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!

Weekly Update – #2 – January 12th, 2019

It’s the second week of the year, and 2019 is already looking great. I’m changing up the format a bit this week.

Health & Fitness

I ran another commute run. I ran 11.3 miles from home to work. And I still made it to work on time at 10am. This run was more fun than the last one. I ran through LAX, and I had some interesting encounters with strangers.

I feel confident about the Pasadena Half Marathon race coming up in 8 days. Let’s go!

Strava stats for Commute Run #2.

Family

First date night of the year, at Mendocino Farms!

Took the twins to gymnastics class, but they lost interest and just wanted to play basketball instead. Also took them to experience live music at the local public library.

Travel

No travel this week.

Education

This week I’m reading Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster-in Just Two Weeks by Dave Asprey. The book covers a lot of interesting science related to mitochondria health. Everything from food to lightbulbs to meditation. Also enjoyed listening to the School of Greatness Podcast with Lewis Howes and Ben Shapiro during my long run.

Work

The first full work week of 2019 was eventful. I spent a lot of time preparing for an upcoming engine release, and a little time working on an invention. A ton of time goes into engine release preparation. The team ships engines to both Norton Security and Symantec Endpoint Protection customers. The delivery reaches millions of customer’s machines around the globe. This is why code quality must be extremely high, and why so much time goes into release preparation.

Friends

Nothing notable to report here.

Writing

This week I started a morning writing habit stacked on my established reading habit. This allowed me to publish more frequently. I’m able to read 20 pages and spend 30 minutes writing because I wake up one hour before the rest of the family. Every night before I sleep I write in my journal. I’ve made 7 journal entries this week.

Torrey’s Weekly Report is a publication currently available only to Symantec employees. It enables folks across the company to learn about what my team (STAR engines) is doing. Torrey’s Blog is public, it’s where you’re reading this now.

How to Write Better Emails

Elon Musk, during a recent interview, described corporations as cybernetic collectives of people and machines. Corporations vary in size and market cap. Why are some corporations more effective than others? I think Communication is a huge part of it.

For example, Amazon.com’s unique communication style. Meetings begin with carefully prepared 6 page memos, read silently by attendees before beginning discussion.

How do most people in corporations communicate? In many cases, they communicate by sending lots of email messages. So, writing more effective emails makes you more effective and helps the rest of the team, too. Your job as a writer of emails is to save the reader’s time.

Five practical tips for being an effective emailer:

  1. Name your target
  2. Just get out with it
  3. Write shorter emails
  4. Make a phone call
  5. Avoid detective games

1. Name your target

When you’re making a request, you must have a person or person(s) in mind who can fulfill your request. Don’t be shy, name them. These people are your target.

Try not to make requests to “somebody” or “anybody” because you will end up with a response from “nobody”. Highlight or tag (@name) the name of your target to grab their attention.

2. Just get out with it

Just get out with it. State your request first and provide detailed context later. People are lazy readers, they can read the first sentence and decide whether to continue reading.

It feels unnatural to skip the build up, but do it anyway. The reader can dig into the meat if they want. Take it to the next level by making the request very succinct.

3. Write shorter emails

Write shorter emails. Try to get it done in 3 sentences or less. Most people are lazy readers, they’re not going to carefully read your wall of text. So, you’re wasting keystrokes typing all of it.

4. Make a phone call

When there is a lot of back and forth, stop using email and make a phone call. Exchanging paragraphs of text back and forth may be a signal a 10 minute phone or in-person conversation would be more effective.

5. Avoid Detective Games

If you’re referencing a document or web site or anything, hyperlink directly to what you’re talking about. Or include a screenshot/image. Better yet, draw a red box around the part of the image you’re talking about.

Don’t make me (the reader), play a game of figuring out what you’re referencing. Save me as many clicks as possible by giving me a hyperlink. Doing this makes it easier for me to understand and reply. We both get better results.

