30 Day Blog Writing Challenge – Update

Mmm…

The stats so far:

I’ve published 23 posts.

Started on April 9th 2016 (now its June 9th 2016).  Exactly 2 months.

Should I be disappointed that I didn’t publish 30 posts in 30 days?

No, I don’t think so.  I do feel slightly down, but that’s just me being hard on myself.

My main focus though is to get to 30 posts, no matter how long it takes. Obviously the sooner the better.

I think a better name for this would be the “30 Post Blog Challenge”, because that is the real goal for me.

What have been the benefits so far?

I think overall this has been a tremendously useful experience.

Some of the benefits I’ve seen:

Helps me learn about topics I’m interested in

There are some posts where I found that I needed to do research.

For example:

Masterminds Groups for Entrepreneurs

Sending App Reviews to Slack: Comparison of Services

These posts really helped me to consolidate my knowledge on certain areas.

It’s also really useful for me to summarize books that I’ve been reading and distill them down to a few key action points.

For example:

With Winning In Mind by Lenny Bassham – Book Summary

I’ve found that these posts helped me learn and also I found myself looking up these posts as references for myself.

Helps me clarify my thoughts

Other posts were just me winging it and riffing on a topic that I’ve been thinking about.

Some of what I wrote is crap, some is OK, some might be good. But at any rate it helps to crystallise my thoughts, which can serve as the basis for discussions with friends and family which then further hones these ideas.

Some examples:

Investing the new way?

An Alternative Education

Makes me accountable

By writing I am making statements of accountability. For example if I’m writing about positive habits that I’m trying to instil in myself, it makes me think twice when I’m about to “break” the new habit.

Example:

9 Strategies to Cure Internet & Phone Addiction, Stop Distraction & Be More Mindful

Gives me an outlet to help the people I love

Some of what I write is intended to help myself, some intended more to help others.

If my writing can help someone else then I’m happy for that.  There are some things that I’ve learned along the way and hopefully I can share some of my experience with others to help them out.

For example:

Learning on the Go with Podcasts & Audiobooks

Tips for Hiring Freelancers Effectively on Upwork

Helps improve my writing and gives me a creative outlet

Creativity is one of my core “values” or strengths.  By writing I’m fostering this side of myself and so it just simply feels good.

Also I find that the more I write, the easier it gets (pretty obvious). I’ve been able to pound out a couple of thousand words relatively easily.

What have been the obstacles in my way?

The main obstacle has been trying to get around my perfectionism.

What I wrote in the initial post on the 30 Day Blog Writing Challenge was just to sit down for 10 minutes and press publish at the end of the sessions.

I think I had a great idea at the start, but my perfectionism started creeping in. I need to quash it.

Also I haven’t found a great time in my daily routine yet to slot it in.  Best time so far was first thing after work, but that is a bit variable.

I don’t want to do it at the end of the day, because I’m trying not to be on screens.

The beginning of the day is already quite rushed…

So I guess an alternative is to get up earlier… huh.

I think I just need to stick to the initial rules that I made for myself:

  • Just press publish!
  • Don’t read over the post after you’ve written it / published.
  • Don’t promote the post. This is JUST about writing.
  • Don’t try to “SEO” the posts or drop in keywords.
  • Don’t fill in SEO related meta data.
  • Don’t look at (or preferably even install) analytics – Seth Godin doesn’t have any analytics on his daily blog.

Summary

Anyway, that’s just a quick update for how the 30 Blog Post Challenge is going.

So far the benefits have been pretty massive for me, so I will most likely want to continue doing it.

I might need to modify the format slightly, but yeah, its pretty awesome for me.

 

Experiment

Life is an experiment.

You are the guinea pig.

Don’t stick with the status quo.

Wow that’s trite.

A great way to incrementally improve your life and your business and your relationships is to conduct experiments.

For example, THIS right here is an experiment.  I’ve been curious about getting back into some writing and publishing my thoughts online, so I decided to get off the fence and start my 30 Day Blog Writing Challenge.

The crucial part about starting an experiment is to set a defined time or other constraint to it.

That takes some of the pressure off yourself.

You know that what you’re trying is temporary.  If I set a goal to “write every day”, I’d probably soon find that I do this for a couple of days, then skip a few days, then feel shit because I skipped some days, try another day, skip like 10 more days and then just give up because it seems to hard.

But if I don’t commit to a lifelong habit of writing, but rather say that I will write for 30 days (or 30 posts), then this makes it much more achievable.

When I started by journal writing habit, a friend challenged me to try his method of journaling for 7-days. Easy!  I did it, enjoyed it, saw the benefits and I’ve been consistently journalling since then.

Experiment = Great way to “try before you buy” a new habit

Want to check out what all the fuss is about meditation? Try 10 minutes of meditation for 10 days.

