Show up when you’re supposed to show up.

Finish work when it’s due.

Follow up often, and don’t be afraid to over-communicate.

Determine what you’re actually responsible for and apply your focus to those things first.

Don’t let ego get in the way.

Don’t stop learning. If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong place.

Be kind and patient with those you work with.

Take time off of work. You need time to recharge.

Say “no” more often.

Be professional.

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February 15, 2017

How to Avoid Fake News

With news being as unreliable as ever these days, Associated Press brings us a few tips on how to spot Fake News:

  • URL look odd? That “com.co” ending on an otherwise authentic-looking website is a red flag. When in doubt, click on the “contact” and “about” links to see where they lead. A major news organization probably isn’t headquartered in a house.
  • Does it make you mad? False reports often target emotions with claims of outlandish spending or unpatriotic words or deeds. If common sense tells you it can’t be true, it may not be.
  • If it’s real, other news sites are likely reporting it.
  • How is the writing? Caps lock and multiple exclamation points don’t have a place in most real newsrooms.
  • Who are the writers and the people in the story? Google names for clues to see if they are legitimate, or not.
  • What are fact-checking sites like Snopes.com and FactCheck.org finding?
  • It might be satire. Sometimes foolish stories aren’t really meant to fool.
  • Think twice before sharing. Today, everyone is a publisher.

When in doubt, don’t trust it and don’t share it. Be diligent about verifying sources, and remember that the vast majority of news media and blogs were originally conceived as a way to entertain.

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February 14, 2017

Little Reasons She’s Perfect

She says words that
through any other mouth
sound like bad words
but through her mouth
they sound like words
that make me laugh.

Sometimes I wonder
what she’s thinking
when she looks out the window
when we’re driving
through the mountains
beside the ocean
on a clear afternoon,
so I ask her
and she says,
Diet Coke.

On Saturday mornings
if I’m sleeping in,
she tip-toes into the room
to grab some socks
but I’m already awake
and I act asleep so she won’t feel bad
because she tip-toes really loud,
but she tries to be quiet
because she loves me.

Yesterday we dreamed about
the perfect day
and hers started with tea
and ended with me.

When we travel
she likes to make lists
of things to do,
but I get grumpy when
there’s too much to do
so she stopped keeping lists
but tells me how great it would be
to do this thing
and that;
she heard about it on a list.

Sometimes I have bad days
so she puts her arm
around my shoulder
and kisses my cheek,
and whispers three magic words
that make it okay,
“Tacos and Baklava?”

Happy Valentine’s Day, lovely wife.

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February 13, 2017

Thank Someone Today

There are many people in your life that deserve your gratitude.

While some of us are quick to assume we found success from our efforts alone, the truth is that we’re all guided by a multitude of influencers and advocates. I myself was raised by great parents, I’m supported by a loving wife, I’ve been mentored by great leaders, and I’m motivated by a great team.

Take an opportunity to show gratitude for an act of kindness today.

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February 10, 2017

You Probably Don’t Need It

I overhead an old man, ahead of me in line, next to the impulse buying station, “does anybody need any of this crap?”

Nope.

Don’t forget to occasionally look around at your stuff and ask, do I really need this crap? The less you bring into your life, the more full your life can be.

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February 9, 2017

The Best Things In Life

The best things in life aren’t free, but they’re cheap.
The quiet thrill of a good book.
A long drive along a short beach.
Hamburgers.
A matinee ticket to a good movie.
It doesn’t take much to have everything you need.

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I developed a habit of flossing everyday when my dentist showed me a zoomed in shot of my teeth after extended periods of not flossing (ew).

I developed a habit of tracking my finances everyday when my wife expressed concern over marrying me with $17,000 in student loans hanging over my head.

I developed a habit of writing code everyday when my first job out of college wasn’t nearly as satisfying as I’d hoped and the pay sucked.

I developed a habit of writing everyday when I realized that I wasn’t able to articulate my thoughts as well as I’d like and I couldn’t go another year without starting a book.

The most effective way to start something new is to encounter a problem that surpasses your desire to procrastinate. If you haven’t started that project or kicked that bad habit, maybe your problem isn’t quite understood yet.

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Early in my music career (lol), I got a chance to play guitar for a church youth group. In the months that followed, I had a blast being the sole musician each week, playing for a small crowd of 20-30 students.

Being fairly new to guitar, I was a bit raw and inconsistent with my playing, but it was a great confidence boost for a shy kid with a dream of playing music for a crowd.

After a few months of being the go-to musician, I was joined by a fellow guitar player, John. We spent the following several weeks playing together, but it wasn’t an immediate success. John came with new ideas, but I had an ego, which led to me causing trouble and stalling progress towards better music each week.

One evening, before we started playing for the night, John pulled me aside and gave me some advice. “Brian, you tend to play your acoustic guitar a bit too loud and forceful. Try softening it up a bit and go for a clearer sound.”

