Weekly Update – #16 – June 2nd, 2019

This is a weekly blog where I share updates and document my journey. I focus on four areas: fitness, reading, writing and thinking. In the past, for the fitness category, I have written mostly about running. I am beginning to focus on cycling this week. After a month-and-half of talking about it, I rode my bike to work, finally!

It’s my bike! with a little New Belgium Brewing plaque.

Fitness

This week I had a great conversation with a coworker about preparing for a half marathon. I’m no expert, but I wanted to share some of the ideas with you.

Q: How long did it take you to prepare for the half marathon?

A: It took me 4 months to ramp up to half marathon distance. In training before the race I ran a maximum of 11 miles. This was a mistake, because mile 12 and 13 were the most challenging 2 miles of the whole race. Lesson learned: train the full distance.

Q: Do you have any other advice for someone considering training for a half marathon or a marathon?

A: Talk to your family early. Carving out a few hours per week for training means taking time from somewhere else. You family is your support team and they may need to do extra work to support you. Be up front about the time commitment, and look for ways to get everyone involved. They will meet you at the finish line!

Back on the Bike!

It’s been over a year since I last sat in the saddle. I talked about biking to work for over a month, and other stuff kept getting in the way. This week I finally hopped on my bike! There were some hiccups (as expected) which turned the 90-minute ride into a learning experiences.

When I ran to work I travelled very light. I was able to do this leaving my laptop and my gym bag under my desk. It just required some extra planning ahead. On a bicycle you have the luxury of storage! So you pack everything up and jump on the bike in the spur of the moment.

Getting Ready

I have 2 Nashbar saddle bags that clip on to the back of my bike. I filled one with clothes, towel, and other essentials. In the other bag I shoved in my whole laptop bag. I did this because I was worried about damaging the laptop, and wanted extra protection. This added a lot of extra weight. I think a better strategy is to wear a backpack or leave the laptop at the office the night before.

The Ride

I rode my usual running route. For the first 5 miles I was fighting traffic lights and rush-hour traffic. I think for next time I will seek out a more bike-friendly road (with a bike lane). Some drivers just get too close for comfort.

The last 12-ish miles were sublime. I was right on the beach from Manhattan Beach to Marina Del Rey. And from the marina to the office it’s along a dedicated bike path.

What Went Wrong and What I Learned

Several learning opportunities arose from this trip. I’ll go into more detail below. First, here’s a short list of what went wrong:

  1. Rush hour traffic and no bike lane
  2. Saddle bag fell off
  3. Unintentional braking
  4. Forgot to turn on fitness tracker
  5. Forgot to pack shower shoes

The first five miles of my route were packed with traffic lights and heavy traffic. I can experiment a bit here to look for an alternative road that has bike lanes. Wide pickup trucks were too close for comfort. Lesson learned: seek dedicated bike lanes.

I packed too heavy. Around mile 13-14, I accidentally kicked my starboard bag and it fell off completely. Luckily this was the bag with clothes. I could experiment with this to find a better way to attach it, or switch to front-wheel bags. Lesson learned: pack light.

Unintentional braking is tricky to explain. I took a break during the ride, and when I parked my bike I inserted a wedge into the front brake handle to freeze the front wheel. Then, I put two earbuds in my ears to make a phone call. I kept the earbuds in when I resumed my ride, listening to a podcast.

About a mile down the road I thought: why am I struggling so much? Then I heard the brake noise. And then the thought: What the heck is wrong with my front brake? … Stupid me had forgotten to remove the wedge I had stuck in the front brake handle. Laughable! Lesson learned: double check your brakes for an enjoyable ride.

After I crested the final hill in front of the office, I coasted in towards the front door. I slowly stepped off my bike and question popped in my head: how far did I go and how long did it take? Only then I realized I had forgotten to enable Strava to track the activity. I also have a bike computer hiding somewhere which could measure speed and distance. Time to dig that out. Lesson learned: double check you started your fitness tracker.

When I went to shower off I found that I had everything I needed, except for shower shoes. Oops! This is not ideal for many reasons which I won’t get into. I have done something similar once where I forgot my towel. I think the no-towel situation is worse, maybe. Lesson learned: double check you packed shower shoes and a towel.

