The art of proactive budgeting

I’ve been thinking about the tools and practices that have made my life easier in the past few years, and one of the big ones is budgeting.

Now, usually when people use the word “budget”, it is met with a lifeless, ambivalent reaction.

To me, however, budgeting has become a word that doesn’t only apply to money.

To me, budgeting is a synonym for words like preparation, anticipation, and organization.

And usually there is no stigma attached to any of these words, because they tend to be indicative of responsibility.

I mean, would you ever really criticize a coworker for being organized?

How about the goalie who anticipates where the puck is heading?

The accountant who has carefully prepared your taxes?

To budget, whether it’s your time, money, or some other finite resource, is a skill that requires you to be organized, prepared, and anticipatory.

To those who haven’t spent a minute of their lives budgeting, these words may seemingly have no connection with budgeting.

After all, when I login to, everything is prepared for me.

I see where my money is being spent, and I can visualize my budget with pretty bar charts and graphs.

But to me, this actually isn’t budgeting at all.

Everything about is reactive.

“Oh shit, I spent $500 dining out this month!?”

That’s a reaction to something that has already taken place.

Sure, you could argue that having this information consolidated and laid out with fancy visuals is organized, but clearly you hadn’t prepared or anticipated spending $500 at restaurants.

Does this mean that is a useless tool?

No, it does not.

But it does mean that is not really budgeting.

Enter: Zero-Based Budgeting

Zero-based budgeting will blow your mind once you understand its value.

The concept does require a severe mindset shift, but once you get over that hump it can be a pretty big game-changer.

It has been for me, at least.

Basically, a finite resource must have each of its parts allocated completely before those resources are exhausted.

Let’s use the example of a cake at a birthday party…

If you have 10 guests who all want a slice of cake, you obviously would need to cut the cake into at least 10 equal slices.

This is pretty common sense.

You’d start cutting the cake, with the first slice being no bigger than 1/10 of the cake. Of course, it may end up being smaller or bigger than the next slice if you didn’t actually cut exactly 1/10 of the cake with the first slice.

This is reactive budgeting.

You cut (or allocated) the first slice of the cake, but the next slice’s size will not be 1/10 the size of the cake. It will be a little bit more, or a little bit less, depending on whether you over-cut the first slice or not.

Budgeting proactively would be using the knife’s edge to outline all 10 slices of the cake before actually cutting the cake.

Essentially, you’ve budgeted out the entire cake before you even started cutting each slice, one-by-one.

OK, so maybe this isn’t the best analogy I could have drawn up, so I apologize if you’re completely lost.

The point I’m trying to make is that the anticipation, organization, and preparation are key components to successful budgeting.

I recently realized the power of proactive budgeting when it comes to managing my time.

I’ve been using the Best Self journal for a couple weeks now, and one of my favorite parts of the journal is the daily planner pages.

From 6am-10pm, you are expected to fill in every 30-minute time slot of the day with what you’ll be doing that day.

While this may seem tedious (it is), I’ve found the benefits to exceed the costs significantly.

I don’t waste as much time thinking about the most important things I should be working on sporadically throughout the day.

Instead, I have a roadmap for exactly what I’ll be doing in a day.

And it doesn’t have to be rigid.

If I haven’t budgeted enough time for a certain task and decide to keep working on it, thus encroaching on another task’s time block, that’s ok.

I’m rolling with the punches.

A budget doesn’t have to be punitive.

Good budgets are merely rough blueprints for how we allocate finite resources.

In fact, my definition above sounds a whole lot like the definition of economics, but I digress.

For me, the anticipation part is still a challenge.

Shit loves to fly in from different directions, unannounced.

Dentist bills. Dirty floors that need to be swept. Clothes that need to be washed. Yearly auto insurance premiums.

It takes a lot of practice to anticipate the shit life throws at us.

But hey, I’m personally not gonna stop working at it.

How bout you?

This week’s obsession: The Enneagram

A couple of weeks ago, I was introduced to The Enneagram, an ancient personality and psyche assessment system.

The system is based on 9 basic personality types. They are the following:

  1. The Perfectionist (aka Reformer)
  2. The Helper
  3. The Achiever
  4. The Individualist
  5. The Investigator
  6. The Loyalist
  7. The Enthusiast
  8. The Challenger
  9. The Peacemaker
The Enneagram with Riso-Hudson type names. Image courtesy of: The Enneagram Institute

The more specific characteristics of each of these personality types can be read about here.

Now, what’s cool about this particular “personality test” is its fluid nature. In other words, you are not expected to be 100% of any of these basic personality types.

In fact, you will probably find that you have a little bit of each of these personalities in you.

Does this make the test bogus? Pseudoscience?

Personally, I don’t think so, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that the Enneagram does not put you in a box.

I am not merely a One/perfectionist. I am mostly a One.

There are no absolutes in this system. And to me, absolutes are what merit skepticism.

So far, I’ve had a good chunk of my friends and family take the Enneagram test to see if their basic personality types are consistent with the things I think I already know about them.

And the results will shock you (click here to find out more)…

In all seriousness, I was pretty amazed by the accuracy of the test in pinning the basic personality types that I expected of a few of my friends.

