Oct 29

First off thanks for requesting to receive this email and for taking the time
to read it.  My promise to you is that I will respect your time and share the most distilled wisdom & experience I’ve gleaned
that can be useful. My intent is to corral all the ideas, tools, books, art, lessons, stories and anything valuable I’ve vetted that
might help you in some way whether it’s overcoming an obstacle, having more fun, creating more meaning, amplifying your voice or
recouping your time.
Please allocate ten minutes to read this full email. We live a frazzled,
time-starved, ADD existence and I know 10min is a big ask. But this email is the culmination of a lifetime of perspective, a
quarter’s-worth of learning and no less than 10hrs of work to compile it down into the text you’re reading now. If you don’t have the
10min to spend at this moment, no worries. Star this email, save it to your desktop as PDF, print it out, carve it on a stone tablet
(hahahah) and squirrel it away for later when you do have the time to plow through the whole thing in one sitting. I’m confident there’s
at least one nugget in here that will make it at least 10x worth your time investment. A byproduct of reading this is that you’ll learn
a bit of what I’ve been up to since last update. I’m hoping this will create more surface area for us to
reconnect and keep in contact (or meet if we don’t yet know each other). 

takeawayAnd if you can truly only allocate 30sec to skim
this, I’ve taken the already-distilled content and further condensed it into impossibly-compact diamond form via these single-sentence bolded
that you’ll find via my Chinese wisdom takeaway icon ;-) 

So without further ado…

What I’ve been up to since my last update
It’s been a long time since I did a recap like
 so I’m not going to pretend to be able to catch
you up on all that’s happened with me since 2011.  But the condensed version is that I co-founded a startup in 2006 calledJumpBox which ended up consuming the better part of my 30’s. We set out to
tackle an ambitious computing challenge of domesticating a class of software called “open source” and did a pretty darn good job at it.
At our high point we had every branch of the US military, large brands like Nike, VMware and Verizon and all the Ivy League Universities
using our software. We invented a whole space that later came to be known as “virtual appliances” by rethinking how software could be
distributed and packaging entire virtual computers and sending them instead of just the application. We had a staff of eleven in our hey
day and during that time I was in meetings courting some of the top tier venture capitalists in the Bay Area.  We had some crazy
up’s and down’s  but in 2013 the company and product were frought with issues of code debt, diminishing relevance due to the macro
trend towards SaaS and then the abrupt departure of my co-founder and our CTO at the time. I was ready to close the doors and wind
everything down. In desperation I turned to a buddy who stepped in and to his credit made a miraculous diving catch, salvaged the core
business and kept it alive (it’s still running today going on 9yrs-old). At that point though, fully spent, I left the company and went
in search of a new career. 

During the latter half of my
time at JumpBox we scaled back and I left to try my hand first at a music tech
and then a real estate
. It was 2009 when short sales were abundant and I had just gone through one myself with my own house in Scottsdale.
During the pursuit of that startup we had to solve the issue of babysitting many short sale transactions around the US simultaneously
when we had no insight into the deals. This involved ensuring constant communication amongst all stakeholders and ushering deals through
the various stages. I picked up a skill called “business process automation” (primarily with a marketing emphasis) for this purpose.
Fast forward to 2013, when I left JumpBox for the last time, I decided to focus on applying what I had learned about automation for
clients.  After consulting for a year I met a kindred spirit consultant who convinced me to move out to Newport Beach, partner with
him and apply what we knew about lifecycle marketing working commission-only helping artists of Laguna Beach market and sell their work.
It had been a life-long dream of mine to live by the ocean so I went for it. We pursued that venture for exactly 1.5mos before realizing
the clientele we were serving and the commission-only model had some fatal flaws. I stayed in Newport for another 4mos and made a run at
a completely different “infotainment” concept called SurvivalSchool.TV
I still believe there is a viable model to be eked out with that one but getting it off the ground wasn’t going to happen on the savings
I had left, especially given the rent I was paying at the time living a block from the water.  In the pursuit of SSTV I discovered
the Krav Maga self defense system (more in a minute) and began training under a guy
who is now a good friend.
  At that point I was incinerating money in Newport Beach with a business that was looking more like a hobby. I hadn’t really
branched out socially yet so I ran the numbers and decided to chalk it up as a failed experiment, pack it up and come back home to

