Your Summer Reading List: 8 Books I’ve Loved This Year


It’s been a few weeks since I decided to wholly abandon reading RSS feeds and focus more heavily on books and hand-picked articles to read.

In short, it’s going phenomenally well. But that’s a story for another blog post.

Today, I want to share a bit about what I’ve been reading recently, using both my Kindle and the Audible app on my iPhone.

It’s been such a pleasure, you guys. Nothing against blog posts or whatever, but coming from somebody who has written something that at least approximates a real book, I can (to some extent) empathize with the authors of these works. Taking a big idea and turning it into a big, complete collection of thoughts and words and ideas is a massive undertaking. I think this appreciation makes consuming these books all the more enjoyable. If you ask me, anybody who can go through the toil of actually producing a book deserves some measure of respect.

Anyway, enough gushing.

From the list of books I’ve read so far this year, I’ve compiled for you a summer reading list containing some of my favorites. I can’t confidently say you’ll appreciate all of them as much as I have, but if any of them interest you, I’d highly recommend giving them a try.

And now, in no particular order…

(Oh, and I should point out that I listened to a few of these as audio books, but I’m still going to use words like “read” below because, frankly, I like annoying the pedants.)

Brett’s Summer Reading List for You Make Happy Brain

  • Platform by Michael Hyatt — For those of us who have some weird thing inside us that we really feel like the world—or, at least, certain parts of it—would do well to hear, this is a step-wise guide to building the platform from which you’ll deliver your message. It’s a nice mixture of tactics and attitudes from a guy who has the status and the credentials to speak intelligently on the topic. And it’s a hell of a good read.
  • Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (audio) — Given the decidedly mixed reaction to this book from the tech community, I was hesitant to give it the 20-some-odd hours it would take to complete. I’m glad I did. This book will not only give you a pretty thorough tour of the history of Apple, NeXT and Pixar, but also an intimate glimpse into what Steve Jobs was like as a person and how his commitment to great art manifested itself as a combination of earth-rattling innovation and absolutely despicable treatment of others. I don’t necessarily believe that the former absolves him of the latter, but I do feel like I understand the guy a good bit more than I did.
  • My Life in Advertising by Claude Hopkins — As somebody who has a little Internet business, I’ve been trying to learn a bit more about the fundamentals of business, advertising, marketing and sales (sorry if that makes you nauseous or whatever). This book is the “professional autobiography” of a guy who, near as I can tell, took the Western understanding of advertising and freaking reinvented it. Lots of marketing people I know cite this author (and this work, in particular) as required reading for anybody who cares to learn about the topic. It was fascinating and will certainly be one I’ll reread at least once.
  • What it is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes (audio) — I’ll admit it here: I find a great deal of allure and mystery in stories of war, the military, etc. Whatever, it’s a thing I do. I’ve read a couple other memoirs this year by military guys who simply recounted their experiences in training, combat and life before and after. This book, in rather stark contrast, explores the emotional aspects of what it’s like to actually be a combatant who kills others in battle and watches his friends die there. You’ll probably feel a bit drained after reading it, but it made for a hell of an interesting read.
  • Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield — Let me begin by saying that I would drink this author’s bathwater if I could. I’ve read several of books, including the seminal The War of Art (if you haven’t read it, there are few books that I’d recommend more highly). Turning Pro is, in essence, the practical application of the concepts described in The War of Art. The “professional” approach to work, creativity and one’s craft is, I think, a pretty revolutionary idea in an age where “passion” (forgive me) and the like are worshipped as the only pure motivation for doing great things. I tore through this book while on vacation recently and it absolutely delivered. For a guy who feels there might just be a bit too much inspiration floating around these days, this is one of those books that had me clamoring to take my shit to the next level. If I had to pick a favorite book in this list, this would be it.
  • The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau — Written by my good friend, this is the instruction manual for folks looking to make a real run at starting their own business. Combining oodles of anecdotes of people who have turned lemons into lemonade and fleeting moments of inspiration into full-time careers, this is a must-read for anybody who thinks starting something on their own is too hard or simply out of reach. A great read that will make you realize that, just maybe, you can actually do something awesome for far less money than you think. The trade-off, of course, is that it takes work. (Full disclosure: I’m profiled in this book. You should still read it, though, as I can guarantee that you won’t see any pictures of my scary, unshaven countenance. I wasn’t compensated for my participation other than receiving a few courtesy copies of the hardcover. And I paid for the Kindle version.)
  • The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman — I didn’t finish college. In fact, you could make a compelling argument that I didn’t really begin, either. I’m not particularly interested in spending a frickton of time and money earning a graduate degree from a business school, but I’m interested in learning about business and related topics. This book is touted by many, including the author, as a good drop-in replacement for such an expensive educational pursuit. In a nut, it breaks down dozens and dozens of business concepts into manageable, concise overviews that build on one another. Topics like finance, marketing and systemization of business processes are clearly explained enough that even a big dumb animal like myself can understand. If you’re interested in understanding business, this one is worth your time and cheddar.
  • The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg (audio) — For my generation, attending college after High School was, and still is, the default route for most kids. Historically, it was held that going to college will help ensure that you get a good job and make enough money to have a boat or something. This book takes a balanced look at the value of education as it relates to “success” in life. While it doesn’t absolutely vilify higher education, it does prompt the reader to weigh the cost and benefit of such an education. I’m a big fan of this approach. As I said, I didn’t go to college and don’t really intend on ever earning a degree because I’ve managed to build a life for my family and I that doesn’t require it. I think that many people could also find this to be true if they consider what they want their life to look like instead of simply accepting conventional wisdom. (Side note: if possible, skip the audio version of this book and read it instead; the narration of the text in Audible’s version is pretty awful)

