August 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Expanding Your Passion

Here’s an exercise I just came up with as a method to expand and pivot my passions. Start out with something that excites you, something that you’re really passionate about. Visualize that this activity or idea is just a lake that’s part of a big network of lakes, rivers, streams and oceans of passion. An example for me is running the Madison PHP Meetup Group. #

Next start asking yourself questions. Why is this important? What about this jacks you up? Is this a subset of a larger passion of yours? We need to swim into the other bodies of passion that feed into or out of this idea. For my example I love running the PHP group because I enjoy teaching and helping people, solving problems, learning new things and sharing what I know. #

Repeat the last step a few more times. Ask more questions not only on the original idea but on all the related ideas that you’re discovering. Pick some other things that you’re passionate about and work through the exercise on those ideas too. You’ll probably start to find overlap between things. These are your core passions. Other things I’m interested in are self development and entrepreneurship. #

Once you have a giant list of ideas and activities and passions try to organize them. One way could be creating a mind map so you can look at how every idea is related. #

The final step is to start coming up with some new ideas and activities. This can be done by finding patterns in what you see or by expanding or refining the ideas you already have. You’re not trying to find more things that you’re currently doing, but rather new things that you would probably be passionate about if you were doing them. These ideas can be things to strive for or to start working on. For myself since I like teaching and helping people and I’m also interested in entrepreneurship I’d probably be very passionate teaching entrepreneurship. Now I’m not currently qualified to do this, but it’s something that I could start working on. #

Why is this useful? If you’re someone like me who’s interested in starting their own business, you’ll be happier doing something that you’re passionate about (and probably more successful). The larger the pool of passions you have, the more chances you’ll have to find one that can be built into a profitable business. #

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

RSS, FlipBoard and Me

Recently I privately declared RSS bankruptcy. I had managed to tame my feeds in such a way that I could usually get through everything and some days I’d just clear out my low value feeds in order to keep up. Then on June 30th, I attended an online webinar “Escaping the Techno ADD Loop” and as part of it, I asked the question of how to keep up with RSS? Obviously, I don’t want to miss out on anything important. Well, first after I explained my organization system they pointed out that I should probably just kill my low-value folder. They also mentioned that if a website is important enough, you’ll check it on your own and if you don’t, maybe it isn’t that important. #

It really hit home with me because I was getting tired of being the guy always on his phone “checkin’ my feeds” every single moment of my day. So I went in there with a big knife and now I only follow 8 feeds. And of those 8 feeds only three of them post daily. I can now check my RSS feeds once in the morning and be done with it. Maybe if I feel like it after lunch I’ll check it again but there will be like one or two posts. I’m not feeling very liberated not having the Google Reader noose hanging around my neck. #

So I have been without a feed reader for almost a month and a half now. Then on Monday, I had lunch with my good friend Dan and he brought up Flipboard which is sort of like a digital magazine that pulls its content from your social networks. I connect it to facebook and twitter and I get instant magazines. It doesn’t show everything, but somehow curates the content and lays it out in a very attractive layout. The Facebook content is not particularly good, but I’m very impressed with the content it pulls out of Twitter. In addition to my main twitter feed, it allows me to create magazines from specific Twitter users or lists. #

So far I think this is a good replacement for RSS feeds. If some piece of news is really important it will probably show up in one of these magazines. It also does not require me to dig through lists of noise as it just selects some of the best parts and makes it really easy to scan. I can check this once or twice a day and not feel like I have to clear out everything. Right now you’re still somewhat limited with how you create magazines. The twitter search is pretty limited and there is (as far as I can tell) no RSS integration. I can’t complain too much since it’s a free app. #

Published by Andrew Shell on and last updated .