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 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 [email protected])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.


Jason Silva Says it Better: We Have a Responsibility to Awe

I use the word, “awesome” a lot.

To many, the word “awesome” can easily be misconstrued as a banal choice. The kind of word used by a surfer who spends all his time smoking marijuana and sleeping in hammocks. A word to be paired with tubular or wicked….

But it’s not. I use it on purpose because it illustrates exactly the feeling that I hope to cultivate.

Surfing is awesome. Riding horses is awesome. Exploring new countries is awesome. Experiencing new cultures is awesome. Seeing exotic wildlife is awesome.

So it’s important to cultivate what is awesome. But I don’t say it as well as Jason Silva does:

May 2013 Media Suggestions: Feynman, Carlin, Godin & Pressfield

Audio Books:

Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman – Richard Feynman

Screw the government. I believe people should treat people like people.


The first time that I encountered Richard Feynman was when I saw the video embedded below. I was taken aback with his passion for the natural world. I think there is tremendous power in appreciating the little things in life.

In his book he writes about a discovery he had as a child. On a microbiological scale, ants have the capacity to lift droplets of water. Feynman describes a time when he “watched an ant consume a drop of water” with a little microscope. It was “terribly exciting” as he put it. His book is full of little gems like this.

He even provides lots of tips on how to pick locks, party, meet girls, play in a Brazilian samba band, how to become a commissioned writer, deal with Las Vegas gangsters and how to parry the government institutions that make no sense. The practical lessons alone in this book are good enough to warrant my recommendation. The most powerful lesson was to foster a deep appreciation for the natural world. I feel like a much better person for having gone through his life story. I can’t recommend it enough.

Here is a link if the embedded video doesn’t play.

The War of Art – Steven Pressfield

Casting yourself as a victim is the antithesis of doing your work. Don’t do it, if you’re doing it, stop.

Steven-PressfieldPressfield quotes Socrates, “the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self mastery. While  those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.” If you can internalize this and believe it, the rest of The War of Art is a boot to the ass in the effort to get the reader to create their self mastery.

One of my favorite delineation is between the fundamentalist and the artist:

  • Artist – One whose culture provides for affluence, independence, a core of self confidence & hope for the future. One who believes human kind is moving in a good direction.
  • Fundamentalist – One whose philosophy is that of the displaced and dispossessed; believes we have fallen from a higher level; cannot stand freedom, and returns in imagination to the glory days of his race.

The most relentless enemy to the artist is the resistance. Pressfield describes this resistance in a hundred ways because it is everywhere and is probably the most subversive force in the land. The key to fighting it is to go pro and he describes how to do it in great detail.

To be honest, this book scared me. I know there are hundreds of things I want to do, and I know the resistance has had me under it’s gnarly boot heel for far too long. I feel like learning about it is a strong step in improving my position against it. That is why I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s fantastic and easy to read.

Finally, if you’re a Tim Ferriss fan, you’ve got to read this book. Many of the roots of Tim’s ideas clearly have developed from The War of Art.

Purple Cow – Seth Godin

Almost everything you don’t do has no good reason for it. Almost everything you don’t do is the result of fear inertia or the lack of someone else asking, “why not?”

Seth-GodinAgain, I’m working my way through Seth’s back-catalogue. “Digital cameras are well on their way to replacing film cameras” – goes to show the age of this book. Yet aside from bits like this, the book is still full of valuable lessons for today.

For example, I’m trying to build a company now and I’m learning as I go. Seth brings up the point that one big reason for business failure is that the owner is busy running the company rather than marketing a product. I’m spending most of my time now running a business and I know I need to transition to marketing the product.

So aside from the marginal age of the book, his points are almost all useful today. He discusses idea viruses, what it means to be remarkable, how safe is risky, why going to the edges is a strategy for success, otaku and much more. Finally he lists some tips for success in the abundance economy.


  1. Don’t be boring
  2. Safe is risky
  3. Design rules now
  4. Very good is bad

By the way, don’t miss your opportunity to work with Seth

Thats it for the Books

I’m working my way through The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich which is proving to be just as depressing and fascinating as one could dream. I think everyone knows Adolf Hitler was the spawn of Satan, but sitting down and studying how he ran his operation is just a dumbfounding experience. I’m about halfway through so I’ll tell you more about it next month.