Wow, I thought, I’ve been doing this wrong for so long now! It was a tough pill to swallow, but I quickly realized John was right. What he was really saying was, “you don’t have to play loud to be heard. Just play well.” Simple. Effective.

Taking John’s advice that night, he and I played a round of songs better than we had in all the weeks prior. After our set, he gave me a thumbs up. “Much better,” he said.

I always respected John for giving me that advice, and I’ve carried variations of it with me throughout my (non-music) career.

You don’t have to work so hard. Just do good work.

You don’t have to speak loudly to get your point across. Just speak clearly.

You don’t have to do everything. Just do one thing well.

Thumbs up, John.

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Over the past few years, I’ve been motivated and influenced most by the following blogs:

Mr. Money Mustache – Finances

This guy retired at 30 without winning the lottery or selling a company. He simply lived on less and saved more money throughout his 20s. He has a fascinating story, and a money philosophy that anyone can adopt in their own life.

Nerd Fitness – Health and Fitness

Not only does it speak to my undeniable geekiness, but it speaks of a straightforward approach to improving your fitness—start with small habits and focus on “leveling up” your life with attainable goals and challenges.

Art of Manliness – Lifestyle

The classic blog dedicated to reviving the lost art of honorable manhood. I’ve been an avid reader for several years now, and it’s inspired me to be a better husband, a better co-worker, a better leader, and a better steward to those around me.

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My wife and I made a big move away from home over a year and a half ago, going from Tennessee to the central coast of California. It wasn’t easy, but we’ve found a new outlook on life in the process.

We grew up in a small town in Mississippi. Our problems were small and our opportunities were limited. People didn’t move away from the 100-mile vicinity of our hometown. I recall once believing that the highest achievement in my career could be in taking a job at a cool tech company in Jackson, MS. There was nothing wrong with this, but I never had a feeling of expanding beyond the confines of what was comfortable and familiar.

I never got that tech job I wanted in Jackson. Instead, I got a job in Tennessee, our first taste of moving away. This taught us that it was possible to make a home in an unfamiliar place, but there would still be more to come.

That good job in Tennessee led to a great career in California. In taking a look back to where I grew up, I was able to see that, while my life was formed in that small town, it flourished when I took the opportunity to leave it behind. We could dream big, and we could pursue big ideas.

Here are some of the most important lessons we learned that can only be gained from leaving home.

You’re capable of more than you think

Within hours of leaving Tennessee in our move to California, our car broke down in a Taco Bell parking lot. In the confusion of the Arkansas heat and a pet cat having a panic attack, we felt helpless. We had no friends or family nearby to help. After a few desperate phone calls to tow services and getting some help from a mechanic surely sent to us through divine intervention, we were on our way once again.

In the months that followed, my wife and I would be forced to tackle many more uncomfortable setbacks while relying solely on each other for help. We learned to be somewhat lost in the world around us and be ok with it. Everything was new, but we adapted. We embraced the responsibility of being fully independent from the security we had back home. We suddenly had to find our own answers to questions like, “what do I do about health insurance between jobs? How do I get my car registered? Where do I go for jury duty? Do we need earthquake insurance?? Earthquakes?!”

Life is scary, but when you detach from your comfort zone, you’ll find that you probably have everything you need to make it on your own.

People aren’t so different after all

To our surprise, those that once seemed so foreign to us turned out to be just like us in many ways. Most people are genuinely considerate and are just trying to make the best for themselves and those around them.

Growing up as southerners, we were certainly influenced by a view that those on the west coast were… different. They had different views and beliefs and were generally strange when compared to our normal. We’d hear stories of people moving far away only to turn into “weirdos” and ostracize themselves from their home base.

But we found that there is no normal. By far, the most striking realization I’ve had is that everyone comes to different conclusions about different things at different times for different reasons. While I subscribe to certain beliefs, I know that not everyone has those same beliefs, and it’s important to be respectful of those differences. And to their credit, we’ve always been shown the same respect by the incredible people we’ve met since moving.

When there’s a 2000 mile separation between you and those who are different from you, it’s impossible to empathize. Only by placing yourself (almost literally) in their shoes will you be able to see that we’re really not so different after all.

Related: How to Get Along with Anyone

Marriage is put to the test

If you’re making a big move with your spouse, either you’ll divorce immediately, or stay together happily forever. Moving is a stressful experience to begin with, especially if that move takes you 2000 miles from home to a town where you don’t know anyone. You’ll quickly find that you can really only rely on each other when that time comes. You’ll spend all of your time together as you learn to navigate a new city, find new friends, or, if you’re like us, find new places to eat.

Frankly, some of our most bitter struggles originated from the stress of moving away, but at the same time, we’ve experienced some of our happiest memories during this time as well. Expect there to be a major trial period for your marriage. If you make it out in one piece, you’ll have bonded with your spouse in a way that can only be done when leaving the comforts of home and in-laws.

Considering a big move away from home? It may just be the best decision you make.

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