Oh, You’re the Person Who Started Everything?

Oh, You’re the Person Who Started Everything?

Wow, great to meet you. What’s it like to be the person who started everything?

Maybe you’re not that person, or don’t know you are that person. Hopefully this blog post will give you a perspective that you did not have before today. Let’s dive in.

Background: Through empirical observations and being online for 20+ years, I’ve noticed a common hurdle or trend for passionate people. We all have road bumps and they are all challenging or get more challenging as we grow older. These road bumps are common in life, and we need our own human characteristics or native features to be able to handle living in this tech world.

Lots of people generate content or work on building a brand out of their name.

They do things like; sharing workarounds, sharing cool dashboards, sharing code, sharing their projects, and overall sharing they can do something that’s relative to a topic.

Yeah that sentences above is over generalized but so is the audience on my website! (stick with me.)

Here’s how it goes. A typical feeling everyone will get a few times a year, maybe a few times a day if they frequent places like linkedin.com or twitter.com

“… keep seeing #blogs generated based on #tips or #suggestions that I made on many of my blogs posts & no credit given …” and pretends not to be bothered….

You found someone copying your work, your work that you released on the public internet for attention, not to help others in their career or life.

Don’t get “charged up” and find yourself losing your composure. It’s much easier to listen than speak, logically it’s easier to listen than speak, do your best to “listen” to how you feel before you go down this path.

Chances are, 99 out of 100 times your body feels horrible, it doesn’t feel right, but we do it anyways.

It’s human to get frustrated because you are not the originator of all good things.

You’re not. I’m not. We are not together. Use that upset feeling to make more art.

I’m going to call it like I see it, if you’re worried someone is copying your work or design, there’s a high probability that you didn’t share it to help anyone but yourself.

There’s a two way path you will bump when you’re finding this as an “issue.”

Take note, word usage, notice how we call it an issue, instead of a positive interaction.

My 2cents: We are all connected, & everyones perspective is important. I’m learning it’s hard to find the importance in that perspective if you have trouble controlling your emotions. Like the emotions you have when you see your work, re-posted, & re-written w/o credit given.

IMO, It’s a good feeling to be in a place long enough to see your work become a positive movement in peoples professional careers.

“you didn’t share it to help anyone but yourself.”

by tylergarrett.com

Know when you have a good idea, or design, there’s a high probability you’re not the only person discovering it at the same time. Don’t let it stop your flow.

My goal is to show it’s easy to get an ego about your self generated content, your code baby. It’s normal to be defensive about others taking your work and then taking credit for your work, without giving you a single direct message, email, or even a link to you because you were the first person do XYZ.

Don’t get into the “you’re the person who started everything” mode.

If you’re feeling like you started everything, or this or that, be sure to check your internal dialog. Be sure to consider your emotions before letting it all out. This mode isn’t a successful mode, this mode is annoying, it’s childish, and it’s easy to get caught up in the moment because the internet is a non-stop stream of thought.

Needing kudos, needing credit, needing acceptance, are all leading to you needing attention & that’s easy to ignore.

That’s right, people will start ignoring you. People will block you, mute you, or consider you’re a low quality thought leader/brand. People will understand this well before following you because seeking attention is obvious.

Wanting to be heard, or considered, or looked at more than once…

These are desires we all need or want. In my opinion, most people in today’s age desire respect & positive attention, and it’s okay to desire great things in your life like respect or attention from you peers.

However, I want to suggest a perspective. Lightly tap the breaks with me… *tap tap tap*

Maybe they came up with that stuff on their own, before you, and maybe you’re not the first person to release this online too. Maybe someone else wrote the blog but instead of calling it “period over period analysis” they call it “bucket over bucket analysis.” You don’t know because you don’t know their perspective and it’s like you don’t know their vocabulary too.

There’s a chance you didn’t originate XYZ, and because there’s no way to check to see if someone did do this before you, and maybe they didn’t care for the attention and never shared it.

Maybe it’s sitting on a flash drive and then they decided to release it after your release. Maybe you’re wrong – that’s the perspective you might need to avoid making yourself look like you are losing your composure over content.

There’s a chance you’re wrong, or maybe you’re right, and there’s an even greater chance you’re wasting your time, and you’re not able to break away from the feeling of losing your composure….

There’s a chance you could be putting this intense feeling into a new blog or optimizing your content or making better art.

