New Skin for 2018

A quick post before I head home for the weekend.

I updated the theme for the year. I’m using Array Themes (as usual) and this theme is called Meteor. The theme itself has a lot more bells and whistles, but I just need a nice blog theme.

The old theme was fine but it depended on me always coming up with photos for the featured image. I want to reduce the amount of barriers that block me from actually writing.

If you’re at all interested in a theme, I highly recommend Array Themes. I can help you get it set up pretty quickly too. I’ve worked with WordPress for almost 10 years now and these are the best premium themes out there. There are very little settings and the documentation is stellar.

I hope this will help me write a bit more often. Writing is definitely therapeutic for me as it is for many. Keeping things simple in my life is a theme and this is one that doesn’t need to be fancy.

Last thing. I updated my “Now” page. It’s a few things that I’m doing right now. I update it every few months and look back at what I did or did not accomplish. I added a section about the books I’m ready. So far I’m on my third book of the year. The latest one I found on a plane. I feel a bit guilty about not turning it in but I think I can live with it. I’ll donate the $12.75 somewhere.


Crypto Isn’t For Me

I have a tendency to see something new and dive head first into it. With cryptocurrency and blockchain, I almost did just that. Even with a heavy background in technology, the crypto world was a mystery to me. I wanted to change that late last year so I began to invest some time into it.

My first step, like many others, was to sign up for CoinBase. I had a few bucks to spare so I bought some Litecoin. Within a week my money had tripled and I was hooked! I withdrew my initial investment and started “trading”. What I really did was follow a bunch of Twitter accounts that looked semi-reputable and chase my tail all over the place.

When I realized I had no idea what I was doing I took a few steps back and searched for resources to figure out what the hell all of these charts say and mean. I finally came to the conclusion that, like most things, it would take a long time to understand trading (cryptocurrency or even stock, for that matter) and be decent at it.

In the end I don’t have several thousands of dollars to throw in and see what happens. I also don’t have the energy or time to truly turn $50 into $50,000 trading.

I’m going to stick to what I’m doing learning React, Vue, Laravel, and any other new framework that pops up so that I can continue to build products for our company and maybe even for a side project. I don’t need the agony and stress of watching charts rise and fall.

The technology that makes cryptocurrency possible is fascinating and revolutionary. Blockchain is pretty significant and I don’t think it’s going anywhere. I don’t know enough about it to make informed decisions on the various ICOs that are related to it.

If you’re a seasoned trader in other markets, cryptocurrency might be fun. If you’ve got a lot of free time and don’t mind learning about Ichimoku, Kaizen charts and how to predict the future then trading cryptocurrencies would be profitable. I don’t have the time, energy, or risk tolerance to be in the game.

So for now, I’ve unsubscribed from all the Youtube channels, Telegram chats, and unfollowed all but one crypto trader.

I’m happy that it only took 5 weeks to realize this and that I didn’t waste any more time. Feels to good to move on from it for now.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

2017 was quite a year for me. From buying a home to meeting our first child it has been an eventful season of life for us. World news and politics aside, 2017 will be forever engrained in my memory as a fantastic year.

Sandy passed along these questions to me that she’s answered the last couple of years and I’m going to answer them here. I think they’re a great primer and review of the year. So here it goes.

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?

The birth of our daughter, Quinn Audrey is by far the greatest thing that happened this year and ever. Nothing will compare—except maybe the birth of another child…someday.

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?

Quinn is also the most challenging thing to happen. Raising a human is crazy. Yet when her little toothless smile looks up at me it’s somehow worth it.

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?

Unexpectedly I fell in love with programming again. After moving to a more managerial role for the beginning of the year, some projects required me to write code again and rediscovered my love for the skill. I even started to enjoy JavaScript too!

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?

My own self-confidence. At times I get frustrated with myself and feel bad about what I’m capable of accomplishing. It was great to breakthrough that this year and feel the joy of achievement.

5. Pick three words to describe this past year

  1. Transformative – Becoming a dad changes you
  2. At Peace – with my role at work and with my profession
  3. Perseverance – breakthroughs in programming

6. What were the best books you read this year?

The second half of the year I did not read a single book. The first half though I enjoyed The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson. It was a nice kick in the ass and confidence booster for me because I tend to care too much about what people think.

7. Who were your most valuable relationships with?

Outside of my wife and family, I’d have to say my good friend Alex. I watched him learn and grow as an incredible developer worthy of working at Netflix. He’s such a good dude and has taught me so much about being driven to learn and forge a path in this career we’ve got ourselves in.

8. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?

