Dec 20


This is a recording of the story I told on 12/18/20 for the Lisbon Digital Nomads Christmas Storytellers event of climbing and falling off the world’s largest active volcano:

That was both the closest I’ve come to death as well as the most physically demanding challenge I’ve ever undertaken. Shoutout to Frank wherever you are.

^^ If you know, you know ;-)

Dec 19

Image courtesy Dries Buytaert. License.

The TL;DR

  1. I am ditching social media because I believe the benefits no longer outweigh the costs.
  2. It comes down to two main issues: data privacy and psychological well being.
  3. Great Hack and Social Dilemma are two great documentaries on Netflix that explore these two issues respectively.

The deeper dive

This is a move I’ve contemplated for awhile now and I wanted to lay out my rationale for anyone else interested in tracing my thought process through the decision to pull away from social media.

Like anything there are pro’s and con’s with social media. On the positive side I’ve met and kept in touch with hundreds of incredible people over the course of my travels that took me across 4 continents and 40 countries the past few years. When you arrive at a point though where it feels like social media no longer serves you and instead you feel slave to it, it’s time to make changes.

I had seen this interview a few years back with Chamath Palihapitiya, one of the early people at Facebook, talking about the destructiveness of Facebook on our mental health and basically admitting to having helped create a monster:

Around the same time the former president of Facebook, Sean Parker came out with this interview in which he admitted the service was engineered deliberately to hack our attention and drive us to addiction.

The messages from both interviews concerned me but Facebook and Instagram were essential tools for the traveling location-independent worker. It was how we maintained ties with everyone we met, how we organized and found social events, logged into apps, coordinated masterminds, researched travel destinations and got first-hand info from fellow nomads about visas and other concerns for travel. It seemed inconceivable that one could simply cease using it and continue life as normal, which was exactly the entrenched position these companies wanted.

Fast forward to October this year when at a friend’s suggestion I watched two movies that would revive this urge to leave social media. “The Great Hack” and “The Social Dilemma” in that order hammered home two points: 1) when you don’t pay for a product you are the product and your data can and will be abused 2) aside from data privacy implications, a more troubling one was emerging related to mental health with our attention constantly under attack in an unwinable battle against servers, neuroscientists, algorithms and AI’s to hack our attention. I recalled this tweet from Naval:

I had seen a Guardian interview with Jeroen Lanier on his book 10 arguments for deleting your social media right now and he subsequently appeared in the Social Dilemma movie.

The confluence of all those inputs led me to re-evaluate the pro’s con’s of social media and I realized in doing that math that the scales had finally tipped and it was no longer advantageous to remain active on these platforms. This scene from the end of the classic movie Wargames came to mind:

I deleted FB and IG from my phone. I decided to keep Twitter & LinkedIn because for whatever reason I feel they’re less nefarious/addictive and yield valuable discoveries and professional networking. I would not at this point be ready to outright delete my accounts as I still get messages on each. I compromised knowing that problem #1, the data privacy issue, is still a concern but at least I would attack problem #2 removing the detrimental mental effects.

There were a handful of struggles for me to reconcile. I’ll explain them below:

The hurdles

  • App authentication: FB and Google have become incredibly embedded as I have tended to use them as the method by which I create logins in apps. I’ve stopped doing that using email exclusively on apps that permit it and gutting FB will require a slow audit of all accounts I still use that are hanging on FB authentication.
  • Organizing and finding events, buying stuff via marketplace, finding roommates: FB is how I’ve found the current roommates for my apartment, purchased the electric guitar I recently bought, and it’s the common fabric used to organize dinners and social events with multiple people.
  • Loose ties with people from travels: There are over 100 people I’m connected to in various parts of the world now where the only link we have is a friend link on FB. Tracking down each of those people and getting alternate contact info represents a non-trivial undertaking.
  • Feeling of connection to old friends: Similarly FB news updates provide this tenuous connection to my old friends back home in the States who I haven’t seen in ages. It gives you this loose feeling like they’re still in your life as you monitor major life events for them and exchange short pleasantries in comments. Would they fade in importance to me if I wasn’t periodically seeing them post stuff? Would I to them?
  • Necessary for running ads for business: I’m involved in a couple projects which require having a FB account to manage the digital ads on their platforms. There’s no denying that FB ads can be highly effective for generating leads and making sales and given my work with Grid7, it simply is not an option to operate without access to the FB and IG platforms for advertising.

