The Power of Mini Habit

I’ll just suck it up and admit it. I have no other choice. I am a life long learner. Whether it is a new restaurant, a new programming language, or a new data visualization tool, I am a sponge and want to know all about it. Maybe it is an addiction, maybe it is just curiosity, but either way, it is my passion.

How do I do it? Well, with baby steps. You never want to bite off more than you can chew. This is where the power of the mini habit comes in. Taking a small amount of time every day to focus on one thing even for a few minutes leads to profound productivity in the long run.

The idea is to spend about 10 minutes every day learning something new. You could learn how to paint, you could read a white paper, or you could even write a novel. Yes you can write a novel in 10 minutes a day! Whatever your goal may be many habits can lead to profound returns.

Some of my daily habits include;

1) do. 15 push-ups

2) read one white paper or 10 pages

3) write for 10 minutes

4) sketch, paint or draw

5) walk or drive down a new street

If you are creative with your mini habits, they will easily compound into achieving your goals. If you practiced the piano for 10 minutes every day and then in one year you will be a respectable piano player.

So start compounding those mini habits today. Write out your long-term goals and think about different things you can do every day to work towards those goals. Don’t forget to have a little bit of fun. Don’t forget about creativity. And don’t forget that it’s OK to be a lifelong learner.

Early 2018 Updates

It is time for a quick update on my 2018.  I have been pretty lax about posting here as most of my content is being posted on my Patreon profile.  For just $5.00 per month you can get access to all of my content.  Content includes articles, podcasts, and videos on business, analytics, productivity, wellness, and creativity.   The focus is providing inspiration and knowledge to enhance your own experience. So head over to my profile and sign up.  Just don’t watch my horrible intro video.  lol

Onward to the good stuff!

Aric’s Q1 2018 Update

Shapr

Are you tired of LinkedIn?  Has LinkedIn gotten a bit personal? Tired or recruiters harassing you who have never looked at your profile?  Luckily, there is a cure.  It is an app called Shapr.  Think of it as the Tinder app for professionals and networking.  You signup easily and then you tell it up to 10 skills and give it your location.  It matches you to professionals with similar skills and interests.  You can then chat, meet for coffee/lunch or even just have a video call.

For me, it has been phenomenal in networking with fellow analytics gurus in my area.  I have already met with a half dozen and have developed a broader network for clients and employment opportunities.  It is great.  By comparison, LinkedIn is embarrassingly bloated.  lol

The Creative World

Early in my career, I cared a lot about gadgets, tech, and having cool stuff.  After a few moves and having to deal with all that stuff, I have decided to significantly downsize.  No more stuff for the sake of having stuff.  I have reduced my furniture down to the essentials, dumped half the stuff in my kitchen I never used, or used only once, and reduced my wardrobe down to a week worth of clothes.

This leaves the door open for more creativity.  Not only do I have tons of room in my small studio apartment, but I have a free mind as well.  Not being surrounded by all that stuff has cleared the air.  I now look forward to coming home and using this great space for projects and expanding my business.

After seeing technology de-innovate over the past two years (iOS 11 is backwards) with minimalist interfaces and complicated gestures, more and more data collection, and annoying ads everywhere, I have begun reducing my reliance on tech.  I am planning on getting rid of my iPhone and replacing it with a dumb flip phone.  I will use a small tablet for the sake of convenience at the coffee shop.  I will also dust off my S95 camera so I don’t miss anything and can document my adventures at any moment.

Having less technology around me reminds me that Americans truly work too hard.  We are given the conveniences so corporations can profit from us, keep us connected.  I don’t mean a conspiracy theory, but look at Europe, they are happier and work less than we do.  Do we really want driver-less cars so we can start work the moment we leave or houses?  Just stop and ask yourself, what is technology really doing for me?  If you love it, great.  If you wonder if the grass is greener with less tech in your life, give it a shot and cut back.

The creative world comes alive when you limit the technology, the stuff, and clear the air in your home.  For me, I have renewed energy for podcasts, creating online courses for SpiralAnalytics, and even painting (I recent took up acrylic).  Let creativity shine!

The 3 Words

You might recall, I started off the year with three words to define my 2018.  Inspired by Chris Brogan’s concept, I chose active, plan and explore.

Active – Going well in respects to my physical fitness and being more active physically.  I do have a bit of work to do with becoming more active in my community.  I have not identified a non-profit to volunteer with.  Longmont offers a few historical ideas, as does Erie and Louisville.  I also need to get out more in the evenings after work.  So, active is okay, but needs more focus.

Plan – Daily to do lists and progress charts are just a part of my plan.  Plan really refers to knowing what I need to do, learning, and being prepared for the next step.  For instance, I am considering leasing a car.  I am doing research into what may fit my needs, as well as asking the question, Is this the right time?  Plan is about being prepared to make an educated decision and executing that decision efficiently.  Overall, Plan is going well.

