Life is a countdown

You don’t have all the time in the world.

That sounds like a dreary thing, but from a different perspective, it can actually be a beautiful thing. It means that time is limited and that every minute that we have is important.

But we just don’t always spend each day like it is limited.

I can’t count how many times I’ve spent 10 minutes laying in my bed just scrolling through Instagram, when I could have just been sleeping instead. And then I wake up tired and wondering why I didn’t get enough sleep.

This trend continues on to so many other things.

One of the things I’m always working to reverse is my feeling that there’s no rush to things. That it’s okay if I procrastinate, because there is always more time to do things. And the deadline is so far away, so what’s the point?

But that’s the kind of thinking that gets you nowhere. That’s the kind of thinking that makes you procrastinate.

How to Get More Time Back In Your Day

Everyone gets the same 24 hours per day.

It’s all in how we perceive time that makes us less likely to procrastinate.

This is what extremely productive people do — they zone in during the times they need to work because they realize their time is scarce and they need to finish their commitments in order to spend the rest of the time doing things they love.

When you add artificial time limits to the work you need to do, you trick your mind into thinking, “I need to get this report done in X time, or else I won’t have time for Y”.

That’s why the Pomodoro technique, in which you set 25 minutes to focus on your work as a countdown, works so well.

You can’t see time as a stopwatch — you need to see time as a countdown.

Transparency is king

Today’s customers are more demanding than ever.

It’s not enough to promise a sausage and deliver it — customers want to know how it was made, if the beef was locally sourced, or grass-fed, etc.

And that’s completely fair of them to want to know.

Some people are completely satisfied with eating that sausage and never knowing. But the growing trends show that surprise surprise: the more information you give people, the more they grow to trust you and build a relationship with you.

When you’re honest as a company to your customers, you develop a longer-lasting connection with people.

They’re no longer just customers to you.

They become like family.

And your family will always support your endeavors.

Why Companies Should Acquire the Right Customers, Not More

When it comes to business, here are two (oversimplified) options when it comes to customer acquisition that I’m noticing:

  1. Attract the masses with a product that promises everything. Compete on price and give massive discounts in order to convert more customers. Overbook and under-deliver and completely alienate a section of your customers. The customers who should have never been your customers have a horrible experience with you. They cause social and financial damage to your company.

  2. Take the time to identify the right customers. Create marketing that targets and attracts these specific ideal customers. Deliver on exactly the service that they expect from you. Focus on quality product above artificial growth.

With option 1, it’s simple to point to a chart and say “Look how many customers we’re getting! We’re selling so much product!”. But when you go a level deeper than that, you start to see the truth.

You may have sold more product, but how many of those customers returned your product and requested a refund?

How many customers were sold a different product and left a bad review because they imagined they were receiving one thing but got something completely different?

How much potential business are you losing from these bad reviews?

The Hidden Costs of Attracting the Wrong Customer

The ROI of effective marketing makes everything else easier. You are clear on what you offer, you let customers qualify themselves, and you give value to the customer before you sell them.

But of course no marketing is perfect; you’re going to acquire some bad apples. They are deceptive to the executive branch, because sure, they may look like a net benefit from the sales point of view, but they will only cause headaches for your company. They will absorb time, money, and reputation from your company.

These things are a lot harder to gain back than they are to lose.

How to Attract Your Ideal Customer

Initially, it’s hard to find the right customer.

But once you’re in the industry for a few years, you should have a good idea of which customers provide you the most lifetime value (LTV).

The ones with the highest LTV whether that is through profit or through referrals will be the customer base you want to tap into. This is a simplified profile of who you want, but generally you want people who will contribute the most to your business profit-wise. If they’re not bringing in more profit, they’re making you lose it.

You have to coordinate your different departments to acquire and maintain these ideal customers:

  1. Marketing must create content, ads, and conversations that are written in the language that speaks out most to your ideal customer.