Want to know what its like to be homeless? Go live on the streets of Austin, TX for 5 days.

Bottom line is, if you want to instil a new habit, start an experiment, set a time limit and evaluate the results.

Do the ONE thing, improve 1% every day & the law of compound returns

There are three widely recommended business books which I’ve read in the fairly recent past. I’m going to perform an amazing feat of mental agility and summarize ALL three books for you in under 500 words.

The books in question:

The One Thing by Garry Keller and Jay Papasan

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

And here is the summary:

Focus on ONE strategic thing that will move your goal forwards, every single day.

Tada!

It’s a very simple concept, but when applied correctly can dramatically improve your results.  As I heard in an interview with Steve Blank recently, when asked how people can make a successful startup, he summed it up:

“Just show up.  Showing up gets you 80% of the way there.”

Gary Keller likes the phrase:

What is one thing, that if applied (in my business), would make everything else easier or unnecessary?

In our day to day lives we get sucked into the vortex of unimportant emails, distractions, “putting out fires”. Very little time is spent on productive, strategic work.

This question helps focus your mind on the one strategic thing.  Instead of going out and making 100 sales calls, your “one thing” might be to post a job for a top sales person.  The latter will give you a lot more leverage.

You can apply this “one thing” concept to any goal that you set, whether its in business, relationship, social or self improvement.  If you identify a strategic action to take in each of these areas and do this every single day, you are almost guaranteed to see continual improvements.

While in the short term these improvements might be undetectable, over the long run it generates an exponential compounding effect of improvement so that you can blast through and achieve your goals.

How do I apply it myself?

Every day in my journal, I have a section “The One Thing”.  I think of the one thing that will yield the greatest strategic returns over the long run.

The best thing to do is then the FIRST THING in the day when you start working is to do your “one thing.” Once you have done this you can already consider the day a huge success.

These are often very small steps.

For example, in the journal entry below (excuse the doctor’s hand writing), my one thing was:

“Post job for business book summary biz”

journal-excerpt-one-thing

It took me about 10 minutes to do, but is potentially a huge strategic move.

Action Points:

✓ In your journal, write down your “One Thing” for the coming day.

✓ Do the One Thing – preferably first thing in the day.

✓ Wash, rinse, repeat.


There you go – 450 words, 3 books. BOOM!

Learning on the Go with Podcasts & Audiobooks

If you’ve read a few of my posts, you know that I believe in constant, on-going self-education.

I don’t have many friends who are entrepreneurs back home, so in order to surround myself with great entrepreneurial minds I read books and if I’m moving and can’t read then I’m listening to podcasts or audiobooks.

In the past people would turn on the radio on the drive to work and listen to shock jocks spouting crap.  Entertaining, fun, but not very helpful.

The beauty of the world we live in is that every niche can create their own unique content stream.

In my case, my main focus is on entrepreneurship, so I create my own unique and personally tailored “radio”, with the content I mentioned above.

Whenever I drive to work – I’m learning.

Whenever I drive home – I’m learning.

If I’m commuting on a bus – I’m learning.

At any rate, it definitely can’t hurt.

This is the next best thing to sitting physically in the same space as very smart people.  By listening to successful people everyday, I’m gaining years of accumulated experience, street smarts and insight.

I love it.

Audible

I use Audible to buy and listen to audio books.  I’ve only gotten into audio books relatively recently in the past year or so.  Both podcasts and audiobooks have their advantages and disadvantages. I alternate between both.

If you’re new to audible, it works as a subscription service (or you can purchase directly).  I upgraded recently to the 2 credits per month plan ($22.95 per month).

audible_pricing_plans

You can either purchase books on audible directly for cash OR you can use credits.

On my plan, each credit is work $11.48 per credit.  So when you’re considering buying an audiobook if the book is priced less than your credit value, just buy it in cash.  If its priced more, then use credits to purchase it.

I like the fact that it is a subscription service, because it “forces” me to invest in myself.

Like I wrote about previously, don’t think twice about purchasing books.  These are the best investments you will ever make.

Some of my favourites so far:

Inside Delta Force – not a “business” book, but I’m in awe by the mindset of these top operators.  Was very entertaining and very nicely related. Its also really long, so keeps you interested for a while.

On Writing by Stephen King – this was a real gem! Highly, HIGHLY recommended! On Writing is part autobiography and part creative writing tips, with the massive bonus that the book is related by Stephen King himself.  I didn’t really know Stephen King’s story, which is really the story of an entrepreneur.  I’m also fascinated by the process of writing, so it was an eye opener looking into the inner workings of someone who clearly has been amazingly prolific and successful in the field.

Anything You Want by Derek Sivers – Derek Sivers is very well known in entrepreneurial circles, having the street cred of building and selling his company CD Baby for over $20 million.  Derek is the entrepreneur’s philosophers.  His views go very much against the grain.  Listening to Derek’s audiobook (also narrated by him) is like a guided meditation. Its short and to the point. This book is something I feel I could listen to over and over again.

