choose yourself

Graham Hunt – Spanish Real-Estate Entrepreneur

Graham Hunt is a real estate property developer in Valencia Spain. He’s created YouTube videos for his real-estate company, included 100 tips for moving to Spain,and is the author of Laptop Entrepreneur. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

High Fidelity.  The first Nick Hornby book I read was Fever Pitch of course, a book that summed everything up about being a football fan. High Fidelity summed everything up about being a bloke. The obsessive lists, the compilation tapes, the emotional depth of a blancmange, the self centredness, everything. Just like I could have been Gregory in the film below I could definitely have been Rob in this book. The film version was good by the way, excellent casting of John Cusack, but it just wasn’t “quite” as good.


Choose Yourself. James Altucher’s book has been my go to toilet book for the last year (And believe me that is high praise indeed) The idea that we are in the middle of a sea change in the way we do things in the World Economy and that the old certainties enjoyed by our parents’ generation have disappeared as jobs, careers and life has been outsourced abroad has meant that I have started looking at everything in a new way. The idea of Choosing Yourself and most convincingly the way to become an ideas machine have changed me enormously. Two new businesses later and a huge change in the way I look at any problem mean that now it doesn’t look as if I will be changing my toilet reading for a time yet.

The 4-Hour Workweek. I got this book immediately as a mindset thing but every time I revisit it I get more out of it now. (Would love Tim Ferriss to do an updated version right now with so many other tools out there and so many success stories too).

The point that most people miss about the 4HWW is that it is not a treatise on how to be “lazy” and work four hours a week while supping Margaritas under a palm tree in a hammock (Despite the cover art) What it really is are a series of tools to use to become ultra efficient. I have never even approached four hours work a week, in fact i think I am on about 70 a week at the moment. What I am doing though is the work of 300 hours in those 70. And yes you might say I am missing the point too as the aim of the book wasn’t to give you more time to do more. However I have been able to make time for great holidays now and if I want to take time out and do other stuff I just do. I choose my clients and I choose my projects. Nothing is forced on me and that for me is key.

Good things to watch.

 

Gregory’s Girl. Probably the greatest movie ever 😉 OK it’s cheap, it’s low tech and it’s somewhat risqué in some of the lines looking back on it now. However, I was Gregory and so was every other lad I knew at school, in fact I probably still am. If a girl ever needs to get into what the head of a teenage boy in the 80’s was then just watch this film. Awkwardness, insecurity, white jackets, football and a strange attraction to obscure facts about Caracas. What more could you ask for?

Salvados. The only programme worth watching on Spanish television. Jordi Evole is the innocent going around letting the corrupt, the inept, the self important and the bastards hang themselves with their own words. With such a huge range of potential targets to have a go at in this country, Salvados never usually misses the target. Using a style of interviewing that allows the “victim” to talk themselves into a corner where there is no escape, Evole does a great job of making the corrupt seem like slime in their own words and his reactions to their admissions are priceless.

Derek. Some people love Ricky Gervais and some people don’t. I am in the former camp. However Derek could well be the best thing that he has ever done. The Office was superb, Extras was fantastic. An Idiot Abroad had some brilliant bits and Life’s Too Short was… meh! Derek tugs at the heartstrings and also hits home runs on the comedy. Always remember that “Kindness is magic”

Good things to use.

The Valencia Cricket Ground.  Three years ago I helped to start up a cricket club in Valencia, Spain… yes cricket in Spain. Two years ago I managed to set up a couple of meetings meaning we got to share the Valencia baseball ground. We have rechristened the ground as the VCG and every time we use it we love it.

My iPhone/iPad.  I mostly run my businesses from my iPad and iPhone. If the iPhone is more than a metre away from me consider it a mistake. If the iPad is more than a few metres away consider it a panic attack. Why? Well they are my entertainment, my information, my work tools and of course my communications tool. I am not going to go into the apps that I use but these two things just rock for me as they work so well together along with the MacBook at home for integrated workflows.

The Grey Matter. The more I challenge my brain to come up with creative solutions to problems and issues the better it becomes at sorting things out. And I give it a lot of challenges. If I had to give advice to someone on how to use their grey matter it would be as follows:

Never let it go to mush by watching TV like the X Factor, reading stuff like the Daily Mail and repeating celebrity gossip. You have a brain for a reason. Make the most of it.

