Book Notes: Who Moved My Cheese

This is my reflection and meditation upon reading Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson. It’s a simple book which can be tied to a million metaphors… here is one:

Hustling is key to success and those two little rats (Sniff and Scurry) are the quintessential hustlers. They did a few things that I appreciate:

  1. See the Big Picture

Himmm and haaa didn’t notice that the cheese was shrinking. They didn’t notice that their time in tube three was running out. The signs were there but they just sat around getting fat and practicing stupid the whole time. When the cheese ran out they were obliterated.

Sniff and Scurry saw it coming. When the cheese finally ran out they weren’t surprised. They didn’t waste a minute to get to the business of finding more cheese.

This s$%t is happening on the daily in this country. THE CHEESE IS MOVING FOLKS. Higher education? Scammy finance rackets? Are you a involved in the movie rental business? BlockBuster declared bankruptcy in 2010 people. There is no reason you should think that whatever cheese you’ve got is not going to run out.

  1. Act Accordingly

Himm and Haa took forever. Haa got it after a while and I think his process would be far more enjoyable if he had enjoyed the hunt for cheese. Himm is simply a metaphor for what to avoid. Do not wait for the cheese.

Sniff and Scurry got to work immediately on hunting more cheese. There wasn’t even a discussion about it.

| Cheese Gone | I’m Finding Cheese |

  1. Win

There is always going to be cheese.

Macroeconomic forces might alter the big picture for governments and the international monetary fund, but that crap doesn’t affect me or you. Those things don’t affect us because, though we get international news, we live in local economies. We live in local relationships. You can start from nothing tomorrow and be great now.

100% is possible 100% of the time.

Cheese is, of course, a metaphor. It is the representation of getting what you want, be it a relationship, a bunch of money or inner peace. You’re only going to find it by taking action, finding new opportunities and executing on them like your life depends on it.

Book Notes: Act Accordingly by Colin Wright

You know that feeling where you’re listening to music or reading a book and you think, “ARRRGH I should have written that!” It’s like someone snuck in with telekinesis and jacked your idea straight from your soggy brain.

For example: I wrote a song called “Rich Kid Blues.” It wasn’t finished of course because I’ve got a 100% success rate at writing songs halfway and never touching them again. Anyways, I had “Rich Kid Blues” half written and was procrastinating when some guy name Jack White came out and wrote it.

Blah! Jack White sneaks out and beats me to the punch.

Alas, it’s happened again.

Colin Wright nailed a philosophical framework that I might have considered my own. Even better, I think he did it in a way than I had it in my head.

It’s a short read, you could bang it out in an afternoon.

He was the third guest on the Love Affair Travel podcast and you can listen to us talk about travel lifestyle and his philosophical framework for free.

If you want to pick up the book, you can get it here (he’s included an audio version for those of us who prefer to listen.)

By the way, the Act Accordingly mindset is going to have me finish a song one of these days.

2 Years Worth of Immigration Bureaucracy to Get My Wife into My Country | Ended Today

Australian US Embassy Approves Partner VisaMy Australian wife and I married 2 years ago (July 20th 2011) in Hawaii and for the first time in our marriage, the US government will allow her to enter my country.

Over the past two years we have been dislocated to New Zealand, The Philippines and finally, we relented a year ago and moved to Australia where I gained my Australian residency. It cost me $4,000 but I was granted my bridging visa the day I applied (wheras the USA visa takes about 2 years.)

Our lives have been completely derailed by this process and I though that when it was over, I’d be elated. The truth is, I’ve just fizzled out of caring. The costs of the paperwork and the bullshit medical screenings completely drained me of all my wealth. It’s been such a long and arduous process that I gave up trying a few months ago. A piece of me that believed that I would never return to the USA to live again, because my government wouldn’t allow my wife across their boarder.

It’s great that we will be returning to the USA, but I can’t help but think how depressing it is that the process of bringing loved ones to the USA is such a mammoth, expensive and terrifying process.

It’s a damn shame.

My wife and I constantly joke that we should have never got married. We probably should have flown to Mexico and crossed the boarder like true outlaw immigrants.

James Altutcher Gives the Best Advice for Startups

I spend some time in the tech scene in the community that I’m currently in now. Last month I even went to a fancy dinner with free cocktails in a stunning room. Lot’s of tech people but I couldn’t help but realize something:

None of them seemed to be making any money on their projects, and most of them are doing everything wrong.

I’m no expert. My business hardly turns over enough money to buy chocolate and bacon (which are the only things I want) but everything is growing and it starts with revenue.

Lots of these guys had fantastic devices and tremendous ideas. One had the fastest keyboard for typing. But all these well to do tech communities gurus were talking about things like NDAs, Patenting Ideas and Angel Investors.