Anyway, I hope you’ll check out some of these. They’re all quite good.

I’d love to hear about a book you’ve recently loved. Ping me on Twitter and let me know, won’t you?

(Yet Another Italicized Note Thing: The book links above are affiliate links. If that makes your tummy hurt, just Google for the titles and use those links when buying.)

Image credit: druclimb

Does your ebay auction have serious potential? Here’s how to crap all over it.

A little over a week ago, I decided to unload a bunch of dusty books from my office bookshelf and sell them on eBay. I hadn’t picked them up in years (other than when I moved them from our previous home) and I was hoping to put together some additional funds for future technology purchases.

Long story short, I lost my freaking shirt on these sales because I was careless and I feel like a damn fool.

N.B., let me make it clear that I’m nowhere close to an experienced seller on eBay. I sold a few dozen 7" records about a million years ago and I’ve done my share of buying on the site, but that’s really it. I was, and remain, a big dumbass when it comes to eBay.

The Overarching Theme

In retrospect, I actually have a pretty good idea why things panned out the way they did.

Before listing my wares, I did some spot-checking to see what some of the items generally went for. A few were going for $20 or $30, others as high as $50! After learning this, I (incorrectly) assumed the following:

As long as the product is in good or great shape, the market for the product will be enough to drive a fair price. Most of my stuff was in very salable condition, so the sheer fact that somebody was selling it would be enough to bring the scavengers out of the virtual woodwork. Now, PAY ME!

Probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever thought. And I’ve thought some dumb shit in my life, folks.

Anatomy of a Mistake

When I started, I hauled all 30-something books on to my back patio and grabbed my iPad. Turns out, the eBay app for iPad will scan the barcode of a book and pre-populate almost all of the details: title, cover image, author and other publication information. From there, I would need to add a description, fill in the categories for the item and set a starting price.

So, for just about every item I listed, I added:

  • Almost nothing for the description; if there was any damage or wear, I indicated as much. That’s it.
  • A starting price of $0.99.
  • An auction period of seven days (across the board).
  • No reserve price.

(I can already hear all of you experienced eBay people crinkling your faces. Trust me, I’ve learned my lesson.)

Lessons and Caveats

A non-moron would have done a bit more to “pitch” each product in the description. He also may have set a higher starting price. Then he probably would have gone back to college and learned how to not be such a frickin’ dunce.

I don’t think it I’m entirely to blame for this, though.

Possible mitigating factors include:

  • My low seller rating. I don’t have any negative feedback or whatever, but I haven’t sold hardly anything, so that may have roused suspicion on the part of the buyers.
  • The market for the product may have drastically changed in the week since Mr. $50 listed his product and I listed mine.

Ok, fine, that last one is stupid. Stipulated.

The Big Takeaway

I’m hardly in a position to give advice (other than to stay in school), but here’s how I’m going meekly approach my next foray into moving unwanted crap on eBay:

First, look around at what others are doing when selling similar products. If they pay the extra couple of bucks for the bold headline or something, I’ll consider it. In other words, try to learn from people who know what the hell they’re doing.

