Why We Started Ridejoy

I’ve been messing around with a site called Askolo, which allows you to ask questions of smart, interesting people like Alexis Ohanian (cofounder of Reddit), Mark Bao (creator of threewords.me) and Paul Graham (Y Combinator founder). It’s like the structure of Formspring with the content quality of Quora.

Here’s a question I was asked and then answered:

Q: What was your team’s inspiration for starting Ridejoy?

A: I’ll tell you a bit about our background because it shows what we’re trying to do with Ridejoy:

I met Kalvin in college while working on a nonprofit and later became roommates in San Francisco. We were living in a 3 bedroom and need to find a roommate, but didn’t just want a random stranger. We found our third roommate (and future cofounder) Randy via a site we had built called http://jasonandkalvin.com. After living together for a year and becoming good friends while working at separate startups, we felt the time was right to start something new and build something meaningful together.

We had shared passions around technology, travel and community and our backgrounds led us into rideshare. (Randy had relied numerous times on the kindness of strangers when backpacking through Europe and Asia to share food/housing/rides, Kalvin had recently experienced the unique private transportation networks of East Africa and I have a lot of great memories of long-distance roadtrips with friends: like driving down Route 1 (http://www.jasonshen.com/2011/road-trips-and-taking-the-long-way/)

Just as we used the web to find a roommate we could have a strong connection with, we’ve built Ridejoy to help people travel easily and affordably and with people they could share this great travel experience with. We were very fortunate to go through YC in the summer of 2011 and going to Burning Man (via our rideshare site http://burningmanrides.com) has certainly influenced our outlook on things as well.

We love the fact that this service helps people get where they need to go (usually to see family or friends or significant others) in a cost-effective way (the recession hurts!) while reducing CO2 emissions and creating real-life human connections.

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If  you liked this and want to ask me a question or read my answers to 14 other questions, check me out on Askolo.

Photo credit by stuckincustoms

7 Ways to Get More Energy for Side Projects

Photo courtesy of R’eyes.

Whenever someone signs up for my email newsletter, they get a personal email reply from me thanking them for signing up and asking them if there’s something I can do to help them. I get to meet a lot of interesting people that way, learn new things and hopefully provide some value.

A while back I got an email from a reader who works as an analyst at a multi-national bank and asked me this:

Quick question for you. A lot of times I come home from work and I’m too exhausted to work on my side projects. How do you manage your energy to get the most out of your day? – Thanks, Josh

With his permission, I’m reprinting his question and my response. I thought readers of this blog would find in valuable since I find that many of you have very cool side projects that you’re working on.


Great question. I think there is something about people’s baseline energy levels that plays a role here – some people are just naturally more energetic than others. But outside of that, here are a couple ideas to have the energy to work on your side projects:

1) Reduce your commute.

Commutes add a lot of stress to your life and suck up your time. Instead of driving, could you take a bus or train and sleep / work on your project? Or work from home one or two days a week?

2) Wake up earlier.

If you’re tired at night, why not go to sleep earlier and wake up an hour earlier than normal. Take that 1st hour to work on the things that are important to you. It’s like investing in yourself before paying others.

3) Exercise.

Are you working out consistently? I know that if I don’t work out, I can start feeling sluggish and slow. Taking the time to work out might feel like it’s detracting from your time to do stuff, but it can add a lot more spring to your step later on in the day – and if done consistently over time, give you more energy on a regular basis.

4) Quality food.

What kind of food are you eating? I know that when I get stressed, I eat a lot and mostly junk, and it tends to make me feel like crap. Drinking lots of water and eating more fruits and vegetables, and being *slightly* hungry (instead of stuffing yourself) can give you a lot more energy.

5) Energy “vampires”.

There are certain people that we hang out with (boss, coworkers, friends) that can really suck all the life out of you. If you’re hanging out with a vampire, see if you can reduce the time you spend with them or maybe even cut them out of your life.

6) Better projects.

Maybe you’re just not that excited about the side project you’re working on. I know people often will “want to want” something but not actually desire to do it. Be honest with yourself and see if this is something you’re really passionate about doing and enjoy the process.

7) Get a partner.

If you can partner up with someone, it makes the project a lot easier and more enjoyable (if you find the right person). See if there is someone at work, or a friend, or even an online contact who might want to work with you on the things you’re doing. That startup post is 10x better because I coauthored it with another guy, Derek, who I first met on Twitter and now is a really good friend.

Learn How to Pick Up 30+ New Daily Habits With Bevan Barton (KAI #1)

You thought my 30 rejection therapy challenge was crazy – wait till you hear Bevan Barton’s story. About a month ago I met Bevan at the SF Blogger Club Meetup – it was a community development and sales prospecting opportunity for us but for Bevan, it was a chance to hit one of his daily habits – going to a social event. Turns out he’s basically trying to adopt 30 new habits at any given time – a journey he’s chronicling at on his site: http://lifeismywife.com

I had to learn more and share his story with readers of this site so we’ve put together this interview. Incidentally, I think this is going to kick off a series of interviews I call “Kick Ass Interviews” or KAI’s, where essentially I’ll be interviewing people who I think kick ass. Pretty straightforward right? Let’s get started…

JS: Hey Bevan, thanks for agreeing to the interview. Can you tell our readers who you are and what your site is about?

