More on my Food Lifestyle…

Recently, I was in an online chat with someone who was asking me about how I eat to maintain the energy levels I use to do what I do. She suggested I post this segment to the blog for folks who are interested. THUS… 🙂

I follow the primal blueprint. It’s roughly paleo. Still works in dairy. It’s easy for me and works fine.
I find that the more I learn, the more I drift toward Paleo and natural foods.
I’ve looked at the science. And I believe it to be pretty strong. But, you should do some research and learn for yourself.
I’d start with a few books: the Primal Blueprint, the Decision Tree, It Starts with Food. Those three, IMO, should be required reading for most ppl. They are basically users guides for your body, science data and food.
I think of food as programming code. Same with exercise. My body is a system. If I tweak the inputs and send the right instructions, it responds as expected. Send in bad code (bad foods, poor sleep, poor movement) get bad results. Tweak foods, sleep and movement and get optimal performance from the system, healing, recovery and eventually (I hope) biostasis.
It is the natural goal (in my opinion) of all living things to seek and enforce biostasis. It’s just that we have whacked our systems so grossly as humans that biostasis in a natural state requires significant effort. You won’t find it in the food pyramid or the SAD (standard american diet).
It’s important to note, however, that while I embraced the science of Paleo, I reject the “religion “of Paleo.
You know me. I’m not one for fanatical beliefs. I don’t think we need to emulate caveman behaviors or live in yurts to be healthy. I try various things using the scientific method. If it works for me, I keep it. If not, “buh bye”. It’s lifestyle hacking. Not religious dogma as diet guidance. At least for me.
Your mileage and paranoia may vary, as usual… 🙂

What kind of lifestyle with regards to foods and health do you find helpful? How do you engage with science and data in a personal way? Drop me a line on Twitter (@lbhuston or @digitalliazrdsw) and let me know. If there’s interest, I’ll post more on this topic.

Posted in Life Hacking, Personal Tagged with: ,

Back from Toronto & Ottowa

So, we just got back from a week of travel to Toronto and Ottowa. In both places, we were severely hampered by lack of easy access to wireless data. Sure, we came prepared for searching the cities for wifi hotspots and the usual solace was found at most Tim Hortons and McDonalds (Don’t eat… Just coffee and wifi…). But, in general, beyond coffee shops, public wifi remains hard to find. 

Even worse, the experience of the city was made significantly less fun by the lack of easy data access. Several times we found ourselves wanting to know the history of something, needing help with directions or wanting to share an experience with our friends and family. Next time, we will definitely take more steps to find ways to have data access on at least our phones. We just did not make too much of an effort to find a local process and we did NOT want to pay the HUGE rates that ATT desires for international roaming.

It was kind of fun to re-discover old school navigational skills. We armed ourselves with compasses and maps and explored the city in age old style. While it left us without easy access to the instant gratification of iPhone maps, wikipedia and Google, we survived. 

I tell you this story, because even as a life hacker and technology person, don’t forget to go back and refresh on the basics. Learn to read a map and use a compass. Learn to tell time with the sun. Practice moving around your environment once in a while, without all of  the modern capabilities you posses. It was fun, refreshing and enlightening to do so. And, in the end, isn’t that just exactly what life is all about?

PS – Check out the 1000 Islands area of Canada when you get some time. If you have never been there, it immediately struck me as one of the most beautiful places in North America. Read more about it here. 

PSS – Learn to use a map and compass together here.

Posted in Life Hacking, Productivity, Technology Tagged with: , , ,

Three Technologies I Depend On for My Businesses

As many of you know, I am involved in multiple businesses around the world. As such, I keep a pretty heavy schedule and I depend heavily on easy communication tools and technology to keep me in touch with a variety of teams across multiple time zones. To do this, I really have come to depend on several key pieces of technology, but I wanted to spend a few minutes on three key pieces that I depend on every day. 