For all the above reasons I couldn’t just outright cut the cord immediately and commit Facebook Sepukku nuking my accounts on these platforms. So here’s what I did instead:

What I’ve done:

  • Removed apps from phone: FB and IG- both gone. Buh-bye.
  • installed Newsfeed eradicator extension on desktop: this glorious chrome extension will hide your newsfeed on FB/Twitter/IG and allow you to use all like tools at your service without being a classically-conditioned subject fiending on the dopamine hits of the algorithmic manipulation from the newsfeed.
  • Started switching accounts over to email for auth: this will be a slow house cleaning project to go back, find any accounts I still have that were initiated using FB for authentication and convert them over to use email as the login mechanism.
  • Moving photo sharing to iCloud friends & family: I’ve used Instagram as a way to syndicate photos from travel to friends and family but I’ll be moving photos over to a private Apple iCloud feed shared amongst a few people.

Google will be a tougher platform to extricate from. I’ve already switched to the Brave Browser and DuckDuckGo and installed this Chrome/Brave extension which hides YouTube recommended videos. Google’s services are so dang compelling: free, really-well-designed and with network effects such that ditching their platform is super hard. With YouTube recommendations hidden, Google IMO suffers only from issue #1 so there’s less urgency but it’s still a massive personal data hoard I intend to distance from. For whatever reason I still trust Apple at this point with data more than FB & Google. But even Apple is running amok privacy-wise with their latest OS updates. I believe any public company will face inexorable pressure for delivering shareholder returns that surpass market expectations all which culminates in them being compelled to over-collect and abuse data. It is an inevitable end result of being a public company facing market pressures.

Conclusion

The purpose of this post is to share my thought process here and finally put a bow on this departure which actually happened back in October. Some people are already thinking about this stuff and for some it may be completely off their radar. I hope by laying out my rationale you can parse through my thoughts and apply any of the thinking that’s helpful for your own situation. As with anything we all must weigh the pro’s and con’s for our personal circumstances and come to a decision that best serves us. My goal in sharing this is to at least raise awareness for anyone who has not gone through the thought exercise and seen some of the above resources I mentioned.

If you’re reading this and we’re friends, I would love to catch up sometime via FaceTime or Zoom. I still receive FB messenger messages but I only check Instagram once per month now so don’t message me there. I intend to slowly work through a list of all the people I’ve lost contact with and hopefully have catch up calls with as many who would entertain a chat. If you’re up for a catch up session sometime, get in touch.

Happy Holidays and cheers to coming through the pandemic and Trump situations to be stronger than before in 2021.

Resources

Nov 19


I’m very excited to announce I’ve been named Entrepreneur in Residence for Startup Lisboa, the largest startup incubator in Portugal. I’ve been a mentor for their companies for the past two years and I spent October working with nine of their companies conducting a pilot program playing the EIR role. We had good feedback from the companies so this announcement is a formalization of the role I’ve been playing since October. Here is their official announcement if you’d like to read more.

I gave my Metrics for Startups talk a few days ago to the companies currently in their “Start to Table” bootcamp program. This talk covers how early stage startups can figure out their primary & secondary metrics, adapt those over time to reflect the current focus and how to create a dashboard to monitor them weekly to ensure proper course corrections to arrive at the desired outcome.

You can find slides and an in-depth write-up of that talk at the link above on my Grid7 business blog.

If you’re considering doing a startup of your own, why not start in Lisbon and apply to Startup Lisboa so we can have the opportunity to work together?

Aug 06



That’s a wrap on the Bali chapter for me. What was originally intended to be a 2mo stay turned into an inadvertent 6mo stint due to Covid. Here’s the condensed summary of my last few weeks there:

I spent the 2nd half of June living in this ridiculous villa with @helensimkins , @christabellatravels and @nikkibartol. Views were stunning. And we had laughing ducks.

We had a proper July 4th BBQ at @canggucamp308 that rivaled anything I had done in the States, complete with grilled corn and a decapitated giant floating flamingo.