Sure, initially I didn’t know much about any of the nine personality types (aside from my own, a One), but after more reading and new personality types emerging in my friends’ results, I started to learn more.

Now I’m at the point where I can somewhat accurately guess which personality type my friends and family are, before they even take the test.

I know I won’t be right all the time, but it’s fun to focus on the stuff that goes beyond the surface.

Everything can be categorized.

That’s worth repeating…

Everything can be categorized.

And that includes complex human beings. Don’t be so arrogant to think that you are too complex to be categorized into 1 of 9 categories.

Nobody is saying you are 100% anything.

It’s your choice to decide how much of your basic personality you agree with, but don’t forget that you were the one who answered the initial questions whose algorithm categorized your type.

The only thing you should be dubious about is whether you were categorized accurately or not, which is mostly contingent on how honest your answers were in the initial Enneagram test.

Forgive the tangent, but this is me responding to one of my skeptical friends, who didn’t even read anything about his personality type after getting his result, but immediately called the test bogus.

That’s fine. You do you.

But I will tell you that most of what I’ve read about my type and my friends’ types have been consistent with what I know about them as individuals, and this includes how the various personality types interact with each other.

For example, V is a 7, I am a 1, and when I read the description of the relationships between 7s and 1s my jaw nearly hit the floor.

Again, it wasn’t 100% accurate. Almost nothing is.

Can we agree on this?

But if something is 90% true, then it will usually be credible enough for me.

This is the Enneagram test I took.

Feel free to drop a comment with your personality type. I’d love to hear your thoughts on its accuracy and whether it has helped you understand yourself and/or relationships better.

My Notes and Takeaways from Craft + Commerce 2018

So much information was shared and consumed this past weekend in Boise at Craft + Commerce 2018.

The Convertkit (now Seva) team did an incredible job keeping each of us entertained, engaged, surprised, and inspired throughout the entire weekend, and it really doesn’t surprise me considering the company culture they’ve created.

The best part of the weekend however, was the connections I made with other entrepreneurs in a similar line of work.

While some of us had nothing in common in terms of personality, simply being on a similar journey can create powerful relationships.

I don’t usually meet people who understand what I’m doing, so it was incredibly refreshing answering the question of “what I do” with confidence, all weekend long.

On top of this, I met people who travel hack, use YNAB, practice Krav Maga, and engage in other random hobbies I obsess over on a day-to-day basis.

This was super-cool for me, because none of the people in my real life have much interest in any of these things.

So in the interest of giving you prospective Craft + Commerce attendees some substance, let me share some of my notes and takeaways from this excellent conference for online creators.

And who knows, maybe some of you who attended the 2018 conference could chime in with your notes in the comments section below. I think it would be helpful to consolidate as many ideas for the weekend as possible, especially while it’s still fresh on our minds.


Early-bird dinner & drinks meetup

This dinner was my introduction to the conference and the moment I realized I had found my people.

Holy shit.

Amongst those at my table, there was so much intersection between the things each of us do. On top of this, everybody was humble, friendly, and helpful.

Early morning pickup basketball

This was the meetup I hosted at 6:30am on Friday.

I was the only one to show up, but I didn’t take it too personally since I figured most people at the conference: a) did not bring basketball shoes b) did not want to wake up at the asscrack of dawn c) did not like basketball, or d) had not arrived in Boise yet.

Still, I had a great time hooping it up with a bunch of locals, and I plan to host the meetup again next year, regardless of whether anyone at the conference actually shows up.

But you should show up next year 😛

YouTube creators meetup

Before the conference began on Friday, I attended a YouTube creators conference organized by one of the conference attendees, Charlie King.

There were over 20 people at the meetup, which was both awesome and unexpected!

I got to sit at a table with several experienced YouTubers, as well as a couple folks who were looking to get started on YouTube.

The first huge piece of information I got out of the meetup is that if you want to schedule a video to publish on a certain date and time, but not right when you upload it, you can set the video to “private” instead of “unlisted” (which is what I typically do) in order to have it published at a future date and time.

HUGE! Thanks, Paul!

I was also curious to know how others deal with updating their poorly created videos of the past, because I have several of them.

The burning question for me was: do you delete the old version of the video once you create it?

Several people chimed in to suggest that I keep the old video up, but link to the new video with a card and a URL in the video’s description.

A couple other notes I took:

  • The content subject matters more than the production and editing
  • Live video is good training for being more efficient

Thanks to Charlie for putting together such a useful, organized meetup! Honestly, it felt like a well-organized workshop.

If anybody else has notes from this meetup, please share in the comments below and I’ll add them in.

Convertkit (Seva) Feedback Workshop

After the YouTube meetup, I headed over to the Convertkit (now Seva) feedback meetup, where we got to provide direct product feedback to Nathan, Seva’s CEO, and other members of their team.

