How fast could you run if you weren't pacing yourself?

Our notions of what's possible affect our performance.  I had a very specific experience with that this weekend.  I ran a half marathon yesterday, but I couldn't use my Nike+ watch.  It has an utterly ridiculous lack of ability to delete old data from the watch itself--you can only do this when it's hooked up to a computer.  So, if you find yourself with a watch full of data, you literally cannot use it.  

So, I had to wing it--which was made harder by the fact that all the miles weren't marked off on the course.  I knew I was in the ballpark of a particular pace, but felt good and wasn't really paying that close attention to every second.

In other words, I was just running.

When I was said and done, I beat my best time by three whole minutes--meaning I was 14 seconds per mile ahead of my best pace and had shattered my previous record.  My previous best had been 7:18/mi and I was frustrated in my last race because my watch was off by a few seconds, and I thought I had a 7:16 and it turned out to be a 7:20.  Little did I realize the best solution was to ditch the watch entirely and instead of trying to shave a few seconds off, watching the clock the whole way, just running my ass off.  I never would have even attempted to run this fast if I would have been using the watch.  I didn't think I could.

Knowing what we did before, or what others did, limits our notions of what's possible.  Measuring data can help you improve, but often times you don't realize how much you can do if you really dig deep unless you throw out the numbers and work hard.  


Stop looking at your paycheck as a measure of success.

Stop counting followers as a measure of how loved you are. Stop using likes as a measure of the love you give.

Stop using investor dollars as the metric of success for your business. Stop using square footage to feel good about where you live.

Stop using pounds to measure your health. Stop using sexual partners as the measure for interpersonal relations.

Stop counting attendees as the way to evaluate how well your event went.

Stop using nights out as a measure of happiness. Stop filling up your calendar.

Stop using unread emails as the measure of how much work you have to do.

Stop pushing yourself on people that aren't psyched to know you. Stop giving time to people you aren't psyched to know.

Stop showing up late and frazzled all the time. Stop rushing to meet arbitrary deadlines. Stop worrying.

Stop self-deprecating.

Stop and look up once in a while when you're in the city.  Stop looking the other way when someone treats you badly.  

Stop asking for more than you offer to others.  

Stop asking for permission.  

Stop assuming you know what people will say or do and just let them do it.  

Stop looking at your phone when you're walking from place to place, eating dinner with friends, or riding in a cab.  Stop checking your e-mail first thing in the morning.

Stop toiling away in relative anonymity.  

Stop accepting without questioning.


Daily Basics

Sometimes, you sit and stare at your computer--overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff you need to do.  How are you ever going to get it done?

Well, you know what?  You won't.  As soon as you get this stuff done more stuff will follow.  In fact, the more you do, the more people will give to you to do--or that you'll notice can get done.  

So what do you do?

1) Accept that you can only do the best you can--and that you have limits.

2) Your health and wellbeing needs to come first, because it supports your ability to do everything else. 

3) Do one thing each day from the following categories:


  • Make progress on a longer term project.
  • De-risk yourself by eliminating something that could trip you up later--pay a bill, address a conflict, or get the answer to a question whose answer you're relying on for something important.
  • Do something to make someone else happy.
  • Do something to get your heart rate up or to make you stronger... or just go for a walk.
  • Practice relaxing and letting your mind drift.
  • Be vulnerable to someone.
  • Get something off your plate that you hate doing, but you have to.
  • Turn off phone and e-mail for a little while... or turn off the computer completely and go draw in a book or on a whiteboard.
  • Talk to someone who inspires you.
  • Write.
  • Delegate something to someone else.
  • Say no to something.  
  • From Mike Chan: "Do/read/watch something that makes you laugh"


Got any others to be added to the Daily Basics?


No more "I" in NYC: How the city is changing whether you like it or not

Seemingly overnight, a bunch of parking spaces disappeared in New York City--replaced by bike share racks.  Lots of car owners aren't happy about it.  For that matter, lots of people in the city have argued against bikes for years.  Residents of Vinegar Hill signed a petition to prevent a greenway from going through their neighborhood--citing that "The Greenway would bring thousands of bikers from all over that would add noise, traffic hazards, and garbage to a neighborhood that currently has none of that."


And garbage.


Yeah, because all those bikers are usually seen tossing styrofoam cups off their bike as they ride--blasting boomboxes like it was 1985. 