Second, I’ll probably Google for somebody who is really good at selling things on eBay and follow their advice. Hell, even if they’re full of crap they’d have to be astonishingly full of crap to not outperform my dumb ass.

These auctions should have collectively netted me at least $300, according to my estimates based on existing auctions. As it stands right now, I’m barely going to make enough to cover the shipping.

So, maybe try not to crap all over your eBay auctions as badly as I did.

How to Painlessly Capture (and Share) Your Vacation Memories

How to Painlessly Capture (and Share) Your Vacation Memories

My Little Girl and Me at a Freakin' Luau

Aloha (again) from Kailua-Kona (on “The Big Island” of Hawaii, a designation which reeks of improper planning, if you ask me).

My family and I have been away from home for well over a week now and, like any white knob stinking up a tropical paradise, I’ve been more than a little preoccupied with taking photos and otherwise capturing the magic and whatnot of our little adventure. Ultimately, this stuff will be shared both with the members of our travel party and with friends and family back in the Lower 48.

And, as you may have guessed, I’m using Evernote to store all of it. The workflow isn’t any more cumbersome and it adds a metric buttload of value. Here’s how to do it in a convenient list of easy-to-digest steps. Blogging!

  1. Create a new Evernote notebook for your trip. If you’re as big an Evernote wonk as I am, you probably already have one that contains your itinerary, travel information and other such details.
  2. Whenever you go someplace notable—restaurant, tourist attraction, etc.—create a new note in Evernote on your smart phone while you’re there. This will capture the GPS coordinates of the location as well as the date and time of your visit and embed this information in the Evernote note.
  3. Take a frickin’ ton of photos. This sorta goes without saying since that’s what we humans usually do. I personally avoid taking them from within the Evernote app because, when using the Camera app on my iPhone, I can snap many photos in rapid succession and sift through them later. Try to capture the overall mood of your crew, but don’t hesitate to highlight your loved ones’ personal quirks or unsightly tan lines.
  4. When you get back to wherever you’re temporarily calling home, open the note (or notes, if you created more than one during a given period) and add the best photos from that particular outing. Since Evernote lets you add text between images in the mobile note editor, I like to add a sentence or two of commentary between photos (if necessary). Remember that a single note can only be so big and that full-size smartphone photos aren’t small in terms of file size, so don’t go all hog wild with the adding of the photos, Jimmy.
  5. Tag each Evernote note with whatever short bits of descriptive text best fit the note contents (“sushi”, “volcano”, “parking lot” or what-have-you). Make sure the note is added to the notebook described in step 1.

Bonus Pro Tip: If you’re traveling with other attractive, forward-thinking Evernote users, share your vacation notebook with them (and give them the ability to modify the notebook) so they can add their own sandwich pictures or volcano thoughts. Then, at the end, you’ll have a huge collection of vacation memories authored by multiple vacationers! Indistinguishable from magic!

After your galavanting has concluded, it’s time to impose your memories on your friends and family. Even though these fine people would rather jam a sharpened screwdriver into their kneecaps, that doesn’t mean that we can’t make great use of cool tech while torturing them.

Of course, I’m talking about sharing your notebook. You can either share it with the whole world if you’d like or just with a few individual people. If nudist colonies are your thing, maybe consider the latter option. If you share with the world, go ahead and shove the URL onto Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest or whatever other social network is currently tickling your fancy. If you share only with certain folks, they’ll get an email with a link to the notebook.

Additional Evernoting Vacationer Thoughts and Ideas — Free!

Before you travel, consider adding notes to your notebook containing the following:

  • Packing list (this way you won’t forget your iPad charger or that coconut suntan lotion you like so much)
  • Name, address and phone number of the place you’re staying (so Grandma can call you if your house burns down or something)
  • Travel itinerary and details: arrival/departure times, confirmation numbers, reservation crap, receipts for prepayment, etc.)
  • Places or attractions you’d like to encounter while you’re doing your encountering.
  • You get the idea…

Anyway, that’s the long and the short of it. Evernote makes it a breeze to capture, store and share all sorts of stuff: including a painfully detailed account of your trip to the slaughterhouse!

Special Bonus Below!

As a special bonus just for you, here’s a note from our current trip that properly illustrates just the kind of random event you might be interested in capturing and remembering forever because, really, it’s the little things that matter. Don’t you agree?

Want to know more about how to use Evernote?

