A startup not an experiment

After launching and then selling my first business, I took my a year off from entrepreneurship. I worked on a few side projects, some worked, some didn't. I interned at an incredible tech company in New York City and I took fifteen college classes in a year. 

For the past six months, I've been doing research on a marketing automation project. When people asked me what I was planning on doing in the fall, I said I'd be experimenting with a no project. That was bullshit. I was calling it an experiment because if an experiment fails it is an experiment. Their little pressure. I'm starting my next company, Influencia, a growth product for advertisers looking to connect with the millennial audience. I'll be entering in the saturated market of influencer marketing. Aside from class at NYU, I'll be working on Influencia full-time. This is my first tech startup and this first B2B business. The only thing that I know how little I know. I'm excited for the journey.

being productive by planning less

This fall, I’m making an active effort to schedule fewer meetings and be less constricted. I write on an index card three-five things I want to do in a day the night before I go to bed and I do them. That’s about as structured as I get. It’s freeing. I work on whatever is most interesting or important. 

Before the fall, I worked on a strict schedule. Thirty minutes for breakfast, a call from 10:00 AM - 10:15 AM. It was exhausting. I realized that laying out a calendar resulted in accomplishing “nice to have” tasks. This created an illusion of being productive rather than get stuff done that matters. If a task too long or if I had to move back a call, the whole schedule was ruined.

This practice came from ideas in Marc Andreessen’s Guide To Personal Productivity pmarchive.com/guide_to_personal_productivity.html

my iphone; unplugged

In the past six months, I transformed my iPhone into a flip phone. 

We are all witnesses to how these tiny objects reduce social interaction. A lack of social interaction leads to a decrease of social skills. Why have a conversation with a stranger when I can text to someone I know? Why put effort into continuing the conversation at dinner when I can go on Facebook? Why meet up with the girl I have a crush on when I can send her a text? Why spend time educating my young child when I can give him an iPad?

A phone creates a blockade from the real world. 

I realized I only needed my phone to communicate. About six months ago, I deleted Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. Why? One, because I downloaded an app called Moments which tells you how much time you spend on your phone. I was disgusted with myself. Two, because the social media network that I had wrongfully built for myself was more of an unnecessary cut throat competition than a positive place. Who could edit their photo better to create an illusion of what they looked like? Who had more wealth? Who was in better shape? It all seemed a race to reach a level of perfection that is portrayed by a modern day "flawless" celebrity.

The first couple weeks I felt left out. I'd listen to my friends referring to a post that I didn't know about. To combat the fomo, I would re-download the apps once a week to catch up on what I had missed. What I realized was that all the posts that I'd spend hours a day reviewing only were about fifteen minutes worth of content. The bite sized dopamine hits that social media produces turned me into an addict. It got to the point where I would catch my fingers moving to where the apps were previously located without consciously thinking about it.

As time progressed, I stop re-downloading the apps. I realized that it didn't add value to the quality of my life. The people that I wanted to keep in touch with, I did. I spent less time on my phone than I ever had.

Fast forward to August and I noticed another pattern with my phone usage. Replaced with the addiction to social media were three applications: Mail, Safari, and Spotify. I deleted them. I'd find myself checking my Mail twenty times a day. I'd listen to the same song over and over again on Spotify. I found myself looking up useless information on my phone while being mid conversation with a human being. What I came to realize, was that like social media these three apps provided minimal value. I only need to check my email about twice a day. Listening to the same song took time away from the learning I wanted to do via Podcasts and AudioBooks. And as far as surfing online goes, if I had to look something up, I'd add it to my notes and do it when in front of my laptop. Deleting Safari created a filter for spending less time looking at things that didn't matter. 

I am the proud owner of a phone without Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Mail, Spotify, and Safari. While this may not be best for everyone, it helped me focus on human interaction and keep me unplugged for a few hours a day. 

the power of hand writing

When I do work outside of my computer, I feel different. It might be the placebo effect, but I feel as if I'm unlocking a layer of creativity. If I'm editing content, I'll print it outside. If I'm laying out details for a project, I'll hand jot notes. When I make my daily To Do list, it is always on an index card. 