After that, I’ll be reading Work the System by Sam Carpenter too. You can get a free copy of it here. If it’s good, I’ll throw it up here next month and give a little review.


Prophets of Doom – Hardcore History Show 48 – Dan Carlin

Priests spoke Latin. The bible was only understood in Latin. Therefore, the priests had the key to something that the commoners couldn’t understand. Luther translates the bible from New Testament Greek to contemporary German (of the time.) This turns the “knowing of what god wants” over to the people. THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING!

Dan-CarlinEvery-time a Hardcore History episode comes out I get giddy like a school girl who just found out Justin Bieber will be in her town. This is hands down my favorite podcast and this episode supports my passion for the show.

It’s all about that stuff you learned in history class. How the collapse of the Roman Empire left a vacum of power that the Catholic Church filled. The Chruch was corrupt and awash with money from selling indulgences and so Martin Luther banged the 99 Thesis to a wall and the birth of the protestant reformation was eminent.

I had some fantastic history teachers, but Dan Carlin is probably the most fantastic history teacher you could imagine. He tells this story with so many bloody details that it’s simply impossible to turn off. Carlin uses descriptions like, “imagine this guy to be on the cover of a Led Zeppelin album.” This just makes the whole thing far more interesting.

At the end of the day, it’s entertaining as all hell but best of all; you learn how crazy lucky we are to be alive in times like these, rather than times like those. Check it out people. It’s free after all.

I absolutely recommend donating to Dan Carlin. I do.

School of Greatness – Lewis Howes

lewis_podcast_largeAnother month and another mention for Lewis because I really appreciate what he’s doing with The School of Greatness. This month I recommend his interviews with:

  1. Kyle Maynard – Probably the most inspirational story I’ve ever heard. If you have to choose one from this list, listen to this one.
  2. Ben Nemtin – It’s all about chasing dreams and making things happen. I think Ben and Lewis really demystify what has made The Buried Life so successful.
  3. Don Yaeger – Though I’m not really into sports, Don does an excellent job of describing what makes great people great.
  4. Adam Grant – We’re in a giving economy and Adam’s got science on his side.

You might say, “Ian you’re recommending all of the School of Greatness podcasts. Aren’t you just promoting the podcasts you work on?”

These shows are awesome. Listen to them. If you feel like you wasted an hour of your time, I don’t know what to tell you.

Good Life Project – Jonathan Fields

Good Life Project Podcast Art

  1. Christian Howes – What. An. Amazing. Story (the podcast will be on iTunes in July)
  2. Chris Guillebeau – Another amazing story. He just recently traveled to every country in the world.
  3. Seth Godin – You know I’ve got a love for Seth-O – By the way, don’t miss your opportunity to work with Seth.

That’s It for May

Thanks for reading. I really appreciate you all who take the time to sit down and care about what I’m writing.

The process of writing this once a month is incredibly helpful in keeping me studying and working hard to improve myself. If you’re interested in doing it too, I’d love to hear from you. This life is short and it’s important that we do as much of this intensive, reflective study work as possible.

I wish the best for you.

With Love,


Regret Minimization Framework and Starting Every Day

Have you ever thought, “I wonder what would have happened if?”
Regret Minimization Framework

“We regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do.” – Mark Twain

I have. I remember when I was about 16 years old and I thought back on the past 5 years of my life and had a stark realization that I had spent far too much of my life doing things that didn’t make me better or happier.

Since then, I’ve decided to make the most out of every moment I have. Naturally, I’ve failed a few times with activities like:

  • Watching YouTube All Day
  • Playing Call of Duty for hours
  • Getting Beer Boozy All Day on a Sunday Afternoon
  • Spending Money on Meat Pies and McDonalds
  • For me… there are plenty more…

Because I’ve realized this, I have the power to live a more conscious life.

Every Day is an Investment

I recently read a blog post by Seth Godin that describes this exactly.

In it he says, “Your boss is lucky to have you.” It’s not the other way around. You’re special damnit. Each day of your life is an investment and it’s important that you use that time wisely.