Connect with Graham, and his brain on Twitter, @grahunt to talk cricket, Spanish real-estate, or to just thank him for his good things.

Advertisements

Patrick Rhone – Writer

Patrick Rhone is a writer who lives in Saint Paul, MN with his wife and six-year-old daughter. He says, “Writing is how I try to make the world a better, friendlier, stronger place.” These are his good things.

Good things to read.

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp.  This is a must read for anyone who creates anything. Twyla is one of the greatest dancers and choreographers of all time and, here, she gives practical and inspiring advice on how to make creativity a exercisable habit. It’s full of personal anecdotes, wonderful quotes, wit, grace, and timeless wisdom. It is honest and raw.

On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.  I’ll be honest. I’m not a big fan of Stephen King’s fiction writing. The genre he normally trades in is just not my thing. That is why I resisted reading this for a long time. It was only last year that I, reluctantly, picked this book up. But, as soon as I started reading it, I found I could not put it back down. Because, at it’s heart, it is a really well written, honest, and compelling memoir. A unique and personal look into the history and life of one of modern literature’s foremost contributors. Sure, there’s lots of practical and “no-duh” writing advice to be found here. But the manner in which it is delivered is heartfelt, on the level, and born of the trial and error he details throughout. It would seem every writer must, at some point, write a book about the craft. I have read far too many. This one is the most human and my favorite.

Choose Yourself! by James Altucher.  A current fave. This latest book by James Altucher is a straight forward kick in the pants to anyone who needs it. It makes a very strong case for what many of us already know (and many others suspect) — that everything we used to rely on for safety (College, Employment, Retirement, etc) no longer can be relied on. No longer can we wait for someone to hire us, invest in us, or pick us. We have to choose ourselves. Parts of this will challenge you and likely piss you off. I like that he pulls no punches about the whats, hows, and whys of what he believes we all should do. But, I think even more important is that this is the first book of this type I have read that stresses personal health and well being as essential tools for choosing oneself. The idea that proper sleep, a healthy diet, and daily exercise are requirements for doing your best work. That these things are the first step to take in choosing yourself. Highly recommended.

Good things to watch.

Classic Albums: Aja by Steely Dan 1977 – YouTube.  All of the Classic Albums episodes are great. But, this one is fantastic. Steely Dan’s Aja is a deep look into the process of making a perfect hit record. The only “official” members of Steely Dan at the time the album was made were Donald Fagan and Walter Becker. So, they set out to find the best studio musicians available for each individual track. In other words, hand choosing specific artists for specific instruments on specific songs. Even going so far as auditioning several people for a single guitar solo until they found just the right one. What I like most is the sheer amount of artists and talent it took to execute such a singular vision. Listening to the album, you would never know the amount of collaboration by dozens and dozens of musicians it took to pull it off. And, ultimately, the reason it works so well is that they took their time finding exactly the right person for the task at hand. Truly remarkable. The thing I like most about the whole Classic Albums series is that it is the actual artists, engineers, and producers sitting down at the mixing board and taking you on a journey of the process. So. Much. Win!

Webstock ’13: Mike Monteiro – How Designers Destroyed the World. There is so much to unpack here I hardly know where to begin. This barn-burner of a talk not only applies to designers, it applies to everyone and everything. The main theme is that we all need to consider the full consequences of everything we put out into the world. We need to take ownership of the things we do and why it matters. And, most importantly, we need to stand up and defiantly say “no” when we are faced with something we don’t believe in or know to be wrong. This one literally left me giving a standing ovation in an empty room alone with my computer. It’s that good.

A sunset or sunrise. They happen every day yet how many of us go out of our way to see one. Let alone a really go one. You don’t need to wait for a vacation. Have a nice lake, or hill, or park in town? No matter where you live there just has to be a good place to catch one or the other. Wake up early or have dinner a bit late.Make this your new favorite happy hour spot. Whatever you do, make the time to enjoy one or the other every now and then.

Good things to use.

A good pen. Actually, consider two. One good one that you can enjoy using every day. And, one really good one that you use for special occasions. Like signing a bonus check, birthday card, or writing a letter to an old friend. I have far too many in both categories so I won’t recommend a specific one here. I will say that I keep a Uniball Signo 207 Micro on me at nearly all times. It’s a good pen that is inexpensive that I don’t mind losing and replacing.