How to Turn Two Stock iPhones into A Video Baby Monitor

Aloha from our family vacation in beautiful Hololulu. Hope this finds you and yours well and happy and fitting nicely into those jeans you like so much. Having partially traversed an ocean, I feel like frickin’ Guillebeau over here.

Anyway, I wanted to share a cool little hack I came up with last night.

There are seven people total in our vacation crew and we’re spread across two hotel rooms: my wife, our kids and I in one room and the other folks in the second (non-adjoining) room.

Last night, we planned to put the kids to bed and do grown-up beverage consumption and deep, intellectual conversation in the second hotel room. Trouble is, the idea of leaving my two kids alone and asleep in our room didn’t sit well with me. So, like a freaking adult, I thought about how I could solve the problem so that a) my kids were correctly monitored and b) we could all have our cocktails and whatnot two rooms away.

“Ah, HA!” I said quietly, as I grabbed my wife’s iPhone 4 out of her pocket. Her phone and mine would become an ad-hoc video baby monitor (that worked like the dickens, I might say).

Here’s what I did, tutorial-style (in case you find this and want instructions to follow). To do this, you’ll need two iPhones (4 or newer) and an available, reliable WiFi network.

  1. Connect both iPhones to the WiFi network.
  2. Put one of the iPhones in the room where the slumbering is happening (hereafter, “the kid phone”). Keep the other with you (hereafter, “the adult phone”).
  3. Initiate a FaceTime call from one phone to the other (doesn’t matter which one initiates the call). Answer the call from the second phone.
  4. Prop up the kid phone such that your kids are visible on the screen of the adult phone (you may have to switch between the front and rear cameras to do this).
  5. Tap the Mute button on the adult phone so you can hear noises from the kid phone, but none of your adult crap will be audible on the kid phone.
  6. Position the adult phone on the table next to your frosty adult beverage and occasionally glance at it to make sure your kids have not, in fact, gotten up and decided to head to the hotel bar for a warm milk.

Now, a few caveats.

  1. If you initiate the FaceTime call between two iPhones that are within a few inches of each other, it will produce a lot of audio feedback that will almost certainly rouse the sleeping kid(s). Make sure they’re a good distance apart first.
  2. Plug in both iPhones, if possible. Even with full batteries, a constant FaceTime call uses a lot of juice — you’ll be lucky to get a couple of hours out of it.
  3. Hotel WiFi is usually pretty awful, so your call may be dropped a few times over the course of the evening. Be ready for this.
  4. Hotel WiFi is also metered, in many cases, and FaceTime is a pretty bandwidth-intensive endeavor (particularly if it’s on for 4-5 hours straight). Make sure [your snazzy hotel] isn’t going to take you to the cleaners because you grossly exceeded some dumb bandwidth allotment that you didn’t know about.
  5. This whole deal is meant to provide a means to watch your kids at very little distance. I don’t condone leaving a running iPhone in their room while you head to the Piggly Wiggly ten miles up the road.

And, as with any super spiffy tricks like this, your mileage may vary.

How to Buy an Appliance like an Efficiency Nerd

As I’m sure you know by now, I’m a big proponent of using technology to make life better, faster and easier.

This is especially true when buying, say, a massive chest freezer to hold the 350+ pounds of beef that will be showing up at our door any day. No joke. I digress.

When my buddy and I returned from the Big Box Appliance Retailer yesterday after buying the freezer, I found myself with a small stack of stuff: the manual, warranty information, purchase receipt, extra parts, etc.

I hate stuff like this lying around and I’m always looking for nerdy ways to reduce the amount of crap floating around my life. Here’s what I did with this particular pile:

  1. Googled for the make and model of freezer, plus the word “manual”. Found a PDF of the manual for my new freezer, saved it to Evernote and enthusiastically threw away the paper copy.
  2. Scanned the receipt into Evernote (after tearing off the 14 inches of it pitching me to take a survey or whatever). Made sure the receipt was uploaded successfully, then enthusiastically threw away the paper copy.
  3. Scanned the warranty information into Evernote. Enthusiastically threw away the paper copy.
  4. Collected all of the spare parts I didn’t immediately need, and put them in a plastic bag. Labeled plastic bag with a permanent marker, took a snapshot of it. Put the plastic bag into a box of miscellaneous junk I keep in my office, then created a new Evernote note with a) the photo of the plastic bag and b) the words “this bag is in the crap box in the bookshelf and it looks like this”.
  5. When I talked to the distracted kid who sold me the freezer, he said the extra warranty I was buying came with a free annual inspection of my appliance. He also said that most people do these six months after their purchase date and continue every year on/around that date. Added a task in OmniFocus to schedule my inspection starting 6 months from now and repeat every year for three years.