“Investing in the wrong place for a week or a month won’t kill you. But spending ten years contributing to something that you don’t care about, or working with someone who doesn’t care about you… you can do better.” -Seth Godin

Most importantly, you have to start every day.

IMG_1393Everyone must make a conscious decision to start every day. The only difference between people who are really good at it and those that haven’t started is just that the the people who are really good at it are really practiced at starting.

When Lewis Howes was interviewing Bob Harper, Bob Harper made the point that Lewis makes a conscious decision to drink protein shakes after his intense workouts. Lewis (who is a successful entrepreneur) has the same number of hours in a day as the rest of us and he has the same desire as ALL OF US to spend the afternoon eating cake and watching the entire 3 seasons of King of Thrones.

Despite this same feeling, Lewis exercises his hustle muscle and makes something happen. He knows that once he gets started he’s going to be far happier with himself. That’s what happens with the successful cats. They simply start every day.

A Tool for Starting

Ramit Sethi and Ben Chasnocha discuss a video by Jeff Bezos (founder of in which Bezos describes his decision to leave his job and start a company called Amazon. He came to the decision based on what he called his Regret Minimization Framework. Essentially, the idea is to make decision based on how you expect you might do if you were looking back at your life when you were 80.

IMG_1391In the Sethi video, Ben Chasnocha continue with “It’s the things that you do everyday that matter more than what you do once in a while.”

So the point is, start everyday. In fact, if you got this far, start right now. Please feel free to write me a message or a comment below and lets build something useful and make the world a better place.

Much Love,


P.S. These photos where taken from a recent trip to Sydney. We got to spend some great times with our family living there and also some great friends who live in Rose Bay. They we’re simply beautiful times and that city just blew me away with how beautiful it is.

April 2013 Media Suggestions: Carnegie, Howes, Andrews, Chandor and Branson


Losing My Virginity – Richard Branson

This Guy RocksI’ve been on a Richard Branson kick this month. Check him out on Steven Colbert’s show too (sorry I can’t link because in Australia we can’t watch

Did you know Branson spent most of his life fighting to stay afloat financially? Did you know his little Virgin Airline was almost put out of business over and over again by a hostile British Airways? Did you know Branson played a pivotal role in saving the lives of refugees under Saddam Hussein?  Even to this day he is doing really interesting work with groups like The Elders and  Virgin Unite.

This book is fantastic. Branson’s passion for life seems to come through here. He starts the story with a wild tale of his hot air ballooning over the oceans. Whether it was business or breaking records, it always seems like Branson is pushing his limits. I can’t recommend this one enough.

It’s beautiful the way he finishes the story too. At the end of the book, I gained a beautiful insight that really impressed me with the whole direction of the book. If you want to discuss this, I’d love to hear from you.

Einstein: His Life and Universe – Walter Isaacson

Reviewing EinsteinI definitely recommend this one. It reads easily and actually provides a digestible understanding of Einstein’s theory of relativity.

I found Joe Rogan’s podcast with Neil Degrass Tyson and Amit Goswami to be supplemental in developing a vague understanding for quantum mechanics and relativity theory. Like Amit Goswami says, “if you think you understand quantum mechanics, you probably don’t understand quantum mechanics.”

Issacson’s portrayal of Einstein tells the story of a very likable person. I especially appreciate how Einstein valued creativity and playing with children. His life was indispensable to how we see the universe today. I feel incredibly blessed to have a better understanding of Einstein’s universe.

Also, Einstein was a supporter of the rights of the individual which I’ve always been a big fan of. During these modern times of increasingly tightening “security” nonsense; it’s nice to learn that the man who changed the way we see the universe, was of the opinion that the individual should be protected from the state.

Finally, I found it odd that he married his cousin… but come on… uh…

Permission Marketing – Seth Godin

Reviewing Permission MarketingThis one is great for describing the way things are these days. The book has aged somewhat as Seth uses examples like AOL’s loss of power and predicting that Amazon will fair well in the future. These predictions of course, came true.

It’s very readable and should be considered an essential part of your studying if you’re seeking to become a part of the new connection economy.  All his predictions in the book seem to have materialized.

In Permission Marketing, Seth gives lots of actionable tips on growing an audience and transforming strangers to supporters and supporters to customers.