I’ve grown more accustomed to my role as a leader in a tech company. I still have internal struggles with the idea but I’ve learned that everyone has that regardless of position. I have a great team that inspires me to continue to look to the future and see what we could be.

Outside of work, I took most social media apps off my phone in August. In general I really like social media. I think it’s fun and it’s a great way to stay connected to people. Unfortunately, I’m addicted to it and I too often let other people’s post affect my emotions. Additionally, I’m a little tired of algorithms and the data collected on me based on interactions on the platforms. I just want to friends with people and not be profiled so the latest tech device can be repeatedly shown to me begging for my hard-earned money.

9. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?

Becoming a dad has been incredible to say the least. It’s taught me so much about love, patience, and happiness.

10. In what way(s) did you grow physically?

I’d say I regressed a bit this year. Nothing can prepare you for the exhaustion of parenthood. Thankfully I got my health in order before Quinn was born so the damage done isn’t so bad. We will be working on it the beginning of this year though as we are sleeping more and enjoying a more active baby.

11. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?

Sandy and I grew closer as we had to learn how to be parents. I think we’ve made a pretty good team so far. I think the birth of Quinn has brought my family a little closer too. Babies can have that affect. At work, my team and I really got into a groove and there was a lot of synergy throughout the second half of the year as we were heads down on projects.

12. What was the most enjoyable part of your work?

Kivu Security Tracker is a project that has taught me a ton and I’m extremely proud of building. It’s purpose is sad and I hope it doesn’t need to exist some day. While the darkness the application covers, it brings me a sense of pride knowing that our tool will help alleviate the problems occurring in the Congo.

13. What was the most challenging part of your work?

Being a leader is always a challenge. You have to balance seeing/knowing the future with managing the current state of your team. You have to be both creative and realistic. You have to be sensitive but also a harsh critic. You have to achieve goals but also communicate that your goals aren’t the only thing that matters. I am learning to do all of this and progress my skills as a developer myself. There’s not enough time nor energy in a day to truly do everything so I’m learning to pace myself and take each day at a time.

14. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?

The damn television. I am easily entertained by television but don’t need it in my life. I’m considering cutting cable and sticking with a couple of cheaper subscriptions instead. We’ll see.

15. What was the best way you used your time this past year?

Learning JavaScript has been the best thing I’ve spent my time on this year. I’ve always avoided it because I felt like you had to work twice as hard to gain a small amount of user experience. After playing with VueJS a ton, I enjoy it so much more. It doesn’t even really feel like JavaScript anymore to be honest. I’m learning React and ReactNative which I’m psyched about. I’m hoping to build a ReactNative IOS app this year.

16. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?

I learned to be ok with where things are. I think this is something that having a baby taught me. Kids achieve so much growth in a short amount of time that if you don’t savor the moments they’ll pass you by. I didn’t really understand until this week where I was able to hold two of my newborn nephews and they were so small compared to Quinn.

17. Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.

Do the work but cherish the moments.


Life’s Been Crazy

I’ve not written here in a long time and it’s because life’s been crazy.

Introducing a kid into our life has felt like we’re sprinting a marathon…every day. Before kids things seemed hectic but manageable.

Writing just isn’t a priority at the moment and there’s not really time for it. I’m writing this at 10:47pm on Halloween while riding a steady sugar high. Otherwise, I’d be lights out.

I hope to get back into the habit again. Writing helps me process the world and a lot needs to be processed at the moment.

DNS Change

I switched my domain back to There was no reason for using the shorthand version of my last name as the domain other than it was short and sweet. There was also no real reason for switching it back to my full name. It just felt right. I’ll use the other domain for something else.

Server Change

I’ve been learning a lot about servers lately. While Flywheel is my go to, it’s just expensive and there’s no reason for me to house a bunch of WordPress sites there. Instead, I’m hosting on Vultr. It’s like Digital Ocean but a bit cheaper. If you’re not technical I wouldn’t bother with the service.

The primary reason for the switch is price. For $5 I can host 10-20 sites while on Flywheel that would cost upwards of $200.  Flywheel has a ton of features that I love but it’s a bit overkill for me and the sites I’m hosting.

Additionally, I’ve been working Laravel a lot and have been playing with the Digital Ocean and Vultr API’s. I’ve been writing code to spin up servers and install WordPress automagically—kinda like Flywheel. It’s been fun to experiment but it would be an enormous effort to execute at the level of Flywheel. More than anything it’s a project to help me learn some higher level programming concepts.


Since returning from paternity leave, work has been on fast forward. We’ve built some really cool stuff launching really soon. One project in particular has really pushed me over the hump in application development and has me really excited to launch.