Oh, and all of the Evernote stuff was tagged with “Garage Freezer” and the OmniFocus task contained a link to Evernote note containing all of the information on who I need to call when I’m ready to move that forward.

So there you go. Gone are the days of keeping track of big stacks of old manuals, paperwork and other such malarky. Between Evernote and OmniFocus, I’m sitting frickin’ paperless and pretty over here.

(Also, if you’re looking to get more into the Paperless lifestyle, my good buddy David wrote an ebook that you should definitely check out.)

The Secret of My Accidental Success

I’ll level with you.

I’ve had a great deal of success with Evernote Essentials (which many of you have purchased — I’m very grateful for that) and, truthfully, it’s always felt a little strange.

Not a week goes by when I’m not asked by a friend or acquaintaince how my little side business is going. “Just fine,” I’ll usually answer.

The truth is, I’m constantly surprised at the response my little product has received. People have found it extremely helpful (based on the emails I routinely get from satisfied customers) and that makes me deliriously happy.

The part that really flummoxes me is how I’ve been able to make something that so many people liked and that has turned into a legitimate business. Yes, I totally get how coy and stupid that sounds. But, truth be told, I still feel like a blind squirrel who happened accidentally upon a big nut. I started out knowing almost nothing about business or marketing or any of the things that normally accompany success.

Having learned a thing or two in the couple years since I’ve had my little business, I can look back and see what I did right and—most importantly—how having some very smart people in my corner helped make it happen.

Of the small group of confidantes and friends that were instrumental in my success, I’d have to say that my friend Chris Guillebeau was one of the tiny handful of people that were the most crucial — my mentors, if you will. He generously offered me advice and guidance on several occasions, both by email and phone. He’s a hell of a guy and I’m eternally in his debt (despite his humble, bull-headed insistence that his help wasn’t as important as I make it out to be).

Chris just launched his second book called The $100 Startup. Comprised of both inspiring stories of unconventional businesses and actionable, time-tested steps that the reader can take to begin his/her own entrepreneurial journey, this book is a must-read for anybody looking to start living on their own terms and earning a living their own way. I’m humbled to be included among the success stories described in the book.

I don’t believe that everybody is suited to this kind of life or pursuit, but for those who are, I can’t recommend The $100 Startup highly enough. You’ll walk away with a clearer picture of how to get from where you sit to a real business. The doubt and uncertainty that surrounds such a pursuit will be accounted for and you’ll just need to act.

I’m proud to count Chris among my friends because the guy is the real freaking deal. He’s helped me and many others get where we are and, if you’re looking for something different or to move your dreams from abstract ideas to real, achievable goals — this is your horse.

Check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

(This post doesn’t contain any affiliate links, for what it’s worth)

Reading Intentionally: Why I Quit RSS

About three weeks ago, I quit reading RSS feeds.

I didn’t gradually unsubscribe from a few feeds here and there until they were gone. I just stopped.

Now, I read Kindle books and hand-picked articles in Instapaper instead.

And it’s been fantastic.

Why I Quit

There was too much noise. Even with the relatively small number of feeds to which I was subscribed, almost none of it was interesting to me. I realized that, for some reason I couldn’t quite recall, I felt obligated to stay abreast of new developments in technology and such.

That fabricated obligation led me to routinely scan big lists of headlines and, more often than not, mark the whole mess as “read” and go on to something else. Imagine this happening 2-4 times per day and I was spending between 10-30 minutes per day skimming or ignoring stuff that, for the most part, wasn’t what I wanted to read.

What’s Different Now

Since that fateful day, the app I reach for when taking a walk or answering the call of nature has become the Kindle app. I’m reading and enjoying more books now than I have in quite some time. Reason being, I rarely set aside large blocks of time to read (a problem I’m in the process of rectifying) and this newfound habit has meant that I now take small bites of books throughout the day and week instead of letting them collect digital dust until I can don my smoking jacket and park it outside with a cigar and a brandy for two hours.

(Note that I don’t actually like brandy.)

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s probably better (or, at least, more efficient) to read books in larger blocks of time than I do. The cool part about my existing setup is that I don’t have to click back a few pages to get context when I pick up [one of several devices] to read — it usually hasn’t been more than 3-4 hours since I last read that same book and what I last read hasn’t had time to go stale in my dumb head.

