Saying not doing

That’s my problem.

I’ve been saying to myself, saying to others I want to build things.

But I haven’t.

It’s called signalling. Talking about something instead of doing it.

It started with wanting build a YouTube channel.

Then I did it. And it felt good.

I wanted to write. So I did. Everyday. And it makes me happy.

Now I want to build apps. Build products which add value to the world.

Don’t make the same mistakes I did.

If you know what you want to do. Remember.

The fastest way to get where you want to go is to go straight there.

My latest YouTube video talks about two things I’m doing wrong in my business. One of them is signalling. The other is jumping from project to project rather than building something scalable (a product built on code or media).


A smile can make everything

I walked into the cafe. Ordered.

Walked outside. Saw her. She smiled. Spoke.

Good morning.

Morning, how are you?

Good, thank you.

I smiled and kept walking. Sat down. Looked at the sun, soaked it in.

My coffee arrived and I sat there thinking. Thinking about the smile.

Everything in that moment was perfect.

You never know how much a small action can affect someone. One smile gave me energy for the whole day.

Now it's my turn to give it back.

The Change You’re Trying to Make

It’s worth reminding yourself what you’re trying to do. What the change is you’re trying to make.

Short-term emergencies arise every day. It can be hard to remember your long-term mission.

Soon enough, the short-term emergencies become the thing you do.

Is this why you started?

To be the person who waits for an issue to arise and then taking care of it?

The short-term metrics are the ones which are easy to measure. Views, likes, sales. These are good. But it’s worth remembering if you can pay money to boost a metric, it’s probably not the change you’re trying to make.

Instead of waiting for mistakes to fix, get out there and make some. That’s how change happens.

Who’s stopping you from playing the game?

If you want to play the game, play the game.

Don’t let the gatekeepers hold you back. The experts. The ones who are supposed to know what you’re capable of. Most of them are you holding yourself back.

Listening to all the things you’re not supposed to do.

You can’t try going into a new field if you’re already in another.

You can’t learn machine learning unless you have a graduate degree in mathematics.

You can’t become a writer unless you’ve taking a writing class.

You can’t be healthy ignoring the food pyramid.

Ignore them. Experts are a scam. Their status depends on you thinking their on another tier to you. Don’t play status games.

Play the game of following your own curiosity. The one you know you want to play.

Having guts always works out

Every time I decide to ask the girl out.

Every time I decide to back myself making a decision.

Every time I choose to stand up for what I believe in.

Every time I make an effort to follow something I’m curious in despite others saying otherwise.

Even if it doesn’t work out. Even if the girl says no. Even if what I believe in turns out to be wrong later.

I learn. I took the chance. I tried. I did it.

Having guts always works out for me.

Good competition

There’s a cafe at the mall which has people lining up all the time.

Archer Speciality Coffee. They’ve got a big blue machine and the young staff are all polite and experts at their craft. Making coffee.

That’s why people keep coming back.

Until recently, they were the only coffee shop in their section of the mall. Another opened up two weeks ago.

We were there on Sunday and went to Archer. It was early so they weren’t open. The other shop was open. Had the signs out and everything.

Archer had a line up even though the doors were closed. People were waiting for them to open. Including us.

The other coffee shop had no one there. All empty seats.

That part of the mall is packed with other restaurants. They each have their own style.

The restaurants compete with each other but also help each other by letting people know they’re in the food section of the mall.

Opening a coffee shop next to Archer was a brave move. I hope they do well. But I have a feeling they’ll need to change something.

Why?

Because Archer owns the coffee market. Even when the new store was open and ready to serve, people still lined up.

A coffee shop being in the food court makes sense, but too many doesn’t. Especially when you’re going up against Archer.

Good competition drives more business to everyone else. Like having all the restaurants in one section of the mall.

Bad competition means going into a battle where only one can win.

Iterate and deliver

That’s all you have to remember.

When you first begin and when you keep going.

If you can pull those two off, you’ll be in a good place.

Whether it be making videos, writing articles, building projects, providing a service, pay attention to these two words.

That’s what I’m reminding myself.

My ability to stay in business depends on it.

Yours does too.