I’ve only been doing this stuff for a short time but I’m confident these things are a waste of time (especially at startup level.)

This article illustrates the characteristics of building businesses successfully.

JamesAltutcherBlackandWhite

I think everyone in that room would probably gain from reading that article alone.

Also, listen to James Altutcher here primarily. If you want more, listen here.

Also, to define what a start up is read Paul Graham’s definition. That’s right Techos = A startup isn’t an APP company. I imagine a drywalling company could be an amazing startup. I’m currently reading The Millionaire Next Door (hint: READ THIS BOOK) and it turns out that being a millionaire is more about Dull Normal Businesses than anything else.

Elon Musk is the Real Life Iron Man

Elon Musk is my hero because he works as a creative fundamentalist.

Hey Elon, do you think you can handel a contract with NASA to take astronauts to space?

“Sure we can create the first private astronaut orbital transport… but what we really want to do over the long term is work out the cargo transport problem to mars and be able to establish a self sustaining civilization on mars.”

Wait what? Where did you get that idea?

“The calculations worked out.”

So you’re telling me life is sustainable on mars?

“You’d need to live on a dome at first but over time, life could be terraformed and you could actually walk around on the planet without anything. It’s a fixer upper of a planet.”

Right… so moving on. What’s the deal with the electric car?

“The problem with the electric car is that the price of gasoline is way to inexpensive so we’ve gotta make them WAY better than our competitors who get the benefit of an artificially low cost of running internal combustion engines.”

Wow, that sounds stressful. What’s the secret to your success?

“Well, many people reason by analogy and I try to reason with a physics approach to reasoning…. Essentially, if you want to figure out something new, it’s best to start with the most fundamental principals/truths and reason upwards from there as opposed from reasoning by analogy.”

analogy |əˈnaləjē|

noun ( pl. analogies )

a comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification: an analogy between the workings of nature and those of human societies | he interprets logical functions by analogy with machines.

Ira Glass is Inspiration to Creators

The internet allows people to create amazing identities of travel, millionaire lifestyles and wild adventures.

On my path to realize a lifestyle like this, I sent a message to a guy who crafts this image really well.

I asked him,

“How do I become a great web developer?”

I don’t remember his response exactly, but It was something like,

“Start now.”

“…and watch this video.”

Google is Awesome

RoswellGoogle is awesome.

Once in a while, Google does something interesting with their home page. This time, it was an interesting little game where you act as an alien and feed radioactive fuel to plants and horses in order to recover the pieces of your space shuttle to go home.

66 years since the Roswell UFO Incident.

But google is awesome now.

GovHacks 2013: Reflections on simPROVAL and a Start up Weekend

Though this event happened a few weeks ago, I feel it would be wise to document it here.

What is GovHack?

2013 Gold Coast GovHackGovHack is an event put on by the Australian government to motivate the public to build solutions to government problems.

The government is dealing with a problem in that they spend too much on solutions that don’t work so well. The idea of the event is to incentivize the public to solve problems by offering prises.

To me, it was exciting to see that at there where people coming together on the Gold Coast (which is a place I generally regard as full of surfers and babes, not techies) to explore building solutions based around open data. The prize money seemed interesting, but I didn’t really consider it to be a main motivating factor.

Attending GovHack

The event was a delight. We had food, beer and wine on the first night, breakfast-lunch-dinner for the whole weekend and on the last day another round of booze and snacks. This is all great because it allows you, as an attendee, to focus primarily on your objective, which is to win some prize money.

The thing that was so great about the event is to sit down for a weekend and build a passion project with people who are executing on ideas. Even if the “carrot on the stick” is to get a big check; to me it’s just great to be wrapped up in the entrepreneurial storm.

What We Made – simPROVAL

GovHack 2013 Gold Coast WinnerOver the weekend we made a “minimum viable product” called simPROVAL.

It’s essentially a tool that takes multiple spacial data sets (open data provided by government sources) and makes the selection and display of that data open to a query based on address. This data aids engineers and builders to select the proper building requirements when planning buildings.

That’s geek talk for; it makes it so you can get wind sheer building requirements by putting in the address in the iPhone app.

The hope would be to automate parts of the building approval process while simplifying the process and eliminating mistakes through an automated feedback system. Ideally, builders could just do their building approval from their phone and the form could be automatically sent to the council via FAX with a little simPROVAL logo on it. This would eliminate the cost of turning down many building approvals. It

We made this video to tell that story:

We’re happy with the results. We won.

Are You Getting Ready for GovHack?

Here are some resources I wish I had looked over before starting it this year:

What’s Next?

We won a start up incubator program at Silicone Lakes in Gold Coast, Australia. We just had another meeting discussing the challenges that arise from building a tech startup. The complexity that we are about to undertake is very interesting.