A few of the suggestions I made:

  • Allow users to add a broadcast email to the front (or end) of a sequence after it has been sent.
    • The intention behind this would be to create an evergreen newsletter more easily
  • Allow users to exclude subscribers from broadcasts if they are part of any sequence
    • The intention behind this is to ensure that those subscribers who are part of a current email sequence, are not bombarded by additional broadcast emails.
  • Provide live classes on the web
    • Since Seva has somewhat of a steep learning curve, I suggested that live webinars may be helpful for those who are looking to learn the software.
  • Notifications when a rule breaks
    • The automated rules are great, but they can be intimidating to work with. It would be great if users were notified when a new rule or automation breaks another rule/automation.

Unfortunately, I can’t remember what else we discussed beyond the notes I put down.

If anybody else has notes from this meetup, please share in the comments below and I’ll add them in.

It’s weird not writing Convertkit anymore.

Kinda like how I’m now going to have to refer to Google AdWords as Google Ads.


Main Stage Talks

Below are my notes and takeaways from the main stage talks throughout the weekend. Sorry, I realize I didn’t get everything.

Pat Flynn – The Riches are in the Niches

Serve First

I’m a huge Pat Flynn fanboy, even if I didn’t necessarily show it this weekend (I was too shy to have any in-depth conversations with him). Not getting past my shyness was probably my biggest regret of the weekend, but my guess is that we will someday cross paths again and I’ll have a chance to redeem myself.

Pat, if you ever read this, let’s get some hoops going at the next conference!


Pat had an entertaining opening presentation on the power of “showing up”, “serving first”, and “staying weird”.

The presentation was titled “The Riches are in the Niches” on the conference agenda, but I don’t recall any specific references to this mantra he often cites in his content.

He opened the talk by reading a children’s book called Llama Llama Red Pajama, before eventually showing the audience Ludacris’ rendition:

The point I think Pat was making in showing this video is that we all have our own unique voice and there are people out there who want to hear it.

“There are no unique messages, only unique messengers.”

“Put more you into your creations”

“Creations aren’t for us, they’re for who we serve”

The anecdotal anchor of the talk was the God Bless You Man, a homeless man named Dwight who used to panhandle around the UC Berkeley (B-town represent!) campus, saying “god bless you” to every passerby.

Dwight exemplified what Pat believes is important to creating a powerful online business.

He showed up. He served first (by offering kind words to strangers). And he put his unique spin on his work.

Overall, the talk was well-executed, even though the takeaways weren’t necessarily new to me (did I mention I’m a Pat Flynn fanboy?).

Jay Ferruggia – Superconnected

Jay’s talk had a lot of good advice in his talk, despite not using any slides or other interactive elements.

My notes:

  • People skills is the #1 thing in business
    • Make people skills your #1 priority for the next 90 days
  • Shift your focus from an internal focus to an external focus (similar theme to Pat’s “serve your audience”)
  • Entertain, inform, persuade
  • Treat your passion as a business
  • Always follow-up within 48 hours
  • Take improv classes
  • Set goals and track your personal record
  • Act your way into thinking differently
  • Always take the reins
  • Always end the conversation
  • Get someone’s info, and set up a date
  • When speaking to someone, focus on pitch, pace, tone, melody, and volume

Jay is clearly a guy who has overcome a lot of adversity to get where he is, and he delivered his talk with a good balance of wisdom and humor.

Oneika Raymond – Living Life with No Regrets: How I Turned my Passion for Travel into a Paycheck

Oneika Raymond gave an inspiring talk on her transformation from full-time teacher to full-time traveler.

Though she was getting paid well teaching privileged children abroad, she was tired of living her life on a countdown, staring at the clock, waiting for Friday to come around.

Now she gets paid to travel the world, and the following is what she said helped get her there:

  1. Identify your gifts and strengths
  2. Monetize & identify a need
  3. Identify trends, upgrade skills, and learn new ones accordingly
  4. Create content like crazy & build up a portfolio
  5. Be your own PR
  6. Create content with your customer in mind
  7. Entertain, inform, persuade
  8. Treat your passion as a business

Corey Willis – Who Says No to Happy Hour?: How I Took Back My Life When My Business Was Taking Over

Prioritize tasks based on ROI

Corey Willis had one of my favorite talks of the day, perhaps because a lot of what she talked about specifically addressed some of my biggest challenges.

She told the story about how she grew a blog about interior design while juggling her commitments as a mom.

  1. Focus your content
  2. Define your brand promise
  3. Focus your time
  4. Create work hours
  5. Prioritize tasks based on ROI & Batch Your Work
  6. Schedule in weekly catch-up time

I found Corey’s advice especially useful, because I have a particularly hard time prioritizing what to work on and batching out various tasks.

I have a feeling she is a fan of Cal Newport’s Deep Work, though she didn’t explicitly cite it.

#5 on her list seems to be especially important for me.

Maya Elious – Being “Fearless” is a Myth: How To Use Fear To Level Up In Business

I loved Maya’s presentation – the message was both simple and powerful.

Sometimes you need to take on opportunities before you figure out how to actually get the job done.

At each stage in her growing career, Maya took on new problems before she actually knew how to solve them.

One example of this was getting hired to build a website before she even knew how to build a website.

Her point: you may be fearful of growth and the next stage in your business, but this fear is the exact thing that will help get you to the next level.

Fear is a feeling that should be sought out.

