Taking notes on what I read 

I love the Web. It allows me to read whatever I want and feed my never ending intellectual curiosity. It’s too easy for me to fill up my Instapaper queue with hundreds of articles.

When I read, it’s easy for it to go in and out of my brain quickly. If you were to ask me what I read and how it contributed to my worldview, I’d say very little. It’s easy for me to flip through news feeds and get nothing out of it. Skimming is an easy bad habit.

So, I’ve started taking notes on everything that I read. I have an Evernote notebook. Each note is on a different topic. When I read something on that topic, I take what I took from what I read and add it to that note.

I really enjoy reading news about the election. It’s easy for the barrage of stories to cause you to grow numb. But if you intentionally take what your reading and see that coverage next to all the coverage for a particular candidate, you start to get a bigger picture view.

If you’re fascinated by a particular topic, like autonomous vehicles, jot down every time you see a story about it. Add a couple sentences from that article. You’ll really start to get a sense for the evolution of autonomous vehicles.

I love Aldi Grocery Stores!

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I love finding ways where I can pay less for an experience that I’d otherwise pay more. It increases the return on my investment. Food can easily become one of the biggest chunks of your budget. I’m amazed how easy it is to blow a lot of cash at the grocery store, especially if you go in without a plan.

My favorite discovery is the Aldi grocery stores. They defy traditional grocery store features and pass the savings on to the consumers. For example, they don’t use normal product brands. Their displays are made of shipping boxes. You bag your own groceries. You corral your own grocery cart.

With this, groceries are extraordinarily cheap. A tub of hummus that would typically cost $4-5 costs $2. I can get half a gallon of organic milk for $2.25 where in most grocery stores that cost $4+. I could go on for days telling you about their amazing prices. My favorite is you can get avocados for $.50-.89, where they’d typically cost $1.50+.

I went yesterday and got a week’s worth of groceries for a family of 3 for $70.

Some of the non-branded groceries look exactly… exactly like their branded counterparts. It’s like the factory just switched out the labels. With that, you get a HUGE discount.

So… #1 if you want to save a lot of money on groceries, start shopping at Aldi. #2 if you’re an entrepreneur, how can you challenge the assumptions of your industry. Why do you have to do things the way that they’ve always been done? How can you pass more value on to the consumer?

(Photo from Mike Mozart)

Thankful for you. 

Holidays make me contemplative which makes me thankful. I’m so thankful for so many things but wanted to use this time to say thank you to all of you. 

There are so many writers and creators out there that are looking for an audience. The fact that you have chosen to pay attention to me across one of my different social and email channels is a HUGE honor. 

As we head into 2016, I hope to dive more into what it means to be a human being, husband, father, marketer, entrepreneur, and St Louis-ian in the digital age, as well as sharing my normal stuff.  I hope that you find all of it useful and thought provoking. 

If you have thoughts, concerns, or ideas, don’t hesitate to hit me up — jthorp@gmail.com

Happy New Year! 

Binge On “Making a Murderer”

Have a little bit of extra downtime between now and the beginning of the year? Looking for a new show to binge on in the Netflix library? I highly recommend the documentary series “Making a Murderer.”

It’s the story of a man, Steven Avery, in rural Wisconsin who was wrongly convicted of rape, imprisoned for 18 years, and then released after DNA testing. He sued the county where he was arrested. There was a murder in his town and guess who was the first suspect. I’ll just leave it all there.

It’s a 10 part documentary series that’s very well done. It’s well paced. The end of each episode has something that makes you want to watch the next one.

The documentary shows where the criminal justice system can go terribly wrong, where justice isn’t done. It’s a true story. It’s crazy.

This series is definitely worth a watch. Here’s the trailer…

 

Siri helps me remember 

IMG_0809Especially as a parent, the amount of information and details that you have to keep straight and remember is never ending. I’m constantly trying to tweak my system of tools. The latest that’s become really handy is Siri on the iPhone.

For example, I woke up this morning and wanted to remind myself to change the cat litter this afternoon. I just need to tell Siri to “remind me to change the cat litter at 2pm.” Maybe I want to remember to blow out a candle or get the laundry. Sometimes I’ll tell it to set a reminder that I have an 830am meeting.

Siri is an incredible personal assistant voice-based platform. I tell it to remind me and it interfaces with the Reminder app on my phone.  I then get the notifications for the reminders.

I love the idea of using a computer as a personal assistant, especially when just using I can just talk to it like a person. I just wish Apple would open up Siri as a platform so more apps could integrate with it. I want to create an event with Google Calendar or make a note in Evernote using Siri.

Do you use Siri? What other helpful use cases have you found?

Espresso: it’s just more efficient 

IMG_0742As I’ve written about in other posts, in this new phase of my life, I’m really seeing how precious time is.  It’s our most valuable resource.

I’m also a huge coffee lover. I’ve perfected my setup to make a great pour over coffee. But that takes time. And let’s be honest. 99% of the time we drink coffee for the caffeine. It’s caused me to get into drinking espresso.

Espresso is the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee but it’s a lot smaller. It’s quick and easy. In a minute, you have your caffeine hit and you get back on with your day.

Plus you can really taste the flavor of the coffee. In a latte from Starbucks, you just taste milk and sugar, especially if you’re drinking the venti peppermint mocha. (Let’s be honest. That’s not coffee.) With espresso, you actually taste coffee. Crazy to drink coffee and taste coffee. If you’re like, “oh coffee… espresso tastes nasty.” Maybe you’re drinking nasty coffee.

It’s funny how drinking espresso in the United States is so rare, depending on where you are.  (I’ve found it to be much more common when I’ve traveled abroad.) I remember once my wife and I were traveling, to a smaller town. We went to the closest coffee shop. I ordered a double espresso. They were like “espresso… with what?” They were shocked that someone could order espresso by itself.

Do you drink coffee? Have you gotten into drinking straight espresso?

Getting up early 

The kid is starting to sleep in a little bit longer. So, instead of sleeping in, I’ve been trying to get up before him. I can use that time to make a cup of coffee, read the Bible, skim the NY Times and just generally reflect on the day ahead of me. 

It’s hard to get up early. It’s hard to build that new habit or routine. Time is so precious and mornings are some of the only places in my daily schedule where I can adjust things to make for more time. And that time can be just for me. 

I wish there was a way to stretch a 24 day hour day into 28 hours. It never feels like there’s enough time  or energy to get things done.  Time is the most precious resource. 

The morning time is the easiest place to reprioritize. I know some people that just hurl themselves out of bed and rush right into their day. That stresses me out just thinking about it. I need to ease into the day. So, I get up early.