As the cofounder of a collaborative consumption startup, I do my best to try all kinds of “sharing economy” services like Couchsurfing, TaskRabbit, Airbnb, Vayable, Grubwithus and Skillshare. I even blogged about my experience taking a UX Design for Non-Designers Skillshare class.

But there’s of course generally two sides to these products – the consumer and the producer. In Couchsurfing, theres the host and the surfer. In Vayable there’s the guide and the explorer. And in Skillshare there is the student and the teacher. It’s important to get both perspectives when you can.

I’ve worked hard to avoid blogging about blogging here at The Art of Ass-Kicking. The vast majority of my posts are on overcoming your fears, doing great work and making epic sh*t happen.

At the same time, in building this blog up, I have learned some great lessons about creating compelling content, discovering my audience and attracting 100,000+ visits over 2011.

And I’m sharing what I’ve learned in a class.

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See my 2010 Year in Review blog post here.

2011 blog year in review

2012 has begun and I thought it’d be a good time to reflect on how the site has done. I’ll start with top posts, dive into some analytics and finish with reflections and thoughts for next year.

Top Posts of 2011

(* denotes it was one of the top 10 most read posts of 2011)


The biggest thing for me in 2011 was founding a company called Ridejoy and going through Y Combinator. Based on the survey I took a few months ago, this is one of the topics my readers are most interested in reading more about.

General Ass-Kicking

Some of my posts defy any particular topic or categorization and really can only be placed under the “general ass-kicking” header. People really seem to love these posts: Cold Showers was my post popular post of 2011, and An Essay on Winning, another general ass-kicking post, was my top in 2010.


I started getting into running in May of this year and little did I realize how much it would change my life. I predict many more running posts in 2012 – just getting started on this and am loving it!

Practical Wisdom

I try to include actionable ideas in every blog posts, but these ones in particular were focused on how to do stuff. Survey results said readers wanted more lessons/tips type posts and these are my best ones.

Gymnastics + General Fitness

Outside of running, I did a series of posts on gymnastics and general fitness that people seemed to like. I think it’s really important to stay fit if you care at all about performing at a high level, whether that’s for your job or something else.

Sales and Marketing

I announced that I would be working on a series on sales and marketing to put down on paper everything I’ve learned so far on these topics. The first two (nondouchey self promotion and everyone being in sales) have been quite popular.

Meta (Blogging on Blogging)

I try not to be a blogger that blogs about blogging, but once in a while it creeps in. In these posts I pull back the curtain on how I run this blog or what I’ve learned from doing this site.


Finally, a grab bag of miscellaneous posts that I thought were good but didn’t make it neatly into any other category.

Analytics for 2011

Traffic Graph

My traffic is still very spiky, based on getting hits on various blog posts.

Visitor Data

I had about 3x as many visits as last year (44k visits in 2010) and about 40% more pageviews (127k pg views in 2010). People spent a bit more time on the site but less pages per visit, which doesn’t really make sense to me – let me know if you can explain that one!

Sources & Keywords

As I’ve grown, I’m getting more search engine traffic and less referral traffic as a total proportion of my traffic. Direct visits has stayed constant. In terms of the keywords that come to the site, it’s dominated by my name, cold showers and rejection therapy. Referral sources still have HN topping out, with direct traffic coming in second and search results coming in third.

Lessons / Reflections / Looking Forward

I started blogging seriously again in July of 2010 and so 2011 was my first full year of operation, so to speak. I learned tons about writing interesting and (hopefully) insightful blog posts. I renamed this blog from to “The Art of Ass-Kicking”. I started a small email list with special updates. I got to connect with tons of smart/interesting people. I posted 5 days a week for a month and I held my first readership survey.

So what have I learned?

That it’s good to experiment. Some of my best posts were written in the heat of the moment (rebellious. asian.), on a random topic I didn’t think anyone would care about (cold showers), written in a different style than my normal articles (getting your groove back) or about stuff that was deeply personal (blew out my knee).

That people care about the personal touch. I reply to every single person who signs up for my email newsletter and people seem to really appreciate that. It gives me good ideas for blog posts and also helps me stay connected to what my audience is interested in.

That bloggers are regular people. Sometimes people will tell me they’ve read my blog posts when we first meet (at a mixer or meetup). I’m usually a little surprised but it’s a nice feeling. It gets awkward though when the other person gets gushy about it. My blog isn’t even that big/good! I got to meet Patrick Mckenzie briefly at a YC event and was barely able to rein myself in and act cool. It was only because I remembered how I feel in these situations and tried to “do as I would have done to me”.

What are my plans for 2012?

Well, my primary focus for this year is Ridejoy, so that means the blog will only get secondary (or perhaps even tertiary treatment as my running training ramps up). But don’t worry too much, as I’ve grown as a blogger, I hope the quality of the posts I put out will increase, even if the frequency / sheer quantity decreases some.

I did upgrade my blog theme (I’m now running the Premium Pixels theme by Orman Clark). I’d love to get your feedback on it. I’ve also created a logo for myself – which you can see on the left. I’m excited by the upgraded look, I believe it builds a stronge professional brand for this blog, without looking too corporate or stuffy.

