Change In Two Weeks?

I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.William Faulkner

I’m not new to blogging, having started my first blog in 2012 and writing on and off on various blogs since then. My writing has always followed a specific pattern: think of a topic, make note of that topic, and then—when I feel inspired to do so—sit down and write about it (or sit down and feel guilty about not writing).

The results of this approach are predictable: I haven’t written anything on the Bike to Work blog in a year.

This sucks, of course, but what to do?

This week, Chase Jarvis aired an interview during which Seth Godin made a remarkable statement:

Blog publicly everyday; it will change you in two weeks.

I love definite statements like this that promise a specific result for doing a specific thing for a specific period of time. This is a statement that is verifiable and the timeframe is short; I can do anything for two weeks and I am always looking for change.

So, beginning today, May 11 and continuing through May 27 I will blog daily (except for Sunday) on this site. I order to set myself up for success, I am imposing no minimum word count and I am giving myself only an hour to write each day and that hour will be before the beginning of the workday so that I can’t be overwhelmed.

With this lack of constraints, I don’t expect quality, but that wasn’t part of Seth Godin’s claim. If any posts strike me as being good or interesting, I’ll mention it on social and/or Linkedin.

The Opposite is True: Mortgages

I was riding home the other day, thinking the deep thoughts of a bicycle commuter (pothole…car…squirrel) when I had a realization that almost made me fall off my bike: my understanding of my biggest financial decision was exactly backwards.

The opposite is true
With home-buying, the opposite is true.

In 2001, we moved into our home and started painting, planning a remodel, buying appliances, and worrying about the water heater—all the stuff that that goes with home ownership. I knew how home buying worked. We all do: You find a house, the bank finances it, you buy and own the house and pay the bank every month for 30 years.

But as Derek Sivers says, the opposite is also true. In fact, the opposite is more true. (more…)

Marketing Your Law Practice Starts With Your Profile

In recent weeks, I have been talking with attorneys and practice administrators to find pain points and difficulties. One concern I have heard repeatedly relates to marketing, which lawyers are not generally comfortable with. I’ve noticed that some attorneys don’t even have LinkedIn accounts and others have profiles that clearly suffer from neglect.


This post provides some advice and hints about the low-hanging fruit that is your LinkedIn profile, and includes two free resources: a profile guide and a professional background image.

It used to be that finding clients for a law practice was simple: Go to a few networking events, give and receive referrals, do great work, and the clients showed up. But times are changing.

In the course of talking to attorneys over the past few weeks, I have heard a fair amount of angst over the need to now go out and “market” the practice. It’s distasteful, it’s distracting, but it is absolutely necessary in the internet age.

For an attorney, the first step in marketing your services is making sure your LinkedIn profile is in good shape. (more…)

Why You Need a Shot Clock For Life

Weber State University’s March Madness game today has brought back memories from my childhood of attending every game and going with my father to the post season tournament. It has also reminded me of just how much the game has changed because of the shot clock.

A man who dares to waste of hour of his time has not discovered the value of life.
What is true for one hour is true for 35 seconds. Embrace the shot clock!

My memory of the Wildcats’ style of play in the late 70s and early 80s is dominated by the “four corners” offense, which the coach seemed to use anytime he got up a few points in the fourth quarter. The idea was to run out the clock and force your opponent to foul in order to get the ball back. It was boring and the fans hated it, but it worked…sometimes.

It could give a coach a winning record, but could not create a truly excellent team of basketball players—champions who could break out of the opening rounds of the big dance.

The four corners offense wasted a lot of great talent and squandered incredible potential until it was finally banished  by the shot clock in 1985.

As in basketball, so in life: if you are just trying to run out the clock, you will ultimately lose. (more…)

How Fear Kills the Dream You Want to Protect

What are you afraid of?

If you live and breathe and think and strive, this is a question you have asked yourself…and it’s a good thing, too. Until we identify our fear, we can’t address it or move on from it.

What are you afraid of?

I’ve been working on the answer to this question for months, and I’ve finally found a shocking answer.

Picture of sliced onions
Peeling an onion, like peeling back layers of fear, can produce tears. Photo by Xiaojung Deng.

Today is my birthday, and in reviewing the year, I find significant accomplishments, heartbreaking setbacks, and bouts of anger, depression, chronic procrastination, and compulsive screwing up—all things that (I have learned) are signs of fear.

But fear of what?

In peeling back the onion of fear, I’ve found the usual suspects: fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change, fear of being unworthy or selfish or ridiculous. Each time I pulled back a layer, I got closer to my real fear. Several times I was sure I had reached the core, only to find another fear taking over. Now, I think I’ve finally figured it out.

