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.

Tiffany – The Budgetnista

Tiffany “The Budgetnista” is a bestselling author (The One Week Budget), and a sharer of all things, frugal, fun and fabulous via her financial, education firm, The Budgetnista.

Good things to read.

The Richest Man in Babylon. A prerequisite read for all other financial books.

The Alchemist. If you’ve ever dreamed of more, this book will inspire you to keep going until it’s yours.

The 4-Hour Workweek. For my Dream Catchers. For those who understand that and extraordinary life cannot be had by doing ordinary things.

Good things to watch.

The Secret. The Law of Attraction explained. 

Scandal My not-so-secret guilty pleasure and just plain fun TV.

YouTube. Where I learned how to do yoga, paint my home, program my phone and a ton of other things ranging from completely useless to life changing. Oh, and all for FREE!

Good things to use.

Navigation on an Android phone.  I LOVE this feature. Whenever I travel I use the turn-by-turn walking feature to help me get around unfamiliar cities.

Kindle (the original without internet) Having a Kindle has dramatically increased how many books I read. It has also helped me be more patient and enjoy waiting, because I use that time to read instead.

Budget.   All of our financial successes or failure can be traced back to our budget, or lack thereof. Change your budget, change your life.

For all things budgets and more connect with Tiffany on Twitter at @TheBudgetnista.

Melanie Pinola – Writer and Life Hacker

Melanie Pinola writes about technology, productivity, and “life hacks” (most notably for Lifehacker, ITworld, and Mobile Office Technology). Her book LinkedIn in 30 Minutes is due out in May 2013.

Good things to read.

 Poetry. Any kind will do. Poems are really music without sound. Whether you like the bold crassness of Charles Bukowski, the exquisite darkness of Mark Strand, or the brilliant pondering of Adrienne Rich, reading a poem is like getting a concentrated dose of inspiration. Ironically, though, while poems are usually short enough to read at any moment, you can only read so many without getting too intoxicated and overwhelmed. (Is it a copout to choose a whole genre? Very well then, see the complete poems of E. E. Cummings, where you’ll find the most beautiful love poems. Really.)

Smart bloggers. We’re lucky to have so many good writers putting up/sharing free content all the time. Off the top of my head, I think you should check out the insanely honest and funny James Altucher, enlightening Derek Sivers, and flat-out productive person Jeff Atwood (who wrote one of the best posts about parenthood ever). Master curators Maria Popova on Brain Pickings, Jason Kottke on, and Dave Pell on Next Draft should also be in your feeds.

And, to be practical: Real Simple, the magazine and website, which covers everything from home organization to wardrobe shortcuts to unusual uses for old things. Like Lifehacker, it’s all about making life simpler and easier (although Real Simple has less of a tech bent). 

Good things to watch.

America’s Test Kitchen. On YouTube and PBS. It’s the science of good cooking: tested recipes, equipment, and techniques. Because, really, we all should be making and eating great food.

Mythbusters. They put all the most interesting myths to the test. The latest episode: MacGyver Myths. Could he really have flown a plane made of bamboo? Created a hole in a wall with pure sodium? Epic.

Game of Thrones. I have no productivity-related reason to recommend this, other than it just rocks. It’s reason enough to subscribe to HBO. One word of advice, though: Don’t read the books before the related season. You’ll be in purgatory waiting for the show to catch up and wondering why the characters on screen are still alive. (It’s pure torture.) 

Good things to use.

Automation tools. Automate as much as you can. App-connecting service IFTTT is truly awesome: You can send starred Gmail messages to Evernote, automatically download Facebook photos to Dropbox, get text message notifications of important news items, and so much more. Similarly, save time and hassle by using Amazon Subscribe & Save for your regular bulk items, an online grocery to get your food delivered with a weekly list, and maybe even a complete meal delivery service like Blue Apron. Cut out all the little things that consume so much time (like weekly meal planning and shopping) and you have time for the more important ones.

A good pair of sneakers. I try to walk as much as I can. Part of this is just for exercise. Part of it is to support my local businesses when I go shopping. And the other part is to get some much needed sunlight as often as I can. It makes for better sleep, better moods, and better ideas.

Your relationships. Not that you should “use” them, of course, but time and again studies have shown that happiness is most closely tied to the quality of your relationships (the latest study was a 75-year-old one on Harvard students). I’m an introvert. I don’t care to be around too many people too often. But I know people matter the most, and those extra steps showing gratitude, being helpful, and otherwise participating in our loved ones’ lives is the reason why we’re all here anyway.

