Distilling Your Ideas

Recently I was working on a pitch deck for my project Ketch Statistics.

Every time I do one of these, I’m reminded of how beneficial the exercise is for distilling your ideas down to what’s most important.

My goal is always to communicate as quickly as possible that we are ABC company and we have an idea that does X. Now we’ll show it to you and why people need it.

Pro Tip:

I’ve also found it is better to be concise even if that shrinks the idea. Big and vague descriptions often seem like fluff. It’s okay if your idea is specific and narrow to start. Your aim is to keep the conversation going.

Making ideas simple sure is hard work.

Good Habits Take Focus

A few weeks ago I attended a conference where James Clear spoke. If you’re not familiar with him, James is a writer who covers topics like habits, routines and personal management. In just a few years he’s amassed a subscriber base of over 200k.

I found his talk helpful, although he didn’t say anything revolutionary. All of it I’m sure I heard before or read in a book. That being said, hearing it framed the way he put it was impactful.

Thought I would share my notes on James’ talk about focus and building good habits:


He told the story of Warren Buffet’s pilot who was asked (by Buffet) what he wanted to do for the rest of his career. The pilot, who had already flown in the air force and piloted several presidents, said he wanted to work for Buffet.

Buffet said if he was still his pilot in 5 years, Buffet would have failed him. Instead he ask the pilot to write down 25 things he wanted to accomplish over the rest of his career. Then he asked the pilot to rank them in order of importance/desire. The pilot did as he was instructed. Last, Buffet said to circle the first 5 and devote the rest of his life to accomplishing those things.

Then Buffet said, under no circumstances should he ever, ever, ever do the bottom 20.

The bottom 20 are all the things you could do but shouldn’t because they are distractions.

List your 25 things that you want to do in X amount of time. Focus on the top 5 only.

Rank & Prioritize:

Do the most important thing first. James told the story of an author who consulted with a company in the 1920’s. The consultant told the owner to pay him in 4 years what he thought the value of his advice was worth to his team of managers. The only instruction he gave the managers was to write down and prioritize what they needed to do the next day. Then do the number 1 first, number 2, and so on.

Design Your Environment:

Let your physical spaces assist you in building and maintaining the habits you want. Decrease the number of steps to good behaviors. Increase the number of steps to bad behaviors. In other words, make it easy to do good and hard to do bad. One example he gave was of a guy who wanted to eat less popcorn. So he moved the popcorn from the pantry to the top of a cabinet in the garage, hence increasing the number of steps to the behavior he was trying to decrease.

This also works for emotions, digital space, etc.


You cannot improve what you don’t measure. Give yourself visual cues to show progress.

James recommends weekly reviews of key metrics to see if what you’re doing is working.

Commit & Repeat:

The final step is to stay with the process. 1% improvements over time make up huge gains.

There you go.



Daves I Know

I’d like to tell you about the Daves I know

David Deasy
David Deasy un-blanks space daily
He likes beautiful patterns and Typography

David Bain
David Bain lives in the United Kingdom
He has a magazine and radio show

Dave Delaney
David Delaney lives in Nashville
He hosts New Business Networking Radio and wrote a book too.

David Spencer
David Spencer makes nice music in Nashville Tennessee
When he’s not producing records he pulls for UNC

Dave B Thomas
Dave Thomas used to live in North Carolina
He moved to California and makes content for Leadspace

Dave Neal
Dave Neal helps runs The Startup Factory
It’s in Durham at the American Underground

David Mackenzie
David Mackenzie likes to play golf
He talks with a British accent because he was born there

Some of them are “Davids” most of them are “‘Daves” They all have their own hands but they come from different moms…


Dave Cefaly
Dave Cefaly can play tennis
His backhand is vicious and he smiles a lot

Davie Blair
David Blair writes really well
He’s also a chess master or something like that

David Dang
David Dang does something technical with computers
I think it’s test automation for Zenergy in Greensboro

David Civils
David Civils will work on your molars
We played high school soccer together, but that was a long time ago

Dave McMurray
I spoke to Dave McMurray twice
He works at Epipheo

David Basten
David Basten went to college with me
He played tennis in school and we took a few classes together

