January 28th, 2020
very rough first draft for Kobe video I want to do

Dear Kobe,

I didn’t know you personally. I didn’t watch every game. I didn’t read your book or watch all of your interviews.

But your life has impacted me more than you probably know.

When I see you, in clips, photos, and interviews, I see someone who squeezed the juice out of life at every moment. You squeezed out every last drop. You lived life to the fullest.

You did everything with the most fierce passion. And it was so obvious, everyone could see it on your face.

You never gave a shit what people thought about that. You came into the world years ahead of everyone, whether that’s with basketball or film.

Instead of backing down to critics saying “you need to learn the ropes” before you can excel, you charged in with an attitude of “I will do this myself”, “I will do it my own way” and “I can do it better than the best”.

We live in a world of cliches. You hear “Follow your dreams” everywhere, but you rarely see anyone doing it. When you talk about your dreams, it is often met with eyerolls and people talking smack behind your back, and jealousy.

But to explain it in your words, you have no choice but to follow your dreams “if they make you feel as alive as you do”

You showed to the world how much you loved the game, and that intensity rubbed off on the rest of the world. It showed millions of kids and adults what it means to find the thing that you’re truly passionate about.

You taught me the value of focus and hard work. Even with so much raw talent, you worked harder than anyone else. 

You were in the gym by 4am, you got 2 extra hours per day of more work than other athletes, and you did that for years. All that added up over time is the difference between you and others. That taught me the value of compounding.

I also want to thank you for what you taught me about acceptance. When you retired from the game, you had accepted it.

You knew you gave the game 110%, every day, since you were a kid. You could look back with no regrets, no “what ifs”.

This inspires me to work harder, to understand what it means to give my projects everything I have. It inspires me to do more, to be the best.

It reminds me that the only important thing you can do in life is be the best person you can be, every moment of every day. You can’t look back, only forward.

No matter how old you are, what defects you have in your body, you can only move forward with a smile on your face.

Kobe, you are different than most people. It’s clear that your goal in life is to inspire other people. To build a better future. You never cared about the fame or the money. 

You cared about winning, but winning was just a vehicle to inspire more people. To show them that anyone can win and be the best, with the Mamba mentality.

And that inspires me to inspire others. We may not see it today, but over years of “doing the right thing” we can inspire millions. 

Be an example, work hard, and share your knowledge with others, and expect nothing in return.

January 27th, 2020
Woke up... Kobe is still gone.

It feels sadder today and I cried again this morning.

I can't watch this stuff on Twitter and YouTube without feeling some type of way.

I know that Kobe would have wanted me to not focus on it, but instead, put in more work, work harder, and up my game.

I will do that.

(I'm going to record a YT video on Kobe this week - going to work hard on it)
January 26th, 2020
When I heard the news that Kobe died today, I was on a run. I thought "wow - that's crazy" but it didn't actually hit me. I thought about my friends who are Lakers fans and how much this will impact them.

But when I got home and started reading Twitter and watching the news, I remembered how much Kobe impacted me. In high school and early college I was a big Lakers fan, but when they started sucking, I pretty much stopped watching basketball.

But today I cried more than I've cried in a really long time. The more I browsed Twitter and watched his old videos, quotables, and the remembered the man that he was, the more I cried.

To be honest, I don't really understand why this is affecting me so much.

But Kobe was a part of my childhood, someone I looked up to. When you're young, you don't notice all of the amazing things about the man - it's more about the game and the athlete that he was.

But as I got older, and so did he, you started to see that Kobe was just different. Even when his body got older, he had this insane drive to win and be the best. He never, ever gave anything less than his all.

But I'm not a huge basketball fan, and what has impacted me so much has little to do with basketball.

Kobe was the kind of guy that got what he wanted out of life. He found the thing that he was so passionate about (basketball) and he did everything in his human ability to achieve greatness at the highest level.

"The mamba mentality" - Kobe's slogan and inspirational idea - "means to be able to constantly try to be the best version of yourself". "It's a constant quest to try to better today than you were yesterday."

Kobe always saw the opportunity in his own flaws. Instead of being self-concious about something in life, and in his game, he used that as fuel to learn more, to work harder, and to overcome.

