“I’m 54 Years Old, And I’m Not Going To Change!”

Sometimes, when I’m engaged in conversation with someone, they’ll say something like:

You know what?  No way.  I’m 54 years old, and I’m not going to change!  I’m sorry, it’s just not going to happen.

When confronted with such a response, I don’t know what to say.  I usually just end up looking at the person, scrunching my eyebrows and scratching my head.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever said this in conversation, which is why it confuses me.  (If you know me personally, please point out if I’m wrong …)

When I was in my early twenties, I took this response as a put-down (as in: listen you little twerp, I’m far wiser than you; what you’re asking me to do is stupid…), but now that I’m in my 30’s and much more mature (come on, I’m joking), I’m even more confused.

I’m confused because I find myself changing.all.the.freakin’.time.  I don’t think I’m unique in that way.  I see people changing all around me.  Aren’t you changing, too?

As I reflect on this response, I’m left with an observation and two questions:

  • Observation: I think I typically hear this response from people older than me
  • Question: In general, what do people really mean by this?  What are they trying to tell me?
  • Question: Twenty years from now, will I also say this?

What I believe to be true is that I’m 34 years old, and I’m definitely going to change.

What do you think? If you have any insight, or if you’re uttered these words yourself, please share your thoughts.

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Blog Traffic Monthly Report: January 2013

Welcome to the second monthly traffic report, where I share the blog’s metrics (you can see last month’s report here). My purpose is to give insights and ideas that may help in your own blogging journey.  In the comments, let me know what other data are helpful to you.

Before we begin, here are some things I did differently in January 2013:

  • Added Pinterest as a sharing option (before, it was only available behind the “More” button).  Content started to get “pinned” almost immediately.
  • Started posting every few days, as opposed to once daily.  You’ll see the results of this experiment below (you might be surprised).
  • Completed my Google Authorship, which I had started in December 2012, but for some reason didn’t finish.
  • Revised the “About” page to be less formal.  Instead of referring to myself in the third person, I modified the text to the first person, and intentionally made it more personal.  My intent was for you to feel we were sitting down over coffee and chatting about our lives.  This page was the 5th most requested in January.

Let’s see what these changes did to traffic.

Read more of this post

Why I Will Be Posting Less

Since launching this blog late last year, I’ve posted every day (even Christmas!). Many of you have provided feedback (both online and offline), and there are two common themes woven throughout:

#1: “How do you manage to write each day!?” (Answer: Use a template, be disciplined, love what you do …)

#2: “Posting once a day might be too much.”

Regarding #2: Traffic has gone up rather consistently since the start, but since I am a big believer in experimentation, I’m going to create fewer posts per week — and see what happens.

I am reminded of an idea in The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss. It’s called the “minimum effective dose,” or MED. He explains it as:

…the smallest dose that will produce the desired outcome. Any thing beyond the MED is wasteful. To boil water, the MED is 212°F (100°C) at standard air pressure. Boiled is boiled. Higher temperatures will not make it ‘more boiled.’ Higher temperatures just consume more resources that could be used for something more productive.

So, what if I can get the same traffic — but with half the posts? This means gaining several hours per week that can be invested in other activities, like:

  • Finding great material to share with you, and writing higher quality posts (as Google’s Larry Page puts it: “More wood behind fewer arrows.”)
  • Writing an e-book or creating educational material
  • Seeking guest blogging opportunities

I still believe posting often is one of the best ways for new bloggers to build traffic.  But let’s challenge the status quo and see what happens.

Lastly: since some of you have asked for clarification around what this is blog is about, I’ve updated the “About” page to give you a clearer idea what you can expect as a reader.  Take a look.

Let me know what you think!

Jerry Seinfeld on How to Write a Joke

One area this blog examines is how successful people do their work, asking “What do they do differently than the rest of us?“.

Watch someone skilled do their thing, and it probably looks pretty easy. But don’t be fooled: greatness takes a buttload of work.

In this short video, Jerry describes his work process, and how it took him two years to create “The Pop Tart Joke”.  

On stage, Jerry takes one minute and 34 seconds to tell the joke — so that’s 16 months of work per minute of performance.  Imagine how much time it takes to prepare for a full routine!

How To Work A Room Like Joe Biden

One area this blog explores is the subtle things successful people do differently than the rest. (When I speak of success, I mean achievement in any field, and by any measure — doesn’t just mean financial success.)

