Self-taught vs. Formal Education

Hey y'all. I can say y'all because I worked for a Texas-based company for a year, and frankly, it saves time.

I want to talk about how we learn today. My chief idol is perhaps the greatest learner of our generation, Tim Ferriss. Tim's value prop isn't in a particular discipline, but in creating frameworks for skill acquisition or human acceleration.

Some of these tactics include the Pareto Principle, questions like "How would this look if it were easy" and seeking out experts that can point out common newb mistakes.

One question I often explore personally is how do I learn? Do I do better in a self-study framework where I'm teaching myself? Do I do better in a formal, slightly competitive environment? It's certainly motivating to have people around you at various nearby levels of expertise. I loved loved loved my intermediate javascript class run by General Assembly. Is there some combination of the two that's ideal?

Another wrinkle to this learning puzzle is subject matter as well...I try to learn a lot of different things at various times. For example, right now I'm interested in learning:

  1. Growth Marketing for eCommerce
  2. How to start an eCommerce business
  3. How to build a brand
  4. Blockchain for Behavior Design (including Behavior Design models)
  5. Low-level Javascript
  6. HTML/CSS + Liquid for Shopify

Wow, that was a lot to write down, lol. Ok....more coming soon.


3 benefits of wearing the same shirt everyday

Wow, it's been a while since I last posted.

In any case, I've been running a new experiment and wanted to jot down a few thoughts.

This new experiment is inspired by the big Z, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg who implemented this a long time ago --> wearing the same outfit every day. I read Marie Kondo's book The Magical Art of Tidying Up a few months ago and got a huge benefit from cleansing my wardrobe.

I'd been thinking about ways to simplify my life and take things away to add value, as most times I try to add more. I figured since I didn't do much for my birthday, it was a perfect time to buy 10-15 of the same t-shirt and take closet simplification to the next level.

What would happen if I wore the same shirt every day?

Well, as it turns out, not very much, which is amazing. I almost forget that I'm doing this deliberately anymore. Easily the best part is that I always like what I'm wearing. If I like a shirt I like it. So everyday, I put on something I'm happy with.

Secondly, I don't have to think. Some people enjoy putting together a sexy outfit everyday. I care far more about what I accomplish at work, if I get a workout in, if I eat right etc... So as Noah Kagan would say, I'm focusing on the essentials. 

Third and last, I am going to save a TON of money. Each shirt cost me $9.90 at Uniqlo, and I bought 10 of them. With another 10, I think I could get rid of every other short sleeve I own. There's no temptation to get anything else, it's so easy and black and white. Well actually, the shirts are a dark blue.

Add any pants. Shoes. And I'm out the door!

If anyone else tries this, I'd be super curious to hear your thoughts.

Signing off,

#TeamHealth and #TeamWealth



500 Startups - Day 10

SALES! Something I've actually done before :) 

We had a workshop last week on B2B Sales - as taught by our resident partnerships expert, Rob. 

Right off the bat, I was impressed by Rob's energy and public speaking ability. He really is a seasoned sales guy and I think understands the marketplace really well. I'm strongly of the opinion that you can't be a "business guy" in Silicon Valley, unless you want to always occupy the bottom of the totem pole. As such, I do think there still are non-technical people who do really well, and being a rainmaker is one.

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500 Startups - Day 9

Clearly, I'm behind.

My bad guys. Let me give you some first impressions of 500, 9 days in. 

The program is super diverse, whether its the kind of business (home furnishings to on-demand lawn care), the geography (California to Bangkok), the teams (20yo - 50yo), everything. Its VERY apparent, deliberate and makes for some interesting conversations. 

Everyone here is in a hurry, in a good way. I think they kind of try to strike fear in your heart - like "DEMO DAY IS COMING". There are certain numbers that everyone is aspiring to have so they can raise a solid round of capital at the end. 

The space overall, is really nice, as per above. The office is located right in Downtown Mountain View, 444 Castro Street. Close to all Mtn View 'spots' which, admittedly there are not that many of. It was recently totally remodeled, so all the conference rooms are super new and well equipped, I'm digging the open workspace because its social and it kind of reminds me of Goldman. One of the few cool things there.

The office itself has a big staff - the 500 staff. Way more people than I expected. We all get a POC (point of contact) and a distribution POC (you can guess this) to help us focus on growth. We also have all kinds of staff, neatly organized into a spreadsheet, with various areas of expertise. The ones I'm focused on connecting with are in growth marketing - which is basically like how to grow your business from behind a computer. In so far as I can tell. 

Events range in frequency, but almost nothing is mandatory. You go to what you think is helpful and relevant - for me, that was almost everything. I will do another post about learnings so far, I think thematically it will be quite different than this one. Examples of talks we've had so far are: Design Sprints: What are they and how to do them, Building a Growth Machine, The One Metric that Matters and A/B Testing 101.

I'm feeling really good, everyone is cool, helpful, nice, perhaps a little nerdier than I'm used to from finance (maybe I'm nerdier than I'm used to) and lots and lots of talented engineers. I think the social calendar is going to start picking up a lot as we get to know each other and get deeper into each other's businesses and ways to help. I have to say, the 500 network really goes deep and wide. And everyone is trying to help everyone else. Sort of the direct opposite of the culture that Wall Street fostered. It's late, I'm SO behind in publishing so f*** it this thing is going up.

In short, the program really boils down to 2 things: grow & raise money.

500 Startups - Day 0

Alright, well ... here goes nothing. I've told you all that I would write this blog about my experience at 500 Startups, and that's what I intend to do! I have to say, I am pretty excited. I thought this would be a good way to warm up before I'm forcing myself to write every day, so here are a few of my thoughts going into the program:

  1. I'm really glad we arrived early. Our townhouse, though in a great location, had a bunch of cat dander lying around which literally (is that a pun?) made the couch unusable. Thank you Stanley Steamer for finally blasting that thing and getting it clean. 
  2. I'm feeling prepared from a health perspective. As many of you know, working out is really important to me. I arrived here and was immediately able to plug into the nearby 24 Hour Fitness (which is like 5 minutes away) and I also joined Title Boxing for some cardio and something to do on the off days. After 5 days of consistent workouts, I'm feeling healthy and strong and ready to really go through the ringer. It's at least the right kind of momentum ... I know 5 days isn't that long!!
  3. I missed the Bay Area. I have a lot of friends here, both Stanford and otherwise. It is really cool to be back.
  4. I am really not sure what to expect out of this program. I know its an incubator, I know its run by some pretty important people and I expect it to get really intense. My goals are pretty generic ... learn as much as I can (and write about those learnings here) and then to meet as many people as I can. I love making new friends. And to build up our company to the numeric goals we've outlined, just hustle & grind & be consistent.

I also forgot to get my haircut in time, so I have been ironically wearing my hunting hat (I know nothing about hunting) to still be cool. Here is me, looking determined, ready to conquer the world. Ever Forward.