“Be brave, be different, don’t follow the herd. Never stop creating. Never stop learning.”

by tylergarrett.com

Avoid attention seeking by telling others you are the originator. Take it as a positive, feel happy that you’re making this big of an impact, don’t get carried away with your emotions on something .001% of the world will see because it’s not the sun, it’s not the moon, and it’s likely it’s not that big of a deal.

You’re on the back of everyone else and it’s important to remember where you come from when you get into the “you’re the person who started everything” mode.

4 steps to becoming a better blogger/thought leader

Below are 4 quick steps, packaged in this blog to add a nice “feature” to this story.

Becoming a blogger or thought leader requires “not much” but it does require you aim to lower the amount you’re seeking attention, as attention seekers are easy to ignore.

Similar to 99% of every “thought leader” in technology. Easy to ignore because it’s clear it’s attention seeking behaviors. Regrettably when you grow a following, it’s easy to get “carried away” and never take a break.

  1. If you’re aiming to become a thought leader, don’t become the thought leader who dishes out content just to dish out content. Don’t be a re-post scrub.
  2. A blog about native features is a blog about native features, and no one gives a shit about these blogs.
  3. Don’t become a show-and-tell blogger.
  4. Become the blogger who explains how.

Before you flex,…

Before you flex, show how.

WHAT?! But then they are competitors right? WRONG.

Before you flex, show people how you flex, how you got the muscles, why you’re able to flex, and your perspective on what you’re doing with your muscles.

Just sharing to share is attention seeking. If you’re sharing to build a diary for your kid to read in the future, then you have a strategy for your content, and you’re not just sharing for attention.

So, before you seek for attention, ask yourself one question.

Is it worth it to be that person?

Chances are you’re going to come across as complaining.

Chances are you’re going to come across as attention seeking.

Complaining and attention seeking isn’t a beneficial path for your future.

My Opinion: Both of these paths are not beneficial ways to generate a powerful following, revenue, or passion based artwork.

Yes, your content is artwork, you’re an artist, and whatever medium you choose – please be sure you’re not using it for a self fulfilling reason.

Don’t be selfish about your content and your content will explode because you’re talented.

Say it out-loud if you need a full cup of water today.

“I’m talented!” Nice work. Say it again, out-loud, let the universe know and start working on your skills. Start defining your strategy if you don’t have one today.

You have options, these options slowly run out as you age.

If you have an idea, if you want to be a powerful thought leader, be sure to start today.

Learning, thought leadership, and life have a lot in common with a tree.

You wish you started sooner, you wish you planted it yesterday.

So, start today. You won’t make a gold record your first attempt. It’s likely your first record is going to be bad and others are going to need to tell you it’s bad before you can make it better.

Mistakes will drive you to success, be accepting of mistakes and a path to making more.

Written by Tyler Garrett, Founder of dev3lop.com, musicblip.com, knime.dev

Co founder of (coming soon) canopys.io

What is twitter – What is the point of twitter?

What is twitter – What is the point of twitter?

Twitter is a social media platform with limitations to how much text you can post per post.

So, what is twitter? What is the point of twitter? I explain everything in detail below.

Twitter offers you the ability to dive bomb on a heated convo, drop your lingo, and never come back. You can effectively “pigeon poop” and fly away.

Twitter lets you use hashtags, which then syncs your content to the digital bath. A quick scrolling html page, where content comes to live for a period of time, then quickly becomes yesterdays old news. Some hashtags are “so heavily used” it is not possible to like all of the content within the set limitations of twitter.

Twitter limits you on how much content you can like, how many people you can follow, how many times you can reply, and how much you can tweet.

Tweet is another name for “post” or “publish.”

Twitter doesn’t allow editing, if you make a mistake you need to delete the post and start over.

The “most recent” usage of these words VIA hashtags is a great place to meet peers in your niche. If you know the right things to say, there’s likely a few people asking for help each hour and those are potential new friends, customers, etc.

Are hashtags important?

Yes, use hashtags as it connects you to a fast moving stream of data. The more hashtags you use, the more these web pages point at your content, this is a plus. All of your posts should have a hashtag because that’s how you sprawl your content across other web pages.

Are hashtags everything?


I’m going to teach you where hashtags don’t matter.

What I want to teach you is how to get active within the constant stream of data, where hashtags are used but “not everything.”

How is twitter helpful?

Twitter is helpful because you have a chance to “connect” with someone speaking about topics you care about.