And once basketball came to an end for him, he knew it was over. He gave it his all, his everything. And that was OK, because he could look back and never regret anything. He knew that he gave it everything he could.

That is something that really hits home for me. It inspires me to work harder and live a life full of passion and following my dreams. It is what I'm trying to do right now.

It also gives me motivation to build a family. Kobe was all about family. I think family and work and your impact are the most important things in this world.

And Kobe only cared about impact. He did not care about money. I have no way to back this, but when you look at his face during a game, you can just tell that this man only cares about winning.

He didn't care how others percieved him. He was a competitor and fierce on the court. He did what was right. He said what we thought. And everyone respected him for that.

He talked big and had the skills and work ethic to back it up.

After he left the league he won an Oscar, and wrote a book, he was building something even bigger than basketball.

In today's world, I think we get shit on for wanting to follow our dreams. Whether you're making music, an aspiring comedian, an athlete, etc most people will talk shit behind your back. Whether you're famous or not, the haters and jealous people try to bring people down like crabs in a bucket.

Kobe preached for people to follow their dreams, the mamba mentality, to WORK HARD and make no excuses for yourself. To become a better person every day. To push yourself to new limits. To do it for YOU.

It is this mentality that makes people like Kobe stand out from the rest of the world. I wish more people in this world were like Kobe.

All of this happening has inspired me to work harder and has only given me more confidence that I must follow my dreams and make an impact on the world.

Kobe was only 41. I'm almost 30. I haven't done 5% of the things I wanna do in the world. But I need to stop giving a fuck about what I've done and focus on what I can do today, and tomorrow. We can only move forward.
January 25th, 2020
We think awards mean something because anyone that gets an award will tell the whole world, post on social media, and probably even put it in their email footer and Twitter bio - and they will receive a lot of praise for it.

Forbes 30 Under 30, Product of the Year, Winner of X Startup Competition, etc - we see it everywhere.

But what do those awards mean? Pretty much nothing - they are a distraction from getting actual work done and building a business or idea or even a legacy.

Awards have their place though, and they can definitely help you achieve bigger things. They are an easy way of saying "I am legit" and showing off. It's also an easy way to show others your accomplishments in a digestible format - for example - I can tell someone who doesn't know anything about startups that I got a startup award and they would probably be impressed.

But I think awards also connotate being part of a "scene" - to get awards you almost always have to know the right people and make the right "moves" - whether that's continually telling a "story" or even gaming the system.

Because when you get an award - you are being recognized by the "industry" - do you want to be well renowned in your industry? Or do you want to be well renowned by the public? In other words, do you want to make great art in the eyes of other artists, or great work in the eyes of the people - your customers!? You can't always have both - but for me - I hate being recognized by my industry - I want to inspire people outside my industry. In my opinion, that's where you have a real impact and platform. 

There's no issue with getting awards, but I don't think we should seek them out. It's a form of validation, and seeking validation is one of the worst things you can do.

Comedians are not remembered for their comedy awards, they are remembered for being funny. Creators are not remembered for getting "Creator of the year", they are remembered for creating great content.

And anyone can give out an award - they are subjective most of the time - that's why they mean nothing.
January 24th, 2020
I feel like after starting my own business I have more "bad days" than before I started my business.

To be honest, when I look back at when I had a regular job, I never really had any bad days. In fact, I can remember thinking "I don't really understand when people say they have a bad day." I've felt sad and depressed and been dumped and had bad things happen and made bad choices, but I don't remember having much "bad days".

I guess a bad day for me is more when I question "what am I doing with my life?" or "is this all worth it?". 

When deep down, you know you're doing the best thing, but it's hard to see it. When your ego is crushed and you are rejected. That is what gives me a "bad day".

Because for most of my life, I've been very ambitious. So I was never having a "bad day" but seeing bad things as an opportunity to improve and get out of them. For example, I had a shitty corporate job and I used that as motivation to challenge myself to become more technical and got a job at a startup, and then after that to learn to code.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that "bad days" in the past gave me an escape, to try new things and "level up".