  2. Sales must learn how to qualify the right people and understand how to disqualify the problem customers.

  3. Product, engineering, and operations must deliver on the product that marketing and sales claim to provide.

  4. Customer support must be the voice of the customer and provide growth suggestions for other teams to improve the product.

Once you have all of these teams working in cohesion, you will be serving the right customer and serving them well.

Choose to serve the masses and you end up serving half of them well and making their lives truly better, while the other half of them experience a money-entangled pool of failed expectations.

The 3 Cornerstone Habits All Successful People Do

If I was to recommend three cornerstone daily habits for anyone who feels lost in life, I would recommend these:

  1. Read
  2. Write
  3. Lift Weights

I always suggest reading because it's like mental food -- you need decently stimulating input in order to generate better output in your life. And by reading, I don't mean reading Facebook statuses for hours. I mean taking the time to read someone's article/blog, a hundred page book, or a graphic novel. Something that someone has spent a lot of time to create and something you can glean advice or inspiration from.

Secondly, writing helps you fossilize those ideas you've just read. It helps you exercise your creative muscle and allows you to ruminate and reflect on the direction of your life. It allows you to create something that others may potentially read and gain value from too!

Thirdly, lifting weights builds a different kind of discipline: the physical kind. Reading and writing everyday is hard sure, but lifting weights is a different kind of beast. By pushing yourself physically a couple of times a week, you start to build confidence and strength over time. This pairs nicely as downtime from the mental exercise it takes to read and write.

By doing these three habits on a regular or weekly basis, I believe anyone can find a path towards a life they love.

* * *

Evan's Goal Update - Day 8/56

  1. Job + apartment: Assessing jobs. Still looking for an apartment to settle in for 1-2 years. Message me at if you know of any places!
  2. Reading + writing: Writing for the 8th day in a row.
  3. Coding: Trying to re-create the Google homepage in HTML and CSS. It's hard.
  4. Fitness: Rest day. (4/32 sessions completed this cycle)
  5. YouTube: Done this week! Uploading next Tuesday.

Why A Former Night Owl Became an Early Bird

Photo by  Chris Spiegl  on  Unsplash

When I was a kid, I loved staying up late.

I would play video games and get my homework done at the same time. Super efficient I know.

I think this is how I tricked myself into thinking I was a night person.

Middle school me thought cool people stayed up at night and lame adults slept early and woke up early.

But that was just culture playing a trick on me. As a kid, I wanted to rebel against the norm, so if the norm was waking up early and doing my job, then I wanted the opposite of that: aka fighting against my natural circadian rhythm as a human.

But I suffered for this.

I wasn’t getting the things I wanted done. I felt tired throughout the day. The human body was designed to react to the chemicals that sunlight releases to wake us up. When computer screens interfere with that natural chemical reaction, we end up unlocking the ability to work late at night — but that doesn’t mean we should.

Advantages of Being an Early Bird

Early Birds have more discipline. Try waking up sometime between 5-7 AM every day. It’s a challenge that early birds adhere to consistently. And in conquering a mini-challenge every day, we train our discipline to handle more difficult things.

I understand it sounds awful to some people “what ew, I don’t want to wake up that early”. But discipline gets you what you want, and getting up early helps you get more discipline.

Early Birds have more quiet time to focus. When you wake up earlier than the norm, you have this period of quiet in the morning that is beautiful. No one is rushing you, no one is bothering you. It’s just you doing what you want to do.

This is the perfect time to write, exercise, meditate, or work on that passion project of yours. No one will ask you to run an errand or text you at this time.

Early Birds have guilt-free nights to do what they want. If you deliberately push your hardest work towards the early morning, then by the time night time rolls around, you can celebrate each night fully. Night Owls push things off until it’s late at night, whereas Early Birds get their work done immediately as soon as they wake up.

They are allowed the spontaneous nights while also making progress on their responsibilities/goals.

Early Birds will make more consistent progress on their goals. When you have the discipline and time in the morning to prioritize your tasks, you tend to get sustained success. Simply taking a step every day to improve is a surefire way to long-term benefits.