How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

Win Friends and Influence PeopleWhen I started this book, I thought it was written by Andrew Carnegie. I’m studying all the magnates of history and I felt a bit duped. None-the-less, I already got my hands on this one so I figured I might as well finish it up. In the end, I feel better for having read it.

There are lots of examples in this book of turning around challenging situations into effective relationship building opportunities. It seems to me that Mr. Carnegie is a bit over confident at times. Perhaps this is just my “resistance” keeping me down, but I feel like its a little over confident.

That being said, I feel like the attitude towards human reaction in this book is the best way to deal with people. It is effective to treat people the way they would like to be treated. He isn’t saying anything that Jesus didn’t say, but he is reinforcing it for a more modern time.

There are power mongers and evil bastards out there that need to be given the cold shoulder at times. I guess combining this book with Linchpin and 48 Laws of Power would be an effective way to quickly study how to interact with the other humanoid meat bodies on this beautiful ball of water spinning around the great nuclear reactor.

Thats it for the Books

I’m almost done with The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and The Lean Startup by Eric Reis. Unfortunately, “almost” doesn’t cut it for this month.

Next month I expect to finish the above books as well as The $50 Startup by Chris Guillebeau and Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by  Verne Harnish


Again not a big month for podcasts.

School of Greatness – Lewis Howes

I’m a big fan of the School of Greatness. This month I’d like to specially note a few episodes:

1. Lissa Rankin – The science behind using brain power to heal yourself. Powerful stuff.

2. Alex Day – Alex Day is the modern version of the rock star in the movie, Love Actually. Only instedad of being a dreadbeat washed out rock n roller, he is a young gun with a YouTube account. It was great. To add to it, check out this post titled: Become a Pop Star with Zero Experience

3. Rich Roll – Going from alcoholic cubicle slave to a ultra marathon champion. Loved the story of him running the Ultra Marathon in Hawaii and crashing his bike. He’s pretty awesome.

Tropical Talk Radio – Dan Andrews

Dan Andrews speaks my language. It’s all big picture thinking, location independent entrepreneurship from building businesses and just living the good life.

He and Ian do the Lifestyle Business Podcast which I also appreciate immensely. This one is a bit more rough around the edges and more disorganized. I like that.


Margin Call – Directed by J.C. Chandor

Kevin Spacey and Paul Bettany are two of my favorite actors. Ever since The Life of David GaleAmerican Beauty, Se7en & Usual Suspects and  and A Knight’s Tale (respectively) these two actors have been two of my favorites.

Margin call is all about the financial collapse of 2008 when all the quant jocks in NYC realized they had gone down a long and harrowing bad direction. I wish I had been onto it back then.

John Tuld the Man in Charge of it All Watching this movie, I think about how foolish these people are. They spend all their time hustling their minds out and working brutal hours so they can make heaps of money and blow it all on junk. I don’t get it. Movies like this reinforce my belief that money doesn’t make people happy. But hell. This is just a movie right? Maybe in real life they live fantastic lives.

By the way, if I had to be one of the guys in the movie, I’d want to be Jeremy Irons character (pictured above.)

That’s It for April

Thanks for reading. I really appreciate you all who take the time to sit down and care about what I’m writing.

The process of writing this once a month is incredibly helpful in keeping me studying and working hard to improve myself. If you’re interested in doing it too, I’d love to hear from you. This life is short and it’s important that we do as much of this intensive, reflective study work as possible.

I wish the best for you.

With Love,


March 2013 Media Suggestions: Taleb and Sivers


Antifragile – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicolas Taleb wrote a harrowing book that has changed the way I see the world. It was harrowing in that it is so dense that my note taking interrupted me so greatly that I required nearly 3 weeks to finish the book. At times he comes off as a rude contrarian, but I couldn’t get away from the fact that his seemed disturbingly right on the money.

At the beginning, he writes, “the goal is to build a guide to non-predictive decision making under uncertainty.” He takes this point to such an incalculable level of depth that it left me spinning often. Perhaps he could have avoided the ancient Greek and Latin for the sake of the audience…

Generally while listening to books (say Titan, Linchpin or The Power of Habit) I can do things like cook, run on the beach, jump rope or lift weights. Many other books tell stories that are more easily retained in my dense brain. Antifragile is inhospitable to this style of consumption.