1. Skype & VoIP Phones –  I lump these together, but they have become the backbone of communications for my companies and teams. Through Skype we maintain an always open, asynchronous chat room for each team that allows us excellent communications and the capability to share ideas and situational awareness effortlessly. We also use those chat rooms for group audio and video calls to quickly do ad-hoc meetings and troubleshooting. We use Vonage for our voice systems as well, giving us a US phone number no matter where we are in the world. This allows my customers, friends, family and peers easy access to us, just as if we were sitting in our central office in Columbus, OH ~ even if we are in the islands, a hotel or a friend’s retreat. These are affordable, dependable solutions that scale and flex well.

2. Apple iOS Devices & Macs with the iCloud – The core of business management tasks are done with Apple devices. The iCloud is an excellent tool for us, and we use iWorks as well, making it easy for us to work from anywhere, at any time, and easily keep our files and data in synch. We share data easily and the other members of my management team can effortlessly swap data, collaborate and communicate. iMessage is a core piece of that. We are also very excited about iWorks in iCloud, since that will also allow Android, Linux and Windows systems to easily participate in this, essentially lowering some of the costs and removing a few barriers. But, overall, Apple products get it done for us and we depend on them heavily.

3. Dropbox – Most of our teams and businesses leverage dropbox to stay in synch. For data that doesn’t lend itself well to iCloud, dropbox is the way forward. It allows easy collaboration, and with additional encryption tools, allows for a very safe environment for sharing data. We are still finding new uses for it, but it makes backups, sharing and collaboration even easier. When you have a working folder in dropbox and the team is all on Skype, collaborative work is a breeze. We leverage it heavily and it seems to scale well into the tens of people.

Those are the big three. I urge you to take a close look at them and get imaginative. Figure out ways they could lend themselves to your business. 

As always, thanks for reading and let me know what tech you depend on. You can drop me a line on Twitter (@lbhuston or @digitallizardsw). Follow both for updates and insights!

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Technology Tagged with: ,

The Roku, Laptop & a Journal as an Education Platform

For the last few weeks I have been learning a new programming language using a combination of the Roku and my laptop in the role of a laboratory. The approach reminds me a lot of the learning methods from when I went to college at DeVry. Here is the basic flow:

  1. Watch a video on the Roku that explains something about the programming language. In this case, this is a “podcast” series from the web that walks you through 1-3 closely related exercise per session. Most of the videos are between 20 and 30 minutes in length and are surprisingly well done. I watch these in my living room on the HD TV in a relaxed style.
  2. Next, I move to my office, like we used to change class rooms at DeVry to go to the lab sessions. Once in my office, I run through the examples from the class video, one by one. I go back to the podcast on my laptop if I need help. I recreate the programming from scratch, so that I learn the syntax and other nuance features of coding in the new language. I’d like to believe I pick up some muscle memory for common keystrokes and syntax settings, but I’m not sure if that is true. 🙂
  3. Invariably, I make mistakes. I troubleshoot them and I keep going until I have completed the class work in the lab environment. Troubleshooting, to me, is the key to actually turning knowledge into wisdom. It makes me hyper aware of the nuances of the code and syntax of the new language and I learn a variety of lessons along the way.
  4. Next, I experiment (play) with the lessons. I try and change things and predict the outcomes. I try and figure out how to break stuff. I check variables. I mess around (which is fun) and generally learn even more nuances of the new language and syntax.
  5. Lastly, I write in a journal about what I learned. I create a set of notes that re-enforce what I learned and provides insights into future stuff to play with in future sessions. 

This usually takes me between 90 minutes and two hours per session. Yes, 2 HOURS! That’s right. Sure, I could sprint through each lesson, use the canned code and observe the labs, but for me, that knowledge won’t stick around long. It also won’t gain me any real expertise or experience. It’s really only by doing,  playing and experimenting that I learn. You might be different, but this is what works for me. 

