there are always going to be better ways of spending time, such as playing, or being creative, I think that as parents, we would do a lot better monitoring our own screen time and being a good model of healthy screen use while also being happy and productive without it.

Marcus’ Interesting Things #1

Woop! Thanks for checking out my first newsletter. Since I haven’t been writing, the least I could do is share some cool stuff that have been inspiring me, impacting me, or entertaining me lately.

Music I’ve been grooving to

I randomly stumbled on Cory Wong on Facebook, and have been enthralled ever since. The musicians and music heads will definitely appreciate his tunes. The musicianship is insane. Check out this concert he did. Also, he’s hilarious.

Movies I’ve really appreciated the last couple months

Marriage Story on Netflix, was an incredibly well done film. Great acting, great writing, very touching.

Long Shot was one of the more rare rom-com’s that actually keep you laughing from beginning to end. Which Seth Rogen is particularly good at (Bad Neighbors was similar for me). One of my favorite comedies as of late.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is super emotional, very inspiring, a great story, and based on a true story. A story about a village in Africa that is experiencing a long draught, and what one young, smart boy did, in order to turn it around.

Dazed and Confused has aged shockingly well. I guess if you were born between roughly 1980 – 1990, this should feel both nostalgic and funny.

Rounders is one of my all time favorites, and I gave it a re-watch. If you haven’t watched it, it’s Matt Damon and Ed Norton. Matt Damon also discusses some of the back story, and his readiness for a sequel, in his interview with Bill Simmons.

Favorite Purchase

If you’re a parent, and you think Duplo is expensive … check out ebay. For $40 I was able to get 100 pieces of various shapes. Also, aliexpress has what appears to be some quality sets that fit Duplo perfectly. I’m super pumped about this set that I’ve ordered (unfortunately takes aliexpress forever to ship). .

Business Idea that Really Attracts Me

On one hand, I’ve always been really drawn to owning my own business. I’ve read countlessly on entrepreneurship and business, even since university. However no matter how much I’ve ever wanted to start, or initially got started, I’ve never been able to get going.

However the idea of being an “acquisition entrepreneur” seems like it might fit my skillset. I’m perfectly OK with seemingly boring businesses that produce a good quality product or service.

A “data” related joke that I got a kick out of

Reading List Annual Review 2017

I certainly started the year off strong with high hopes, believing that it wouldn’t slow down with the birth of my first kid in March.  I was either wrong, stupid, or weak. I don’t like thinking about which for too long ;P.

Here is a list of the 10 books that I got around to reading.

If you’re interested, here is my list from 2016.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

It was quite cool to be able to read a classic.  Mostly so that I could stroke my own ego.  As Pavel Bulowski cited on his list of 2017 books, “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” I figured this one fit the mold.

“The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names.”

The Wealthy Barber Returns by David Chilton

It’s not a 10 step program, it almost seems like a collection of blog posts, just short chapters with different thoughts.  Mostly around behaviours, psychology, and systems around money.

This is a re-read of my favourite personal finance book.  As I was preparing for 2017, thinking about financial goals, and thinking more about planning and legacy as I transition to being a father, I wanted to prime myself and give myself a reminder.  I may consider re-reading this nearly every year just to prime myself and remind myself of my financial goals

“Few emergency funds stand a chance against society’s innate skill: the ability to rationalize.  We can convince ourselves of anything if the result is short-term gratification.”

Night by Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel gives an account of his experience in the concentration camp, Auschwitz, and through other camps.  Wiesel does not spare any details of his experience, which is absolutely horrific.  I had to take several breaks during reading, as it was quite intense and upsetting.

Hard to recommend to book after that sort of review.  However, part of my interest in this area is that it builds gratefulness.  Reading accounts of history’s past gives perspective on how trivial our problems of today are, or the evilness that exists or doesn’t exist in our world today.  I would highly recommend reading this if you are as ignorant as I am around the monstrosities of the times.

The translation I read was by Marion Wiesel, Elie’s wife, which I would recommend.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Continuing in my research and interest in Europe during WWll, I wanted to read this classic.  It definitely was not what I was expecting, which was going to be an education about the war.  Rather, what I encountered was a very normal girl, trapped and gone stir crazy inside and in hiding, going through very normal 14 year old problems, and got to transport myself into the crazy time that it was.

“The best remedy for those who are frightened, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere they can be alone, alone with the sky, nature and God.  For then and only then can you feel that everything is as it should be and that God wants people to be happy amid nature’s beauty and simplicity.”

