17 Essential Best Practices for Making Things Happen

I previously wrote about my PIF coworker Sarah Allen’s little rules of working life, which I thought was pretty awesome. I decided to think through some of my own rules, or as I’m calling them, “Best Practices for Making Things Happen”.

The idea is that these are all maxims that I live and work by, that I’ve learned over time and that I believe have made me more effective in accomplishing meaningful things.

The list is neither complete nor fully elucidated, but that’s totally in line with BP #2 and #7. =)

Would love to hear what you think: … Read the rest

Training to Dunk

How many people do you know who are 5’5″ and can dunk?

Brandon Todd is 5’5″ and can dunk a basketball. At that height, you need a 42+ inches vertical leap to have a chance of putting the ball in the hoop. This is pretty insane. Todd trained for three years, putting on 85 lbs of muscle to gain the power needed to dunk.

I was enthralled by the short film on Todd I found

In it he says:

I used to look like I wasn’t even on the [basketball] team. 5’5″ 117 lbs. I didn’t want people to count me out because my height. I was reading an article about russian

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Sarah Allen’s Little Rules For Working Life

I’ve learned a lot of stuff working with the fellows in my program, particularly Sarah Allen, who’s paired with me on the Smithsonian Transcription Center. I noticed that she’d often mention a policy she had on doing (or not doing) certain things. I remarked that there seemed to be a lot of them and has she ever put them in one place?

Well luckily for us she has. Here are some my favorite policies of Sarah Allen, an incredibly accomplished software developer, manager, and entrepreneur, and my comment on it.

I never take a job where I

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My Experience with Toastmasters

Don’t Start Sentences with “Soooo” and Other Things I Learned

I always thought Toastmasters was like one of those quaint support-group esque membership organizations, in the same category as  Boy Scouts, Rotary clubs, and Alcoholics Anonymous. And indeed, some quick Googling reveals they were all founded in the early 1900’s.

I like public speaking, having done an Ignite talk and spoken at my high school graduation, but I think I could get a lot better. I’m particularly bad at off-the-cuff speaking – I tend to freeze up and sound neither natural nor professional. I remember once looking around for Toastmasters clubs when I lived in the Bay Area, but … Read the rest

27

What’s Your Big Decision?

So I turned 27 about a week ago.

Last year, for my 26th birthday, I had a giveaway where I asked you, readers, to share your biggest lesson you wish you learned when you turned 26 — or who you hope to be by then if you were younger than me.

That was a lot of fun, so let’s do it again!

The giveaway: Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath – a phenomenal book about making better decisions, not through a soulless spreadsheet, but with sound and proven psychological principles. One lucky commenter gets a free copy (closes June … Read the rest

Why Practice Actually Makes Perfect

The neuroscience of deliberate practice

This originally appeared on the Buffer blog and was syndicated to Lifehacker. Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

Growing up, we all heard the expression “practice makes perfect” from our high school coach/music teacher. Then Malcolm Gladwell went on to popularize the research that expertise developed over “10,000 hours” of deliberate practice. But how does that really work?

In this post, I’ll share what science knows about learning and how special type of brain tissue called myelin, plays a key role in helping us acquire and master skills.

Learning Rewires Our Brains

When we learn a new skill, whether it’s … Read the rest

Hartl’s Ruby on Rails Tutorial

Tell anyone you’re learning Ruby on Rails and you’ll soon get a recommendation for Ruby on Rails Tutorial by Michael Hartl. After spending 6 weeks working with Treehouse‘s programing content and building a basic web app, I decided to jump into Hartl’s tutorial.

Michael is a former Y Combinator alumni and his tutorial (from now on RoRT) takes you through building a Twitter clone in Rails. It took me around two months to finish 10 of the 11 chapters, and I thought I’d share some thoughts and lessons learned.

Even simple programs require a ton of work
Hartl … Read the rest

There’s Nothing to Complain About

Reflecting on my father’s life

Photo: My father reunited with some of his old friends

My father was born in China as the middle of three brothers. His father rose through the ranks in the local college to become the Dean of Foreign Languages – the only one without a PhD. When he was 16, the Cultural Revolution occurred and young people everywhere were sent to be “re-educated” in rural China.

My father spent his later youth and early adulthood living and working on essentially a rice farm with his brothers. They woke up at dawn, worked in the fields, ate giant bowls of white … Read the rest

Learning to Code with Treehouse

8 Lessons from Building My First Ruby-on-Rails App

1) Have a learning plan

I signed up for Treehouse (referral link) in late December and have been going through their modules for the past 6 weeks . You can see my progress here. Treehouse was recommended to me by a non-technical friend (thanks Tony!) who found it very accessible and I completely agree.

Having a program or system, especially an interactive one that’s designed for newbies, is incredibly comforting. I know I can work my way through the modules and learn the basics without missing something important or getting too stuck. Obviously there are many options beyond Treehouse. … Read the rest

Why Learning to Code Matters to Me

When software is eating the world, you better start making meals

One of my goals for 2013 is to learn enough about programming to build and release publicly a simple web application that does something interesting.

I’ve been working toward this goal for about a month and wanted to share some thoughts on it so far. In this post, I’ll share my history with programming and why I’ve dedicated myself toward this goal. In a later post, I’ll talk more about how it’s progressing.

My history with programming

In high school and college, I took a few basic computer science courses. I learned Java and Python, played with if/then statements and while loops, … Read the rest