I realized that I really enjoy trying new things, and then looking for ways to make it more fun and convenient, through experimentation and iteration. I’ve had a lot of fun writing about this experience. Lesson learned: try new things and constantly experiment.


Reading

I’ve been enjoying a book I did not expect to get into. It is called Street Smarts by Jim Rogers. The dude has a lot of interesting stories from living in Manhattan, working on Wall Street, and moving his family to Singapore.

I’m also reading a little Mouse Book called The Blue Hotel by Stephen Crane. Crane is a a Civil War era writer who died from tuberculosis at the age of 28. Despite his short life he produced well known literary works including his well-known novel The Red Badge of Courage. He was an innovative writer in his time.


Writing

It’s been a very busy week. I did a little bit of writing. I did not publish anything since last weekend’s Weekly Update #15.


Thinking

I stopped thinking and started doing. There were plenty of reasons to not take the bike-commute plunge. I had already put it off for a month (I first mentioned the idea in Weekly Update – #13 – April 14th, 2019). I was congested with a head cold all week. The week was unusually over-scheduled. The weather was not great. The bike needed air in its tires and chain maintenance.

BUT, all that aside, it is done! And I want to make it a weekly routine.

What have you been thinking about doing for a while? When are you going to take the leap?


As always, thanks for reading, and

Have a great week!

Weekly Update – #15 – May 26th, 2019

Hi Team,

This is a weekly blog where I share updates and document the journey. I didn’t publish an update last week, so I am covering two weeks here. Usually I focus on three areas: running, reading, and writing. This week I will try adding a new section: “thinking”.

Always-on social media has changed the way most people keep updated on the lives of friends and family. I am an oddball because I abstain from most social media apps most of the time. So, the only way to be updated is to talk to me, or read this blog. My point is, another reason I write this stuff down is to be better at sharing what’s going on.

Running

Still nothing remarkable to report this week. 🙂

Reading

I am going through a phase of reading many different things all at the same time.

I read this awesome little Mouse Book called A Little of Chickamauga by Ambrose Bierce. It an awesome telling of American Civil War stories. Bierce’s writing is superb. He is a writer who inspired American greats like Hemingway and Vonnegut.

Here’s a fun story about Mouse Books (https://mousebookclub.com). It’s a subscription service where you pay a one-time fee of $50 and every three month you receive in the mail three pocket-sized books. One of these little books got me into some trouble. Monday morning I put this Bierce book in my pocket. At lunch time I went to pay for my salad and discovered that the book was in my pocket and my wallet was not. Oops! It all worked out in the end.

I rediscovered a really cool ebook series that’s worth talking about. It’s called The Tao of Seneca: Letters from a Stoic Master. It’s a collection of translated letters written by Seneca, one of the ancient teachers of Stoicism. The ebooks are three volumes and made available complete free of charge by Tim Ferriss. Ferriss has authored several books including The Four Hour Work Week, Tools of Titans, Tribe of Mentors, which I have enjoyed reading and recommend.

I’m also reading a book called JRR Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter. So far Tolkien’s early life is fascinating. He was oddly obsessed with linguistics. For example he would invent words of his own words to add to dead languages. And he invented several languages of his own.

Writing

Writing is a craft I’ve decided to devote hours and hours to. It’s important to think about the question: how can I write better? I would define “good” writing as having these traits:

  • Clear (easily understood, not ambiguous)
  • Succinct (minimal fluff)
  • Interesting (the reader is engaged)
  • Entertaining (the reader enjoys reading)
  • Useful (the reader gets value)

I have room for improvement in all these categories. What I’m working on right now is clarity. Clarity could be improved by using more words to explain a thought. Flow also helps with clarity also, because jumping around too much degrades clarity. As a writer, I tend to do both don’ts: I use too few words and I jump around. A weird thing about using more words is how search engines react. Algorithms tend to favor pages with more text on them (for whatever reason).

A quick note on “how I write”. Right now I am writing on my phone using the WordPress app for iOS. I’m typing on a light-weight USB keyboard. My iPhone is smart enough to hide the on-screen keyboard when a Bluetooth keyboard. So there are two big benefits to working this way. Screen real-estate, which is in short supply on smartphones, effectively doubles. And second, typing on a keyboard is much higher bandwidth compared to thumbs. So, the writing experience is much more stream of consciousness and more enjoyable, too.

