Still no social media consumption. All good!
Still going strong with no relapses! Feeling great and productivity still through the roof!
So far, so good.
My productivity is way up, I’m sleeping better, feel happier, and haven’t missed out on anything important.
The only downside that I can think of is that I take less pictures because I’m not thinking about “sharing” my life. A small price to pay for all the good gained.
Talk to you next month,
Social media is a Trojan horse that we’ve all willingly let into our brains, unleashing a never ending stream of dopamine fueled likes, cortisol producing click bait articles, and a selfie inspired arms race to prove who’s life is the most interesting.
According to the screentime feature on my iPhone, I’ve spent 8 hours over the last 7 days using social media (twitter, facebook, instagram, snapchat). That’s 32 hours per month or 6.4 full time work weeks per year. Enough is enough. I’ve decided to opt out to focus on producing vs consuming.
I’m committing to no social media consumption for the next 6 months and will re-assess how things are going at that point.
To ensure compliance, I’ve had my fiancee to change my passwords in addition to deleting the apps off my phone. The goal being to remove all temptations. Social media is designed to be addicting. More time scrolling, swiping, liking and tapping equals more time for extremely profitable ads to be served.
I will spend this new found time doing, learning, growing and giving more. At the end of every month, I’ll write a recap post discussing what I’ve accomplished with this new found time.
Onward and upward.
Happy New Year,
The goal of this project was to create an application that sends and receives messages in real time. This was written using the Angular framework, made pretty with UI Bootstrap and uses a Firebase database for storage.
It can be easy to confuse a framework with a library so let's quickly look at the differences.
A library, like jQuery, is a collection of pre-written code that you link to. This code simplifies common tasks and functions.
A framework, such as Angular, provides the structure of an application. The framework determines how the application works in general and the code we write fills in the details.
1) The Setup
The first step was setting up the development environment. This included installing NodeJS to locally serve up the application. Bloc helps make the configuration process a bit easier by providing a starter project repository. After pulling this down and renaming it, it was pushed back up to GitHub.
From here I added Angular, UI-Router and AngularFire to the project by including it in the body of index.html. After this a controller and template were made so I could then test the application using npm start then viewing it on the local host.
That completed the initial configuration, allowing me to push it up to GitHub and start building out the application.
2) As a user, I want to see a list of available chat rooms
The goal here was to make it so a user can see a list of available chat rooms. I started off by creating a handful of "fake" rooms in firebase so there was something to query and display on the site.
After this, I created a Room factory in Angular that defines all Room-related API queries. Next, I had to create a controller to display the queried rooms in the view. The controller was injected with the Room service then I displayed the rooms in the template using ng-repeat.
3) As a user, I want to create chat rooms
In this checkpoint, I started off by creating room objects with AngularFire. From here UI Bootstrap's service was injected to allow for the easy creation of a simple modal form to submit new room's data using ngSubmit.
The Bootstrap library was included in the index.html, the proper dependencies were injected and the methods were added. At this point, I was able to view the array of rooms update in real time.
4) As a user, I want to see a list of messages in each chat room
The first step in this checkpoint was creating a container to display an individual room's content. This was done by styling a container for holding a list of messages to the right of the list of available chat rooms. The active room is stored in a $scope object in the main controller to allow the title of the active room to change every time you visit a click one.
Next I had to associate messages with a room. This was done by using a reference to the parent data (the room) in the child data from Firebase. I created a few messages manually to test querying messages.
From here I created a message factory in angular that defined all messaged related API queries. I used the child() method on the $firebaseArray service to query messages. Since messages depend on the ID of a room I had to pass in an argument into the getByRoomId method that contains the roomId associated with a rooms message.
5) As a user, I want to set my username to display in chat rooms
The challenge now was to efficiently store a username. A common way to store a string in a browser is using cookies. Angular has an external module to do this (ngCookies).
The next step was requiring each user to enter a username when they visit Bloc Chat for the first time. I created an angular module using the .run() block to make sure that the username is set when the app is initialized. This was done by injecting the $cookies service into the run block's dependencies to check for the presence of a cookie holding the username.