Overall, I am pleased with my progress. It’s taking time, certainly more time than if I just ran through a “learn this language in 24 hours book”, but it is also a LOT MORE FUN. I’m learning. I’m playing. AND, I can tell that I am gaining in proficiency at a deeper level than I have done so in the past.

I’m not saying this is the future of education. I’m just saying that you can use the web, a laptop and a journal to learn a new skill in your own home at your own pace, essentially for FREE, TODAY. That, in an of itself, is an exciting thing. Hopefully, this quick methodology of what I am doing gets you thinking about giving it a try. That, alone, might just make the world a better place.

Have you done any online self training? If so, what did you find that works or doesn’t work? Drop me a line on Twitter (@lbhuston) and let me know.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Posted in Learning, Life Hacking, Training Tagged with: , , ,

Top Three iPad Apps I Use Today

From time to time, I’ll be posting the list of the top 3 apps I use on devices or for specific purposes. In this case, someone asked me what the top 3 apps I use on my iPad are. 

I’m going to assume we are talking about apps that don’t actually come with the iPad, because the top 3 used apps would be Mail, Safari & Calendar, otherwise. Effective, but not very exciting…

That said, the top 3 apps I use as an app store purchase on my iPad are:

Echofon – In my opinion, one of the best Twitter clients available, across the platforms. Excellent sync, awesome interface and a beautiful GUI.

Skype – Let’s face it, Skype just rocks. The iPad experience is amazing. The video conferencing is truly useful and it helps me stay in touch with the office and my family when I am on the go around the world. I also use it on my Mac and iPhone, but the iPad is the best experience of all of them for doing on the fly video conferences.

Status Board – Everything that makes my world move in one glance. Customization took a bit, but now, I use it throughout the day as a second screen. I pop it up while I am in meetings to use the data to discuss agenda items and as a timer. My office also uses Twitter to interact with clients and such, so its views have given us great meeting insights in real time over the last few months. Overall, it’s stable and fantastically useful!

Those are the top 3 for now. Touch base again soon for more top 3 apps. Wanna know what I am playing with? Drop me a line on Twitter (@lbhuston or @digitallizardsw) and I’ll try and work your questions into a future post. Have fun and stay safe out there! 

Posted in App Review, Life Hacking, Productivity Tagged with: , , , ,

A Focus Choice :: Right Things vs Money

One of the biggest choices I’ve had to make in my businesses is whether to focus on doing the right thing, from my point of view, versus focusing on money. This is a common choice that many entrepreneurs end up bumping into, and often times, more than once. 

The easy, cop out, answer is to focus on both. But that’s a cop out to be sure. Often, you can’t focus on both. This is when the gut check of leadership comes into play. 

I would say that I always attempt to do the right things and focus on the right thing. I spend extra attention on that choice when money is involved. I have truly come to believe over the last 20+ years of business leadership, that if you focus on the right things, and doing the right thing, the money will take care of itself. When I talk about that with other entrepreneurs and public company business folks, they often say that I am naive or held back by those beliefs. In fact, here is a little story I find disturbing about this very approach:

I once had a business partner in the technology consulting arena that was known for their aggressive behaviors. After a few years of doing business together, we ended up butting heads over an issue with a client where we could either focus on doing the right thing for the customer, or focus on the money. As you might guess, I chose to focus on the right thing, while my aggressive partner chose to focus solely on the money. As one of the two CEO’s involved, we sat down for a cup of coffee to discuss it, man to man. It turned heated. My partner was getting more and more aggressive with me and ultimately, with the needs of the customer. At the end of the heated conversation, my partner went on a tirade that included basically, “…if you’re so naive at business and so focused on the petty issues of your clients, I’ll give it two years and I’ll be buying your company for pennies on the dollar!”. That was nearly eight years ago. We lost the customer and that engagement turned them sour on our partner. Eventually, the animosity also ended our partnership, and I can’t say I was upset about it. Working with them after that event didn’t exactly “make me smile”. 