Monthly meta post: What I learned about Writing from Writing May, 2018

It’s now been 3 years, 5 months since I started writing online (January 1st, 2015). And it feels like I’m just getting started.

I haven’t kept track of how much time I’ve invested but I’ll estimate around 150 hours, mostly on weekends. A long way to go to reach 10,000 hours of mastery. During that time I’ve authored hundreds of articles, and twice I’ve entirely quit. Brutal!

After three years a small group of fans reads what I write. Very cool :).

When you are the only one pushing yourself forward, it takes a long time to overcome self-doubt. This is what the inner voice says: Who am I to give advice to anyone? What have I accomplished? What will my friends think? Family think? Coworkers think? I’m no good at this, what’s the point? Some people never silence that voice. They live their entire lives with that voice, always putting the brakes on, holding back. Like James Altucher says, you have to choose yourself.

This month was a killer month. I found some dirty tricks to boost traffic, and I learned a lot. I also received some amazing feedback from readers which I took to heart. Shout out to Makrand Patil!

Torrey.blog overall stats May, 2018

  • 210 visitors
  • 301 views
  • 1.43 views per visitor
  • 30 likes

Stats for each post visited in May, 2018

Title Views
Reading Time
1
117 5 min
2
What I learned from buying too many books 30 2 min
3
What I learned from getting hit by a car 24 1 min
4
What I learned from So Good They Can’t Ignore You 21 3 min
5
What I learned about Work/Life Balance from Jeff Bezos 14 2 min
6
14 2 min
7
Why has experience helped some and not others? 10 N/A
8
9 3 min
9
What I learned about leadership from Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella 9 2 min
10
What I learned from The Three Laws of Performance 8 3 min
11
8 2 min
12
What I learned about Trust 8 3 min
13
6 2 min
14
What I learned from Simon Sinek 6 1 min
15
What I learned about Urgency from Les Brown (motivational speaker) 5 1 min
16
How to Waste your Summer Internship without getting Fired 3 3 min
17
What I learned about Behavior from Sway 3 2 min
19
What I learned about Manhood from Sir Richard Branson’s father 3 1 min
20
What I learned from asking companies for money 2 2 min
21
What I learned about writing from sharing my work with a writer 2 5 min

Themes

  • 7 posts about books I’ve read
  • 3 posts sharing personal stories
  • 4 posts inspired by YouTube videos
  • 1 post inspired by a podcast

Takeaways

Longer posts get more exposure. They are also better search engine optimized (SEO). One analysis concluded 8 minutes reading time is the optimal length.

Traffic redirect trick. Tesla Motors restructuring was a hot news topic on the LinkedIn social network. I commented on several articles and included a link to my post about the recently leaked Tesla memo. This proved an effective way to attract dozens of visitors.

Posts about popular topics get more attention (duh). Writing about Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, their companies, or other big names attracts more visitors.


Conclusion

When it comes to writing, if you’re aiming for quick fame and glory, good luck! Remember

The best way to succeed in writing is to write.

What I learned about writing from sharing my work with a writer

In 2009 I co-wrote a 60-page ethics paper on the topic of internet privacy and Facebook (and other social media platforms).

While a student I underestimated writing skill’s value. UCLA engineering students dread the required ethics class because of its multiple writing assignments. In retrospect, the forced writing practice taught an extremely valuable skill.

The engineering ethics final project was a thick group paper, 60+ pages double spaced. When dividing the work over several weeks, it wasn’t bad at all. My student group undoubtably improved writing skills by the end of the quarter, because we all put in the hard work. Our 60 page data privacy paper is probably decaying in a catacomb under UCLA’s Boelter Hall along with dozens of others.

In the beginning it feels like every writing project improves in quality. But, there are diminishing returns. Quick inititial growth quickly becomes slow, invisible growth. At that point you need peer feedback to advance.

I’m proud of myself for taking a leap of faith. I emailed a blogger I followed daily. I asked if I could write a guest post. He said “NO, but I have this group you can join, It’s just starting up”.