But, in a lot of ways, with starting and building a business, there are no "escapes" - it is your lifeblood and it's what will put food on the table. For me, this business and journey that I'm on need to be the focus, and that's what makes it really hard when bad things happen. 

I have to face it and I can't back down.

That's one of the differences between the rest of the population and entrepreneurs, or to be more general, the people that consume and the people that create. I think that being a creator or entrepreneur or politician etc you probably go through this to some degree.

I'm not trying to say one is different than the other, it's just a different kind of wiring of the brain, I think.

And the opposite of bad days are good days, obviously - I can say with certainty that I have more "good days" or at least the good days today are better than the good days of a few years ago.
January 23rd, 2020
I think I'm happiest when everything is simple.

  • Simple routine - little to no meetings, no disruptive events.
  • Simple diet - meal prep rice, lentils and beans for most meals, lunch & dinner, why not eat the same thing with slight variations?
  • Simple liquids - Just drink water and regular coffee, no soda or alcohol.
  • Simple exercise - just go for a run, no need to have a crazy gym routine.
  • Simple workspace - just a laptop and a charger, no external monitor mouse or keyboard.
  • Simple wardrobe - just black t-shirts, a hoodie and a couple pairs of jeans, no jewelery.
  • Simple room - just a bed and a place for my clothes.
  • Simple digital life - Avoid social media.
  • Simple relationships - just a few close friends that will last decades.
  • Simple business - it does one thing really well.

I'm not saying that I follow all of these all of the time, but I definitely strive to, and thinking about how I can simplify always gets me excited.
January 22nd, 2020
Today I'm donating/supporting Gift of Gab, one of my favorite rappers and artists of all time. He needs support from his surgery.

He is one part of the world-renowned hip hop group Blackalicious. They made multiple legendary albums - my favorite one is probably The Craft.

Going to listen to that album today, it's been a while since I've listened to it full.

That album has brought me so much joy and inspiration over the years.

It's crazy how someone that has had so much impact on the world needs support for basic medical needs.

This is not a lazy man. He made music that changed the world. He still makes music.

WE DESERVE FREE HEALTH CARE

Link to GoFundMe.
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January 21st, 2020
(short one today as I almost forgot)

I'm back to waking up early again.

I want to get to 530AM by the end of the week.

Waking up early feels so productive. And going to bed early feels so nice because you really feel like you put in a hard day's work and now you can relax and go to bed, rather than waking up late, awkwardly getting started by 2pm and then feeling guilty by 8pm and then working late.

Let's see how long I can do this. Hopefully for the rest of the month and reassess.
January 20th, 2020
What the fuck, man. Having a really shitty day.

Long story short, this is what happened:

1. Top post on the subreddit is a petition to ban my posts.
2. I only saw it hours later and I just came back from vacation.
3. I posted that I would be leaving the sub, and I didn't say it the right way.

I should have just left quietly, but my ego decided I needed to say "bye" and announce I was leaving.

Truth is, I should have left Reddit a year ago. There is very little benefit anymore from our posts there.

The whole automation thing was too played out too, I let it go too far. I should have killed it a while back.

Starter Story lost its novelty on Reddit a long time ago. We're focused on scaling the website now, which has some downsides when you want things to be more personal on something like Reddit.

This also has me thinking, in general, about why it's dumb to be so open about your story and your methods. My threads on automating Reddit and other things really just end up backfiring on me. It's cool to be candid but it might also fuck you over.

The stuff we do is definitely questionable at times, such as some of our automation. But that's business. It's a choice we make. Everything is a tradeoff.

The answers are never black and white.

It's times like these where you have to stay strong and not let haters get to you. More on this this week. I want to get my thoughts out more and eventually do a YT video on this. It's important and really affecting me.
January 19th, 2020
Friday, Saturday, and today I took a short trip, a 1 hour plane ride away to Phoenix, Arizona.

What's pretty nice about Salt Lake City is that it's really cheap to fly places - I'm not sure why - but most flights are just around $100 round trip to LA, SF, New York, etc.

I'm going to try to get away more like this.

This weekend I tried to unplug as much as possible. I didn't bring my phone when I went out. I didn't really work at all.

