October 26th, 2020
Uninstalling the Instagram app does not prevent me from still using it. I'll browse the web version on my computer.

And site blockers are not sufficient in blocking time-wasting sites. I'll open them in another browser (or just turn it off).

I found a new solution, blocking websites from through my hosts file.

You can do this with some leet hacker skills (not really), here's the steps.

It's annoying and tedious to do, but that's the point. If I need to undo it, I can, but the inconvenience is enough to stop me most times.

You can also do this on your iPhone.

The sites I block
October 25th, 2020
When I left NYC in 2018, I still felt like I had “unfinished business”. I didn’t want to leave, but I needed to (to go full time on my own business).

I knew I needed to come back to NYC. I wouldn’t have been content until I did.

After this summer in NYC, I feel like I finally got that closure.

New chapter :)
October 24th, 2020
Want to reliably track key metrics for your business? Catch yourself checking analytics too often? Want your employees/co-founders to feel involved in the performance of the business?

Here’s a tactic I learned from a startup I worked at:

Create an automated daily email to yourself (and your team) which tracks how you did in the previous day (as well as MTD, YTD, etc).

This email:

  • Sends every morning (with a cron job)
  • Sends to the entire team
  • Hacks together a bunch of APIs (Google Analytics, Stripe, etc)
  • Is a constant work in progress (always adding new metrics)
  • Enables a transparent culture
  • Allows the team to see their own progress (if they work on a specific function), as well as progress of the business as a whole
  • Exposes potential bugs or if something is going wrong
  • Exposes trends in the business

How it looks:



October 24th, 2020
Disclosure: I am not a Trump supporter.

It's so obvious he's going to win.

Trump is holding a rally right now and people are there in the freezing cold, bundled up, and it's packed with people. Thousands of people.

100k people are concurrently watching this on YouTube, right now:

Trump Rally


Meanwhile, Joe Biden had a "drive-in" rally and it was actually crashed by Trump supporters.

Apparently, that's Biden's only public appearance. A measly drive-in rally? Trump is rallying crowds in all the swing states. Who's got more skin in the game? Why isn't Biden and that entire team out there squeezing every last drop?

Why do the Democrats have the same hubris they had in 2016? They relied on their "pre-polls" and ran some fancy models, and thought "He can't win".

But when he did, we realized it was because of so many secret Trump supporters, and all of the rallies he did. Whether you like it or not, he has a very strong grassroots movement.

So wouldn't you think we'd change our playbook after what happened in 2016? And find someone who can actually go up against Trump?

Yet, it's Joe Biden, an even more uninteresting candidate. No fresh ideas. Not exciting.

"He's the best we got" or "he's better than Trump" is what most people say. I agree with those statements, but it's not enough to win an election.

I was talking to my friend from Ukraine. He couldn't remember the name of the guy running against Trump. That's another reason Trump wins.

To beat Trump, you need to fight fire with fire, you need someone like Obama. Or Bernie. Someone with conviction and a strong message.

4 more years of this garbage.
October 24th, 2020
When the Kanye x Joe Rogan podcast came out today, before even 10 minutes into watching, I emailed / chatted the link to at least 10 people.

Additionally, I had 4-5 people text or chat ME about it.

This is the power of word of mouth, and it's how things go viral and get millions of views.

If you're in the business of creating things, really really think about that...  There are no "marketing hacks" here. To go viral, create something so great that people feel the urge to share it with one another through texts, emails, in person, etc without any hesitation.

And it also helps to be as polarizing and truthful as Kanye & Joe, that everyone feels they must watch.
October 23rd, 2020
This is a running list and I will keep this post updated as I come across more.

