The Why

We had a lunch meeting at Foxwoods Resort and Casino yesterday so I hit up some schools on my way down so I was traveling short distances, stopping, and getting in/out the cars.  I typically just listen to the radio for these types of trips as it hard to focus on a longer podcast or such when you constantly have to stop and start it.

But on the way home, I drove straight, about an hour and half.  Earlier yesterday I had download the most recent podcast from Kevin Rose called The Journal during which he interview Treehouse founder and CEO Ryan Carson.  This was my first time every learning of Ryan.

During the interview I heard one of the most humble guys I’d ever experienced talking about their experience as an entrepreneur.  He was completely candid about the mistakes he had made, how he constantly thought about quitting but persevered, and how he basically wandered aimlessly until he reach the age of 32 where he found his purpose/his why (he is now 40).  His why is making higher education available to more people through Treehouse, his online computer coding courses.  He teaches coding as a trade, which he believes it truly is, rather than as a four year degree.

Being 32 currently i was able to reflect on what he was saying.  I for so long have felt like I have been behind the ball trying to figure out my purpose, my passion, my why.  Here was a guy who had owned a few companies, some which failed and some which succeeded, all before the age of 32 and he admits he didn’t know shit about a why prior to that age.  He found his purpose and that drives him day after day.  It pushes him to do the daily mundane tasks that slowly build on success, to take the good with the bad.  It was quite inspiring to me.  Immediately after the podcast was over, I followed Ryan on Instagram just to keep up with what he was doing.

For the first time ever, I actually direct messaged Ryan to give him my feedback on the interview and how great I thought it was.  I just wanted to let him know his words made a difference to me and to keep up the good work.  I wasn’t looking for anything in return.  I figured he got hit up on Instagram all the time for people looking for jobs or investment money, or contacts, so I was half expecting him to even read it and definitely was not expecting a reply.  Within an hour or so Ryan had sent a message back saying Thanks for sharing, or something like that.

I took a second to think about how amazing the world we live in is with the internet.  Here is a guy who lives in Portland, Oregon who was featured in a podcast by a silicon valley superstar that I downloaded and listened to in my car.  I instantaneously was able to find in on Instagram to see what he is up to.  I then can immediately get in contact with him and he can reply within hours – technically within seconds if he chose. It’s fascinating.  There is no excuse to not know something you want to know.  Of course I grew up with the internet and knew for many years all of this was possible, but to step back and appreciate what a game changer it is was something I don’t think I had ever done.

So for now I will continue to search for my why, but I have a feeling come November I may suddenly discover a new purpose.

Another appointment

So I am beginning to think it is a cold.  I went to the gym but just walked for 30 minutes on the treadmill preventing annoying everyone coughing up my chest congestion.

Again my morning was flooded with emails for last minute questions/orders.  It’s just that time of year where I need to almost be attached to my computer to solve issues as they come in.

We had a follow up doctor’s appointment to go over the results of the 1st trimester screening, but because our screening was rescheduled later the results were not available for our appointment.  The appointment was pretty low key.  The doctor did a quick ultrasound to check the heart beat, asked how Jessica was doing and sent us on our way.

On the way to and from the appointment I listened to a new Tim Ferriss podcast where he interviewed athletic trainer Ryan Flaherty.  What a sharp guy.  Only 34 years old and made me feel like I was a slug.  He was a top trainer in getting athletes to get faster.  He was totally deep into the science of exercise science which made him a top trainer.  But listening to him, I kind of wished I had explored more career options in high school because I thought I’d enjoy beings a physical therapist.   I know it’s never too late to do something, but I just think if back then I had explored it, I probably would have proceed down that path.  Oh well, one missed opportunity for now to open another one down the road.

Big Data

I listened to a new podcast sponsored by NPR called Hidden Brain.  This episode focused on how big data knows more about human behavior than I think most people realize.

One example (Note: I am not quoting exact statistics because this isn’t a research paper and it really doesn’t matter to prove the point) is when males in the United States 4% will identify as gay.  But when you look at search terms for gay pornography online 8% of males could be identified as gay.  The real interesting fact shows that males living in a state where gay rights are quite progressive, the self report surveys and porn searches for gay porn are about equal.  In states where gay rights are still very limited males will self-report as gay about 2% of the time, but gay porn searches will equal the more standard 8%.

Example two.  Areas of the United States where search terms included racial slurs at higher levels where high predictive of whether they would have supported/voted for Donald Trump for President.

Example three.  People who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancers had there previous search history reviewed to see if there were things in their searching past that could have lead to early diagnosis.  Compared to a control group with no pancreatic cancers, a person searching for indigestion with pain was much more higher correlation to being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer than the people who search indigestion alone.

I highly suggest you listen to the podcast if this is of any interest because I know I did not do it justice here.  Listen Here

But it was semi important for me to lay some ground work to share my thoughts.  First I don’t think we realize how much data we provide to the companies and apps through our daily interaction with our devices.  I can definitely see now when billions of search terms happen on google it is easy to start seeing trends and to predict future behaviors.  As much as we always think people change over time, one generation usually thinking what the next generation does is ridiculous, but in reality the human brain and basic human behavior has not changed that much.  The medium on which the human expresses themselves on has.  Humans today have the same flight or fight response when they sense an unexpected motion out of the side of their eye as our cavemen ancestors.  The chemistry in the brain has not changed drastically.

