What I’ve Learned – 30 Day Challenge – Day 30

candle light

Image courtesy of Duncan Verrall

Today is the last day of my 30 day challenge to write more. This was definitely a fun exercise that I would like to do again in the future.

Overall, I’d have to say that finding the time to write has been the most challenging. Fortunately I have a lengthy commute so that allows for some extra creative time.

What I Have Learned

Once I started a post the ideas began flowing and the writing came easier and easier. Did some posts feel rushed? Yes. Would I liked to have spent some more time developing ideas on a few posts? Yes.

When time allows for it I will revisit my older posts and build out the ideas some more. This will allow me to further research some topics and create richer content.

I gave myself a personal deadline every morning to have a blog posted by 8am. There were only a few times I missed this deadline but posted later that evening (11pm) when I was able to pick up where I left off.

Certain topics required more research than others; those are the ones I’d like to revisit most at some future point.

Research became incrementally easier as my thoughts were planned out before I started searching.

Having a focal point helps to jumpstart research so we’re not lost in some informational void.

My Plans for Future Posts

Writing every day has made me realize that not only can it be done but I thoroughly enjoy doing it.

It bothers me to see that some posts fell short of 300 words as my goal was for each to be upward of 500 words. So, for future posts, my goal is to spend more time researching and developing ideas which will allow for longer, more thorough posts.

When I’m not writing on my website I also write for my company’s blog about various search topics, trends and tools.

This allows me to write in a slightly different style so I am able to exercise more creativity and expand upon my ability.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my musings on all the different topics that were written about over the last 30 days. Thank you all for taking the time to read them and I hope you enjoy what’s to come.

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Watches – 30 Day Challenge – Day 29

Italian Timepiece

Image courtesy of me

Watches are great. There are so many different styles to choose from, each with different types of movement. Over the past few years I have amassed a nice collection that will hopefully continue to grow.

Speaking of movement, there are two main types of watch movements that power watches. One is quartz and the other is mechanical.

How Watch Movements Work

Quartz movements can be found in many of today’s affordable watches in stores. The watches requires a battery to power its movement so there is not much that goes into the manufacturing of the mechanics. This also cuts down on the cost of the device.

Mechanical movements are more traditional and can be found in the higher end models such as Piaget, Rolex, Breitling or Patek Phillpe.  Since there is usually no battery, they store kinetic energy in a tightly wound spring that is wound by the wearer.

Mechanical watches can either be manual or automatic. Manual watches require that the crown is turned to wind the appropriate gears. Automatic watches contain a counter weight that uses a persons natural movement to turn the appropriate gears.

Another watch I have has a unique feature in that it is solar powered. The citizen eco-drive captures both natural and artifical light and converts them into evergy. This energy then powers the quarts movement battery for up to six months.

Don’t expect to see a traditional photovoltaic cell like you would on the roof of a house, this watch is cleverly designed and you would never be able to tell that it’s powered by light.

The Future of Telling Time

I’ve noticed in recent years, there seems to be a correlation between the rise in cellphone use and people not wearing watches as much. It could be that the time is digitally displayed large enough for everyone around us to see on our phones or that the times are changing (see what I did there?).

So what does that mean for the future horology?

Absolutly nothing. Watch makers are not going anywhere as long as there watch enthusiasts willing to don new timepieces.

Speaking of new, that brings me to my next topic, the smart watch. Maybe I just don’t understand it but it’s baffling to me why someone would essentially want a remote control for their cellphone on their wrist.

I consider myself to be a private person and dislike call center phone systems that require us to speak with no numerical equivalent for the menu options. So speaking my emails and text replies doesn’t seem all that appealing to me.

Yes, I get the convenience factor of having access to a handful of apps that are easily accessible but is it really that much of an extra effort to take a phone out of your pocket to do what you need to?

Let’s suppose for a second that I’m wrong here and smart watches are great. What about the fashion aspect of it? I have roughly a dozen watches that I rotate often so I get to wear a different one every day, depending on my outfit. A smartwatch has one style, one look that you’re married to when you make that purchase.

But maybe I’m right? According to this article on marketwatch, Apple’s smart watch sales have not been doing too well.

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New Batteries – 30 Day Challenge – Day 28

Star Wars Batteries

Image courtesy of Jim Bauer

I, as I’m sure many of you reading this, have many electronic items that are used on a daily basis. The challenge here is transporting all of them when commuting and worrying about keeping them charged long enough to use them.

