On Being Prolific

Cut to the chase – I’ve decided to commit to being prolific. YOLO, and I’ve got so much stuff that I’ve worked 80% on, then just left it there. Articles that I’ve left it on my hard drive, never published. Ideas for amazing things, workshops, businesses, just left in my notebook.

A couple weeks ago, I had an idea for a non-profit. It just came to me in the shower, but it was so detailed, and the potential upside so big, that I had to write it out. It’s just sitting in Evernote now, but I’ll be publishing that publicly very soon.

(Note: Here it is. It’s tentatively called “Foundations”.)

Some of the things I’ve worked hours on. Some things, probably 20 – 40 hours at least. And yet, they’re just not good enough yet. I still don’t feel great about the end result, it’s not polished enough or whatever. So I let it sit for later. I intend to finish, but then never get around to it. Something else catches my attention, maybe a newer, better project. So the old one, it stagnates. Even though I’m 70% done.

Many of that will never see the light of day. Some of it could have helped a person or two. Instead it sits on some cloud server where it’ll eventually get deleted or the physical disk will crash (most likely disk hardware/firmware, but that’s being pedantic).

We’re all gonna die some day. It’s scary to think about, but it’s true. A lot of us, myself included, live like we have all the time in the world. The truth is that none of us know when it’s our time to leave this world, and we only get one shot at this thing called life.

This is your life. You get one of them.
— Sebastian Marshall

I haven’t been publishing much lately. That’s not to say that I’m not creating. I’m doing lots of things every day. Proactive, positive, productive things. Strategies. Ideas for things. Building good will, trying to help people out.

Developing a personal system of policies and ethics. Reading the Credo. Reading a lot of really good books. Learning to type using Colemak.

I’ve been scattered, but trying to consolidate.

I have lots of disparate interests. Trying to bring all those under one umbrella, into one place and have it all make sense, is hard. But I’m starting now, and I’m committed to getting things done, even if they’re not 100% perfect. That’s one of my problems – most of my life I’ve been a detail person. Now I’ve had to learn to be a “big-picture” thinker instead. I still sometimes fall back to being detail-oriented. At times I catch myself trying to fit into that role, instead of realizing that I’m growing beyond that, and can’t have everything. I can’t do everything. I used to think that I could. Over the past year I’ve been realizing that I can’t. So, in an effort to just “ship” as they say, I’ll be putting things out that may not be 100%. Some details might be overlooked. That’s ok. They can be changed later. Details can be corrected/fixed/added/subtracted. But something that’s not shipped can’t be used by anyone.

This also means that I’ll be more vulnerable, which I don’t like to show. A lot of people like me don’t like to show that side of themselves online.

If you’re reading this now, then I’ve already created & scheduled quite a few things to be produced, published, or otherwise released to the world. This might mean code, books, articles, plans/strategies, ideas, businesses. Most of it will probably be at my blog, but I’m branching out from there. That’s the entire point.

In fact, I almost just tabled this to be finished “later”. I have somewhere to go, a few little errands to start on now, and then… then I realized that I was doing it again. So, I apologize if this seems unfinished. If the closing paragraph isn’t as polished as I’d like. (It almost certainly isn’t.) But I have to get this out to the world, as well as many other things.

In closing, watch these spaces for changes and general awesomeness:


(This list will be updated as things happen/unfold/are created.)

Thanks for reading. Oh, and please get in touch if you have any inclination to do so.


Foundations – Name of a non-profit organization to work with young people and teach them to make good decisions.

The basic idea is that the decisions we make, big and small, are the very reason that we’re exactly who & where we are at this moment in life. So, for people to affect their future in a positive way, they’ve to have a solid base of decisions. The non-profit would organize a workshop for juveniles (both delinquents and school children) to not only demonstrate the power of decisions, but give very specific tactics for pragmatic implementation of making good decisions. Teaches basic entrepreneurship and community involvement.

Example: a workshop on how consumer credit works, brief overview of credit scores, how the bureaus determine scores, examples of bad credit and consequences, and how to start building good credit when young, before it’s needed.

