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.


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.
January 8th, 2020
Sometimes, you just have one of those days.

Where you wonder if this entrepreneur thing is actually worth it.

You've spent the last 8 hours working on some mundane thing like a blog post, or some crazy technical research into how Postgres JSON querying works, knowing that one day this will pay off, way later down the road.

But then you just cringe at how much time you spent on something like that. Nobody else is doing that. They are living normal lives, but you are putting yourself through some masochistic pain because you're an entrepreneur. 
January 6th, 2020
In 2018 I ran for 100 days in a row, but towards the end of the year, I pretty much stopped running.

In 2019 I really wanted to make running a habit. So I set the following goals:

  • Run 1000 miles
  • Run a 1:45 half marathon
  • Run a 3:45 marathon

I signed up for a half marathon at an active volcano in Indonesia around February and started my training.

Running in Southeast Asia was so hard. They don't really have sidewalks there, so you either have to:

  • Find a soccer field to run circles around
  • Run in parks or big public areas
  • Run on the road and die (jk, don't ever run on the road)

The first half marathon in Indonesia was really hard, my time was over 2:00 and it was so humid, and it was the opposite of flat.

But later in the year, I did run a 1:44 half marathon, which was a personal record and felt so good to do that and hit my goal!

A humbling marathon

I ran the Lisbon marathon in October and did HORRIBLE. I wanted to hit 3:45 but didn't even crack 4:25. At mile 18, I hit a wall and could not run anymore. My legs gave out and I pretty much walked the rest of the race.

I never felt pain like that before. I literally could not run anymore.

The whole experience was really humbling. To be totally honest, I went into that race with hubris, overconfidence, and I got kicked in the ass. It was actually kind of nice to be humbled like that.

I also didn't take my training seriously. I skipped and skimped on lots of long runs, and I thought I would be fine.

Regardless, that failure has given me the motivation to turn around and do the LA marathon in March. My goal, again is 3:45.

Just getting used to it

I remember running every day feeling really hard back then, and especially in 2018, but thing I loved about 2019 is that running just became so much easier because I was running every day.

Nowadays, I can run every day with no problems at all.

Generally, I'm in really good running shape after all this running. I'm not a great runner though, but for me, I'm the best I've ever been.

Goals for 2020

In 2020, I want to run a 3:30 marathon. 3:45 in LA and then I would like to do the New York marathon, but I need to figure out how to get in.

I'd also like to run 10 miles a day for a month, or a 10k/day for a month as a fun thing.

The Stats

In 2019 I ran in so many places! Here is everything I can think of on the top of my head:

  • Ran on 3 continents (North America, Asia, and Europe)
  • Ran in 8 countries (USA, France, Portugal, Spain, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore)
  • Ran in countless cities

Favorite city to run in: New York City
Least favorite city: Canggu, Bali

As far as miles and stats, according to my Strava:

Strava stats for 2019

I ran 221/365 days, or 60% of the year.

I was also running for 200 hours, or 8 full days, more than a week! I was running for 2% of 2019, that's insane!
January 5th, 2020
I forgot to write a journal entry yesterday, I need to start writing these in the morning, or at least drafting them.

As a part of my rule, any missed journal entry means I have to donate or support someone or something.

Today, I'm donating to Postgres, an open-source database tool I have used extensively over the past 4 years. I've used it for every single project I've ever worked on. It's an amazing tool that has saved me thousands of hours of work and indirectly generated thousands of dollars.
Thanks Postgres!

January 4th, 2020
I'm glad I made that YouTube video because it really got me thinking.

And furthermore, the 2 hour run I went on today had multiple revelations and "aha" moments. That's what I love about running. You just think, for a really, really long time and you can't distract yourself. You just keep thinking.

But I thought about it, and why do I separate the success and money between Starter Story and Pigeon? They are very complementary businesses, and I should treat them that way.

Part of me doesn't want to "mingle" them together because I don't want to muddy the waters, and for example, Pigeon is only successful because of Starter Story, but that is just counterintuitive. I should leverage Starter Story to grow Pigeon.

Why create new blog posts on the Pigeon website, when I could just do it on the Starter Story website, and link back. That solves a couple of really big problems - I don't have to wait as long for blog posts to start hitting because Starter Story has a really strong domain ranking.

And, in the event that Pigeon goes sour, I'm still growing Starter Story and can pivot to new software. Because if I work harder on Starter Story, it will help that platform grow a lot, too.

So, from a high level, I will start looking at my revenue as a whole. As Pat Walls LLC. More focus on Starter Story and bridging the gap for Pigeon.

So, what's the new plan?

  • Stop blogging on Pigeon's website
  • Stop doing Quora answers - it's not working
  • Start writing blog posts on Starter Story
  • One blog post/day
  • Write really high-quality stuff, learn a lot more about SEO
  • Get good enough to start outsourcing and automating that
  • Start driving some traffic from Starter Story blog posts to Pigeon
  • Start doing outreach to events managers, "string quartet" types, and interview sites
  • When that outreach doesn't work, turn around and put them through Starter Story - maybe we can get something out of that
  • Put off the side project marketing until February
  • keep doing case studies
  • focus on the tools SEO project, and generally more "automated content"