Apr 09

remote-year
I’m incredibly stoked to announce that I’ve been selected as the most recent addition to the RemoteYear.com posse. This is essentially a study abroad-type program akin to “Semester at Sea” that enables young professionals with remote working arrangements to travel the world while they work. I’ve looked at planning a work-from-the-road expedition like this myself previously across the US but the overhead associated with coordinating travel & lodging made it unfeasible to do solo. This is basically “nomadic working as a service” and makes it all possible and safer as we travel as a group with lodging/travel/event logistics just handled. It will be 12 cities in 12 months (full itinerary here). I leave May 28th for Prague.

Lot’s of loose ends to resolve before I hit the road but the whole trip seems far less-intimidating knowing that I’m traveling with my friend and fellow “outdoor cat” Chris Peloquin. I want to give a public shout-out here to Josh & Sally Strebel for their faith & trust in me to take this opportunity and continue delivering the results I have been for Pagely only from abroad. I had dinner with Sally last night to get her blessing and Josh, to his credit when I asked him said, “We should all create our own reality. I just care about results. I don’t care which continent you deliver them from.” If you want to work at a company that places that level of faith & trust in its employees and has a remote-work-friendly company culture, we’re hiring for a boatload of technical positions right now at Pagely.

I started 2016 with the stated goal to double Pagely’s sales this year. I won’t divulge revenue numbers as we’re privately-held but having just completed Q1 we’re exactly 25% to that goal and I haven’t even implemented the funnel tweaks that should have compounding effects. The improvement thus far was purely from shoring up followup and sales process. The hat trick I’m intending is to not only accomplish the stated ambitious goal of doubling our revenue in one year, but simultaneously doing it while seeing the world and documenting the strategies and techniques I used so that others can do the same for their endeavors and weave their own magic carpet.

Getting deep on the Why

I’ve been very public about my endorsement of Simon Sinek’s “Why University” program. He has a whole framework for unearthing what your core “why” is and embracing it. I wanted to take a sec here and deconstruct my why on this. IMO true foreign diplomacy does not occur from the Oval Office. It occurs at the dinner tables in foreign lands when strangers break bread together and seek to understand each other’s cultures, customs, celebrations, fears, religions, philosophies, aspirations, familial ties, frustrations and goals. This type of foreign diplomacy happens one conversation at a time and is how we meaningfully dispel stereotypes, bias, hatred, racism and prejudice. I pledge to be the best possible ambassador of the US (and Arizona – go AZ!) to the places I visit. It’s my hope that I can do a small part to represent our culture well and mend unfounded misconceptions wherever possible. You can read more on my Why on my about page.

I did an exchange program in Quito, Ecuador years ago in college. When I left I took a blank journal with me which I started on the plane. Unbeknownst to me my father had taken it and written the following words on the last page of that journal:

Observe
Inquire
Reflect

I have yet to come up with a more concise prescription for fellow travelers than those three words. My Dad is a very wise man. You should read more from him here.

If you know anyone in Phoenix who is looking for a place to live, I’m looking to rent out my furnished Phoenix apartment for the next year and hopefully return to it when I come back in summer 2017.

For all my Phx peeps, I will miss you guys over the next year. Chris and I are planning to do a bon voyage sendoff end of May. I hope you will join us and see us off. More info to follow on that.

Lastly, I will be doing a rolling monthly email update as we move city to city as well as obligatory Instagram photos of all the best places we visit. I had started these periodic updates in October last year but it’s been tough to stay disciplined with regular updates. The monthly move from city to city should provide a good framework for me resuming those updates. If you want to follow along with those get my email update here and follow my Instagram here.

I’m so thrilled to have this opp. I promise to make the most of it and share as much of the experience as possible here on this blog.