I learned in the moment the stupid secret of life: if you want something, just ask.

John, at the time, had a Medium publication with 15,000 followers. The new idea was a group of content producers writing content. The group would vote weekly to select the best submissions.

This was my chance! Hoping to inspire the group, I shared a submission. It was never published, but, in return I got something incredibly valuable: honest feedback from someone a few steps ahead of me.

John told me there was nothing unique about my work, nothing stand-out. He was right, it could’ve been written by anyone. There was no personal touch. I didn’t bake enough of my story into it.

Here is the entire submission:

This year, choose to be proactive

When my wife is pissed off it almost always comes down to one root cause: I’m not being proactive. Ive re-learned this proactivity lesson many times the hard way. Stephen Covey’s first highly effective habit is ‘be proactive’. It’s the foundation of the next 6 habits. Proactivity affects every important aspect of life: health, wealth, love, and happiness.

The opposite of proactive is reactive. Being reactive is lazy and unfulfilling. Most people live their life reactively, going with the flow, not living intentionally. According to Adams and Anderson, in Mastering Leadership, about 70% of adults never reach creative levels of consciousness, they get stuck in reactive mental models. Reactives go around reacting to stimuli constantly, obsessively checking social media and email, never making progress towards their most important goals. The reactive person is one who waits; waiting for a signal for what to do next, never owning their own agenda.

How proactivity impacts health

As the adage says: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. How many people wait to go the dentist until it’s too late, they already need a root canal? That’s reactive. Flossing your teeth is proactive. The proactive patient goes to the doctor annually, excercise regularly, and flosses daily. As a result, they love a longer, healthier life.

How proactivity impacts wealth

The proactive business person under promises and over delivers. He provides the product or service before the client has to ask. He does not run his business by primarily reacting to competitors. He operates by the old adage: ‘under promise, over deliver.’

Leaders must be proactive for the organization to survive. Having vision is proactive. Leaders without vision soon find they have no one to lead. Vision is crucial to prevent the business’s disruption and obsoletion.

The proactive employee takes action before the boss has to ask. This employee could even be called an entre-employee, they are so creative. They seize oppprtunities and ask for forgiveness, not permission.

How proactivity impacts love

A reactive husband only brings home flowers when his wife is upset. A proactive husband brings them on a random day just to make his wife feel good. The proactive person is considered thoughtful.

The proactive friend is the one that picks up the phone and calls that long lost friend. They don’t wait for someone to call them.

How proactivity impacts happiness

The top of Maslow’s higherarchy of human needs is “self-actualization: achieving one’s full potential, including creative activities”. I don’t think one can ever be fulfilled without embracing proactivity. Without being proactive you will be stuck in a job you hate, and a number of other incongruent circumstances that detract from you being the best that you can be. You need proactivity to turn what the universe gave you into maximum positive impact.

Personally, I constantly have to remind myself to be proactive. If my wife is pissed off, it’s because I failed to be proactive, even though she points it out as a hundred other screw ups. If I haven’t spoken to my family in weeks, I’m not being proactive to call them. Car ran out of gas? Not proactive. Forgot to pay the cable bill? Not proactive.

Just walk around your house right now, you will find a number of chores that will need to be done later. Do it now if it takes less than 5 minutes. You will thank yourself later.

What I learned from this whole experience

  • The value of writing well is underestimated. As is the value of speaking well.
  • If you want something just ask. The worst that can happen is nothing.
  • Raising your hand is a great way to make new friends. People admire courage, and taking a social risk is courageous. Publishing something online is like raising your hand. You put yourself out there, you make an emotional connection. Weigh the risks, what’s the worst that can happen? You have to take down your post/video/picture.
  • Second guessing yourself is a great way to put on the brakes. It will take much longer to reach your goals. Publishing online is one way to expand your comfort zone. Pushing through your fears allows you to reach closer to your potential. You can spend less time and energy on second guessing yourself and more on creating new work.

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