I had some anxiety on Friday which I was pretty worried about, but by the time Saturday rolled around I got over it.

Feels really nice to take that time off. The past few weeks, it's been hard to stay motivated and I've been on a pretty bad schedule of staying up late and sleeping in, and not getting as much stuff done as I want to.

This little break shocked me into a new routine and I will start waking up early going forward. Look forward to next week.
January 18th, 2020
Today, I ran a half marathon and actually reached my goal time, of 1:40.

It's so fucking awesome to work so hard for something and actually do it.

At the last mile, I felt so good, so strong, and I got a bit emotional, that I actually cried. You couldn't rip the smile off my face. It was one of the best feelings of my life.
January 17th, 2020
I’m in Arizona for the weekend. Doing a half marathon as a part of my Los Angeles marathon training.

Sometimes I forget that it's pretty awesome to live in a place like here - you can live a really nice life for pretty cheap. My friends pay $1500/month for their mortgage on a 4 bedroom house with a pool.

I’d like to live in New York City but I live in Salt Lake City and I realize its also really damn nice. Is LA that much better than Salt Lake City? Not really. I had a philosophy professor many years ago say something like "where you live contributes to about 10% of your happiness, the other 90% is you and your mindset and how you perceive it."

Much of my life I've been "chasing" for the best city in the world. Moved to San Francisco, moved to New York, moved to South East Asia and became a digital nomad. Some of the reason I've moved is that I think I will be happier in that new city, "because New York is so much better than SF".

Don't get me wrong, New York is an amazing city, but I've come to realize where you live doesn't really matter. It's why I'm focused more on the work that I do and making a good life for myself - I don't really care where that is - as long as it's with good people, friends, and family.
January 16th, 2020
I remember when I graduated college I was so excited to work for a corporation because it "had a great name". I could tell all my friends and family that I worked at X and I remember getting praise and excitement.

But now I look back and I cringe at that so hard.

After actually starting the job, I realized that all companies are the same and having loyalty to a corporation is such a childish thing. How can you love a brand? It is not a real thing. You might love the products it designs or the food it makes, but loving the brand? That's lame. It's superficial too.

It's one thing to like a company for its products, but it's a whole lot cornier to love a company because it makes you look good. For example, someone who works at Goldman Sachhs or something. You also see this at trendy tech companies like Google. "I do XYZ at Google".

People also obsess over these tech companies moves like Apple and Amazon and Google. "Did you see Amazon bought XYZ for 12 B dollars?" Sick. How does that impact you?

I find it so ridiculous that people obsess over faceless brand name corporations. Let's talk about the actual founders, CEOs, researchers, open source contributors or people that are actually doing the work.

I have a friend who wanted to get a job so bad at Spotify. She called it her 'dream job'. I asked her why she cares so much about working there. Her answer whittled down to something like "it's such a cool company". Don't you care more about the type of work you'd be doing there? The specific projects you'd be assigned or get to work on? What about who you'd be working with? What if you got your 'dream job' and then you had the worst manager of all time?

When it comes down to it, most companies are 90% the same when you get inside. They all have their issues, and most roles inside do the same work. Programmers program and project managers manage projects and recruiters get people hired. That's why I would work at a startup over Google any day. And that's why I would build my own company over working at a startup. 

The importance is in the work that you do, what you learn, and how fast you can grow yourself. You're not gonna accelerate those things at Google. Although it is probably really nice to tell everyone that you work at Google.
January 15th, 2020
Yesterday I was randomly checking Google Analytics and clicked the button for "All time" stats.

I realized we had reached 1,000,000+ users. That's unique users, not sessions or pageviews.

I tweeted about it.

I never thought two years ago that 1 million people would visit my little crappy website.

But now, it just feels normal. The site does 100k uniques/month and I'd like it to be at 500k uniques/month by the end of the year.

After a while, these numbers are hard to really wrap your head around. A million people sounds like a lot, but as someone who thinks about the numbers often, it feels like child's play to a YouTuber who often gets 1M views PER VIDEO.

What I'm trying to say is that 1M is not enough, and neither will be 10M, or probably even 1B. No number will make you happy, but it is nice to see these "milestones" happen.

