Kanye West has been getting a lot of attention these days, and not always for the right reasons. He's pompous. He's megalomaniacal. He's obnoxious. And that makes him the focal point for a lot of criticism and derision. But that doesn't mean we can't learn from him, especially if you're an entrepreneur. Yes, when you look past all of the flash and hyperbole there are some things that we can learn from Yeezus when it comes to braving the harsh entrepreneurial currents of the modern business world.Read More
The hardest part of any endeavor is fairly predictable. It's the beginning. The phase when you're filled with enthusiasm, but short on wisdom. When your maximum effort yields minimal results. Humbling to say the least. But learning how to put the start of any new endeavor into a larger context of cumulative success is a key skill for achieving great things over a long enough time line. And when it comes to success, time is what we tend to have a in excess, but little patience to utilize it appropriately.Read More
For those of you who know me you know that I have an ongoing challenge of consuming a single tube of Burts bees from beginning to end. It seems silly because it is. But it's one of those things in your life, a personal challenge, that just makes things more interesting.
I was well on my way, close to using a full tube of Burts bees lip balm, I think I was at the halfway point. However, an unexpected dip in the Columbia River while I was trying to paddleboard with the Burts bees in my pocket unfortunately ended my streak.
It's one of life's many lessons. To be able to absorb tragedy and setbacks of any size and still have the gumption to keep going on.
Most of the time success in life comes down to how well you can market yourself. This form of marketing abides by the ABDs of marketing - Always Be Differentiating. How clearly can you communicate why you're different from the next candidate while planting the seeds why that might difference will lead to a benefit for a potential employer or their organization is a powerful strategy for opening doors and getting inside them?
There are a number of ways to distinguish yourself from a group of applicants or other creative professionals, but probably the only way that will routinely win you new business or open the door to accolades, is the differentiation that comes from old fashioned perspiration. Perspiration is the best differentiation!Read More
By now it's the 5th of July, but not that long ago I was sitting on my niece and nephew's front yard watching the sky light up with the customary fireworks celebrating our country's declaration of independence from the anglo oppressors on the other side of the Atlantic. Loud explosions and the smell of gunpowder are the hallmarks of this holiday. Since this year's 4th is so close to the landmark SCOTUS decision declaring that marriage is a right all American's should enjoy, I coined the phrase "Gaytriotism" to describe the patriotic pride for our country doing the right for so many citizens.
But I guess being around all that barbecue, gunpowder and patriotism was a little too much for me, because now I can't sleep. And what's worse is that I tend to be very sensitive to disturbances in my sleep pattern. So for anybody who has to work with me this upcoming week, I apologize in advance.
So, the sickness thing, I was referring to buying watches. I just bought an Omega Speedster Profession (Calibre 1861) not more than two weeks ago and I'm already hankering and scheming to buy the next one. Which one? Well, I still really want the Rolex Submariner, but I'm actually looking at the Rolex Explorer this time around.
The stupid thing is that I keep buying watches that are under the $9K mark with the justification that they are less than the Rolex Submariner that I was originally going to purchase, but at this point I've spent significantly more than if I would have just bought the watch that I wanted. So now I'm back at it again, thinking about adding another watch to my collection, in part, because it is a "bargain" when compared to the watch I was going to get. And then I start thinking about trading one of the watches I currently have for the Rolex, but I'd hate to get rid of any of those watches.
It's late, about 2:16AM, and I really need to get some sleep.
People hate traveling...because people are bad at it. Yes, you can be a bad traveler, a bad lover and a bad customer. Traveling, much like loving and customering, is a skill and like any other skill. It can (and should) be practiced and perfected over a period of time. One of the easiest ways one can become a better traveler is to be a "tourist" in your own hometown, which in my case means forgoing the familiarity of my beloved Bavarian chariot ("Bavariot"?) and taking to my city's only* municipal transportation, Via.Read More
Emojis are gaining in popularity because they're a fun, and sometimes efficient, way of communicating on mobile devices. But did you know the latest version of Mac OS X has support for emojis too?