I’m hoping to do more interactive stuff with the blog – more giveaways, contests, perhaps even a meetup! I want to expand the range of the blog.

I also hope to vary my post style. I’ve read some good books over break (including the wonderfully elegant Different) and will be trying a couple different styles of writing. Would love to hear what you all think.

Most importantly, I want to continue serving you – my readers. I am very fortunate to do this and I hope to continue producing valuable content and sharing my learnings with you.


The results are in! Thanks to the ~50 readers who took the survey! You guys rock! Here’s a break down of the things I’ve learned. I know this is not totally accurate because many people didn’t take the survey so it’s biased. But you know what, I’m going write more for the people who take the time to leave feedback vs “the silent majority”. So thanks again guys.

In addition to the two randomly selected winners, I’ve included some special gifts to everyone who took the survey and left me an email. If you didn’t leave an email but filled out the survey just contact me and I’ll shoot you the bonus stuff. Honor system.


  • 80% Male
  • 59% 20-30 years old
  • I assumed that most of the audience here were twenty something males so I’m not too surprised here. 20% females nothing to sneeze at though – it’s 2.5x the number of females in the Stanford CS Department so I’m make sure to keep the ladies in mind. And more surprisingly, since only about 7% of survey respondents were under 20, this means that a whopping 34% of my readers are, gasp, over 30! Man, I figured older folks would just be sick of my juvenile perspective but apparently not.

  • 73% Most readers are aspiring entrepreneurs
  • 60% Most of the aspiring entrepreneurs are TECHNICAL
  • You Art of Ass-Kicking readers are an entrepreneurial bunch. Most of you are looking to start your own companies. That’s awesome! And more surprisingly for me, many of you are technical. Since I’m not technical, I figured that I’d attract a strongly less technical crowd. But apparently not. That’s awesome.


  • 80% Inspiration / Motivation / Getting Pumped up
  • 60% Following Jason’s crazy ideas / challenges
  • 56% Covers Topics I’m Interested in
  • Seems like most of you really jive with my point in Why Inspiration Matters. You come here to get pumped up so you can go back and kick some ass with your job or business or side project or fitness goals or social life. I love that. And apparently more than the “topics” I write about, it’s the crazy sh*t I do that keeps you interested. Message heard loud and clear guys. In fact, I’ve got a couple interesting things in the works that I’m looking forward to blogging about. =)

  • 86% Lessons/tips
  • 54% Detailed case studies
  • 50% Personal reflections
  • I like to mix it up with my content both topic-wise and post type. Most of you are satisfied with the number of quotes / videos and interviews I’m doing, but want to see more meaty stuff. Sounds good. Certainly these types of posts are more work for me to do but knowing that it’s what readers want helps motivate me to get them done. Look for a case study on the movie 300 in the near future.

    General Feedback

    I gave people some room to just write free-form about the things they want to see or feedback they have for me. It broke down into a couple categories which I’ve listed below along with some of specific things people were saying. I’ve linked to some of my blog posts that relate to their requests and added comments here and there.

    Fear / Challenges / Hardcore stuff

    • Continuing to do/talk about things that conquer fear.
    • Experiments, like taking cold showers, rejection therapy, etc.
    • I love your posts on getting stronger and discipline, such as taking cold showers and wouldn’t mind seeing more
    • Topics – Fear of failure and fear of success.
    • Taking risks and living to tell about it.

    Fitness / Running / Gymnastics

    • Anything fitness related along with your own fitness goals and when you meet them
    • If you do train for another race that’d be interesting (run tracker) and inspiring. (Jason: doing a race today so will have a report soon!)
    • Gymnastics have been my favorite.
    • Taking up a new sport (Jason: hmm, interesting thought)
    • Running (how you run, what you listen to :) )

    Randomness / Variety

    • Keep being interesting (Jason: haha, will try!)
    • Keep us guessing and do what you do, Jason. I like the variety…keep it fresh.
    • The unorthodox varieties – not the cookie-cutter ones that others share.
    • Mainly just whatever’s on your mind.

    Posting Frequently / Consistently

    • More frequent posting
    • Keep posting at the current rate. Be regular and reliable on the posts.
    • Yes. By making more of it. :D
    • Of course I’d love if you’d post more but as a failed “blogger” myself, I understand a set schedule =] (Jason: appreciate your understanding!)
    • Just keep writing! :)


    • How you got involved in a startup (Jason: coming soon!)
    • How to succeed in the non-technical roles within a startup
    • Start-up life and the challenges you are facing with it. Also want to hear more about the start-up culture, specifically in your area in SF
    • Some start-up strategy would be interesting. I know it could be harmful to your own efforts, but little hints as to how you arrive at your roadmap would be great.
    • Startups. Bootstrapping. Specifically how to overcome initial inertia and launch.


    • I’d like to see more (yes, more) on motivation. I personally can achieve much more if I can remain motivated. The difficult part is finding that and keeping it in my daily routine
    • Finding the motivation to do things when you just don’t feel like doing them.
    • Anything to get me off my butt (Jason: sometimes that’s the hardest part right!)
    • I’d like to see ways to keep consistent effort under the weight of discouragement, be it from your own doubts or the doubts of others.