BB: I’m a pretty regular guy who tackles big challenges. I’ve been an ultramarathon cyclist, a world traveler, and a web entrepreneur.  I grew up in the Bay Area in California and graduated from Middlebury College as a Computer Science major last spring.

My blog is about my experiments in personal growth. Right now I’m picking up a new daily habit every day for sixty days, and rehearsing each habit for at least thirty consecutive days. I have over fifty daily habits now, and many of the older ones have become unconscious parts of my daily routine.

My goal is to make continual improvement an unconscious part of my life.  Specifically, I want to acquire the habit of acquiring new habits (I call this the meta-habit). After my sixty-day trial, my natural inclination should be to continue adding habits when I see opportunities for personal growth.

JS: That’s amazing. I love personal development and habit creation, but you are just taking it to a whole new level. Props. What made you decide to take on this 30 day challenge thing?

BB: I wanted adventure! I had recently moved home from college and saw this as a fun and productive challenge.

JS: Fair enough. What are some of hardest parts about doing this?

BB: The hardest part was committing to the challenge. I started my blog to keep me honest; writing that first blog post was really tough, because I knew I’d have to follow through.

Some individual habits have been pretty difficult to stick with. Some of the harder ones were waking up at 7am, meditating every morning, writing 1000 words per day, becoming a vegan pescatarian, and getting a phone number every day from someone I could date.

JS: Yeah those habits sound like they would be hard for anyone to take on, much less simultaneously. Would you recommend that people try this? Why or why not?

BB: It depends on your goal. My goal is to cultivate a mindset of constant improvement, and I think my challenge is a worthwhile exercise toward that end. If I wanted to change my lifestyle in a short amount of time, my one-habit-per-day challenge might be overkill. Instead, I’d focus on acquiring a fixed set of habits.

My focus is on developing my drive to improve, rather than on acquiring the habits themselves. My lifestyle has gotten better as a result of my new daily routines, but those benefits are incidental to my primary goal of developing a mindset of constant improvement. I don’t care much about the individual habits or how they affect my life; they’re more like exercises than ends in themselves.

This challenge would have been much easier had I stuck to easy habits that didn’t take up a lot of time.  Some of my easier habits include tracking my sleep, wearing sunscreen, and taking a fish oil supplement. Replicating my experiment with easier habits like those would be more attainable for people with tight schedules.

JS: That’s interesting that you say it’s not about the the habit itself or even the habit making your life better. Why is developing a mindset of continuous improvement important to you?

BB: It’s tons of fun to always be leaning just beyond my edge. Constantly stepping out of my comfort zone is a great adventure. For me, constant improvement is the process of leading a fulfilling life.

However, it’s easy to lose sight of how rewarding personal growth is; it can be tempting to stagnate when you’re comfortable. This challenge will develop my drive to improve and desensitize me to the requisite growing pains.

Focusing on growth is important because there’s everything to gain: good habits, relationships, money, etc…  All of those things can also be lost, however, and probably will be at some point. With a growth-oriented mindset, such setbacks aren’t as important, because you’re attracting those things into your life regularly. Also, with a mindset of constant improvement, it doesn’t really matter how you’re doing at any moment. Tomorrow, your life will be a little bit better.

I actually think everyone has a natural inclination to improve themselves; I’m just working mine like a muscle.

JS: Last question. Can you share some tips with our readers on developing new habits?

BB: I’m going to do a big write-up on that subject after my challenge officially ends (in one week!), but one thing I’ve learned is that I’m more likely to follow habits that have well-defined triggers. A trigger is an event, environment, or time of day that is associated with a given habit.

For example, getting out of bed in the morning triggers my meditation habit: I strongly associate waking up with meditating, so I no longer have to remind myself to meditate every morning. Another habit with a good trigger is repeating a person’s name twice after meeting them (which helps me remember their name). The trigger in that case is the introduction. Soon, all introductions will trigger my name-repeating habit unconsciously. My habit of doing vocal exercises in the car also has a good trigger- getting in the car.

Habits without triggers are harder to follow, especially if you’re starting a lot of habits at once. I sometimes forget about my habit of using Twitter every day, because there’s no event, time of day, or environment that I strongly associate with that habit yet.

Lots of habits don’t have natural triggers, but it’s easy to make artificial ones. I like to do that by scheduling my habits relative to each other, so that the completion of one habit triggers another. There are other ways to create artificial triggers too- for example, walking through a doorway could trigger the habit of correcting your posture. Stuff like that may seem silly, but it works!

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Well that’s all the space we have here. I hope you found the interview valuable! You should DEFINITELY check out Bevan’s website at http://lifeismywife.com

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What Motivates Consultants (quote)

But the main motivator for consultants in the top firms is something quite different: no ordinary industry job offers quite the same mix of excitement, speed, variety of challenges, and eclectic assortment of colleagues. After you’ve tasted this, almost everything else will seem stale by comparison. And so, despite a lot of moaning, we soldier on.

Covert Consultant