My latest video documents my second week running an online business. I also talk about lifetime value. One of the most important yet underestimated business metrics.


The Phenix

The sign out front said Phenix. It meant to say Phoenix but the O was out.

Harry walked up.

The security guard spoke.

Got ID?

Harry pulled out his wallet. Gave the guard his ID.

What’s this?

It’s an Australian licence.

Harry was from out of town. The guard looked at the ID.

Where’s your birthday?

Harry leaned over, pointed at the ID.

The guard looked up.

Don’t worry about it. You over 21?

Yeah.

The guard reached out. Pass me your hand.

Harry stuck his hand out. Got the stamp. A red bird.

Inside was dark. A few people at the front, more down the back. Harry went to the back. Walked around. There were arcade games against the walls. Space Invaders, Ride the Red, Deer Hunting, Duck Hunting, Pinball, Mini-Bowling. Harry walked back to the front. Sat down at the bar.

Harry had never done this before. Go to a bar alone. Sat down alone. He’d been walking around all night alone. Travelling alone. Dinner alone. The bar was different. The seat to left is empty to your right empty. At a bar alone.

The bartender was walking up and down. Grabbing glasses, moving them to other parts of the bar, putting things in the fridge, taking them out. He had long hair tied back, a thin moustache, young, about the same age as Harry.

What are you after?

What’s good to get?

Where you from?

Australia.

Australia hey. We don’t get many of those here. How about one of the Green Irons?

Sure.

Seven dollars.

Harry handed over the money.

The bartender walked down, opened the register, dropped the coins in, closed it. Poured a Green Iron.

Where’d the name come from?

I’m not sure. All I know is it’s good.

Cheers.

Harry looked at it. It was golden full of bubbles all racing to the top. He lifted it to his face, could smell it before he tasted it, sipped.

What do you think?

It’s good.

Told you. How long you in town for?

Harry told him. A similar story to what he’d said before. A few more weeks, no plans, taking it as it comes, a few more nights here before going somewhere else.

Someone else came up to the counter, the bartender walked went over to them.

Harry sat and sipped. Looked down the back of the bar. There was a big crowd there, they were laughing really getting into it covered with purple lights from the roof. Harry was happy sitting with himself. He was at a bar alone for the first time. The seats left and right empty. Sitting alone.

The bartender came back.

Need another?

Please.

Harry handed over the cash, it went in the register.

Two girls walked in. They sat on the seat to the right and the one next to it. Harry kept looking forward. Didn’t break stare as they sat down, ordered.

The girls started talking. Something about how their night was going. Who’s birthday it was. Who they would meet out later. Where they would go after the Phoenix.

Harry turned towards them.

Where’s the best place to go around here?

The girl with brown hair started talking.

Oh, you’ve got plenty of places. The Rabbit Hole is good, Container Bar, Spicy Mikes.

Where are they?

Wait, where are you from?

Australia.

Really?

The girl turned to her friend.

Rebecca, he’s from Australia.

Rebecca joined in. Rebecca had dark tan skin, black hair.

What?

He’s from Australia!

Harry reached out.

My name’s Harry.

He shook Rebecca’s hand.

Rebecca.

And the other girl.

Sophie.

Sophie spoke.

What are you doing here?

Travelling around, exploring. I don’t have many plans.

Where have you been so far?

Harry told her.

They got to talking more. Another girl arrived. Rebecca turned to her.

Harry and Sophie kept talking.

Sophie was a writer. A reporter. She wrote stories wrote articles. Had a few things published in local magazines, online a few other places. Harry told her he was into writing too. Stories, poems, the like. Sophie worked at the local art museum, walked around making sure people didn’t touch the artwork. She was a student at the local college, a student reporter.

The bartender came over with the girls' orders.

Rebecca thanked him.

Harry held his glass out.

Cheers.

Everyone joined in. Cheers.

Harry made eye contact with the girl on the end. She started talking.

I’m Amber.

Hey Amber, I’m Harry.

Rebecca spoke.

It’s Ambers birthday.

Happy birthday Amber.

Thank you. I’ve never been wished happy birthday by an Australian before.

Harry smiled.

Amber was too far away to hold a conversation with. That was the problem with bars and music. Unless the person was right next to you, talking was difficult. Harry liked talking. He wasn’t alone anymore.