You can also leave valuable information or insights, help other people, or recommend alternatives.

Twitter is a global sentiment on words, and hashtags being used today help classify your content. This is helpful for many reasons, let’s discuss one. Increasing your following.

What is twitter to me?

Twitter is fascinating to me as a business intelligence developer & digital marketing expert, who knows data, code, and how most “marketers” came to be.

Twitter is interesting, it allows others to initiate automation with others content, which enables them to learn about each other. I started programming in C++ Ultima Online as a kid, and now I help businesses solve problems, it has helped me gain recognition in a my hyper niche developing, engineering, #analytics industry.

Twitter gives you access to being a Hero or a Zero..

Twitter gives you the ability to jump into a conversation. – Gary Vaynerchuk

True, however if you do this wrong… Your hero card will be revoked.

Gary explains this in his article, however I want to murder it here.

Consider where you’re writing content, don’t judge people for what they are sharing, find a way to agree… Even if you disagree. We will solve more problems TOGETHER.

And dont…

  1. Don’t say basic stuff, no one cares about that.
  2. Don’t say anything if you’re going to say something basic.
  3. Have some self respect, don’t be a car sales person, no one cares about that.
  4. Don’t talk about your accomplishments, this isn’t your post, do that on facebook.
  5. Don’t make it about you, no one cares for that, make your own post for showing off.
  6. Don’t send people a LINK without having a casual chat/convo.
  7. Don’t spam.. You know it’s spam, I know it, and here we are, talking about spam in 2019.

Twitter has a lot of spam, don’t be that person.

Most people are doing this SPAM stuff to “get ahead” and rarely try to say anything with value or meat. Twitter is good at weeding those folks out, they don’t get many followers, and they post all time. (from a data perspective, i noticed this to be true)

People on twitter today are rather short, and since recent politics, everyone is debating or arguing the same points against each other…

Resulting in witty responses that lead you to their profile, and potentially a click on their profile link.

The point of twitter…

Profile clicks that lead to a conversion that is valuable to you.

Increasing measure values associated to your link is important. Like instagram, you get 1 profile link.

Conversion to you? Clicks on your website, someone reading your blog, downloading a file, using your app, signing up for future articles, etc… Otherwise you’re feeding content into the twitter domain, without any reward.

A link in the profile is important to telling robots what your account is associated with.

Robots read these measures of success and apply them to their algorithm. The more you increase your following, and the more your content is clicked/liked, the faster you will be able to rank for correlated keywords on this link to your website. Twitter offers these measure values and it’s also nested in the HTML.

Read more here; Learn to automate twitter and build your brand.

Is Life Upsetting? Or You’re an Alien.

Is Life Upsetting? Or You’re an Alien.

For some reason I thought I needed to focus for the last 10+ years, ignore music, turn it into a x-hobby, and box it up.

Sometimes it’s okay to put a pause on things. I’ve learned putting a pause to long starts to creep into other portions of life. Similar to not stretching enough, now you pulled your neck, or not running enough, now you got a big ass.

Since 8 years old, I’ve played classical instruments, since my mid 20’s, I decided to take a break and focus on work. I thought, “if I worked hard, it will pay off, I will have my own studio, more time to work on my music, and never sell out.”

I worked – non-stop- for ages.

Building a music studio was everything for me in college, and it was everything for me not that long ago. Another important factor for me in college, was “one up my parents”… do what I can to be better. I wanted to ensure I had a job, that can be remote, coffee shop, or somewhere in a distant country.

Me, growing up in a tiny town in Louisiana, everyone my age wanted to escape, we disappeared into our rooms, our imaginations often leading us to distant lands beyond Louisiana.

What changed?

I love Louisiana, I love visiting, I love the weather, I love the food, I love the people. I would love to live in a small town in Louisiana again.

As a child – I was hungry for traveling – seeing big building – flying on a plane.

After seeing those things and feeling forced to live within that lifestyle, you start to want more distance from the flying, the traveling, the big buildings and busy days.

Finding time for relaxing, in a calm environment, without the big city echoing in the distance becomes important.

Which is one of many reasons why i love living in austin texas!

Time away from the screen

Without the light of the city covering the stars, you can see planets, satellites, stars, galaxies. And we all get the same warm fuzzy feeling once you start to notice the size and distance beyond our world, built into a 360 degree view port, without an on or off button.