Podcasts

I LOVE podcasts.  Probably more so than audiobooks. I love listening to really smart and successful people share their stories and their insights.

If you’re using an iPhone, then you can listen using the Podcasts app (although its pretty shit and buggy).  Stitcher is a good alternative and pretty much the only way to listen on Android.

Here are some podcasts that I really recommend listening to (search for these and subscribe on whichever podcast app you use):

Freedom Fast Lane – Ryan Daniel Moran is doing really well, recently clocking in over $1,000,000 in sales in one MONTH.  What I like about Ryan’s podcast which differs from other podcasts is that he has his goals set high (owning the Cleveland Indians  🙂 ) and his mindset and podcast is geared to growing a MASSIVE business – not just reaching a “million” (that’s sooooo 80’s) or reaching 10k per month.

The Tim Ferriss Show – WOW is all I can say.  Tim Ferriss helped thousands, maybe millions of people break out of the Matrix with his book.  Now his podcast absolutely blows EVERYTHING else out the water with the PHENOMENAL guests he has on.  I find myself learning SO much from his podcast, it really is THE shit.  My favourite interviewees include Josh Waitzkin, chess prodigy turned martial arts prodigy. Derek Siver (mentioned above).  Jamie Foxx (yep, the movie star). Joko Willink (navy seal). Robert Rodriguez (filmmaker, I think this episode helped solidify for me the need for journaling). The list goes on.

The James Altucher Show – James Altucher has a different take on life and interviews also some awesome guests who won’t be found on other podcasts.  His interview with Marc Cuban was gold.

Foundr Magazine Podcast – Just started listening to this recently and I have to say hats off to Nathan Chan! Nathan and I started our paths at around the same time, publishing digital magazines to the iPad newsstand.  He’s been super persistent and has managed to build a great business.  He has some great guests on the show, and again, guests that you don’t often hear from on other podcasts.  His interview with Steve Blank was awesome and I also really loved the session with Matthew Michalewicz, a truly smart dude.  Nathan has a really nice and relaxed interview style and I often find that the questions I have in my mind he goes ahead and asks.  Well done!

Other notables:

The Smart Passive Income Podcast

Starting from Nothing Podcast

Mixergy Podcast

That should get you started! Now go out and LEARN!

BTW – If there are some awesome podcasts that I haven’t mentioned here, please leave in comments. I’m always looking for MORE!

 

How to Set Goals – Outcome & Process Goals

Theres lots of literature on goal setting.  I want to give my two cents on the topic.

Firstly, what I’ve come to realize is that there are two distinct types of goals: Outcome and Process goals.

Outcome goals are those that are not fully in control, but represent a desired end result.  For example:  Earning $10,000 per month (seems to be a popular goal).

Process goals are under your control.  By implementing and achieving your process goals, you will be moving closer to your outcome goal.

I think that when goal setting it is important to work with these two goals hand in hand.

I’ll give you an example of my own personal goals in the business sphere:

Outcome Goal:

I am earning $1,000,000 per month as of the 1st of July 2017.

Process Goal:

We are releasing 4 games per week as of the 1st of July 2016.

There are a couple of other points you should not about goal setting.

Firstly, there’s a stream of thought that says to write the goals out in the present-tense, stating it as if you have already achieved the goal (shout out to Muoyo Okome of Daily Spark Media for that).  I like the idea of that and think it definitely can’t hurt.

Write down your goal every day as part of your journaling habit. That will always keep your goal top of mind and hone your focus and creativity towards achieving the goals that you’ve set.   It also gives you the opportunity to constantly refine your goal so that the goal is properly aligned with your intrinsic desires.

It’s also important to set a date on the goal, because that allows you to plan around this constraint and puts some time pressure to achieve it.

You should work back from the outcome goal and create a realistic plan for your process goal.

In our case, from looking at our initial metrics and taking very conservative estimates, to reach the target revenue we will need to have about 200 apps.

To reach 200 apps in one year’s time, we need to be releasing 4 apps per week. Simple maths.

If you don’t have some initial metrics, take your best guess or base your estimate on market stats.  You can always refine the goal later.

It’s important that you set a goal that stretches you, but is within the realms of achievability.

Lastly, a word of caution about the date.  It’s absolutely FINE if you don’t hit your goal by the target date, you can always push the date back.  But don’t compromise on your goal (as long as it is still important for you).

 

 

 

On the Origin of Suffering

So I meditate a lot. Once a day. Every morning. I’ve been meditating for probably a couple of years with only some small breaks.  Its been an interesting (and beneficial) experience, but that is not what I wanted to write about today. Rather I want to share a not-so-original insight from my meditation sessions today.