My other go-to reading app is an old favorite for many of you: Instapaper. The difference is that now I don’t just open the app once in a blue moon and discover dozens of articles that I no longer have any interest in reading. Now the app gets opened once every two or three days, minimum. The contents aren’t so old that I don’t recognize them and the list is almost always manageable.

Basically, I now spend more time reading what I want to read instead of what I decided I should read months ago (when I subscribed to a given RSS feed).

“Ok, Smarty Guy. What About News and Other Timely Happenings?”

It’s probably good to point out here that, in recent months, my interest in technology news has dried up considerably. I used to really give a crap about the newest mobile dingus or which company is suing which other company this week. Let’s just say that I no longer give anywhere near the size of the crap that I once did about these things. Not a value judgement or anything — if that’s your thing, then I heartily encourage you to continue giving larger craps about it than I do.

If something really “important” (because, really, most of it isn’t) happens, I usually find out via Twitter. I still follow a whole pantload of tech enthusiasts and they’re the perfect delivery mechanism for what’s new and exciting in the world. Except now, instead of feverishly clicking through to see what all the hubbub is about, I just add it to Instapaper. Then, I give myself permission to not read it if, when I do come to it in my list of unread articles, it doesn’t interest me anymore.

The Philosopy

As white dudes go, I’m pretty busy. I’ve got a wife (who is also a stay-at-home mom and homeschool teacher), two kids, a day job and plenty of after-hours activities to keep me busy. It may sound narcissistic, but I feel a lot better laying my head down at night knowing that I spent 30-45 random minutes reading books and articles that I actually want to read instead of frustratedly skimming news that usually doesn’t interest me.

And, like I said earlier, I love it.

Actionable Advice

If you find yourself wishing you read more books and such, then let me implore you to give this a go. I can tell you that whatever worries you have about missing the latest [OMG whatever earth-shattering thing] are probably unfounded.

Going whole-hog might be a bit of a stretch for some of you. I get that. If you’re not quite ready to cut this particular cord just yet, then may I suggest “un-automating” your news consumption habit a skosh. Pick a handful of sites you really like and just, you know, visit them in your web browser every couple of days. Really, anything is better than having yet another inbox you have to check, feel bad about ignoring, then summarily clear out like Grandma’s garage every few days.

Your Ideas and How to Move them Forward

I want to talk to you about ideas. More specifically, ideas that can ultimately become (probably small) businesses.

For example: the ebook I sell started its life as a little brain fart I had one day at my desk at work. I like to think that most cool ideas begin in a similar fashion.

Maybe you have an idea. Something you imagine yourself building and polishing and then offering to people in exchange for money. This isn’t a new concept, but maybe you’ve got a little muse floating around in your head that looks and smells like one of these ideas.

There are two big-ish barriers to turning such an idea into a real thing you can look at, point to and in which you take a measure of pride:

  1. How to get from idea to “thing you made”.
  2. The knowledge and skills required to get there.

Number one can generally be sorted out with the help of a couple of quiet hours on the patio with a few delicious beverages (and, if you’re like me, a delicious Alec Bradley cigar — get a Prensado if you’re curious because they’re exquisite). Of the two “problems” enumerated here, I’d call the first one “the easy one”.

Of course, you may need to look a few things up, send some emails to some people to clarify certain points, but overall the process is something very surmountable by a sufficiently driven human being. At least, I think so.

The second obstacle is, I think, pretty easy to overcome. We live in an age of specialized information and accelerated learning.

I won’t say the notion of higher education is passé, but I truly think that the kind of knowledge a budding (Heaven forgive me the uttering of this word) entrepreneur needs is readily available and, in many instances, doesn’t require you to speak or even encounter the word “matriculate”.

No, there are gobs and gobs of topics for which the basics are available right now. On the Internet. It’s pretty crazy.

Lots of people (and, by that, I mean thousands and thousands) have jumpstarted their Evernote knowledge using the thing I made. It costs relatively little in terms of time and money and it gives you a big shove in the right direction.

Thing is, tons of similar products exist which are aimed at folks like you who want to start their own thing. And they’re really good.

My buddies Adam and Karol (pronounced “Carl”) do this thing every year where they put together the very best tools and programs on the web and offer them at an absurd discount for three days. Due to some kind of administrative error, they also included my thing (joking).