Connect with Melanie on Twitter @melaniepinola

Vikki Davis – Cool Cat Teacher

These are Vikki Davis’ good things.

Good things to read.

The 4-Hour chef by Timothy Ferris.  It is supposed to be about cooking but it is not, it is squarely about learning and, although I’m in the midst of reading this, I’m just blown away and processing through what he shares about learning something new in this book (plus I appreciate some of the cooking tips and I thought I was a good chef.)

Classroom Habitudes by Angela Maiers. We are supposed to start with a “to be” list before we give students a “to do” list. This book applies to parents and teachers alike. Habitudes are attitudes that we make a habit of practicing and emphasizing. I think every school and home should adopt these habitudes. Research is increadingly showing that character traits have more to do with success than intelligence and grades. Curiosity, adaptability, passion, and the other four habitudes are things we should inspire in ourselves, our students and our children.

Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds by Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay.  Yes, I wrote this one, but the trend towards connecting classrooms is soon going to take some schools by surprise when they realize that the relationships between schools are already established and they are not joining in.Students are the greatest textbook ever written for each other and it is time to connect them around the world.

Attack Your Day by Mark Woods. This practical book helps you see your work in a whole new way. I use their free forms from their website and tips when I need super-charged productivity and the methods are addictive. A fantastic read for anyone.

Three good things to watch.


The Secret Weapon Evernote TutorialsThis combines Evernote and GTD and the labeling system used is fantastic. I learned so much about Evernote from this free tutorial. If you’re not going to use the Awesome Note app I recommend below, this is a must see.

Cool Cat Teacher’s Inspiration PlaylistI keep a playlist of the inspiring videos that I love the most and add it to them. I think that we should all be creating and sharing playlists to inspire others.

Pranav Mistry on 6th Sense TechnologyI love this speech because it not only shows how innovation happens but where technology is moving. My students always say “wow” and become interested in invention when seeing this video. I think every student should see it.

Good things to use.

Evernote is the most useful app on my dashboard. I use it for everything and use the Awesome Note app, which even syncs my to do’s with Evernote. I scan files to Evernote and snap photos to it as well. It is my outboard brain and even my Livescribe pen that records my lectures syncs with this. I use vJournal for my daily journal of work done which automatically sends that journal with time stamps into Evernote. I love it.

I love Google Reader and use it to build my Personal Learning Network. It is an important tool that I read daily whether it is on the web or using the Mr. Reader app.

KindleI have trouble reading on my iPad because I get so many notifications and sometimes have trouble focusing. I like having a device that does only ONE thing — let me read. It is important that I read an hour a night. According to speaker, Brian Tracey, in studies they have found that to be the top of one’s field, you should read an hour a day in-field. I set that as a goal several years a go and this is one thing that makes all the difference in my professional career. I do have the Kindle app on my iPad, but I will be hard pressed to get rid of my trusty old Kindle even with the cracks in it. There are no notifications and no distractions from the quiet of snuggling up with a good book. The great thing about this device is that it comes with worldwide download abilities that I paid for with the device, that, in itself, makes it important to take on trips because I can even surf in a pinch, like I did when I took some students to India and needed some important information.

Ryan O’Loughlin – Student of Life

These are Ryan O’Loughlin’s good things.

Good things to read.

Well, I’d have to go with a few classics here. Rich Dad Poor Dad was the first book that really shifted my mindset, and ever since then I’ve never stopped learning about business. The Four Hour Workweek is my second favorite book of all time because it really broke the mold of the 9-5 lifestyle. And finally, The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg is a great read for anyone who isn’t sure about the investment of college.  Oh, and how could I forget The Millionaire Fast Lane?


Good things to watch.

I am not a huge fan of TV, but for things to watch I like For example, this talk on dieting – Minding your Mitochondria –  is very educational and this talk – Play is More than Fun – is great too. I also go to YouTube for interesting videos or tutorials. 

Good things to use.

If you travel a lot, I recommend Tripit. It’s a Smartphone app that syncs your airline, hotel, and restaurant reservations on your smart phone. Just makes traveling easier. I also just joined Charles Schwab Bank. Their mobile app is awesome, because you can take pictures of checks and they will be deposited into your account. Also, their checking account has virtually no fees or minimums, which is great for everyone, especially an international traveler.