Apr 09

So I just found out I’ll be traveling for the next year leaving June 1st returning June 1st 2017. I have a fantastic condo that I love in the heart of Arcadia Phoenix that I’m ideally looking to rent out fully-furnished and come back to in a year. Here is a high-level summary of the amenities:

  • Location: at 38th st & Campbell you’re right in the heart of arguably the best spot in Phoenix. 10min from Old Town Scottsdale, 5min from the Biltmore Fashion Square, 15min from Tempe, 20min from downtown Phoenix. 5min bike ride to LeGrande Orange and all the spots in Arcadia.
  • Stats: 2BR/2BA 900sqft brick construction
  • Huge Pool: 20k gal pool with dual barbecues to accommodate a massive grilling bonanza.
  • Cold A/C important in the AZ summer – the A/C here is freezing and best of all…
  • All utils included! Run it as cold as you like- it’s included. No other fees except optional internet @$45/mo (fast 12MBPS/3MBPS via Cox).
  • Covered parking: and only 10 steps from the front door.
  • Just remodeled: brand new counters, sinks, flooring, lighting in the kitchen. New sinks/counters in the bathrooms.
  • Tricked out A/V: 54″ smart TV + 2×8″ Rockit studio montiors and all the office gear for a young professional to have a productive home office.
  • Gear: firepit, fridge, oven, stove, dishwasher, Blue-tooth lock for keyless entry, Wifi modem/router, patio furniture, various music gear (which can be stored if necessary), camping stuff, kitchen stuff, beach cruiser, stand-up & sit-down office desks, leather couch, huge California King bed.

I’m seeking to rent this out fully-furnished on a 1-year lease commencing June 1 @ $1000/mo. This is a perfect full-solution setup for someone who just moved to Phoenix and has no furnishings. If you have no vehicle we can also discuss you leasing my 2014 Chevy Tahoe during this time as well. Interested parties please contact me via this page.

Oct 05

I’m reviving a tradition on this blog whereby I do a concise summary of anything I’ve learned over the past quarter that’s a game-changer. To be clear this is any idea, tool, hack or lesson that has in some way either saved me time, led to fun, minimized headaches or improved the quality of my life somehow.

sean-kernel-update

It’s also an excuse to rekindle conversations with people I haven’t seen in a long time. I’ve been an ostrich over the past years with all that went down with JumpBox, then my own consulting gig and now with my role for Pagely. I’m stealing a play from my buddy Andrew Hyde’s playbook with his “Highly Impersonal Updates” newsletter. Rather than posting these distilled lessons here I’m putting them into an exclusive email sent only to the folks who opt-in to hear from me.

If you want to receive that email add yourself here:

Highly Impersonal Update Signup

I have only two guiding principles in writing this update:

  1. It has to be readable in < 15 min.
  2. It has to deliver > 10x value for time spent reading it.

This is my attempt to concisely summarize the most important & useful stuff either I’ve learned or taught since the last update. You can read past “Kernel Dump” posts from this blog if you want to get a flavor for the tone and content or read this Evernote sketch of the 2015 Q3 update I’ll be sending out next week.

This will be valuable knowledge and experience but also an excuse to provide some extra surface area and a means to keep friends, family and acquaintances in my circles better updated with what I’m thinking / learning / teaching / doing over time. This will only be available as an email so signup above if you want to get it.

The next lengthy post I do here will cover my takeaways from an excellent book I finished recently called “The Talent Code.” The concepts from this book when paired with Kathy Sierra’s “Badass” principles are IMO the answer to Arizona’s education problem. Every educator should have a copy of both of these books. If you’ve signed up above to receive my email update you’ll be getting that shortly. Talk with you then.

Sep 03

Yes, it’s true that after 10+ years of various entrepreneurial endeavors and solo consulting I once again have a job. It’s just that it doesn’t feel like a job.

pagely-shoe

I’ve been unofficially working with Pagely since mid-July assisting with their sales and marketing efforts. Pagely pioneered the space of scalable managed WordPress hosting and developed a PaaS offering that allows any business ability to defer IT concerns and focus on using WordPress. It’s similar to how a service like Heroku enables developers to be free of IT worries and focus on the application. Anyways I’m happy to announce today that I’m officially on board with them as their new Director of Sales & Marketing.

At PressNomics 2013 I heard the founder of iThemes speak and give a simple bit of advice from the stage. It was so seemingly inert and obvious that I’m guessing it went right by many people. But it’s something that has stayed with me. The advice he gave was this:

Do something you enjoy
for people you like
with people you love.