I fell back on my bread & butter of doing consulting performing sales & marketing automation via Grid7 from March until July of this year for a handful of clients. While on a
break kite surfing down in Baja, MX with a buddy, a long-time fellow entrepreneur and
 invited me to join his operation, Pagely, and
head up his sales & marketing. I had initial resistance as I felt doing so would mean abdicating my identity as an entrepreneur and
taking a JOB but the more we talked the more sense it made. I accepted, we tested it out on a trial basis during Aug and by Sept 1st we
had tied the knot officially bringing me on as the new Director of Sales & Marketing for Pagely.  I wrote up my thoughts on
that whole transition in more depth here. 

I’m now fully-immersed in this role with Pagely handling all
sales, running inbound/outbound marketing efforts, automating various retention, lead generation and sales processes and overseeing
editorial for the company blog. For the first time since my role joining iTOOL back in ’99 I feel like I’m in the right seat on the bus
and it’s such a relief to finally get to ride shotgun and not have to be the driver. 

Two Powerful Disciplines
my meandering entrepreneurial journey I’ve come to learn two disciplines which I believe are THE most powerful weapons an entrepreneur
can wield. I found them to be so important in fact that I started and now run the Phoenix user groups for each one. While
particularly useful when applied in entrepreneurship, they have value for anyone and are well-worth the time to learn.

Customer Development (CustDev) is a methodology invented by
Steve Blank
 for systematically delivering products
people want and reducing waste in a startup. It’s been co-opted by the Lean Startup movement in the last few years but CustDev is the
original discipline and Steve Blank is the godfather. I’ve been proselytizing this for awhile now because I’ve seen first hand how
transformative it can be.  You were actually an unknowing participant in a CustDev effort recently if you completed the survey I
 upon subscribing to get this email. Below is a
word cloud of the responses from that simple two-question survey. I asked:



As of the time of this writing 70+ people have responded and ^ those are
their words (greater size = greater word frequency). I wanted to learn more about the challenges my friends and colleagues face and
see if I could detect themes of issues that would be addressable via the stuff I know how to do. These word cloud visualizations above
reveal some obvious trends: time & fear and fortunately I have methods for dealing with both.  Detecting these patterns allowed
me to adapt the content of this update to be more relevant.  This is an
example of CustDev in action
.  If you want to learn more about this methodology I’ve spoken to the past few SEED SPOT cohorts about
. And my buddy Bryan (the guy who is now running JumpBox) and I
gave this talk for the
Marketing Automation Mastermind Group
 in San Diego
awhile back that will blow your mind. I won’t spoil it but we led attendees through an experiential lesson that is the best way I can
think of to demonstrate the power of CustDev/Lean.  Even if you never ship a single product, you’re always
selling something
 whether it’s yourself, an idea, a
cause, whatever.  CustDev is a force multiplier that is worthy of
your time to learn. 

takeawayCustDev is how you short circuit a
traditional learning curve and stop wasting cycles doing the wrong thing. It’s a truth excavation mechanism for getting to the right
thing faster and helps you systematically carve away potential waste by mitigating risk & uncertainty.

Scaling Personal Attention through
 is the other powerful discipline I’ve learned in
the past few years. If you own a business you should seek to apply this in your business yesterday. Explaining this topic is 
beyond the scope of this email but I’ve done a handful of
 at CEI and gave my “Tear the Lid
” talk to the Orange County Marketing Association teaching this stuff. This is basically a methodology for imbuing your
sales and customer service processes into automated touch points via software. Most businesses screw this up by trying to extricate
humans entirely from the process- I see it more as the art of
developing macros and giving sales & customer service reps ability to perform impossibly personalized followup at scale with only
tiny movements of the controls
.  I was previously a certified Infusionsoft consultant using their tool to render this
discipline for clients. After much consternation with their platform I’ve since switched to a competitive tool calledActive
 and am way happier.  Having experimented
now with no less than 20 different automation/CRM tools I’ve settled upon AC and now run their first user
 based in Phoenix

takeawayTools are subservient to understanding the
art form of scaling personal attention. If you want to learn this stuff, Jermaine
 is IMO the godfather of this art and his Automation
course is fantastic (albeit with a bent towards the Infusionsoft tool). This is the podcast
that initiated everything for me.