The keyboard is great for travel, I’ve had it for years and I’ve never needed to replace the battery. Plus, the number of things you absolutely need a laptop for is shrinking. It’s convenient to leave the laptop at home and still get work done while on the move.


On to updates for my blogs…

I failed to publish a weekly update last weekend. Sorry!

Torrey’s Weekly Report (TWR) has grown to 88 subscribers this week. TWR is my weekly work blog which I publish to an audience of my peers. Some of the content is confidential and not appropriate to share outside the company. And some of the content is more philosophical and should be okay to share with the public.

I usually recommend the blog to new hires because it is written in way to make it easy for anyone and everyone to understand. A few of our brilliant summer interns liked and subscribed. Woot!

Thinking

I’ve been thinking about gratitude

I, like many people, take most things for granted. This week, I’ve been thinking about the line between necessity and luxury. If you look back 300 years it’s easier to see where that line lies. Examples:

  • Abundant clean water
  • Hot showers
  • Tasty food
  • Books

Most of the luxuries we’re accustomed to are more than we need. A large fraction of the clean water from the tap goes down the drain, so clearly there is more than needed. The shower doesn’t need to be hot, but it sure is wonderful when it is. Food doesn’t have to taste so good for us to survive on it. You get the point.

In Benjamin Franklin’s America, books were hard to come by. He organized efforts to source books from Europe and later founded the first American libraries. Despite their immense value, public libraries are less and less utilized today.

Write Once, Publish Everywhere

I’ve also been brewing an idea for a new writing/coding project I call “write once publish everywhere.” I like to focus more time on writing and less time on formatting and other bits required for publishing. If you publish on multiple platforms, each one has unique features and it takes a lot of time adjusting for each publication. The idea for “write once publish everywhere” is to reduce some of this pain.

This is a writing project and a coding project. The beginning will be the most painful because the content needs be manually cross-posted on three platforms: Steem, WordPress, and Medium. As the tool develops it will become easier to publish thrice. If there is already a good tool for cross-posting, I haven’t found it.

Share fears to squash them

I’ve been thinking about writing down my fears on a weekly basis. This might help overcome them. And I think sharing the thought process might be valuable for readers. We all have fears and most of us struggle to overcome them.


As always, thanks for reading and

Have a Great Week!

Weekly Update – #14 – May 12th, 2019

It’s been about a month since I last posted an update. One of my readers reached out to ask what’s going on. This is really, really cool, and I appreciate the nudge. One of the main reasons I started sharing updates is to create accountability. Accountability for three habits that are important but often slip: Fitness, Reading, and Writing. So the nudge is really useful. Thanks Antin!

Succulent flower in our backyard.

Running

Nope! Haven’t done any serious running since the LA Marathon (which I finished in around 5 hours 45 minutes). Because, excuses! There has a lot of other stuff going on but that’s not a good excuse. I have learned a lesson many times: being active has a positive impact on everything else. It’s good for the brain. And long solitude runs are great for deep thinking.

At times like this it’s useful to remember your “why”. I want health and wellness to to live a long, robust life, and to have plenty of energy for family and everything else. So, it doesn’t really make sense to slow down and lapse back into old habits. I need to maintain the training habits and set new goals.

I’m really wanting to hop on the bike for some commutes along the beach, like I talked about. Let’s do it!

Reading

I’m slowly making my way through Richard Feynman’s QED: A Strange Theory of Light and Matter. I haven’t been reading much of anything else, forcing myself to get through this set of physics lectures.

I did just buy a book I’m looking forward to reading in the future. It’s a biography of JRR Tolkien by Henry Carpenter. The biographer gained access to all of Tolkien’s notes and interviewed many friends and family. Should be an interesting read!

Writing

I have been putting a lot of energy into Torrey’s Weekly Report, my work blog. It had gone dormant for a while, and we brought it back to life. In the past two weeks we published the 17th and 18th editions.

I’m happy that TWR is back up and running. What helped is shifting the schedule from Monday to Wednesday distribution. Now I don’t have conflicts with weekend activities and I have more time during the week to ready the next edition.

I’m not happy about the lack of public content. For months I wanted to share content from Torrey’s Weekly Report on Medium.com. I need to establish a process for this.