If there isn't a username present I made it so another UI Bootstrap modal pops up requiring a user to enter one. No cancel option was provided so the user has to create one to proceed.
6) As a user, I want to send messages associated with my username in a chat room
Sending messages is fun but it would be useless if we didn't know who the messages were coming from. To make this happen I added a method to my Message factory called send that took a message object as an argument and submitted it to the Firebase server.
To make sure the messages that a user sends are associated with their username I used the username property and populated it by injecting the $cookies service and referencing the current user object on it.
This was a great introduction to Angular. I feel like I have a good high-level understanding of the various components that make it work but not enough knowledge to build out an app from scratch. I'm excited to move onto studying the Ruby on Rails framework where I'll be diving much deeper into the details.
I'm often tempted to spend a large sum of money to upgrade to a new fancy truck. Something with more power, better handling and better features than my debt free, low maintenance 09 Jeep Wrangler.
The daydream drags on for a while and then reality starts to set in.
Utility is defined as the state of being useful, profitable, or beneficial. So often temptation lures us into purchases that have little to no utilitarian benefit.
Vehicles serve different purposes for different people but for me I want something that is reliable, fun to drive and ascetically appealing. My debt free, clunky jeep does exactly that. I could spend $30,000 more on a beautiful new truck but in the end it brings marginal utility.
Stoic philosophy encourages people to think hard about what they fear most and then attempt to live that situation. When you do this you find out that what you feared most isn't that bad.
Imagine an economic collapse where you lose your job and your house. That would be awful, right? I thought about this recently and most likely I would move in with family members, we would share resources, and get by with the same level of happiness if not more due to greater personal connection.
We spend a lot of money to live in isolation but if we had to we could spend much less, live as a group and reap even greater utility from the situation.
Make conscious choices that add value to your life and enjoy the dividends for years to come.
"Outside, this time, there were cops, rushing over with guns and taking up positions. ... Like a lot of liberals, I’d spent the last couple of years more or less loathing the police, after a lifetime of feeling suspicious and uncomfortable; suddenly, I felt this desperate, yearning love for them. This is when you want the police; this is when you want to love the police."
I'm in awe that 99% of the time society is stable and harmonious when you consider how little it takes to trigger our lizard brain reaction and herd mentality.
We evolved for hundreds of thousands of years being afraid of the noise that lies just behind the fire light...the threat that is close which you cannot see.
It's hard to create a plan of attack when you don't know what you're fighting.
Case in point... http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/08/the-terrifying-jfk-airport-shooting-that-wasnt.html
I'll be here.
Lock me up
in this jail.
Show me love
glimpse of hope.
Pass it shall.
I'll be here.
Setting expectations when entering any new relationship can help prevent future disagreements.
This is true whether you're hiring a new employee or falling in love.
Clear expectations allow you to live without ambiguity.
They also have a unique way of becoming a self fulfilling prophecy.
Values, respect and kindness should be pre-requisites in business but sadly they are not.
The majority of people that you deal with will be kind hearted and well intentioned. But others hide behind the veil of attorneys in an attempt to extract every penny out of a situation.
When the time comes you have to stand up for what is right.
We (I) can come up with wonderful excuses just before bed and right after the alarm goes off.
Success comes from creating systems instead of relying on will power.
Set up incentives so you can't fail. Create stakes to hold you accountable.
Life is a practice. Enjoy the ride.
Writing is one of the best way to sort out your thoughts.
In May of 2015 I started writing a weekly newsletter to an email list of about 12,000 LaBonne's customers. This has been one of the most impactful things that I have done since coming back to the company.
Having a weekly writing deadline has made me a better thinker and it has also improved my mental agility.
Seth Godin has been an inspiration to me for many years. He often challenges people to take the plunge and write a blog post daily.
What stands in the way, becomes the way.
See you tomorrow.
"Blaming bad outcomes on anyone or anything other than one’s self is essentially wishing that reality is different than it is, which is silly. And it is subversive because it diverts one’s attention away from mustering up the personal strength and other qualities that are required to produce the best possible outcomes."