A while ago I purchased a portable charger which was great for powering up my phone and iPad at the same time. This was perfect for conferences and traveling but wasn’t enough juice for a laptop.

These days I don’t rely on portable backup power so much as I have my routine timed pretty well. Still, I wish batteries in general would last longer than they do currently.

Apparently, I got my wish.

Many companies, including Apple, have been rethinking the battery. They [Apple] have figured out how to stack electrode sheets on top one another so they can be placed in any size they need to be.

See, the way batteries work, lithium ion batteries, is that they move electrons back and forth between both ends of a battery. This releases energy that powers the device they’re used in.

Stacking as many electrode sheets as possible into one battery could mean we would be able go days without charging our devices. We may be a few years away from that but I’m optimistic and would like to see it soon.

Until that time arrives there are several alternate methods we can use to charge our devices:

Do you have any clever or unique ways you charge your devices?



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Chapman Stick – 30 Day Challenge – Day 27

chapman stick

Image courtesy of stick.com

Yes, another item to add to my want list (it seems that I want a lot of things, doesn’t it?). Today’s item is an uncommon instrument called the Chapman Stick.

The Chapman Stick, or stick, is a guitar / bass hybrid that is played solely with ones fingers. There are a few different models available, I’m looking at the 12-string one.

How It’s Played

I’ve been playing bass over 20 years, 6-string for about 16 of those years so I’m no stranger to the pizzicato method of playing.

The Chapman Stick uses a slightly different method called two-had tapping or two-hand touch.

Players can tap out the rhythm with their left hand and simultaneously tap out the melody with their right. The tuning on this instrument is going to take some getting used to because it’s essentially two guitars with a few bass strings in the middle.

The guitars strings that are played with the left hand, rhythm, are tuned standard while the strings played with the right hand, melody, are tuned backwards.

While I don’t see this instrument in my immediate future, maybe you’ll see a picture of me surface playing one if I ever decide to start playing in a band again.


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Finish Lines – 30 Day Challenge – Day 26

Finish LIne

Image courtesy of Andrew Hurley

Since I’m nearing the completion this month’s 30 day challenge, I’m looking to start a new one next month.

This time I’d like to exercise more so I recently I cleaned off the treadmill and ran a few times.

I used to run track in high school and loved doing cardio when I exercised more frequently years ago. My intent is that this new challenge will spark something within and allow me to work exercising into my daily routine.

July’s 30 day challenge, to write more, has opened my eyes to what is possible for my writing and I would like to continue that trend on new challenges every month.

Once the new challenge is over you can expect an update on this post. Keeping it short today because I’m pressed for time but I’ll update this shortly with my progress.


***Update 9/11/2015***

I have been running almost daily since writing this post and have seen many benefits as a result. From a health perspective I am down five pounds and no longer get winded when running for my train.

From a mental clarity point of view I have time to work through and think on ideas for future blog posts. It’s nice to be alone with your thongs on a particular topic for certain period of time as I found it really enhances focus on the subject matter.

It’s difficult to fasten my computer to my treadmill otherwise I’d probably have converted it into a walking desk by now. That may be a project for a future date. Until then, I’m happy with my current progress and increasing my Fitbit steps.


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Rainwater Collection – 30 Day Challenge – Day 25

rainwater collection barrel

Image courtesy of Paul Sableman

Another item to add to the want list of life. A rainwater collection system.

Living in New York, we water our lawns every other day, when there isn’t a drought, to preserve our water supply. Having a system like this would allow me to water my lawn every day since I wouldn’t be using any reserves.

So, how does a rainwater collection system work?

How Rainwater Collection Works?

There are a few different types of rainwater collection systems available but for today I’m just going to cover ones to water lawns.

In order to set this up, a storage tank is fitted next to our house or garage near the gutters; this allows water to be collected in different sized containers (tanks). The incoming water is filtered so leaves and other debris are not transferred in.

The storage tanks range from 40 gallons to over 100,000 gallons for larger properties. For my purposes I think something on the lower end would be sufficient.

The water you have collected in the barrel (or tank) can then be used as if thought you were turning on hose on the side of your house.

Unlike other states,  there are no laws in New York that prevent us from collecting rainwater. This makes me want to start this project even sooner since there are no legal ramifications preventing me from doing so. Unfortunately, there are no incentives awarded by my state like they offer in California but that is not a deterrent.

I have been looking at the different and clever ways people have been setting up their systems and have found some really great ones here and here.