It’s a good feeling to consider, “maybe it’s not the worst day in my life because I dropped my cellphone, maybe it’s a good day because a large space rock isn’t exploding the planet.”

– Tyler Garrett

That fuzzy feeling.. like going to the beach on vacation, getting in the water feels weird at first, but after a few hours, you don’t want to leave.

You’re connected to the world around you. Almost as if you’re an alien, found home, and now you want to call it your home.

Similar to going skiing or snowboarding. At first, you’re terrible. Crash a lot, hurt yourself. But once you get the hang of it, you feel right at home.

When you feel like alien, different from everyone, I’m learning you need to take life with a grain of salt.

Life is upsetting with every swipe of facebook, instagram, etc. so, maybe less time on social media is a good starting point.

What changed for my music production?

I had a kid? President? Media? Married? Started a company for word of mouth equity, it crashed and burned, almost lost my home due to people being terrible humans… Started another company….

Sounds like a lot of pressure.

But what changed?

I learned a lot… I’ve been locked into learning, screen time. It felt important to be able to figure out how to find people looking for services I can offer.

In the process of learning this, I learned about searching. I learned people are all searching for something.

My theory, we are are all searching for a tribe, a place to call home, and once we enter a new tribe of people who don’t have a lot of hobbies, it’s easy to be looked at as an alien.

Did you know there’s a tribe of people dedicated to your passion projects and all you need to do is find them. Twitter, Instagram, having a blog, and meeting people in the real world are great ways to establish your tribes.

“Tribes are not to be trifled with. Your ability to thrive depends on the tribe.” 
― Scott Perry, Endeavor: Thrive Through Work Aligned with Your Values, Talents, and Tribe

And if nothing fits in your area, maybe you need to build a tribe online.

Focusing on a few things…

Everyone told me, “you’re too spread out, you’re doing too much, you need to focus on what you’re good at.”

My thoughts, “I’m bored with your filters and way of thinking.”

What I’m noticing is, I’m comparing myself to other people.

It’s normal to compare yourself to others, we all want to relate to each other to find common ground, and we all want to be a part of a tribe. It’s our micro process to survival.

“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” 
― Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

For millions of years humans have been apart of a tribe or the other. The tribes learn to communicate, and if the communication pattern is filtering your life, it’s time to find a new tribe!

Not all tribes are built for helping each other, take what you can from the tribe, and leave the rest in the trash.

You’re you. Not every piece of advice will work for you. This includes advice from friends, family, people you think are “blood tribe.” Sometimes they are jealous of your youth, looks, talents, and that’s not the right tribe for you.

You need a tribe who supports you, not everything you share – people are busy and that’s not probable.

You need a group of folks you can confide in, a tribe of people who understand your turmoil….

A tribe of people who know how to direct you to focusing on using your time to benefit you or others around you. Sometimes we need tribe in person, digitally, but end of day you need a tribe.

Being the alien in the tribe means you’re the smartest person, you don’t need to be in that tribe, go find a tribe where you’re not the coolest, best, smartest, and go stand next to that person, do what you can to learn and help them.

For some reason I thought focusing on a couple of things made sense.

Focusing on Tableau consulting, focusing on digital marketing, focusing on web development, focusing on user persona, graphic design, tech tech tech tech technology… techy tech tech.

Never do I consider re-focusing on music production. I built musicblip and stopped because I thought I needed to monetize it. But that was not why I built musicblip, that was advice from other people who did not know why I built musicblip. I built musicblip to give back, it is was never a goal to turn it into a massive money machine.

So, what changed?

My tribe. My influences. But that tribe is dead, so why don’t I go back to my hobbies?

Cutting out passion hobbies for LIFE, WORK, FAMILY… is like cutting off your good arm.

It becomes a phantom limb.

I removed the limb thinking a “sane” minds would prevail. But all I gained was a painful neck, repeated work stress injuries, repetitive reaching to computer and typing & clicking for prolonged periods of time.

What am I missing?… Oh my outlet.

Music production helped me learn a lot about workflow, working smart, optimizing how I work, and it allowed me to take my learnings into my professional life.

I would tell analogies about how making bad music is normal, just like building dashboards, they always suck in the beginning but after a good bit of time making crap dashboards, you 1 day make a good polished piece of crap, and it it impresses everyone.

That is the dumbest analogy every, but when I say something that simple, obvious, easy to connect,… well it becomes easy to become a part of this micro tribe. A group of my peers, customers, friends… Captivated by my story telling.

