Browsing posts in: Travel & Adventures

Say “Yes.” How my mom inspired and changed my life.

This is a photo from my mom's surprise "Bon Voyage" retirement party we threw in 2012. (Please excuse her casual outfit, her friend that brought her to the surprise told her they were going to the greenhouse so she's wearing her work-in-the-yard clothes. There is no excuse for my brother's outfit though.)

This is a photo from my mom’s surprise “Bon Voyage” retirement party we threw in 2012. (Please excuse her casual outfit, her friend that brought her to the surprise told her they were going to the greenhouse so she’s wearing her work-in-the-yard clothes. There is no excuse for my brother’s outfit though.)

One of the people to make the largest impact and influence on my life has been my mother and her focus on always saying, “Yes.”

This may sound like a small or simple thing, but it’s made an exponential impact in my life. It’s really easy for people to say “no,” or be negative and put up barriers in their heads, make up excuses on why they can’t do things, but her focus and indomitable spirit has made me who I am and often opened me up to new adventures and opportunities that my peers passed over.

There’s so many reasons she has been an inspiration to me, but I keep coming back to this key value she instilled in me, along with all the tertiary values of sacrifice, focus, indomitable spirit and hard work that help make saying, “yes,” a possibility.

Her focus on frugality (almost to ridiculous levels) and living well below your means allows you to save and prepare for saying “yes” when the right opportunity presents itself. She raised me to appreciate people and our time with them, not material goods or fancy clothes.

She always said yes to doing things herself, from DIY projects to always taking great care cleaning/maintaining/fixing the things that you do have around things around the house, to gardening and enjoying nature’s bounty, to almost always cooking at home and only going out to eat on special occasions (which is a polar opposite to how most people live in DC, and it still feels weird to me). Even when I go home now, she puts up a fight when I want to take her out to eat. …maybe that’s swinging too far in the other direction, but it’s this mindfulness with her money that has made her financially secure on a public school teacher’s salary. She did her best to learn early about the stock market and how to make your money work for you, by founding an investment club with other teachers, and she passed these skills on to me.

Even when she didn’t want to say yes, she stepped up and did her best at whatever she tried. She didn’t set out to be a teacher, she originally wanted to be an entomologist but back in her day there wasn’t many opportunities for women to do much besides teachers or nurses, especially in the sciences. So she buckled down and became the best teacher she could be, with many awards, degrees and generations of glowing and thankful students. In doing so, she taught me to be the best at whatever you do no matter what it is. Similarly, one of my photographer mentors in Chicago, John H. White always relayed this story from his father:

When John H. White was nine years old, a teacher told him that he would grow up to work on a garbage truck because he was slow in math. At home, his father told him to grow up to be his best, to look for the best in others, and if he were to work on a garbage truck, fine—just be sure he’s the driver. White has said that this was a turning point in his life.

Her focus on public and community service and giving back through your life’s work, spending more than 40 years teaching generations of children also had a huge impact on me as I’ve worked through journalism helping the public good and now in government service. She has been a giving tree her whole life and gave that trait to me.

She also inspired me in saying “yes” to embrace travel as much and as frequently as possible and to seek out interesting and diverse people and events to learn about. In high school, I had a crazy eclectic group of friends from preppy jocks to metalheads to rustbelt gear heads to computer nerds to poets and artists, and looking back on it, I think part of that was founded by her always fostering me to embrace all sorts of different people, places and things to explore the world and understand more.

She seeded in me the intensity and indomitable spirit to say yes and chase my dreams and make them a reality. She also sewed a frank and sometimes cynical/realistic (depending on your perspective) view of the world, but always looking to find the best in people and life.

While she’s a bit more of an extrovert and social butterfly, people often say that we share the same laugh — loud, jovial and infectious; you can always pick us out in a room. I’m proud to carry her likeness, legacy and hope to instill the “say yes” values into the people in my life.


For less than a flight change fee, get surprisingly easy expedited security and customs clearance when traveling by air

If you travel by air a several times a year, especially abroad from the U.S., you might want to consider signing up for one of the government’s expedited screening programs. After reading an article on Quartz, I took the plunge and was surprised by how easy it is. Now I regret not starting this process started earlier back when I was traveling more frequently for the BBG, but even now for personal trips and travel it will be a time and frustration saver for a fairly low fee.