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Marketing Like A Rockstar – 30 Day Challenge – Day 24

U2 at Madison Square Garden 7/23/2015

U2 at Madison Square Garden 7/23/2015

Last night my amazing wife and I saw U2 at Madison Square Garden. This was my fourth time seeing the band and they continue to impress.

Bono belted out every song with record quality vocals and the other band members, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullens Jr. did not miss a note (or beat).

Stepping back and looking at the big picture though it got me thinking; this one band has managed to create something so spectacular that it motivates thousands of people to move pack out an arena and move on command.

Naturally, the marketer in me started think, how can this be applied to marketing?

The Rockstar Approach to Marketing

Large eCommerce sites such as Amazon do an incredible to job of bringing in many customers who make purchases and keep coming back.

Like a band that puts out multiple chart topping albums, Amazon has found their sound and audience. But how?

Testing, Testing and More Testing

Bands don’t write one song and expect to sell out the garden overnight. We’ll, maybe some expect it but it never actually

U2 at Madison Square Garden 7-23-2015

U2 at Madison Square Garden 7-23-2015

happens that way.

When you’re in a band, building a fan base requires multiple songs, usually in the same genre, that resonate with the user.

Amazon does an amazing job of supplying content to the user, us, which keep us all coming back in droves like fans of a band that pack out an arena. Not content in the form of a blog but in the form of descriptions and UGC, user generated content.

That UGC are reviews and images supplied by us, the user. Like a band that makes music videos and constantly puts out new merchandise, Amazon’s product level content is build out to keep us engaged.

Success at this magnitude does not happen overnight but U2 definitely deserve everything they have worked to achieve; Amazon deserves every new and returning client they have. Both have done incredible jobs marketing themselves and providing us with amazing content.

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Resolutions Revisited – 30 Day Challenge – Day 23


Image courtesy of DeltaWorks

We’re just about eight months in to 2015 and I though this would be a good time to see how I’m doing on the resolutions I’ve made earlier this year.

Previously, long before the snow has had a change to melt, the promises I’ve made to better myself were tossed aside and forgotten as I’m sure is true for many of you reading this.

But this year has been different. So far I’ve managed to stay focused and keep those promises I made to myself. The promises to make more time for myself, to write more and to be more organized. I’ve even made a few more along the way like exercising and taking a new route to work everyday.

Getting In The Zone

How, do you ask, am I able to keep up with the promises I made to myself? To keep the resolutions that are often tossed aside and forgotten like a New Year’s Day hangover ?

The trick is to get in the zone before the date approaches. Psych yourself up in advance and start to incorporate elements of the new resolution in you daily routine. This way it’ll be an easy transition once the date approaches.

For years now, about six months before my birthday, I’ve been telling myself I’m a year older than I am so when my birthday approaches, it’s not a shock and I’m used to the number.

The same methodology was applied here. I took a new way to work a few times, started waking up earlier and experimented with cloud storage tools to better organize my thoughts.

Staying In The Zone

The next logical question is, how do I stay committed to these resolutions? Well I’m glad you asked.

Incorporating the changes in my routine before New Year’s Day definitely helped but winters in New York can be brutal. So waking up early isn’t fun, neither is experimenting with new routes to work when the air is so cold it hurts your face.

Some ways to help stay focused on your resolutions are as follows:

  • Set Reminders
    • Set a reoccurring reminder on your phone, once a month, and list the resolution(s).
    • This will help to remind & reinforce what you originally set out to accomplish.
  • Set Goals
    • Setting goals makes it real. When we have a deadline for a specific goal, it drives us to stick to achieving of.
  • Tell People
    • Sharing what you set out to achieve with friends, family & coworkers.
    • Everyone will ask you about your progress which should be a motivating factor to continue.

It’s ok and natural to not keep up with a new regimen; do not get discouraged. Follow the steps above and you’ll be right back on track in no time.

I’d love to hear from you if you have made a resolution this year and stuck with it. Are there any ways not mentioned here that help you stay focused with achieving your goals?

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Fortress Of Zen – 30 Day Challenge – Day 22


I used to let a lot of things bother me, and I mean a lot of things. In recent times however I’ve come to realize that it takes more

zen stones

Image courtesy of Ervins Strauhmanis

effort to get upset over something than it does to just let it go.

And, like the song in Disney’s Frozen, I have learned to let it go.

Nature vs. Nurture?

Was I predisposed to overreacting and getting upset over something for no reason? Was I born with a hypersensitivity to my surroundings? I mean, is it possible to be allergic to close talkers or people chewing with their mouth?