This video shows you the keyboard shortcut to bring up the emoji character palette when you're typing and how to search for the right emoji.Read More
I've been podcasting now for almost a year. It's been a journey fraught with many mistakes, poorly worded questions on Reddit's r/audioengineering and a lot of money spent trying to get a consistently good quality podcast. In a recent attempt to save some novice podcasters a lot of headaches, I cobbled together a Keynote presentation called Podcasting 101: Turning Your Voice Into A Brand and spent two hours teaching some members of the San Antonio Online Marketing Group the basics of how to start their own podcast. While the entirety of my presentation is too large for a single blog post, this covers a single slide entitled "Beginner Mistakes" which is a collections of things I wish I knew when I was first getting started.Read More
To keep up, or rather to build, a cadence of regular blog posts I will sometimes have posts titled "Ramblings". This is when I've got nothing particular to say about one subject, but rather a bunch of fragmented thoughts scattered around several topics.
Psycho Bunny = Gluten
While shopping for some casual collared shirts the other day I ran across a brand called Psycho Bunny. Instead of the elitist silhouette of a man on a horse, mid-swing of a polo mallet, it's a hollow-eyed bunny skull hovering over crossed bones (femurs, I think). It's the Bugs Bunny version of the classic Jolly Roger that flew over so many hollywood pirate ships.
It's a small detail, a rebellious take on a sartorial icon that is normally reserved for innocuous caricatures of animals like penguins and crocodiles, but it garners so much attention and elicits so many comments. Every time I've worn this shirt I get at least one comment and a question about the brand. Which makes me think of three things:
- The proverbial devil really is in the details, so pay attention to them.
- Branding is a powerful thing. It builds a relationship with the people who encounter it. It communicates so much about the ethos of a company. Pay attention to branding, especially for yourself.
- Psycho Bunny isn't the first company to embroider a small icon on the left breast of a polo shirt - not by a long shot - but they put their unique twist on it, unique, which makes it their own and makes it compelling. A reminder that you don't have to be first to market, you just need to find a new angle on an existing constant. What they did was both expected (icon on left breast) and unexpected (it's a bunny skull!). Don't be afraid to play around with existing paradigms and make them your own.
Today in fact, this morning as I stood in like to get a cup of swill that Starbuck's calls coffee, the girls behind the counter commented on my shirt, "look at his shirt," one said to the other, "what do you see?". Both agreed that it was very 'cool', or whatever word kids are using today that indicates a certain inherent and transcendental level of hipness. Which leads me to my next rambling...
The world wants me to have gluten
I have found that the universe almost invariably acts as a counterbalance to aspiration. What this means is when you make up your mind to do something you will surely encounter friction that wasn't there before. I have two theories about this. The first one is more cosmic, which is to say that the universe is conspiring against us. The second, more pragmatic, says that when you look in a certain direction, you become focused on the barriers that lay along the path. So the sheer fact that you are making up your mind to do something, to move in a particular direction, means that you newly notice all of the potential barriers.
In my case, my quest to remove gluten from my diet was comically threatened by a Starbuck's barista, who really liked my Psycho Bunny shirt, giving me a warm chocolate croissant for free. I walked around with this croissant for several blocks, surprisingly not tempted to eat it, but enjoying the comedy behind it, until I finally disposed of it in a trash can. I know I could have given it to somebody on the street, but c'mon, if a guy wearing a bunny skull and crossbones on his shirt offered you a free french pastry, would you take it?
Rackspace, the cloud computing company that operates in my home town, just recently open a new phase of their headquarters, a converted shopping mall on the Northeast side of town, called "The Castle". I got a chance to stroll through the new area and took some pictures.
OK, I know this is old news, especially by Internet standards, but it's been weighing on my conscience, buzzing around my thoughts like an annoying house fly. So it's time to open a mental window and let that fly out.
The racist video of the OU chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), the one where the kids who have never worked a day in their lives or ever had any meaningful achievements, no meaningful highs or lows, make themselves feel homogeneously superior by engaging in one of the oldest customs in this country's illustrious history: passive racism.
