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How Has Your Perspective Changed? (My 28th Birthday Question Giveaway)

A few years ago, I started a birthday tradition on this blog, where I ask readers to respond to a question, and give away a sweet prize.

When I turned 26, I asked “What’s one thing you wish you knew when you were 26?” When I turned 27, I asked readers to tell me about an important decision they had made.

Last week I turned 28, and it’s time for a new birthday question giveaway!

One random commenter will win a hardcover or Kindle copy of Think Like a Freak, a really rad book by writer/economist duo Stephen Dubner and Steven J. Leavitt (authors of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics). I’m about halfway through and really loving it.

This year’s question is:

What’s something you’ve changed your perspective on as you’ve gotten older?

So to be fair, here’s my answer to the question:

As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate the need to “play the game” [1]. Continue reading…

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How Startup Ideas Can Be Modeled Like Chemical Reactions

I’m sometimes envious of people who studied subjects in college that correspond to their actual careers. Finance majors who become bankers. Computer Science majors who become software engineers. Must be nice to actually *use* the knowledge you spent four or more years studying. As a guy with two biology degrees, a career in marketing and (non biotech), startups is a fairly orthogonal direction.

However, I have discovered a few ideas from my academic studies that come in handy when thinking about startups. One of them is how a chemical reaction is a great model for a startup idea. But let’s first take a step back.

The Four Key Points Needed to Discuss a Startup Idea

I was recently in a conversation with a coworker about some of her startup ideas. She had one idea around revitalizing musicals that, while not her main startup idea, got me thinking about the best way intelligently discuss these types of ideas. [1] It boils down to four major questions / answers. Continue reading…

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Four Total Body Workouts When You’re Short on Time

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor and this is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You know the drill: attempt these workouts at your own risk.

Finding time to work out when you’re working a demanding job is tough. Add a big commute, errands, family responsibilities, and exercise time gets lost to the ether. And yet we know that physical activity is so critical to our physical, mental, emotional, and social performance and quality of life.

No matter how busy you are, skipping exercise is almost always a big mistake. Yes, being active takes time, but you can get a solid workout in a short amount of time if you’re willing to haul ass. Here are four workouts that will give you a great full-body workout in less than 15 minutes, and three of them don’t require any special equipment.

Are you ready to give up your best excuse for not exercising?

On High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

The idea behind all of these workouts is that they have periods of intense work, and periods of rest. The rest periods are short by design. This type of training has been shown to burn fat efficient, develop aerobic and strength benefits and boost your metabolism for 48-72 hours after the workout. Continue reading…

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24 Ideas From Scott Berkun About Tech, Leadership, and the Future of Work

One of the few people who can match Paul Graham as writer is Scott Berkun. They have both succeeded as technologists, Graham in Viaweb + YC, and Berkun in Microsoft and Automattic. They both write thoughtful essays on a wide range of topics, like the Cities and Ambition or Street Smarts vs Book Smarts. If anything, Berkun is a bit more personable and relatable as a writer, he’ll refer to himself a bit more than Graham and use more culturally relevant examples.

I recently finished Berkun’s book, A Year Without Pants, about his experience as something like a product manager for Team Social at Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com. The title of the book refers to the fact that the company is fully distributed and so you don’t have to wear pants to work if you don’t want to. I’ve written previously about 37 Signal’s book Remote, but this book is different because it doesn’t focus so intensely on the “remote” part. In fact, large swaths of the book are about times where Team Social were working together at an in person gathering.

Berkun primarily uses his experience at Automattic as a platform to offer a variety of other interesting and unconventional ideas about work. Here are 24 of my favorite quotes from the book (which you should read) and my comments. Continue reading…

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Everything you wanted to know about the Presidential Innovation Fellowship but were too afraid to ask

I had the good fortune of serving as a Presidential Innovation Fellow at the Smithsonian, building and launching a crowdsourced transcription website at the Smithsonian that’s leveraged thousands of digital volunteers to transcribe over 5,000 completed historic documents. As we near the end of the application process for Round 3 of the fellowship, I thought I’d share my *totally unauthorized* answers to real and imaginary questions potential applicants might have.

What the heck is Presidential Innovation Fellowship?

The Presidential Innovation Fellowship was first launched in 2012 to pair the nation’s top technologists with leading government innovators to solve the nation’s most difficult challenges and make a lasting and meaningful impact.  If it were a startup, then the graph would be going up and to the right. Round 1 had five projects and 18 fellows. Round 2 had nine projects across 16 federal agencies and 43 fellows. Round 3 applications are now live.

Who runs the PIF program?

The PIF program is run as a partnership between the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA ). Learn more in this blog post written by US CTO Todd Park and Administrator of GSA Dan Tangherlini. Continue reading…