Category Archives: Sites

Tattly

My previous post concerned two Seth Godin posts that provided his insights about online business. Today’s post is about a year old online business success story, Tattly. In a nutshell, Tattly is:

my (Tina Roth Eisenberg) designy temporary tattoo business, is turning one! In the past year, we’ve shipped to over 90 countries, had over 15k orders, went from 15 designs a year ago to over 225 today

Tina’s little business isn’t curing cancer. She’s just putting a new spin on temporary tattoos by recruiting professional artists, producing a high quality product, and charming her customers. On the one year anniversary of Tattly she shares seven things she’s learned along the way, with these headings:

1. Never hesitate to challenge a status quo

2. Don’t outsource things you care about

3. Don’t be shy. Ask for advice. 

4. Grow a thick skin + hustle

5. Prepare for success

6. Being nice is the only option

7. Your team is everything 

You can read the expanded seven lessons at her website, Swissmiss (she’s Swiss born), to get her tips on starting an online business. It’s an interesting story.

Swissmiss is her design blog for her NYC based design studio. It’s an Interesting and fun to visit site. Give it a look.

 

What are your favorite sites?

Here’re 5 sites I check daily. They don’t have any connection to one another. I’m listing them in the order I think most people might “like to follow” to what “some people might find interesting sometimes.”

This post is related to one I wrote 6 weeks ago, “A Lot More,” addressing how I streamline my browsing by assigning sites to files I’ll visit  on an assigned day of the week (Monday through Friday) plus one file that I’ll check daily.

So these are 5 daily sites I think you might like too.

Kottke – Jason Kottke has been gleaning interesting stuff from all over the web for almost 15 years. From his About page: “…primarily written by Jason Kottke. The editorial direction of the site is all over the place but clusters around a pair of hand-wavy ideas: the liberal arts 2.0 and people are awesome.”

Seth Godin – From his Bio page: “Seth is the author of fourteen bestselling books that have changed the way people think about marketing, change and work. His books have been translated into more than 33 languages, and his ebooks are among the most popular ever published. His irrepressible speaking style and no-holds-barred blog have helped him create a large following around the world.” Seth blogs everyday and is at around 4,000 posts. Surprisingly, each post is worth a read.

Conditioning Research – This blog is written by a Scotsman, Chris Highcock. Chris’ posts are well-considered takes on, as his tagline says, “…interesting things about fitness, strength, diet and performance.” Food for thought.

Kool Tools – If you liked the “Whole Earth Catalog” you’ll like this site. Each day you can access new ideas and tools people submit. The submitter provides a short description of the tool and why they like it so much. The world is full of clever ideas and you’ll discover lots of ’em here.

From the tagline:  “A cool tool can be any book, gadget, software, video, map, hardware, material, or website that is tried and true. All reviews on are written by readers who have actually used the tool and others like it. Items can be either old or new as long as they are wonderful. Suggestions for tools much better than what is recommended here are always wanted.”

Seth Roberts –  Two Seths on one short blog list! This Seth is a psychology professor at Berkeley who tests his ideas about better living by using simple experiments on himself to find solution for sleep issues, acne, eating times… as his tagline says, “Personal Science, Self-Experimentation, Scientific Method.” Give this blog a chance, and something will capture your interest.

the small world and writing

I was surprised to find a fellow writer living on the same street I live on in Mexico. She just returned to Mexico; and while chatting, we stumbled across our common interest. We even use the same setup and general layout for our blogs. It really is a small world. If your keen, here’s her site.

She’s has been looking for a writer’s group, or to form one, in our town. There’re a few other people who might be interested. We’ll see.

Thinking about a writer’s group got me thinking about writing and what works for me and what I’ve gleaned that seems to work for other writers.

First, I suppose is to just do it. And just do it a lot. If you have a schedule or deadline set that helps. Don’t worry, you’ll come up with stuff to write about; have you ever gotten up in the morning and not had something to say? If you have stuff to talk about, you have stuff to write about.

That leads to the second thing about writing; which is the more you do it the easier it becomes to continue doing it. Sort of like forming a habit. And I guess it goes without saying that you have to enjoy writing or you won’t keep going.

Aim to make your writing interesting, or at least useful.

Why use a long word when a shorter one will do? And cut out extra words where you can.

The actual how of writing is pretty simple. Say it clearly.

The PaperNet

With the new year I started thinking about influences on my life. Here’s one of them.

B.F. Skinner once said “education is what remains after what you’ve learned has been forgotten.” This is an homage to the “The Whole Earth Catalog” (WEC) because exploring the world of ideas both big and small in the WEC was a huge part of my education.