Yes, I called it "passive racism" because I believe there is an important distinction between active and passive forms of racism and their relationship to each other. Why? Because I believe active forms of racism is what keeps passive forms of racism alive and well in our culture. When the not fully formed brains of the SAE kids thought it would be a good idea to sing a childish song about not allowing people of a certain hue into their club for socially crippled, personality deficient and confidence depleted people, that was passive racism.
Active racism is expressing your bigotry in a way that can be directly felt by the imposing ethnicity. For example, active racism is communicating to a black family that their presence in your neighborhood infringes upon your white utopia by spray painting racial epithet-laden messages on their door or by burning a cross on their yard. Passive racism, on the other hand, is referring to them as "those people" in a whispered huff to your neighbors. See the distinction?
So, since there were no black people on the bus on which to taunt with bastardized nursery rhymes and I saw no spray paint, lumber, lighter fluid or matches, I'm going to categorize this one as passive racism.
What's been bothering me about the video is not the fact that is happened, going back to my previous postulate, this stuff happens all the time, but the fact that people acted so shocked by it, because, going back to my previous postulate, this stuff happens all the time. What doesn't happen all the time is to have a private moment of impotent, racism-based white bravado captured and broadcast on the Internet. But people acted as though this level of amateur racism is as anomalous as octuplets. So shocked, that I'm surprised most people had enough oxygen to take a breath, much less condemn, given the moral altitude achieved by their pious pegasus (because the traditional moral high horses have gone the way of VHS and flip phones).
What country have you been living in for the last forever years? Because if you were shocked that a bunch of privileged white kids, raised by the most self-important, entitled generation ever to pass through history, engaging in an egregiously privileged white kid activity such as going to a fraternity mixer, decided to celebrate their white privilege by denigrating those that make their white privilege possible, I'm happy to hear you're out of your coma, Helen Keller, welcome back to the world of the living.
Despite what Major League Baseball and the ghost of Harry Caray would have you believe, baseball is not the American past time (unless you count that time when black people weren't allowed to play professional baseball) it's racism. Mostly passive, but sometimes active depending on when, what part of the country you live and tooth to illegitimate kid ratio. Don't believe me? Here's a quick test: When was the last time you played baseball? OK. When was the last time you uttered the classic, "I'm not a racist, but..."
I think I made my case.
And it's the active racism, the hoods, the horses, the rebel flags, cross burning and truck dragging that makes our culture of passive racism seem so innocuous, socially acceptable, almost congenial and comforting. So many little racist thoughts can be justified or softened by the fact that you've compartmentalized your sectarianism and not crossed the line into hardcore bigotry. But beware, for passive racism is the gateway drug to active racism.
We've all taken part in passive racism. Let me write that one more time. We've all taken part in passive racism. We've all flashed disapproving looks at people who are outwardly different from us followed by casting some disparaging supposition their way in order to make ourselves feel culturally and genetically superior. It was within this hierarchical mold that our country was unmistakably cast and once again why I'm not shocked at the petulant behavior of some socially awkward guys peacocking in front of girls they're trying to impress (look at me, I'm better than someone else) into reluctant, but consensual fornication, but why I'm aghast at how we still pretend this level of racism is not extricable fused with our way of life.
Which brings us to possibly the second place finisher for America's past time: avoidance. If we pretend it's not there for long enough nobody has to deal with it, right? It worked for AIDS, right? By that's a whole other blog post.
So, in closing, my indignation is not at the trust fund kids heading off in hopes of dry humping at the cotillion, doing what they've been indoctrinated to do since birth, hoping to make proud their emotionally vacant father and over-prescribed mothers, but at all the people who watched the short snippet of video and had the audacity to act as though racism under the presumption of privacy was unheard of. Passive racism is the difficult to detect cancer that will eventually eat away at the bones of this country's cultural framework. Because as long as we think it's safe to practice racism in passively in private while we chastise it in public, we are harbingers of a highly contagious moral disease that will continue to lay dormant in the dark corners of white America.