Rebecca started speaking. Let’s go and play the arcade!

Sophie spoke.

Wanna come?

Sure.

There were a few games at the other end of the bar, closer to the front, up a couple of stairs. Harry followed them.

They sat down. Rebecca looked through her purse, fumbled around, found one coin, put it in, kept looking no coins.

Here.

Harry put the other coin in.

The table lit up. The screen was built into it right underneath the glass, there were joysticks at each end. Harry grabbed one and Rebecca grabbed the other.

Rebecca spoke.

Okay, you’ve got to shoot my ship and I’ve got to shoot yours.

Okay.

The game started. Rebecca got off an early shot. Damaged Harry’s ship. She dodged his first shot, his second, his third, fired back, missed. Harry fired again, hit then again, hit.

What! Two in a row?

Harry smiled.

Rebecca took a shot, hit. Yes!

Harry fired three off, all hits. Rebecca fired back, missed, Harry sent three more back, two hit, one missed.

You’re good at this.

Harry laughed.

The game started making noises and flashing lights. A bonus sign came up on the screen.

Rebecca called out.

Oh! This is it! This is where we’ve got to team up and kill the boss!

Let’s do it.

Harry watched the screen. Rebecca watched the screen. Sophie looked at Harry then looked at the screen.

The boss appeared. A giant ship, it had small ships around it, green tentacles connecting them. It was on. The giant ship sent out a spray of shots, all missed except one, got Rebecca on the side. Harry took a shot, destroyed one of the small ships, Rebecca took the next, hit a small ship on the other side. Another spray of shots came, Harry got hit twice, Rebecca dodged them. Rebecca hit another ship, Harry missed. Come on Aussie, you’ve gotta help me here! Harry sent out two shots, two kills.

How’s that?

Nice!

The giant ship flashed white, sent out three shots, the shots were moving, not in a straight line, they were following Harry and Rebecca. Rebecca went to the left, the shot came with her, to the right, followed, to the left, same again. Harry went straight for the giant ship, the shots followed. Rebecca was being chased, couldn’t get away, turned left, turned right, got stuck on the edge of the screen, the big shot connected, her ship blew up. NO!

Harry was getting closer to the giant ship. Two shots following him. There were two ships in front. He fired three shots, one went off to the left, the other two hit, destroyed. Harry kept the joystick pressed forward. The shots were getting closer. All the small ships were gone. The path was clear. Harry pulled a sharp left, right up the side of the giant ship.

The shots kept going. Hit the side of the giant ship, exploded.

The screen flashed. WOOOO!

Harry looked up.

Rebecca was cheering.

You did it!

Harry laughed.

I’ve never beaten this one.

Sophie was smiling.

Harry did it. The hero. Killed the giant ship.

Everyone laughed. They all knew how lame it was. It didn’t matter. Lame was fun. Any kind of challenge can be fun. Even pixels on a screen.

Rebecca spoke.

All this action made me nervous. I’m going to the bathroom.

Harry looked at Sophie. Smiled.

She starts talking.

What?

I didn’t say anything.

Oh, I thought you did.

No the music is loud, let me come over there.

Harry got up and moved next to Sophie, sat down.

Where you going next?

I’m not sure. It’s Ambers birthday, so wherever she wants to go.

Where’s Amber?

I don’t know.

Harry laughed. Sophie smiled.

The talking stopped. But the energy was there. Harry had seen her eyes. She saw his. That was enough. They knew.

Rebecca came back.

Let’s go to a booth.

Alright.

They all sat down. Harry ordered more drinks. Two Green Irons and a Mojito. Rebecca wanted the Mojito.

Amber wasn’t anywhere to be seen. The girls didn’t mind. They knew she’d be with Sam.

Who’s Sam?

This guy she’s been seeing.

What’s he like?

The girls were silent. Looked at each other. Made a few sounds, a low giggle.

Sophie held back a laugh.

He’s okay.

Harry sipped at the Green Iron. He thought about the bartender. Wondered how many Green Irons he’d been through. Sipped again. It tasted even better with victory. Harry destroyed the giant ship. He was the hero.

