The Ebb and Flow of a Personal Blog

Personal blogs are a different…no…special…part of the internet.

Has it been a while since you have posted on your blog consistently?

That’s ok.

Because it is yours.

Personal blogs are a different part of the internet. Special in my opinion. Some people write long enough (and well enough) to make some money…but many (like me so far) don’t.

That’s ok.

Because it is mine

Perhaps it is just my generation (I fall smack in the middle of Gen X and Millenials) but a blog/website that is mine and mine to do what I want with…has always felt special.

I have followed a blog by Greg Morris for some time now: gr36.com. I also follow Greg on twitter @gr36. I don’t remember how I came across his site but I have always been glad I did.

And I follow him for no other reason than I enjoy the thoughts he puts out in to the world through his blog…and I feel like if we knew each other in real life, we might be friends.

That’s it.

He has done things that I have done here: switch blogging platforms, turned ads on and off, tested features, pontificated on whether or not he should keep writing, etc. Greg has treated his blog much like I treat mine…as an avenue for him to write, create, think aloud, seek feedback…and he has done it for quite a while.

That’s ok.

Because it is his.

It is ok

The beauty of a personal blog is that (hopefully) people are there for you…not necessarily for an ever flowing feed of information, gear reviews, etc. It’s personal…it is yours….it is you.

And that means it is ok to step away and take a break every once in a while. It is ok to try something new, to write on a completely new and random topic…or to take a deep breath and think aloud…while writing those thoughts down.

Don’t worry about the optimal time to publish and there is no need to sweat the thoughts of how long a post is or if it has too many pictures.

It is ok.

Because your blog is just that….yours.

Let me encourage you my friend…the world is better when you are in it…and in this day and age a personal blog is my favorite way to contribute to the digital world we all operate in.

Start that personal blog…or keep the one you have going…make it yours…hit publish whenever you want to…it is ok.

My Blog

I can identify with this….

What I wanted my blog to be changed, and although I tried to rekindle that romance last year, it is now something made just for me. A reflection of myself.

​I’ve enjoyed Greg’s blog for a while. Primarily because it’s just what he says…his.

As someone who has started and stopped his own website/blog a couple times, I like hearing (reading) someone else who has done the same. One of the few reasons I didn’t just stick with writing over on Medium was that I wanted my space.

This is my blog…I hope you enjoy it. 😁

What Is Your Blog? – Greg Morris

Applying the 1% Rule to Patagonia, GoRuck, and You

I have a bad habit…

When I find a company that knows what it stands for and it aligns with my own beliefs…I am all in.

I’m not just referring to the couple soft goods companies in this blog post title. E-commerce company Next Jump has a culture I got to experience that changed my life. Simon Sinek has written books and given TED talks that I write about often and that I will buy immediately in the future – no questions asked.

These aren’t just companies or individuals that have social assistance programs to check a box or “mission statements” that sound good. Rather, these are organizations that make moves that stand by their beliefs but often seen as counterintuitive to traditional success…like Patagonia’s “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign.

I’ve been a Patagonia fan since I first started reading about how the founder started the company and my affinity grew as I saw how committed it is to sustainability, quality, and family. Living in Ventura, where the company was started and is headquartered, I met people who worked there and loved it. The stories you hear about employees taking surf breaks, child care at work, and the overall quality work environment are not exaggerated.

Are you surprised that my social media accounts are some version of @PatagoniaDad?

The 1% Rule

I came across the below video by YouTube’s very own Captain Sinbad. I encourage you to take the couple minutes to watch it. He’s very good and I can see why he has over 300K subscribers.

If you don’t want to watch the video…

The 1% rule is simple: improve just 1% each day. The idea is that if you do this, the good habits you develop stack over time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you won’t be either.

Stop focusing on the end result and start paying attention to the process.

—via theMonkLife.net

There is so much that goes in to this concept, but the basics of it are…well…basic.

Tomorrow, you probably won’t notice a difference. But what’s the result when 1% happens every day? Let’s ask James Altucher…

“Improve a little each day. It compounds. When 1% compounds every day, it doubles every 72 days, not every 100 days. Compounding tiny excellence is what creates big excellence.”

72 days later you might be twice the person you are today. Think you can’t manage that? Let’s do some math.

(continue reading here)

GoRuck

When I said I have a bad habit, that tends to mean that I fall down rabbit holes of learning about these amazing companies…and then buying a ton of their stuff! Fortunately for me, this means that I am buying quality items…usually over a long period of time. (I can neither confirm nor deny that I’ll be writing about a bunch of GoRuck stuff that I might have after Christmas) 😏

I’ve been reading up on GoRuck…the company best known for the GR1 and GR2…bombproof backpacks for every day carry up to one bag travel. They even support a foundation started for a former classmate of mine who was killed in combat. The owner and founder of the company is VERY straightforward and honest when he talks about his company. I am excited to read his new book.

GoRuck events are growing in popularity
GoRuck events are growing in popularity

In 2019 GoRuck made the decision to move their large scale manufacturing to Vietnam…and the owner wrote a long and very honest blog post about why.