    Other / Uncategorizable

    • How to market yourself without being annoying about it (Jason: Can give this a shot, though some might disagree with the ‘not being annoying about it’ part)
    • I’m interested in moving to the SF bay area after college and would like to hear more about it (ie businesses, activities, etc…)
    • You need a kick ass logo (Jason: any designers out there who could offer help?)
    • I’d also like to see stuff on how real life is NOT like high school, or university; lessons or wisdom that was promulgated in the educational years but then proved to be wrong when reality hit the fan. I’m sure that there are plenty of these waiting to happen.
    • Mentoring (being mentored, finding mentors),
    • Strategies for not losing out on opportunities when you don’t have the academic creds on your resume, but you’re a rockstar anyway
    • Career-related. What works, what doesn’t.

    If that wasn’t enough data for you, you’re welcome to check out the survey in it’s entirety here. (no personal data revealed)

    Andy, a long-time reader, writes in with a question:

    I would like to see if you can write something about why you’re so fond of “kick-ass”.  In other words, would you present your rational to readers why kicking ass is such a big deal.  I have been often told that that kicking ass needs courage and skills, but “fixing ass”, if I may say, needs more skills and courage.  Or can we say, construction is more difficult and productive than destruction.

    I love that concept – “fixing-ass”. Andy brings up a good point. Why am I so obsessed with “kicking ass”? And is that necessarily tied to a love of destruction. One of the most universally negative actions is terrorism – wanton destruction/violence and the fear associated with it.

    So here’s the short answer:

    Creation and destruction are two sides of the same coin.

    Think about building a building. To build a building you have to cut down trees to make 2 x 4’s and smelte ore to make pipes and grind up limestone to make cement. In order to create, we must destroy.

    On the flip side, when you erase a whiteboard, thus destroying whatever’s on it, you pave the way for new markings to be made. When you destroy (aka disprove) a scientific theory with conclusive evidence to the contrary, you open up opportunities for newer and better theories to emerge [1].

    The Art of Ass-Kicking is about transforming yourself so that you can achieve more in your career, your business, your sport, and your social life. But we all have bad habits and limiting attitudes that hold us back. In order to make the break through, you have you eliminate the junk that oppresses us.

    As the koan of the Zen Master and the scholar goes – “before we can truly understand, we must empty the cup“. [2]

    It takes skill and courage to destroy, even if it’s toward a greater good. And after we make the difficult decision to destroy, we must then begin again the process of creating. Of building and fixing.

    So go forth and kick some ass today. But if you break anything, remember that it’s your job to help build it back up better than it was before.


    [1] A more straightforward reason for destruction in the scientific community might just be that old scientists need to die for new theories to emerge. As Max Planck, Noble Prize winner and creator of quantum theory once said:

    A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grow up that is familiar with it.

    [2] The full story varies depending on where you source it. Here’s one variant from the Nebraska Zen Center:

    One of my favorite stories concerns a Buddhist scholar and a Zen Master. The scholar had an extensive background in Buddhist Studies and was an expert on the Nirvana Sutra. He came to study with the master and after making the customary bows, asked her to teach him Zen. Then, he began to talk about his extensive doctrinal background and rambled on and on about the many sutras he had studied.

    The master listened patiently and then began to make tea. When it was ready, she poured the tea into the scholar’s cup until it began to overflow and run all over the floor. The scholar saw what was happening and shouted, “Stop, stop! The cup is full; you can’t get anymore in.”

    The master stopped pouring and said: “You are like this cup; you are full of ideas about Buddha’s Way. You come and ask for teaching, but your cup is full; I can’t put anything in. Before I can teach you, you’ll have to empty your cup.”

    It’s really satisfying to run this blog because I feel that it helps people and adds value to their lives. After posting about how I’ve been blogging for over a year, I’ve decided its a good time to do a reader survey. I talked about discovering my audience but then thought to myself – “Is that just my impression or is that real? Maybe I should get some data!”

    I sent this out first to my email subscribers – and the results have been interesting. I don’t want to give it way yet – because I’m curious to see if the trends are mapped by the broader causal readers.

    By doing this survey, you can help me better understand how to improve it and make it even more useful, actionable and worth reading. To thank you for your support, I’ll be selecting two survey takers to win one of the kick-ass books below [1].

    Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard – great book on understanding how people / organizations enact sustainable change.
    The 4-Hour Body – Tim Ferriss’s second best-seller. There is something here for everyone – if you want to upgrade your physical state, this is how you do it.
    Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? – the best Seth Godin book I’ve ever read. Covers a wide range of topics from work to leadership to innovation and highly recommended.

    I’ll publish the survey results on my blog and strive to adjust my writing to fit the request. Note – I haven’t made all the fields required but the giveaway only applies to people who write at least a sentence or two in each of the 2 textboxes.

    Thanks so much for your help and regularly scheduled posts will continue in a few days!

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