Take that Vacation. Use your PTO

Take time off. Take that vacation.

Why do I always have to remind myself of this?

It’s in my nature to work. I’ve always enjoyed what I do.

I like to say: “I’m going to live to 120 and work ’til 118”

But living the everyday, one gets caught up in the hustle’n’bustle and there’s never a good time to “take off”.

Truth is, taking the time off needs to be part of the job. So many benefits like:

  1. Recharge batteries
  2. See your company/role from a different perspective (see the forest)
  3. Foster personal relationships (i.e. marriage)
  4. Meet new people
  5. Learn from other cultures/perspectives
  6. Try new experiences
  7. Discover new foods
  8. Make new memories (collect more stories)
  9. Time to think/reflect
  10. Appreciate what you miss from home

So, make sure to use that PTO.

You’re a better person for it.

It can enhance your overall performance.

FYI, I like to do things that accomplish multiple goals.

This post accomplishes 4 things (that’s a big win for a small post!):

  • Share a lesson/reminder that might be helpful to you.
  • Re-enforces this message within myself by writing these words.
  • Accomplishes James Altucher “10 ideas a day” exercise for today.
  • Gets me back into writing overall (I’ve been lagging lately). Tip: Writing is very good for you.

Happy Friday!

Lit Video Books: Great Summer Idea for Kids

Kids started summer break this week. If we said nothing, they’d spend every hour of every day gaming. During the pandemic, I introduced “Papa School” to keep them learning.

Papa school activities are always a delicate balance of wanting them to learn, but not making them miserable.

I found this cool service called LIT Videobooks. They create 1-hr videos of popular non-fiction books. Fantastic quality productions done in collaboration with the authors.

This summer “Papa School” is at least 1-hr outside and “watching” a book a week. There will be a quick comprehension survey and a book discussion.

If they don’t finish the last week’s book, they lose gaming privileges until they catch up.

Truth be told, I think I’ll benefit from this service as well. There are several book here that are on my reading list.

I used to subscribe to Blinkist, which would summarize books into a 15-mins read. That is a great service/product, but sometimes they were a little too much to the point, lacking context/color to hammer the points home.

Audiobooks are great too, but often way too long (some are 8-10 hrs).

1-hr with audio and visual is a great balance. Even shorter if listened to at 1.25x or 1.5x speed.

Seems like it’s at a good price point too.

Even better when it’s 50% off, which you can get here:


Parenting Kids that Game (A LOT!)

3 Questions

My kids game a lot. Do yours? Probably not ideal, or so I thought.
I’ve discovered a “Parenting Win” from this…

We’re a household of two parents working from home, and we need to keep the kids occupied. Gaming is regular part of their day.

I recently discovered¬†Jane McGonigal. She’s a PhD Game Designer who evangelizes the use of games to help people learn real-world skills, improve attitudes, and build self-esteem in children.

To turn gaming into a productive, positive experience for you kids, engage in conversation with your kids around what they’re playing. Here are 3 powerful questions to ask them about their favorite game:

  1. What does it take to be good at this game? (what skills, what personality, what strategies)
  2. What have you gotten better at since you’ve started playing this game?
  3. What’s the hardest thing you’ve accomplished in this game? (how’d you do it?)

Based on her research, people that can talk about these learned skills tend to transfer them better to the real world applications/scenarios.

So, don’t feel guilty if your child is gaming a bunch. There are some real life skills they can be learning/absorbing with the right nurturing.

BTW, she also believes the tipping point to too much is ~21 hrs/wk.

Happy Parenting. Now get back to work!

Do you have to experience extreme lows to experience extreme highs?

Do you have to experience extreme lows to experience extreme highs? If so, is it worth it?!

Mental health is in the headlines these days; so let’s discuss.

When my youngest, Dylan, was ~2.5, he broke his femur bone. Yes, the FEMUR; that’s a hard bone to break! I watched it just collapse on him. ūüėĘ

He had to wear a spica cast for ~8 weeks. Uncomfortable. 2-yr old level communication. Still in diapers. …Misery for all.

After a few days, I got him a floor scooter board. I remember playing with these in elementary school gym class. I figured it would give him some freedom of movement.

The happiness you hear/see is off the charts!
That video still brings tears to my eyes…

I’m not sure that I’ve ever felt as happy as Dylan seems to feel there. On the flip side, I’ve never felt misery, like I imagine he felt for several weeks, either.

Not saying one is better than the other. I’ve always been even keel (emotionally moderate, some might say stoic). I see Dylan there and I feel FOMO. But is this level of happiness worth the journey?

I’m a student of psychology and I enjoy studying happiness. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m in a perpetual search for knowledge.

I guess where I’m going with this is that when you feel an extreme low, think of the potential extreme high on the other side, and muster the #GRIT to power through.