Another example: a gardening workshop which teaches community gardening (local business or person can donate space to a comm. garden), organic methods, how to grow produce, pH levels of soil/medium, companion planting, in-season planting, etc. Even rooftop gardening to maximize use of space.

All these workshops would be integrated into a weekend programme. The organization would work with judiciaries and officials to offer this program to young offenders in exchange for community service time, or some kind of reduced sentence.

The youth learn valuable skills and also have to spend less time doing work that’s… less rewarding (e.g. the standard community service).

Community volunteers teach the courses/workshops for the weekend, and the local area children are more educated. More educated, and hopefully less likely to fall back into a life of bad decisions.

The juvenile detention centers are less full (always a good thing), and the community is overall a better place. Future value of the local community increases tremendously as a result, because the young today are our future businessmen, entrepreneurs and politicians.

This is obviously still in idea stage. I’d like to implement something like this one day, if for no other reason, just to give back to my community and try and create the world I’d like to live in. Anyone who wants to take this and run with it, feel free. Also please feel free to get in touch if you’d like to collaborate on anything like this or just bounce ideas around.

Be Ruthless with your Email

Email is sacred ground. It’s where you get important notes from friends and family, as well as the businesses and organizations that you care about.

But for a lot of people it’s become a wasteland, a junkyard to be traversed, only every once in a while finding a gem here or there.

Me? I’m ruthless with my email. If any company, organization, or marketer sends me something that I don’t want to receive even once, they’re gone. Done. Unsubscribed. I don’t care how much they might have improved my life or condition. By giving over my primary email address, for any reason, I’ve given you my trust, and that doesn’t come lightly.

Once you violate that trust, even one time, you’re done. Gone.

I signed up for Medium.com the other day, just so that I could get set up for publishing some articles there in the future. And less than 24 hours later, got an email with “stuff I might like”, or some such nonsense. Bam! Gone. If I want to waste my time going through “stuff I might like”, I’ll search for it myself and on my own time.

Email is sacred. It’s my own place to receive asynchronous communication when I feel like it and when I’m ready to do so. Not somewhere you can get more eyeballs on your content on a regular basis. I trusted you, and you let me down. You don’t get a second chance. I’m through with you.

I use Gmail, and they have a nice “Spam” button. It’s real nice when you’ve committed to being ruthless with your email purges.

Nowadays, my primary inbox is pretty clean. It’s only used for communications that I want in there. If I do want to collect marketing or autoresponder emails for future use, I use another “fake” email address. Not an actual fake one, but another one that I’ve set up that’s not my primary one.

My primary email is sacred. I try and treat it well, to keep it spotless, and in return I have a lot more mental clarity and less clutter when checking my email. I can visit my inbox, do what I came to do, and then leave. Less distraction, more productivity.

Feeling of Significance, and Early Access to Pumpkin Spice Latte

Autumn 2015
Oh, hello autumn. I see you there, peeking around the corner. Come on out, it’s ok. Stay a while.

“You’ll just have to wait until next week.”

Wait. Let’s back up.

So I walked into a Starbucks today to get some work done – a usual location for me, and at this point I can probably be described as a “regular” for this location.

The nicest man greeted me at the register. About 50-60 years old, graying hair/beard. We’ll call him ‘Jim’, because… well, because his name is Jim. We had a great exchange, Jim and I. Just chit-chat about which drink I wanted, how I made a good choice, which syrups/mylks I could add, just small talk. But really cool guy, very pleasant.

As I was finalizing my decision, he noticed that I pulled my gold card out of my wallet to pay, and informed me that I could get Pumpkin Spice syrup (a week) early this year since I had a gold card. Nice! A perk that I didn’t know existed.

Then another barista (we’ll call her Starbucks Nazi) just had to step into our conversation and speak up.

SbuxNazi: “Do you have a code? Because you can only get it if you have a special code, you would have gotten an email from Starbucks.”

me: “Well, sometimes I get special codes when I login to the website, so maybe. I could check.”

SbuxNazi: “It’s a specific code for Pumpkin Spice. You’d know if you had it. We have to see the code. You’ll just have to wait until next week.”