Explore – Not only explore beautiful Colorado, but also explore what I want to learn, new hobbies, and try new things.  I haven’t done many weekend road trips, but I have been exploring N Scale model trains. I have also been researching changes in social media. Exploring cars for a potential a new car lease, and dabbling in painting and sketching.  I have also been exploring platforms to host online custom online courses.  So, exploring has been busy.

SpiralAnalytics

Ah yes, my analytics consulting business.  Things are going well.  Busy with clients in Colorado while designing, authoring and recording online courses to share my knowledge and experience with analytics. What was supposed to be launched in December of 2017 with a WordPress blog and a few membership plugins turned out to be a lot of work and is almost ready to launch with Thinkific. SpiralAnalytics wants to educate and share our knowledge so our users can live in a data driven world and help them launch or refine their own career in analytics.  Stay tuned… SpiralAnalytics is just getting warmed up.

This update has gotten a bit longer than I thought, so I will stop here.  Head over to my Patreon profile and consider a $5/mo subscription.  There is plenty of content over there to make your $5 well spent.  Keep thinking about those three words and how they define your actions.  Finally stay tuned for our first online course, authored by yours truly!

Caio!

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye to 2017 with Inspiration From Roy Underhill

Roy Underhill has been working with wood since I was a tiny little kid.   In 1979 he started the “The Woodright’s Shop” which has turned into PBS’s longest running how-to show.   For 38 years, Roy has been inspiring generations with his passion for woodworking and keeping the old methods of hand planes and good old fashion skill alive.   In fact, in episode 37 episode 6, Big Ash Mallet!, Roy pokes fun at the inability to find a quality mallet for sale.  He goes to say modern manufacturers truly want woodwright’s to make their own mallets because the glued mallets for sale are worthless. Go Roy!

Goodbye 2017

As we exit 2017, we all need to heed the lesson of the Big Ash Mallet and look toward 2018 with a bit more passion, self-sufficiency, and simplicity.  Without a doubt, 2017 was a rough year with a horrible president-elect being inaugurated, countless legislative terror attacks on the American people by the Republicans, and a number of personal challenges I personally had to overcome.  As I reflect back on 2017, I say goodbye and good-riddance.  The roughness is inspiration for us in 2018.

2017 Highlights

The best moments of 2017 are worth celebrating.  They provide a foundation of fun for 2018.

T6 Texan  Seattle GrumpyThe best moment was riding on Grumpy, a NAA B-25D bomber operated by the Historic Flight Foundation.  We flew from Paine Field in Everett, Grumpy’s base, south down the coast to downtown Seattle.  We made a flyby of Boeing Field and the Museum of Flight before returning to Paine Field.  I say “we” because a NAA T-6 Texan was flying off our wing at all times, remarkable!

The second best moment was my August road trip to Colorado from Seattle.  After a tumultuous start to the year, a job change and the decision to move away from Seattle, I gave myself a vacation after a number of years.  Driving through Montana and visiting Missoula, Bozeman and Billings made me appreciate the wonderful beauty of our country, the value of fresh air, and even reminded me how confining the Seattle region really is.   The short visit to Little Bighorn Battlefield was nothing short of breathe-taking. On this trip, I found the curious soul who had been hiding while living in Seattle.  The decision was made on this trip to relocate to Colorado.

Other moments include sleeping with the cat in the car at a rest area outside of Boise, Idaho on our last trip to Colorado.  I also enjoyed my visit to the Old Idaho Pen.  Moments from Seattle include spectacular sunsets from my deck, rainbows in Snoqualmie Pass, and having lunch in Mukilteo, watching the ferries come and go.

Over the past few weeks, I have been suffering from the flu, pneumonia, and bitter cold.  It is a parting gift from 2017 which was unnecessary, miserable, and unproductive.  As soon as this cough subsides and I begin breathing normal again, I will donate to scientific research with the hopes of exacting revenge an we eradicate the flu bug altogether. lol

CoSt2 Exercise

I decided to use the “CoST2” concept to consider what I should be continuing, stopping, or starting as actions as we move into 2018. CoSt2 is an exercise where you evaluate what you will continue doing, stop doing, and start doing in the new year. I heard about it on a podcast on my road-trip and decided to give it a try.