It helps A LOT, if you find the right partner. I love you Heather Hew!

I Joined The Power MBA Program

I don’t have an MBA. It’s something I always contemplated pursuing, but never did because of time/cost.

I’ve always believed that most of the value of the MBA is not really the education, but the network you build.

A strong, influential network is invaluable.
There is value in exclusivity; that’s the current MBA model.

That said, a Harvard or Stanford or other “prestigious” MBA is probably worth every penny and more. But the hundreds of others? I don’t know if the ROI is there.

Then I found ThePowerMBA
Interesting model.

At under $1K, I signed up.

It presents an interesting risk:reward opportunity.

It provides a structured, organized, biteable micro-lessons.
I’m going to assume the educational material is good, based on reviews, so I’m okay to invest a few dollars in that.

The upside is the network. It doesn’t present the exclusivity value, but it does have the potential for scale. And early indications are that they are trying to engage the community/network a lot.

My cohort is just starting, so I’ll let y’all know how it goes.

If you’re a fellow student or alumni, I’d love to connect.
I’ve said before, there is a Strength in Weak Ties.

The Game Changers :: Should I go Veggie?

Last night, I info binged on The Game Changers, the documentary that advocates a plant-based diet for optimal athletic performance.

First, I watched the documentary on Netflix.

Then I watched Chris Kresser debunk many of the documentary’s claims on Joe Rogan’s podcast (https://youtu.be/Dq4Apc2Xk7Q) . You can read Kresser’s notes here: https://chriskresser.com/debunking-the-game-changers-joe-rogan.

Then I watched a following Joe Rogan podcast where Joe hosted James Wilks and Chris Kresser, providing Wilks an opportunity to defend his documentary’s claims (https://youtu.be/s0zgNY_kqlI).

It’s always good to listen to both sides. And God bless Joe Rogan for providing a forum where both sides have ample opportunity to make their case.

The Game Changers is very well made. It is definitely persuasive in advocating a plant-based diet. Now, they obviously cherry-picked athletes to showcase. I have to imagine that for every one they highlighted, there is a Cam Newton story to balance things out: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/nfl/carolina-panthers/article235295427.html. Kresser addresses this in detail in his show notes, while also providing updates on the featured atheletes.

Based on the strength of Wilks’ rebuttles, I would not say the documentary lies or makes false claims. However, I would say that they certainly spin stories to suggest things like:

  • Dairy causes cancer
  • Meat correlates to heart disease
  • Plant-based diet has a positive impact on libido (not sure if that’s the right term to use; essentially, one guy experienced 500% more frequent erections and an increase in the strength of erections)

The gist that I took away from all this is:

  • Food and Diet is very complex and nuanced and tremendously difficult to run effective, long-term studies on.
  • Overall, your diet should consist of a large portion of plant-based foods, even if you’re omnivore.
    • And if you go omnivore, best to go with lean, grass-fed meat.
  • Whatever diet you choose, you should always be conscious to ensure you’re getting enough protein and nutrients.
  • Avoid processed foods as much as possible.
  • You should probably take a B12 supplement.

For serious athletes, you really need to be meticulous and measure everything. You can’t improve what you can’t measure. It’s all about the quantified self.

A lot of sports is mental. Confidence and mental toughness can be the difference between Champions and Chumps. If you change something, your diet for example, because of watching “The Game Changes”, then is there also a placebo effect that helps put you over the edge? Most, if not all, the athletes featured in the documentary attained their high level upon an omnivore diet.

My guess is that depending on your sport and where you’re at in your athletic career, you might want to consider timing or cycling your diet. For (random) example, maybe you’re omnivore in off-season training, but then change to vegan during the season. Or maybe you’re omnivore on practice days, but then vegan on day-before and game day.

Dunno. Try something, test, then measure. Rinse and Repeat.

Podcast Must Listen: Masters of Scale :: Charity Water

Reid Hoffman’s Master of Scale podcast episode that dropped today is AMAZING on so many levels! “TO SCALE, YOU MUST MASTER THE SKILL OF STORYTELLING”

Link to episode: https://mastersofscale.com/#/scott-harrison-to-scale-you-must-master-the-art-of-storytelling/

It’s the story of Scott Harrison of Charity: Water.

I found within it:

  • Life lessons
  • Marketing lessons
  • An amazing story, amazingly told

I dare you to watch this video “The Spring” and:

  • Not shed a tear
  • Not believe that clean water is one of the most impactful efforts that we can do for civilization
  • Not pull out your wallet to subscribe to this amazing charity (all charities should operate this way!)

How Much Time do you REALLY Have?

Would you change anything if you, literally, knew when your time is up? Seems we each have an explicit biological clock embedded in our DNA.

This article talks about how researchers found that your Epigenetic clock can calculate biological age and predict your lifespan.