Personal Improvement &

Krav Maga is an Israeli-born self-defense fighting system. I stumbled into it in
Newport while filming the pilot episode for Survival School
. I ended up training under a guy who is basically the real Jason
. I was fortunate to train under Joey- he is the instructor who was knighted by the highest-ranked living Krav teacher
to train & certify all other USA instructors for KMG. If I had kids of my own I would have them learn this system, not because I
believe in fighting but because knowing you can defend yourself and others if attacked gives you supreme confidence. Krav Maga builds
off of reflexive movements and instills a wolf-like mindset to simultaneously deflect, defend and attack your attacker in a fluid
movement. If you want to see what it’s all about take Joey’s intro video
 and then go find a local gym and do some
in-person training. I’ve been taking it atthis
 in Tempe and they’re the best I’ve found locally
here in Phoenix. I believe we’ll see this cross into mainstream the way CrossFit has over the past few years. It’s an incredible workout
with the beneficial byproduct of being useful for defense.

I started doing morning meditations this summer via an iPhone app
called “Headspace
which is basically a guided mindfulness meditation you can do at your own pace. I suffer from two recurrent issues: a racing mind at
night and a habit of chasing down mental rabbit holes rehearsing future potential scenarios throughout the day rather than being
constantly present. I highly recommend the Headspace program for anyone who experiences similar. The best way I can describe it is the
way Tim Ferriss describes all meditation: “a bath for the
.”  The primary benefit has come in the form of learning to observe and dismiss thoughts and gradually reel the puppy dog
.  If meditation is a “bath for the
” then sleep is a “Zamboni for
your mental ice rink
.” Meditation helps with sleep which helps reset the ice nightly, so they’re inextricably related.  This
is important because there’s a body of research now suggesting a correlation between Alzheimer’s and poor
.  Having brushed with mental health issues in the past due to extended sleep deprivation this is now something I’m
keenly attuned to solving. The meditation exercises (when I make the time to do them) have noticeably improved the quality of my

takeawayThe other factors I believe contribute to
improved sleep (aside from stress reduction of not being a lone wolf consultant anymore) is the removal of blue wavelength light in
the evenings
. Supposedly exposure to blue-wavelength light after sundown inhibits our melatonin production and consequentlymesses up our circadian
rhythms and causes sleeping issues
.  I pulled all the fluorescent lights in my home and office where I work at CEI. When I’m
up after 10pm I now have only red lights on at home and use and a free app on my laptop called fLux.app which removes the blue wavelength from the computer screen after
sundown. My friend Hart’s company makes eyeware that does this
for you in real life
 if removing fluorescent lights
isn’t an option. 

If you’re at a crossroads in your career
and searching for what your next play is, Simon Sinek is someone you should get to know. I went through his “Why
” program awhile back and found his self-discovery process to yield interesting insights. If you haven’t been
exposed to Simon’s ideas start with his TED
 (which now has over 24MM views). I was fortunate
to get to see him
 at Icon last year and that talk convinced me to
do his online program which was well-worth the $100 or so to dig into discovering my why. This is the output thus far with my evolutionary why
 and growing interview feedback from friends
using his process. All told it’s probably a 6hr commitment to get through his course and involves extracting stories from highs &
lows throughout your life then bouncing them off of trusted friends to discern patterns and finally getting input on why your friends
are your friends. If you’re in a searching mode to navigate a looming life transition this is a great exercise.