Casey Neistat – How to be Heard in a Noisy World

Casey needed no introduction to most of those in attendance.

He has a massive YouTube following and has arguably one of the most successful channels out there.

I need to go back and review his actual talk, but if there’s one thing I took away from it, it’s that we need to show up consistently if we’re ever going to create high-quality content.

Casey is prolific, to say the least.

But he also creates every one of his videos from a place of passion. And without this, it’s tough to get where you want to go as a creator.

Casey Neistat on YouTube

Nathan Barry – Why the future belongs to creators

Nathan Barry, Convertkit’s founder and CEO showed off some new features and announced that Convertkit is officially changing its name to Seva, which means “selfless service”.

You can learn more about the change here.

Charli Prangley – From 0 – 100k in 5 Years

Another one of the highlight main stage talks in my opinion came from YouTuber, Charli Prangley.

Her advice was not only practical, but she delivered it in a humble and entertaining way.

My notes:

  • You don’t need to be a video pro
  • Set aside time every week to produce, edit, and upload (~3 hours)
  • Write a mission statement for your channel
  • It takes time to get people to care
  • Make a human connection
  • Serve your audience first
  • Stay true to you
  • It’s easy to get started, harder to keep going

Charli Prangley on YouTube

Mary Shenouda – Inspiration is Bullshit

I didn’t jot down too many notes from this talk because I was pretty focused on Mary Shenouda’s story.

The one thing I did write down during Mary’s talk though was very impactful for me:

“What an honor for your clients to get to work with you

Bob Clagett – We can’t all be brain surgeons

This guy’s YouTube channel is awesome, to say the least. Inspiring to see what he’s built by staying true to his interests.

My notes:

  • Collaborate with other channels
  • We need both specialists and generalists
  • You have permission to be a Swiss army knife
  • Find your “why”

Cathryn Lavery – Building a Global Brand From Zero to Eight Figures in 24 Months

Another highlight main stage speaker for me was Cathryn Lavery.

She used her own company and others as a case study for how to build an unforgettable experience for your customers.

The examples were excellent, as she cited how major brands like Apple and Starbucks have capitalized on optimizing the customer experience to catapult themselves to the top of their respective industries.

The cherry on top was that Cathryn generously shared her slides with us after the conference.

Best Self was a sponsor of this year’s conference, and quite honestly, it felt nothing of the sort. They provided us with a ton of value not only with Cathryn’s great talk, but our own copies of the SELF Journal in our swag bags.

Chad Collins – Why Now is the Best Time to Create a Live Event

I had the chance to meet Chad Collins and his wife at breakfast over the weekend of the conference, and their story was amazing to say the least.

They organize massive live events for families with interests in things like LEGO and Minecraft.

The more he shared about the business, the quicker I realized what genius marketing is involved to pull it off. In fact, if I tried to reiterate here I’d probably butcher it, so I’m not gonna even try.

How to Get Lucky – Courtland Allen

Courtland closed out the conference with a great talk on how luck should not only be acknowledged for its arbitrary nature, but also accepted as something that we have the ability to control more than we may think.

I mean, I could be completely off the mark, but it seemed Courtland was not trying to completely downplay his accomplishments in selling to Stripe, as humble as he may be.

The talk was excellent, but for some reason I didn’t take any notes.

I do however, remember his story about emailing everybody he interviewed on his podcast, Indie Hackers, asking them to share the episode with their audience when it went live.

This alone was a huge piece of marketing advice delivered in an overall very entertaining presentation.

Indie Hackers Podcast


Some of the workshops of the weekend were interactive, while others felt more like full-on talks. Still, I think I was able to get a lot out of each workshop I attended.

Claire Pellertreau & Tony Rulli – How To Have Your Facebook Ads Pay For Themselves: Creating an effective tripwire Facebook ad campaign (Workshop)

This was the first workshop I attended at Craft + Commerce 2018, and it was excellent.

I originally attended the workshop with the intention of learning more about how I can potentially expand my Search and Perch service offerings to Facebook ads, but I left with a great blueprint for a funnel I can create for Coffee Concierge.

The workshop walked us through coming up with several “tripwire” offers that we can start pitching to our ideal audience, with the intention of moving them down the funnel towards higher level products and services.

The workshop was especially helpful for me because it forced me to really think about who my ideal audience is, what their interests are, and what their #1 problem is that my eBook solves.

I came away from the workshop deciding I would sell my current eBook at a lower price as my tripwire offer, and then offer an accompanying video course down the line as a higher level offer.

We also came up some other potential “higher level” offers I could sell down the line.

Super-helpful workshop…thanks, Claire & Tony!

Mariah Coz and Megan Minns – Building a Framework and Launch Plan for Your Online Course

This was an extremely detailed presentation on how to launch an online course.

Mariah and Megan were incredibly generous with the actionable framework they provided.

They opened with a useful quote:

“Launching is a dialogue”

You can’t launch a course without communicating with your prospective customers, so keeping the dialogue open is critical to your launch’s success.

Start the conversation with your audience, and keep it going throughout.