1 - Tyler, The Creator

“I just never wanted to drink. It’s just never something that interested me… I have an addictive personality… If I ended up liking alcohol, it would end up being the downfall of me.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dz1dBYh5V0s

2 - Rob Lowe

“It changed my life. It was the best thing I ever did… I didn’t end up being a crazy actor.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZcMcOthn84

3 - Nikki Glaser

“Because I don’t drink, I’m killing it. My life changed. I can trace my success from that moment I stopped drinking.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LUm51Z-Ii0

4 - Justin Kan

“Alcohol has been an unhealthy way to avoid being fully in touch with my emotions & my experience of life.”

https://twitter.com/justinkan/status/1120188473263050758?lang=en

5 - Donald Trump

His brother, Fred, died at 43. “This is why I don't drink, ever. I just don't do it. Fred told me not to, and I saw what happened to him when he didn't follow his own advice." (source)

6 - Calvin Harris

“I wasn't an alcoholic or anything like that, but it was clearly affecting what I do," he said. "My live shows are a million times better now. If you drink, you can't even remember if it's a good show or not — and that's probably for the best, because it would have been rubbish because I'd have been drunk and not making any sense." (source)

7 - Jocko Willink

“It does nothing to help me get stronger faster smarter healthier better.”

https://twitter.com/jockowillink/status/783698874196107264

8 - Russel Brand

“But mostly, what I discovered, nothing has made me feel as good as the kind of connection that I find with people.” (source)

9 - Ewan McGregor

"I knew I was lucky, and somehow I knew that if I didn't stop, everything would go tits up — my career, my family, my everything," (source)

10 - Bradley Cooper

"If I continued it, I was really going to sabotage my whole life." (source)

11 - Henry Rollins

“I believe that one defines oneself by reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself. To cut yourself out of stone. Keep your blood clean, your body lean, and your mind sharp. I don’t go out and party. I don’t smoke, drink or do drugs.” (source)

12 - Khabib Nurmagomedov

“Alcohol and girls stand in a way of an athlete, they spoil him and make him weak.” (source)

13 - Novak Djokovic

“I haven't been drinking for years. I sometimes did and as an athlete who rarely drinks, which is well known, one drink will throw me into the machine and I don't know where I am..." (source)

14 - John Mayer

"I looked out the window and I went, 'OK, John, what percentage of your potential would you like to have? Because if you say you'd like 60, and you'd like to spend the other 40 having fun, that's fine," he told Complex. "'But what percentage of what is available to you would you like to make happen? There's no wrong answer. What is it?' I went, '100.'" (source)

15 - Jesse from Nelk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBOrt_yqK4M
October 23rd, 2020
After writing about the freedom of running my own business, I received a really nice email from a reader, and I thought it was worth posting here:

While I play tennis with my retired neighbors in the middle of the day they often don’t understand. How I can hit for a couple hours, and then head home to pick up my work right where I left off. They waited until they were 70 for the kind of freedom I now enjoy. They sometimes think I am underemployed or not successful. How could I be? I don’t fit the model that has been and is preached for decades.

How am I able to take my daily after lunch walk and if I run into a friend can sit and chat for a couple hours.

How I gave up on trying to explain what I do for a living and how most people even my own family don’t understand because I don’t just have a job title at a corporation anymore. Did they understand what I did before? Probably not… But at least they felt comfortable and safe because I was in the standard box.

But as you pointed out, the occasionally feel guilty that I am somehow cheating the system. I feel like I should be taking on more than I am just to be busier. Crazy… I have a friend that keeps me in check when I am feeling the urge to take on additional projects just to fill my time. I give him a call and he reminds me that more work won’t make me happier and that being able to play chess, tennis, workout, cook, take walks, and read during the day and still get a reasonable amount of work done is something to hold onto.

Thank you for sending this :)
October 23rd, 2020
Ok, so I follow some other blogs, and I noticed something.

Some of these guys post MULTIPLE blog posts per day. Here's an example.

The posts are super short, sometimes even one sentence.

I like this because:
 
  • If I see something cool online, I can just write about it, ad hoc.
  • I can post more "small stuff". Like "hey, check out this little code I wrote today."
  • I don't have a "looming" blog post on my todo list all day (where I feel I have to be introspective).
  • It's more like tweeting: random thoughts, etc
  • It helps me push more ideas out into the world, to think a bit faster about stuff
  • I need to change something up here on this blog, helps me stay fresh :)

We'll see where this goes... Send me your thoughts!!
October 22nd, 2020
Matthew McConaughey on writing every day:

When do most of us not write in our diary? When things are going great!

“I got it figured out! I don’t need to take time and go be introspective and write down my thoughts. Everything’s a green light. It’s great.”

The original purpose of a diary is to dissect failure or disillusion. But I think there is more prudence in dissecting success.