Disadvantages of Being an Early Bird

Early Birds can’t always spend crazy nights out. If you have friends who like to go out on late night adventures and taco runs, you’re going to miss out on these.

Early Birds put in more effort upfront. It takes time to build discipline and habits. It’s hard to stick to it when you want to sleep in.


I hope that helped explain why I’m an Early Bird now.

You don’t have to be an Early Bird to get your best work done, but it has a lot of advantages over being a Night Owl.

If you are serious about losing weight, getting fit, or writing your first novel, then I don’t think there’s a better way to do it than getting it done in the morning.

You Can't Have It All At Once (Q1 Reflections)

I've previously written about my goal-setting strategy in the past.

Summed up, I do this:

  • At the beginning of each quarter, plan SMART goals out in 3-month increment.
  • Assign tasks or habits that I can do on a daily basis to contribute towards goals (The 20-Mile March).
  • Evaluate progress with accountability partner on week-by-week basis.
  • Reflect on past quarter by last week of sprint (Week 13, which is this week for me).

Here's an excerpt from my reflection for Q1:

Photo by  Ali Inay  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ali Inay on Unsplash

What were the 3 biggest lessons you learned this Q1?

1. You can’t have social goals and feel really accomplished.

Most social goals are uncontrollable and not satisfying when you complete. Because what you want most is connection, and that is impossible to control with the many random variables of life. For example, you may want to talk to five random people every day, and although you will reach this goal, you may find that completing the goal in itself doesn't make you feel any better. However, simply choosing to start a conversation with anyone on your path as a life principle rather than a numbers-oriented goal will make you feel as if good things are happening to you on autopilot.

2. Don’t try to track everything.

There are some things that you must focus on and spend all of your bandwidth on making successful, and others you must accept the consequences of less focus. You have to accept the shitstorm of other things being okay, while you excel in a few select areas — else you risk mediocrity in all areas. Be careful with this because sometimes the things you track become less fun.

3. You have a strength of health goals and social goals if you set up the right infrastructure. You need to set up the same system for your work life.

This past quarter, I was easily training and eating right - I had a powerlifting coach leading most of my training, and I simply had to follow it. College has made social life a lot easier this year compared to last year on the road in Chicago to Houston. Easier to go on autopilot. Now you just need to cultivate that discipline with your work — I know it’s hard, but you have to create focus periods and endure in order to become great and provide the right life for you and your family in the future.

Hope you enjoyed that sneak peak into my reflection on my top 3 lessons I've learned this past quarter on goal-setting!

Next post, I will talk about my top 3 wins for Q1!

A product I think will change the world

Photo by  Andres Urena  on  Unsplash

When’s the last time you felt absolute glee the first time you used a product?

I got that feeling when I used my first Amazon Echo Dot that I won in a game of Salesforce Jeopardy at a networking mixer. Before I had used one, I thought they were totally unnecessary, like why would you pay money for a little speaker. What difference does voice make?

To my surprise, it was so much more awesome than I thought.

For the first time in my life, I felt like Tony Stark talking to Jarvis. Every morning, I had an alarm clock that would stop when I told it to. I would start my morning shower playlist hands-free and if I wanted to change songs, I didn’t have to get out of the shower. I could even request weather and a daily briefing of news instantly while I was putting on clothes. And it was all intuitive for me to use.

The Amazon Echo Dot, at $40, is proof that the future of voice-controlled AI can be affordable to the average person.

But Alexa as an AI is going to be so much more than she is now.

In the next decade, nearly anyone in the United States will have access to an affordable voice-controlled assistant that will save them time, entertain them, and allow them to live their lives more fully.

I believe that voice-tech is in a relatively infant state and that it will get so much smarter in the future. Right now, it’s only one-directional response (Alexa only responds to you) but once she can recognize presence or voice differentiation, she’ll be able to initiate conversation as well.