Our devices and the internet allow us to search things and discover things in a much more “private” way than in the past.  It is much easier to be racist online by searching for racist jokes, or watching videos that further your current view than to have to public stand in front of friends and family to share your view.  Who really shares with the people closest to them what exactly you search for online.

We are just as the beginning of this mass collection of data and having the ability to use it to analyze human behaviors.  How powerful would it be to have google analyze your search terms on an on going basis to predict future illness, to connect you with long last family members, or to find your perfect romantic match based solely on an aggregate of data being constantly collected and analyzed. We either will be completely run by robot in all aspects or we will have a great shift of human behavior for the first time in our history as we need to adapt to a whole new set of circumstances.  It can be a little nerve racking to think computers will know us better than we know ourselves, but there could also be some great hidden answers that we will uncover.  Let’s see what happens………

Taking Action

Last week I wrote about listening to Ricardo Semler on a podcast with Tim Ferriss.  In the podcast Semler spoke of his “Terminal Days” in which two days a week he did what he wanted to go had he been informed of having a terminal illness. (View post Semler Revisited)

Well yesterday I took a terminal day.  It was tough I won’t lie.  In the middle of having work to complete and a kitchen remodel in progress there was definitely productive work to be done. But when I took a step back and asked was my work urgent and the answer was no I decided I need to seize the day.  The kitchen could wait, I would have my phone if there were some emergency and I could go on with my day with things that could only happen yesterday.

So what did I do?  My sister is on vacation this week from her speech pathology job at her school so we decided to meet for lunch. We met at the border, about an hour for each of us.  She came with my 1 year old nephew Jack and my mother.  It was a simple lunch at Applebees.  We walked around the nearby Marshalls and Petco.  Very low impact but very high reward.  It is not too often we have the time to just eat lunch and go especially during a beautiful spring day.

After lunch I headed home to spend some time with the dogs and let them exercise.  We ran around the yard to play. I of course could not fully avoid work, so I completed some order placing and computer work that really should get done. But then I went back to my terminal day.

Jessica’s cousin from Maine has a daughter and we wanted to take her on a photo shoot at the daffodil farm at sunset.  I gathered my equipment and we headed out.  The lighting was perfect.  The daffodils weren’t fully in bloom but they were bloomed enough for some great shots. I was really happy getting the shot I got and look forward to finding the time to go deep into editing to perfect them.  (They will soon be available for viewing Here)

So although I did spend a couple hours in the afternoon completing some work, I did do better than expected.  I got to spend the time with family and create some while taking photos.  And guess what?  No emergencies happened.  Nothing negative happened.  My self created fear of everything falling apart in my absence was just that, self created.  There is definitely something to these terminal days.  I think I need to schedule some more often.

Semler Revisited

Last week I wrote about the Tim Ferriss podcast where I listened to Ferriss interview Ricardo Semler, Brazilian entrepreneur. Yesterday I had a lengthy car ride to and from the few schools I needed to visit so I finished the podcast interview.

Semler brought up the ever so common topic of living each day as it were your last.  We all know this is much easier said then done.  If we truly knew it were our last day we would act much different than theoretically living as if it were our last day.  If tomorrow were truly my last day, I think I’d want to get an RV with all the people (and pets) I cared about and just drive.  A last chance to see and experience as much as possible.  I’d cash out all investments and spend every last saved dollar.  In reality if I did this every day, myself and my family would be homeless and poor.

Semler brought up the notion that every week, Monday and Thursday, he has a completely open schedule to work on whatever he wants.  Bucket list days per se.  He uses these days to accomplish things most people say some day.  Semler is CEO of multiple companies (if I understood correctly).  It is easy for people in his position to say, someday I’ll learn to play piano, write that novel/play, learn to fly, etc.  So instead of putting it off, Semler puts time in his schedule to work on these things over time.  He uses his weekends to spend time and focus on family, Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday are his work days, and Monday/Thursday are bucket list days.

I think there are a couple things everyone can learn from this.  First is we probably could spend less time on “work” if we learned to work more efficiently.  One of my personal challenges is I feel if I am not spending every minute I can on work it will all fall apart.  What I should do, is take a month off and work remotely to change the way my brain is wired to think about running my business.  Can I hire someone to do small tasks? Do I really need to drive there to completed A,B, or C? Obviously in my current position working remotely full-time is not realistic, but I think taking a month hiatus to change my thought process would benefit me in the long run allowing me to grow.

Second thing we learn from Semler, is don’t put it off.  If there is something you want to do, just do it.  Most people would say, “Yea it’s really easy for a million business owner to take two days off a week, but I can’t afford that.”  And this is very true.  He is resource rich so he has greater luxuries.  But being CEO of multiple business his work time has a much greater responsibility level than the average person.  But even if you can’t take complete days off to focus on something, you do have time.  Instead of watching the latest episode of Teen Mom 2, take that hour to schedule a piano lesson, to write a few pages of your novel, or whatever your dream is.  Over time the little investments will pay dividends.  The key is patience and consistency.  If it is truly important to you, you will dedicate the time.

This blog is one of my buckets items.  I write on a public forum for anyone to read, but I write for myself.  I write for my legacy.  How amazing is it that I can put my own words and thoughts out there for my future generations to read.  My great-great grandchildren may be able to get some insight it who I was and may see a little of me in them.  I don’t consider myself a great writer by any means.  I just type.  I don’t re-read.  I don’t edit.  I just type.  Typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors will forever exist.  This isn’t art.  It’s simply thoughts, ideas, and daily life in written form.

Now what else should I start committing myself to do on a regular basis??