I built the API and admin dashboard while the front end was built by a team member in VueJS. The project itself, while technically fun to build, will have a huge impact on the work being done in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I’ll likely go into more detail once it launches so I’ll leave it at this, it has a really powerful purpose and I’m so fortunate to be on the project.

Beyond this project, I’ve been able to use the skills learned on it and implement it across our projects. Additionally, I’m working hard to prepare our team for growth. Right now, we’re small and nimble. We wear a lot of hats and generally work on projects in succession. That won’t always be the case and I’m working to figure out work flows and processes that will help our team continue to be nimble.

Everyone in our office drew decades from a hat to form teams. We had to dress up based on the chosen decade and I was a hippie from the 60s

I told myself I wouldn’t look at stats, but I did

Back when I started writing, I told myself not to look at stats. What I do for a living though is data driven so I couldn’t help myself.

Writing every day wasn’t about stats and growth. Of course I want people to read and enjoy what I’m writing but the intention has been 100% about discipline. I had been making excuses for a long time about blogging and keeping a journal of my thoughts and it was time for that to stop.

I started writing on March 20 and have only missed 3 days of writing. Two of those days were because of our baby shower and the house was hectic and ultimately I made an excuse. The other was Easter. I could’ve written but I didn’t.

Prior to this quest I had next to no traffic. I didn’t ever publish anything and if I did, I never shared it anywhere. Over the course of the last 30 days though that changed massively. I’m using the stats plugin included in JetPack and just looking at views. It’s not Google level accurate but it’s a close enough idea of what’s happening on the site.

30 Day Stats

Below you can see the daily views. That big spike was in part due to this post which I wrote late the previous night.  The post was a raw moment where I was pissed at myself for making excuses for not writing over the previous weekend.

Additionally, that day I published a post the fragility of life. That morning Sandy had a procedure call an “external version” which means that doctors will manually maneuver our daughter from a breech position to the standard position. Even though the risks are incredibly low, it was still scary. In stark contrast, I received news shortly after the procedure that a swimmer I had once coached lost her final battle with cancer. It was the third bout she would have and her body gave up. Ellen was a sweet and beautiful soul and it’s a loss that’s hard to understand.

So, outside of that big surge of traffic, the month of April has been better than I ever expected. Eyeballing it, I’d say I’m getting around 40ish views per day. It’s trailed off a bit but that’s fine. It bugged me a little that yesterday was low, but again, the point is for me to be disciplined, not popular.

Weekly Stats

Here are the weekly stats going back to October of last year. Obviously that’s just a result of actually publishing to social media. It’s pretty fun to see, honestly. Even though I’ve said It’s not about stats for me, the achiever in me wants to make these numbers grow.

Other Stats

Here are some other stats I can pull from Obviously, Facebook is where the most activity happens and I’m actually friends with people. On Twitter I’m less social. I’ve primarily used it as a news feed for the tech world. The most popular posts of course were the ones where I was most vulnerable.

Take Aways

Writing every day has some interesting side effects. Primarily, someone can say or write a phrase like “survival mode” and it will trigger an idea for a post about it. Early on I was worried about what I’d even say and whether or not it would be good but I set perfection aside and focus on putting words down.

Another side effect is writing emails and messages to clients has become significantly easier. If I have on (a tool I use to help me focus) I can read and write responses pretty quickly.

I can also say I’ve incrementally grown at writing. Sandy has written a couple of posts on her blog recently and they blow me away. I would love to write about the world the way she sees it. She has a way of illustrating feelings and her surroundings with her words that is captivating. I’ve got a lot to learn.

Lastly, I’ve over come the fear of pressing publish and sharing on social media. I don’t even know what I was afraid of in the first place. Unless politics are involved, people are pretty tame on social media. Politics is bringing out the worst in people right now. Overall, the feedback has been awesome and I appreciate the people who have shared it with me. People reading about what I’m thinking is such a foreign feeling. But it’s something I’m getting used to.

What Next

I’m going to keep writing. I want to experiment a little more and maybe even get a subscriber list going. Who knows? I’m just enjoying the process and the growth I’ve experienced from it already. Writing has helped me process thoughts that generally get stuffed in a corner in my brain. So, if anything else, I’ve got an outlet for what’s going on upstairs.

Oh one last thing! My sister Ashley is writing every day too. You should check her out!

Do you feel like you’re in survival mode?

When lost in the wilderness your first step is to go into survival mode.

I remember back when I was a scout, I earned the Wilderness Survival merit badge. I learned all kinds of survival skills like building a shelter, way finding, building a fire, and how to feed myself. While I don’t remember everything I was taught, there are a few things that stick out to me about being in survival mode.