A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine

Irvine, a professor of philosophy and practicing stoic, gives his version of a summary of stoic principles.

The book goes through a wide range of topics in Stoic philosophy and I earmarked quite a few pages.  It is very practical in the sense that they speak about mindset, riches, fame, anger, insults, grief, old age, and other everyday topics. Whether you want to learn more about Stoic philosophy, or you want a very handy and practical guide to live a more effective and happy life, I would give a loose recommendation to read it.  The introduction into the history of stoicism in the beginning, as well as the end chapters were quite boring for me.

“If we lack self-control, we are likely to be distracted by the various pleasures life has to offer, and in this distracted state we are unlikely to attain the goals of our philosophy of life.”

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Although this book may have been industry changing when it was released years ago, it has weaved throughout companies and tech so much that it just seemed like logic as I was reading (listening to) it.  I stopped midway as I found it quite boring and not a great use of my listening time.

Work Rules by Laszlo Bock

Bock is essentially head of People Operations (his title now escapes me) at Google, and had a lot to do with the hiring practices, HR practices, and culture building within Google.  Decently written for a business book, which is rare, and kept me quite engaged, particularly throughout the first half of the book.  I took a lot of ideas and carried away with me and implemented a lot throughout our hiring processes and practice at Keboola.  I would say it is one of the most practical books I have read, and I don’t doubt I will keep it as reference for many years.

“Our goal is to tell every person in the bottom 5 percent that they are in that group.  That is not a fun conversation to have.  But it’s made easier by the message we give these people: “You are in the bottom 5 percent of performers across all of Google.  I know that doesn’t feel good.  The reason I’m telling you this is that I want to help you grow and get better.”

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

A lot of what was in this book informed me on how I want to focus on maneveruing in my career, as well as how I want to build a culture at my workplace.  Focus on being effective, making contributions, focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses, delivering results, prioritizing and spending time well, and other helpful models for being effective at work.

I have a hard time remembering a better business book that I have ever read. It is a short book, packed with ideas, and doesn’t waste words, my favorite kind of business books.

“Brilliant men are often strikingly ineffectual; they fail to realize that the brilliant insight is not by itself achievement. […] insights become effectiveness only through hard systematic work.”

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho

I guess this is one of those books that either resonate with you or don’t.  The lessons it tries to teach are very in your face, there isn’t any deep thinking you need to do.  I know lots of people read it and re-read it often.  I found it quite boring and didn’t resonate with me at all, and stopped midway.

I do want to point out that, it seems that not only what you’re reading, but at what point of life you are in, is very important to the experience in the book.  For myself, the lessons within this book is not something that resonates with me.  Perhaps it will in 10 years, I don’t know.  So sometimes it’s not helpful to decide a book is good or bad, another response may be “it’s not what I need right now”.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz 

Seems like it is likely a good book for CEOs and founders … though I do not identify with the downswings and pits of what entrepreneurship is.  Lots of encouragement and how to deal with feelings when you have to let go of a bunch of people, can’t make payroll, upsetting the board and shareholders, waking up in the middle of the night in sweats and nightmares about failing others.

There wasn’t much I got out of the book.  Although there is a large section on interview questions when hiring a Head of Sales that seemed quite good and comprehensive.

Thousand Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

If you enjoy cooking shows, not the drama filled competition crap, but the documentaries on obsessed chefs, I think you would enjoy this book.  I loved it, so much so that I missed my bus stop by several bus stops once as I was so deeply into it and couldn’t draw my eyes off the page in order to see where I was at.   Great arc on the story, and excellent writing, including the food descriptions.  This book was also made into a movie recently which I recommend watching as well.

The Lessons of History by Will & Ariel Durant

This husband and wife duo are historians and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors.  This is a tiny (seriously tiny) book with small lessons from history.  Unfortunately I did not squeeze out of it what I wish I had, so I do want to re-read it.

“The influence of geographic factors diminishes as technology grows.” 

The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey

As parents, our first instinct when we face pain or challenge for our children is to help or save them.  Unfortunately, often this is actually not what you want for them long term.  Facing challenges, dealing with the emotions of failing, figuring out what to do in the face of failure, in aspects of household chores, friendships and social dynamics, homework, competition, etc., is a crucial part of development.  A good reminder to try and take a step back and see how failures play out, in order to raise more resilient little human beings.