No and no. At least I don’t think so.

Our physical traits, hair, eyes, nose, etc, are inherited from our parents. Often we’ll hear, “oh you look just like your father,” or “you have your mother’s eyes.” But the nature vs. nurture debate argues that our personality traits are learned (nurture) and are not inherited.

Could growing up in New York have made me bitter? (I hope you read that last sentence with as much sarcasm as it was written with).

It’s very possible that seeing people around me get upset over trivial things for years could have shaped my perception of how I was supposed to act. 

Retraining My Brain

I realized it wasn’t healthy to be upset and angry all the time so I sought to alter my perception of everything around me.

One quote in particular resonated a lot with me and made me realize that I was responsible for my own happiness.

The mind is everything. What you think you become.

What you think, you become. Amazingly simple. There is was staring right back at me, my answer to how I was going to change. This quote prompted me to shift my thinking on many different levels.

Some examples of things that would annoy me:

  • People chewing with my mouth open
  • Loud (cell phone) talkers on the train
  • Commute Delays
  • Tourists

It took some time but I eventually started to rethink my approach to how I dealt with certain situations. No longer would I let these things bother me and fester within.

My approach to these situations now:

  • People chewing with my mouth open
    • I’m happy we live in a society where we’re able to get food when we want it and that no one around me is starving. Perhaps that particular person never learned to eat with etiquette, I can’t be concerned with that.
  • Loud (cell phone) talkers on the train
    • I’m not familiar with their story. Maybe that particular conversation will lead to a better job or they are closing on a house. Either way there must be a good reason for them to be disturbing the peace of everyone around them.
  • Commute Delays
    • Though it’s not fun being held to by something that is out of our control, it’s just that, out of our control. I’m just glad I have a seat and can remotely log in to my work computer if necessary. I’ve also noticed that the more patient I am, the faster the delays appear to be resolved.
  • Tourists
    • I could write a novel on how annoying tourists can be. On the flip side however, we’ve all been there; lost in another country or confused and turned around. So what did I do to change my insight on this? I started helping them: offering directions, offering to take their picture, etc. I can’t help them all but the ones I do stop to help are very appreciative.

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.


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Running Out Of Ideas – 30 Day Challenge – Day 21


Courtesy of Fabian Schmidt

Deadlines are not fun. Neither is running out of ideas. So what can we do when we’re starved for ideas? Why, rethink our approach of course.

When the Well Dries:

Something I’ve had difficulty with in the past was getting stuck on an method or approach to writing. Since my career is in SEO I naturally thought that every post had to be about the newest, most recent trends. While that would bring in the traffic, it’s difficult to maintain that type of momentum without a staff of writers.

I needed to refine my approach to what I was writing about.

Not every post needed to be about new search trends or what Google is planning with Google+. I could write about the tools I use at work every day or a ways to be more efficient.

Looking at something from a different angle can help to provide a new approach to something that seemingly has no resolution.

So, what does all this mean? It means I’m about to give you some ideas on ways to create new content for your blog.

Ideas for Blog Posts:

Have you ever found yourself staring at your screen, waiting for the content to create itself? I think we all start off that way to

some degree.

So how can we avoid that momentary lapse of uncertainty?

Revise, revisit and re-purpose.

What does that mean? I’m glad you asked.

We can revise our old blog content and ensure that it’s up-to-date so our posts are timely an relevant. Then, we can revisit our older posts an re-purpose the content.

By taking our older posts that aren’t seeing the activity it they once were, we can re-purpose the content in a new fashion so that it elicits a responce for our readers. How you ask?

Take a post about something you wrote, maybe your favorite SEO tools. Revise the content slightly and make the post a survey. Create a Google form and ask the readers what their favorite tools are. You can then follow up that post a few weeks later with the results from that survey.

A month after that you can do a comparison of the tools that were chosen the most. In every new post there is opportunity to link back to the original post, with little or no new content. You didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, just revised what was already there.

Is There Anything Else I Can Do?

Depending on the type of content you’re reevaluating there is always an opportunity to revise the content. Here are some ideas to help get you started:

  • Hold a Contest
  • Write a Lists
  • Create Product or Software Reviews
    • This can also be a comparison post
  • Create a quiz
    • What is your readers knowledge of something, then turn those results into a post

The important thing to remember is to not be discouraged when you first sit down, turn on your computer and are staring at a blank screen. Revise, Revisit and Re-purpose is my advice to you.

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