CONTINUE:

  • Being Curious
  • Regular Walks
  • Promoting and working to remove Trump (his admin & family) and the Republicans from office
  • Planning your Day
  • Laying the foundation for financial diversification (Patreon, Spiral Analytics & Saalun)

STOP

  • Binge watching TV
  • Eating Junk Food – Getting Food at Starbucks
  • Isolating
  • Using social media and technology so much
  • Letting anxiety rule my day

START

  • Exercising daily
  • Eating good, quality food
  • Planning meals & workouts
  • Exploring Colorado history and Crazy Horse
  • Going out more to workshops, coffee houses, and local events

Overall, the idea for 2018 is to stop being so dependent on technology and start moving a bit more, leading to a healthier lifestyle.  All the while, staying curious and trying to save America.

My Three Words for 2018

Every year I pick three words which guide my values, principles and actions for the year.  They almost create a theme or lens to see the year around.

In 2017 I chose, connect, learn, build.   It worked well, I spent a lot of time connecting with myself and my community.  I spent a lot of time learning about local history, python, and data visualization.  I also spent time building a foundation for 2018 which included setting blogs, building strategy, messaging and laying the groundwork for a focused 2018.

With 2018 right around the corner, I’ve been thinking about a new set of three words.  Some words which came to mind: explore, plan, visit, authentic, responsible, fun, simplicity, simple, bricks, legos, and active.    The three which I settled upon include:My Three Words 2018

  • Active – not only being more active physically, but also more active in my business and local community
  • Plan – do your research and create a plan so I am prepared.
  • Explore – I now live in the beautiful state of Colorado and have a lot of exploring to do.  I also need to explore more options for the future.  There is also a certain amount of exploration to do within my own social community.

So, active, plan, and explore are the words to live by in 2018.  These are also consistent with my CoSt2 exercise for 2018.

Roy’s Message

So what does Roy Underhill have to do with this?  He is a reminder of what we need to recognize in 2018.  We cannot let the wonderful methods, skills, and people who built this once great country with their hands and ingenuity be overlooked.

With the technological revolution in the past ten or so years, we are starting to forget the feel of wood in our hands.  We are starting to forget the smell and wood shavings and the joy we get from making something with our hands.  Technology does play a vital role in our globalized world and offers many conveniences.  But we cannot let it steal our past and dictate a boring future of sheer convenience.  After-all, when the power goes out for good, who’s going to be able to make a chair, let alone a 2×4?

See you soon in 2018!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Beyond the Box

Think outside the boxBoxes are great for containing things. Whether moving or just trying to clear the clutter, a box comes in very handy.  You might even choose a box with some character, scratched out handwritten labels, shipping stickers and ancient yellow packing tape.  Yes, the box is a great thing.

But a box can also describe the perspective we live in.  Along the lines of “stuck in a rut,” living inside the box is a familiar place.   The box is the universe we live in, not only the physical space of home, work, the grocery store and the coffee shop, but also the mental world, the thoughts, the emotions, and the perspectives on the world.  By this definition, the box can start to take on a different feeling.

The life you live is the sum of the decisions and actions you make.  These decisions have many different types of influences, be it from your friends or networking group or from the thoughts which pass through your mind.  While many of us are quite content with the box we’ve built for ourselves, others may not be.

Change is how your box changes shape, color, and even location.  “Think outside the box” is a phrase we often use to set loftier goals for ourselves.  In fact, personal growth happens most when we step outside the box we’ve come to love.  A life of learning, new places, and new people is a great way to keep your box changing forever.

Here are some ideas to go beyond your box:

  • Take an online course – many are free and cover a wide variety of topics.
  • Join a book club – Sure, Oprah comes to mind, but reading is a great way to expand your box, as is engaging in discussion.
  • Invite a peer out to lunch – Not only do you get to experience a new atmosphere, but you share the experience with someone and bond with them.
  • Learning a new language or instrument – Learning to speak German or how to play Pachelbel’s Canon on the piano, the process of learning something new stimulates brain activity and makes you feel good.
  • Meditate – breathe, let your thoughts go, and relax.  Reflect on the thoughts which come up naturally and be prepared to write them down afterward so you can take action.
  • Take a vacation – it does not have to be an exotic place like Thailand, but a change of scenery is enough to get you thinking differently and open your horizons
  • Take a different route home from work – this is one tip I love and practice daily. You never drive home the same route day after day.  This opened me up to new routes and I found some places to visit at the same time.

While the box is a really cool thing, it is okay to think about life outside the box.

A Decade of Learning

For a bit more than the last decade, my career has focused on data and data visualization within sales, marketing and finance.   From understanding data architecture and database design to deploying insightful and effective reports to teams across the organization, I have come to appreciate the profound role data plays in today’s highly competitive marketplace.

Understanding how to use data and integrating it into one’s daily routine is a challenge for many.  As I reflect back on my career and the challenges for sales reps and analysts ahead, I chose to shift gears and focus on sharing my experiences with a greater audience.