For the price of less than some flight change fees, you can get Global Entry coverage for 5 years (for just $100) and if you are not in a rush to get things processed quickly, the Nexus program is an even better deal for $50 for 5 years with the same benefits. Here’s the description from Quartz:

Global Entry: It’s the most expensive program, at $100 for five years, but comes with the best benefits: You can skip the lines at passport control and customs when entering the United States and also enjoy TSA PreCheck, Nexus, and Sentri (explained below). The process of applying for Global Entry, which is administered by US Customs and Border Protection, also tends to be faster than the other programs.

Nexus: Choose this option if you want to save money and aren’t in a rush. It costs just $50 for five years and comes with all the same benefits as Global Entry and PreCheck. But the application process tends to take several months and can only be completed in a few cities near the US-Canada border. Nexus is designed to expedite crossing onto either side, with special lanes for cars and special kiosks at passport control in US and Canadian airports. (Note that Global Entry only gets you “Nexus” for crossing into the US; the full Nexus program also includes faster security screening in Canadian airports.)

While I tend to do the grandpa thing and show up hours before international flights and at least an hour before domestic flights, the Global Entry and Nexus passes can help you transfer customs and security faster, especially if you run late or miss a connection.


Road trip rebel: Get your electronic toll E-ZPass transponder from a different state to save money

 

TollTroll

The U.S. Toll Road system uses a uniform electronic standard for it’s digital transponders called “E-ZPass” but each state seems to have different monetization, discounts and billing models, so if you travel on a lot of toll roads (or never at all) you could have end up paying much more for getting and registering your E-ZPass in your home state. Check out Wikipedia for an awesome chart detailing all the fees, charges, minimums and discounts on the various state E-ZPass transponders to see your options.

The most notable difference to pay attention to: *Many* states charge monthly operator fees, regardless of if you use the pass. So if you’re like me and don’t make a ton local trips on the toll roads (unless my GPS fails me and I get lost) you could burn through your balance without doing anything.

Even though I don’t use it locally, I bit the bullet and got one for when I head home to visit family for a few reasons:

  1. There are several preferable/faster toll roads (and traffic on toll roads tends to be moving faster, less big trucks and less police, imho.)
  2. Paying cash at the toll booths almost always cost significantly more than using the E-ZPass (even before the state-based discounts)
  3. Using the electronic system also saves you time and gas because you don’t have to slow down, wait in line and pay — and at some toll booths especially in metro areas this can mean significant delays

For my needs, Illinois and Massachusetts seem to have the cleanest options, but ‘your mileage may vary’ ::rimshot:: depending on discounts you could get locally with your state’s option, so chose carefully.


Iceland travel pro tips (also one of my best purchases for 2014)

The Blue Lagoon outside of Reykjavik, Iceland towards the end of the 2015 solar eclipse (the timing was total dumb luck).

The Blue Lagoon outside of Reykjavik, Iceland towards the end of the 2015 solar eclipse (the timing was total dumb luck).

One of my best purchases of 2014 was a trip to Iceland with my brother (which we completed/traveled in 2015). It’d been a long while since we’d adventured together and besides the brother bonding, it was a fantastic expereince — Iceland is amazing. We did a 7-day trip from DC and it was the perfect amount of time to explore but not so much that we were bored. In fact, I’d love to go back again during a different period of the year because it seems like the country changes every three months with the seasons/sun. Here’s a handful of quick pro tips and things I wish someone had told me (or that I had listened to/prepared better ahead of time):