I attempted to listen to Antifragile while walking 5 kilometer to go to a specially beautiful library in Burleigh Heads, Australia. The walk, which normally requires about an hour, took three. I was endlessly pausing and opening Evernote to make notes on what I was learning. The sun was out and I got my first sunburn of the year due to the note taking delay. The ideas were worth remembering so I had to keep stopping.

At first, I was skeptical because Taleb’s discussion pretty much throws a wrench in the machine of the material I had learned at the University of Nevada. His points touched on much of what I had learned while in University.
I especially like his call for a “National Entrepreneurs Day: You will fail, and we thank you for being willing to fail.” He is infinitely confident about his message and he doesn’t shy from name calling when he brings up what he calls the fragilista. Fragilistas are the “no-skin in the game,” “commentators” who continue their faux expertise despite having to real understanding of what will happen. A favorite example of his is fragilista Thomas Friedman.

I remember reading The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas Friedman. It was prescribed reading for my economics courses. I enjoyed reading it while hanging in a tree 15 feet above the ground in Rancho San Rafael Park. At the time, I thought the book was insightful and prolific. Friedman talks about the importance of specialization and the value that globalized trade will play in our lives. There was always a missing link that I couldn’t identify but it was never stressed. The ideas Friedman describes are largely useless and only provide value if you are… I don’t know; a policy maker in Washington D.C. or something…

After reading Antifragile, I’m far more skeptical of his ideas. Does a globalized economy really benefit the day to day life of people all that much? My new answer is perhaps, but it also makes the threat of something really bad happening (i.e. a turkey problem as described in the book.) This globalized economy seems incredibly fragile to unpredictable events. What happens if oil prices kick up because of a war, or the information systems crash due to some cyber hacker whom no one expects yet. These sorts of things do happen: think 9/11, Arab Spring or Fukishima. These are all events that are hard to predict and shift the whole way we experience the world (Taleb calls them Black Swans.)

Anyways, I finished the book as I was in the middle of cooking some bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and eggs for breakfast. After I stewed on the ideas of Fat Tony, I started to notice that I wasn’t listening to anything. I turned on Planet Money NPR podcast.

Planet Money was discussing the business nature of the Catholic Church. Apparenty, Benedict is stepping down and there is trouble in the church. The announcers listened to the consultants (i.e. fragilista charlatans) as they described how the church should centralize their purchasing power and power structure in order to take advantage of global economics. This plays into Taleb’s model perfectly.

These consultants work at firms that are less than 50 years old I’m sure; yet they don’t hesitate to provide advice to the Catholic church which has been around for something like 2,000 years. What arrogant folks.

Now, I feel very comfortable in a prediction, despite the fact that Taleb warns against predictions. I predict that these consultants and their businesses will not be around as long as the business (the Catholic Church) that they are attempting to teach a lesson.-

This is a great book. I definitely recommend it… but it’s hyper dense and requires much time and energy to understand.-

If you do not have time to read the book (which I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t) you could take a quick hour and fifteen to sit down and listen to him discuss his ideas here < >


Anything You Want – Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers is probably my favorite all-star entrepreneur. This book is excellent and I can’t recommend it enough. If you want more genius from him, check out his site:



The Power of Belief  – Lewis Howes

Producing this podcast has been great. I think the lessons in here are great. Check it out.


That’s All Folks:

Sorry for the limited reading this month. Antifragile was a time vacum that was well worth it. I also finished some books that I don’t feel are worth writing about here.

I’m launching a new podcasting company called Freedom Podcasting ( . Later this month I’ll be putting out a blog about the best podcasts of the last few months. Feel free to drop by there or like it on Facebook ( , because I have no idea if this stuff is going to work!

I was caught up with immigration and SEO work much of the month. I’ll attempt to do more reading this month. Titles that looking tasty are Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, some more Seth Godin stuff and Walter Issacson’s portrayal of Einstein.

Thanks for your attention!