-Ray Dalio, Principles
You are not responsible for every negative circumstance in your life. But, by always taking responsibility you become response able.
Being response able allows us to take action which puts you in control of your life.
The opposite is placing blame which means your white flag is raised, your hands are up- you have given up control.
Navy Seals learn how to remain in control despite their circumstances. Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal and author of the book Lone Survivor, found himself paralyzed from the waste down with numerous bullet wounds throughout his body after a mission gone bad. He had two options...roll over and die or draw a line in the sand. Marcus chose to draw a line in front of his body and if he was able to crawl on his elbows to the point where his feet crossed the line, he would draw another. By segmenting the impossible task of crawling 7 miles on his elbows he was able to make it out alive. He took control and was response able.
While most of us will never face anything like the scenario above we can still learn from it. What seemingly impossible task are you facing today? What goal have you yet to achieve? Break that task or goal down into the most basic step, draw that line and then cross it- again and again.
We live in a time of unimaginable abundance. Excuses will always be easy and hard work will always be hard. Embrace the hard stuff, draw your line and keep crossing it.
The economy sucks, I don't get paid enough, my girlfriend doesn't talk to me, I hate when it snows, I can't lose any weight, there isn't enough time in the day...thanks Obama.
These complaints sound familiar, right?
Let's get real for a second...a complaint is a frustrated wish that you are not willing to do anything about. According to Neil Strauss, these frustrated wishes are a signal that you are managing your life poorly. This includes all negative talk about others and yourself.
There are two types of complaints. Type 1 are complaints that you have control over. An example of this is "I can't lose any weight". Type 2 are complaints that are outside of your control, for example: "I hate when it snows".
We all complain, but the reality is that complaints do nothing to serve us. They are a disease that unconsciously infects everyone within earshot. Complaints are easy, anyone can toss a negative remark into the mix or join in on a complainy conversation. Complaints are also lazy. They are an admission to the fact that you are not willing to take responsibility for your own thoughts and actions.
The diagram above is a simple flow chart that looks at the complaint process. Are you feeling the desire to complain? Is there any action you can take to eliminate the "frustrated wish" that you are feeling? If yes, great! Now you don't have to complain because you are working towards fixing the frustrated wish. If no, this is still great because you know that it's outside of your control and a waste of your time and mental energy to complain about it.
So now you know how bad complaints are, but how to we go about fixing the problem?
Put your money where your mouth is: 30 day challenge
Every time you complain you have to give the person you are closest to $1. This includes complaints about yourself (you are your own worst enemy), complaints about others and even complaints about things completely outside of your control (like the weather). For the next 30 days keep a handful of singles in your pocket because each time you go to complain you will be giving your hard earned cash away.
I did this a couple years ago and it had a profound effect on me. Very quickly I realized how often I would complain, even about pointless little things. I think I gave away around $7 all within the first week but after that I was cured. I started to notice a complaint bubbling up but would catch and act on it before it would surface. I simply became more mindful about my own thoughts which led to real life actions that would benefit me.
So, are you up for the challenge? If so let me know in the comments and I'll reach out at some point to hold you accountable.
Onward and upward,
The other week I was hiking Apple Hill with my dog (Toby). As we rounded the corner near the peak I tripped over something buried in the grass. At first I thought it was a big piece of quartz but as I started digging it turned out to be a crystal ball.
I carried it up to the stairs at the top of of the field, placed it on the railing and it preceded to show me the future. As I watched in fascination, Toby ran up the stairs, shaking them violently, which caused the crystal ball to fall and shatter into a million pieces.
This is what I was able to remember...
- The US economy will continue to be up and down until roughly 2025. We should experience a major crisis or massive change between now and then.
- The US real estate market will face another significant drop once interest rates go up.
- All highway truck driver and taxi driver jobs will vanish in the next 10 years. Automated vehicles are already here, just not widely distributed yet. Eliminating the labor, hourly restrictions and human error behind truck driving will be the first to go since it has such a huge ROI. There will still be a need for local truck drivers to back into loading docks, etc.