What meditation (or “mindfulness”) allows you to do is to be AWARE, instead of being swept away with the stream of the mind.  It allows you to stand at the edge of the bank and be AWARE of the stream, to see the water flowing, but not to fall into the water of the mind’s incessant thoughts and to be swept away by them, losing awareness and becoming lost and intertwined in the stream.

During this morning’s sessions, I was aware of thoughts that were dragging me into the future.  And I was also aware of other thoughts, which were dragging me into past events.

These particular future events were attended by emotions of worry, what-ifs, potential and unrealised pain and disaster.

The past event were full of hurt and loss and regret.

The present – was only awareness.  Living in the moment as they say.

I’m sure what I’m saying is old hat to Buddhists, I think that was one of the Buddha’s big realizations that suffering is caused by these things (could be grossly wrong here, I’m not familiar with Buddhist philosophy).

Both the past and present are gone and we have no control over them, yet these “tenses” are I would say definitely cause the majority of our suffering.

Being fully PRESENT allows you to EXPERIENCE what is happening right now, being AWARE of emotions and thoughts, but not being swept away by them which can cause unnecessary suffering.

Meditation has a LOT of subtle but profound benefits (more on that later). It is something that needs to be EXPERIENCED.  Even if I describe it perfectly, I could never do the benefits of meditation justice unless you actually feel it for yourself.

As an action point and a great starting point – start with HeadSpace.

 

Do 10 minutes of meditation per day for 10 days using their app.

BTW I did a bit of browsing now on Buddhist related teachings on this topic and here are a couple of interesting quotes:

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. It is founded on our thoughts. It is made up of our thoughts. If one speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows one, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the wagon.

 

According to Buddha, there are four stages of deeper concentration called Dhyana: 1) The first stage of concentration is one in which mental hindrances and impure intentions disappear and a sense of bliss is achieved. 2) In the second stage, activities of the mind come to an end and only bliss remains. 3) In the third stage, bliss itself begins to disappear. 4) In the final stage, all sensations including bliss disappear and are replaced by a total peace of mind, which Buddha described as a deeper sense of happiness.

Note:  I am talking about religion at all.  Buddhist thought though has a lot to say on mindfulness and thousands of years of experience relating to it, so I believe there is a lot to learn from Buddhist views on this topic.

Further Reading:

 

 

Reading

Reading is one of the most important things that you can do.

Far too many people read too little.

You should be voracious in your quest for knowledge, always seeking to learn and improve yourself.

Forget fiction. I mean not completely.  You should read fiction its fun. And reading in general is good. But fiction is kind of like TV.

When I say “reading” I mean non-fiction.  Book that can help you improve in the core areas of your life:  work / business, relationships, health, wealth / investing.  Perhaps hobbies, if that gives you meaning.

Don’t hesitate to spend money on books.  They are investments in yourself, which is the highest form of ROI. Turn on that one-click ordering on Amazon.

If you get a recommendation from a trustworthy source – click – download.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t read it straight away.

Get a kindle reader perhaps.  I got one. I like it because there are no distractions. No internet, no email. Just reading. That’s good. It’s not mandatory (all smart phones have good Kindle apps).  But the lack of distraction is definitely a plus.

Again. Don’t fret about spending those 10 bucks.  The ROI on this could be thousands of times over.

A major fallacy that we all somehow were ingrained with is that you need to read a book from start to finish.  Naval Ravikant in his interview with Tim Ferriss opened my eyes to this.  Skip to the interesting bits.  Don’t feel like a slave to page order.  A lot of books (business books especially) are filled with fluff.  So skim quickly through some sections, skip others entirely, focus on the ones that give you the juicy bits of information.

And another fallacy is that we should read one book at a time.  Also, thanks to Mr Ravikant I’ve embraced the fact that I have multiple books on the go. At the moment I have about 5 or so books at various stages of digestion.  And its fine.  I don’t feel it detracts in any way.

Sometimes I read kindle books.  Its the instant hit that it gives me.  Some, especially if I have high hopes for them, I’ll order through Amazon (or more usually Book Depository, it works out cheaper for shipments to Israel usually).

I’ll highlight stuff in kindle books or underline them and scribble notes on the margins of paperbacks.  Some lessons I’ll record in my journal.  Sometimes (and this is new) I’ll create a summary on this blog (this could be quite helpful on processing the info).  It would be good to write ONE action point that you will implement from each book (just thought of this now, but its a good one).

Summary

Buy lots of books. Invest in yourself. No hesitation.

Pick and choose section of books you read. Free yourself of the need to read a book cover to cover.

Read multiple books on the go.  Give yourself permission to read multiple books at the same time.

Get a kindle. Or at least the app on your phone. Read books instead of browsing the internet (and switch off that goddamn internet!)

Write down ONE action point from each book you read. Implement it (at least test it out).