Thanks for reading, and, as always,

Have a great week!

Weekly Update – #13 – April 14th, 2019

Hi, I’m Torrey. Each week I share updates in three areas: running, reading, and writing. This helps create accountability and keep in contact with my team. My team includes family, friends, and you, the reader.

Welcome back! Last week I took a week off from writing while spending time with family. I don’t have a whole lot to report this week, so I’ll talk about what’s coming up in the near future.

Flowers in our backyard.

Running

After the marathon, what’s next? Running the marathon was always more than a checklist item for me. I plan to maintain my running ability and work towards triathlon races. To commit to this I will register for the 2020 Big Sur marathon. And when I’m ready I will register for my first triathlon.

While preparing for the marathon race, I found a really nice commuting route along California coast line. The total distance from home to work is 16 miles. Because of the time commitment, it’s not tenable to run that route often. However, it is a beautiful and reasonable bike ride. So, my plan is start biking to work via this route once per week. I’ll report back on how that goes.

Lastly, it’s almost summer time. So it’s a great time for me to get back in the pool and resume lap swimming to build water endurance.

Swim, Bike, Run!

Reading

This week I’ve continued reading Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry by David Robertson and Bill Breen. It’s a fun read for me, since I grew up as a die-hard LEGO kid.

There are some useful lessons in the book about business. The book talks about the innovation benefits of co-located, small teams. Large projects spanning multiple time zones and hundreds of employees resulted in big losses for LEGO, while tiny teams working underground produced smash hit products.

It also talks about the importance of engaging communities and gathering market feedback. LEGO has used online forums and focus groups to improve products which ultimately boosts profit. Essentially, adult designers creating products targeting 9 year old kids can’t succeed without market testing.

Writing

Last week, I took a week off from writing. I need to put extra energy into my blogs to regain momentum.

However, I have been thinking about this. I want to share my work-in-progress list of ten principles/values I aspire to live by. I often fail at these! Here are the ten:

  • Knowledge has limitless value — be very generous about books and learning.
  • Time is more valuable than money — be very conscious of where your time goes.
  • Have a bias towards action — take action at the first available opportunity, don’t overthink it.
  • Share knowledge freely — learn teach learn. Write down what you learn and share it with others.
  • Kill ’em with positivity — remain positive always and smile!
  • Music, movement and sunshine are essential — go outside, exercise and enjoy some beats. Especially do this when you feel off.
  • You are entitled to nothing — gratitude is a path to happiness.
  • You are the project — get 1% better every day.
  • Take care of the team — the team includes yourself, friends, family, community.
  • Ask more questions, even more stupid ones — don’t be afraid to ask.

What do you think of these? Drop me an email or comment, I’m interested to hear your feedback.


As always, thanks for reading, and

Have a great week!

Weekly Update – #11 – March 16th, 2019

Hi, I’m Torrey. Each week I share updates in three areas: running, reading, and writing. This helps create accountability and keep in contact with my team. My team includes family, friends, and you, the reader.

This week was a battle of battles. Both of the twins caught a virus (in series, not parallel). A remarkable number of parts of our house were discovered broken. And a handful of other obstacles popped up.

Running

Despite all the chaos, I managed to run 27.7 miles on Tuesday, with a long break in the middle. This was my last long run before the LA Marathon. Just one more week to go.

Here’s the proof — thanks Strava and Apple!

Going to work…

Coming home..

Apple Health includes all the other walking throughout the day. 53,000 steps , and approximately 6 hours of intense activity. Crazy!

Apple Health provides another data point.

The LA Marathon provides Gatorade Endurance Formula Lemon-Lime throughout the race. I picked up a cask of the powder to get adjusted to it before race day. It’s not soo bad. Iron Man!!

Reading

I’m reading Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry by David Robertson. There’s a great story towards the beginning of this book. Founder Ole Kirk caught his son Godtfred bragging about cutting corners while making a shipment of wooden duck toys. Ole Kirk ordered his son to retrieve the shipment from the train station and immediately fix the ducks. Godtfred stayed awake all night fixing the ducks.

Later, Godtfred took over at the helm of LEGO and turned this lesson into the company’s motto: “Only the best is good enough”. The outcome is remarkable: each one of the billions of LEGO bricks manufactured since 1958 snap together, they are 100% backwards compatible.