The other things
I’ve tried recently that worked on the wellness front: I did the Paleo Diet fairly strictly for about two years with substantial and immediate
. I subsequently got into making juices in the morning using the Nutribullet.  I went with the Pro 900
 which is basically 90% as good as a Vitamix at
1/5th the price and 5x easier to clean. That’s yielded not only a cheaper way to do breakfast but more energy in the mornings. Here is
alist of my best juice
 I’ve come up with so far. Other stuff on the
health front: I tend to get back issues from spending prolonged periods in front of the computer (you know writing long emails ;-). 
takeawayThe combination of a foam roller, standup
desk, and rolling up against a Lacrosse ball suspended in a sock against a wall (cheap alternative to a trigger point cane) has helped
address these back RSI issues
. That along with therapeutic massage and the occasional chiropractor visit. If you are in Phoenix,
Dr. Michael Leff of the Center for Alternative
 has worked miracles for various issues of mine
ranging from a dislocated
 to broken
 to back issues.   

Business Lessons
could write four different novels on startup lessons
 from my career of entrepreneurship thus
far.  Here are some the major ones that stand out from recent times:

  • Sales: it’s not about your sales
    cycle, it’s about their buy cycle
    .  I am guilty of this. Understandably organizations want more predictability but with so
    many buying options, power has shifted to the consumer (even in B2B scenarios).  It’s no longer realistic to try and cram a
    prospect into your desired sales cycle. The sales teams who are winning are the ones who are finding ways to accommodate the prospect’s
    unique buy cycle and chime in at the right time with the right message. Jermaine Griggs’ philosophy of Scaling Personal Attention via
    his Automation Clinic
     is the best philosophy I’ve found for
    accommodating this. 
  • Flintstoning is a term I first heard coined by the folks of Cambrian
     back in the day. It’s the idea of taking
    something seemingly automated (like the dinosaur vehicles from the Flintstones’) and powering it manually (running with your feet rather
    than via an engine under the hood) in the early stages.  While more work initially it yields incredibly valuable insights. You then
    document all you’re currently doing manually and that documentation becomes the recipe that can be actuated via code into an
  • Automation as an exoskeleton that
    amplifies your movements
    . I see automation differently than most in that I view it as this superpower extension of your natural
    abilities to be able to clone yourself and exist in multiple places at once. takeawayThis is consistent with Jermaine Griggs’
    notion of Scaling Personal Attention. Automation has gotten a bad name because most people deploying it don’t do it
    tastefully.  When used properly it’s like
    that robot suit from
     that lets you perform inhuman feats of being
    seemingly everywhere with just tiny twitches of the controls
  • Automation and CRM is useful only
    insofar as you apply it
    . I’ll discuss this below in the software tools section but lightweight sales enablement is the way to go.
    People go overboard trying to contort their workflow to use elaborate systems and inevitably they end up ditching everything because the
    overhead incurred adds too much friction to their routines. It’s better to err on the side of lightweight tools that let you live in the
    apps you’re already using everyday. Make small tweaks to existing routines that will actually stick and help vs. asking people to learn
    an entirely new set of tools or do extra work.
  • Your brand = the
    mental real estate you occupy in others’ minds
    . Brand is a term that’s wildly overloaded and misused. We recently had a killer
    talk at LeanPhx by a 5th-generation Arizonan, Chris Smith. He shared his
     for extracting your story, getting clarity on
    your brand and communicating that well. Brand clarity is another force multiplier and worthy of investment and Chris’ framework is as
    good as anything I’ve encountered for doing this.


5 Books:

  • Badass by the brilliant Kathy Sierra is a summary of her “Minimum Viable User”
    concept. It reads almost like a comic book and has game-changing implications for anyone doing UX, designing products or teaching. When
    used in conjunction with this next book, I believe it’s the answer to our education issues.
  • Talent
     studies talent hotbeds in an attempt to
    sleuth out the causal factors that make unlikely places consistently yield top-performers. It explores neurological and environmental
    factors, the role of myelin, ignition and gives a blueprint for cultivating talent. This one has profound implications for any parent or
  • Art of
     is Josh Watzkin’s self-reflective,
    anecdotal dissection of how he became a chess world champion and then applied the same system to learn Tai Chi Chuan and win the world
    championship “push hands” competition. While not scientific it’s interesting to hear someone gifted attempt to unravel the fabric of
    his/her skill in an attempt to explain how it’s knitted. Listen to his podcast interview with Tim Ferriss to get a good synopsis of the
  • Divergent Trilogy is a “Hunger Games-ish” dystopian series with a strong female
    character. It’s been since made into a terrible movie- ignore the movie, read the book.  This had a “Sixth Sense-type” twist at the
    end of book one that made it impossible not to plow through the remaining two books.  It’s targeted to a younger reader but still
    an awesome story. If you like this one you’ll also enjoy the Maze Runner
  • The
     recently debuted as a movie with Matt
    Damon that was pretty impressive. You will like the book better though. If you enjoyed MacGyver growing up (he was my hero), it has the
    same self-talk internal dialogue as this castaway on Mars has to solve problem after life-threatening problem in a hostile environment
    against all odds. The audiobook is fantastic. I read the first part on the kindle and listened to the last half on audio book and was
    blown away by how well the guy did the character voices. 