One of the many things that struck me in his post was the below chart.

GORUCK’s growth 2008-2018

Crazy growth aside…what struck me was those first couple years with $0 revenue. And while the chart displays no data for ‘growth’ for those years…I would argue that they were growing a little bit every day.

1% perhaps?

Consistency and The “Why”

Simon Sinek is most famous for his talk about the Golden Circle and pointing out that successful companies plant their flag in their “Why” first and their product second.

I believe that the companies I’ve mentioned naturally follow the 1% rule because they are founded on a belief, a purpose, or a mission that speaks them, their employees, and ultimately their customers. As Captain Sinbad pointed out when talking about the movie ‘Money Ball’, Billy Bean shifted his focus to metrics that actually matter.

These companies are focusing on what matters…they know their why. They consistently stay centered on their why and communicate about their products through that rather than vice versa.

People don’t buy what you sell. They buy why you sell it.

Simon Sinek

When you frame your work life around something foundational to who you are or what you believe…it almost becomes easy to improve by 1% every day. As long as that why is genuine and (in my opinion) not self centered.

“Our findings suggest that the psychological reward experienced from helping others may be deeply ingrained in human nature, emerging in diverse cultural and economic contexts,” said lead author Lara Aknin, of Simon Fraser University in Canada, in a news release.

article on American Psychological Association study

What This Means to Me (and should mean to you)

From Simon Sinek’s “Why” to GoRuck’s slow take-off.

GORUCK founder with WWI vet at Omaha Beach for 75th anniversary
GORUCK founder with WWI vet at Omaha Beach for 75th anniversary

From Patagonia’s “Don’t Buy This” campaign to Next Jump’s deliberately developmental company culture.

These companies inspire me!

They inspire me to continue to refine my own why, to improve 1% every day, and to do so selflessly.

If they don’t inspire you, I hope that I can.

I hope you have a fantastic day. 😁

The art of asking the right questions

 A great definition I saw for questioning is that questioning enables us to organize our thinking around what we don’t know. So, in a time when so much knowledge is all around us, answers are at our fingertips, we really need great questions in order to be able to know what to do with all that information and find out way to the next answer.

I like the point of framing what you are putting your brain power towards by organizing it via the right questions.

Asking the Right Questions

Handwriting is the BEST

Then there’s memory. Print book readers retain more information.

As a new study from the Developmental Neuroscience Laboratory at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology argues, the same goes for writing. Handwriting helps children and adults remember information better. Typing is a shortcut.

The team, led by Professor Audrey van der Meer, hooked 250 nodes to each participant’s head to collect 500 data points per second. Once they were strapped in, a dozen 12-year-old children and a dozen young adults wrote by hand, typed, or drew. The clear winner: using paper, not devices.

This makes me happy.

Why?

Because while I do love my tech and productivity apps, there is just something about writing (journaling, note taking, etc) that cannot be matched.

Seems scientists agree.

Handwriting shown to be better for memory than typing, at any age

Typeface Matters

When done right, social responsibility gives back—to the charity and the business. And, as this research shows, something as simple as typeface choice matters.

Donors were one-sixth more likely to give when the typeface matched the message. In this case, that meant “warmth-focused” messages were handwritten while “competence-focused” initiatives were machine-written.

​Typeface has interested me for a couple years now. I might be embarrassed to tell you how much time I spent choosing the font for this site…and then tweaking it.

Seems like for some businesses it is time well spent.

Typeface matters: Donations go up depending on typeface choice

Just ONE

Surpasing 100 Direct Subscribers…

Thank you.

I recently surpassed 100 direct followers and I wanted to thank everyone who has commented, liked, and hit that follow button here.

If you see my about page, you’ll see that across all my platforms I am over 8,000 followers…but I’ll let you in on a little secret. I hit a hot streak over on Tumblr a few years back and most of my “followers” are from over there (where I still cross post). That was back when I was climbing and photo focused.

Tumblr’s state of affairs is a whole separate topic, but please know that I consider my followers here much more “present” as I see a lot of interactions via likes and comments from you all.

I remember posting over there once that I was shutting down an old website of mine. Of the over then 7,000 followers I had I got one email.

Just one.

However, that one email was from someone who told me that my posts had inspired him to start his own climbing inspired website. He even sent me a climbing chalk bag that I have to this day.

I had posted over there as the “caffeinated climber” from my now defunct climbercafe site. A site that I enjoyed creating and building but ran out of time to keep up…but I inspired one person to action.

Just one.

And that one made it all worth it.

If you take anything away from this today, remember…write for the internet you want…you may just inspire that next one to action.

Happy Early Father’s Day

To all the Dads…

I know that Father’s Day isn’t until the 21st, but since I’ll be out camping with my family that day…Happy Father’s Day!!

Funny enough I was talking to my mom recently and asked her about the first time I went camping as a kid…thinking we had started when I was about 7 or 8. She laughed and said that my younger brother was still in diapers when we first camped (we are 20 months apart).