Have you ever watched a politician or high-power executive work a room, and wonder what these “successful” people say (or do) differently than you?

A case-study is Joe Biden, who many say is extremely personable, and great at making people quickly feel comfortable. I can’t comment from personal experience what methods he uses to accomplish this, but I came across a video of Joe working the room at last week’s Senate swearing in ceremony, which gives some insight into his tactics.  (By the way, I’m equally interested in how Reagan worked a room, so please don’t read anything into the subject of this commentary.)

Here are a few things I notice about how he works a room: Read more of this post

People Don’t Buy ‘What’ You Do, They Buy ‘Why’ You Do it

If you’ve never visited TED.com, you really need to take a look. It’s filled with glorious ideas that are candy for your brain. Each speaker does a short presentation (no more than 20 minutes) on a very specific topic.  It’s easy to get sucked in for hours listening to different thought-leaders.

One such presenter and topic is Simon Sinek and his “Golden Circle” philosophy.

In a nutshell, Simon believes that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.  He argues that for leaders to inspire action from their employees, customers, or anyone else involved in their mission, they have to successfully communicate the why behind their ideas.

As he puts it:

Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the ‘I have a dream’ speech, not the ‘I have a plan’ speech.

Simon has written a book called “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” where he lays out a process for getting to your why.

If you have a moment, watch the video (18 minutes); I think you’ll find it worth your time.  What do you think of this concept?

How to Build a High Traffic Blog Without Going Crazy: Secrets From Tim Ferriss

A few years ago at the Inc500 conference, I had an opportunity to meet Tim Ferriss, author of “The 4-Hour Work Week,” “4-Hour Body,” and “4-Hour Chef” (all three are New York Times and WSJ best-sellers). Tim has a great blog at fourhourworkweek.com/blog/, and has built a successful empire around his content.

Around the same time as the Inc500 event, Tim spoke at the WordPress Conference about how to build and optimize a high traffic blog.

Even though it was a few years ago, some of the lessons are still helpful and relevant. Here’s a summary of some of the interesting points:

Read more of this post

Success-hack: Using an Issue Log to Improve Personal Performance

Are you interested in what makes certain people and organizations more successful than others? Have you ever wondered what they do differently than you?

I don’t believe there is one magical formula, but I do think there are certain tactics that successful organizations and people have that contribute to their success.

One such tactic is an “Issue Log“. Read more of this post

Are You What You Do?

If someone asks you, “What do you do?” — what comes to mind?

If you’re like me, you probably have a one-word (or short-phrased) response.  You don’t even have to think about the answer — it’s ingrained in you. Maybe you answer “student” or “teacher” or “lawyer” or <fill in the blank>.

When someone asks me this question, I’ll often respond with “software“. Wait a second — what the frick does that really mean? I do software? (How’s that going for me?)

I’ve found that one way to grow (because the question is awkward) and have a memorable conversation with someone is to ask something slightly different: Who are you?

People may look at you like you’ve misspoken, or they’ll repeat “Who am I??” and give you a very quizzical look.

I’ll often respond by smiling (note from experience: don’t smile too much or you’ll seem creepy!) and replying, “Yes, who is <their name>. What are you about?”

If someone asks me this question, my answer is much more than “software”. In reality, I’m:

  • A (new) husband, learning to navigate what it means to honor my wife, and to serve her sacrificially (freakin’ hard)
  • A new father, learning what it means to balance my work (which I love), and my family (which I love even more)
  • A man seeking after high truths about who we are, who we serve, and what our lives are meant to accomplish
  • An Entrepreneur, full of ideas, responsibilities, and experiences that are much more than just “software”
  • … a whole heck of a lot more (insecure, moody, a dreamer, music-lover … the list goes on and on)

My guess is that you’re also a lot more than the one word or phrase you thought of a few moments ago.  Right?  You’re a lot more than what you do for a paycheck.

So next time someone asks what you do, what will you say? Or better yet, next time you meet someone new, will you have the courage to ask “Who are you?” — and come back and let us know what you learned?

Blog Traffic Monthly Report: December, 2012

I’m often asked what kind of results to expect in the first month of blogging.  As of today, I’ve written 30 posts (including this one), meeting my objective of one short post per day.

I’m running a number of experiments with this blog (which maybe I’ll cover in another post), and so measuring the data has been an important part of the process.

Here’s a summary of this blog’s ROI (return on investment) for the first 30 days. Read more of this post

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