On How to Live Your Life

I recently read a post entitled “There are no good habits” by Sahil Lavingia (someone I admire whose blog is located here.) Here’s an excerpt:

    There is no such thing as a good habit. The definition of habit I use is: “an established custom.” For example, “it was their habit to dine at 7 every evening.”

    You’re taught to grow up with good habits. Brush your teeth every morning and night. Floss. Exercise. Wake up early. These are “good” habits, but are they really that good?

    No. You should do what’s beneficial to you right now. Habits force you to do things you may not have done otherwise, but they also compromise against other activities that may benefit you more.

    What I do is base my life around things that would be good for me, but I don’t consider them as habits.

    I brush my teeth every morning, because it’s healthy. Not because I do so every day but because of the utility it provides. If you think about habits as guidelines, you realize that there are no such things as “good” habits. Habits exist because they force you to do good things rather than the best things.

    If you can do better things without being guided by habits, you’ll gain more utility out of your day.

Thinking about what he has to say has me asking myself: “Is individual utility the best possible motivation for performing an action?”

8 Mar 2011, 6:56am | leave a comment

If you’re not failing you’re not trying

I have a theory about succeeding: If you’re not failing you’re not trying. You learn how the world works when you fail. When you can go back and deconstruct every detail of what went wrong in a business venture, on a project or in a relationship it will teach you just as much as any success story.

The question then becomes, how do we fail more? To me, personal boundaries are a key limiting factor in most of our lives. And one of the biggest of those boundaries is our fear of failure.

Now we have our target: fear of failure. How do we break through? I don’t have a secret recipe, but I do have a place for you to start.

Go get yourself a pack of M&Ms and come back. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

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7 Mar 2011, 8:27am | 25 comments

Sebastian Marshall and Public Accountability


One of my favorite bloggers is Sebastian Marshall. He talks a lot about how to get things done, how to achieve your goals, and how to win at whatever you do. He’s one of the people who set me on the path to actually ship projects instead of starting them, getting bored halfway through and then getting a new idea and repeating the process.

I wanted to use this post today to a. link you to his blog, and b. take on of the steps he suggests to achieve your goals. In one of my favorite of his posts he talks about using public accountability to get things done. He talks about how committing publicly to a goal will motivate you to achieve it more than almost any other thing. So here goes:

I want to post on this blog once a day for 30 days.

It doesn’t have to be a long post, or a deep post – it just has to be something. This isn’t about getting a bunch of visitors, and becoming a real blogger. It’s about setting a goal and sticking to it. So that’s what I’m going to do. If you don’t see a post here between now and March 26th (I started this blog on February 26th). feel free to email me and berate me.

But I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’m going to get this done.

6 Mar 2011, 12:57am | leave a comment

Be a Blogger Second

I’ve started a lot of blogs in my life. Let’s face it most of us have. I remember in middle and high school I would go through bursts where I would start a blog, and post to it each and every day. I would do this for a few weeks and then stop. Why? Because I didn’t have an audience.
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4 Mar 2011, 11:09pm | leave a comment

How We Went From Being Virtually Unknown to 3k Signups a Day in 5 Weeks Part 3 of 3

This is Part Three of a three part series of my experience starting a website called WhereMyFriends.Be with two of my friends. If you haven’t read Part One you can find it here. You can find Part Two here.

Wesley and I are staring in shock at our computer screens. The site was down. Visitors had poured in after the Mashable mention and the servers experienced insta-death. What had started as joyful elation quickly turned into stunned malignant silence. Neither of us had faced a situation like this before. It was still a good problem to have.

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4 Mar 2011, 10:26am | 13 comments

How We Went From Being Virtually Unknown to 3k Signups a Day in 5 Weeks Part 2 of 3

This is Part Two of a three part series of my experience starting a website called WhereMyFriends.Be with two of my friends. If you haven’t read Part One you can find it here.

I’m sitting at my computer screen looking dejectedly at my chartbeat account. FavoriteThing.Me had zero current visitors. The last time someone had been on the site was almost a day ago. It was a weird feeling looking at how the project had failed to attract a regular user base. I knew we hadn’t put that much time into it (maybe 40 hours of coding) but my stomach had that queasy feeling you get when you feel like you’ve let someone down. It was hard to understand why it failed. What had gone wrong?

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3 Mar 2011, 7:44am | 3 comments

How We Went From Being Virtually Unknown to 3k Signups a Day in 5 Weeks Part 1 of 3

I’m sitting in my hallmate’s room incessantly refreshing Mashable.com’s homepage on my iPhone. I just noticed that Mashable’s Senior Editor has been idle on his WhereMyFriends.Be profile for the past hour or so. This means a story about us could be close. The people around me are chatting incessantly about some project due tomorrow. I continue nervously mashing the refresh button. Nothing is happening. “They probably won’t post anything,” I say to myself, “Don’t get your hopes up. There’s always another project.” I refresh the page again. A big picture of a Google Map and a headline that says Map Your Facebook Friends In a Few Clicks  pops up on the screen.

HOLY SH*T! I leap off the bed I’m sitting on and dash down the hall an unbelievable surge of adrenaline running through my body. I barge into the room of two of my friends jump in place screaming “We’re on Mashable! We’re on Mashable!” I dash out and run down the hall, grab my laptop, and call Wesley. We were on Mashable after 5 weeks of work together. How did this even happen?

With the large amount of success that WhereMyFriends.Be has enjoyed I think it’s useful to look back on the past month and take stock. 5 weeks ago I didn’t know either Wesley or Ajay. Today we are approaching 20k total signups on our website after being mentioned on both Mashable and CNN. This is the story of how we went from there to here in 5 weeks. This is the story of the beauty of the web. Part 1 of 3. You can find Part 2 here. Part 3 is here.

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1 Mar 2011, 6:40pm | 8 comments

Why I Don’t Develop iPhone Apps Anymore

Hi my name is Dan Shipper and I don’t develop iPhone apps any more. Let me give you a little bit of a backstory before I delve into why.

I started developing for the mobile platform in late 2006. Back then I used to tell people I was making “BlackBerry software.” The word app hadn’t even really started being used yet as applied to smartphone software. I really liked working in the mobile space because there weren’t a whole lot of developers in it yet and I felt like there was some untapped opportunity there. So as a sophomore in high school I created my first BlackBerry app in 2007 called FindIt which let you text your phone if it was lost and on silent and make it ring. I had some pretty good success with FindIt so I kept iterating it.

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1 Mar 2011, 2:31am | 1 comment

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