“Some individuals who fill their lives with fitness and healthy habits die younger than peers who live a much less healthy life. New research into the epigenetics of aging sheds some fresh light on the perplexing phenomenon of premature aging.”

It’s based on this research paper.

I thought this was super interesting.

Loads of implications:

  • Would you retire earlier or later based on your biological age?
  • Surely, this is going to have a tremendous effect on the Insurance industry.
    • I wonder how long until the industry adopts this as common practice to set your premiums.
  • Now that we know the marker (or measure), can we work to improve or manipulate it. (this is all over my head, I don’t even know if that’s a valid question)

Smart People are Flip-Floppers

I’m insecure. I have a small fear of commitment. When I make a decision, I’m always wondering if it was the best decision. What’re the unknown unknowns?

Bezos believes that “the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved”

I’m not saying I’m amongst the smartest or smart at all. But this did give me solace, in that, at least I know I might be thinking along the same lines as smart folk.

I’m always curious: Is there a better way?

In the book “Thinking in Bets”, Poker pro Annie Duke says that when it comes to decision-making, decide as if you are betting all of your money on your choice. Don’t take shortcuts based on your biases; seek contrarian opinions and experienced counsel. Talk with folks who have had similar experiences and expertise who can critique your choices and illuminate your blindspots.

I’ll talk to anybody and everybody about anything.

You can always learn something from someone.

And you know what? You’ll probably disagree and hate me for saying this, but Recruiters and Sales folk are amongst the best to speak with because they speak to the most people. So, they often have a good perspective (as long as you understand their bias, you can really learn a lot).

Data Wrangling is Career Strangling

Data wrangling is a necessary process when working with big data; most data, in reality. This opinion piece is not to diminish its importance. Nor, is this to be confused with Data Engineering. But I will argue that data wrangling is career strangling, in that it is holding you back in your career progression. Let me explain…

Firstly, let’s agree that the whole basis of big data is to whittle it down to little data, that we call “Insights”. The point of any data analysis is to identify a trend or anomaly. The point of a machine learning model is to find a set of defined patterns or assign a probability.

Observe any Data Scientist or Analyst presentation and the only pieces that get talked about are the Insights and the model. Zero time is spent explaining how the data was wrangled, despite that being 60-80% of the effort.

I am making the argument that data wrangling is low-level, tedious work that is wasted when an expensive resource such as a Data Scientist or Data Engineer or Analyst decides to take this on.

The best consultants know that:

You don’t¬†get paid¬†for¬†the¬†hour. You¬†get paid¬†for¬†the value¬†you bring to¬†the¬†hour

The more time you spend on lower value work, the more you diminish your value.

And if you’re an Analyst / Data Scientist spending a greater portion of your time wrangling data, that’s¬†much less time that you’re spending to understand the data, that’s much less time you’re spending to analyze the data, that’s much less time to you’re spending on delivering business value from the data.

When it comes to big data, I believe that folks are starting to realize that robust software engineering practices need to be put in place to ensure quality of the data pipeline and #datagovernance. …Cue the Data Engineer.

In¬†today’s episode (Aug 14) of the Digital Analytics Power Hour¬†(a wonderful podcast, btw), there was a great discussion about raw data and data virtualization. I didn’t feel that there was any consensus, so I’ll throw in my 2 cents.

A company must adopt a tool or process to virtualize the raw data for the Data Scientists and Analysts. Drawing from software principles, the solution ‚ÄĒ built in-house or purchased ‚ÄĒ must be robust, scalable, extendable, and re-usable.

This will save an immense amount of time (and headache).

For example, when working with raw clickstream data, you have billions of atomic events. In most cases, identity resolution is required over a specified¬†period of time. If every Data Scientist or Analyst is starting with the raw data, I guarantee that each will resolve the identity in a different manner (different “code”). This leads to multiple, inconsistent “truths”. The Analysts / Data Scientists should only work from a consistent, consolidated schema for the vast majority of cases.

So, when I say “Data wrangling is career strangling”, it’s¬†because you’re devoting too much time to work with a lower-assigned value.

[Tangential annecdote: I use Salesforce a lot in my work. If I’m to be diligent, the data entry could be up to 4 hrs a week. I hired a VA¬†‚ÄĒ¬†on my own dime¬†‚ÄĒ¬†to handle this. This allows me to spend more time on higher value (and quite frankly, more fun) tasks. I value my time]

In the end, businesses are results-oriented. If you can produce more positive business results in a shorter time frame, then your career trajectory will move up-and-to-the-right at an accelerated pace.

And it’s a compounding factor. Those that produce results are provided more opportunities. The sooner you produce results, the sooner those opportunities present themselves.

Focus on value delivered.

The faster you iterate, the faster you grow.