Hobonichi Techo Planner. I’m a big fan of mine. I use it as a diary and daily log of my accomplishments. It is the only journal I have managed to use every day, consistently, for more than a few weeks. In fact, I have not missed a day since I started mine on December 16, 2013 (pretty proud of that). The main reason for this success is that it simply is a joy to use. The paper is, perhaps, the best I’ve ever written on. It’s well designed, functional, and has little bit of whimsy thrown in here and there. It just makes me unreasonably happy every time I use it.

My Dash/Plus System. OK, this one may be a bit self-promo, but hear me out. I designed this system for marking up and processing my notes and tasks. It allows me to concentrate on capturing first and sorting out where things belong later. It really helps me. Many, many, others have adopted it too. And if you are more of an “app” kind of person — there’s and app for it too. Every one who reports back about having used it reports that it really helps them. Perhaps it will help you too. I hope it does.

Connect with Patrick on Twitter, @PatrickRhone.

Alex McClafferty – Entrepreneur

Alex McClafferty is the co-founder of WP Curve, Content Club, ConvertPress and Informly. He lives in San Francisco with his beautiful wife Brittany and loves content marketing, powerlifting and making new friends. An ex-MBA and former wantrepreneur, Alex made the leap into entrepreneurship in July 2013 and hasn’t looked back.  These are his good things.

Good things to read.

The Sticking Point Solution.  Jay is called ‘The Billion Dollar Man’ for a reason. This book is the best I’ve read about business strategy… and I’ve read A LOT of business books. Jay unpacks 9 different ways your business can become stuck and breaks down the actual tactics and actions you can take to get your business back on track.

Poor Charlie’s Almanack.  When Warren Buffett says someone is a smart guy, it’s worth reading what they have to say. Charlie’s book on investment, psychology and mental models is absolutely brilliant. When you pick up this book, you might be thrown off by it’s ‘picturebook’ look and feel… but once you reach the Psychology of Human Misjudgment section… you will be highlighting, writing notes and bookmarking like your life depends on it.


Choose Yourself!  If there was a hashtag for James Altucher’s writing, it would be #nofilter. James challenged my assumptions and forced me to ask… why? Why should everyone follow the path most travelled? Although this book feels choppy in parts, James is honest, authentic and real. I read this book on my honeymoon, then told my wife and later, my co-founder to read it. It is that good!

Good things to watch.


The Wire.  To me, HBO series are the pinnacle of quality TV. You get characters that feel real, high production value and an evergreen storyline. I’ve watched this series twice. I will probably watch it again later this year.


Blackfish.  Documentaries sometimes present a one-sided account of the ‘facts’ to strengthen the impact of their story. In Blackfish, res ipsa loquitur… the thing speaks for itself. Check it out on Netflix.


Fight Club.  The first rule of Fight Club is… you don’t recommend Fight Club on 27 Good Things.

Good things to use.

Chuck Taylor All Stars.  This product has stood the test of time. First produced in 1917, these shoes are durable, comfortable and have been worn by NBA stars, rap icons and world class powerlifters. If you want to learn about how to develop a product for a low cost that can be customized to satisfy the wants of everyone, check out a Converse store… you can make your shoe any color, style or material that you like. Comfort, style and durability for $50.

Your gym membership.  I’m serious! You only need to do 45 minutes of exercise a few times a week to reap the benefits. If you really want to challenge yourself, try powerlifting. Powerlifters invest years into perfecting their form and strengthening their weaknesses, which is the same mindset you need for being a successful entrepreneur.

Duolingo.  Excuses for not learning a language – be gone! Duolingo is a brilliant app that will help you crush your New Year’s resolution of learning an exotic language. It’s fun, free and you can compete against your friends.

Connect with Alex on Twitter, @alexmcclafferty.

Jonas – Storyteller, Creative Director, Tennis aficionado

Jonas pretends to work as a creative director in his daytime and squeezes out words onto pages in his night time. He has published two novels and is half-way into his third one. When he’s not at work or with family, he’s dancing around on a tennis court somewhere, trying to imitate Roger Federer.

Good things to read.

Independence Day by Richard Ford.  This Pulitzer and Pen prize-winning book made me want to become a novelist. A brilliant story without murders. Here the beautiful language and strong realism makes sure you keep turning the page.