Let’s dissect when things are going well. Let’s dissect when everything’s clear and you feel strong and confident and significant and you feel like yourself.

I started writing in my diary when things were going well. And when I inevitably would get into a proverbial ‘rut’, I could go back to that diary and see how and map out how I got there.

I found consistencies. I found it was about what I was eating. And who I was hanging out with. And how much sleep I was getting. And nature and the beauties in the world I was noticing, and how they were affecting me. How I approached people. I found patterns.

Source. This is cut down and paraphrased for brevity.
October 21st, 2020
Nobody believed in me. Nobody thought I was smart.

I bombed the SAT. I went to community college.

Nobody wanted to invest in my business. Nobody predicted I would be successful.

It brings me joy to prove people wrong. If people thought I was smart/capable/etc from the beginning, I’m not sure I would have worked so hard.

Still today, most people don’t believe in me. I love that. I get to keep proving people wrong and punching above my weight, probably for the rest of my life.
October 20th, 2020
“It's supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

This cliche applies to everything in life, but today, I’m talking about dating apps.

What has your experience been with dating apps? For me, 4 out of 5 people I met on there were losers.

Why?

1 - No barrier to entry

There is no barrier to entry to join the app-dating pool. 

Anyone can join these apps. The world is full of losers, so it makes sense they join the apps (everyone wants to find love, right?).

In the real world of dating, there are tons of barriers to entry. In the real world, you need to build up the courage to talk to people you’re attracted to. In the real world, you need to build the social skills to be able to court someone. You need to display confidence, status, and worth. 

That stuff’s not easy to do. It takes years of practice and failure. With an app, you get to skip much of this (which is bad for the long-term).

If it was easy, everyone would do it!

2 - Reactive People

Another point. The typical desirable person on a dating app is usually “reactive”. Because they have so many matches, they can “react” to the algorithm or the matches that come to them. They are less interested in searching for love and being proactive about it. “Why go to the bar when you can swipe Tinder while taking a shit?

They’re satisfied with love being “handed to them”. They’re not go-getters. I want to be with a go-getter

3 - False Sense of Progress

Dating apps also give their users a false sense of “progress”. When I was on the apps, I would match and chat with people and “feel good” about my worthiness as a mate, yet I never left my house! 

This is obviously not real progress. 95% of my matches would actually never turn into a date, and those dates were never with the matches that excited me the most in the beginning.

I’m not saying “dont use dating apps” but rather “use dating apps as a tool”

Dating apps can be helpful to put yourself out there, and I know a few people that have met their life partners on the apps.

But there are other channels to meet people that might be more effective (less time & effort & better results). They might just be a bit scarier to do at first.

Lastly, using the apps is a huge time suck!

Disclosure: I’ve been on dating apps for years. Yes, I’m a loser too.
October 19th, 2020
I didn’t start getting any solid work done today until 1 PM.

Most of my morning was spent texting, catching up, and FaceTiming with friends and family.

You know how it is… One catchup leads to another, and along with a few good long text conversations, your whole morning is a wash and the coffee has worn off!

Usually, I’d feel quite guilty about this, but less so today. 

Each time I felt guilty about not working, I’d remind myself just how much more important the people in my life are than the items on my todo list.

For work, there’s always tomorrow. For people, there might not be.
October 18th, 2020
This weekend I went to Siesta Key, a beach in western Florida. 

The sand is pure white, it’s cool to the touch, and it crumbles like flour. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Americans hate Florida, but this place is pretty nice... Nice people and great weather.

IMAGE 2020-10-18 22-14-10.jpg 186 KB
October 16th, 2020
The key to managing people is giving them ownership.

  • Instead of you planning the project, give it to the newbie.
  • Instead of you writing the code, let them write it.
  • Instead of you running the meeting, let them run it.

Let them get all of the credit. All of the stakes. Let them own it.

Ideally, these tasks are things you know you can do, but are out of their comfort zone.

Once they realize this ownership, they’ll do a fantastic job. 

They won’t feel like they’re being told what to do, which is what all employees hate. They will feel like they have power, and volition, and freedom.

They’ll also feel challenged and fulfilled. That is what people want out of a job. If they don’t feel challenged, they will slack off or leave your company to go be challenged somewhere else.