First, panicking doesn’t help. Our minds are our greatest asset when in survival mode so controlling our thoughts is crucial. Second, survival mode is all about prioritization. What’s the first problem I need to solve in order to survive this situation? Once that’s achieved, on to the next.

Of course, there are always the basics that every person needs like water, food, and shelter. If you’re in survival mode you focus on one thing at a time. If the conditions change, your priorities change. For example, when you realize your lost and haven’t eaten in a while your first priority might be food. While searching for food it begins to downpour. So now your priority is shelter and warmth. Your goal is survival and the path to survival is different depending on the needs at hand and can change at any time.

Survival mode is not intended to be a long term solution. It’s goal is temporal—not dying. So you do whatever it takes to get out of survival mode and go one living your life.

Survival Mode in Life

I often feel as though my life goes into survival mode—even without kids. Stress manifests itself in a number of ways and we all handle it differently. I’m not referring to traumatic stress, though. That’s a different ball game. I’m referring to the stress that often feels like we’re losing control of things like our time. It’s that feeling as though there isn’t nearly enough time in the day to even do simple things like eat. That kind of stress.

Just like wilderness survival mode, I often need to pause and survey where things are in my life and how I got here.

In December, Sandy and I purchased our first house. Buying a home for us happened to be an insanely fast and convoluted process. Additionally, we were expecting our first child and now in the need to move. Work was as busy as ever and I had commitments outside of work that seemed to sucking out precious time and energy as well.

My first step was to just stop. I had to evaluate what I could remove from my life that was taking up time. I had to prioritize things activities that would alleviate the stress and feel like I was in control.  It wasn’t even just activities it was expectations of myself. I love competing in triathlons but they require a shit ton of time and energy but right now, just the weight of the guilt of not training was causing me stress. So I removed it.

You can actually see the progression of me removing the clutter though this blog. Before I started writing every day, I put myself on a 60 Day challenge where I cleaned up my eating. Additionally, I kicked television from my life and it helped free up time to do things like write.

What’s Ahead For Me

I have no idea what’s coming my way. Every single person, even if I don’t ask, tells me how difficult it is. Fortunately, since humans started walking this planet people have somehow figured the parenting thing out. So we can too. I’d just like a plan for handling the stress that’s sure to come.

I’m sure I will look back at this post and scoff at my naiveté. But I’m going to hold fast to my survival mode theory and follow similar steps in order to get through each day.

Stress is something we can control. If we panic, we’ve lost. Lately I’ve been using Gary Keller’s, “The One Thing” approach not just at work but in life.

What’s the one thing you can do, such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary.

It seems like a good way to handle stress and keep myself out of survival mode.



Find Your Opportunity

Extraordinary things are not accomplished by reasonable people.

When facing challenges or setting goals the amount of difficulty or obstacles in the way is inconsequential. The “impossibilities” you may think exist, shouldn’t factor in your decision making process. All that should matter are two questions, “Do I want to accomplish it?” and “How do I accomplish it?”. That’s it. The difficulty doesn’t matter.

It might seem unreasonable to think that you can overcome any adversity but you can’t allow what seems impossible on first glance to cloud the vision of what’s just beyond the obstacles you’re facing.


The inspiration for this post comes from a man named Jon Morrow who wrote 7 Life Lessons from a Guy Who Can’t Move Anything but His Face.

Jon has every reason to give up—to quit. He has what most would consider an insurmountable amount of challenges. But to him, they’re opportunities. Despite having severe muscular dystrophy he’s traveled the world and has created multiple online magazines that have made him a millionaire. He only has control of his eyes and lips. He’s got more obstacles than most, I’d say.

I recommend you read the post when you get a chance. Lesson #4 is my favorite and I’ll summarize that lesson below with my own thoughts.

The Art of the Counter Punch

I’m not a boxing fanatic but I do respect it as more than just two people throwing fists. There’s an art to it. Floyd Mayweather is one of the greatest boxers of all time not because he’s a vicious fighter dropping bombs on opponents faces but rather because he’s smart, elusive, and knows how to find opportunities.

When an opponent throws a punch, they often leave a small opening for you to hit back, or counter. As Morrow says in his post “you have to train yourself to spot the opening.” Mayweather has perfected this with devastating results. Watch this video for example:

Life will inevitably throw punches. The economy will crash, your car will break down, and something will go wrong with your finances. Things won’t go as you expect. That’s a given. But as you grow, you’ll learn to spot them and will be able to throw your own counter. Like most steel-minded investors will tell you that an economic downturn is an excellent opportunity to buy low. Because when the economy returns to normal, they cash in.

My Biggest Opportunity

As I progress in my own life I’m learning how to spot punches coming my way too. Every challenge or obstacle is also an opportunity for me to grow, to get better.