Having an outlet makes you more human.

Having an outlet makes you seem like you have a life outside of work.

People don’t like robots, sometimes you need to fake this part of you if you’re struggling to tribe up in micro meetings.

Aliens find friends online easy, but we can’t live online.

Living online does not work, they make netflix documentaries about it.

It’s OK to make digital mentors, friends, etc… It’s important to learn to be able to network and a few hours a week – learning from someone online – is not a negative.

However, non-stop screen time is a negative.

My thoughts… F*** social media. Start a blog.

And if you haven’t taken a break from Facebook, give yourself a chance.

Staring at the computer, to drive a digital needle, based on an algorithm I believe is easy because I can build the same solution…

Does not mean it’s a good usage of time, it means it’s a usage of time.

As an alien, who plays mystical instruments since childhood. Sending vibrations into the world needs to continue to ensure I’m apart of my history tribe. The tribe you build for yourself through your experiences and hard work. Often times these grinds are attributed to your ability to tell the story of your success in the future. We can share online, we can make music online, but we don’t come up with the best ideas when sitting around online.

Often the best ideas come from silence, doing boring stuff, exercise,…

Be okay with your work being stolen, and stealing good work.

Long ago, my work was stolen. It was stolen because it was good, not because they wanted to piss me off, frustrate me, or keep me from producing. Likely not the case.

So, I stopped making music. Turned off my soundcloud. Had a great excuse to stop making music.

But, my removed arm is needing to be re-attached.

I feel more alien not having my hobby in my life, it’s time to start changing the way I think.

  1. Steal like an artist.
  2. Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.
  3. Write the book you want to read. (swap book for music)
  4. Use your hands.
  5. Side projects and hobbies are important.
  6. The secret: do good work and share it with people.
  7. Geography is no longer our master.
  8. Be nice. (The world is a small town.)
  9. Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done.)
  10. Creativity is subtraction.

I never made music for anyone but myself.

I made music I wanted to listen to at the time.

I made music I wanted to listen to.

However culture, media, life, movies, tv, school, college… they had to teach me right from wrong…

We should not be mentally fighting, physically fighting, always working towards consumerism and destructive behaviors due to frustrations with my neighbor.

Always looking to right wrongs, like a super hero on the internet… Just like superman, who was an alien.

Do you ever feel frustrated or hyper connected to events?

I compare getting upset about people cheating in digital marketing, to landscaping…

It’s easier than explaining why I’m upset about politics.

My competitors cheat, it makes marketing more complex.

Every competitor of mine is cheating, I was upset for a long time….

I fought about it, I was not being kind. I was upset, trying to right a wrong…

There’s a positive side, it did a few things.

It taught me about traffic, it taught me about cheating, and instead of worrying about this cold lemon squeeze that life is handing me, I grab that lemon, shield my eye from the drip, and squeeze the mother f*** out of it.

That’s how you make SUPER LEMONS.

Think about the last thing that upset you…

Are you getting a positive return from being upset about this political, police beating, knock out video, sex tape, celebrity, boxing, mma, etc….

When was the last time someone paid you to watch netflix?

Do you earn money from being upset about life?

Let me use an analogy…

What is a weed in the grass? We know it’s there but do we need to point it out and make a big deal? What can you learn from this roadblock?

Do we need to peel apart the reason for the weed?

Do we need to call attention to the weed?

Do we need to think about how the weed will spread?

Notice all these internal dialogs and let them pass. You don’t need to greet the door of every concern in your life.

We need to shut the computer off, go outside, pick the stupid weed, pick another 10 weeds while you are at it.

Go throw it in the right bucket, don’t sweep it under, otherwise you’re gonna have a bunch of dead weeds under there.

Start making your digital life more analog or you will fade away. And it’s not the kind of drowning you need. Covered in lemon juice, hooked on netflix, worried about the weeds growing in your front yard.

Carve out a schedule, spend 30 minutes alone without asking for next steps, without solving problems, take a deep breath and fucking chill.
The world will give you every answer you need. The thing you’re looking for, is you.

If you’re upset with how things are, wishing for more…

Go steal someones hard work, make it your own, they will never notice you stealing their work, and give yourself a limitations to getting your work completed.

You don’t have unlimited time, you don’t have unlimited money, and “why didn’t I think of that?” Is a few steps away from, “I just thought of something better.”