It’s called Only72 and, as the name suggests, it’s only available for three days, then it’s gone. But, if you act within those three little days, you’re staring down the barrel of a 90% savings on a gargantuan collection of the finest ebooks and online learning materials the web has to offer.

Things like my friend Corbett Barr’s guide to Starting a Blog that Matters and my insanely smart mentor Chris Guillebeau’s Unconventional Guide to Publishing. Also, Men with Pens makes an appearance (“are you kidding me”? nope.)

No joke you guys — I’ve personally purchased some of these products with my own money and can attest to their quality.

And you can get the whole freaking kaboodle for 90% off of what they normally go for. Including Evernote Essentials.

Oh, and you’ll also get Chris Guillebeau’s new book, The $100 Startup. In hardcover, shipped to your freaking door. It’s bordering on insanity.

I’m honored to be included among the fine folks who make up this package of goodness. I’m also proud to tell you about it now because, as you know, I’m really weird about selling. It makes me uncomfortable. Yeah, I know, but it really does.

Click here to check out the awesome offering Adam and Karol have put together. By the time you read this, I will have already bought mine.

If you have an idea that you want to make into something real, the knowledge contained in this offer is probably going to put you right where you want to be: moving forward, equipped with the knowledge you need to build something awesome, hang out your shingle and know that you did something effing cool.

And, for those of you still reading: Thanks.

Thanks for reading my stuff, buying my ebook and supporting my family. I’ve got a (very) beautiful red-haired girl and two kickass children who benefit directly from your support. No joke. I appreciate you.

Does Your Dock Reflect Your Priorities?

The Dock. That little area on your iPhone or iPad that contains a handful of apps which are available on every screen. It says something about what you’re about and what you want to achieve.

So existential, I know. Hear me out.

For me, the Dock represents a balance between two things:

  1. What I do most
  2. What I want to do more

I send and receive a good deal of email. So Mail is in my Dock on both my iPhone and my iPad. Because mail, for all its faults, is an important and useful tool for me.

But the Dock is something of a sacred space. It’s not just where I put things that I frequently need, but also where I put things I want to regularly see and be prompted to use.

When I unlock my device, it’s no accident that all {4,6} Dock items are within very easy reach. Nor is it coincidence that my eyes reflexively dart down to that part of the screen. I’ve behaved this way for as long as I’ve had these little gizmos and this behavior, along with an intentional approach to populating the Dock, help reinforce my priorities.

  • Byword is in my Dock because I want to write more than I do.
  • OmniFocus is in my Dock because I have things to do that need some doing.
  • Evernote is in my Dock because I need easy access to the information it houses.
  • Instapaper is in my Dock because I want to read interesting things curated by either myself or somebody smarter than me.

Now, by contrast…

  • TweetBot isn’t in my Dock because, fab as Twitter is, it’s a timesuck.
  • Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride are far and away my favorite iOS games, but are nowhere near my dock because then I’d just play all the time.

My Dock reflects my priorities. Does yours?

Injecting a Touch of Humanity

Even for a technology enthusiast like myself, Apple as an organization has an ivory-like opacity about it; the stores, the employees and even the products themselves present with perfectionism. It’s not that there aren’t flaws or mistakes, but it’s clear that every effort has been made to ensure that customers see as few of these blemishes as possible.

My friend Stephen has recently released Bartending, a collection of memories from his time as the Lead Genius at his local Apple retail store. Aside from being an extremely fun and engaging read (and it really is), I think the part I enjoyed most about it was how thoroughly human the accounts are. I’d never heard of an Apple employee physically destroying an iPhone in a frustrated rage before I read this book, and I’m pretty sure I won’t again anytime soon.

I’ve been a fan of Stephen’s writing since before he and I became friends and Bartending is a great example of why that is. It draws a nice balance between Macs that are laughably packed with homemade porn (Chapter 6, “So Much Porn”) to customers who shed hopeless tears in his presence because priceless family memories appeared to have been gone forever (Chapter 8, “Nearly Tragic Data Loss”).

If you’ve ever stood on the firing end of the Genius Bar at your Apple store, then I think you’ll enjoy reading about what it looks like from the business end.

Go right now and grab Bartending as a DRM-free ePub (which works with iBooks on your iOS devices) or for the Kindle for less than what you’d pay for a pint of crappy American beer on a Friday night. It’s a great buy and I’d recommend it even if I didn’t like Stephen (he can be a jerk sometimes, but don’t tell him I said so; dude gets mad).