Do smart phones make stupid humans?

I like to observe how people act and think about why. Smart phones have become pervasive enough to change human behavior. What are the consequences?

Do smart phones make stupid humans?

Have you ever wondered if smart phones make us stupid? Now we have an answer and we know how stupid they make us. “Even if you’re not using it, just having your smartphone on your desk reduces your working memory capacity by 10% and fluid intelligence by 5%.” Adam Grant shared this study via this LinkedIn post.

The solution is simple: keep it in your pants, out of sight. Leave your phone in another room.

If a smart phone sabotages it’ owner, what do they do to everyone else in the room?

Simon Sinek has something interested to say about this topic. Placing your smartphone on the table at a meeting sends a signal to everyone in the room “you’re just not that important to me.” When the phone is face up, every notification lights up the screen and draws attention. When it’s face down, notification vibrations trigger nearby attendees to check their devices.

Does social media get in the way of social bonding?

You might feel sad when you see a family at dinner staring at jeejahs and not engaged in conversation. Consider an alternate point of view from Gary Vaynerchuck: smartphones didn’t create this problem. The old way to endure failure-to-connect meant drowning in awkward silence. The option to stick the nose in social media means those silences suck a little less.

How can attention spans be lengthened?

There was a time when the hat rack was a symbol of transition from public to private space. When entering the private space, one was expected to hang up their hat. Now, imagine docking smartphones in the charging rack upon entering a pricate space.  This is a great way to remove a huge source of distraction from the meeting and keep everyone engaged.

I think we are all still learning ‘proper’ smartphone etiquette, as we must do for inventions that change the way we live and work. Slowly people settle on unspoken rules of when and where putting it on the table is appropriate or inappropriate.

Thank you for reading!

Together we build a world free of fear.  What would you do if you were not afraid?

Reading Roundup – Second Quarter 2017

In April, May, and June I read some great books. I want to take some time to share what I’ve learned. Enjoy!

Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl

Dr. Frankl practiced psycho-therapy and miraculously survived Nazi work camps. He studied himself and peers throughout the experience. Being in the camps is described as worse than nightmares. Accounts of atrocities committed in the camps are best not paraphrased. Go read it!

One insight taken away is: man finds meaning in love, work, and suffering. The author pulled himself through hell by frequently thinking about his wife, the love of his life.

Living with a Seal by Jesse Itzler

Jesse Itzler invited a Navy Seal to live with and train him for a month. The ensuing tale is hilarious.

Lessons learned: 

  • Mind over matter. You have more in you than you think (60% more).
  • Make big decisions by considering, after it plays out, how great telling the story will be.
  • Watch out for getting stuck on routines and call in outside help (e.g. Personal trainer) to get unstuck.
  • The human spirit is powerful, and the mind gives up before the body gives up (usually).

I discovered the book via this YouTube video.

Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

Sandberg abruptly lost her husband. She embarked on a journey to deal with own grief and in the process learned how to give better support to others overcoming tragedy.

Many of the stories in the book refer back to the three P’s of tragedy processing.

Personalization – I am the reason this happened. I failed to stop it from happening. It is my fault.

Pervasiveness – Because this happened, every part of my life is ruined.

Permanence – Life is going to be like this forever. It will never get better.

When consoling grief-stricken friends, try not to say things like “let me know if there is anything I can do”. The phrase pushes the burden of asking onto them. Instead, take action, show up at the door with a casserole. Help them through the three P’s: tragedy isn’t their fault, it won’t ruin everything, and the feelings are temporary.

Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson

The focus of Expert Secrets is how to create and sell information products, after becoming a subject matter expert. Expert Secrets has many nuggets, and I’ll share the few most memorable to me.

Status – Why People Buy Things
The reason people buy most things is to increase their status. Status means different things to different people. To some a luxury car is a status symbol, and to others a ten year old junker is a status symbol.

Big Domino Theory
Instead of trying to solve a hundred small problems, look for the biggest domino. The biggest domino, once knocked over, knocks over all the smaller ones.

The Heroes Two Journeys
Most stories follow the format of the heroes two journeys. The hero has an external goal and a more subtle internal struggle. The hero may never achieve the external goal, but while on the journey resolves the inner struggles and completes a transformation.