February 2013 Media Suggestions: Goudin, Duhigg, Chernow, Ferriss, Greene



The 50th Law – Robert Greene

This is my favorite of Robert Greene’s work. If I had to suggest one book of his, I’d suggest this one. He weaves his signature web of prominent figure-biographical information while juxtaposing the times of violence and struggle from the tough life of Curtis Jackson (50-Cent) growing up in South Queens, dealing drugs and perpetrating violence.

This is the best of Greene’s books for those seeking entrepreneur lifestyle.



48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene

I primarily listened to this book while running along the beach during the turmultuous cyclone that hit the Gold Coast this week. The voice of the narrator is diabolical so while listening I felt like a devil was whispering in my ear, contriving to organize something malicious.

Greene uses historical figures from the past 3,000 years as examples to support his 48 Laws of Power. He mentions Genghis Khan, John D. Rockefeller, Cleopatra and a hundred more. It is filled with interesting stories that I’m sure will prove valuable to day-to-day life.

Many of the laws suggest that our economy is fundamentally limited in which the slices of the pie are finite and need to be fought over. Greene mentions in his interview with Chase Jarvis that the 48 Laws of Power is more of a manual to help you realize if someone is making power moves against you, rather than a guide to make power moves on others.

I believe it’s valuable to learn these lessons to help guard oneself from the motivations of others. Perhaps, it isn’t a great guide for thriving in the modern “connection economy.” For a guide on this, I suggest Linchpin


Linchpin – Seth Goudin

I’m subscribed to Seth’s Blog < >. I read it almost every day and it provides daily motivation to create art and act boldly.

This is my favorite of his books it’s a pure motivation and should be read by anyone looking to succeed in this crazy, unprecedented world of ours.

Seth, if you end up reading this. Thank You.

I’ll read more Goudin (Purple CowsPermission MarketingWe are All Weird) next month.


Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. – Ron Chernow

Great story of Rockefeller’s life. It’s a captivating read. When the oil business was developing it was a nightmare of unprecedented economic turmoil. Imagine filthy pioneer oil hustlers moving barrels of crude oil across upstate New York on the backs of donkeys, spilling the stuff everywhere and fighting day and night to stay ahead on where the next oil spot would be found.

Chernow describes Rockefeller as the process builder that slammed the whole system into a scaleable, professional business. I imagine endless stories around the power plays Rockefeller made with railroads, governments and other refiners during his rise. It’s awesome to think about.

I’d love to read more about big magnates of the past. Maybe Carnegie, Vanderbuilt and any others of their class. If you have any suggestions, please send them my way!


The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business – Charles Duhigg

This is a good one. I like the stories of Claud Hopkins and how he made brushing teeth go from a traveling-salesperson-hustle to a national habit. Changing the habits of the US during this time helped alleviate the dental hygiene problem that the government was calling a “national security risk” during WWII.

It’s cool to learn how Paul O’Neil changed the ALCOA mining company via implementing a habit of safety. My only previous experience with ALCOA was in the movie Motorcycle Diaries where the company is portrayed as an evil international corporation. O’Neil’s story is inspiring and I hope to bring successful habits to my own organization one day.

The Power of Habit is a great read for anyone seeking to have a greater understanding of leadership and human behavior.




Bryan Callen and Tim Ferriss

Callen does a great podcast though it’s often not worth suggesting here. He had Tim Ferriss on this month and it was one of his best podcasts to date. Listen to it, it’s free – funny & facinating.

Seth Goudin on On Being

More excellence from Seth. Motivation to ship and do something important.

That’s All Folks

I’m currently reading Antifragile by Nassim Taleb. So far, it’s his best that I’ve read (I’ve only read Black Swan.)

If you enjoyed this newsletter and you know anyone who would also benefit, please share by having them head to

Thanks very much for your attention.


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Reporting in From Surfers Paradise, Australia

Nothing to report this morning but big glassy barrels all down the Gold Coast. There was no wind so it was a sea of beautiful turquoise glass.
Surfers Paradise Arch
The blazing sun was out with the massive skyscrapers of blue glass and grey steel which line the beach front.
Surfing-Future-Paradise-TimelessThose building are proof that we’re in the future, but surfing through turbulent caves of pristine vicious water while getting rolled into oblivion probably feels the same as it did 50 years ago.