If they do a bad job, that’s your fault. There’s a glitch in your teaching, or the systems you built. 

In the event that something does goes wrong, you should never say “I’ll just do this myself”. Fix the problem with them, and learn together, along the way, so it never happens again.

By giving ownership, not only will you have a happy, productive team, but you will have less work on your own hands.

Ever met someone that’s on back to back meetings every day and must respond to hundreds of emails? They are actually bad managers! They put everything on themselves, and cannot delegate and give ownership to their team.

A manager’s job is to build more managers. “Teach a man to fish”.

If I look back on the best bosses I had, that’s how they treated me. They trusted me and let me lead. They gave me ownership, and I always ran with it.

I just went on LinkedIn and looked up these old bosses to see where they are at now. They are all now VPs, high-level execs, or started very successful companies.
October 15th, 2020
It takes time to get what you want.

Let me provide a trivial example.

When I moved to NYC in the beginning of the summer, I wanted to pick up tennis.

But I was new to tennis and had nobody to play with…

I searched “tennis club new york city” on Google and it all seemed so complicated

“It costs $100+ to play for just one hour?”

Then I heard about the public courts, and it seemed even more complicated

“How do I wait for a court? I have to wait hours to play? Who will play with me?”

I gave up, for two weeks.

“I guess it isn’t all that realistic to pick up tennis in a city like New York...”

Then I ran into a friend who told me he’d been playing. I asked if he would play with me and he said yes. 

We met up at the court, and while waiting for a court, I met a girl who was also waiting. I set up time to play with her the following week. 

After playing with her a couple times, I met another guy. We started playing weekly.

A couple weeks later, after finishing up a game with him, I saw an old friend’s twin brother waiting for a court. I introduced myself and we started playing weekly.

While all of these random connections were happening, my IRL friends also started to get involved. My roommate got a racket. And then my best friend got a racket. And then his girlfriend got a racket.

I had even more people to play and learn with.

Then, their friends, and friends of friends wanted to get involved, too. So many people that we started to have to play doubles. I continued to meet more friends of friends who wanted to play.

By the end of the summer, I had dozens of tennis partners. Dozens of people I could text anytime and ask to play, or they would text me and ask to play. 

Too many people, actually! I started playing twice a day, 14 times a week! But I loved it.

This is all a silly example, but my takeaway here is it takes time.

In the beginning of the summer, I felt hopeless and didn’t know where to start. But through small, consistent effort, I built this tiny little tennis community and made dozens of friends and ended up with endless opportunities to play tennis.

And that brings me to today...

I’m in Tampa, a new city, and I still want to play tennis regularly. I’m frustrated that I have no one to play with, and finding even one person to play with feels daunting…

But I must remember that it takes time!

I should just focus on finding just one partner, rather than expecting to have what I had in New York. 

Start small. One partner at a time. From there, I will build.

It all starts with something. Want to write? Start with one word, one sentence. Start a business? Start with one simple task.

You don't set out to build a wall. You don't say 'I'm going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that's ever been built. ' You don't start there. You say 'I'm gonna lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid,' and you do that every single day, and soon you have a wall.” - Will Smith
October 14th, 2020
My favorite thing about playing tennis is the anticipation of the opponents’ serve.

Right before he lobs the ball in the air, my mind races. Races with uncertainty. “Whats going to happen? Where’s the ball going to go?” Sometimes, I have thoughts like “I’m going to fuck up and forget how to hit the ball back”.

But every single time, all of those thoughts wash away the moment the ball is barreling towards me.

My mind becomes blank. It goes into instinct mode. My only concern is hitting the ball back, and my body goes into autopilot.

I don’t think, I just “do”.

That’s why I love playing tennis. I become present without even trying. I become present out of necessity.
October 13th, 2020
Today, I met up with a fellow founder friend.

We met in the middle of the “workday”, at 11 am, played tennis for a couple of hours, and got lunch.

We both acknowledged how awesome it is that we have this kind of freedom. 

We don’t have to ask anyone’s permission or request any time off. We just choose what we want to do, right at any moment.

But right after we acknowledged this, we also agreed how much we already take this freedom for granted.