That’s it. That was his grand wisdom for finding happiness in daily work. And while it sounds obvious to the point of being silly, it’s proved to be a profoundly-useful lens through which to evaluate decisions.

I have no less than one metric crapton of things I’m planning to write about over the coming months. I have knotted feelings and lessons from the rise & fall (and resurrection) of JumpBox and then slogging it out as a lone wolf consulting as Grid7. I’ll leave all that for later. For now I’ll try to relay wisdom I’ve come to in the past months.

Like that famous MC Escher painting where the hand is sketching the hand, that sketches itself, we are all in this recursive dance of authoring our own story while simultaneously becoming a character in that story who can become captive to the role and feel compelled to live up to the character. I didn’t know if I was employable after having worked for myself for so many years. I consider entrepreneurship to be core to my identity and as an entrepreneur admittedly had internal strife about the notion of going back to work and having a boss again. But like just about every fear, this has proven to be completely unfounded. We get knotted up by our fears and crises of identity but in the end growth comes from leaning in and unraveling the knot.

Anyways, I’m stoked to be working with Josh, Sally and the rest of the elite Pagely team. Going to battle for someone requires ultimate faith that he/she has your back. When your General & CEO thinks (and more importantly acts) this way I’m all in.

As Grammie would say, “more anon.”

Jun 22

I just got back from hiking the Grand Canyon with five friends. We did 30mi in 3 days leaving from the South Rim with full packs, camping out at Bright Angel campground, visiting Ribbon Falls and hiking back out via Indian Springs. Here are some photos:

Friday was one of the most physically demanding days I’ve ever had (2nd only to hiking Cotopaxi back in ’95). Before I jump back into the grind I want to take a few moments and preserve some of the “afterglow” of this experience. I don’t have a structured post in mind here but there were a handful of little things that stood out that I want to jot down for posterity:

  • It’s mind-blowing. Pictures (even amazing ones) don’t do justice to the sheer hugeness of the Canyon. I know that sounds cliche but it literally robs you of your breath when you first step to the edge of the Canyon from above. Hiking into it yields a whole next level of appreciation of how huge this thing is. I had just watched Episode 8 of “The Cosmos” where they talk about how the Canyon offers scientists “chapters of an open book” for being able to look back to the formation of the Earth. It’s one thing to watch this on Netflix and hear it academically but to put your hands on rock that’s been around for over 1 billion years is just surreal.
  • Bullfrogs at night sound like crying newborns. We stayed a stone’s throw away from a running creek and at night on the walk back from Phantom Ranch you hear all the night sounds of the creek. The bullfrogs have this eerie cry they make that messes with you because nowhere at the bottom will you see a newborn baby yet at night there’s this constant sound of like 20 crying infants. It’s weird.
  • Speaking of the creek: both days we were there we would just lie in the creek and let the water rush over us. Zoning out with friends just staring up through the cottonwoods at the high walls of the Canyon was one of my favorite moments of the trip.
  • Appreciation for mornings: I am not (and never have been) a morning person but due to the extreme heat there (113F deg the day we left) we had to wake up at 3:45am. As jarring as that was, once you get over the grogginess it’s absolutely gorgeous in the early morning. I’m planning to try and morph my sleeping habits to become more of a morning person. I feel like after dark I gravitate to time-wasting activities while in the early morning it’s just more geared towards time-appreciating activities.
  • We went when it was a new moon so it was pitch black at night. I was the only one who didn’t have a tent (I had a hammock instead) so I slept in the open under some of the brightest clearest stars I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if it was satellites or UFO’s or whatever but there’s a lot going on up there we don’t normally see. I wish I had a better camera that could have captured the night skies down there. It was amazing.
  • You’re capable of far more than you think- physical limitations are largely mental. It took us 3hr30min to hike down and 6hr15min to hike back out. On the way out I was out of gas shortly after the halfway mark so for another three hours I was running on some alternate fuel source. Chris, Tyler and I hiked as a unit most of the way and I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have made it on my own. But that’s weird if you think about it. Hiking as a unit you become part of a larger organism that has more energy – you cannot underestimate the power of others to help summon this elusive “mental fuel source” that is always there buried within you.
  • I forgot how much Motley Crue kicks ass. Chris had thought ahead and brought a little bluetooth-enabled boombox. At one point after some particularly grueling switchbacks we were all exhausted but he fires up “Kickstart My Heart” and instantly we all get our mojo back. Crazy how music (like friends) can summon that alternate fuel source.
  • Hiking poles are essential. I (stupidly) thought I’d save the $20 rental fee and just go without them. That was a mistake. I’m 6’7″ and my height makes my knees extra-susceptible to impact – they were blown about 75% of the way down. We then had a 12mi hike the next day and still had to get back out. Fortunately Chris loaned me one of his poles on the way back out but the damage by that point had already been done. Ace bandages and Ibuprofen helped but if you’re considering doing it just spend the money and get hiking poles for reducing the impact on your knees. Also, don’t buy new hiking boots the day before the trip. That was just idiocy on my part and I’m paying for it with a blister the size of a 3rd big toe right now.
  • Social media fasting feels good. I’m too wired-in and slave to the dopamine hits of checking my phone for useless stuff in situations where I should just look up. Man it was nice to not even have the capability to use the Internet down there. I slept for 17hrs straight when I got back home. Granted, most of that was paying off a sleep deficit and physical exhaustion but I think some component was also the reduction in ADD from being unwired for a few days. I need to make a more concerted effort to ditch my phone in daily life above the ground.