NARRGGGGHHHOOOOOOO! … No, not really. Ok. Not a big deal, I really don’t think it’s vegan at any rate.

I could tell it kinda irritated Jim, just slightly. I mean, she didn’t really add any value to me, or to Jim. Or for that matter, to Starbucks as a company, because I could easily look up the code (which I did, see below).

Sure, it’s the by-the-book, official corporate policy. But she didn’t add value to anyone else.

What she did was add value to herself. That encounter massaged her sense of importance. A sense of significance, which is one of Tony Robbins’ described six basic human needs. But couldn’t she have gotten that a different way? How much good could Ms. SbuxNazi do if she would have started her shift asking “How can I provide the most value to my company, my co-workers and my customers today?”

I think that’s a question that everyone could ask themselves.

“How can I provide the most value to my company, my co-workers (collaborators) and my customers (clients) today?”

Note that the question’s not asking how you can improve your own self, but everyone else. By providing value to others (the world), you make the world a better place and implicitly add value to yourself in the process. You become valuable.

Let’s re-work the conversation to what it could have been, something more pleasant:

SbuxNazi: “Hey, you know, we actually have a code for getting it early. The gold card thing doesn’t automatically give PSL, but you can search online and get the code for it. Then you get early access! Pretty sweet, huh?”

me: “Oh, ok, thanks, that’s very helpful of you.”

Jim: “Yeah, thanks SbuxNazi, that is very helpful. Now I’ve also been enlightened for future customer encounters.”

The crazy thing is, Starbucks Nazi knows me. We’ve chatted in the past, and generally gotten on well. We’ve been acquaintances for like 5 years.

The other crazy thing? Just after that exchange, it took me a whole 2 minutes to Google it and find a code. Anyone can get a custom Pumpkin Spice Latte code for early access. So now I have one! Thanks, Starbucks Nazi. I have the option to use the code for the entire week now, and before that exchange I wouldn’t have even really used it or cared. I don’t even think it’s vegan — I’ll probably just get one for my sister-in-law.

Oh yeah, the link for early access to PSL (autumn 2015).

How to Get Your Passport (for US citizens)

US Passport
US Passport

Note: I wrote this back in 2010. I think the fees might have increased, and I’m not sure if the links are all working now. Get the book, not the card. The card is useless. Oh yeah, now you have the option to get the 26-page or the 52-page version. I don’t think there’s a price difference, so just get the 52-page version. Trust me on this one.

I’ve been accused of writing too much before {by James}. If this page is too long, skip to the good stuff.

Ever wished you could just pack up and take a nice week or two in Europe, the Caribbean or even somewhere more exotic, like say… Tahiti? The good news is you can, because you live in a “free” country, in a modern society, and although you may not describe yourself this way, you truly are wealthy compared to most of the rest of the world. All you have to do is schedule your vacation, book a flight and you’re off!

Oh, no, wait, you can’t. You can’t leave the borders of this wonderful country because you’re too damn lazy to take a few extra steps and get a small document which allows access to virtually any place on earth.

Get your passport.

How to get a US passport for US citizens living in the US. Originally written for my friends in Northwest Arkansas.

Here’s the official web page that has all the details. I have meticulously combed through the details & pulled out the important stuff.

  • 2 passport photos
  • 1 copy, front & back, of Arkansas Driver’s license on standard 8-1/2 x 11 paper
  • Form DS-11, printed & filled out but DO NOT SIGN IT
  • certified birth certificate {with raised seal}

You can go to Walgreen’s to get your passport photos. Just walk in, say you need passport photos, and they will know what you’re talking about. They cost like 5 bucks or something.

You can get your driver’s license copied at Office Depot. There’s one by the Atlanta Bread in Rogers.
{You will also need to bring your driver’s license to the post office later.}

Oh yeah, print & fill out form DS-11 but DO NOT SIGN IT. you must sign it in front of the person at the post office that accepts your form. This is very important.

Oh, BTW, when filling out this form DO NOT SIGN IT YET. Just wanted to state that another time to make sure it got through.

How much will it cost?

There will be 2 fees:

  1. The first fee is the “application fee”, and is for your passport itself, and any check/money order should be made payable to “U.S. Department of State”.
  2. The second is the “execution fee”, it is for the acceptance facility, e.g. the post office.

