Tag: habits

Confidence is the first step to having a life you need

I read a story of Richard Branson buying Necker Island for a mere $180,000, despite its $6 million asking price. You might think it’s all due to his negotiation skills, and I agree he must be quite the negotiator to reach such heights in business. But what struck me most was his confidence in making that first call.

Imagine seeing a $6 million price tag when you can only afford $100,000. Instead of walking away, he picked up the phone, arranged a visit to the island, and boldly offered his limited budget.

I wish I had that kind of confidence.

For example, I run a podcast and sometimes spot the perfect guest. Yet, I lack the courage to reach out to them on Twitter, LinkedIn, or email. But Branson’s story teaches me the value of taking that first step.

Coming back to Branson’s story, a year later, the island’s owner hadn’t received any better offers and called Branson again. This time he could offer more – $180,000 – and sealed the deal. The lesson here is clear: have the confidence to act even when there’s a gaping chasm between what you can give and what’s asked for.

I want to embrace this boldness in my own life. Maybe I won’t always succeed in negotiating, but at least I’ll have given it my best shot. So I’ll start with my podcast and reach out to potential guests with newfound courage.

Hierarchy of tasks

Hierarchy of tasks

You can sort any task into three categories:

  • routine, low-level tasks;
  • time-based, deadline-driven tasks; and
  • creative tasks.

The more time you dedicate to creative tasks, the better your output will be. For that to happen, you need to keep low-level tasks as frictionless as possible.

Podcast Example

Take my podcast for example. Tasks for the podcast involves finding guests, crafting questions, conducting interviews, editing, creating video thumbnails, and sharing on social media. The podcast focuses on leadership rather than design, so I’ve simplified my thumbnails to just two colors and one font in three sizes. This makes it a low-level task that can be done quickly. I also have templates for guest communications that are easily copied and pasted. These routine tasks are now automated or streamlined.

Time-based tasks include scheduling interviews on specific dates and releasing episodes every Tuesday at 6 a.m. These deadlines keep me focused.

My creative work lies in discovering the theme or perspective to shape the interview and its questions. That’s where I want to spend most of my time—thinking and framing the questions. If I spend too much time on thumbnails and social media sharing, I’ll have less time for this vital creative work.

Of course, your priorities may vary. If you’re a designer, you might want to spend more time on thumbnail design. So, depending on your focus, adjust your task hierarchy accordingly.

Take writing and publishing a blog post as another example. For me, writing is thinking and seeking answers. I want as little friction as possible to focus on my writing. That’s why I’ve made hosting platforms, color themes, fonts, dictation tools, and editing low-level tasks. This way, I can spend more time pondering what to write about and actually writing instead of fiddling with design details.

Creativity depends on routinized low-level activities

The more tasks you can turn into routine, low-level duties, the more time and energy you’ll have for creative work. This doesn’t mean low-level tasks aren’t important; they are. But streamlining them frees up your cognitive power for creativity.

Imagine your day as a series of tasks in different buckets. The better you can sort these tasks, the smoother your day will flow. By turning many daily activities into low-level tasks, you’ll reduce friction and save energy for what truly matters. For example, my morning routine is filled with streamlined tasks, from fitness to learning new things.

Knowing the hierarchy of tasks will help you boost your creativity and output. So, focus on making routine tasks as efficient as possible to free up your mind for the creative work that truly makes a difference.

Writing tool stack

Digital Tool Stack

On day 50 of my writing journey, I thought I’d share the tools that help me maintain this creative flow.

An idea can hit at any time, sometimes in the form of a few sentences or a big idea. Even while reading something else, they might pop up. I use two frictionless tools to capture these thoughts.

One tool is the voice recorder on my Apple Watch. Always on my wrist, it’s ready to capture any sudden idea. The recordings are stored in iCloud, so I can transcribe and process them later on my Mac. Second is Drafts, which opens lightning fast for quick notes. Drafts lets me type immediately, unlike other apps.

On designated days, like Saturdays or Mondays, I sit down and process these thoughts from the week. The ideas may have grown and developed by then. It’s not always easy for me to star at a blank screen and type. That’s when the AudioPen comes in handy.

Despite the friction – it’s not as quick to open a website and start recording – AudioPen captures my rambling, letting my ideas flow freely, and creating an initial draft.

WordTune is my go-to editor. I use it to polish and refine my work. Once it’s ready, I go to WordPress, where my common log entries live. With just a few clicks, I can schedule posts quickly and effortlessly.

Buffer is my go-to hub for distribution. The app sends my words to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Mastodon. I tailor the text to each platform.

Finally, I use Substack to send those words as a newsletter.

I love these tools, they make writing easy.

Improving your worst-case scenarios

I constantly work on improving my worst-case scenarios, pondering the darkest possibilities in various aspects of life and seeking ways to better manage them.

There are two ways to tackle this daunting topic.

  • Dodge worst-case scenarios altogether
  • Improve your worst-case scenario


In many cases, sidestepping disaster is a wiser approach than attempting to minimize its impact. Gather information on what could go wrong and determine if you can avoid it entirely.