  1. Really research and plan the time of the year you’re going to go — it changes massively every 3 months — from Northern Lights to puffins to daylight, roads / sections of the island closed due to Winter weather. We’d planned to try and arrive around an Equinox, when the Northern Lights are generally at their peak/most active, so we went from March 19-26 (March 20th being the Spring Equinox). We also just happened to be there during a solar eclipse (total dumb luck) which was awesome during the morning of our trip to the Blue Lagoon.
  2. Bring good hiking shoes. Seriously, there’s a lot of hiking to get to the awesome waterfalls.
  3. Bring a good rain coat. Waterfalls are water. There’s also a lot of weather changes, quickly.
  4. Bring warm clothes that you can layer. Seriously. It’s called ICEland for a reason.
  5. Bring a good camera — with a firm tripod. Especially if you really want to capture the Northern Lights. (This was my biggest mistake/regret on this trip.)
  6. Food and drinks in general are quite expensive (even for a DC resident), so plan accordingly. If you can bring in any booze or easily transportable munchies like nuts to cover a meal or something you can save a lot. It’s easily $10-20 per meal, even at the cheaper/less fancy places. If you can’t/won’t bring stuff, hit up the grocery store and explore some of the local cuisine and munchies. Do some picnic breakfasts and lunches and save your self a ton for a daily dinner out. (The restaurants and food is also not that exotic for the most part — mainly English/American/European, so it’s not like you’re missing much by eating a few meals of PB&J).
  7. Hit up the Airport duty-free and city-tax-free booze. My brother read something that recommended doing this and I kind of blew it off as an arrogant, experienced world traveler with a George Costanza stance on Duty-Free, but Iceland is drastically different. If you plan on drinking booze in Iceland, when you get off your plane I’d highly recommend picking something up at the airport duty free shop. (And if you plan on partying a bit while abroad, I might recommend on planning some vorspiel pre-partying in your plans because it’s expensive to drink out in Iceland.)
  8. Buy 6 months ahead of time or in the border seasons and you’ll save half a grand easily. Figure out in general when you want to go a while ahead of time and then watch the travel deal sites. We found a pretty excellent deal through Travelzoo that included air, hotel and two day trips for just over $100 a day each (contingent on double occupancy).
  9. Or do an Iceland Air stopover en route to Europe. Another trip planning option to consider is Iceland Air also offers an awesome option to do a ‘stopover’ in Iceland en route to one of their many European destinations. We were originally going to do that, but found this Travelzoo deal and went with that instead.
  10. Don’t worry about the language. Everyone speaks English (My brother was concerned about this). Sure, things have crazy Icelandic names but language is not a barrier at all.
  11. Check out Sad Cars if you’re going to rent and drive a car around (which you should do). They’re really cheap, super mellow and friendly and you can bring the car back with whatever gas you want (no need to fill it up or fill it to X point like many rental places). It’s kind of like if a Youth Hostel ran a car rental place. They’re not the newest cars, but the savings are worth it. We booked online ahead of time and also saved 15%!
  12. Try the rotten shark, dried fish, Skyr (yogurt), hot dogs with mayo and crunchy onions. It’s a thing. The shark is not as bad as you would think — it just smells bad.
  13. Most of their gas stations are prepay by credit card with no attendants or any help. It’s a little different than most places in the U.S. so make sure you have a credit card that is going to work abroad without issue because there’s no one there to help you most of the time.
  14. Fill up on gas when you can if you’re not going in a high season. Some of the gas stations are few and far between and very small/easily missed.
  15. Reykjavik can really be pretty thoroughly explored in about 48 hours. The museums are ok, but not all ‘must sees’. The most unique one is probably the Penis Museum, which is quirky enough to be worth the admission (the gift shop is reasonably priced too). Most of the other museums and galleries I could take or leave.
  16. Check out the flea market downtown for decently priced souvenirs, random interesting stuff and people watching. Everything is pretty expensive in Iceland (if I haven’t made the clear yet) and souvenirs are no different. If you really, really, really need some Iceland wool, the best price I found was at the Reykjavik Market.
  17. I recommend making your highest priority: Get a car and get out on the outer ring highways exploring Iceland. Stop frequently. We enjoyed that most, by far. After all, it’s about the journey, not the destination.

I should also note, I consider this one the best purchases of 2014 because it was an amazing experience, not only traveling to Iceland, but to travel with my brother, whom I haven’t travelled with in a while. It was fantastic to reconnect and spend time together tooling around the island, like we used to do in out teens taking road trips with friends all over the Midwest and even across the country once. Traveling solo is great, but traveling with someone you care about and connect with is even better.