I received a handful of new books this week, adding to my growing pile of unread books. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual by Jocko Willink, and a box of Mouse Books (On Service).

Mouse Books is neat. You pay for membership and quarterly you receive 3 little books.

Pictures below.

I read through Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual. It’s a quick read and more of a quick reference for healthy habits. Beneath the layer of super-macho male energy I found some good tips, some of which I’ve talked about before on this blog.

* Wake up early, preferably before dawn – get to work before the rest of the world does

* Compete against yourself – bring out the best in you instead of comparing yourself to someone else

* Work out every day – even if you don’t want to

* Eat clean – junk food is poison

At the end of the book there’s an appendix of tons of weightlifting routines. I’ll experiment with these later.

Writing

A few new people joined the team this week by subscribing to Torrey’s Blog. The group has grown to around 130. Welcome!

One of the new folks, Brandon, shared some valuable feedback over email. Thanks Brandon!

My internal work blog lost some momentum. I failed to publish this week. There are a few things in the pipeline I need to get done, but I haven’t given them enough attention. Other stuff is eating my head. Post-marathon I want to spend more time and energy on writing.


As always, thanks for reading, and

Have a great week!

Weekly Update – #10 – March 10th, 2019

Hi, I’m Torrey. Each week I share updates in three areas: running, reading, and writing. This helps create accountability and keep in contact with my team. My team includes family, friends, and you, the reader.


Running

I set a new distance record this week. I ran my long commuting route, racking up a total of 17.1 miles over 3 hours and 33 minutes. Next week I will attempt a 26 mile day. There’s only 2 weeks left until the LA Marathon. Last chance training!

I don’t take enough time to reflect on progress I’ve made. Luckily, Strava helps me with this on a monthly basis. I received this summary of February activities in my inbox. 69 miles traveled on foot, 23 miles more than January. Insane! Last September I could barely run 10km.

I decided distance running is 90% mind and 10% body. Training is all about training your mind, must less about training your body. The mind quits first.

In The Dip by Seth Godin there’s this chart showing distribution of runners who quit during marathons, with the X-axis representing the distance reached before quitting. The peak is around mile 18-19. Most runners who quit, quit 7-8 miles before the finish line. Their mind gives up before the finish line is in sight. The mind quits first, so train your mind.


Reading

I’m still reading Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss and Lead Yourself First by Kethledge and Erwin.

In Tribe of Mentors one passage that hit me particularly hard is from Muneeb Ali, a computer science PhD who co-founded a company called Blockstack. I had never heard of Ali until this. When asked what has most improved his life in the last five years, Ali answered:

Asking myself the question, “When I’m old, how much would I be willing to pay to travel back in time and relive the moment that I’m experiencing right now?”

If that moment is something like rocking my six-month-old daughter to sleep while she hugs me, then the answer is anything. I’d literally pay all the money I’d have in the bank at, say, age 70 to get a change to relive that moment. This simple question just puts things in perspective and makes your grateful for the experience you’re having right now versus being lost in thoughts about the past or the future.

Mic drop!

In, Lead Yourself First one concept which struck me is the difference between analytical thinking and intuition. Analysis works well with limited information and fails when there’s too much information. You can get stuck in analysis paralysis where you go through a loop of measure and evaluate over and over. Intuition works well when there’s too much information. With intuition, your gut tells you which way to go and you look for data to prove that assumption wrong.

I think generally reading books builds our muscles of intuition. Most of us do not remember specifics of most of what we read, its too much information. However, we do build intuition which can be called upon in the future to get us unstuck. When facing a challenge, you vaguely recall a similar situation and solutions which worked before. So, stand on the shoulders of giants.


Writing

I have not done a whole lot of writing outside my weekly updates and Torrey’s Weekly Report (TWR). The 16th edition of TWR covered some new technology under development, some market observations, a secure code training announcement, and a few other odds and ends. I’m still working on a Medium post about what I’ve learned from publishing TWR, but I haven’t found time for rewrites this week.


Thanks for reading, and

Have a great week!

Weekly Update – #7 – February 16th, 2019

This week I have some quick updates on running 🏃, reading 📖, and writing ✍️. Then I’ll top it off with some hand-wavy philosophical mumbo-jumbo.