I stole all the cheaters cheats, I squeeze the life out of the lemon life gave me, I cloned that lemon, now I have super lemons. Super cheats. Super life hacks.

Post to Instagram from your computer with this simple trick

Post to Instagram from your computer with this simple trick

Instagram still doesn’t offer an official method to post photos to the social network from your computer. That’s alright, though, because it’s still possible! Once you master the process, you’ll be glad you did. Editing photos on your computer and then having to sync them to your phone is an unnecessary and time-consuming step that just isn’t needed. 

Whether you took a photo on a fancy camera or happened to find an old photo on a hard drive, the workaround makes it possible to quickly post to Instagram.

Upload from a desktop browser 

Most browsers have a way of letting you change the “user agent” — the thing that tells a website what kind of device you’re on. So even when you’re on a laptop or desktop, you can trick a website like Instagram into showing you the mobile site. That’s what we’re going to do.

Safari instagram without cellphone

Find the option to enable Develop options in Preferences under the Advanced tab.  Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

On Safari, it’s easy. Go to Safari > Preferences > Advanced. Check the box at the very bottom that says, Show Develop menu in menu bar. Now open a new Safari window or tab and click on Develop > User Agent > Safari — iOS 12.1.3 — iPhone in the menu bar. 

With Safari tricked, you can post from your desktop.  Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Next, go to Instagram.com and sign into your account. At the bottom of the screen will be a + icon — tap it and select a photo from your computer to upload. After the photo is uploaded, you can still apply filters and edit the photo as you would in the Instagram app. 

When you’re done, make sure you change your user agent back to the Default setting to avoid viewing all websites in their mobile state. 



Uploading photos to Instagram from Chrome only takes a few clicks of the mouse.  Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

In Chrome, go to Instagram.com and sign in. Now right-click anywhere on the page then select Inspect from the list of optionsPart of the site will be covered up with the Inspector tool, but we only really care about the small icon of a tablet and phone. It’s in the top-left corner of the Inspector window — click it. The page will refresh with a mobile view, and the + icon to create a post should show up at the bottom of the window. If it doesn’t, refresh the page.

When you’re done, click on the tablet/phone icon again. Close the Inspector tool and refresh the website to go back to the desktop version.

Originally published May 8, 2017.
Update, April 9, 2019: Updated with new screenshots and new information.

Make Your Meetings a Safe Space for Honest Conversation

Make Your Meetings a Safe Space for Honest Conversation

I recently met with a group of managers to discuss ways to improve meetings. Our goal was to figure out how to create a space that people actually look forward to being in. We each began by describing a meeting we remembered as especially powerful.

One story stood out.

My colleague told us about a time when he was a young engineer working on several project teams in a manufacturing facility. He said, “Josh, my manager, would take everyone out for pizza when he came to the factory, and we’d have a ‘no secrets’ meeting.

Josh asked us about whatever he wanted to know and we did the same in return. It was a meeting where everyone had permission to say or ask anything. It was amazing.”

Josh used these meetings to discover how his team was doing, how their projects were progressing, and what they needed in terms of support and resources. He asked broad questions to initiate open conversation:

  • What do you think I need to know?
  • Where are you struggling?
  • What are you proud of?

There was no pressure to have a perfect answer. The only requirement was to be honest and sincere. Of course, it helped that Josh was a thoughtful, authentic, and caring manager — qualities needed to create the psychological safety such a conversation requires.

The quest for better meetings ultimately lies in leading with mutual respectful, inclusivity, and establishing a space that is safe enough for people to speak their minds. You may not need to do exactly what Josh did, but you can increase the freedom, candor, and quality of conversation in your own meetings by focusing on two key areas: giving permission and creating safety.

Here’s how.

Let’s start with permission. Permission to say or ask anything is priceless. It allows us to fully express ourselves: to seek what we want, to give feedback, to speak up about issues when we find the need. By announcing that he would like to have a “no secrets” meeting, Josh was giving his team permission to display a level of candor that isn’t reached in most settings. He asked those who spoke not to hold back or edit their thoughts. He asked those who listened to give their peers a chance to be fully heard, which is what we all want — to say exactly what we are thinking and be respected for saying it.

In your own meetings, talk about permission up front — it’s best to address it directly rather than assume it’s already there. What permission would you like from the group so that you can lead effectively? What permission does the group need from you to successfully participate?