At the end of the launch, you’ll want to use two genuine scarcity tactics to spring your prospects into action:

  1. Increase the price
  2. Close the cart

They call their launches 5DL, which stands for “five day launch”. Here’s what it looks like:

Five Day Launch

Email 1: What’s Your Why?

Ask your prospect what their why is. Why do they want to solve the problem that you offer the potential solution for?

In my case: why do my readers want to make better coffee at home?

Are they tired of wasting money at Starbucks? Do they want to cut back on their sugar intake and learn to drink their coffee black?

Ask at the end of the email what your prospects’ “why” is after sharing your own personal “why”.

Email 2: Why Now is the Best Time to Start

Explain to your prospect why now is the best time to address the problem they face.

What makes this the right time to learn to make better coffee at home?

Email 3: Milestones: How I got from A to B, One Step at a Time

Share your story of how you transformed from someone like your prospective buyer, into someone like yourself (the expert).

Email 4: Cart Open

Announce that your course is now for sale, and outline exactly what your course offers.

Email 5:  Why You Sucked at This and Failed Before

Describe a familiar situation that relates to the failure of solving the problem your course looks to solve.

In my case: the reason you were unable to stop adding sugar to your coffee before is because you were buying new coffee makers expecting them to automagically fix the problem.

The truth is, coffee makers are not the reason your coffee is tasting bad.

Email 6: A Case Study

Share a story of someone successfully solving their problem by using your course.

Email 7: Mistakes I See People Make, and How To Avoid Them

Share the common mistakes and misconceptions of your audience, and how to avoid them.

This seems like a more detailed version of email #5, but maybe somebody can chime in with the distinction by leaving a comment below.

Email 8: Last Chance for Early-Bird Pricing

This email simply serves as a final reminder to act now before the price goes up.

Email 9: Where Will You Be 6 Months from Now?

Describe the full transformation of your prospective customer.

“You’ll be drinking black coffee at home every single day, wondering how you could have ever spent so much coffee on Starbucks, and consumed so much unnecessary cream and sugar.”

Email 10: What’s Holding You Back?

Start the email with what held you, the course creator, back from making your transformation.

Then ask: what’s holding you back from getting started?

Email 11: Last Day FAQ

Compile and answer all of the frequently asked questions from your audience regarding this course.

This happens on the cart-close day.

Email 12: Final Reminder – Last Chance to Enroll

This is the last email you will send during the launch itself. It’s a final reminder that the cart will be closing at X:00 on Friday, the day the final reminder email is sent.


So again, this was an incredibly detailed presentation (albeit: not much of a workshop) on course launches.

Mariah and Megan not only gave us a complete template for a course launch, but they happily answered everyone’s questions as well.

There was also a lot of information on providing live videos as a component of the overall launch sequence. In other words, you are expected to go on Facebook live (or your platform of choice) to supplement the launch’s emails.

Ultimately, I had a ton of questions about the pre-launch (validation) and post-launch (what if they don’t buy), but I understand that these could easily be their own topics for other workshops.

Alexis Gay – How to Launch and Grow A Membership Business: The Key to Financial and Creative Independence

Alexis Gay from Patreon put together a very informative and engaging talk about the benefits of using a platform like Patreon for monetizing a creative business.

The workshop did not feel like a Patreon pitch, so I definitely appreciated the information, as well as Alexis’ approach.

There was plenty of back-and-forth discussion to get value out of the workshop. For example: Alexis asked us to brainstorm 3 goals for having a membership business.


  1. Recurring, predictable income
  2. Motivation to keep creating
  3. Discovering who my “true” fans are

She also asked us to write down 3 benefits to having a membership business.


  1. Exclusive content
  2. Exclusive giveaways
  3. Discount coupons for various products in my niche

Finally, she asked us to think about marketing avenues for our potential membership businesses.


  1. Business cards
  2. Text messages (eek, that might be too aggressive)
  3. End screens of YouTube videos
  4. Social media bio links

A few other important notes about Patreon specifically:

  • Typically there is a 0.5-5% conversion rate among your entire audience size.
  • Patreon takes a 5% cut of your total sales
  • Patreon does not currently offer a discovery engine (for potential Patrons to discover you)

Jennifer Quinn – Beyond the ‘Talking Head’ Livestream: Broadcasting to Convert

This was another useful workshop, specifically on how to master the livestream.

Jennifer was not only engaging, but she also provided a useful handout on developing a loose script for live video streams.

The main exercise of the workshop had us write an intro, 3 main talking points, and outro for our live video. This was actually an incredibly helpful exercise in helping me realize that live video may actually be an effective tool for my business.

Also learned about a few useful tools for livestreams such as:

  • (transcription)
  • (transcription)

I left the workshop a whole lot more comfortable about livestream than I had felt beforehand.


So there you have it, my notes and takeaways from Craft + Commerce 2018. I hope this was helpful to you in some small (or large) way. If not, I apologize for wasting your time!

If you have some of your own notes from the conference to share, please leave a comment below.

Questions about the Craft + Commerce conference? Leave ’em below and I’ll do my best to answer.

Craft + Commerce Day 0.5

I am giddy right now.

I got into Boise, Idaho yesterday afternoon for what will technically be my first conference ever.

