The State of the Justin

The President gave us the State of the Union Tuesday night. I figure it’s time for the annual State of the Justin.

New House

I’ve always been proud of the fact I was lucky and able to buy my first home when I was 20. My mortgage broker at the time joked I could buy a house before I could buy a beer. It turns out, I’ve still never purchased a beer.

On Tuesday we moved from our home on Adina Ct. to a much more historic home in Irvington on Spencer Ave.

I’ve always wanted to live in Irvington. Even when I bought the last house I wanted to live in Irvington but couldn’t afford to.

A nice young guy purchased the old house as his first home and I wish him well.

Jeremiah and I are looking forward to inviting folks over once we get all the boxes unpacked.

I’ve lost 32 pounds

InBody Scan ResultsI weighed myself this morning. The scale reported back at 149.9, which is 33 pounds less than I was in the fall.

Most people immediately query, “How’d you do that?” and “Did you even have that much weight to lose?”

Apparently, yes, I had that much to lose. It says something that 183-pound me was considered fine (albeit medically overweight by about 15 pounds). My body type is one that packs fat around organs as opposed to just on my frame. If anything, I was in more danger than the folks that carry it around their exterior.

Losing it was pretty simple: don’t eat like an idiot. I’m 30 years old, so I can’t just eat everything and the cardboard box it comes in anymore. I’m okay with that, but didn’t struggle like some people. I long eschewed sodas and fast food. But I ate a lot of bread, desserts were mandatory, and I consumed a lot of dairy in the form of cheese and creams.

Eliminating bread, getting used to fruit for dessert, and removing cheese did most of the work. I don’t miss the bread so much. I still desire a good chunk of cheesecake, but can resist. And leaving cheese off things really doesn’t impact the flavor of anything that much. Except pizza. I miss pizza. And chimichangas…

I recognize my superpower is the ability to miserably say “no” to things. It scares Jeremiah how easily I can flip to, “I just don’t do that anymore.” If that’s not your superpower, it’s going to be harder, but you can do it.

Workouts at Naptown Fitness have become routine. On Tuesday morning I had to close on two houses and move between them at 10 am. I woke up at 4 am and took the bus to the gym so I could get in a class.

Doing SWIFT (sort of a P90x/jump training/cardio hybrid) classes for 45 minutes at least 5-6 times a week is mandatory. I put it on my calendar and am incredibly defensive of that time. Meetings get placed around it, phone calls don’t interrupt it, and I’m better for it. Doing classes at 4 in the afternoon is one of the best parts of my day.

If you’re an office worker, you might find that doing a workout is satisfying because you get clear goals and finish lines. White collar work is often void of that. I like this challenge precisely because it’s hard, but defined.

And in case you think that your trip to LA Fitness is fine: the benefits of a class are tenfold. It’s awfully hard to stop and rest when the guy next to you is plowing through his work. So much so I now seek to position myself next to men and women who are as good or better than me in a class.

Reading

I read or listened to 47 books in 2017. So far this year I’m about to wrap up my fourth.

My favorites include Grant by Ron Chernow (Trump’s presidency doesn’t mirror Andrew Jackson. It mirrors Andrew Johnson, which came after Lincoln. And Ulysses S. Grant may be one of our most underrated historical figures.). I also immensely enjoyed the trilogy that is Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris.

Two books have actively changed the nature of my life and work. The Checklist Manifesto by Dr. Atul Gawande talks about the benefits of using checklists in everyday work. His thesis: there’s too much knowledge for any single human. So write down and double-check.

Deep Work by Cal Newport is equally impressive. I wrote about this over on the SuperPixel blog.

If you’re one of those people on the outside looking in at readers and wondering how they do it: the Indianapolis Public Library is wonderful. The online library delivers a good number of books to Kindles, too.  I certainly don’t buy all these books. But I do maintain an Audible subscription. Commuting on a bike or a bus is a great way to get in some extra reading time.

Slowly, then quickly at SuperPixel

SuperPixel continues to grow slowly and organically, but the work has rapidly increased lately. I still struggle with The E-Myth (short for Entrepreneur). The balance between having a scalable business that runs itself versus being a solo-preneur or nearly a solo-preneur is hard in my line of work. I recognized late last year there are almost no big, nationwide service provider businesses. There are no chain attorneys or franchise physicians. There are networks and small clusters trying, like in dentistry or in medical groups. Big corporations sell products and widgets. Or services that masquerade as products, like insurance. The only service businesses I can think of is True Green and Merry Maids. Both of which involve low-wage work.

We have reached a point where the work we have is enough. Now I want to make it really damn good. I’m more interested in solving thorny business problems for clients this year than I am in making a website or two.