Take, for example, the damage alcohol can do to your liver over time. Avoiding alcohol is a better choice than wrestling with liver damage. Likewise, if you’re drowning in debt with loan repayments devouring more than 30 to 40 percent of your income, you’re teetering on financial instability. Avoid over-leveraging yourself; debt isn’t inherently bad, but too much can be lethal.

Now, consider a job that demands hours of sitting, like mine in computers. Practicing yoga or another form of exercise helps prevent potential health issues from a sedentary lifestyle. Strive to avoid as many worst-case scenarios as possible across all aspects of life.


But life is unpredictable; even when cautious, misfortune may still strike. In these instances, it’s crucial to improve your worst-case scenarios. This involves a few steps.

  1. Identify weakness & risks: Pinpoint weaknesses and risks in areas like finances, social life, health, and income generation. Gather data and knowledge to identify potential hazards. For example, assess the risk of annual flooding in your area or the threat of a recession impacting your job.
  2. Buy “insurances“: Can you protect yourself with insurance for unforeseen events like health issues, fires, or accidents? These events will affect you psychologically, but at least you’ll have a financial safety net. Try to cover as many areas as possible with insurance-like systems.
  3. Set up signals & Alerts: Set up early-warning signals to alert you when things go downhill. If you invest in stocks and their prices drop by 10% or 15%, can you track that and act quickly? Being informed early about potential worst-case scenarios gives you enough time to react.
  4. Seek professional help: Instead of trying to keep track of everything, why not seek professional help? For example, if you’re dealing with financial accounting and filing, consider hiring a chartered accountant; for managing money, turn to non-commissioned financial advisors; for weight loss, a certified nutritionist can guide you. Professionals who have a stake in your success (those who are not working for commissions) can help you avoid most cases of damages and injuries.
  5. Enhance your skills: Throughout life, you’ll gain new abilities and improve upon them. However, there will also be times when skills degrade with age. Continually upgrade yourself to better handle tough situations.
  6. Be Prepared & practice: Shit happens. Have a system in place to deal with it. If you live near an earthquake zone, have a bag packed with money and clothes so you can grab it and run out if it strikes. Have all your financial details in a ready-to-access manner for your family. To be prepared, think ahead, create a plan, and practice. Companies have fire drills for this very reason. Likewise, discuss with your family, worst-case scenarios and point to them how to handle these scenarios.

You can’t avoid all worst-case scenarios. But when you have capability to deal with most situations, it increases the possibility for you to survive with minimal impact.

How are you improving your worst-case scenario?

My Learning framework


Learning framework

In the ever-changing world of software, staying updated is crucial. That’s why I’ve embraced a learning framework I call Consume, Produce, and Engage. This approach has served me well over the years.

During the Consume phase, you absorb knowledge from books, workshops, seminars, and courses. However, you only retain about 40 to 50% of what you learn at this stage.

To deepen your understanding, it’s essential to move on to the Produce phase. Here, you create something based on what you’ve learned, such as a note synthesizing new information with prior knowledge, a presentation, or a video. Producing something highlights any gaps in your understanding of the topic.

Next comes the Engage phase. By sharing your work with others, they can offer feedback and reveal different perspectives on the subject matter. Engage with genuine people who can provide valuable insights and help you grasp the topic more holistically.

This cycle of Consume, Produce, and Engage is an ongoing process; as people point out new sources of information, you consume that knowledge and continue producing and engaging. This repetition helps develop a comprehensive understanding of any given topic.

Underlying this cycle is another sub-cycle: It starts with you. What’s your attitude towards learning? Are you curious and open-minded? Or do you think you already know everything or can’t learn anything new? Your mindset plays a significant role in how effectively this learning framework works for you. Embrace curiosity and humility to truly reap the benefits of Consume, Produce, and Engage.

Your environment plays a crucial role too. As the saying goes, walk with the wise and you’ll become wise; walk with those uninterested, and you’ll follow suit. If your surroundings don’t encourage trying new things or embracing failure, then you’re bound by its limitations.

Access to tools matters. Can you afford them? Are they available for you to learn smarter and tap into the world’s knowledge? Tools can spark different thoughts and satisfy your curiosity, creating a cycle that fuels learning.

Take my experience learning coding, for instance. I used this approach for learning new software languages as well as project management. Let’s say I’m learning Deno – I’ll watch a video or read examples, consuming information. Then, I’ll start producing something by working on a sample project or recreating an example. This solidifies what I’ve learned from books, videos, or code samples.

Next, I share my work with the Deno community and ask for feedback. Although not everyone will respond, a few people might offer suggestions for better APIs or algorithms. This sharing process feeds back into my learning cycle.

As a CTO, I believe in learning by doing and coding myself. However, another CTO might focus on helping their team learn instead of continuing to code personally – that’s perfectly valid too. Our paths will differ based on our attitudes and environments, but the key lies in embracing learning as an ongoing journey.

When I need to code, I seek an IDE or surround myself with fellow coders. I immerse myself in that world, ready to learn. Sometimes, I’ll even pay for tools like chatGPT or the Code Whisperer to help me write code.

How do you keep learning? Share your process in the comments.