What am I afraid of? I’m deathly afraid of damaging my dream.

My dream is my escape, my imaginary future—the place I can live an ideal life. I won’t go into the details—my dream is probably a lot like yours. (more…)

Taking the Long, Long View of Killing Time

I just turned off Star Trek (you know, that episode with Julie Newmar) so that I could sit down and write this post.

As if you could kill time without injuring eternity - Thoreau
Time is a terrible thing to waste.

Peter Thiel often asks, “What is something you believe that few other people do?” I believe we lived as spirits before we were born, and that we were with God for a very, very long time, waiting excitedly for our turn to come to Earth. This belief has interesting implications for time management. I imagine us all talking about what we would do when we got here and I just can’t imagine hearing the following:

My Friend: It’s almost time! What are you most excited about doing on Earth?

Me: Well, they’re gonna have this thing called Candy Crush; I’m really looking forward to playing it for hours on end. (more…)

Why You Should Give Away Your Productivity Gains

Increasing productivity is hard: balancing costs and benefits, sorting through tools, and developing incentives takes a tremendous amount of time…and effort and we still often get it wrong.

Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. 1 Timothy 5:18
Yet another reason for giving your employees the benefit of their productivity. Photo by treewoman8.

I was on a call recently where a consultant was reviewing a case study of the ROI of a particular software tool thus: The product reduced the time required for a certain operation by 15 seconds. Now, each employee performed this operation an average of four times a day so the software saved one minute per day and there are 1000 employees with an average salary of $25 per hour, so this software saved the client about $105,000 in the first year alone…

I stopped listening after that, because I’ve never seen an office in which employees were scheduled to the minute, much less in 15 second increments. (I’ve never even seen an employee spend less than 15 seconds deciding what flavor of coffee to drink.)

The truth is, knowledge workers are self-governing in the use of their time (and according to Peter Drucker it can’t be otherwise); if they are pressed for time they will take a short bathroom break, if they have time to spare they will take a magazine with them. And this is why so many productivity programs fail: give a knowledge worker an extra 15 seconds and he will use it as he sees fit.

The best way to improve productivity is to give some of that productivity to your employees. (more…)

How to Give Your Employees a Raise…For Free

What do your employees want? A pleasant working environment? Yes. Meaningful work to do? Of course. Work/life balance? That would be great. Decent coffee? Duh.

All of these things are vitally important, but the thing that really brings them in the door each day is a paycheck. Your employees work for money, and they would really like more of it. What follows is a wild suggestion for giving your employees a raise that doesn’t cost you anything.

Photo of a cup of coffee
Drinking coffee is not a revenue-producing activity. Photo by David Leggett.

I recently wrote that the easiest way to increase your hourly pay is to work fewer hours. What is true for individuals and rates of pay is also true for most companies and productivity. You can increase your company’s productivity by putting in fewer man-hours. (This post applies primarily to salaried knowledge workers; if you are a manufacturer, run a call center, or are a retailer, you can probably skip this post as well as the one next week.) (more…)

There Is No Rest for the Idle

Last week, I wrapped up a difficult multiple-month project and was shocked that that I was not relieved, not invigorated, not ready to take a break, but rather tired; and in a very odd way.

Our greatest weariness comes from work not done. - Eric Hoffer
It seems counter-intutitive, but unlike physical or mental labor, the work of the soul actually brings rest. Photo by

A long, physically demanding project should tire the body, which is then restored by sleeping, eating and drinking, and inactivity. A difficult, mentally demanding project should tire the mind, requiring a restorative vacation, mental respite, and diversion. What I experienced at the end of this project was a tiredness of soul.

How do you rest the soul? And what tires it out in the first place? (more…)

Want to Know the Future? Today Will Tell You.

From time to time, we all wish to see the future, to know what is in store for us and how our lives will play out. For good or ill, there is a way to read the ending of the book of our life in advance: look at today.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. - Annie Dillard
Today is more powerful than a crystal ball for predicting your future.

A few weeks ago, the family went to see the movie Epic, which has a gag about a fruitfly being asked  what it’s like to only live one day and then dying before he can finish the answer. I laughed at seeing an entire life from youthful enthusiasm to regret pass in seconds…but it was an uncomfortable laugh. Here at mid-life, the idea of living for only one day hits a little too close to home.

Annie Dillard writes, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” The truth of this observation is self-evident and it’s implications for personal prognostication are intriguing: Today is your life story writ small. (more…)