On Writing by Stephen King.  It’s hard not to like Stephen King. He sells boatloads of books, yet is still true to his craft. This is his book on writing, which is truly a labour of love and very inspirational.

Choose Yourself by James Altucher.  A book that fits so well in with our chaotic times that I wish I’d written it myself. James’ brain is an exciting place and the honesty and clarity of his writing is both refreshing, thought-provoking and revolutionary.

Good things to watch.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians. (Nah, that was a joke…)

Star Wars.  I’ve loved the Star Wars saga ever since I was a little boy and I’m happy I’ve managed to brainwash my stepson (9) into liking it as much. Not the best dialogue in the universe, but the storytelling is top notch and the visuals give you goose bumps.

Shawshank Redemption.  More Stephen King, I know. But this is his best movie by far and I’m not alone in thinking this (best movie of all time according to IMDB). It’s difficult not to shed a tear at the end of it.

Mad Men.  Having worked with advertising in some form or other for most of my adult life, the TV series Mad Men felt like home. I’m also a nostalgic for a time when you could drink generously in the middle of the work day. Fantastic acting and storytelling.

Good things to use.

Evernote.  For many years I wanted a software that could keep all my notes organised and in one place. Evernote does this wonderfully. Makes me feel creative and calm at the same time.

Dropbox.  Every creator’s worst nightmare is that all his/hers hard work is disintegrated in a hardware malfunction or a wildfire. Dropbox allows me to pour water on my Macbook Air without worrying about data loss (disclaimer: don’t pour water on your computer!).

Kindle.  The perfect travel buddy. Since I used to type newspaper articles on the classic Psion3a, the e-ink screen gives me both nostalgia and less tired eyes. If you love books, but don’t want to carry the weight of them, the Kindle is the way to go.

Follow Jonas’ musings on Twitter: @jonaswrites.

Tim Hofmann – Cartoons, Coffee, Consulting

Tim Hofmann draws bad cartoons, roasts coffee beans, and consults small businesses at Clutterbomb, these are his good things.

Good things to read.

Walden, Henry David Thoreau.  I treat this book like scripture (except I actually read it.) His ideas on housing, education and work will be revelatory to anyone stuck in a modern rut.

Modern communication is terse. Reading Thoreau reminds me that a thought can be a big, craggy thing one has to hold on to with both hands and support with one’s chest to manage. Compare one paragraph of Thoreau to a day’s worth of your twitter feed and try not to feel doomed.

I copy passages out of Walden to practice my cursive handwriting. I read Walden when my striving muscle is exhausted. This book is awesome.

The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb.  Taleb is another non-conventional thinker. He takes common human psychological traits and explains why (and how) we repeatedly set ourselves up for disaster. This is another guy with really big thoughts. I’d recommend his latest, Antifragile, but it’s sitting on my shelf unread. Read the Black Swan and you’ll understand why Taleb would be OK with that.

Choose Yourself!, James Altucher.  Altucher reminds me a lot of Thoreau. His advice flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but he’s easier to read than Thoreau. His blog is fantastic for anyone who is struggling with work, business or life in general- I found him in 2010 and he helped me get up off the floor and turn my life around.

Good things to watch.

Eyelids, it’s great to spend time away from screens. It’s even better to spend (awake) time with your eyes closed. I never look at any kind of glowing screen when I’m in bed. Can’t sleep? Fine. Close your eyes and think.

Ren and Stimpy.  I watch this with my 3-year-old daughter. It’s brilliant and bizarre. If she can get through this stuff and internalize it as normal, nothing in real life will EVER faze her.

TV on Netflix.  No Commercials. ‘Nuff said.

Good things to use.

Pilot Metropolitan,  I’m a Fountain Pen Geek. The Metro is an outrageous value- a super-smooth writing pen that ships with a refillable converter for using bottled ink. I’ve paid 10X for pens I use less frequently. It’s a great intro to fountain pens for the curious.

Rhodia Paper, High Performance Paper. If your fountain pen is a racecar, Rhodia is the track.

Aerobie Aeropress.  Simple to use, this thing makes amazing coffee. It’s super quick and cleanup is a snap. It’s the anti Keurig.

Talk with Tim about fountain pens on Twitter, @manoeuver.