- Retail is going to be divided into two categories. One is packaged commodities which will be dominated by Amazon and Walmart. The other is anything perishable or beautiful and worthy of experiencing (think high quality fresh food and beautifully designed high end technology products).
- The US will enter a period of growth, prosperity, technological breakthrough, and general positivity between 2025 and 2045.
- Once the oil price game ends with Saudi Arabia and prices jump up to record highs, the demand for alternative energy will be met by technology that is finally ready to harness the power of the sun (think Space X + Solar City + Tesla batteries).
- US tax rates are currently as low as you will ever see them in your life.
- Cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes will decline in the next 10 years due to better nutritional and lifestyle choices.
- People will eat more good fat, less refined carbs and stop worrying about meat.
- World population growth will peak and then start declining as female education and autonomy increases in third world countries.
Do you think these are way off or right on?
The picture above is a panoramic that I took at the top of Apple Hill. No I didn't find a crystal ball, I just felt like making up a story. :)
If you want more info on any of the thoughts above just reach out to me or comment below and I'll tell you where to dig further.
"Sir, would you mind taking off your shoes?" the captain asked as I stepped aboard the 164 ft mega yacht named "Wheels", owned by Rick Hendrick, the godfather of Nascar.
I am so extremely grateful for everything I have in my life. I was born in the United States to two loving parents which means I hit the "ovarian jackpot" as Warren Buffet likes to say. Everything in addition to that is gravy.
Making at least $34,000 per year puts you in the top 1% of income earners in the world. Almost everyone you meet who lives in the United States achieves this goal. The United States also has 5.2 million millionaires and 536 billionaires.
I have had the opportunity to become acquainted with many millionaires but only 2 billionaires that I am aware of. Keep in mind that billionaires don't earn $1 billion per year, they simply own assets that are worth at least that amount (1,000x $1 million).
Those that I know in the "millionaire club" have reached this level in two different ways. The first group got a good job, lived frugally, invested wisely and slowly amassed a net worth to put them in the club. The second, more common and quickest method to achieving this goal is to be a business owner where leverage is easily applied.
The only way to become a billionaire is to follow the second method. You must own something that provides a massive amount of value to a massive amount of people.
One billionaire that I had the opportunity to meet* is Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Automotive Group (over 80 new car dealerships) and Hendrick Motor Sports (his Nascar drivers include Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Kasey Kahne).
Let's dig into the choices that Rick has made leading to his success.
1. Be an owner
Rick Hendrick grew up as a poor farmer who loved cars and racing. He sold everything he owned at age 28 to finance his first Chevrolet dealership. This was the tipping point that set him on the path to becoming a billionaire.
Businesses that are worth over $1B got there because they scaled quickly. Rick did not become complacent with one dealership. Once he figured out the keys to running one successful dealership he grew as quickly as possible.
3. Amazing people
The first thing Mr. Hendrick told me over dinner was that he woudn't have gotten anywhere in life without an amazing team of people around him. As the founder and chairman he is responsible for the grand vision of the company. He cannot handle everything himself so he has to attract and retain people who share his vision. He does this by treating people well and living up to his strong family values. This is the reason why the best drivers in the business want to work for him.
From being in the right place at the right time to riding a market wave, there is always some luck involved on the path to growing and owning a billion dollar business.
5. Working hard where it matters most
Many people work extremely hard, but to be a billionaire you must be dedicated to working hard on the problems that matter most. The key to success is a relentless focus on the things that are vitally important but not always urgent. The trap most people get stuck in is working on problems that are urgent but lack importance.
So there you have it. Own a business that can scale quickly, surround yourself with amazing people, work hard where it matters most, sprinkle in a bit of luck and maybe you will one day step foot into the billionaire club.
*This past summer LaBonne's partnered with AARP's Drive to End Hunger campaign and Lime Rock Race Track to help feed over 24,000 local hungry senior citizens. AARP is Jeff Gordon's primary sponsor. Through this partnership we won the opportunity to go to the Daytona 500 and have dinner with Rick, his wife and some of his associates on his yacht.