Rebecca spoke.

I’m going to dance.

Harry spoke.

Okay.

Want to come?

I’m good. I’m gonna stay here and finish my drink.

Harry knew what he was doing. He was staying there for Sophie.

Sophie, you coming?

I’m gonna stay here too.

Oh, you two are boring!

Rebecca walked off.

Harry and Sophie looked at each other. The eyes were there. Locked on. Harry felt it. Sophie felt it. Sophie looked away. Broke it. Looked at her drink, moved it to her mouth, sipped, spoke.

These are good. Thank you.

Thank the bartender. I had no idea what to order.

Sophie smiled. Kept looking forward. Turned to Harry.

So what do you write about?

People.

What was your last story?

I gave a homeless guy eight dollars fifty the other day. He pulled me up. Said I looked nice. Said he wanted to get some fried chicken from down the street, pointed. Then he asked me for eight dollars fifty. I had eight dollars cash in my pocket I wanted to get rid of. So I gave it to him and went to keep walking. He stopped me again. Said the chicken was eights dollars fifty and he was so close. I pulled out my coin pouch and found fifty cents and gave it to him. He thanked me then asked for more. Said the chicken was nine dollars. I told him he already told me the chicken was eight dollars fifty. He goes oh yeah. He thanked me again. Said he was going to get a belly full of chicken and go sleep under the bridge. I said enjoy and walked into the restaurant and ordered.

What did you order?

Chicken wings.

Sophie laughed.

Did you write about it?

Yeah, that was my last one. Sales lessons from a homeless guy. He put the hard sell on me.

Eight dollars fifty is a lot.

Harry laughed. What was your last story?

A poem.

A poem?

Yeah, about my ex-boyfriend.

A good or bad poem?

A good one. We were still together.

How long ago was that?

Six weeks.

You haven’t written anything since?

Only for college, the boring stuff. News articles, interviews, sports results. The stuff that goes into the newspaper.

Do people read it?

I hope so! Sophie laughs. That’s what I tell myself.

Sophie turns her head. Looks at Harry. The eye contact is back. Stronger again. Every time it gets stronger. They know. Harry leans in. Puts his hand around the back of Sophie’s neck, Sophie closes her eyes. Harry presses his lips against hers.

Harry pulls away. Opens his eyes. Sophie opens hers.

They look at each other. Smile. Laugh. Lean back in, eyes close, kiss.

Rebecca comes back. Speaks.

Now I see why you two didn’t want to dance.

She pauses.

Harry and Sophie look up. Laugh.

Rebecca laughs. Having fun?

Sophie speaks.

Yeah.

Harry too.

Yeah.

Well, I’m tired. Amber isn’t answering her phone and I’ve got work tomorrow at 6 am.

Harry speaks.

6 am, that’s early.

Yeah. And I’m the only one on until 10.

Harry looks at Sophie.

What are you doing tomorrow?

I’ve got to write something for the school.

Rebecca looks at Sophie, speaks.

Are you still staying at mine?

Yeah.

Should I order an Uber?

Sophie looks at Harry.

Harry speaks. You guys go, I’ve got no plans tomorrow. I’m going to go and find Spicy Mikes.

They walk out front.

The guard is still there. Harry speaks.

Thank you.

No problem Aussie.

There’s a guy on the corner cooking. Hot dogs, onions, buns. There’s steam pouring off the hot plate. It’s cold outside. The food smells good. Harry’s mouth starts watering. He reads the sign. Three dollars for a hot dog, one dollar extra for onions, sauce is free. Harry checks his pocket. The eight dollars is gone. Two hotdogs worth. Gone to the belly of a homeless guy under a bridge.

The girls put their arms around each other. Harry puts his hands in his pockets.

People walking past have their arms crossed. Everyone is feeling the cold. It’s a deep cold. Even three Green Irons don’t numb it. Harry feels it. Smells the hotdogs again. The sweet hot steaming hotdogs.

The girls check Rebecca’s phone.

She speaks.

It’s one-minute away! Oh, come faster Mr Uber. I can’t wait to get into bed.

It arrives. Rebecca pulls away from Sophie. Runs to the door. Calls out.

It was nice to meet you Harry!