My mother told me that she just stripped us both naked and we played in a creek for a whole day in the Sequoia National Forrest. And she got to read a book for the first time in 5 years.

Hearing that just made me smile and realize even more how much a part of being in the outdoors is a part of me.

Photo by Samy Santos on Pexels.com

Being with my mom and dad camping are some of my fondest memories of my childhood, so I am incredibly excited to start forming those same memories with my own kids.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you know that my handle is @patagoniadad (or a slight variation)…and I’m proud to have that dad part of me out there.

To all the fathers out there that are trying make sure they keep their kids alive, fed, happy, and socially well-adjusted…thank you.

Happy Father’s Day.

Letting it Out in the Time of Staying In

You ever try to hold your breath underwater for as long as you can?

Social distancing, school cancelations, and teleworking have created this cloud that workers can’t seem to escape.

Here’s how to change that.


Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

The State of Affairs

At first working from home was novel. Working in your sweatshirt, using your home computer for high tech Zoom calls, grabbing a snack whenever you want…this is great right?!

But it got old…fast.

With connectivity and system access that is not the same, kids demanding attention for home schooling needs, an ever present “funk” seemed to hang over all of these workplace and social restrictions.

I’ve had my staff on a half-on/half-off rotation for the past couple months to minimize people in the building. While this seems to be beneficial in allowing folks to social distance as well as to help at home more, it seems to be chipping away the family environment that I have worked hard to create.

As a leader, good communication, workplace rhythm, and co-worker socialization is important to me. A unit is most cohesive when one department can anticipate the needs of another…and this “togetherness” is essentially halted when telework is predominant.

Communications are not the same via chat or email, rhythm is lost, and socialization…is (of course) distant.

The Question

Photo by Ilkka Kärkkäinen on Unsplash
Photo by Ilkka Kärkkäinen on Unsplash

How are you feeling about all this?

As a leader, it can be difficult to pull this kind of thing out of your people. At least for me it is.

Now that I am the person that signs evaluations, makes decisions on big ticket items, and is overall responsible for the health and well-being of everyone…it feels awkward walking up to an individual and asking him/her “How are you feeling about all this COIVD19 stuff and all the social restrictions right now?”.

Or maybe it’s easy and that just an issue specific to me.

For a while I thought that might be the case… a me issue. But my staff lead and I were talking about day to day operations when we ventured to this “funk” we had been sensing. I am fortunate to have someone I can be so open with…and after just a minute or two of talking about this dark cloud hanging over our staff…we began brainstorming.

The Next Steps

Photo by Nic Low on Unsplash
Photo by Nic Low on Unsplash

Over my years as a leader in the military, I can say that one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that humility and honesty go a VERY long way with those you lead.

I was fortunate to learn this lesson early and to this day it is both surprising and satisfying to hear junior folks tell me how refreshing it is to have someone so open and honest in charge. Not to say that I don’t have things to keep learning, but I feel like I worked those attributes in to my leadership style and it has seem to work well.

With that, I decided that if I feel awkward asking my folks directly how they feel, that I will have a forum of openness…and I will kick it off with my own struggles.

What followed was more emotionally charged than I had expected.

The Opening

Photo by Amy Lister on Unsplash
Photo by Amy Lister on Unsplash

I dove straight in.

I kicked our weekly meeting off with the reality of what we had been sensing,

“I feel like there is some sort of cloud hanging over us” I stated, “and I do not know how everyone is dealing with this or feeling about it…so I’m going to go around the room and if you want to talk you can. You don’t have to…but I want you to know that we’re here for you and potentially hear what others are feeling too.”

It was pretty quiet and I saw questioning looks…not surprised…but unsure.

Without giving them too much to overthink it, I led off with the slightly depressive feeling that I had been sensing. I talked about how hard it has been for me not to see them everyday at work, and how difficult it is for me to work at home while also helping homeschool my kids.

I often consider myself an extrovert with some strong introverted tendencies (I need time alone to recharge, etc)…but this has been different.

As we went around our conference room table, some folks I didn’t have much to initially say so I tried asking some open ended questions to challenge them a bit…push folks a bit out of their comfort zone.

Some of my staff are “geo-bachelors”…live away from their families.

– “How do you feel about not being able to see your family?”
– “How is your family doing?”
– “How do you feel about all this?”

At a couple points folks got choked up. As we opened up you could really feel the emotional toll this social isolation was taking on some of us.

“This has been hard”
“It’s been tough for my kids…they don’t understand”
“I’m hanging in there”

The Other Side

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash
Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

You ever try to hold your breath underwater for as long as you can?

Then you have experienced that feeling of intense pressure that is lifted when you surface and take a deep breath.

That is almost what it felt like at the end of our meeting. All of the pressure wasn’t gone, we are all still treading water in these uncertain times…but it felt like some pressure had been lifted.

It’s one thing to know that “we’re in this together”, it’s another thing to hear it from other people in the same room as you (albeit socially distant by 6 feet).

Opening up in this time of staying in is more liberating than you may realize…if you have the chance, ask someone that question:

“How are you feeling?”

Both of you will appreciate it more than you know.