I also really enjoyed these works by Derek Sivers

To hone your writing, hire a translator 

I think creating less noise is a measure of emotional maturity. Optimize for action instead of talk. Do work, not just press releases.

Parenting: Who is it really for? 

A long attention span is a super power when among highly distractible masses. This reminds me of Cal Newport’s Deep Work which says a blacksmith may work a single blade for seven hours uninterrupted.

Meaningful, quality work requires an above-average attention span.

Long attention span might be a key to success. It could require a decades long focus to turn vision into reality.

Thank you for reading!

Together we build a world free of fear.  What would you do if you were not afraid?

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The blog has a new domain name!

Hey folks, sorry it’s been a while. During April, May, June of 2017 I experimented by publishing nine posts only to Medium. 3,413 words constitute those posts. They were viewed 105 times total.

If you’re curious, you can find those 9 posts here:
What is Self-Awareness? – LeaderCraft – Medium
How to Eliminate ToDo List Stress And Move Towards Your Dreams
How to Start an Abundant Day without $1 Million in the Bank
Starting Out Writing Online – Torrey Umland – Medium
how to turn tiny problems into million $$ mindset – Torrey Umland – Medium
how to grow your mindfolio by 365% every year – Torrey Umland – Medium
Deploy Seven Unteachable Principles to Survive Your CUBICLE
How 30 Day Challenges Can Enrich Your Life – LeaderCraft – Medium
happiness comes from… – LeaderCraft – Medium

For the first time, I experimented with Quora. I answered about a dozen questions across multiple topics. I was most surprised by the reaction to my explanation of dead locks answering “what is a computer doing when it freezes?“. I often forget, to most people, software is like black magic.

In addition, some cool developments happened in May and June within our little Facebook community called “Being a Leader”. The group has finished two 30-day challenges. The first was ten+ pushups daily for thirty days. The second was ‘no complaining’ for thirty days. The group has grown to fifty members, and there is a waiting list of thirty people to join. Check it out here: (

The Medium experiment made me realize the joy in curation and customization. Ultimately I decided to return to WordPress. In the process of returning, I made some upgrades! I sprung for a custom domain and finally figured out how to set up email digests.

In the second half of June I focused on creating some new fitness and hygiene habits. Writing was put on hold. I lost five pounds, and I finally grew out my teenager-level flossing routine. Now, I am behind on sharing what I’ve learned. Recently I finished reading some great books including Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, and Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson. I’m ready to get back to the writing craft.

Thus, the blog is reborn as! Easy to remember, except almost no one outside of San Diego County can spell the name correctly. 😉


Thank you for reading.

Together we build a world free of fear.  What would you do if you were not afraid?

This website is an affiliate of Referral commissions help cover a small fraction (near 0%) of the hosting fees.

99 Fears: Fear of Rejection

What drives us to not ask for help

My stupid self dropped my smartphone in the parking garage. In milliseconds, the glass was shattered. The model is 3 years old, and the device takes 5–10 minutes of struggle every day to get the phone to connect and charge. Yet, it took 24 hours to work up the courage to ask for an upgrade. If it takes me 24 hours to ask, others certainly never ask at all.

When I wake up with a head cold in the morning, my first reaction is: “I cannot stay home from work.” Then begins several minutes of internal struggle where I attempt to convince myself to get some rest and recovery. Eventually I convince myself and I send the obligatory email to my team and boss: ‘I’m taking a sick day.’ No turning back now, brace yourself for retaliation.

These stories are examples where I experience the fear of rejection. It seems silly, right? Why would you expect someone to say no and prolong your suffering? Somehow this irrational fear comes back every time. I’ve told similar stories in the past, and I keep relearning this lesson.

What I’ve (Re)learned

* Do not tolerate misery/discomfort/suffering. If it’s in your power to do something about it, *do it*.
* Don’t even waste brain cycles debating
* Do not hesitate to ask for help.
* Be concise in your request, explain the context, what you need, and what you’ve already tried.
* Remember that most people want to help you, even your enemies.
* The secret to success is: ASK!
* Articulate what you want to the people who can give you what you want.
* If you are authentic and diligent, rejection is unlikely
* The person you ask may not be able to help, but may help you connect with someone who can.