“Given our support, love, and a lot of restraint, our kids can learn how to engineer their own solutions and pave their way toward success that is truly of their own making.”

I’m surprised, looking back, at how much I actually did get to read.  Even if I spent very little time doing so, small increments of reading can actually add up to something substantial.

If you ever want to discuss books, give me a holler!

“Disturbed because they fear that they have mislived …”

Photo Cred: Greg Ortega @

Am I ready to die?

If I were to die today, I would regret.

Not preparing my wife and child for my death.
Not writing down my life lessons to share with my child(ren).
Not telling my family how much I appreciate them.
Not sticking up for myself earlier.
Not finding courage to live authentically earlier.
Not thinking for myself earlier.
Not snowboarding more.
Not going to Crossfit more often.
Watching too much TV.
Not eating healthier.
Not building more.
Not living up to my values sooner.
Not having stronger character.

But it doesn’t have to be like this when I’m 100. I don’t have to have regrets. I know what I value. I know what I stand for. I know my calling. I know whom I’m impacting. I know what makes me happy. I know what makes me fulfilled.

I don’t need permission to live life without regrets.

Do you?


“[..] why are people, both young and old, disturbed by the prospect of dying? Some are disturbed because they fear what might come after death. Many more, though, are disturbed because they fear that they have mislived — that they have, that is, lived without having attained the things in life that are truly valuable.” — William B. Irvine, A Guide to the Good Life

Bottom Feeders

Bottom feeding is the race to go lower. Bottom feeders want to keep costs as low as possible, while cutting corners. Cutting corners just enough to get by.

This is when you cap employee’s salary ranges at your organization.
When you cut your support staff a member.
When you close the store an hour early.
When you bargain with your vendors for a lower price.
When you send your production to cheaper labor.
When you compromise on the quality of the product to ease manufacturing.
When you choose a slightly cheaper raw material.
When you put in 90% of the effort.

Bottom feeders make up the majority of products and services we encounter. It’s logical to be a bottom feeder. You minimize the amount of energy. You maximize profits by cutting corners.

The top feeders are the local shops offering authentic product.
The coffee shop owner that works 70 hour weeks, but cares deeply about where the coffee comes from and how it’s prepared.
The no-frills bakery serving up new pastries and flavors weekly.
The company selling a product that deeply cares about its users.
The organization with a mission to make the world a better place.
The employee who treats the company as if (s)he were an owner.

Top feeders are the creme de la creme. They are often not the most flashy. They often aren’t the most profitable. But they put in the most important part of the work, the emotional work into the product.

It’s the top feeders that the world craves. They have integrity in the product. They care for the consumer. It’s a human making every decision for the company and not a bunch of shareholders.

They carry the passion. They carry the story.

What they’re really delivering is trust.

This post was originally written for where I write about anything that helps me kick ass in life.

How I Stopped Snoozing and Got Motivated to Start the Day

Some mornings I would snooze for 30 minutes before getting out of bed.

I needed a passive activity to slowly wake up. Often I would lie in bed and flip through Instagram for half hour till I felt awake enough to move. Sometimes when I got up right away, first thing I would do was use the toilet. I would fall asleep on the toilet for 5 minutes before realizing.

I don’t know what’s up with me but I need some time for my brain to calibrate before I can start moving on the day.

I don’t know how I came up with this technique. I just know that I had a hard time getting up to get on with my morning routine. I was losing precious time in my morning that could be used productively.

Getting Shit Done in the Morning

I had to get up to start my morning routine. I had to get up to read and write. I had to get up to organize my day. I had to get up journal. I had to get up to meditate. I needed to have a nutritious breakfast. I had to spend some time with the dog before leaving the house.

The morning is the best time to get work done. There are less distractions. People aren’t working or emailing or texting you in the morning. Your brain is at it’s freshest. Your mind can perform optimally in the morning. Decision fatigue has not set in.

I spend the morning writing. Writing is exhausting. It requires me to search deep within myself for material. It’s scary. It exposes me to myself. I get to know what I really have inside. Do I have what it takes to affect the change I seek to make?

It’s not an activity I can save for the evening. In the evening I’m tired. I want to unwind. I had a tough day at work. I’ve used my mind’s juices already. I am out of self discipline power to sit down and get my words on the screen.

The (Silly) Tactic

Now I wake up, and the first thing I do is open the YouTube app. I used my weakness and found something productive to wake myself up. I found a way to get my ass out of bed quickly.