A sidenote here: I’ve switched to reading exclusively via
Kindle reader on Mac/iPad/iPhone over the past few years. Impulse book buying, portability, searchability were all nice benefits but the
killer app for me making this transition was the introduction of what Amazon calls “Whispersync
and as of the last year it now applies to audio books as well. takeawayWhat this means is you can begin reading a book on
your iPad, hop in your car and have your iPhone pick up where you left off and read the audio book to you on a long drive. When you get
where you’re going flip to reading on your iPhone while you’re standing in line
.  It’s a ubiquitous unified reading
experience and it has got me reading again. I have a tendency to stall out on books but this pervasive book reading experience has
neutralized the preventative friction for me and rejuvenated my interest in books.


Interstellar, Neil De Grasse Tyson’s lecture series, 180deg South, Primer, Martian
Speaking of books… this
email is turning into one so I’ll try to be brief ;-) Watch these ^.  They’re all excellent. If you’re into heady, mind-bending
sci-fi stuff this Quora
 has a ton of other good ones.

5 Albums:
Ki:theory, 21
, Brand
, Royal
, Phutureprimative.
<-These are the albums I’ve had on repeat lately.

5 Podcast

Naval Ravinkant on Tim
, Kevin Kelly on
, Peter Diamandis &
Tony Robbins on TF
, Josh Watzkin on
, and John McAfee on the James
Altucher show
These are the best five podcast
episodes I’ve heard recently. The McAfee interview is an incredible story. McAfee, multi-multi-millionaire and creator of McAfee
antivirus, was portrayed by mainstream media as being a lunatic crazed killer on the run in Belize. This interview shows that he’s
obviously anything but. The title of the Altucher interview is “The Most Interesting Man in the Universe” and you’ll see why. It
reminded me of a story my Dad tells on his blog here. I
won’t spoil that one you should read my Dad’s blog sometime- he’s a really smart dude. 