The conference hasn’t even started yet, but I’ve already gotten so much value out of it.

How’s that possible?

Well, I attended an early-bird meet-up dinner last night with other conference attendees, and left the dinner completely blown away.

Aside from my weekly mastermind group, the handful of people I met at this dinner were some of the most likeminded people I’ve ever encountered.

It was like simultaneously meeting 10 different people that I could see myself being lifelong friends with in the real world.

Suffice to say, it was a profound experience. Maybe this is the norm? Maybe it’s just so new to me? But I can’t wait to see what the rest of the weekend has in store.

Day 1 is today, and it’s jam-packed with more meet-ups, one of which I personally attempted to host at 6:30am at the Downtown Boise YMCA.

Nobody showed up. But it was alllll good!

I honestly didn’t expect anyone to show up. Plus, I got to play basketball and meet a few cool locals that have nothing to do with the conference. So I’m glad I powered through this morning and made it happen. I feel energized for the rest of the day.

Quick, off-topic side note: I feel like an idiot for renting a car.

While I didn’t pay for the rental itself, I will be paying $12/day for parking. This wouldn’t be a big deal if I actually had to drive to various places, but every part of this conference is within walking distance.

I actually think the car may just end up sitting in the hotel parking lot for the entire duration of my stay.

Oh well.

If you’re attending Craft + Commerce in the future, my recommendation would be to pass on the car rental and just take Lyfts/Ubers for the few things that aren’t within walking distance.


Starting again, today

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how “getting back on the horse” is one of the most important things we can do to achieve our goals.

This was fresh off of my 18 consecutive days of meditation coming to an abrupt end.

Well, I got back on that horse, hit another 15-day streak, only to have it end again last Friday.

But I didn’t dwell on it.

In fact, it was easier to start again the second time around, perhaps because I had become acclimated to the originally perceived failure.

Last week I started reading a book that confirmed how important it is for us to defy our inherent perfectionism.

i.e. when the streak ends, just start a new one.

It’s called Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done, and I can already tell it will go down as an all-time favorite.

At the beginning of the book the author, Jon Acuff, suggests that the only true failures are the habits and goals we never return to after starting.

You know, the New Years Resolutions that end the second week of January.

“Reject the idea that day after perfect means you’ve failed”, he writes.

And that stuff we say we don’t have time to do?

Well, it’s because we’re trying to do too much. 10 pounds of sugar in a 5 pound bag…remember?

“Cut your goals in half” is the lesson of the entire second chapter, and that’s what I immediately went to do when reviewing the goals I haven’t come close to achieving in the first half of this year.

He also proposes that we give up on trying to do the things we suck at or simply don’t want to be doing.

“Joyless goals fail”

There should be purpose and fun in the things that we are actively pursuing, and as time gets more limited, this is really something I want to make sure I’m living by.

“Joyless goals fail”

As I crank out the rest of the blog post, I am also having an honest conversation with myself (in my head of course) about the purpose of my  personal blogging.

Is there enough joy? Or is it simply a chore?

Well, I haven’t published anything in 4 days, which I could have easily shaped as a failure.

However, I’m back on the horse. My fingers are moving, even if there isn’t necessarily any cohesion through the words I’m writing.

And the joy I get from this is knowing that I can have a somewhat organized place for me to refer back to the thoughts that I have a hard time organizing.

I’m not striving for perfection; I’d rather have joy.

I honestly don’t even know if that was an appropriate use of a semicolon, but trying to figure that out will suck the joy out of this daily writing habit I’m trying to develop.

So I’m starting this week with the mindset of making my unachieved goals 1) halved and 2) fun.

If I can remind myself of these important facets, I think it will be a whole lot easier to get where I want to go.


The opportunity costs of everyday life

Some days are inexplicably frustrating.

Lately, I’ve been marveling in the fact that every thing I want to do in a given day takes up so much time.

It’s that, or I’m simply trying to fit 10lbs of sugar in a 5lb bag, as my Pops likes to say.

And maybe that is the problem: my focus is in so many different places that there is no time left over to focus on the most important thing right now, in this moment.

As I type this, I’m currently cooking dinner (passively, lasagna is in the oven), and I still need to go to the grocery store.

Tomorrow, I know that I need to prepare at least one client report, yet I also have a load of laundry to do.

And it’s not that I’m complaining, because this is life…however, as I’ve packed more personal things into my day-to-day, I’ve realized that there really isn’t much time available to waste.

There is literally something important I can be doing at every waking moment of the day.

Yet I still find myself getting sucked into my phone, or obsessing over YNAB graphs, browsing my favorite reddit subs, or going down YouTube wormholes.

Distractions fly from every direction, and this is on top of obligations that are already smacking us in the face.

What this means to me is that every thing we do throughout a typical day has a very high opportunity cost.


Because there will simply never be enough time for us to do everything we want to do in a day.

As such, each decision we make to do one thing is taking away time to do the other thing. And with a lot of “things” going on, there is not a lot of time left over.

This had me thinking…

How can I kill more birds with one stone (figuratively speaking, of course)?

I’m not talking about multi-tasking per se, more like “habit stacking”.

