Posts filed under 'Life'

Beware Of Filler

Studies show that people serve themselves in proportion to the size plate that they have been given. As a result, a person tends to over serve on larger plates. So, use a smaller plate and there’s less space to fill, and less food will be consumed.

Increasing lanes on the highway does not decrease traffic. The answer as to why is found in “the fundamental law of road congestion: new roads create new drivers, resulting in the intensity of traffic staying the same. If you expand people’s ability to travel, they will do it more. Making driving easier means that people take more trips in the car than they otherwise would.

The cable news station has twenty-four hours of airtime to fill, but important stuff doesn’t happen every single hour of every single day which leaves cable news with the problem of filling all that air time. So what they came up with to fill all that air has been celebrity gossip, wild conjecture and sensationalized drivel.

It is well known that meetings kill productivity in the office. A common suggestion to improve productivity is to not schedule meetings to the default hour time length. Why? Allotting an entire hour for a meeting may lead your attendees to fill the entire time slot just for the sake of it.

You see where I’m going with this. Whether it’s over-consuming calories, unnecessary travel, useless information or wasted time, there is a problem with assigning time/space first and needs second. Turn that around and analyze what the need is first and then assign the correct amount of time and you will end up with no filler needed.

One of the biggest offenders of the time/need scenario is the modern-day office. I am convinced that there is no place on earth that creates more useless filler than the office. Because the employee is required to be in their seat for 40 hours a week, work is created to fill the time that does little to nothing to move the ball down the field. Our culture of busyness does nothing but reinforce the problem. Being busy equals being productive which equals being a good employee. No one wants to look like they don’t have enough to do so productivity theater ensues.

Carefully consider looking at your behavior through the lens of filler/not filler and reduce the filler. Be careful to accurately align your time spent with the time the thing deserves.

Add comment October 10th, 2014

The Reason To Do Creative Things

Somewhere along the line we were told that writing a book, making a movie, singing a song or creating anything was not worthwhile unless there were people who would pay us for it. But getting paid to create stuff is a relatively new idea and should not be the reason to, or not to undertake a creative pursuit. Throughout most of history the concept of earning money from being creative was not plausible but it didn’t stop anyone from doing it. Only recently has making money been a reason to do something creative.

In 1906 John Phillip Sousa held a very low opinion of the emerging and upstart recording industry during his lifetime. In a submission to a congressional hearing, he argued,”These talking machines are going to ruin the artistic development of music in this country. When I was a boy…in front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape.”

Author Lawrence Lessig comments, “Looking at the 20th century it would be hard not to conclude that Susa was right. Never before in the history of human culture had it been as professionalized, never before as concentrated, never before has the creativity of the millions been so effectively displaced, and displaced because of these “infernal machines.” We have handed over creating to those “professionals” and have left all the creation up to them.”

Writer Aldous Huxley concurred with his statement saying, “In the days before machinery men and women who wanted to amuse themselves were compelled, in their humble ways, to be artists. Now they sit still and permit professionals to entertain them by the aid of machinery. It is difficult to believe that general artistic culture can flourish in this atmosphere of passivity.”

Creative talent that demands payment is a very rare and very precious commodity. Not everyone has it. As a matter of fact, hardly anyone has it. But I don’t think that should stand in the way of us thinking of ourselves as singers, writers, painters and actors. Just because we will never be as good as Bob Dylan or Meryl Streep doesn’t mean we should limit ourselves.

Does encouraging people to pursue their artistic dreams do more harm than good? So many people will never “make it.” After all of their toil the outcome will at best be parked out in the “long tail,” selling only to our uncle Sam and a few demented fans. I think the fact that you want to, and can do it, is reason enough.

Amuse yourself by creating something instead of passively handing entertainment over to “professionals.” Do it because you feel like you need to regardless of any monetary gain.

Bill Watterson’s advice is essential: “We need to do more than find diversions; we need to restore and expand ourselves. Our idea of relaxing is all too often to plop down in front of the television set and let its pandering idiocy liquefy our brains. Shutting off the thought process is not rejuvenating; the mind is like a car battery-it recharges by running.”


Add comment August 12th, 2014

Zach’s Best Of 2013

I read 35 books
Best Books
Countdown City
World War Z
The Power of the Dog
Best Nonfiction: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Turning Pro

Watched 88 movies
Best Movies
Silver Linings Playbook
Gone Baby Gone
About Time
The Impossible
It’s A Disaster
Side Effects
Blood Simple
Liberal Arts
Safety Not Guaranteed
Side By Side
Kings Of Summer
Movies that messed with my head for days: Capturing The Friedmans, Compliance
Worst Movies: Upstream Color, A Serious Man

Watched 216 episodes of TV
Best TV
Breaking Bad season 6
Newsroom seasons 1 & 2
Arrested Development was mostly a disappointment
Couldn’t get into House Of Cards or Game Of Thrones like everyone else

Best Albums
Swingin’ Utters – Poorly Formed
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
Off With Their Heads – Home
Plow United – Marching Band
Telekinesis – Dormarion