Running

Work and rain threw off my running plans this week. I ran 9 miles on Saturday morning from home to meet up with family at a local gym. I’ll run again Monday (President’s Day).

Only 5 weeks left until the LA Marathon. Get after it! I’ll be spending more time to extend runs and achieve longer distances.

Strava stats for my 9 mile run. Slow!

Reading

I finished reading ChiRunning by David Dryer and Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.

ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless Injury-free Running is packed with practical, general running advice and exercises. I would only recommend this book to someone who is an amateur runner and seeks to enhance their running experience.

Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism reminds me of a Buzz Aldrin quote that goes “You promised me Mars colonies. Instead I got Facebook.” The book teaches being intentional about leisure activities and harnessing your attention. By doing this you can accomplish bigger things and find more rewarding experiences. In a year from now you probably won’t remember what you saw on Instagram or watched on Netflix, but you’ll remember learning a new language or musical instrument. Stop swiping through Facebook and go build his damn Mars base.

Digital Minimalism also introduced me to the Mouse Book Club. I signed up for membership and received 3 books in the justice series. I’ve read one of them called Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in all Its Phases by Ida B Wells.

Mouse Book Club packaging

I’ve just started reading a compulsive book buy. It’s George R. R. Martin’s Fire and Blood. The book jumps back in time 300 years before the Game of Thrones takes place. I don’t often read fiction but I think I’ll enjoy this one.

Writing

Not a whole lot of writing news this week. I published the 14th edition of Torrey’s Weekly Report, which covers some new technology for mobile and Mac platforms being delivered by our team.

Torrey’s Blog now has 120 subscribers. Woot! Thank you everyone for all of your support. I’m humbled.

Philosophical Mumbo-Jumbo

This section is dedicated to J, a loyal fan.

Gratitude is the mortar which holds together Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow is an American psychologist known for Maslow’s hammer, stated “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. He is even more well known for inventing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Maslow’s Hierarchy is usually drawn as a pyramid. The lower levels are pre-requisites to the higher ones. Physiological needs must be satisfied before safety needs, for example.

Image source: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svg#mw-jump-to-license

Self-actualization means being your best self, letting your talents blossom, and reaching your potential. Esteem means feeling respected and appreciated including by yourself (self-esteem). Love/belonging is about being part of communities and higher causes. Safety needs are about not fearing harm. And physiological needs are basic things like food, water, air, shelter, and WiFi. Just kidding about WiFi.

Gratitude is a path to happiness. We know that practicing gratitude makes us more happy. But what do you practice being grateful for? You can start with the first level of Maslow’s pyramid, and then add in the other four.

By expressing gratitude in this way, you reinforce to mind the feeling all your needs are satisfied. The practice cements the pyramid’s bricks together, allowing it to build upwards. Through gratitude, you know you can worry less about finding dinner, and focus more energy on manifesting your given talents, and giving back.

Gratitude is the mortar which holds together Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Weekly Update – #5 – February 2nd, 2019

This week was the last week of January. Hello February! This week I’ll give some quick updates around Health & Fitness, Reading, and Writing.

Health & Fitness

I gave the gift of life this week, I donated blood. It’s super convenient because my company partners with Red Cross and every 8 weeks they set up a donation station inside our office. Donating blood is a good way to lower blood pressure. In total, I’ve donated a half gallon!

Running

This week I ran to work (11.5 miles) for the 4th time. I almost skipped the run because I needed to join a conference call at the same time. I decided to do both. My coworkers had a laugh at my outdoor running video feed during the meeting. It’s a good thing I didn’t skip because it’s been raining hard the day before and after. Read about my preparation methods for commute running in How to Ditch the Car and Run to Work.

Strava stats for my 4th commute run.

I need to step up my marathon training. The LA Marathon on March 23rd is looming. Rain, rain go away!

Writing

I’m excited about the growth of both of my blogs this week. This blog, Torrey’s Blog, now serves 87 subscribers. My work blog, Torrey’s Weekly Report, now serves 80 subscribers. Awesome! Both have been growing fast in 2019.

Torrey’s Blog

Since Weekly Update #4, I didn’t publish any I’ve spent more time reading and interacting with other blogs. I realized there are a lot of bloggers just starting out writing online. And they don’t receive much feedback. Crickets. Having been there, I know what it feels like. So I take the time to read what they write and leave a positive comment to cheer them on.

