40 for 40

I’m turning 41 soon, so I needed to get my list done while I’m still 40.

  1. Every decision we make, big and small, short-term and long-term, is an effort to improve our mood.
  2. Errrrybody got demons.
  3. Little is more powerful than writing. Look, it’s working! You’re getting to know me, and that’s a powerful thing.
  4. My favorite brands are the ones that appear to be most malleable. They aren’t precious about their logo. They adapt to the times. Their core is so strong their adaptations look effortless. Like caramel apple Oreos.
  5. I once heard a fella say “Everything is how it ought to be.” While I’m hesitant to agree entirely (see: racism, global warming), I still think about it. More is how it ought to be than first seems.
  6. Chili crunch. Can’t beat the LAOGANMA original.
  7. I’m so proud of my little girl. She’s so cool and smart.
  8. Most ideas are pretty good. Your app idea? It’s good. It’s gonna need a lot of massaging though. Work on it every day for 10 years and it’ll be great.
  9. Put on your own mask first before assisting others. Good advice. Better metaphor.
  10. Harmony singing is the coolest thing in the world. Almost every kind of music is cooler when the singers harmonize.
  11. The best confidence is hard-won. Any jerk can be cocky and appear confident, but actual confidence is born out of putting in the time and becoming an expert. Confidence is a success, repeated. When I was younger, and my mom would ask me to do something like set the time on her car stereo, I’d be like mom, I have no special knowledge of setting clocks on car stereos, if I do it or you do it, we’d just be pushing buttons. But what I realize now is that I had confidence with electronics that she didn’t. Even though I didn’t have any special knowledge, I did have confidence, grown through repeated successful encounters with similar problems.
  12. Invest in your tools. I’ve never regretted buying high-quality equipment that is for my job. You don’t save money by hanging onto a slow computer, it costs you money. In the same way, a cheap shirt ends up costing you more in replacements than a nice shirt. I know it’s a privilege to buy nice things. It’s not a requirement, I’m just suggesting you invest in yourself when you are able, particularly in the tools that are part of how you make money.
  13. It’s you more than the tool. It’s better to be the person with a banged-up old guitar that plays well than the person with a shiny expensive guitar who can’t play.
  14. Extra pickles. Like, triple pickles, kid. Keeeeep em coming.
  15. The difference between a fresh mind and a fried mind is dramatic. I can write 5 good emails when I’m fresh early in the morning in half the time it takes me to write one blah email when I’m out of gas in the late afternoon. The trick is to context-switch to something more low-energy friendly when you need to. Or, ya know, quittin’ time.
  16. Assume it will rain and prepare. Mostly mentally. The leaving the house tax is a bitch.
  17. You and me are very bad at most things. There just isn’t time to be even halfway decent at most things. Thank god we live in a society where I can, abstractly, trade my mad CSS skills for your mad luthier skills.
  18. Be a big fan. Good things will come from your enthusiasm.
  19. Explain yourself. If you think everyone is on the same page as you and understands exactly what you’re doing, you’re wrong. Don’t just disagree, explain. Talk it out.
  20. Sometimes the answer is baby bear porridge (right in the middle) and sometimes taking a middle ground stance is dangerous complacency. I worry I get this wrong sometimes.
  21. Generosity is rarely regrettable.
  22. I can’t decide if deep mastery in one area is better or if light experience across lots of things is better. Or which person is more fun to talk to. I guess that’s the point of T-shaped people.
  23. I’ve never regretted being a lifelong Apple fanboy.
  24. I don’t mind paying taxes but the system for it in the US is horribly confusing.
  25. “It’s amazing how much you can get done in a day if you just sit and you do it.” — Bill Tregle’s Dad
  26. I wish I could figure out why my brain knows what are healthy and unhealthy choices and let’s me make unhealthy ones anyway.
  27. URLs are an amazing idea. Make sure the things you do have a URL.
  28. Quoting extremely high prices for something you don’t really want to do is fair play, as long as if they say yes you really will wanna do it. A conference for example. You could triple your price for one you don’t terribly feel like doing. In practice, I find it more common that there is no satisfactory price, as when it goes up too high, I feel like I couldn’t deliver value at that level. A “no” must suffice.
  29. Email is good.
  30. Farts are hilarious.
  31. People have unshakable faith about all sorts of things. Arguing against those faiths never goes anywhere.
  32. Being able to affect change is oxygen. I’ve heard burnout is much about working too hard without affecting real change (in software: shipping) than it is about working too hard alone. I believe it.
  33. Why my back gotta be like that? Oh, right, all the bad choices.
  34. Camping is boring. That’s the secret. You’ll invent games. You’ll have conversations you never would have had otherwise. You’ll decompress.
  35. Three beers is a real sweet spot.
  36. “Breadsticks are like pizza without the sauce, that you dip in sauce.” — Jeff Penman
  37. Have someone take a straight razor to that neck hair.
  38. Everything has a learning curve. My snowblower has a learning curve. A remote control has a learning curve. An injury has a learning curve. Software has a learning curve. The shape of that curve is always different. There is no ideal shape, other than that the shape fits the value. Using a doorknob should not have much of a learning curve at all. Installing a doorknob has an upfront spike in the learning curve, and flattens quickly. Designing a doorknob has a long bumpy learning curve.
  39. Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.
  40. Guanabana.
  41. If you’re going for height on a nacho platter it really needs internal cheesing. Better: just go wide. Shallow and wide. Same with burgers. Thickness is silly. You can’t even eat these thick-ass burgers. You want a big burger keep it sensibly thick and go wide.
  42. It shouldn’t be so hard to replace the rubber splash guard on sink garbage disposals. You need to be a friggin master plumber to get at that thing, and yet it’s the thing that gets gross and needs replacing the most. It’s a conspiracy.
  43. If you push back just a little and ask for more, you’ll probably get it. That plants a little seed in people’s heads that will either sprout, polishing the idea, or wither, meaning the idea wasn’t that strong to begin with.
  44. Fucking yellow crayons. Everywhere I go they give the kid a bright white sheet of paper and a bright yellow crayon. Useless. How many billions of yellow crayons never make a useful mark in their lives? I went to one place and they had a deep yellow/orange crayon and it was triangular so it didn’t immediately roll off the table. Incredible.
  45. There is a lot of time wasted on theoretical problems. Say you did an audit on your website and found three different patterns for tabs. It’s easy to leap from that to declaring that problem and spending hours “fixing” it. But you jumped from audit to work before really putting your finger on the problem. I see and do this more than I’d like.
  46. It’s probably worth it just for the story.
  47. Whatever I’ll make lists as long as I want.



I work on CodePen! I'd highly suggest you have a PRO account on CodePen, as it buys you private Pens, media uploads, realtime collaboration, and more.

Get CodePen PRO
Back to Top ⬆️