When I was a young teen I stumbled across the WEC and it became my portal to a parallel universe. I grew up in a somewhat restrictive environment in the deep South. If you accepted and followed the status quo things were easy, if not, there weren’t alternatives that were presented or encouraged. At that time the WEC presented so many different ideas and access to those ideas that for me it was incredible. It was a paper version of the internet.

The WEC was a very large format paperback printed on coarse, unbleached paper which added to the experience of immersion into a big world of possibilities. There were tools, resources for independent study, and things that weren’t already common knowledge. If something was inexpensive, or high quality, and was readily available by mail, then there was a good chance it would show up in the WEC. It really was an immersive experience for me. You could follow threads of related information all over the catalog, for example hopping  from house design to info on owner built houses to the best tools to use and why they were preferred. Also accompanying each item were excerpts from submitters, staff reviewers and if it was a book, quotes. Plus the WEC was a book about other people doing other things.

From the first edition in 1968 to last incarnation of the Whole Earth Quarterly in 1998 updated editions came out every couple of years with more ideas and information. Now with the instant availability of info and links on the internet it’s hard to recall what a breath of fresh air the WEC was. Just looking through it you were sure to be waylaid by something new to investigate.

Of course with the internet there’s no real place for the WEC anymore. It almost seems quaint now up against the internet, the way a Farmer’s Almanac compares to the weather report on TV. But before there was an internet the WEC was where I was educated.

Teashop Takeaway Part II

Here’s the second part of my excerpts from the teashop video about “Life Management.” The primary speakers are Leo Babauta and Tim Ferriss.

You can check Friday’s post Teashop Takeaway (by scrolling below this post) for a longer introduction to them.

I’ve read many of their blogs over the years and a couple of their books as well. Neither of these guys was well know even three years ago. As they became successful writers, more people wanted slices of their pies. A pie really doesn’t get much bigger, you just have to cut thinner slices. So I’ve seen their ideas about life management evolve and morph with their circumstances. The foundations remained, but tweaks were made as they scraped the barnacles from the hull.

-Distractions – Simplify your life so you don’t have so many distractions. Try to eliminate as many distractions as you can. Then you need to become comfortable with letting small things go by the way. Let little bad things (say incurring a late fee) happen. Accept the small losses that allow you to focus on the one or two predetermined most important items.

-Time – There’ll always be more requests for your time than the time you have.

-Meetings – Avoid having meetings and conference calls. If you must have them, then set the agenda beforehand along with a start and end time and stick to it. Also, send out an email before the meeting to the participants sharing your goals and everyone can come in prepared.

-Slowness – Don’t fear slowness. Try building slow periods into your schedule. Really work to have dinners with three or more friends at least once a week. Doing this can help you appreciate things in real-time.

-Multiple Interests – Identity diversification is vital so you don’t become too attached to your work or any one thing. Find at least three things you can identify yourself with and try to set goals within each area.

-Deferring – Don’t defer things. Instead do or use things and appreciate them now. Cultivate an awareness of what’s important. By not deferring things, you’ll put yourself into the position of feeling that you’re living well.

-Gratitude – Try to express gratitude for what you think is good in your life. Once a week (or more) jot down three things in your life you’re grateful for. Appreciation is often a casualty of our modern quest for action.

-Introductions – When meeting someone new, try asking them, “What do you do when you aren’t working?” And see where the conversation goes.  It’ll be a more interesting start for you both than the common “What do you do?” This also touches on the identity diversification idea I was just talking about.

The ideas Leo and Tim share in the video cover lots of the broad categories they deal with in their writings. (Tim is actually trying to transition away from only being recognized as a life management writer, to become more associated with tweaking the human body’s performance).

If you want to get the gist of what Leo and Tim are about, you could watch the video and read my excerpts in under two hours saving yourself time and maybe money. I’m not saying to not read their stuff, I do and like it.

Teashop Takeaway

Recently, I watched a video of a panel disscussion that was shot in a San Francisco teashop. It was a public talk about “life management” featuring the shop owner and three guest speakers. Two of the guest speakers were Leo Babauta and Tim Ferriss and they provided the bulk of the interesting ideas.

Both of these guys have very popular blogs, generally addressing how to optimize your life, although each has a different presentation style. Looked at from a high school yearbook voting perspective, Leo would’ve been voted most likely to become a writer; and Tim would’ve been pigeonholed as most likely to succeed. You could imagine one is a tea drinker and the other a coffee drinker.

With success, they’ve risen in prominence and demands on their time have increased forcing them to more tightly focus on what works best to enable them to be productive while living non-harried lives.

Leo recently moved to San Francisco from Guam with his wife and six kids. Tim is a single San Franciscan and self-described as hyperactive in many endeavors with a penchant for traveling. They manage very different lives, plus each has to control their time eaters.