As they say, whatever you want in life, give it away. And be the change you want to see.

Torrey’s Weekly Report

This week I published the 12th edition of the report. It’s now reaching 80 colleagues who’ve chose to subscribe. Woot! The report typically spreads through word of mouth, but this week I promoted it to a new group of peers. It’s opt-in only, and 10 of them opted-in.

Reading

Can’t Hurt Me

While on my long run I listened to a few chapters of ultra-athlete David Goggins’s book Can’t Hurt Me. One quote jumped out at me because it aligns with my own COMPETE AGAINST YOURSELF philosophy.

Life is one big mind game, and usually you’re playing against yourself. — David Goggins

Measure What Matters

I’m reading another book called Measure What Matters by John Doerr. It’s about defining Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) in organizations. The goals of every member of the team, including executive leaders, are made visible. The net result is better organizational alignment and efficiencies. OKRs are similar to what I call SMART goals, except it’s okay to set semi-unachievable OKRs and only achieve 70% of the goal.

SMART

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

My favorite quote from Measure What Matters is:

In God we trust; all others must bring data. —W. Edwards Deming

Thanks for reading! And

Have a great week!

Weekly Update – #4 – January 26th, 2019

From our garden: incoming plumeria blooms

It’s the 4th week of 2019, and there’s a lot to talk about.

Running & Health

This week I ran my first half marathon. I finished in 2 hours 22 minutes. Woot!

Last Sunday I finished my first half marathon race, the Pasadena Half Marathon. This is the second race I’ve done this season, and my third, a full marathon, is coming up in March. No time for taking a week off!

The night before the race I could barely sleep. Everything I needed was laid out. We were to head out at 5am to arrive before street closures and get registered.

The weather was perfect, a bit cloudy but not a drop of rain. Los Angeles received a bunch of rain the week before. So the grass was shining and the air was clear for my run.

Going into the race, I set a goal to finish within 2 hours 45 minutes. But, the morning of I decided to push myself harder and go for 2:30. I finished in 2:22. Woot!

There were hundreds of runners on the course and I felt lost in a sea of people running through the streets of downtown Pasadena and around the Rose Bowl’s golf course. I did appreciate the designated pacers (from LA Road Runners club) who held up signs to indicate their target finish time. I found my 2:30 group and stuck with them.

Hundreds of runners queued up at the starting line

In training the longest distance I ran was 11.5 miles. This was dumb on my part. The last 2 miles of the 13.1 were a struggle. Cramps, blisters, oh my!

What was really cool, and I didn’t realize this before, was the finish line. The race ended inside the Rose Bowl football stadium, home of the UCLA Bruins, on the 50 yard line. After I cooled down a bit, I snapped this awesome picture with Joe and Josie Bruin, the UCLA mascots. Go Bruins!

Such a great experience…I will remember this one for a long time.

Miscellaneous other health stuff

I ran to work for the third time on Friday, following the same route as two weeks ago. I was much slower than usual.

A few weeks ago I made a change to my coffee/caffeine habit. While I’m at the office, I only drink decaf. I’ve noticed on Thursdays and Fridays I feel less burned out. Cutting back caffeine seems to improve sleep quality (go figure!).

Writing

There are now 73 awesome people following this blog. About 10 of you found me in the last few weeks and hit the ‘subscribe’ button. I salute you! Get ready to learn and grow with me.

This didn’t just magically happen. I’ve made more effort to engage with other bloggers in the amazing WordPress ecosystem. Slowly bridges are connecting my little island to the rest of the blogosphere. Engagement is so crucial and so fun!

I published two blog posts on Torrey’s blog this week:

  1. Three Truths — a written version of a 10 minute talk I gave in front of ~100 teammates. Bring Joy, Compete Against Yourself, and Help Others.
  2. How to Ditch the Car and Run To Work — a walkthrough of how I prepare for running my commute. Shower required.

In my nightly journal entries I’ve started recording something unique the twins did/said that day. It’s so much fun going back through these notes.

Reading

I listen to audiobooks and podcasts while I run. I listened to a short, value-packed Audible called Power Moves by Adam Grant, which is about power dynamics in the workplace and government. The book ends with a powerful interview between Adam Grant and Kerry Kennedy (human rights activist and daughter of Robert F. Kennedy).