So if it seems like racism is making a come back in America, it's not. It's always been there, but it's only a matter of time before the ubiquity of smart phones makes threadbare the cloak of racial harmony we hide under, hoping our passive bigotry hasn't been indexed by Google yet.
I spent a large portion of today in the chambers of the San Antonio city council, listening to updates on SAPD's effort to combat human trafficking and to discuss the future of ride sharing services like Lyft and Uber in my hometown. Unfortunately, due to a list of 67 citizens signed up to speak, our testimony time was reduced to one minute. A minute goes by quickly when you're trying to convey an impassioned plea for choice, safety, innovation and capitalism. So since I was not able to deliver my full message at the city council meeting, I'm posting it here for anybody who is interested.Read More
Alright, this is going to be a really whimsical, flow-of-consciousness post. Not the kind that I'm usually comfortable posting, but I've been dealing with persistent intensity lately and long-term stress in general, so I'm kind of in a mood where I don't feel like being too strict with myself, or anything really.
Today has been a good day. We had a cold front come in which caused the heat and humidity to subside enough to be comfortable outside. I haven't been able to be very active because of my work schedule so I thought I would pull my Linus Roadster out of the storage shed, inflate the tires, check the brakes and go for a ride. I rode aimlessly through my neighborhood for about an hour. It was fun. It made me happy. I forgot about a lot of the things that have me stressed right now. It made me think of a simple life where I can get up and ride my bicycle all day.
I'm a natural born daydreamer and I like to define success. So it's natural that I daydream a lot about ideal situations and how I can get there. I think about what an ideal life looks like.
An ideal life would be to wake up in the morning. drink some really good coffee, smoke some really good (and legal) cannabis and then go ride my bike for a couple of hours while listening to my favorite podcasts or good music. I would then go for a long, meditative swim. After I would come home, put on some more good music while I cook a good dinner, probably grilling steaks on the back patio. Enjoy dinner. And then sit in my Eames lounge chair and read until it's time to go to sleep.
Some days I would wake up early to drink coffee and write. I would write for several hours, something that I enjoy writing about, something that didn't quite feel like work and then I would ride my bike to a restaurant not too far from my house to meet friends for a late lunch or early dinner. Once again accompanied by my bicycle soundtrack.
I don't know if I'll ever have that kind of life, but I sure like to think about it. A simple life filled with good coffee, good music , good books, time to write and my bicycle.
“It’s like fantasy camp, but for heroin addicts”, explains Abadir Umar Ar-Rida, the self-proclaimed “Heroin Sheik of Hollywood”. “Some people grew up with Michael Jordan on their wall, others with Keith Richards. Creative people are notoriously aligned with drug culture.”Read More
Red Dawn Syndrome: An irrational fear of nuclear war or similar act of agression made towards the United States made rational by the 1984 movie about a Soviet Union invasion of the United States.
Cold War Kids: A generation of children raised under the imminent threat of nuclear apocalypse in the name of economic doctrine and characterized by persistent anxiety, political indifference, social unrest and nihilistic consumerism.Read More
Today was demo day for ycombinator and to celebrate this coming together of technology and commerce, I present to you what I imagine some of the original elevator pitches of our most favorite apps sounded like, or at least what they should've sounded like based on what I know of these apps today.Read More
Does anybody secretly aspire to speak with the casual intelligence and articulation of everybody on This American Life? It’s a personal goal of mine. So much so that I sometimes get distracted in real conversations because I’ll start thinking “Does this sound like a conversation that could be on This American Life?”
It’s kind of an silly obsession really. But next time you listen to the show, pay attention to how well-spoken the hosts and guests are. It’s uncanny.
It’s difficult enough being a creative person. First you have to come up with an idea, then synthesize it, work it into a functional concept, and then you have to capture and communicate that idea to increasingly wide and diverse audience. Inertia can be a powerful opponent in the struggle for creative accomplishments. It’s easy to list a number of reasons why something is too difficult to do. But I was surprised when I hit an unlikely stumbling block recently.Read More