Get free frequent flyer miles for online purchases places you probably already shop

bonus

One of my other frequent flyer mile travel hacks to keep the airline miles you’ve earned (since they usually expire after a year or two) AND earn new airline miles on purchases you were already going to make through websites, is buying things through one of many airline Online Shopping Frequent Flyer portals. (I know, I know, this sounds spammy or like a pain, but it’s actually really quick and fairly painless.)

A bunch of the major airlines have these affiliate programs that give frequent flyer rewards when you purchase something after being directed from their airline portal. It takes 10 seconds extra and gives me hundreds of thousands of extra miles each year on things I was already buying from Groupon, Living Social, Dell, Verizon, Kohls, Home Depot, etc. There’s thousands of sites included with at least $1 to 1 point earnings (and many higher than that). Pair that with an airline credit card and you could double all your mileage earnings!

The process is simple:

#1 – Before making a purchase, I’ll check my preferred airline’s Online Shopping Frequent Flyer portal (this appears to be the same white-label company that manages the portal for all airlines, so the same stores for Southwest are available for Delta, etc.) and I also know pretty well what stores I frequent that are included so I don’t check every time:

#2 – I’ll hit the store link through the Airline portal I prefer to earn miles on (usually Southwest).

#3 – I’m briefly prompted to log into to my frequent flyer account (which all the password info is automatically filled and saved using LastPass):

#4 – It redirects me to the store I was going to shop and and I make my purchase as I normally would. After the purchase (and some processing time, the points get posted to my Frequent Flyer account).

That is it!

These airline portals also sometimes have increased earning rates and specials, but I don’t pay too much attention to that. If I make a purchase at the right time and get extra points, that’s awesome. I don’t watch the portal like a hawk or anything.

Pro Tip: The time it takes for miles to get posted to your account varies WIDELY from the companies and airlines, so buyer beware and maybe check in a month after purchase if you’re using this as your primary means of keeping an airline frequent flyer account alive or if it was a big purchase with big rewards.

 


How to use frequent flyer miles to get basically free magazine subscriptions

Notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Medium)

My Notorious RBG Time cover, well worth 500 miles on some random airline I never use.

For those of you who don’t travel frequently or use a specific airline regularly, you might have some frequent flyer accounts with a few hundred or thousand miles on them. I had a couple accounts with this since I tend to fly on a few specific routes/airlines.

A few hundred frequent flier miles are often too low a number to get any free flights or upgrades, not worth any substantial value to try and transfer to someone else to buy/exchange and if you don’t have regular activity with the airline for over a year or two, the miles will often expire and you get nothing — and often no warning. (Delta is the exception currently, where they don’t expire.)

One solution to get *some* sort of value out of these lonely and small amounts of miles is to cash them in on MagsForMiles.com, where you can exchange a few hundred miles (or sometimes a thousand for weekly publications) to get basically free newspaper or magazine subscriptions using something you’d lose anyway. By posting the activity in your frequent flyer account, you can keep it active and not lose everything completely and you get a free subscription in return.

I’m not a print guy, at all… even though I worked for print organizations expediting their shift to go digital, I try to do everything digitally and inexpensively/freely/quick/easily/no subscriptions, but this program gives me a chance to have 2-3 new publications a year on different topics I might not come across in my daily, focused reading and consume them for when I have down time to relax on the porch. They’re also good coffee table or bathroom basket material for the house, and sometimes you’ll find some gems of information, photos and collectible covers.

I’m currently subscribed to Outside, Fortune and Time — and the 500-some miles spent on Time was worth it to get this Notorious RBG cover (pictured). In the Winter, I will probably add Inc. and Fast Company soon (although I read those two online frequently so the print subscription is of little added value to me).


Save yourself packing time and prepare a travel ‘go bag’ for quick and easy digital tools on the road

packing for travel

One of the things I’ve been trying to do to focus and execute better in life is to automate and batch everything possible so you don’t have to deal with the cognitive load of making constant small decisions, especially when you have a lot of projects in motion and things to juggle.