Application Fee for adults: $110
Execution Fee: $25

These must be paid with 2 separate forms of payment. They don’t allow you to write one check for both fees.

I believe a money order will work as payment for both of these, you can go to the bank & purchase a money order for $110 and a separate one for $25.

It really shouldn’t take more than an afternoon or 2 to get all this stuff together & get to the post office. The hardest part would be getting the official birth certificate (with raised seal) if you don’t have one at home somewhere.

The Easy, Step-by-Step Version

  1. Find an official certified copy of your birth certificate with raised seal. Ask your parents if you don’t have one or don’t know.
  2. Go to Walgreen’s and get 2 passport photos.
  3. Go to Office Depot and get a front and back copy made of your Arkansas driver’s license {important that it is Arkansas}.
  4. Print and fill out this form, but DO NOT SIGN IT
  5. Purchase two money orders from your local bank. One should be for $110, and the other should be for $25.
  6. Take all these documents along with your Arkansas drivers license and money orders to the Bentonville post office. Rogers is just ghetto. Talk to the person at the front, tell them you want to apply for a passport, show them all your documents.

That’s it. You’re awesome.

Photo by bryansblog

Finally, some solid goals.

Sunset on a Highway in Alabama
Sunset on a Highway in Alabama

Feel like I’ve had a breakthrough tonight. Maybe it’s a combination of being alone for a few hours (INTJ – I charge up on being alone), or maybe it’s the slight lift that I got from the cup o’ tea that I had a little bit ago, but it’s starting to click.

For years, I’ve wanted to “travel the world” and be mobile, yet make an income at the same time. But it was so hard to envision without getting a time-consuming and draining customer support job.

Re-reading that last paragraph, makes it look like I haven’t traveled much. I’ve been to Europe 3 times, Asia twice, New Zealand twice, Canada 3x (spent a month in Quebec), Central/South America for 3 months… I’ve traveled a bit. But my bank account always goes down, and I’m not able to spend the time I want traveling, for as long as I’d like.

Since my eyestrain has gotten progressively worse over the past year, I’ve wanted less and less to spend any time in the computer, much less try my hand at getting a remote software development job. And reading over those job postings makes me want to vomit. Every time.

“Consulting” was the holy grail… the one thing I could do while traveling the world, keeping my eyesight and staying free. (Freedom is my highest value.)

I always wondered how they do it — I have a mentor who’s been traveling the world and consulting for near 10 years now — he can easily make $5-$10k in a month, no problem. Much more these days I’m sure.

Tonight I was reading over some of his old writing today, some articles from 5-6 years ago… then it clicked.

He talked about wanting to have a 10x return for his work… e.g. if he charged $75 per hour, then within a year, he wants that client to receive $750 worth of value for every hour they’ve paid him.

That’s it. That’s the secret to consulting — leaving people better off than if they’d never hired you to begin with. In his case, much better off. Another thing he mentioned — as he was calculating what he needed to meet his goals.

First, he calculated that he wanted to bring in $6000 per month. So he did some brief calculations:

$20 / hr for 300 hours. 75 hours per week. Too many hours.
$40 / hr for 150 hours. 37.5 hours per week. Still a lot of hours, esp. for consulting
$75 / hr for 80 hours… that’s 20 hours per week. That was plenty of time for him to work on other projects as well as meet his income goals.

That’s when it hit me – I don’t have to try and throw myself into building a business 100% of the time every single day. That’s why I’ve been burning out for a year. That’s also why I haven’t been able to stick with a goal. Jumping around, different goals, choosing what seems easiest at the time vs doing what I’m passionate about.

Building a business (which means I can leave and still get income) vs starting a service which requires me to work for continual income (consulting, coaching).

I can do both.

Finally, feel like I’m developing some solid goals… steps for reaching exactly what I want. Discovering that I can achieve what I want, because I’m finally starting to realize what that is.

