Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

The Power of Stories

I was reminded of how powerful a story can be when trying to send a message yesterday during a conference. We had a breakout educational session ¬†during the conference that focused on storytelling and it’s power for convincing someone of something.

We got a chance to practice this, by formulating a message with three supporting points and a story to highlight your personal experience of this.

I didn’t get a chance to use mine, but my message was to try Toastmasters. My story was going to be the time that I went to a U-M interview for a job I thought I was a shoo-in for and didn’t prepare. I froze during a question and never quite recovered from it. It sunk the whole interview and I didn’t get the job.

I joined Toastmaster shortly thereafter and improved on my speaking skills to be able to think quickly on my feet.

I improved my skills and got the same job a few years later with a stellar interview.

This just reemphasized the importance for me to always include a short story to get an important point across, in all interactions.


Instacart Express is finally available in Ann Arbor. It’s amazing. I made a grocery list on my computer and then picked a time and then the groceries just magically appeared at my door.

What’s great is you get notifications about changes or substitutions based on what is there in the store. You can make a custom order for things that aren’t listed but you know are there, or bulk food items. You can even add items via chat while they are shopping. Read On…

Fitbit Challenges

On a semi-regular basis, I get invited to Fitbit challenges and I think they are stressful, but effective.

I have a natural desire to win them, so I incorporate walking in ways I wouldn’t normally – that’s a win, right? Maybe.

My walking does go up but I find myself thinking about it and whether or not someone is catching up with me. That doesn’t feel healthy. Maybe it’s just the way I perceive it, but maybe others feel the same way.¬† Read On…


My son, who is 2, has discovered that he likes having control, like toddlers are wont to do. Once we get in bed, he frequently asks for water, snacks, a rinse of his pacifier or a complete pajama wardrobe change.

When we’re brushing our teeth, he takes over the brushing. If we’re flossing, he insists that he be the one to cut the floss, even if that results in using 3 yards of floss at once.

Getting him to do things takes on a whole new layer of complexity, especially when you want him to do things that aren’t on his regular schedule or have a time constraint.

Want to go to Target? You need to get dressed and out the door and into a car and all of those steps need to be his idea. If not, you can force it, but then you have a crying kid that is incredibly hard to manage from then on. Read On…

Daily Learnings

I read books and articles often and I fear that the best quotes and clips from them just slip right through my fingers. I want to also start doing book reviews, but that’s another topic. I needed a place to collect quotes, tips and anything else that was distilled down to 1 or 2 lines.

I set up a Google Form that asks,

What did you learn or would like to remember?

I set up this form to be a bookmark on my Chrome browser bookmarks bar, so it’s always available. I also made it a widget shortcut on my phone’s home screen, so I can grab it from there too. The key here is to make it very, very easy to record things, otherwise I won’t do it.

I started doing this on January 3 and I’ve collected 46 things. Here they are: Read On…

Thought Experiments

Deciding on where to live or what job to take can be helped along with thought experiments. Some examples:

If you lived in your current house, in the neighborhood you’re considering moving to, would you still want to move?

If you lived nearer to something, can you imagine using it more often? Is it worth moving closer to?

If you lived in your dream house, in a city you don’t particularly love, would you still want to move?

If you take this new job, imagine yourself on the commute, doing the work and imagine what you’re going to love and hate about it. Is it worth switching?

These thought experiments help to tease out the real motivations and desires you have that you have trouble expressing.

Ten Deep Breaths

In addition to meditating daily, I’ve been trying to add ten deep breaths to my day. Anytime I remember, I take another couple deep breaths and add them to my count. It seems to have a good effect on my mood and feeling of well-being.

Instant Pot

For Christmas, I wanted an instant pot. It’s a pressure cooker with a brain. I ordered one on black Friday when it was on super sale. I finally tried it out yesterday on split pea soup. I was skeptical it would break everything down in a mere 15 minutes of pressure, but it did!

I was amazed. The soup prep didn’t need to happen until one hour before eating, as opposed to sometime in the morning. 

I bought the supplies to make sushi rolls. I’m excited. I think the rice cooking function is going to be one of my favorite features. I bought a huge bag of rice. It’s so cheap web you buy a lot and is so filling.

There are tons of recipes on YouTube – is a great place to start. You can follow along with people as they cook.

The Debrief

I see myself doing this after big parties, interactions or even meetings. I feel the need to discuss certain points that are bothering me or stuck in my head. It’s almost a need to resolve the issue and put it away. It’s easier with another person (it’s often my wife), but it can be done alone as well.

Just recognizing this helps me move on mentally and put certain things to bed will help me. I know that I need to “close the book” on things that were mentally taxing so I make it a point to debrief after events like that.

I really notice it after big family parties when lots of activity takes place. I feel better and much more at peace if I have a chance to discuss what happened and put it to bed.

Driving in a Blizzard, On Purpose

We had plans to see family yesterday for our annual Christmas celebration with my dad’s side of the family. It’s a lot smaller and a bit more spread out than other portions of my family, so we don’t always get a chance to get together. But we saw the weather forecast for the day would bring snow all day long, into the night.

Since the snow was gradually accumulating all day long, it seemed like nobody really panicked and the roads never got too bad. They were messy, but the constant accumulation wasn’t a problem for most people.

We used google maps for traffic updates and the M-DOT website to look at traffic cameras. Did you know you can look at these cameras from your computer and see how the traffic is flowing anywhere there is a traffic camera? There are hundreds of these things and you can probably access most of them. Read On…