Maybe she’ll be able to pair with your CRM and alert you when it’s time to call your contacts.

Maybe she’ll know when it’s your birthday and call all of your close friends to send a pre-recorded Happy Birthday message to play when you wake up.

There’s so much possibility.

And when voice-tech becomes wearable and easily spoken into (Apple’s Siri doesn’t cut it for me), we’ll reach that next level of usability.

If I built a company (IBAC): Denying Applications

Photo by  Niklas Hamann  on  Unsplash

I’m starting a new little series called If I Built a Company (IBAC) to play around with different scenarios. In this case, this would be if I built a company, what would it ideally look like?

You know that moment when you apply to a job and two weeks later you get that dreaded “Thanks for applying. Unfortunately…” email. You know what’s coming.

It’s such a sour note, and it really is such a disservice to people who take the time and write amazing cover letters about why they want to work for the company. The least we could do is treat their application with the respect it deserves.

Most companies don’t offer any solid feedback to applicants, and so applicants never know what to fix. So they will continually send shitty applications to other companies.

My company would give a detailed feedback on why your app sucked. And be brutally honest.

Now I hear about a lot of companies that get thousands of applications. “We can’t possibly respond to all of them” they would say. But we don’t need an in-depth analysis. I think a simple 140-280 character-sized response would be easily doable.

It just shows that we read your application, and it was disqualified because X.

Now the potential benefits of adopting a straight feedback model of hiring would be:

  1. A more detailed and transparent knowledge base of who we hired and why we hired them, so it’s clear to others
  2. Job applicants would appreciate our honest feedback and increase brand loyalty
  3. Society as a whole would benefit from better job applicants

Potential drawbacks would be:

  1.  Wasted resources (money, time, and opportunity cost).
  2.  Pissed off applicants (some people can’t handle the truth)

In the end, I think it’s the right thing to do if our goal is to hire the best applicants. This practice would go viral on major industry websites and cause an influx of talent to apply to our company.

How to Get the Life You Want with 2018 Goals That Work


It’s a new year my lovely readers. And with a new year, comes new gym-goers, new dieters, and new “I’m going to treat myself nicers”.

Often with well-intentioned goals, most people are beginners when it comes to goal setting.


Because like anything, goal-setting and goal-achieving are skills. They can be mastered and done well. And unfortunately, a lot of people were not taught how to create goals that they can actually execute on.

Not you.

You’re going to make 2018 the year you get shit done.

My philosophy is by defining 3 things: why, what, and how.

Specifically, I create a vision (the why) of who I want to be, then I define that with my progress goals (the what), and create a plan to get those things by creating habits (the how) that will advance me towards those goals.

Here is my process of how I do those 3 steps.

Step 1: Create Your Vision

This is the step of asking yourself:

  • “who do I want to be?” and
  • “what do I want?”

When I try to answer these questions, I try to come up with 3-5 categories that define my life. For example, I use the traditional “health, wealth, and relationships.”

Then I write down what I want my health to feel like in one year or even further. The same goes for my wealth and relationships. You can use bullet points or paragraphs.

The key with this step is creating clarity. When you have clarity, the way ahead is less stressful. When you don’t have clarity, you get frustrated with putting in so much work towards something you’re unsure of.

It’s okay to not have 100% level of clarity, but the closer you can get to it, the better.

And it’s okay to be vague at this point. Your vision can be being a good role model for your future kids. If it’s unclear of what it takes to be that at this point, just keep iterating on it and defining it as you live life.

Treat your Vision Statement as a living document.

Once you’ve got a good page or so, set up a daily practice to revisit your Vision Statement. I like to read my Vision Statement aloud every morning before I start anything.

Step 2: Create Your Progress Goals (SMART)

Once you have a clear vision of who you want to be in a year, it’s time to create progress goals that measure whether you have accomplished your goals or not.

I prefer to make these goals SMART. If you have never heard of SMART goals in elementary school, then it stands for: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-based.