Moving my work from online to offline results in a shift in perspective. How else does can one do this? Exposure to different people. Most people I know, including myself, spend the most time with people they are similar to. It is because it is easier. It is easier to meet these people because you do similar things and are in similar places. It is easy to have a conversation and create a connection. It also puts you in a box. Add on the fact that most of us live a structured life and the result is that we see the world from a very limited view. 

A perspective shift, even as small as hand writing instead of typing, is extraordinary. 

summer review from my manager

growth areas:

consider some variables in his thinking and decision making. For example, the other day he asked me whether or not I thought that he should do something as a part of his project. My question back to him was: What do you think that I would need to know in order to answer that question? We talked through the variables related to the decision, but this will be a critical skill for him to develop for any job going forward.

the quantitative aspect of this (critical thinking and problem solving) is where Danilo can improve -- really thinking about how to take different tasks that are typically not quantified an turning them into quantifiable entities. 

communication - Danilo can work to ensure he is giving full context to his manager and colleagues when presenting them with a situation where he needs guidance or asking a question. Don't assume that that person knows what is inside your head, or even why you are asking.

Unexercised Power

In an age where a consumer sees more content than ever, it is advantageous to continuously release new content. In the music industry, artists release albums every year, a few singles, and are featured on a couple songs. 

The concept of an album was popularized at a time that when a big artist released an album, the world stopped and listened. When Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run came out, it was an event. The New York Times critic got a copy months in advance. He digested it and gave everyone his opinion and the world got excited. When the album came out, six million copies were sold.

Bruce wasn't competing for the consumer's attention like artists have to today. And because of that, Bruce was able to develop a  following so loyal that forty years later, he stills sells out arenas. Will Gucci Mane be able to do that? Will Ed Sheeran be able to do that? The answer is no. 

The abundance of content dilutes the value of the individual artist. How do artists stay relevant with their audience? By producing more content. How will the artist produce more content? By using the unreleased content. They should release the thirty-forty tracks that don't make it to their album. The content will have lower expectations and the audience will be happy to hear more. The artists will also have new data points on what songs should make it to the album, what type of content is most popular, etc. How many unreleased Drake songs could have been billboard chart toppers? Hit songs like "Kiss" by Prince were rejected by the label and Prince himself before being released on a whim.

Give more content, stay relevant, betters understand your audience and produce more hits. Musicians are sitting on a lot of unexercised power.

almond butter and the mere exposure effect

I used to hate almond butter. As a young child, my mother would encourage me to eat it. "It's good for you," she'd say before I rejected. Fast forward to my junior year of college, I'm lifting weights and on a protein diet. Almond butter, as it turns out, will help me get strong. So I say, "what the hell," and begin to eat it with yogurt for breakfast. 

I eat it every day for a month. And then something crazy happens. I begin to love it. It becomes the food I eat most. 

This is an example of the mere-exposure effect, a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop preference for things merely because they are familiar with them. The consistent exposure to almond butter led to a mental acceptance of the food which turned into enjoyment.

I'm happy that I eat almond butter, it's a part of my healthy diet. What else has a lasting positive effect that you currently don't engage in? Find your almond butter.

when the answer isn't the answer

I get frustrated. I'll be with a loved one and I see something that they are doing wrong. I try to explain what needs to be corrected and offer to help and a solution. Regardless if I am right or wrong, they never asked. I

t's hard to help someone that doesn't want help. And it's frustrating. 

Sometimes providing someone the answer, isn't the answer.

internalized reality

"Your mind will take the shape of what you frequently hold in thought, for the human spirit is colored by such impressions."

- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 5.16

If you bend your body into a sitting position every day for long enough period of time, the curvature of your spine changes. A doctor can tell from a radiograph whether some sat at a desk for a living. The same is true for our mind."

A constant positive outlook and you'll have a positive internalized reality. These efforts are compound to shape the way you see the world. To fix your reality, fix your outlook.