At this point in my life, I want to be spending about 20 hours / week consulting, coaching, for income. Improving the lives of others and making sure that all my clients get at least a 2-4x return for their investment, if not much more. I’m shooting low now, as far as return goes. I will be satisfied if my current clients are getting 4x return, even a 2x. Because I know that as I improve, so will those results. A 10x return within a few months’ time isn’t out of the question — as long as I stay on a tight feedback loop with lots of iterations. And getting $150 in value for $75 is still a bargain.

I also want to be able to put another 10 – 15 hours per week into building a business, systems which run even without me there, or initially with minimal input from myself. I realize that it will take 100% input at first and that number will gradually decrease as the business improves.

I also want to invest time per week (another 10-15 hours) into developing myself. Learning languages, reading about history, business, negotiations, building skills.

This seems like a lot of time, but 2 hours a day is 14 hours per week. Between reading, learning language and cultural interaction, that would be a minimum number for me, for self-development.

So, official 1-year goals, to have achieved within 12 months from today:

* ~20 hours per week consulting
* 10-15 hours per week building a business
* 10-15 hours per week in self-development (includes language, skills, etc)
* $50k in the bank
* mobility (freedom to go wherever)
* started my business and have all business banking/credit set up


* Credit score above 780
* Semi-fluent in another language (which depends on where I’m at)
* Lamborghini parked in front of my mansion (well it would be nice to have)

Official Last Request(s)

A few days ago I was driving home from my usual after-midnight grocery shopping. (Side note: I wrote this 5 years ago.) After the stock CD player in my auto went out, I was forced to resort to my iPod and one of those tape-deck converters. I usually play my iPod on shuffle just to mix things up. Anyway, one of the awesomest songs ever came on, and as I was singing along at the top of my lungs, I realized I wanted this song to be played at my funeral. The song? Tarzan Boy by Baltimora.

And why not? Why do funerals have to be all sad & stuff, always playing those songs which make people cry as they remember the person’s life & how they’re in heaven or whatever. Screw that. Not at my funeral. My funeral had better be as crazy-go-nuts as my life. When people remember me, I want them to chuckle, shake their heads slightly and think “man, that was one crazy hardcore awesome motherfucker”. (Or something like that.)

It’s really just a cultural thing anyway. Some cultures really do have parties when people die. Real celebrations, not funerals where people say “we’re celebrating this person’s life”, but you know that’s kind of a lie, because if it really were a celebration everyone wouldn’t be wearing black and acting all sad & shit. Oh, which leads me to another rule: no black at my funeral. I’m serious.

I don’t know why an official-looking piece of paper with some signatures makes something more official than, say, a blog post. So this is my official request for songs to be played at my funeral. Here’s the list:

  1. Tarzan Boy by Baltimora
  2. Dragostea Din Tea by O-Zone
  3. Gummi Bears Theme Song – the one from the TV show “Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears”
  4. Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey – please not the Glee version (Steve Perry and/or Arnel Pineda will be fine)
  5. Deep Folk Song – Deep Forest
  6. Noonday Sun – Deep Forest
  7. Deep Blue Sea – Deep Forest
  8. Enya’s “A Day Without Rain” album – the whole album

As for song #1, please play the extended edition. It’s 6 minutes 8 seconds long and can be found on my Macbook (whichever Macbook I’m currently using at time of death). Yes, it will be a Macbook.

Given that I’ve spent most of my life in the United States, I will understand if the funeral is held there, but I consider it a slap in the face if it’s held in Oklahoma or Idaho. Also, if you regularly drink Budweiser of any type, have truck balls or a Browning buck sticker, or fancy the confederate flag, then you’re not invited.


An Abundance of Peaches
An Abundance of Peaches

Today I had 11 dollars to spend @ the Farmer’s Market. It was the perfect amount, because I planned to spend $7 on a 1/4 peck of peaches, and the remaining $4 on tomatoes. I was so grateful that I had exactly the right amount to purchase my peaches and tomatoes (black cherry and sungold, my favorites!).

Well, not only did I have enough, but my peach guy threw in some extras and gave me a $2 discount. (Yeah, I have a guy, for peaches.) Two whole dollars! I was then so grateful because I not only had an extra dollar to tip him (he’s a good peach guy), but I also had an extra dollar to tip one of the wonderful groups entertaining the market with their music.