One of the great benefits of travel is that it puts your life into perspective. It is easy to fall into a monotonous routine. It is rare to get out of your comfort zone. I try to seek out things that make me a bit uneasy and living for a month in a foreign city where I don't speak the language is one of those.
Today on a tour I met a young couple from Ireland who is spending 6 months traveling the world before settling in Australia. There was also an elderly couple from Denmark who have been touring South America on a cruise for the past month. At dinner we were joined at our table by a couple our age from Sweden who just set out on a journey to travel the world for 1 year! And lastly the most amazing group at our table was a family of four from Boulder, Colorado. They are spending 6 months living in Buenos aires with their 12 and 16 year old daughters. The goal is to expose them to the culture, language, city life and new challenges.
When Sam and I started telling people about our upcoming adventure some people thought we were crazy. But the majority were happy for us and often wished they could do something similar.
The reality is you can take a wild adventure today if you really want to. People all around the world are doing so at this very moment. If you say you don't have time the truth is you don't have priorities.
Too much consistency and stability creates complacency. I like anyone else need to be reminded to mix things up every to gain new perspective. Travel is one of the best options for doing so.
The picture above is from our highly entertaining and informative dinner at The Argentine Experience. Sam and I both had a blast and recommend it to anyone new to Buenos Aires.
Imagine waking up one day to find out that you cannot withdraw more than $250 per week out of your bank account.
This is not some new bank policy. This is a new law put in place to prevent the national banks from collapsing.
On top of this all of your money, your US dollars, have been converted to Pesos at a 1 to 1 exchange rate which is clearly wrong.
This nightmare was a reality for Argentine citizens in 2001.
As a result there is still a massive distrust in government and public institutions. 15 years later people still do not keep their money in the bank. They keep the minimum amount of pesos to pay their bills and any savings are quickly converted to US cash and stored away.
In the US we complain about the internet bubble or the housing market crash but neither compare to what the citizens of Argentina have to deal with.
There is no such thing as trying to grow your savings for retirement. Cash is king and you keep it hidden.
One trait that I have seemingly inherited from my father and grandfather is the ability to start a conversation with a complete stranger.
On the plane ride from NYC to Chile I sat next to Uruguayan gal who was on her way home from touring Harvard Business School. We discussed finance, the benefits of working in mergers and acquisitions, paleolithic nutrition, psychology, Argentine economics and Uruguayan history.
We also discussed the difference in culture between the United States and South America. In her opinion combining the State’s work ethic with South America’s emphasis on social relaxation would be ideal.
Her dream is to show the people of her country that blaming the system (which many people feel is corrupt and lacking opportunity) is no excuse.
This is true no matter where you live. Anyone with a smart phone or even access to a public library can learn anything they want.
There are no more excuses for not achieving what you want to achieve.
We are our own worst enemy when it comes to realizing our goals. If there is a will, there is a way.
PS Sam and I were invited to visit our new friend in Montevideo, Uruguay. I’ll report back if and when this happens.
PPS No those are not clouds in the background up there, that is snow on top of the Andes. The view from the airport in Santiago, Chile.
I think back to some of the best decisions of my life and really at the time they were not the best decision according to logical thinking.
When I graduated from college and did not have a "real job" I decided to take out a business loan and purchase a commercial tent rental company. Many people thought this was a horrible idea to go further into debt (on top of student loans). "Get a real job and pay down your debt" they said.
Through that business I met a man who owned a software startup. I took him out to coffee and he decided to hire me for a "real job" as a marketing specialist. I later sold the tent business for a profit that allowed me to pay off my student loans completely.
My life is filled with examples of situations where if I had followed my logical mind I would have missed out on the greatest opportunities I have had.
It is ok to fail and take a step back because when you succeed you are taking an exponential step forward.
A perfect example of this is deciding on a whim to move to Buenos Aires, Argentina for a month with my girlfriend. Logically we should save our money and work harder at our jobs back home. But who knows what the potential upside will be. That chapter is yet to be written.
As they say the greatest risk is taking none at all.