This is the coolest talk on the topic of rejection I have found:
[Jia Jiang: What I learned from 100 days of rejection | TED Talk |](

Really watch this TED talk!!

Together we build a world free of fear
What would you do if you were not afraid?

99 Fears: Fear of Exile

We hide our true self to fit in with our tribe

When you have a crazy idea,
You might hold back from sharing it.

You own mother might laugh at you.
Your friends might turn their backs.

You really believe in something,
But fear being alone in your belief.

Remember you can find the right people,
To get behind your movement.

Internet technology lets you connect
With almost anyone on the planet.

You can find your tribe.

A friend who passes judgment
Is no great friend at all

Together we build a world free of fear
What would you do if you were not afraid?


99 Fears: Fear of Failure

What drives us to inaction.

Fearing failure is dangerous.
It can halt all momentum.

You won’t be great at the start,
But you have to start to become great.

Remember that you are not alone.
Call on friends and colleagues to get unstuck.

Keep moving forward.
Try a different angle.

When the military goes to war,
It sends in the cavalry, the navy, the air force,
the army, the marines.

Go to war to solve your problem.
Attack it from all angles.

Remember there is an upside,
When things don’t go your way.

You have an opportunity to learn.
Ask: what should I be learning right now?

Remember there are a thousand more chances to start afresh.
The universe is abundant.

Wake up tomorrow,
And start again.

Together we build a world free of ear.

What would you do if you were not afraid?

99 Fears: The Fear of Missing Out

What drives us to waste hours doing stuff we don’t truly enjoy

There’s so much going on online
It’s hard not to fall behind
It’s like a firehose of information
You refresh the page incessantly
You start to feel a fear of missing out

We watch TV shows we hate
And meaningless TV news
because coworkers are talking about it
And we don’t want to feel left out

Remember that people are happier who care less about what others think
You get more done if you take time to rest
Do nothing
And think deeply

If you really did miss something
It’s an opportunity to ask
And to make a new friend or two

Always be yourself
Always do the right thing
Being yourself is the best to add value
You bring unique perspectives and ideas to the table

Dare to be different,
Dare to make a difference

Together we build a world free of fear.

What would you do if you were not afraid?


99 Fears: Fear of the Unknown

Take a leap, and the net appears.

Fear of the unknown makes us unmoving. 

It drives us to take the safe option. 

And the safe option isn’t necessarily the best option.

A step forward is the right thing to do.
You stay in a job you hate.

In a relationship long gone toxic.
Remember that you have more control than you think.

And more creativity than you know.

You will figure it out.
Most situations are temporary.

You can go back to the old way if it doesn’t work out.

There’s a return policy.
Raise your hand,

And the universe rewards you.
Take a leap,

And the net appears.

Together we build a world free of fear. What would you do if you were not afraid?

99 Fears: The Fear of Choosing Wrong

What would you do if you were not afraid?

Sometimes you suffer from indecision.
You have opportunity overload. 

You can’t decide what matters.
First, find out who you are.

And what you believe in.
Once you choose, go all in.

Don’t go half-ass in.

Stay the course for a while.
Stay steady this month.

There are dozens more months to change your mind.
Some people take their chances and win big.

Those are the stories you hear about.
You don’t hear about the other 99.9% who took their chances and won small.

Or didn’t win at all.
It might take 10 attempts to find what works.

You may never find it if you give up at two.
What this power is I cannot say.

It begins when a man or a woman knows exactly what he or she wants.

And refuses to quit until they find it.
Set a course.

Stay the course.

At least for a little while.

It will make a difference you’ll see.


Together we build a world free of free.

What would you do if you were not afraid?

99 Fears: The Fear of Incompetency

Low self-esteem is the fear of not being good enough.

It’s the voice inside your head that says: I don’t have what it takes.

It’s the fear of incompetency.

Of being in over your head.

There are thousands of days left.

And thousands of opportunities for self improvement.

The ‘you’ of tomorrow will be better at this.

Adopt a growth mindset.

Accept as much feedback as you possibly can.

Grow as fast as possible.

Abandon your fixed mindset.

Your fear of incompetency gets in the way of growth.