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How To Use Fear To Your Advantage: Part 1

Developing Tools To Get Past Clinical Fear



Fear is real. Fear is easy to talk about when you're not experiencing it, but it can be crippling when you're facing it. We all have to deal with it, and if you want to succeed at anything worth doing, you can't ignore it. You have to beat it. Then you have to use it.

There are a lot of different types of fear, but I'm going to bunch them all into two categories: Clinical and Fear of Risk. In this post I'll talk about Clinical, and I'll discuss Fear of Risk in a Part 2.

Clinical = Phobia

I like to think of myself as afraid of a very small number of things, clinically. The big one is flight. I've been afraid of flying for about 15 years, although I've flown about 200 times, and the first 100 or so were without the slightest pang of terror.

There was never any direct trigger. It just started one day and got progressively worse. It took forever for me to realize, only in this past year, that my fear of flying is actually claustrophobia, exacerbated by turbulence.

Again, no great discovery or methodology. I figured it out myself one day, on a hunch.

It doesn't make the mid-air tremors any easier to ignore. I still freak out on the inside during really bumpy flights. But now that I know exactly what it is I'm afraid of, I can get on a plane without dreading it for days or even weeks before the flight.

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How to Stay Fit After 30

A Brief Outline Of a Forthcoming Book



Yesterday, someone had to tell me what a "Dad Bod" was and why it was a thing. I think that's awesome. I'm a big fan of being happy with who you are and how you look.

I'm also a big fan of health. I like to be fit. I want to keep up with my kids. I don't need a beach body. A dad body is fine as long as it can walk up three flights of stairs without making me feel like I want to puke.

If you want to be in shape at any age after God's gift of youthful invulnerability dries up, or for that matter, even if you're young but exercise and dieting has never been your thing, you don't need a program, you have to reprogram. You don't need a coach, you need to find that thing inside you that gets you out there each day.

It's going to come from you. I can give you the basics and help you make the choices that are right for you. In the book, I'll detail all these concepts and more, but for now, this should be enough to get you started.

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The Summer Of Do For Yourself

Want To Be More Self-Reliant? Get Out Of Your Own Way



A lot of my schemes are planned well in advance. Most of them involve revenge in one form or another over some perceived slight and when I stop being all jilted I realize that I actually have something worthy to work on.

I've written songs, articles, and books this way. I also once created an entire company because some a-hole didn't show for a meeting and didn't apologize until a couple days later. By that time I had written enough code to create a viable, if not superior, competitor to his business.

Anger is a great motivator.

Anyhow, this particular scheme, the Summer Of Do For Yourself, didn't start out that way. Rather, it sprang up organically over the first few weeks of this summer and has morphed into a theme that I think might be worth sharing.

Here's how it works. Every time one of our kids asks us for something, we tell them to do it themselves. It sounds simple, but if you're a parent you understand that this takes some getting used to.

“Mom, where are my clothes?”

They're in your dresser, try to pick out something that won't make the other kids laugh at you.

“Daddy, will you cut my pizza?”

Nope. Knives are next to the forks. Mind you don't cut yourself, Mordecai.

“What's a Mordecai?”


“I'm eight.”

Fair enough. Just be careful.

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Why I'm Banning the News



That's it. I'm done. No more news.

I'm sure I'll regret missing out on the continuing Caitlyn Jenner saga, the run-up to the new Star Wars movie, and the downfall of civilization, but I'm about ten days into this new policy and dammit if I don't feel a whole lot better about myself and the world.

Let me clarify.

I'm banning televised, radio, and print news from reaching my eyeballs and earholes until further notice. I'll stay on top of current events the way the kids do, via Twitter and Facebook.

This builds on another little secret policy I enacted years ago. If one of my Facebook/Twitter friends posts something overtly political that I know to be a falsification, exaggeration, or blatantly-logic-free talking point, they're done too. Gone. Wiped. A ghost. I don't have time for other people's misguided anger. I've got shit to take care of.

And that speaks to the crux of my ban. What we call news today is driven either by political agenda or the almighty dollar. They're not doing their jobs, and they're not even trying to mask it anymore.

The goal is to keep the spin cycle of anger, envy, and schadenfreude going. Pull back the curtain and you'll see that the ones who are keeping us down are the ones telling us about how everyone is keeping us down.

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Why My Kids Don't (And Won't) Have a Mobile Phone



My kids, all approaching their tweens at a rapid pace, don't have a mobile phone, and they're not going to have a mobile phone any time soon. I don't know when they'll have a mobile phone, but it isn't now and it won't be in the foreseeable future. I'm heading this one off before it becomes an issue.

But this isn't a dad decision, it's a technical decision.

I know this to be true because of the reasoning. My kids don't have a mobile phone for the same reason they don't have a car, a chainsaw, or a wet bar in the playroom. I can't think of a single good reason for them to have it. At the same time, I can think of a gigantic, enumerated, and well-documented list of reasons why they shouldn't.

This isn't a new argument for a new age.

It's the same argument I went through when I wanted a phone in my bedroom at the same age. EVERYONE I knew had one, or at least had access to a phone in a relatively quiet and peaceful part of their home. I grew up in a loud, large, New York Italian family. There was no such thing as quiet and peaceful in our home.