David Seigel
David Seigel runs the eGolf Pro Tour
We played mini tour golf in 2001

David Taylor
David Taylor runs a golf course management company
We work with him on several projects currently

David Mathis
David Mathis and I play mini tour golf
He was way better and made it on tour

Dave Daniel
Dave Daniel likes to fix things with his hands
He can do almost anything except wrestle a polar bear

David Carter
I met David Carter in Chicago
He’s not from there and lives in Canada

David Sleight
David Sleight lived in Africa
And also in Europe. Now he lives in the US most of the time

Dave Fox
David Fox plays lots of music
He is a teacher at the college I attended

David Hubbell
David Hubbell likes boats and cape cod
He’s from New England so that makes sense

David Williams
David Williams went to West Carteret high school
We were friends but haven’t talked in years

David Murphy
David Murphy is a finance dude
I only see him at Greensboro College functions

David Bell
David Bell was tough in High School
He still is so I won’t say anything uncool

David Hester
Some people think David Hester and I are twins
Not really but we have the same name

David Gould
David Gould is my brother’s nephew
He’ll catch you for speeding and likes to drive fast

David Clapsadl
David Clapsadl is not little anymore
When I knew him he was small and short

David Griffith
In High School David Griffith was fun at parties
He had great jokes that never got old

Dave Shamblin
David Shamblin is in the Army
I haven’t seen him in a long time and he lives in Texas

These are the Daves

Two Kinds of People

I trust everything is well in your world. Last week I stumbled across the fun blog 2 Kinds of People. Have you seen it?

If you’re like me, I could identify with almost every one of his examples, except for the sandwich. Who actually cuts the bread across like that?

I’ve written in the past about the two kinds of people who eat ice cream, miners and graders. Miners dig into the cup (or carton) with their spoons looking for “the good stuff.” Graders on the other hand, eat in a nice even layer, taking the ice cream down to the bottom one level at a time. Ben and Jerry’s anyone? Ok, back to my point.

We can remind ourselves of a simple truth from these examples. There are 2 types of people for your business too. The people you are trying to market to and everyone else.

If you are trying to reach everyone, you’re not going to make it.

Spend your time finding, interacting and connecting with the people whose problem you’re solving or world you’re making better.

Slow Is the New Black

I’ve been thinking a lot about the role web applications play in our lives today. For starters, think about how websites have changed. It wasn’t long ago when clients would ask us to design a “brochure” style website. These sites, true to their name, were printed collateral translated to the web. This worked until we learned more about what technology allowed us to do.

Things started to change.

Today, almost everything built on the web needs to “do something” more than persuade. Websites aren’t brochures anymore. They are web applications with goals for specific interactions with its users and/or integrations with other applications.

Many of these apps are part of the fast web, the “real-time assault on our attention” web. It’s the web that hooks us in and gives a hit of dopamine every-time we see notifications of new comments or mentions.

An interesting shift begins.

While these applications are useful, I’ve been captivated with the idea of building applications that are more deliberate. By this I mean interactions with you happen as you need them to, instead of as they happen. There’s a rhythm to information and interactions that is predictable and at a pace set by the customer. Slowing things down leads to knowledge while speediness aims to give information. This web is closer to the concept of the The Slow Web.

I’m working on two projects that follow these ideas.

One is an app that helps people organize the important things in their life. It’s a place for you to keep and share family information like wills, account details, digital assets, etc. Instead of a standard onboarding process where users are prompted to “finish” setting it up, we’re taking a more relational approach. We want users to complete setting up their profile over time while they learn its value. So instead of the friend who texts you every 5 minutes with updates, it will be the friend you meet with for coffee every few months to share life with.

The other is a website focused on educating employees within an organization. The information design set by the team we’re working with was dead on. Instead of cramming articles, how-to’s and tutorials into people’s eye sockets, they opted for giving ownership and shared responsibility to the consumers of the education. Again, the idea of knowledge instead of information.

Solving problems this way requires a shift in our thought process. We’re conditioned to build the fastest, biggest, flashiest web applications. What if instead, we focused on building the best apps for our customers?