The video is an hour and a half long and most people won’t geek out for that long; so I’ll present what I think are some of their top takeaway ideas for making their lives better.

-Low Info Diet – To confront information overload, Tim deals with info on a “just in time” (only when info directly affects him) basis. This is in contrast to a  “just in case” style (taking in as much info as possible). Most situations covered by  high info consumption rarely arise. He says he “tries to get to the bottom of things, not stay on top of things.” If they miss something that’s important,  it’ll be brought to your attention as it bubbles to the surface in conversation.

– Keeping Up – The need to keep up with everything and everyone is self-created. If the expectation from other people is that you probably won’t get back to them generally they will not harass you unless it’s important.

-Single-tasking – You will have a saner and calmer life if you single-task. Do one thing end to end.

-Prioritizing – On getting things done, they both single-task, concentrating on getting the one, most important thing for that day done before doing anything else on their to-do-list. What is the most important thing to do? Probably the most uncomfortable one. Another test for importance is: if that one thing is the only thing you get done, you’ll feel your day’s still a success.

-Worrying – Worrying is not the same as preparing. The things most people worry about don’t usually even happen.

-Control – Everything is always changing, so try to give up trying to control things and be flexible instead.

-Slowness – Build-in or schedule slowness into your week and have those blocks of time become fixed, with other activities coming second. For example, Tim will not change a hike or dinner date if there are three or more friends getting together. These built-in times also act as a bracket, creating an ending point for the day.

-Big Shots – With success, Tim found he’s been welcomed into rarefied business circles,  there he’s been surprised how most of the hyper-successful individuals are relaxed and casual in most of their life dealings, able to concentrate on “the one most important” task in a day and accomplish it. These people weren’t the frazzled people you might imagine; being overwhelmed doesn’t fix anything, you need to have clear priorities.

-Routines – Develop routines, rituals, and routines to simplify your life. Routines will save your limited decision-making time since you won’t have those routine decisions to make.

-Habits – You’ll need to do something new at least five times before it will set in  as a habit, and stop just being an experiment. People generally respond to a better habit.

-Motivation – Rather than having to depend on discipline, motivation works as a better incentive. If you know your friend is waiting for you to go for a walk, you’re more likely to do it.

-Focus – Focus on your breathing to help you see what’s going on right now since your breathing is a constant and an easy thing to latch onto to bring yourself back to the present.

Lots of good stuff here I think. Too much for one post, so Tuesday I’ll post the second half.  If you like the ideas so far, give the video a look in case I missed some points that might mean more to you.


Useful Exercise

This is my first post about exercise. I’m only going to be presenting exercises I do and have found to be worthwhile.

But here’s the thing – the best exercise is, really, the one you like to do and that you’ll do (consistently). I’m starting out with an exercise that I think is useful and fun.

OK, there’re people exclusively doing  just this exercise and getting good results. I like it because it’s easy, quick, cheap, and leaves you prepared for real world activities like shoveling your driveway. All you really need is a sledgehammer. That’s right, a sledgehammer.

If you don’t have one, you can buy one easily enough. Better, borrow one from a neighbor who has lots of tools. A sledgehammer is a tool most people don’t use very often and so your neighbor probably won’t mind lending it to you to try this out.

Commonly, sledgehammers have heads ranging from eight to twelve pounds. Err on the light side. Eight or ten pounds is plenty. The ten pounder I use is pictured above. I painted bands on the handle so I could easily put my hands in the same position when switching sides.

Before I get to the particulars, I want to say I also like the way sledgehammers look and since they stand on their head with the handle up – they have a small footprint. So, in your office, spare bedroom, or garage it can be set in the corner when not in use; it looks cool and is easy to grab for a little workout. Of course it easily lives in a closet too.

The site shovelglove is the site I credit with putting me onto using a sledgehammer for exercise. Shovelglove’s Reinhard Engels says the genesis of using a sledgehammer workout began with this memory: “I remembered reading something in some French novel about coal shovelers having the best abdominal muscles of anyone the author had ever seen.”

His workouts consist of a 14 minute (timed) session Monday through Friday during which he uses his sledgehammer to mimic shoveling, paddling, hammering, and butter churning motions to name a few. You can make up your own motions. Do it on both right and left sides. And you’re done in less than 15 minutes which he sees as the shortest normally scheduled chunk of time. Checkout the shovelglove site to see videos.

You can listen to music, watch TV, wear whatever you like, and you’re done in a short time.

I use the sledgehammer this way too. But I enjoy other types of exercise (Engels doesn’t) so to be transparent, I want to say I use a sledgehammer workout to augment other exercises. For me, it’s part of a mix. But I think as a stand alone routine it’s great.

You might ask, what about actually beating on things with a sledgehammer, that’d be fun? You can and people do. Get an old tire and get medieval on it. But you’re going to need more room, have to do it outside and since it’s a faster motion you run a risk of injury.