It really did feel like I was having the most wonderful morning. I couldn’t help but smile the entire time I was walking around. And even though people were crowding around me, and it was harder to walk through the throng, it was ok. I felt more peaceful, because of the gratitude. Because it’s hard to feel both anger and gratitude at the same time.

photo credit: Liz West – peaches

Arabic Challenge Results

Well, my first Arabic conversation wasn’t a very long one, but it happened.

Here’s the result:

Basically, I’m saying to him, “Excuse me, do you speak Arabic?” to which he playfully responds, “No!”, and we both get a laugh out of it. There’s some more talk (in English), and a LOT of background noise too. The first 9 seconds covers the entire conversation. That’s it!

This was a fun challenge, and I’m glad I did it. I now have some working knowledge of the language and a (solid?) base from which to continue my Arabic learning.

I really wish I’d invested more time re-learning some lessons over again. I did this with lessons 1-4, but then time just got away from me. I also would have broken it up into 2 – 3 study times per day, e.g. morning, noon/early afternoon, and evening. I believe this would have helped my recall.I intentionally didn’t take notes, which would have helped also, but could have become a crutch.

Still can’t recommend highly-enough going with Pimsleur audio courses, especially to get up on a language fast. No, they don’t pay me, and I don’t have any affiliate links to any of their products. They’re just that effective, as long as you put in the work. (Of course you have do to that – you didn’t expect a magic bullet, did you?)

While I’m on the subject, I’m referring to the older-style Pimsleur courses, just the audio only. Not the new Pimsleur interactive software crap — that’s just them trying to copy Rosetta Stone. Oh yeah, don’t buy the Rosetta Stone software. It’s a waste of money, you get very little value for the cost of the software. I bought it once when learning Spanish. Never again.

One-Week Arabic Challenge

Arabic text. I have no idea what this says.
Arabic text. I have no idea what this says.

I’ve decided to learn Arabic in a week. The entire language. Plus the alphabet. Not really.

But it’s no secret that I’m a language nut. I want to be able to speak 17 languages.

Why Arabic?

Most Saturdays my wife and I make the drive from Bentonville to Fayetteville to buy fresh produce at the farmer’s market. That’s in Arkansas, for any non-local readers. We love the Fayetteville market. Fresh local veggies sold by the farmers themselves, live music from local musicians. Good people. It’s just a great vibe overall.

One of Fayetteville’s maybe not-so-well-kept secrets is the Petra Café. The proprietor is from Jordan, an Arab country, and just a couple days ago we had some fun discussing Jordan and the Arabic language.

The Challenge

I decided to challenge myself to learn as much as I could in one week and to come back next week and see how much we would be able to communicate, just in Arabic. I know almost nothing of Arabic, or any semitic language, so it’s all pretty new to me.

I’m posting this publicly so that I’ll have to go through with it. Next week I’ll be posting a video or audio file of my attempt to speak Arabic with a native speaker this coming Saturday. Sink or swim, succeed or fail, something will be posted. I’m not going to tell my Jordanian friend about the project, until after it’s done. My wife has agreed to secretly record our conversation.

It’s pretty exciting to think that I will be able to communicate in Arabic. My first conversation in any language is always exciting. Not long, but fun anyway. They’re usually no longer than a few polite exchanges.

It might seem difficult, learning to even communicate in a language that I don’t know at all within a week. But I have a secret weapon for quickly getting up to speed on most any major language… .

My Secret Weapon

Anytime someone asks me about language resources, I always point them to the Pimsleur Method audio courses, because they’re so good. It’s actually the best thing to use if you want to start speaking immediately and be understood in your target language. I’ve used it with success when learning both French and Dutch.

This week I will be investing around 30 minutes per day listening to the Pimsleur Eastern Arabic course. That’s mostly all I’ll be doing, maybe going over each lesson twice a day if I feel that I need the practice. I’ve picked up a couple books on how to write the Arabic alphabet, so I may go over those a little.

The Result?

To Be Continued…

The results are in! Check out the results of my Arabic challenge if you’re interested.

Photo by “Dr. Case”