With this freedom, we now stress about how we’re not being productive enough with it. We’re focused on the “next milestone” or that shiny new thing in the distance.

Just a couple of years ago, we dreamed of the idea of owning our schedules, being our own boss, and getting paid to build cool shit.

Now we have it, and it feels so damn normal. 

“Was this all it was really cracked up to be?”
October 12th, 2020
Drake has a series of songs titled 9AM In Dallas, 5AM in Toronto, etc.

Instead of coming up with traditional names for those songs, he likely just wanted to give the listener an idea of where he was at the time of writing...

I’m up early in San Diego, I’m visiting. I’m used to east coast time, so it really feels like 8AM.

The people I’m staying with won’t be up for a couple of hours, so it’s nice to sit here and get my writing done for the day.

Yesterday, we were talking about COVID and how crazy things were just 8 months ago. Back in March in San Diego, they wouldn’t even allow you to go to the beach. Cops were patrolling the beach and kicking people off.

There was so much fear back then. Everyone (people, businesses, governments) were forced to make decisions and take such drastic measures.

I was one of those people who was very filled with fear. “Everyone should lockdown, do nothing for months.”

But nowadays, I actually feel the opposite. I feel that people must move on. 

Not really for economic reasons, but personal reasons. For mental health.

I know a lot of people that “moved home with their parents” during COVID. On paper, moving home sounds like a great idea (save money, spend time with family, etc), but the reality was much worse.

With everyone I talked to, it was not a great experience after 1 or 2 months.

When you move home, you’ll likely lose your social life. Meaning no friends, no parties, no bars & restaurants, no dating, no job/coworkers, etc.

If you think about it, that’s very unhealthy.

I think that maybe we took being social for granted. Humans have a biological need to be social. To meet people, spend time together, laugh together, work together, love together. You take that away, and your brain gets fucked up.

Most people I know that moved home realized this and realized they needed to “get back to real life”.

Many people are making it back to New York City now. They don’t have to move back (still remote) but they are choosing to.

As the people trickle back into New York City and pick up where they left off, they actually seem a bit socially awkward! I think it’s because they spent so much time in isolation! (NYT has a piece on this)

The issue now is that people are ready to get back to normal lives, but they are afraid to announce it.

I know so many people that go on vacation but won’t post anything on social media because travel is still a bit taboo. I also met a girl who told me she doesn’t like it when people post on social media about their wedding because “of all that is going on in America”.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens next. COVID will still go on, but people will (silently) pick their lives back up, I think. I wonder how that will impact social media, and mental health, and politics.
October 9th, 2020
There’s this really neat feature on the iPhone that will auto-create a montage for you from photos and videos in your camera roll.

It will use the location and time and facial recognition technology to make pretty decent videos. It also adds music to it as well.

It’s basically an "automated vlog", which I think is so friggin' cool.

After exploring this feature, it's inspired me to take more videos

More specifically, to take videos of more random stuff in my everyday life. Videos of hanging out with friends, cooking, relaxing, and playing sports.

Taking 4K video is now possible on most iPhones, and these days, you can whip out your phone and film stuff and no one will even notice. It just looks like you're snapping a photo or doing an IG story.

I’ve always wanted to have a vlog, but it's always been too much work to do all of the editing... 

I think that Apple is onto something here, and this technology will get even better. I also thing there is a good business idea here: automated vlogs / video creation / video editing...

Here’s the automated vlog that my iPhone created, from videos I took one day in France. Pretty cool, right?

.
October 8th, 2020
Today, I’m unfollowing everyone on Twitter.

When I started on Twitter a couple of years ago, it felt like a goldmine of people, connections, value, etc.

It doesn’t feel like that anymore (for me).

When I scroll through my feed, I have very cynical feelings.

I also don’t like the recommendations that Twitter puts in my feed, as well. It pushes up many tweets that make me compare myself to others (business milestones, specifically).

I also want Twitter to be less about status games, like “who follows who”, who liked my shit, etc. I want to use Twitter as more of a place of free expression.

Ethan explained to me the feelings of liberation after doing it:
If I unfollow you, I hope you understand it is only for these reasons.

(I’d be lying if I told you that it didn’t offend me when I got unfollowed, so please know it comes from a good place)

If you unfollow me, I 100% understand.