Biggest Purchase: 2005 Toyota Sienna

BIggest Holy Crap! Moment: Discovering the elusive buzzing sound in the house that lasted for weeks was a woodpecker pecking on a pipe on my roof

Most Satisfying Moment: Seeing my first short story published on Amazon

Best Purchase: Acer H5370BD Home Theater Projector

Most Embarrassing: Falling over at a stop light on bike while towing both my kids

Scariest Moment : Seeing my kid choke on asthma induced frothy, white sputum
Runner Up: Driving a rental car in downtown Sevilla, Spain

Saddest Moment: Watching Boulder flood

Biggest investment in time, smallest return: the delusion of making passive income from advertising on a niche content site –

Firsts: played poker, sold a car on Craigslist, used an ear candle, ran out of gas on motorcycle at a stoplight, our backyard chickens laid their first eggs

Biggest Bonehead Move: Packing too much wood in van from Home Depot causing windshield to break when stopping at a light

Best Vacation: Trip to Spain & Germany

Most Frustration Inducing Project: Building a pergola in my backyard

Biggest Bummer: Hundreds of shirts for Minimalist Tees misprinted and ruined by incompetent screen printers

Biggest Point Of Pride: My appearance on this video at the Andrew WK Concert in Denver at the 1:29 mark

Best Moment: Becoming a foster parent to an awesome little boy

Add comment December 29th, 2013

Four Quadrants For A Fulfilling Life

4 Qudrents For A Fulfilling LIfe

This is my latest strategy for having a balanced and fulfilling life. I think it requires living in all four of the quadrants above. It comes down to how often, why, for whom and how much you create. I believe creation is a fundamental human need. The more you create the happier you are. What is not listed above are those things that are neither inner imperatives nor do they make you money. These are the things that should be avoided – channel surfing, Facebook, relentless entertainment. Some entertainment is inspiring but most isn’t. Unfortunately most people devote a large portion of their lives to being entertained instead of creating.

I espouse to Hugh McLeod’s Sex and Cash Theory where he explains that a person can balance the need to make a good living while still maintaining one’s credibility. You do this by having a day job that allows you to pursue other interests when you’re not at work. Diving head first into a your own start up is not necessary to feeling fulfilled, and might make you less so.

I think maintaining a day job is a great idea. You may not be having the time of your life, but I think that’s okay for four reasons.
First, everyday at work builds your employability equity. Experience is an asset you’ll never regret having.
Second, if you’re living in all four quadrants, your life won’t be solely based on your job.  I think it’s short sighted to assume your life’s purpose can be found solely from a company whose purpose is to make a profit. No matter how great your full time job is, it has proven time and again that financial incentives have a negative effect of performance and fulfillment. In the book Drive by Dan Pink, he says that punishment and reward based systems destroy creativity and that the secret to high performance isn’t rewards and punishments, but intrinsic drive. The drive to do things for their own sake. A place that pays you to be there will always take away that intrinsic drive, so don’t rely on it so much for your well being.
Third, keep in mind what Cal Newport explains in his great book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You – that passion in a career is more likely to happen after you become expert.
Fourth, even though our culture might make you feel otherwise, I think it’s okay to take an undemanding job to afford you more time to pursue other interests and activities in the quadrants three and four.

Hopefully time spent at work can also be devoted to being an intrapreneur – quadrant 3. Doing the things in quadrant 3 will build more employability equity and makes the 40 hours a week more fun and engaging. I think the leading cause of job dissatisfaction is when people devote their whole life to quadrant 1 but can’t get traction with quadrant 3 initiatives. As strange as it sounds, many people want to give more than the company they work for will allow. So instead of feeling burnt out, invest that energy into inner imperatives.

Inner imperatives provide the fuel for everything else. Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin & Hobbes, said in a commencement speech, “We need to do more than find diversions; we need to restore and expand ourselves. Our idea of relaxing is all too often to plop down in front of the television set and let its pandering idiocy liquefy our brains. Shutting off the thought process is not rejuvenating; the mind is like a car battery-it recharges by running.” Social media, nightly news and reality shows all take more than they give. To be fulfilled you need to learn how to relax through creating via quadrants 2 and 4. Ken Robinson, in his book The Element, explains that the most rejuvenated, inspired and excited states of being happen when we are experiencing Flow, or The Zone. It’s the magical place where your intrinsic talent is paired with the explosive power of passion – a much better place to be than rotting in front of the TV.

What I like about this framework is that when you live in all four quadrants you create what Steven Johnson, in his book Where Good Ideas Come From, calles the “personal intellectual environment”. This is where you have lots of different ideas, different backgrounds, different interests, jostling and bouncing off each other to create an environment that leads to innovation. Each quadrant supplies skills, ideas, insight, opportunity and motivation to the other quadrants. You’re balanced and motivated.

Add comment September 16th, 2013

Hi, my name is Zach Olsen, internet marketing professional, web entrepreneur & proud dad. Read more...

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