But finally my parents capitulated because, and here's where I out my age and my nerd cred, I needed a phone to get online. This was an amazing stroke of luck for 12-year-old me.

Within three months, I had a predator make a pass at me in a chat room. The phone part of the phone brought me nothing but drama, heartache, and long distance charges with a girlfriend who moved to Connecticut. It took me six months to pay my parents back.

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My Life Is 90% Failure, and I'm NOT Cool With That



From the outside, my life looks like a picnic at a theme park on a mid-70-degree day, sometimes with free beer. This is due to a few reasons.

1) My life is actually pretty good.
2) I don't like drama.
3) I've learned to live with massive, heart-wrenching, gut-punching failure.

Look, everything you ever read about entrepreneurship and success starts and ends with failure. It's necessary. It's part of the process. Fall nine times and get up 10. You'll never be anything unless you've failed more than you've succeeded.

But I'm not talking about that easily-digestible, hypothetical, well-we-gave-it-a-whirl failure. I'm not talking about someone giving you a lot of money and it didn't go the way everyone wanted failure. I'm not even talking do all this work and have it perform miserably failure.

I'm talking about wanting something really, really important, really, really bad, and making huge personal and professional sacrifices at your own expense and at the expense of people you care about to inch and claw and struggle and scratch to get so close that you've already started celebrating (even though you know better) and then crazy, coincidental circumstances conspire to snatch it away.

This happens to me. A lot.

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Why American Titans Is Going to Act Like a Startup

This Isn't a Band, It's a Movement



Over this past weekend, I announced the formation of my new band — American Titans. This is real. This is serious. And this is something that, if I have my way, you're going to hear more about in the coming weeks and months.

Not just from me. You'd hate me for that.

On the surface, fronting a three-piece power rock band probably seems like the craziest thing I've done in ages. I'm not young. I'm still deeply engrossed in an entrepreneurial journey that is doing blazingly well. I have a fully-formed family with three school-aged children and a happy home. I coach Little League.

Rock stars do not coach Little League, no matter how well that premise might work at the box office when you attach Adam Sandler and one of those Disney/Nick kids.

But this is not a mid-life crisis move. I'm not growing out my hair — in fact I just cut it all off. This is not going to be Hawaiian shirts and blues riffs and cover songs from the 90s. This is not our poker night, it's grounded in some pretty solid entrepreneurial principles.

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The Continuing Maddening Saga of Twitter

@dickc Is Out, But the Song Remains the Same



Godspeed, Dick Costolo. You may or may not have been part of the problem, but apparently you're not the solution.

Almost two years ago, I wrote this piece about Twitter having jumped the shark — the only time I ever spit words about the frustrating, mind-boggling, logic-defying story of Twitter. At the time, the company was just about to go public without yet having found its niche. It had a very simple premise — building the public conversation — and it was good at it, but it had a huge problem.

Put simply, Twitter never fully figured out how to take advantage of the democratization of the Internet. This struggle is best defined by its top followers. The loudest and most powerful voices on Twitter are celebrities, and even those are the celebrities of the bullshit variety, i.e. those known more for their notoriety than their skill/progress/acclaim in their respective fields.

This is what happens in society. We all want great television yet we all watch reality television. We all want to read great books but nobody buys books. We all love music that motivates and moves us but Pitbull.

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The Kauffman Index of Startup Activity Is Flawed, and That's a Problem



You know, I'm not even sure why I'm so horked off about this. Maybe it's the straw the broke the camel's back. I'm not a fan of these kinds of lists and rankings and studies (and I use that last term loosely), that purport to categorize a location by its qualification as a best place to live, love, work, start a family, start a business, eat a hot dog, whatever it is that said publication is trying to sell.

And therein lies the issue. It seems to me that exactly zero of these listicles serve any purpose other than to sell subscriptions, ad space, white papers, and all kinds of additional products and services, all based on research that includes untested hypotheses and unproven algorithms.

It's like me telling you that the Yankees are the best team in baseball because they have the best uniforms — replicas of which are now available at a 10% discount and we take Bitcoin.

If I have to put a point on my irritation, it's with the lackadaisical manner in which the list of metro areas in the Kauffman Index of Startup Activity was constructed, and the even more lackadaisical manner in which it was defended.

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Your Life Is Not Your LinkedIn Profile

Why I'm Restarting My Blog



Not everything you do has to be classified and categorized. Life doesn't fit neatly into manilla folders or a directory structure. This is a concept I still struggle with, even after 20+ years of trying to figure out who I am and where my career is going.

Wait — don't stop reading. I'm not going down that navel-gazing introspective mid-life crisis path. You know me, I wouldn't do that to you.

But there are things you figure out after a couple dozen rounds of doing things hard and having them pay off. So I'm going to start writing about them. Hard.

The idea came together when I was speaking at this massive conference in Las Vegas last week with two of my co-workers — two guys I like a lot but don't know as well as the rest of my team. Needless to say, we accomplished more than any of us thought we would, we all won some money at the tables, and we all got to know each other better.

One night we were out late, real late, topping the night off with dinner/breakfast (we're east-coasters, so it was 4:00 a.m. our time) when someone brought up life goals — kind of ironically, but the topic came up: One sentence to describe your life goals.

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