I was punched hard a couple of years ago. My greatest failure as a programmer and leader came in the form of a project for work. To put it simply, I underestimated the amount of traffic that would be using a ticketing application I had built. I didn’t expect 5,000 women simultaneously refreshing a page in hopes to snag one of a limited number of tickets for an upcoming event. The site crashed before we could even open registration. Then, once we got it sorted, there were even more women now trying to register. Again, the system couldn’t handle the number of transactions.

It was a nightmare. There were 1500 spots available. The credit card processor thought the surge in transactions were fraudulent and shut off access. Fortunately, they were still recording the billing info but they did not actually charge the cards. So, the organization had to go through each registration, verify they were going to the event and process each transaction, manually.

Five poor interns at this organization spent a week and a half doing contacting registrants and verifying their purchases. It was a complete mess. I was embarrassed and pissed at myself. Once I was done sulking, I made a decision to improve. Now, I can see the punch coming and I can counter by making better decisions. I know now that standing up to a client early on is much better than having my tail between my legs after something goes wrong.

My failure, the punch that was thrown my way, trained me to see the punches coming my way. That experience has helped me become a better and wiser leader.

I’ll end with this last quote from Jon Morrow which I love.

No matter how bad the situation, no matter how hopeless it seems, there is always an opportunity to turn it to your advantage. You just have to discipline yourself to spot the opening, and then find the courage to use it. —Jon Morrow


Learn and Work Hard


I get into a habit of reading a lot. The books I read are about leadership, entrepreneurship, and business mostly. It’s not a bad habit at all. I enjoy learning and place high value on it. I have to be careful though not to only spend my time learning. Reading books alone can suck you into thinking you’re “working hard” and that that is all you need in order to succeed.

Obviously, learning isn’t bad. But what good is learning if we’re not implementing that which we’ve learned? It’s easy to confuse the time spent reading as “working hard”. It’s not the same thing. If learning is all you do, you end up with a lot of knowledge that doesn’t do anything.

Working Hard

Conversely, working hard is great but if you’re not spending time to grow and learn, you’re spinning our wheels. So, if you’re up to 3am every night but not learning to improve, you’re ultimately wasting our time and a lifestyle grinding 22 hours a day is not sustainable.

Guys like Gary Vaynerchuck who are insanely successful and are incredible work horses preach about working hard. What’s often missed in their message is that execution is often our best teacher. Not only are they working hard, they’re learning too. It’s the only to grow as they have.

Constantly learn and work hard.

Learning and working hard is a package deal. You can’t do one without the other. Paul Jarvis writes about the learning model in medicine that started in the 1890’s called “see one, do one, teach one”. In other words, in order to truly learn something you need to see it, then do it yourself, and then teach it. This way you experience, in this case surgery, from various vantage points and hopefully learn more effectively.

As a programmer writing code, this model is often true as well. There are countless tutorials out there to build apps. It’s not enough just to read them you have to build them too. Both take extraordinary amounts of time and it’s often exhausting. You could copy and paste code but that’ll only get you so far. You’ll forever be dependent on finding the perfect blog post to solver your specific problem.

So, learn something everyday and work hard everyday on what you learned.

Thoughts for Me

Again, I get caught up in learning very easily. It’s a quick and easy way to distract myself from doing things I’m learning. There’s a constant tug-of-war in my mind. Often the side that wins is the one that requires less of me. That’s what reading can become if I’m not careful.

The last month has been an incredible breakthrough for me. Writing so often has given me an outlet I’ve needed but I’m not yet satisfied. I’ll probably never be, honestly. I have a lot more room to grow and I’m working that out right now. For now, keep me accountable in actually working hard and not just reading/learning all the time.

Easy Saturday

We’ve been fairly busy recently but today we’re relaxing.

Sometimes it feels like the 24 hours we’re given in a day is not enough. Keeping busy is great, but it does wear on me. I’ve got a bad habit of retreating so the events during the week are good for me. Downtime is important, though—and it needs to be a priority or else I’ll crash.

Today I was able to get some yard work done and spend time with Sandy and our dog at the beach. Being out in the sun can be tiring as well, but it’s the good kind of tired. The weather is perfect right now and walking along the beach tossing the ball for Reagan is exactly what we’ve needed.

Now we’re home. We’re in the calm before the storm. We’re 10 days from the due date and soon we won’t have much time like this for ourselves. We know this because everyone tells us so! ? We think we’re ready for the challenge ahead. We can’t wait to meet the little one and bring her home.

Anyway, that’s it for today. Like Cube said,  “today was a good day”.