As a leader, ask your team permission to:

  • keep the conversation on track when it diverges or gets repetitive
  • call on people who have not yet spoken
  • hold people back if they are dominating the conversation
  • ask clarifying questions when you need someone to elaborate

Empower your team by reminding them that they have permission to:

  • ask questions at any time
  • invite colleagues into the conversation if they have not spoken
  • ask to spend extra time on a topic
  • ask other people to say more about where they stand on an issue
  • express concerns that haven’t been fully addressed

Finally, encourage your team (and yourself) to ask permission before making a comment. It will help ensure that your comments are non-threatening and received thoughtfully. Before speaking out, say:

  • May I ask you something?
  • May I tell you something?
  • May I give you some coaching?
  • May I push back a bit on what you are saying?

If that feels like too much to remember, the main takeaway is: You and your team have a right to ask for whatever you need to be effective in a meeting — to lead for results, to fully express yourselves, and to add value to the discussion.

Now, let’s focus on safety. The degree to which a person feels safe in a meeting setting is largely based on their previous experiences. Many of us have — at one point or another — experienced feeling as if we were not heard or appreciated when we spoke up. But when people feel their comments will be listened to and treated with respect, they are more likely to be vulnerable and say exactly what they are thinking. Conversations become broader and deeper when everyone is involved and feels safe enough to speak their minds. To create psychological safety during a meeting:

  • ask the group to devote their full attention to each person who speaks (do this at the start of the meeting)
  • allow each person to take their time and complete their thoughts
  • ask follow-up questions for clarity if necessary
  • share what is valuable about someone’s question or comment
  • use people’s names and refer back to earlier comments they’ve made
  • invite people into the conversation who have not spoken
  • answer any and all questions truthfully
  • summarize what you learned as the meeting comes to an end
  • explain what actions you will take to put those insights to use and ask your team for their suggestions as well
  • acknowledge the quality of the conversation and thank the group for it

After the meeting, follow up by:

  • completing the action items by the deadlines you set
  • not sharing the conversation with others without permission
  • sending written thank you notes to participants (when appropriate)
  • following up with people to ensure their comments were addressed to their satisfaction

People don’t just want to belong, they want to contribute. You can give your team the opportunity to do so by applying the above principles. In the process of having more candid, mutually respectful conversations, your team will become more cohesive and able to work together more powerfully. They may even begin to look forward to your meetings because of the remarkable conversations that permission and safety create. And better still, you may even start to look forward to leading those meetings.

Paul Axtell is an author, speaker, and corporate trainer. He is the author of two award-winning books: Meetings Matter and the recently released second edition of Ten Powerful Things to Say to Your Kids. He has developed a training series, Being Remarkable, which is designed to be led by managers or HR

Starting Your Day on the Internet Is Damaging Your Brain

Starting Your Day on the Internet Is Damaging Your Brain

The first 3 hours of your day can dictate how your life turns out. And this often begins with the very first thing that you decide to put in your brain. You can either start you day with junk food for the brain (the internet, distracting apps, etc) or you can start the day with healthy food for the brain (reading, meditation, journaling, exercising, etc). When you start the day with junk food for the brain, you put yourself at a self imposed handicap that inhibits your ability to get into flow and prevents you from doing deep work. When you start the day with health food for your brain, the exact opposite happens.

Anytime I start my day with junk food for the brain, the quality of the day goes down. I’m less happy, focused, and productive. I spend a ton of time on the internet and don’t get any real work done. But if I start my day with health food for the brain, I find that my mood is better, I’m happier, more focused and productive.

Why Junk Food for the Brain is Toxic

If you woke up in the morning, smoked a cigarette, ate 2 donuts, and washed it down with 2 cups of coffee, it wouldn’t be surprising that your physical performance is subpar. You’re probably not going to go out and run 2 miles or win a prize fight after that kind of breakfast.

maybe draw a puzzle.

But when it comes to our brain, we’re not nearly as mindful about the idea that we should treat the information we consume like the food we eat.

“When you wake up you’re in this theta alpha state and you’re highly suggestible. Every like, comment, share, you get this dopamine fix and it’s literally rewiring your brain. What you’re smart device is doing especially if that’s the first thing you grab when you wake up and you’re in this alpha theta state, is rewiring your brain to be distracted.” — @Jim Kwik

If we start our days by checking email, instagram, or the internet, we keep reinforcing the behavior of distraction until it becomes our new habit. Some of the smartest behavioral scientist and designers in the world have worked really hard to make sure that their products are addictive, habit forming, and only provide you with a temporary sense of fulfillment so the you are always jonesing for your next fix.

