The Best Communicator Always Wins

Dealing with humans is hard. Communication appears simple but for every person involved in the conversation, there’s an exponentially increasing number of ways to be misunderstood. Everyone has their own filter bubble, and it’s available IRL, not just on Twitter.

You can bet on the best communicator being the one winning the job, getting the promotion, or gaining more power in an organization.

The funny thing is, the best communicator doesn’t necessarily mean the one with the best ideas.

The person with the genius level intelligence who goes dark and can’t clearly communicate their brilliant ideas isn’t  going to be gaining more traction within the social network that is a business enterprise. If you’re a programmer, this is summed up well by Jeff Atwood who tells you, “Don’t Go Dark”.

The person in the organization who communicates well to the most important stake holders is the one will garner more attention and more power within the organization.

A subtle wrinkle here: This person doesn’t even need a clear direction — let alone the best ideas.

You really only need to communicate to others that you care about them and their interests. If you do that, you’re likely to go far.

Wolf Tracks on Teton Pass

It’s barely December and it’s been more than two months since the first snow of this winter flew. I didn’t expect to skin past meandering bear wolf tracks on Teton Pass this late in the year, but I suppose it’s still early season.

Update: Originally I had posted this resorting to the obvious explanation: Bears. A word about Bears in Winter. The conventional wisdom is the bears are hanging around for a few extra weeks looking for a free elk gut pile left from hunters, or some other delicacy such as a few Backcountry skiers before turning in for the winter.

Turns out these are Wolf Tracks. Here’s some handy beta on identifying these tracks for your future use.

the War of Art

or Don’t Overthink the Resistance

There’s something to be said for just showing up every day and doing the work.

This has been written about plenty by folks like Seth Godin and Stewart Pressfield. I recharged my Kindle yesterday and opened up my long forgotten list of downloaded eBooks. Many of these have been read more than once and many are still reads-in-progress. The key to being a better reader is giving up on books that make it hard to finish them.

Thus I began re-reading the War of Art. This gem by Pressfield can be read in less than a day, especially if you’re on a flight or have a few hours to commit to following through. It’s a great inspirational read about the Resistance that stops us all from accomplishing the things that we want to accomplish.

The hardest part about doing the things we want to do and accomplishing what we want in life is simply taking action on them. Day in, day out. Showing up. Putting in the reps.

It turns out that there is a force in the universe that wants to stop us all from accomplishing the things that we want and Pressfield takes to calling that thing the Resistance.

Giving in is really easy. Doing the work is also easy, but not as seductive as giving into the Resistance.

I definitely recommend this book for anyone working in a remotely creative or entrepreneurial environment.

WordPress Plugins You Should Be Using in 2017

5 minute read

The WordPress ecosystem has matured quite a bit since the last time I spent much time with it around 2011-2012. The paid themes and premium plugins specifically are light years ahead of where we were 5 years ago. A light weight website is easy to set up with WordPress, cheap to host, and you really have a lot more control over it than what you get with a Squarespace or Wix site.

Here’s my go-to plugin protocol for any generic WordPress install that you actually care about:

1. Akismet Anti-Spam

The obligatory spam blocker for WordPress. Created by Automattic, the same company behind WordPress, Akismet is offered at a “Pay whatever you want” rate. This could be anywhere from zero dollars up to more than zero dollars. It’s up to you.

2. Child Theme Configurator

If you’re planning on doing any sort of theme editing on top of a custom theme that you’ve chosen, save yourself a lot of time and headache by installing Child Theme Configurator and creating a child theme before you just go start hacking away at your chosen theme.

Creating a child theme will allow you to keep updating the parent theme, [hopefully] without loosing any of the changes that you made. With the vibrancy of the WordPress ecosystem that’s alive now adays, and assuming you’ve chosen a theme that is actively being worked on count on theme updates being released on a fairly regular basis – at least once a month.

If you edit a theme and you haven’t created a child theme, installing updates to the theme will stomp all over your changes and it won’t be fun.

3. Free & Simple Contact Form Plugin – Pirateforms

There are a lot of free plugins to create forms, I like Pirateforms mostly because it’s compatible with my theme choice. It uses wordpress shortcodes so you can drop a form in on any page you want.

The thing I do like about Pirateforms is that the content of the forms is stored in the WordPress Admin for easy processing, in addition to sending the form content via email.

4. Jetpack by

The ubiquitous Kitchen Sink of the WordPress world – Constantly being pushed to upgrade by Automattic is not my favorite part about this plugin.

Jetpack lets you write your posts in markdown which is reason enough on its own to use. Note: _markdown support is not spectacular even when using Jetpack, but at least it’s there_ to some extent

Other features that are included for better or worse are Portfolios & Testimonials (which many themes will leverage), showing Related posts, adding sharing buttons to posts, generating sitemaps, and improved loading of images by scaling them down to size where it can.

5. Simple 301 Redirects

“Cool URIs Don’t Change”, but your thinking & information architecture sure will. It’s worth pointing out that while 301 redirects are in most cases the best way to redirect, this type of redirect is permanent, so don’t go throwing them around willy-nilly. You’ll also be pulling your hair out if you create one of these and try and update it quickly, because most web browsers will cache the Permanent Redirect and simply deliver you to where the new page was set up at – ignoring any changes you may have made after establishing the Permanent Redirect.

If you want even more control over URI management, check out Permalink Manager Lite which has a lot more features that you may or may not be interested in.

6. Updraft Plus

This is by far the most impressive plug in I’ve found for wordpress. Automatically schedule backups of your content, database, plugins, themes and send it to whatever cloud storage service is your favorite, such as Drop Box or Google Drive, Amazon S3, FTP, or even to Microsoft 👀

The paid version of Updraft plus gives you even more control over backup schedules and they have some impressive services that they offer at the paid tier to allow you to manage multiple WordPress installs – upgrading and backing them up from a single control panel. If you need to manage several WordPress installs this seems like a great way to go (although I can’t say I’m using this feature – the free version is enough for my purposes).


Ben’s Virtues, Core Values, and Patience

3 Minute Read

Ben Franklin has a solid set of virtues that just about anyone can apply, even today. 

He used the card on the right to focus on each value once a week for 13 weeks, thus cycling through the entire list 4 times a year.

Ben’s Virtues are:

  1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
  6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
  11. Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

There’s an outdated and thus terrible app in the App Store by the name of Ben’s Virtues, and while it will crash and not work, I love the concept of reproducing this chart on your smartphone for daily recording.

Taylor Pearson recently published an essay titled How to Discover Your Values and Use Them to Make Better Decisions. I spent some time this morning going through his exercise. I’d recommend taking the time to do it yourself.

If you take the time to go through that exercise, or at least read through his essay (admittedly, like most of his excellent content, it’s too long), you’ll realize that this list of values that you come up with at the end is intended to be iterated on. It’s not a final list. You’ll adjust it as things change and you gain a better understanding of where you’re at and what’s important to you.

I wound up inculding “Patience” as one my core values… and wrote as the description “Always wait calmly for what you want. Getting worked up over delays is not helpful”.

I jumped over to check Slack, and noticed that someone still had not completed a 2-minute task that an hour earlier I indicated as urgent. I started getting worked up. Then I looked down at this thing I had wrote on the page called “Patience“.

I’m thinking perhaps I should add another core value, called “Impatience: Always get pissed at the person who takes too long to do a simple task” – It’s probably more accurate!