I’ve just started listening to Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead. This audiobook is read by the author, which is awesome because she excels at speaking. This is my first experience with Brene Brown, and after a few hours of listening I feel like buying a copy of every book she’s published.

I’m experimenting with waking up even earlier (5am) to read. It is challenging to do focused reading when anyone else in the house is awake.

I’ve just finished reading The 50th Law by 50 Cent and Robert Greene. The last chapter was my favorite and the hardest hitting. It was about 50 cent being shot 9 times (once in the jaw) and facing death. It talked about living life to the fullest, having a sense of urgency and courageously facing death. Carpe diem (sieze the day) and memento mori (remember you will die).

I’ve started ready a tiny book by Seth Godin called The Dip. It’s about pushing through The Resistance to become the best at what you do in your world. And quitting other things that have stagnant growth or diminishing returns. It reminds me a lot of what I wrote about in The Rose Bush Metaphor: How to deal with too many ideas and too little time.

Thanks for your support. Until next time,

have a great week!

Weekly Update – #3 – January 19th, 2019

Weekly Update – #3 – January 19th, 2019

This week was yet another exciting week. It is unusual receive several days of rain here. While we stayed safe and dry, the team still accomplished a lot. Reminder: You are part of my team.

Health & Fitness

I have relearned the same lesson many times. Health and fitness underpins everything else. To be the best you in mind and body you have to eat right and move your body. For couch potatoes and desk jockeys, making positive changes in the health & fitness area yields 10X results every other area. Negative changes compound in the wrong direction; garbage in garbage out.

This week I have not done any long, 10+ miles runs but I’ve done some short “active recovery” runs. I’m resting in preparation for my first ever half marathon race, The Pasadena Half Marathon. Early tomorrow morning I will embark on this 3 hour run, and it’s going to be so much fun. I’ll show you guys some pictures next week.

Writing

This week my blog Torrey’s Weekly Report hit a new milestone of 70 subscribers. I take time to thank every single subscriber, because what matters more than the number is the engagement and the overall impact. This is also why I don’t spam anyone or forcibly subscribe anyone. The blog achieves nothing if no one bothers to read it. The best way to make an impact is to grow a highly engaged readership.

I didn’t realize it when I started, but the blog has a potential to tear down silos. It is a blog available only internally to my company (~20,000 employees), and it is becoming a platform for sharing useful information far and wide.

In large organizations, silos naturally form in the hierarchical command structure. Information needs to be “cascaded down” but it doesn’t, it gets stuck. There’s this great parable called Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars by Patrick Lencioni if you’re interested in these kind of problems and solutions. Basically, the organization loses effectiveness because people don’t openly communicate, share information, and collaborate across imaginary boundaries. Silos.

Anyway! Torrey’s Weekly Report is a way to tear down silos. Every week, fresh and timely information goes out to a growing list of leaders in many levels of the organization. Multiple business units and roles, from support agents to recruiters to vice presidents have subscribed.

What would even cooler than seeing the blog grow would be this. Seeing someone else get inspired, seeing another blog spring up, documenting happenings in another corner of the global enterprise. Sign me up! I’ll read it.

Reading

My morning 20 pages reading habit is going strong. I finished up two books I bought last year.

Head Strong by Dave Asprey

The Battles of Tolkien by David Day

I shared a two sentence summary of Head Strong in last week’s update.

I don’t usually read fiction, and The Battles of Tolkien isn’t entirely fiction. It talks a lot about mythical warriors and battles from many human cultures. And it draws connections between the Lord of The Rings universe’s history and these ancient human myths. For example, metallurgy and sorcery are common themes as shown by the evil anti-hero Sauron in LOTR.

I’m trying to finish up a book called On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. Again since I’m not at all excited about reading or writing fiction, this one is taking me forever to slog through. But it does hold some good general writing tips and references other good writing books like Strunk & White.

Lastly, I started a new book that’s been sitting on my kindle for a while. It’s called The 50th Law by Robert Greene and 50 Cent. So far it talks a lot about overcoming fear and about self-management. Robert Greene is great at finding examples from history to explain his points.

That’s all for this week. See you next time.

Have a great week!