I moved into my buddy Trevor’s place and would spend my last month there. His villa backs up against a small jungle and has epic sunsets.

He introduced me to my favorite running trail. I would spend every other day in July running a narrow road between the rice fields listening to podcasts.

Meet Bowie, perhaps the world’s cutest puppy (next to @almathebalidog ).

This little guy I never knew his name but he was intent on stealing my Oura ring.

We had a magical Vietnamese dinner overlooking the rice fields. Shoutout to @_rachelcrocker_ for launching her sales course.

Winner of the most under-appreciated tech of the trip: the AirPods. These things proved to be indispensable for navigation. It’s funny, in December I was terrified to ride as a passenger on a scooter let alone drive one yet I now feel fully-proficient and ended up using one daily the entire time in Bali. Cheers to conquering fears.

Bali was an incredible, unexpectedly-prolonged chapter and there is a 1000% chance I will be back. For now I’m back in Lisbon and looking forward to trying beach life in some of the coastal towns in Portugal via the @selina “Passport” product.
Selamat malam (at Canggu, Bali)

Jun 25

Bali weeks 16, 17 , 18 , 19, 20

Here’s the monthly update from me: Beaches are finally re-opened in Bali and we’ve been capitalizing on that for sunsets recently.

A couple of us did a trip to Bingin beach near Uluwatu and got to watch the surfers absolutely shredding there.

There is a cute puppy named Alma that has joined our little tribe and she even now has her own instagram @almathebalidog

She’s also ferocious and attacks you if you seem even remotely fun.

I moved into a new villa with 3 friends from Nomad Cruise and will be closing out the rest of June there and angling to get back to Portugal around July 6th or so (flights permitting).

I learned a song entirely in Bahasa for our Indonesian staff.

We’ve had limes in coconuts.

Crew after amazing crew of people.

Walks through rice fields, exploring temples, sick villas in Uluwatu, infinity pools, all the Bali stuff…

And similar to Remote Year, a group of folks who otherwise would likely have never become close has done just that.

I’ve started business blogging on grid7.com writing about learnings from working with nocode and I’ve been working my way through the 30×500 academy doing their excellent course on how to launch a product you know will sell. I’ll be speaking next week for FutureofWork.co talking about our efforts with @charitymakeover_.

Our next CM event is tentatively scheduled for July 25th. My bi-annual email update goes out in two weeks. If you want to get a deep-dive from me on everything I’ve learned during the crazy times of the past six months be sure to opt-in for that on scrollinondubs.com/about

Cheers (at Pererenan Beach)
https://www.instagram.com/p/CB2bmnwnrJ9/?igshid=14r46bpxr7506

May 25

Bali weeks 11-15
Been awhile… here’s a quick update on what’s been happening with me over the past 5 weeks: ?
I celebrated a b-day at @canggucamp308

We had our first ever entirely-virtual @charitymakeover_ and our volunteers proved that these events are indeed possible to execute entirely remotely. There’s a great recap video as the last post on our blog if you’re interested to see what kind of stuff our volunteers were able to build in a day.

Canggu has started to re-open but with fairly intense rules. Banning hugs…okay but banning stories seems pretty heavy-handed.

Our group is fostering the tiniest kitten on earth. His name is “Tiger” and he is our watchcat guarding our workspace.

We celebrated another b-day (we’re getting to be pro’s at this).

It’s now planting season here in Bali which means farmers are mostly done lighting their fields on fire and instead are now just watering them intensely. The geckos here are having nightly feasts on every imaginable flying insect. I’m pretty sure the geckos will be bigger than the kitten soon.

The evenings here are pretty magical. It’s windy season and any given evening at dusk there will be dozens of these massive black kites in the air- some nearly a mile up. They don’t do the Kiterunner fighting thing – they just hover stationary but it’s beautiful.

I’ve been on a tear lately having read these four books. At some point I’ll do a blog post summary of each.

We had last night an amazing dinner with some amazing humans- Arthur of FasterToMaster.com, Erin of arenastrength.com and @_rachelcrocker_ of RachelCrocker.com

Rest assured friends while I’m staying mostly fit I am still doing my part to rid the world of desserts one cheesecake at a time. So far so good. Hope everyone is happy & healthy. (at Pererenan Beach)

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