Saalun - Sales Analytics University for Reps and AnalystsWith the purpose of sharing my skills, I created Saalun.  Saalun is short for Sales Analytics University.  The subscription based service is geared toward sales reps and analysts.  While sales leadership can also benefit, the product is to help reps get the training they need without relying upon corporate leadership to provide it.

While we are just launching an early preview, we will open the doors in Q4’17 with content, newsletters, webinars and podcasts.  Head over to our site and signup for notifications, early previews, and the latest news on this exciting project.

5 Things an Analytics Leader Must Do To Make Analysts Happy

bizanalystAnalysts are the lifeblood of a successful, data-driven company.  The analysts within your organization are usually the first to figure out if the company is on track or off track of the goals.  Their happiness can lead to early warnings and quick action to avoid pitfalls.  Their happiness can also help drive innovation and much needed change.

It is essential to keep your analysts happy.  Whether they are part of a corporate insights team, or are a line of business analyst with sales or marketing, there a few things a leader can do to help make them happy.

Trust & Enable, Don’t Dictate – The best leaders lead through influence and enablement, not micro management and total control.   Trust is one of the most important virtues of a team and is a true symbol of teamwork.  When a leader can let things go and let the judgment, experience, and knowledge of their analysts work, phenomenal things happen.

Celebrate Wins, big and small – Analysts have complex and very important roles in every organization. Analysts work hard, very often in sprints at quarter end and quarter begin. For this reason, take the time to help your analysts celebrate.  From cupcakes and beverages in a conference room, to an off-site cart race, let your analysts cut-loose and have fun.

Give Credit – Nothing makes an analyst more upset than another analyst or person taking credit for their work.  Just like recognition helps drive the morale of a sales rep, giving credit to your analyst when and where it counts is a simple act with profound effect.

Freestyle Project Time – Work hard, play hard.  Let your analysts take a few hours each week to work on something they want to related to work.  Whether they want to work on a new data model, an insights project, or attend an online, self service class, give them the time to do something they feel is important to their role.  A few hours each week to work on a project of their choosing enhances creativity and innovation.

Establish a Vision, But Seek Input – As all leaders are responsible for establishing a vision and trajectory for the team, this vision must be based on input from the team.  Allow the team to develop their own mission statement, their own framework, and be the guide to steer them toward corporate goals.   A vision developed by team input is unstoppable.

As an analytical leader, you have a responsibility to keep your analysts happy.  Happy analysts are key to driving data driven change in any organization.   Allow them to flourish, be creative, innovate and share their passion with the organization.

But wait, a sixth BONUS tip

Conference Budget – Allow your analysts to attend one or two conferences of their choosing every year.  Conferences are not only learning opportunities, but also incredible networking opportunities.  An analyst meeting another analyst is like a match made in heaven.  Let your analysts out of the office and share knowledge as much as possible.

Welcome 2017! My Three Focus Words

2016 is history.  Not the best year, not the worst year.  It was a year of change, strong opinions and shock.  From mass shootings to celebrity deaths to the election of Trump, it was a year we will all be talking about and trying to understand for decades to come.

It was also the year that I established myself in the Pacific Northwest.  It was the year I became a two car owner, a year in which I established my style and a year in which I learned about myself.  While I do not have a lot to brag about in terms of accomplishments, I can say I rode the tide, survived the year, and learned what is important to me.

As I look back on 2016 and dream about 2017 will bring me, I am filled with a bit of anxiety, hope, and inspiration.  Like a blank page in an artist’s sketchbook, the new year is a blank slate waiting to be filled with memories, transactions, people, ideas, and dreams.  It is more inspiring than anything.

Back in 2006, Chris Brogan began publishing 3 words to represent and guide him throughout the year.  This tradition is ten years old in 2016.  The idea, as described by Mr. Brogan:

Pick any three words that will guide you in the choices you intend to make for 2016. They should be words that let you challenge yourself as to motives and decisions. They should be words that help you guide your actions.-Chris Brogan

So, without further ado, here are my three words:  Connect, Learn, Build

Connect – connect is about connecting with the community around me, the people, the places, the events, and the technology.  Throughout 2017, I will be looking for opportunities to connect with everything around me.

Learn – While we are required to spend roughly 18 years in school before we are ready to participate in the world, the truth is life is one big school and you should never stop learning.  I am eleven years into a career in Analytics and I realize how fast technology changes.  I need to stay current on the tools.  I also want to set the foundation for grad school, so I have some studying to do for the GRE.

Build – This word has a few meanings to me.  First, I want to spend more time doing things with my hands, away from computer and not reliant upon technology.  From a hydroponics system to arts and crafts, I want to build. Second, build represents establishing a foundation for the latter half of my life.  I see myself undergoing a lot of personal change and 2017 is the year the foundation is built for that change.

What are you three words?  What’s your focus on 2017?