And soon when the time arises that you need to shovel your driveway or drive a stake into the ground for the big top you’ll be ready.

Good Business, Bad Business

Lots of articles, blogs, and books have been written about business. I’ve read some of them and the “takeaway” message from most investigations boils down to this: cheerfully give people more than they expect. This seems to be the foundation of successful businesses large and small.

Here’s something that happened to a good friend of mine, Rick. His laptop PC was old, underpowered and overloaded – time for an upgrade. Planning on being in rural Mexico for the Winter, Rick was trying to sort out a new laptop to buy before heading South .

There’s an Apple store near his house in the States and after a few visits he became enchanted with MacBooks.

But, when he finally pulled the trigger, he reasoned a $700 PC laptop would do the trick. So he ordered one online. It showed up and he unpacked it. He studied it for a couple of minutes and putzed around on it for a few more. Then he repacked it, sent it back, ate the $70 restocking fee, and bought the MacBook he’d been eying.

He’s happy now. And as always, I’m sure quality will be remembered long after the price is forgotten. So far, he feels like he was cheerfully given more than he expected. He’ll be heading to Mexico soon and his computer is something he doesn’t have to worry about.

I use a Macbook too but am in no way associated with Apple. And I know folks who’re happy with their PC’s. I’m just trying to provide an example. Sure, Apple is known for its catchy ad campaigns and innovative products, but I think the true key to their success has been consistently providing their customers with more than promised.

Here’s an example toward the other end of the customer satisfaction spectrum. Generally speaking, when surfing the internet, we expect free content. So having to pay to look at content drives traffic away and reduces the spreading of that site’s ideas, and restricts the site’s following too.

Arthur De Vany is an accomplished academic in economics and an early proponent of a lifestyle based on an evolutionary perspective. If you go to his website you’ll be frustrated by having to pay $39/yr to see most of his site’s content. Maybe he has lots of subscribers but he’d have a much larger following if it were free. And now, from what I could see, he has a book coming out. He’d wind up selling a lot more books if his site was free because he’d have tons more traffic. I’d guess selling more books would generate more income than charging $39/yr for content on the internet.

There’re probably some people paying to see Art’s material. And maybe his site would exceed my expectations, unfortunately, my expectation is free content so I guess I’ll never know.

My Latest Time Sink

My latest time sink is a site called EDC. That stands for “everyday carry.” The site is a Tumblr style blog of photos and comments on what people carry around in their pockets. The photo above, which I put together, shows what the EDC posts generally look like. I don’t carry all that crap around but if you’re to believe EDC, some people do tote around lots of things in their pockets. I’m not sure why but I think you’ll get sucked in, voyeuristically viewing similar yet different collections of gear sent in by who knows who.

There’s a not too subtle butch overtone to the items depicted. My guess from looking at the gear displayed, is that it’s mainly a dude thing. As one commenter on the site said    “… it seems like every other contributor is a sneak-attack-ninja-catburglar.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. But I’m drawn in anyway and maybe it’s because of that element, I can’t tell.

There’s a reoccurring pattern to most of the photos – usually at least one knife, a wallet, keys of some sort, a cell phone, a wrist watch and a flashlight. Sometimes there are shockingly large knives. Judging the owners based on the photos they send in, I wouldn’t think they’d be the type to use a man-bag but I can’t imagine how else they’d move through daily life with the arsenals on display in the pictures.

I’m always fascinated by subcultures and within this one there are sub-subcultures to be found and explored. One of those seems to be an obsession with small LED flashlights bordering on fetishism. These flashlights are anodized (usually black), beautifully machined,  powerful little masterpieces. They cost between $50 and $200. But really, wouldn’t a headlight be better, leaving both hands free to engage in your “sneak-attack-ninja-catburglar” thing? To be fair, I do remember one submission that was practical showing just a knife, wristwatch, and headlight (with a night vision saving red lens!). He struck me as the real deal.

I’m not sure what it is, but my guess is the feature photo of  the EDC site is a picture looking into the reflector cone of a flashlight.

There’s also a sub-subculture revolving around pens. And of course there’s the focus on (usually folding) knives for everyday carry. Some of these “pocketknives” are so expensive it’s hard to imagine the owner using his damascus steel blade to pry out a box staple or slice into a UPS overnight envelope containing the latest mini-flashlight model. It’s a little like saying “I’m taking the Lamborgini over to pick up the kids from school.”

It turns out there are other sites covering more or less the same genre. There’s something for everybody on the internet. I prefer this one, maybe only because it’s the first one I stumbled across.

I’ve always said “time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” If you’re interested, visit  http://everyday-carry.com/ but be prepared to waste some time.