So instead of just finding a park bench to meditate, why not bring my lunch, a book, and my travel guitar along with me?

I could basically knock out 3 good habits (meditation, guitar, reading) and one necessity (eating) in about an hour.

We can always be more efficient, and to me, this seems like a good potential solution to my struggle to meet all of my daily goals.

Let’s call it “minimizing opportunity cost with habit stacking”.

We’ll see if it makes just as much sense in practice as it does in theory.

Bursting out of the comfort zone

It’s easy to fall into complacency.

If we don’t have to struggle to make some desired result happen, why bother?

We’re comfortable…and isn’t comfort a good thing?

In many ways, I’m very comfortable.

I have a roof over my head. I never have to struggle for my next meal. I have a business where I can choose my own hours.

It’s pretty damn comfortable from a relative perspective, and I’m grateful for it.

The problem I see with comfort is that it doesn’t inspire necessary action.

You see, at any moment I believe that I can lose everything I have that makes me comfortable.

Yes, this may be an extreme and pessimistic perspective, but I’m pretty sure that the universe doesn’t give a flying fuck about me (there’s a book with this title, and I agree with its sentiment).

So if I lost everything in my comfortable state, how would I cope with trying to recover?

If I didn’t know what it was like to be uncomfortable, the struggle would probably be more than I could handle.

As such, I’m trying to force myself into uncomfortable situations every day.

One example of this is networking.

I’ve hated that word for as long as I can remember. Not just because it makes me uncomfortable as a natural introvert, but also because everybody salivates over its value.

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

If I had a dime for every time that quote was used…well, you know the rest.

But who’s to say that it isn’t true?

Who am to say it isn’t true if I’ve never really tried?

I didn’t have my first business cards until last year.

I’ve only ever attended 1-2 conferences/meet-ups in my life.

I work at home and barely interact with anybody, aside from my team members, clients, and weekly mastermind group.

I’m pushing myself into the zone of discomfort though, at least as it pertains to networking.

I’m attending Craft + Commerce at the end of the month, a conference designed for bloggers, artists, and internet entrepreneurs.

I recently updated my LinkedIn profile and connected with people I’ve worked with in the past, both of which are things I basically had never done.

I also started using an app called Shapr, which is kind of like Tinder and LinkedIn had a baby.

Basically, I’m doing things that I’ve always rejected in the past, simply because they make me uncomfortable.

But guess what?

Entrepreneurship is really uncomfortable.

So why not continue to seek out the discomfort?

I’m going to keep this at the forefront of my mind on a daily basis.

We’ll see how it goes.

My business goals: 6 month review

Now for the hard part: reviewing my business goals halfway through the year.

Although I do strongly believe in transparency, bringing it to the business arena is honestly a little bit uncomfortable.

I’m not going to share any super-specific financial numbers or “income reports”, because I think that’s nobody’s business but mine and my wife’s. However, I will try and be transparent about how the numbers fluctuate in terms of percentages.

Coffee Concierge Business Goals

  1. 3x Coffee Concierge revenue
  2. 66% of total business revenue from Coffee Concierge
  3. Update Coffee Hacks to its Second Edition and sell 100 copies
  4. 1 million website visitors
  5. 5,000 email subscribers, maintain >40% open rates
  6. 104 new posts published
  7. 10,000 YouTube subscribers

Other Business Goals

  1. Revive
  2. Launch

Now, these are business goals I wrote out at the beginning of this year.

Ironically, the only two goals I’ve achieved halfway through the year are not related to Coffee Concierge, nor are they SMART.

The other interesting thing is that while I’m still focused on growing Coffee Concierge, I’ve been way more focused on growing Search and Perch this year.

I’m still fairly certain I don’t want to run a digital marketing agency for the rest of my life, but in the last year I’ve been able to figure out how to make it both more enjoyable and more manageable.

Because of this, my mindset has shifted from grow one business and ditch the other to grow two businesses and supplement one with the other (and vice versa).

Sure, there might be a point one day where I’m forced to choose which business to focus all of my time on, but I don’t think I’m anywhere close to this point yet.

And honestly, in hindsight, thinking I was at the point where I could commit the majority of my time to Coffee Concierge in 2016 was probably one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made as an entrepreneur to-date.

Yes, it was my highest revenue year ever (by a significant margin) for the site, but it still wasn’t enough to get me to leave Search and Perch (my “day job”) behind completely.

The end of 2016 also introduced changes in the Amazon Associates program that would significantly impact my earnings for Coffee Concierge.

I don’t need to go into the details of this, because it doesn’t really matter.

Don’t rely on a platform you don’t have control over

This was one of the earliest lessons I learned as an entrepreneur, courtesy of MJ Demarco. Yet, I was somehow still blinded by the warning until it actually impacted me.

Amazon changed their commission structure, and it was totally in their rights.

It was my fault for putting so many eggs in that basket and not diversifying my revenue streams enough.

So now I’m approaching almost a 2 year decline in traffic and earnings for this business.

The good news is that scaling Search and Perch is more straightforward and predictable, and because of this I can re-invest the profits back into Coffee Concierge.