Some good examples of SMART Progress goals are:

  1. I want to go from 175 lbs to 165 lbs (aka lose 10 lbs) so I can fit into my old jeans.
  2. I want to make an extra $10,000 on the side for a family vacation.
  3. I want to write and publish a book.

These goals are great “what’s”: they define what we need to do to achieve our vision of ourselves. They’re specific, and realistic in the time-frame given (one year).

Note: I recommend a maximum of 5-6 progress goals at any given time. Why? For focus, and less of a chance of overwhelm. There will be chances throughout your life to get what you want to get. You can’t be greedy and want it all within a year. So really think about what are the 5-6 priorities for you for the next 12 months.

Now in some cases I will use vague goals such as:

  1. Be a better friend
  2. Learn how to code
  3. Learn how to cook/dance/etc.

Some goals are just hard to concretize. So I’ll explain in the next step why that’s okay and how we can still accomplish them.

Step 3: Create Your 20-Mile March Habits

Now that you have your WHY, and your WHAT, it is time to get down to HOW.

It’s a cliche phrase, but Rome wasn’t built in one day.

Any 2018 goals of yours should take longer than a day as well. That’s why we get to this section called the “20 Mile March”. You’re not going to lose 10 lbs instantly. It’s time to put on your rucksack and prepare to take one step every single day. The way you do this is by defining daily or weekly habits that will move you towards your progress goals in Step 2.

The great part is once you define these habits that will move you forward, you won’t have to think; you’ll simply take action and trust that it’s moving you towards success.

Now let’s revisit the SMART goals we made earlier and add habits that will lead us to accomplishing the goals we set forth:

  1. 1. I want to go from 175 lbs to 165 lbs (aka lose 10 lbs) so I can fit into my old jeans.
    1. Go the gym 3x a week.
    2. Eat 2,000 calories at least 6x a week.
    3. Sleep 8 hours daily.
  2. I want to make an extra $5,000 on the side for a family vacation.
    1. Work an extra hour daily.
    2. Sell one $100 product a week.
  3. 3. I want to write and publish a book.
  4.     1. Write 1,000 words a day.
  5.     2. Review and edit my text 1x a week.

See how much these goals have been concretized? When it becomes this clear on how you’re going to do it, all you have to track whether you’ve done the habits you needed to every week to see if you’re making progress on your goals.

Now let’s not forget the vague goals:

  1. 1. Meet new people
    1. Talk to one stranger a day
    2. Attend a class or event 1x a week.
  2. Learn how to code
    1. Do 30-minutes of coding daily
    2. Finish a new project or feature of a project once a week.
    3. Write a blog 1x a week to explain what I’ve learned.
  3. Learn how to cook/dance/etc.
    1. Go to hip hop class 2x a week.
    2. Practice solo 2x a week.
    3. Perform in front of at least one person 1x a week.

And that’s how you concretize vague goals.

When you define the practice it takes to execute on your vague progress goals, you make them way more real and actionable.

One extra step: Share your goals regularly

Many people start a new year’s resolution with: “I want to be a nicer person”. They post it on social media and then they end it there.

You’d think by telling people what your goals are, that you’d be more accountable to them.

For some people this may work, though for others it gives them enough dopamine to tell people about it, as if they accomplished something, and then they try it out for a while and then give up.

To combat this, I’ve found that having regular weekly or bi-weekly meetings about goals either with yourself or with 2-4 other people helps tremendously.

Optimally, you want to find 2-4 other people who are supportive and smarter in different areas of life to help you achieve your goals.

This has 3 effects:

  1. They can tell you if your goals are too overwhelming (sometimes you get ahead of yourself and create goals that are too ambitious OR create too many goals to do at once)
  2. They can hold you accountable for your shit
  3. They can lend guidance on their areas of expertise

This is by far the most effective way I’ve found to tackle the issue of 1.) creating good actionable goals, and 2.) executing and accomplishing them.

Let me know if you enjoyed this post by commenting below!