Onward and upward

My goals for 2018 look something like this:

  1. Compete in a Spartan race
  2. Compete in a triathlon – Happening in July
  3. [Personal]
  4. 100 consecutive workouts
  5. Generate $10k from book sales
  6. $10k in savings
  7. Pay off debts
  8. Funnel $300/mo. to retirement – $50 short currently
  9. Launch an email series
  10. Interview a President
  11. Walk 500 dogs
  12. Share a house with great friends
  13. Travel more with Jeremiah. D.C., London – I really want to see Bond in Motion
  14. Run for office
  15. 30 days of Whole 30
  16. $200k in annual revenue for SuperPixel
  17. White Water Rafting
  18. Hang glide
  19. Jet Ski
  20. Snorkel off the Cape
  21. Ski

In July I’ll be racing in the TriIndy. I wrote a book last year that I’ve asked a few people to review. With exception of the mortgage, we’re in good shape to have most debts eliminated soon. Savings to retirement is likely to increase later this year.

Today marks the end of Whole 30. And many other things on this list are in progress or coming soon.

I’m also participating in this March’s Polar Plunge with Crystal. You can donate here. If we make the fundraising goal I’ll post the photos.

The silent designer and the quest for fame

Sometimes I get the impression that web designers (and I use that term to include our programmatically minded developer friends, who design code) are out there working for fame. It’s like we’re working for the same kind of fame that Steve Jobs enjoyed, or that Mark Zuckerberg enjoys today: respected for their savviness, technical chops, and admired on a large scale for inventing new industries.

Except, we can’t all be like that, and yet we all still strive for it. Maybe I’m just lazy, or honestly realistic, but I don’t see much of a point. I will not ever be admired or famous or as innovative as those people. Like most people, I’m just sorta here, doing work that more often than not I can’t even really share because it’s for a private or personal audience. I do work I’ve never told anyone about, and I’ve done good work in these cases, too. I, like most people, could do the most amazing thing ever, and the likelihood of it being noticed is almost nil. The Internet has made the world smaller, but it also made the world smaller.
Virtually everyone in a corporate environment is like this. Those people, who arguably make the world turn, will never get much recognition. Even at companies like Google and Apple, we never hear much beyond what “the company” did. Someone at Apple made inertial scrolling a thing. Someone at Google made the servers hum at insane speeds. And then there are people who enjoy the luxury of being able to write all day and they can get up and scream at people and make tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for having produced what is of little value. Even this post you’re reading now, that I’m writing for myself to organize some thoughts, is of no value. I don’t even know why you’re still reading this.
So given that you and I are never going to amount to much, it begs the question: “Why even try?” Why should I even try to break some new paradigm, or shift the way people think about things, or produce something awesome for a bunch of useless likes or comments or views? Even if this post hit every major blog and media outlet in the country, it’ll get me no where. I will gain nothing from it, and that’s both depressing and very real.
I’m just a guy that works as the silent designer. I do things for people and businesses that support other people just so I can eat real food. It doesn’t allow me to take vacations or save much for retirement or see much enjoyment in things. And you’re just the same, and regardless of what empty promise you’ve been told that “you can do whatever you want”, “you can be anything you want to be”, or “you control your future”, no, you don’t. Because if we did, we’d all be doing that right now.
And you’re still reading this, and I don’t know why.

How to Be Successful: Step 1

Why Successful People Leave Work Early:

“Try this for a day: don’t answer every phone call. Stop checking your email every two minutes. And leave work early. You’ll be astounded at how much more you’ll get done. According to a study published in the Psychological Review conducted by Dr. K. Anders Ericcson, the key to great success is working harder in short bursts of time. Then give yourself a break before getting back to work.”

I’ve never thought there was much use for having a 2:30 in the afternoon.

When Al Gore Calls

Could you imagine what it must be like to have a former or current sitting President or Vice President call you to ask that you modify something you’ve done?

Last summer, I received a phone call from Michael, a designer from mgmtdesign in Brooklyn, New York. After the initial how-do-you-do’s, he explained that they were designing a new book for Al Gore, Our Choice, the sequel to An Inconvenient Truth.
They had chosen Brioni, one of our typefaces, for the body text.
“And this is why I am calling now”, said Michael, his voice dropping a level. “You see, Al is really involved with the project and we spend a lot of time working together in the publisher’s office. When he was reviewing the proofs, he had a comment about the typeface.”
I took a deep breath and asked what the comment was.
“Basically, he wants you to change the numeral one.”
“Interesting”, I said. “And how did he come to this conclusion?”
“Well, in the book there’re a lot of examples of scientific nomenclature and this particular numeral one is causing confusion when it’s combined with capitals.”
Brioni is a book typeface and comes with old style figures. Because of the fairly low x-height, the numeral one looks like a Roman one, like a shorter version of a capital letter I. It looks very elegant, but when combined into acronyms, it could be confusing.

I reckon when Al Gore calls, you get right on that project.