  • On the Same Track – We all have different assumptions as to what the project is
  • How to Begin – 
  • Who’s the Customer
  • Government – I avoid dealing with government as often as possible, but they are a potential customer of the service. It’s interesting that some of the team wants to discuss the product with government, where as I’d like to take the approach of building something for the day to day builder that makes it easier for him to interact with government. These types of questions are a challenge, because the truth is, no one knows the right answer.

Final Note

Starting a business is working the frontier. It’s the wild west where no one really knows what to do next because we are all existing in an ether space. The goal of the entrepreneur is to find solid ground in this vacum and build a house on it. It’s a fascinating challenge and I’m looking forward to continuing this “startup incubator.”

Starting a Blog that You Want to Monetize One Day

One of my best friends is starting his online empire. He’s asking me questions about how to start and I think the answers would be great to share here. My thoughts on this stuff are always changing, but to me; this is great advice for anyone seeking to start building an online empire….
The H2 tags are his questions and my responses follow.

What are some useful/awesome plug ins for word press you like to use?

Here are the basic plugins I recommend for starters:
All in One SEO Pack – Constantly updating and constantly improving. The best for starting out.
Akismet – Spam Filter Rocks.
W3 Total Cache – Speeds up your site. I don’t know why or how… but it works
Sharebar – Automates the social media sharing. Quick and easy.
That’s it. Don’t even worry about installing others because the real valuable thing you can do now is to start writing. When I was starting out, I spent way too much time focusing on this sort of plugin BS and it got me no where.

Would like to post/blog a lot of basic and free info about the test and the industry in general but am considering a Work Book of sorts to be purchased.  

Sweet. Do both. Post everything for free and see if anyone even comes to see it. Once your site gets traffic, collate all the information you posted to get that traffic and sell it as a product on the first page. The product will have everything on your site that is available for free, but it will be in a more concise format that will be worth the $20-$50 or whatever. Keep it focused though “Pass the Cicero Test” is better than “Be a Beer Expert.

This would require some sort of Shopping Cart.  Is that a plugin you can use or is that something entirely different that I must purchase?

Once you get traffic to your site, you’ll know whether or not building a product is a good idea. Once you know that, you can think about building the product. Once you have built the product you can worry about shopping cart solutions.
When you do get there, use e-junkie.com. They handle the whole shopping cart thing and it costs $5 a month.

Blah what else? ummm what are your thoughts on backlinking.

Backlinking is really important, but it’s an endless hole of shifting SEO industry non-sense. If you focus on building a website with great information and is user friendly, you’ll have a better chance of industry people linking to your website. This will be the most powerful form of backlinking. When you’re starting out, don’t even think about backlinking. Just think about writing awesome shit. 

Do u write a lot of blogs for the sole purpose of driving traffic to you content?

Yeah writing blogs is how I get traffic to my websites. But the sole purpose should always be making something awesome that people will share and comment on. One good blog post is worth way more than a month of backlinking work.
I’ll Tell You My BS backlinking Story:
I did a month of backlinking work on one online property back in 2012. I did the gambit of spinning articles, posting them to web 2.0 sites, using UAW to massive link to that outer web which I then linked to my site using my target keyword as the anchor text. If this doesn’t make sense, don’t worry about it because the moral of the story is, “Don’t do it.”
This should have worked well and I had initial jumps in search engine results.  Then there was a google update and everything I had done turned into a liability. Those anchor texts I used throughout the whole internet made google index me as a spam site (hell it was a bunch of spam.)
Essentially, I spent a month building a liability. To this day, that site ranks well in Bing and Yahoo and the business is profitable from that traffic… but it ranks awful in Google and I’m confident that the reason it does aweful in Google is because of the junk I made during that month. Undoing those junk back-links I built is on my to-do list today, but I haven’t got around to it because it’s a serious task to undo. Lesson: Don’t worry about backlinking. If you want to learn about how the link economy works, read Trust Me I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday. This is a much better us of your time.
People share good information. You’re a funny f$@)er, you’ve got a niche topic of value and your passionate about (product) so you’ll be able to make stuff that people read and share. Focus on that and if you need some SEO work done in the future, outsource it so someone who loves that s&$t.
I get 1,000 visitors a month to one blog due to one post. If I spent that first month building good stuff rather than trying to game the system, I bet I’d have an extra blob of passive income coming in my Adsense account today. Hell, I might have a lot more.

I am far from this stage at this point but I just read about it so I thought I would ask yas.

Lastly, just start right now (Yeah you. If you got this far, stop reading this and take the next critical step towards making something useful.) It’s more than OK to write a few pieces of s%$t before you really start making stuff that is awesome. No one will go backwards on your site to find the bad stuff you wrote while starting out. People come to the site to get information the need. Write a bunch of posts that are valuable to them and then you’ll have a launch pad for making something that those people will pay for in the future.