My Big Aha Moment

I remember when i was in elementary school (mid-1990s) and my dad pulled me over to the computer. He’d just connected to the old Internet protocol Telnet through the Michigan State University (MSU) Library System. Within seconds, we could explore the card catalog and corresponding applications from not just MSU but most major libraries in the world.

I know what you’re thinking. “Big whoop you connected to card catalog from a library.” But that was the mid-1990s. No one was online at that point. I was maybe 12 and my computer was bouncing around the world.

In that experience, I had some kind of aha moment that affected the rest of my life. I realized that the Internet was going to connect people in ways that’ve never happened before. From that point on, it’s been a non-stop fascination… and possibly even an obsession.

And I’ve seen it work. I’ve seen people connect via technology to build communities that have since gone on to change the world in a way that they wouldn’t be able to do on their own. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of some of those movements. Excited to hopefully be a part of A LOT more.

But it all started with a moment. Do you have a moment that was an infection point in your life?

How I Use the Different Social Media Platforms

With the addition of Snapchat to the mainstream social media landscape, I think people (especially those over 30) are feeling collective social media fatigue.

Recently, I’ve been having more convos about how each of the different platforms are distinctly useful.  So, I thought I’d break down how I use the platforms…

Facebook – This is the best of what’s happening with the people and brands that I care about. It’s about truly understanding your audience, posting the best photos and the best links. Because it’s the “best of” and more so limited to your closer connections, there’s a better opportunity for deeper threaded discussions.  But, it’s a fundamentally closed ecosystem. It’s harder to make newer spontaneous connections.

Twitter – This is a real-time stream of what’s happening in the world right now. It’s an open ecosystem. So, your connections could and will be everyone. You could and should post often. With Twitter, you have the opportunity to interact with anyone and have anyone reach out to you.

Instagram – These are photos that are the best of your life. It’s the highlight reel. It’s photos of beautiful lives, beautiful food, and beautiful travel. I’m increasingly seeing beautiful product photos or beautiful flim clips.

Snapchat – This is the opposite of Instagram. It’s raw and messy. The videos are quick. They’re not thought out. They show you the real life of who ever’s taking the pictures or video.  It’s a great platform for turning and talking directly into the camera.

LinkedIn – This is for your professional life. What are you reading for work? What are you working on? Is there a new issue or topic relevant to those in your field. Your connections are the new rolodex.

Hopefully this makes sense. Each platform is different and serves a different audience.

Rule #1 is understand your audience. Where do they spend their time? Go there. But don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and go multiple places, including Snapchat.


Watch The World Around You

I’ve noticed something about myself. When I’m in public arenas, I’m fascinated by what people are doing on their phones. Last night I flew to DC for a few days at the office. I was totally curious by what the sub 30 somethings were doing on their phones.

Especially as you get older, it’s easy to get stuck. But you gotta go where the puck is going, otherwise you’ll get left behind. Best way to know where things are going is by watching those that are younger than you.

For example, the market is clearly moving towards Snapchat as a predominant media platform. I know a lot of my peers cringe at the idea of Snapchat. But get over it. It’s the present reality. It’s what people use.

In general though, I think there’s a lot you can learn from just paying attention. When you’re in line for your morning latte or on your commute home, pay attention to the people around you. What are they doing? How can that inform how you go about trying to command their attention.

Little Containers of Cheerios

I want to add to my love letter to Chick-fil-A.

Lauren and I were out running errands with Miles yesterday. It was getting close to dinner time so we decided to stop by Chick-fil-A. Those sandwiches are oh so good.

When we go out to eat, the moment that we always have to be prepared is the time between when we sit down and when the food comes.  We usually have to pull something entertaining  or distracting out of the diaper bag.

I was so pleasantly surprised as we were sitting down to see little containers of Cheerios sitting by where you pick up silverware. It was the perfect amount to distract Miles while we wait for our food.

All in all this little container of Cheerios may have cost Chick-fil-A a few cents. But it’s the little things that endear you to a brand. It shows that I can go into a Chick-fil-a as parent and they have my back. It shows they care. It part of why we keep going back and back and back.

It’s a challenge for me. What are the little things that I can do for my customers that take my customers from like to LOVE?


Developing a Daily Writing Habit is HARD

I admire people like investor Fred Wilson who pushes out new content on his blog everyday. I aspire to write something on my blog everyday. It’s really hard though.

We read things. We experience things. This causes us to have thoughts about the world. It’s hard to turn those thoughts into something that you want to share with people.

The discipline of writing everyday and articulating those thoughts brings a certain level of clarity for yourself (and ultimately for your readers). It’s an amazing mental exercise.

But building the habit is hard. There’s something about, at least how I’m wired, that makes me want to passively consume information without thinking about it. BUT that’s bad. As I wrote previously, taking notes on what I’m consuming has helped a lot. Now to just turn that into thoughts that I want to share.

I’ve been using the app to prompt myself to write everyday, along with some other habits that I’m working on. I’ve found it pretty helpful.

What tips have helped you develop a daily writing habit?

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!


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)