I started watching motivational videos on YouTube as soon as I woke up. I have my headphones plugged in (cause I don’t want to wake up my wife), and I have a playlist cued up. It makes me accountable to the speaker screaming at me to hustle harder, that I need to sacrifice sleep, that I need to work hard to get what I want.

I made the playlist here. Feel free to use it. Or come up with your own playlist. If you don’t know where to start, just type in “motivation” into the search box and start there.

Not only does it help me get out of bed, but I wake up ready to tackle the day. The synapses in my brain start firing. I can’t wait to get to hustling. I have the urge to skip breakfast so that I can start my writing. It increases my productivity by a factor of two to three.

Would love to know how you start your day. Do you struggle as much as I do? Any tips?

How I Am Going to Hit My Goals

Don’t become a wandering generality. Be a meaningful specific. — Zig Ziglar

I haven’t accomplished too much.

This year I turn 30. I guess when I was 20, I thought I was gonna be a baller by the time I was 30. Somehow I would find my way to a six figure salary. I thought if I kept up with my gym and fitness habit, I was going to be a real fit and good looking guy. I wasn’t only going to be rich, I would look it.

That’s the only thing I remember about it. I have to admit, that was a pretty shallow 10 year vision. Money and looks. Well I’m a few months short of 30, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t achieved either.

Money, looks, vacations, big house, sports car, and fine dining. The dreams that I always had. Advertising, BET, and Hollywood did a pretty great job for painting the vision for my life.

Thing is, I’m a little older and know that none of these material things are going to make me very happy, very fulfilled. I know that I need my own vision.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” — Yogi Berra

Personal Vision

That’s why I developed my own personal vision. A compelling vision of the life that I want to live.

Why I exist on this earth.
What sort of husband I will be.
What sort of father I will be.
My vocation.
My career.
Physically how I’ll feel and look.
Who and how I will impact.

It took me several months to develop my personal vision. It went through iterations. It actually started out as a “25 Year Vision”. But it didn’t serve my purpose. I needed a statement written that had exactly what I was living for, and who I was going to be. If I am qualitatively working towards any goal in this manner, I will not have failed.

If I teach, instruct, and model my children to live a good life, of joy, charity, love, and learning, I will not have failed. If I give high satisfaction to my wife in our marriage, I will not have failed. If I live a life of charity and giving, I will have not failed.

10 Year Goals

The personal vision is a mission statement. It’s the qualitative parts of my life. But it still lacks to oomph that really gets me going. It’s nothing I’ll ever achieve or arrive at. They are statements of what I stand for and the lens in which I view success.

So then I have my 10 year goals. These are KPIs. They are falsifiable. Either I have achieved it or I haven’t.

Financially — I will have X amount of disposable income every year. Influence — this is the number of followers, and impressions I have. Charity — this is how much I am giving. Physically — I don’t even have words — it’s a picture of a handsome and fit 40 year old.

At 40, either I have hit the mark or I haven’t. Making these goals falsifiable makes the goals clarified. Writing it down, and naming it my “10 Year Goals”, makes me committed.

1 Year Goals/Vision

The 1 year goals are a drip down of the 10 year. Now that I know exactly where I am going, and what is pass/fail, I need to make steps towards that goal. The 1 year goal is simple. They are numbers somewhere between where I am at now, and what I wrote in my 10 year vision.

The Sunday Review and Planning

Writing it down wasn’t enough for me. I need constant reminders. I’m pretty damn forgetful. When I don’t remind myself, I end up watching TV eating chips for dinner. This past Sunday I didn’t do my weekly review. I slept in. I didn’t write. I didn’t go to the gym.

So I do a weekly review on Sundays. It reminds me of my why. I look back and review the week prior. I plan what I will do the following week to make steps towards my goals. I add blocks of time in my calendar for the activities that I have committed to.

I developed my weekly routine using the Weekly Planning Process and Template from the people at Live Your Legend.

I’m not sure if this will work. I’ve done the weekly planning 9 of the first 11 weeks this year. Both times I missed doing it I had way less productive weeks. Albeit one of the weeks I was deathly ill.

I’m not sure if any of this will work. But I’m not rich, and not that fit. So I might as well take action and do something different. Worst case scenario is that I will learn something. Worst case scenario is that even if I fail, I don’t have to regret not putting in extraordinary effort. Worst case scenario, I fail hitting my 10 year goals, but I uphold my personal vision and values.