Useful Software

These are a bunch of Mac and web-based software apps I’ve been using to save time:
Boomerang + Sidekick for Gmail have been key for sales followup and insight on leads before
they merit creating a deal to track them in our CRM system. I use ActiveCampaign to create a deal and track the opportunity once the
lead represents a qualified prospect. I also use AC to perform nurturing sequences to revive stale leads that go dark. If this type of
thing interests you and you’re in Phoenix come out to our next user
 and learn for yourself. 
I was using Jing previously for capturing and publishing quick screencasts but as best I
can tell that tool no longer works. Snagit has been a great replacement tool and can output to YouTube and other
video services.
Typinator is a “text expander” and basically allows you to treat sentences and
paragraphs as pre-made blocks invokable via keystroke combos. If you do customer service across many different mediums and find yourself
typing over and over this is a godsend. 
Evernote is my goto for taking notes and storing business cards, receipts, docs
and tracking anything that I need to preserve and have accessible for later recall. 
Uberconference has become an indispensable service I use at this point for running
conference calls. It makes it easy to screen share, record audio, have a dial-in option for folks and it’s trivial to have it make audio
recordings and then append them to the corresponding contact record in your CRM. Oh and it’s free.
A super useful hack for anyone
using OSX is that you can do simple math right in spotlight. So to solve (5+34)*9/4 do Command+Space, type that equation in and voila.
Fastest way to do quick math on OSX.
Calendly is a magical leprechaun who works on your behalf to make it easy to
allow people to self-serve get on your calendar sparing everyone involved the back-and-forth email volleys needed to schedule a meeting.
Given the volume of calls I do now I couldn’t live without this tool. You can use it to get on my calendar here. 
Sales Hack
 = a great local gathering if you’re in Phoenix
and want to learn new tools like these.
If you struggle with an untamed todo list, check out David Allen’s GTD methodology and then
get yourself a copy of Things. It’s
great for managing personal todo’s. I’ve been gradually migrating the more complex project-related todo’s into Trello for anything that’s bigger and requires the sophistication of a
kanban-style todo app. 
Cloak <- at $2/mo this is key for nomadic workers as it allows you an easy
way to run your data over VPN so your passwords don’t get sniffed when working on a shared network. I had one client who had her site
password sniffed while working in a coffee shop and they deleted her blog. Spend the $2/mo if you work out of coffee shops or on shared
networks and save yourself the headache. 
1Password: as
long as we’re on a security kick shoring up our security exposure, this is a handy utility that allows you to maintain a unique login
for every service you use but have only one password to remember. If you’re currently using one blanket password across all your
services it’s a matter of time until one is compromised and then all are vulnerable. This happened to me with the Gawker
 and prompted me to finally fix the way I handle
passwords.  I recommend biting the bullet sometime and combing through all your logins and switching to this tool with unique
passwords for each service. It has a native desktop app, mobile app and browser extensions for all major web browsers that stay in

Gadgets, Games and
Whew… we’re almost there ;-) 
These Klipsch in-ear
 are fantastic if you do a lot of traveling
on planes and get jet lagged. I find the over-ear noise canceling headphones to be too disorienting – these remove 90% of the noise but
without that vertigo feeling
. Great antidote to jet lag when traveling and they enable you to zone out when you’re working in a
noisy space. 
Settlers of
: we had so much fun playing this game last New Year’s in Napa and I later gave it to my buddy’s daughter because it’s
such a great strategy game- maybe the best ever made. Highly recommend if you’re looking for a board game. 
Poleish: just
when I thought I knew every possible lawn game under the sun I discovered this one. Awesome game for that next outdoor party in place of
the standard horse shoes, cornhole, bocce or ladder golf. We made a set with just PVC pipe – super cheap and fun. 

summarize some of the recent mile markers for me:
Celebrated my

Completed my goal of running 1000
 just before ^ aforementioned b-day ;-)
Hiked 30mi round trip in
& out of the Grand Canyon
 <-  video my
buddy Chris filmed with his GoPro
Started the new job with

Launched the Grid7 Business Flightplan
 to start teaching this stuff to people who want
to learn.

Shameless asks
you know any capable college students in Phoenix (marketing, journalism, comm major types) I’m building out the intern program for
Pagely. Details here. We have our first participants and I’ll be expanding that to
4-6 in total. This is an unpaid internship to start but with opportunity to go full-time. They’ll work directly under me and learn an
insane amount of guerrilla warfare for marketing and sales. If you know any students seeking experience please send him/her to that
We’re also hiring for a slew of positions at
 if you or someone you know is seeking to join a
fast-growing tech startup. Remote work is fine- we’re scattered all over the world. 
If you need something built I have a fairly deep network of
consultants via Grid7 now across a variety of disciplines and can typically intro you to the right resource. Tell me what you’re trying
to accomplish and I’ll connect you with the best consultant.  
Lastly, I’ll be rekindling the Charity
 effort soon as a part of Pro-Bono Week in
Phoenix.  This is a fun way to learn in a Startup Weekend-like experience while helping a charity by doing a “digital barn raising”
fixing up their marketing and digital presence. 

If you’ve
made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read my long-winded update. The next one will be way shorter
I promise as I will then have a cadence of doing these every three months and will start to address specific challenges readers like
yourself have submitted via the
.  I’ve made this email a password-protected post
 (password = shawshank) and opened the comments for
anyone who wants to discuss anything from the update.  Looking forward to chatting with you soon. Feel free
to reach out to me privately via email if that’s your preference. cheers 


Leave a Reply

preload preload preload