And since time is an even more finite resource than money, my primary investment needs to be in people.

If I’m a solopreneur for the rest of my life, I can only go so far.

With talented people working alongside me though, my output can continue to not only grow, but also improve from a quality perspective.

There’s still time to meet a lot of the goals I’ve listed above for 2018.

But in the end, I think the most important thing is to not beat myself up if I don’t get there as soon as I had hoped.

Just gotta keep moving forward.

My personal goals: 6 month review

Last week, I wrote a post about how it took me almost 32 years to start setting goals.

I mentioned that I would eventually share my goals for the year once I had them written out on paper.

Well, it turns out I had already completed this task at the beginning of the year to present to the mastermind group I’m in.

In said mastermind, we usually share our weekly wins and challenges when we meet every week. But at the beginning of every new year, we review the previous year and share our goals for the year to come.

I separated my goals into business goals and personal goals, and today I’ll be sharing my personal goals, as well as my progress so far.

Personal Goals

  • Waking up at 6am 5 times per week
  • Journal every day
  • More trips than I went on in 2016
  • Guitar for 15 minutes a day, 3 times per week
  • Meditation 5 times per week
  • Read one new book a month, no business books in consecutive months
  • Find an office or dedicated video production space
  • Pick up a new sport or hobby

As you can see, I’ve been able to consistently meet about half of my personal goals for 2018.

While I haven’t been able to consistently wake up at 6am (it comes in waves), I think I will be able to accomplish this in the latter half of the year.

My system has been to leave my phone (aka alarm clock) in the bathroom so that I’m forced to not only get out of bed, but also go to the room where I can quickly splash water on my face and take a shower.

The number of trips I take is still TBD, since a lot of them aren’t planned out too far in advance.

As far as reading goes, I’ve really dropped the ball.

For one, I’m still only reading non-fiction.

Secondly (and the bigger issue), I’m simply not making the time to read.

My hunch is that screens are to blame here.

I read on my phone. I read on my computer. I read on my Kindle.

I can’t escape the damn screens, which makes me think I just need to force myself to start reading physical books again.

Yes, I love the convenience of being able to download any book instantly, not having to carry around any extra weight, highlighting and saving notes in one unified place, and not taking up the finite space in my Shoebox apartment, but this is really where the benefits of eBooks end for me.

I’m not getting away from the screens.

I’m not able to flip to random pages.

I have to worry about battery life.

Why make reading harder than it already is?


The last personal goal of mine is to find a dedicated office space that I can work on both of my businesses.

I’ve considered WeWork in the past, but considering I already have an insane amount of expenses in this high cost-of-living city, it’s been really hard to justify paying at least $400/month for a shared workspace.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind sharing at all.

The main issue is that I would like to have a workspace that could double as a small video production studio.

I currently shoot many of my videos for Coffee Concierge in my horribly lit kitchen, which already has less space than my bathroom.

This just doesn’t work, especially if I’m going to scale and improve my content creation.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to find this dream space where I currently live, but if I’m ever going to be able to find it, I will need to work with what I have so I can hopefully budget for it in the future.

I’ll check in on my business goals tomorrow. Hint: so far it has been a much bigger struggle.

Getting back on the horse

I made it to 18 consecutive days of meditation before the streak finally ended on Sunday.

It’s ironic that I couldn’t find the time for it on such a leisurely day, picnicking at Lake Merritt.

I guess socializing demands just as much attention as a typical work day.

Memorial Day was my second consecutive day of not meditating, so I officially have a streak in a negative direction.

A negative streak, if you will.

How’s that for a pessimistic approach?

Still, I think it’s good to be as aware of our bad streaks as we are of our good streaks. This way, we have a growing count of the things we probably shouldn’t be doing.

From here, we can use these negative streaks as an incentive to “get back on the horse” and start a new streak in a positive direction.

For me, I have a two-day negative streak for both my writing and meditation habits. I also have about a 4-5 day negative streak for journaling before bed (last night’s excuse was not being able to find a pen, lame).

The good news is that it only takes one day of practice to start a streak back in the positive direction.

I’m a few hundred words away from getting my writing habit back on track, and by the end of the day I expect to start a new journaling and meditation streak.

It was definitely deflating ending an 18-day streak, but missing two consecutive days is far better than never meditating again.

A friend of mine told me that she had a 367-day meditation streak. However, since the streak ended, she hasn’t gotten back on the horse.

She says that there was something so psychologically deflating about it, that she feels she can’t get started again.

But I think starting over is the most important thing one can do.

Starting again is what really proves you’ve developed a habit. Otherwise, you’re only doing what you’re doing for the streak itself, right?

We should probably start measuring our progress more in terms of the percentage of days we’ve completed a task rather than the number of consecutive days.

Sure, 18 consecutive days of meditation sounds like a big accomplishment, but how good does it sound when you find out that it’s only 18 of the last 365 days?

So if you’re feeling bummed about a positive streak coming to an end, try:

  1. Counting your negative streaks
  2. Calculating your habit as a percentage (# of days completed/# of days not completed)

I’m going to keep these things in mind as I move forward this week.

Either way, I’m gonna keep getting back on that horse.