As Mark Manson so brilliantly said, cell phones are the new cigarettes.

And a significant amount of what’s on the internet is nothing more than junk food for the brain.

Why Healthy Food for the Brain is So Powerful

If you woke up in the morning and had a really healthy breakfast, that revitalized and energized you, you’d likely hit the gym or a morning run expecting to be at your peak. The same goes for our brains.

When we start the day with health food for the brain, instead of a self imposed handicap, we give ourselves a massive competitive advantage. On the days when I religiously follow through on the 8-step daily routine that allowed me to write multiple books and 100’s of articles, my productivity goes through the roof, flow happens effortlessly, and I end up doing a lot of deep work. The idea for this article was actually the result of giving my brain some health food to start the day.

  • I did 20 minutes of meditation
  • I did almost an hour of reading
  • I wrote in my journal for 30 minutes
  • When I turned on my computer, I blocked distractions and started writing.

When you start the day with health food for your brain, you don’t end up depleting your willpower, and as a result you get more done in far less time.

So how exactly do you start the day with health food for your brain? To wean ourselves off of junk food for the brain, we have to actually replace it with something else.

Don’t use your devices in the morning

Smartphones distract us whether they are on, off, in our pockets, or on a table, and they command our attention even when they are not our own. The best solution for preventing smartphone distraction is to remove it from the picture altogether — Steve Magness

If your refrigerator or pantry is filled with junk food, you’re going to be much more likely to eat it. Same goes for your devices. If you turn them on first thing in the morning, you’re going to be much more likely to give into the sources of distraction that they make accessible. The only thing that I use my phone for in the morning is a 20 minute meditation with the Calm app. After that, I take it out of the room I’m working in.

Set aside 20 minutes to meditate

Reality as we know it occurs in the space between stimulus and response. An event happens and we make it mean something. But this happens so fast that we don’t question the validity of the meaning we’ve assigned to an event, situation or circumstance. The way to take control of the meaning is to slow that process down, and the way to slow that process down is with meditation.

I have a natural tendency to overreact or make situations more stressful than they really are. But as my meditation practice has deepened, I’ve noticed a profound energetic shift. Many of the things that would have previously rattled me don’t. On the mornings that I follow through with my 20 minutes of meditation, I’m able to focus more easily, and I don’t crave sources of distraction nearly as much

The most successful people I’ve interviewed on Unmistakable Creative, all of the peak performance books I’ve read, spiritual teachings, and many billionaires all reference the role that a daily meditation habit is played in their life. That was convincing enough evidence for me to make it a daily habit.

Read books, not the internet

When we read on the internet, we tend to scan more than we read. How often do you sit around at a dinner party discussing the amazing article you read on the internet? Almost all of my ideas for what I want to write about have come from books. Almost none of them have come from reading articles on the internet. I’ve even found in my cases that when I read a physical book that I previously read on Kindle, I tend to get far more value out of it.

Years ago when I interviewed Julien Smith, he said “I don’t read blogs. I read books.” And he had one of the most popular blogs on the internet. I stopped reading blogs, started reading books, and as a result became a more prolific writer. After watching the prolific career that Ryan Holiday has built, and observing his reading habits, I decided to follow his lead. Believe me the irony that you’re reading this on the internet is not lost on me.

Do 1 hour of Deep Work

One hour of deep work is a form of self care. It’s incredibly fulfilling. It’s an affirmation to yourself and to the universe that you value yourself and your time. You can accomplish extraordinary things in just one focused hour a day of uninterrupted creation time. With deep work, you get disproportionate results from your efforts. It’s the 80–20 rule at work. 80% of your output will come from 20 percent of your effort.

Just some food for thought. When I started writing this article I set my distraction blocker for 45 minutes. As I wrote this sentence I decided to do a check on my word count and realized I’d written over 1200 words in about 35 minutes. That’s what happens when you combine flow and deep work together

One last thing to consider. What are you really getting out of checking Facebook, Instagram, or anything on your phone when you wake up in the morning? Is it making you happier or more successful in any way at all? If you added up all the time you possibly waste over the course of a year on this behavior, it’s likely you could write a book, build a business, or learn an instrument, all of which are going to do far more for the quality of your life than the temporary dopamine fix your phone provides.

Shared December 24, 2018

Starting Your Day on the Internet is Damaging Your Brain…

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