But it doesn't really matter, folks, because this is happening.  Oh, it might not be your particular street and you may be able to fight off a particular lane or particular parking spot--but the bike thing?  It's now.  When 10,000 shared bicycles hit the streets of NYC, the flow of the Big Apple and the battle for street supremecy between cars and bikes will have shifted for good.  And it's never going back.  You better start looking both ways before you step off the curb and start watching to see if you're standing in a green bike lane.  

You see, cities can no longer survive being congested by cars with one person in them and a billion parking spaces being taken up by cars that rarely get driven.  We've lived as pretty selfish individuals--taking up way more space, creating way more garbage and casting a much bigger carbon footprint than the planet can handle.  Things have to change.  

We're being shoved, kicking and screaming, into a city that favors the greater good.  Want to drink all the soda you want?  Sorry, because the rest of us need to pay for your health care.  Want to park your car on the street?  Sorry, we need that spot for a bike share program.  Don't like the Second Avenue construction?  Sorry, new subway line being built in the name of improved public transportation.  Broadway becoming a pedistrian plaza and car lanes disappearing--tough luck my driving friend.  You just wait until 42nd street is next. 

It's all moving towards a more sustainable city--one where shared resources and health are being prioritized over the individual.  We're becoming more and more of a collective.  Even the fight to hail a cab using your phone--it's all about efficient use of resources.  If we can match one more empty cab with a passenger, and tip the balance of making it reasonable for one less person to own a car, it's going in that direction, and there isn't a union, interest group, historical stone or neighborhood organization that can stand in the way.  

The balance in New York City has shifted my friends.  I'm not trying to advocate for it--I'm just telling you how it is.  You can fight it or join it, but it isn't turning back.  

Welcome to "we".  


Five Tips for #sxsw

I'll be headed to my seventh and perhaps last SXSW Interactive this year.  I've spoken twice, judged at the startup accelerator, been around for the first Garyvee SXSW flashmob wine party, tipped a certain investor off to Twitter, been the investor behind the app that "won" the conference, attended a bike rally, tattooed a 4SQ douchebag badge on my head, played actual foursquare, and funded a guy I met for the first time there (Rob May from Backupify) --three years later.

Call me a veteran.  

But each year, my expectations of the conference, which keeps getting bigger and bigger, keep getting smaller and smaller.  There's been a lot of panel quality dilution--more panelists, of course, means lower quality.  You're that much less likely to run into someone amazing in the hallways that you couldn't meet anywhere else--because a lot of those people aren't coming anymore and now the always are swamped with junior agency folks coming for the first time.  

So is SXSW over, or can you still have a great time?  You def can and here's how:

1) You're going to miss lots of stuff, so don't worry about it.  Peruse the panels and try to pick out 3-5 panels that you really want to see, and more importantly, panelists you want to meet.  If you could have 3 in person conversations with amazing panelists that you wouldn't otherwise have a connection to, consider that the bar for getting the most out of panels. 

2) GroupMe is great for organizing your friends at SXSW, and Foursquare is still a good way to figure out where everyone is.  Between the two of them, including commenting on Foursquare if stuff is worth going to, and whether you're likely to stay long, you'll be fine for keeping track of everyone. 

3) Be a food leader--there will always be a critical mass of hungry people at any given time, so if you can actually make set plans to get food at a certain place at a certain time, and do the heavy lifting of waiting on lines, getting tables, etc., you'll be a hero.

4) Go deep--find a handful of people to really get to know at the conference.  If all you do is get a bunch of business cards and you can't remember who anyone is, you missed the point.  If you're going to be down there over a weekend, you should be social with people and get to know who they are, not just what they do.  Some of my closest friends in tech come from relationships I solidified while I was down at SXSW.

5) Sign up for SX Social, and tag yourself--what you do, where you're from, fun stuff.  Connect your networks so you become findable.  Figure out who you want to meet ahead of time and make it like a scavenger hunt of awesome folks.

Bonus: Getting drunk and hungover is a complete waste of time.  You can drink all you want when you're home, but if you can't remember who you hung out with, and you miss half or whole days because you're sick, you're just wasting your money.  Have some meat and some brews, but don't overdue it--because if you actually take care of yourself, actually sleep, actually eat, you're going to be able to win the marathon instead of getting burned out on the first day.