I posted it on Twitter and LinkedIn and felt good about myself from all of the likes and praise, but to me, all I think about is the businesses/websites out there doing better numbers, doing 1M per month, have better conversion rates, or just more revenue.

There is a way deeper story to that 1M number. There's always a deeper story to anyone that's sharing their numbers on social media, to friends, investors, etc. You always want more. For me, that's more revenue, increased engagement, etc - always going for the next milestone - and that's OK!
January 14th, 2020
I read a blog post today about how you should pick a business that *you* want to build.

This is a great message, but I think it also has some caveats. Some people (technical ones) don't want to build a business, that, for example, requires sales, or in-person deals. And there are other people that can't do anything technical.

Being an entrepreneur and building a business is about stepping out of your comfort zone and figuring those things out. Because nobody else is going to get it done other than you. You (and your business) must evolve to overcome hard things.

Evolving is life’s greatest accomplishment and its greatest reward.

An avoidance mentality can be good in some cases, but it's also what kills businesses, I think. Or worse, it makes them stagnant.

Maybe I just see it differently, but my favorite part about being an entrepreneur is all the things I learn and how much I level up, and looking back 6 months ago, and thinking "damn, I did that really crazy hard thing and now it just feels normal now".
January 13th, 2020
I don't think that your business being known as "successful" has much to do with success. It probably helps a bit but I might even argue that it invites more competition, ultimately nullifying the gains.

It's just that the people that consume startup and business media are 95% of the time, not your customer.

There are just so many businesses out there that are unknown in the "startup media" scene that are doing really well.

We get so wrapped up in the "Indie Hackers" landscape that it feels like there are obvious winners and losers, but that picture in our head is severely skewed from our own personal bias and also, people just don't tell the full truth.
January 12th, 2020
1. Go on Twitter
2. See someone having epic big-time overnight success moment
3. Forget about the 7.53B people not having big-time epic overnight success moment
5. Get jealous, and then down on yourself
6. Your day is slightly worse
... a day passes
7. Go on Twitter
January 11th, 2020
I feel really guilty when I'm not working.

And sometimes I can't even sleep well if I feel I didn't work enough that day.

For example, last night, I finished up work around 7pm. I had the night to myself, so that means I'll usually just work.

But I just didn't feel like working. So I watched Marriage Story, 6 episodes of the Office, and then 2 hours of Cops.

I went to bed at 2am because I could not sleep. And it was because I sat around vegging watching crap on TV. If I worked a couple hours, I probably would have been to sleep before midnight.

I need to work on learning how to take time off, and also using that time off better.
January 10th, 2020
On most days, I walk to the library through the downtown area of Salt Lake City.

If I'm getting a late start to my day, or I went for a run in the morning, I'll be walking through downtown at 10am or sometimes even noon.

I walk by many office buildings / high rises.

I always manage to walk by some groups of corporate employees. I can always tell from the business casual attire and they often have a lanyard/ID/badge thing.

And every time I see them, I get a feeling of gratitude that I am not doing a 9 to 5.

When I'm working at Starbucks, they will come in and have their gossip/politics chats.

Because it reminds me of my corporate days, when I had to be somewhere, every weekday, from 9 to 5. I felt compelled to go out to lunch (awkwardly) with coworkers, and have 1:1s with my managers.

And sometimes (when business gets hard) I forget about all of these reasons I left the 9to5.

But the thing that gets me the most is those stupid khaki pants and uncomfortable shoes that they are wearing. I just can't imagine ever doing that again.
January 9th, 2020
One of the big goals for 2020 is to learn more about SEO and how to rank and grow traffic.

I think it will be a huge benefit to both Pigeon and Starter Story.

Today, I finished the biggest blog post I've ever done - I spent over 30 hours on it, all said and done.

I don't have any expectations for it though - it might flop - but through this experience I learned a lot, and now I know I can take this "formula" and do some more automation and outsourcing and deploy it in the future for Starter Story.

In other words, I can repeat this type of blog post over and over.

Over the next month, I'm gonna keep going heads down on SEO, learning more, and planning a "content calendar" that will help Starter Story and Pigeon rank super well. I'm excited.