And the client? How did that turn out? Our partner bailed on the client. We explained we couldn’t help that our partner had bailed. We were transparent. We helped them find another vendor. We tried to work with them pro-bono as much as possible on the failed engagement and in the end, they were pleased. Two years later, after our non-compete with our partner had expired, they contacted us directly about working with us again. From then, until the present, they remain a very friendly, happy and loyal client of our firm. In fact, they have brought us referrals and helped us enter new markets and have become vocal in the support of our company.

Oh, and I have yet to sell the company to my ex-business partner for pennies on the dollar. In fact, we are more successful today than we ever were when we were working with them.

That’s my example of focusing on the right things. Do that, and the money, in my experience, will take care of itself. You might take a hit now and then, but the rewards are trust, friendships and being a better human being. I’ll take those any day over money. 

As always, thanks for reading, and until next time, stay safe out there! 

Posted in Entrepreneurship Tagged with: , , ,

Great Insights on a Dying Startup

I just read this fantastic article on someone who is killing their startup. It is full of great wisdom, sadness and a lot of lessons. Give it a read.

My Startup Has 30 Days to Live

Posted in Entrepreneurship Tagged with: , , ,

Creative Whack Pack

I just noticed that the Creative Whack Pack was in this month’s surprise box from Tim Ferriss. I am a pretty big supporter of the Whack Pack approach. It has helped me generate more than a few ideas and serves as a great stimulus for thinking differently about a variety of problems when the solution is not immediately apparent. 

But, the Whack Pack is heavy. It’s paper. It’s hard to use when you don’t have it with you, and I wouldn’t exactly call it indispensable enough to take on the road or on trips when I am traveling abroad. But, that problem was solved by a quick trip to the app store. You can download the app version for iOS here for $1.99 US. This DOES allow me to use the pack when I am traveling or don’t have physical access to the deck. 

Give the Whack Pack a try, especially for 2 bucks, it’s a great deal and a huge help! 

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Innovation Tagged with: , , ,

13 Ways to Stay Productive on Dark Days

I read this article a few days back and I thought that with all the talk I did the last couple of weeks about motivation, it was a great fit. That said, check it out here: 

LifeHacker: 13 Ways to Stay Productive on Your Darkest Days

These are fantastic tips. I especially love 1, 6, 10 and 13. Which ones are your favorites?

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Life Hacking, Productivity Tagged with: , , ,

App Review: Inspiration Maps

As many of you know, I am a HUGE believer in mind maps. I think they are a very very helpful tool to understand and communicate an idea, workflow or process. As such, I have been a long time supporter of Inspiration from Inspiration Software. Their desktop tool is simple enough for children in the classroom, but powerful enough for the enterprise. It has become my goto tool for graphics, mind mapping and illustration. This is especially true since I am admittedly “artistically challenged”. 🙂

Since I love Inspiration on the desktop so much, I was thrilled when the iPad app became available. I have NOT been disappointed. They did a great job creating the best user experience for mind mapping I have seen on the tablet platform. Inspiration Maps is the name of the product and it can be purchased in the app store for a current cost of $9.99 US. The graphics are clean, the process of mapping is easy to get used to and completely intuitive with your fingers on the iPad. I was amazed at how quickly it was productive. I especially dig the capability to turn mind maps into outlines and vice versa, with a click. That makes it easy to use the same content with a variety of different folks, some of whom may not be friendly or up to speed with mind maps and relational thinking. You can simply show them the traditional outline view, and in my experience, they get it!

The only thing I regret not being in the product is iCloud sync with the Desktop version. You can do import/export between them, but the process is not as smooth or as elegant as I would like to see. Hopefully, that is coming soon. In the meantime, the tools are functional and at least they support data transfer which makes life easier for the user.

Give this mind mapping a try across your computing platform. I think you’ll dig it. I know I do! That’s my rating: “I dig it!”

Posted in App Review, Productivity Tagged with: ,