Harry smiles.

You too.

Sophie turns to Harry. Walks over.

They hug. Pull apart. Eyes. Kiss.

Sophie speaks.

It was nice to meet you.

Harry smiles.

You too.

Eyes. Eyes close. Kiss.

Harry pulls away. Smiles. Speaks.

You better go.

Sophie smiles.

It’s so cold!

Harry laughs.

Sophie speaks.

Are you going to write about me one day?

Probably.

Sophie laughs. Leans in, closes her eyes. Presses her lips against Harry’s.

Okay.

She turns around and gets in the Uber. Rebecca and Sophie wave as it pulls off. Harry waves back, walks across past the hotdogs, takes a big breath in through his nose. Looks at the chef.

They smell good.

Thanks man.

How to explain machine learning to someone who hasn't heard of machine learning

When you learned to ride a bike, you were terrible at the start.

Then your Mum told you had to balance a bit to the left you got better but you weren’t good.

A few more goes and you could ride without your training wheels.

After riding a bike 1,000 times it’s harder for you to fall over than not.

Machine learning is getting a computer to do things without explicitly telling it to do so. With things being finding patterns in data.

With lots of data, machine learning algorithms are like you riding a bike for the 1,001st time. Really good.

Without it, they’re like you riding a bike with training wheels for the first time, not so good.

How do they find the patterns? What’s data?

Data can be any kind of information. Pictures, text, numbers. But computers work best with numbers.

Machine learning algorithms find patterns by turning everything into numbers.

A picture is a combination of different pixels each with different colours. A pixel of value 255, 255, 255 is white, 0, 0, 0 is black.

To tell if a dog is an image, a machine learning algorithm processes the pixel numbers of images with dogs and images without dogs and remembers the differences. If the next image it sees numbers are closer to the ones with dogs, it will say there’s a dog in there.

The important thing to remember is the lack of context, you can’t ask the algorithm where the dog is. It will only tell you there is a dog.

Text can be turned into numbers too. If the word dog is 1 and the word pet is 0, the word car might be 75. Why? Because dog and pet are used in more similar context than dog and car.

This is how your email blocks spam automatically. If a new email gets converted to numbers and it looks like other spam email, converted to numbers, the new email will be classified as spam.

There are many more machine learning techniques I’ve skipped over but this is a good start.

If someone has never heard of it before, most people are visual learners.

Paint a picture for them.

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Source: https://qr.ae/TWnpbs

Making a call

A big sport game happens and a referee has 50,000 people watching her live.

There could be another 10,000,000 watching elsewhere.

She has to watch things play by play and make a call in a split second.

And with every call the audience will be divided. Half of them will love it. They’ll think she’s the best referee ever. The other half will hate her guts.

”The referee was terrible.”

Your best work will do the same.

Some will love it. Others won’t.

Make the call.

Getting Better at Nothing

There’s always something going on.

Limitless entertainment in your pocket.

Busy is worn as a badge of honour.

Things you wish you were doing get put off until some day. Some day rolls around and then they get pushed back again.

Free time gets filled with stimulation.

Your ability to avoid it and take advantage of it on demand will decide how your future plays out.

How?

Get better at doing nothing. Sitting. Staring. Not even thinking. Breathing. Sitting. Staring. Nothing.

Why?

Because when you’re working, you want to be working. When you’re with your family you want to be with your family. When you’re being entertained, you want to be entertained.

Getting better at nothing means presence. It means you’re able to sit there and be content with what is.

And that’s a skill worth learning.

The Hawthorne Effect

People change their behaviour if they know they’re being watched. It’s called the Hawthorne effect. It’s one of the reasons being an actor is so difficult. It also makes any kind of study on human behaviour very difficult.

If you know a researcher is going to be documenting how you behave, would you change the way you’re going to behave?

If you were in a nutrition study, would your eating improve if you knew someone was going to go through everything you ate?

When you’re at work, do you work harder when the boss is walking around?

While the Hawthorne effect makes any kind of observational study harder, you can use it to your advantage.

Even if someone isn’t watching, you can pretend they are. Your future self, your future family, the people you look up to, the people who look up to you.

What if they were watching?

What would you do differently?