That’s the gist of it. If you’re considering hiking the Canyon I highly encourage it. You can hike down to whatever depth you’re comfortable with. If you do though please respect the people coming up with full packs who are running on fumes. Towards the top we encountered a lot of day tourists who were oblivious and didn’t respect the right of way to the people coming up. That was pretty infuriating given how zapped we were. Also if you go, do it with friends and be conscious of ensuring constant water consumption and add electrolytes. Apparently someone died down at Indian Springs this Thursday. Your decision making becomes cloudy as you get dehydrated so it’s a vicious spiral once you hit that point (I know because on the way out I failed to fill at the last water stop although I stopped to wet my hat, stupid). Anyways the Canyon is amazing. Go experience it.

Oh and lastly, go check out the band The Lone Bellow. We were fortunate to catch them at the Tilted Earth Festival in Cottonwood this weekend after the hike. Magical performance. Just check out these harmonies. Rarely do songs give me goosebumps but this one did:

UPDATE 7/16/15: Chris from our group had a GoPro going most of the time in the Canyon and just published an _awesome_ montage video from our hike. Check it out:

May 06

You’ve wanted to get into running but the times you’ve tried it your joints end up aching afterwards. Or you’re winded after the first mile and wind up doubled over with stomach cramps. Or the most likely scenario: you just find it unbearably boring. I had all of these reactions when I began my running career 1000mi ago.

I made a New Year’s resolution this year to get to 1000mi of tracked runs before I turn the big 4-0. Tomorrow is my 40th birthday and I just today hit the 1000mi mark on carefully orchestrated regimen of 3mi runs.
runkeeper-activities

I’ve never considered myself to be a runner (and frankly I still don’t) yet 1000mi and who knows how many millions of steps later, I have some perspective to share on what I’ve found to be effective. Running this experiment has yielded lessons not just in the act of running but also in the dashboarding and discipline required to “fly the ball” all the way down to the day. I’ll explain.

In the spirit of Tim Ferriss’ “minimum effective dose” I want to share a short summary of a few observations I’ve made throughout this journey that are the 2-3 hacks you can apply to take your running to the next level. Here are the core lessons I’ve had over this journey:

  1. Minimalist running: I wrote about it on Quora here a few years back when I adopted this style with switching to the Vibram shoes (the funny “gloves for your feet”). This has yielded the single greatest benefit to my running by making the runs interesting. For the reasons I wrote about back in 2011, going minimalist brings you more into the present and gives you greater connection to the ground. As hippie-sounding as that is, it just makes the runs more interesting and therefore increases your odds of sticking with them. The other thing it does is forces you to adopt…
  2. Forefront-strike running: which is related but not the same thing. This is a style of running where you land on the pads of your feet. Here is a great video for teaching you how to adapt your form if you run like most people with a heel-strike. The mental visualization that worked for me once I transitioned to this style was thinking about leaning forward like I was on a Segway scooter pawing the ground to constantly catch myself in a controlled forward fall. This eventually becomes less awkward and starts to feel totally normal. You might look a little weird at first but when your joint pain evaporates from running this way, you won’t care how you look. Also, be advised you’ll be exercising a subtly different set of muscles- be prepared to have calf muscle aches and potentially Achilles heel tension when you switch to this style. In my case these aches disappeared after the first 3wks.
  3. Lactic (or Lactate) Threshold running: This was something I adopted at roughly the same time I switched to the forefront strike style. You can read more about it here but here is the crux: people who run and get winded are burning glycogen stores. You can slow your pace initially and train at a level where you don’t get winded and build your stamina, gradually increasing your speed over time to the point where you’re running as fast as those folks who burn glycogen, only you’re burning fat stores and not getting winded. If I didn’t experience this I would call BS but it’s real. It’s like becoming a hybrid car and switching over to running on electric. You can run for ridiculous distances continuously without getting winded and it has the bonus of melting away bodyfat. I don’t proclaim to know all the science behind this but I can vouch that it absolutely works. Some people use sophisticated heart monitors to determine their lactate threshold- I just trained until I knew where my “getting winded” point is and would back off until I wasn’t hitting it. At this point I run 8:30min/mi without getting winded. When I started I ran at the embarrassingly-slow 13min/mi pace. It doesn’t matter where you start- just slowly up your pace to push your limits and then back off until you don’t get winded.
  4. Training at altitude: makes you like Superman when you return to sea level. There’s a reason athletes spend gobs of money on these hyperbaric chambers. They simulate high altitude conditions for training and then sleep at sea level conditions. This basically changes your blood chemistry because your body habituates to operating with depleted oxygen levels so your red blood cells go Chuck Norris and over compensate. I can confirm this definitely has a noticeable effect. I spent two summers living and running up in Flagstaff, AZ (7,000 ft). When I visited a buddy in Santa Monica it was like I was running on the sideways escalator at the airport just cruising at sea level. It was as if the ground gave less resistance. I doubled my normal distance and could have kept going with no issues.

These are the main epiphanies and leverage points IMO that you can take advantage of to ratchet up your running performance. One thing I would NOT recommend is going completely barefoot. I tested the limits of how far to take the minimalist running by doing a run with no shoes at all about a month ago and wound up with a plantar’s wart the size of a quarter on my left heel.
plantars-wart

This was a month ago with still 30mi left to run in the challenge. When it happened I was sure given how painful it was that it almost certainly spelt the premature death the whole effort but thankfully, because I had adopted the forefront style, it actually hurt less to run than it did to walk. I was able to run the remaining 30mi without issue and the wart is now nearly gone after getting the nitrogen treatments. I learned that these things come from skin contact with the HPV virus so I would encourage others considering the full-barefoot approach to think twice and wear at least some form of minimal footwear. And use flip flops in any kind of gym shower environment.

vibramsMy friend Bryan uses the Luna Sandals and swears by them. I’ve still got my one very worn-out pair of Vibrams that I’ve been using since 2011.

Anyways, these have been my main observations. I used the RunKeeper free account to track my runs. A nifty feature of that app is the social discovery aspect when you go to a new locale, it allows people to upload their favorite runs so you can show up in a new area and see the ones that are most popular. Very useful if you travel a lot. Let me know if you have any questions and good luck in your pursuit of running. It’s been a great way for me to stay in shape while also forcing mandatory zen out time to clear my head and chew on problems without the distraction of a computer screen. If I can help you get into running let me know what obstacles you’re grappling with and I’ll happily share any wisdom I can.
This is a screenshot of the social discovery aspect in RunKeeper FWIW:
social-discovery-runs

PS. We just today opened up the Grid7 Academy where we’ll be teaching startups and entrepreneurs everything we do for clients. Sales & Marketing Automation, Customer Development, Lifecycle Marketing, Leadgen… be one of the first to enroll here.

preload preload preload