If you travel frequently, you probably have a go-t0 toiletries bag pre-packed with all your supplies as needed, but in this digital day and age, it’s now necessary to start packing an electronics ‘Go Bag’ that waits in my suitcase in the closet so I don’t have to scramble to get everything together for each trip and do the packing, unpacking, repacking, planning each time.

On a recent trip to Iceland, I found myself missing a few items I needed (car adapters and chargers for a rental) and I’ve finally committed to buying/setting aside a pool of gear as my dedicated and relatively compact, travel ‘Go Bag.’

Here’s what I’m packin’ in my default digital travel kit:

  • Some sort of compact containment/organizer – A mini-dopp bag of sorts. I have a rectangular soft-side bag from Logitech that came with some sort of accessory I purchased a while ago (I can’t remember what it was) but this works great for me and the amount of gear I need. I’ve heard rave reviews of the Grit-It series of organizers, but I’m a little apprehensive about not having everything fully contained.
  • Gum – For chewing, relaxing, keeping fresh and keeping awake on late night drives. (I know this isn’t tech related but I keep it in this bag for some reason.)
  • Mini tripod (or selfie stick with some sort of tripod/steady option) – I bought a super cheap and easy aluminum one in Japan at an equivalent to a Dollar Tree store and it gets the job done. (This is another item I wish I’d brought to Iceland.)
  • Short USB cable – Compact and easy to pack up.
  • Long USB cable – I charge a lot of USB devices from USB, so I usually have a long cable from a Samsung S-series device but any will do.
  • Apple USB Cable – (Or get a USB combo cable like this to kill a couple of these in one cable — you can’t charge multiple devices at the same time though, which is why I carry the separate cords)
  • USB flash drive – A few GBs, just for quick computer-to-computer file transfers if needed. I just use a promotional giveaway drive from a conference.
  • Mini SD Card with Adapter – Most computers take SD cards and this is a great backup for file transfers, phone transfers (for those that take mini SD) and digital camera film backups.
  • External battery pack – I have an old one about the size of a deck of cards with two usb plugs so you can charge two devices at once from New Trent that is starting to show it’s age, so in the future I might upgrade to something with more space like this 10,000mah (!) Anker dual-usb unit or more compact like this Anker ‘lipstick’ 3200mah charger.
  • Some sort of headphones with microphone – I usually have a spare set of Apple iPhone headphones for Skype/Hangouts/phone calls, and also for sanity in loud places, but I sometimes also bring something with noise-canceling or bluetooth functionality for longer trips.
  • Monster 4 plug extension cable – A good option for compactness, multiple sockets and surge protection. It has this stupid blue light on it that can be annoying in a dark room when you’re trying to sleep but I’ve covered up with electrical tape. Belkin Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger is another good option (I prefer the Monster because of the space between the plugs so that you can plug in things with weird bricks that don’t block/collide like they would on the Belkin.)
  • Factory Apple iPad charger – Because it’s 2 amp and the metal plug prongs fold inside to keep it compact.
  • Factory Samsung charger – This doesn’t need to be Samsung specifically, but any 2 amp compact charger will work perfectly.
  • Lens cleaner rag – For cleaning glasses, camera lenses, phone glass, any give-away microcloth will work and should be compact and easy.

Car-involved Trip Add-Ons:

Conference Trip Add-Ons:

More Vacation-ish Trip Add-Ons:

  • Canon S110 Point and Shoot Camera – Great features and control with manual functions and a wide-wide lens. The zoom lacks, but zoom with your feet and you’re ok. I also have a spare battery from a previous Canon camera that uses the same system and chargers
  • Mini SD Card with Adapter – Most computers take SD cards and this is a great backup for file transfers, phone transfers (for those that take mini SD) and digital camera film backups.

 


Rainy day project: Chart your credit card benefits to know what to use where

GI JOE Knowing is half the battle.

Over the winter I was planning a bunch of trips this Spring abroad and I wanted to figure out if/which offered the best deals for insurance buying tickets, rental cars and other goods. I’ve always assumed if I used a credit card they had some sort of rental insurance coverage, but never compared side by side what it covered so this was a great educational exercise. And knowing is half the battle. I also wanted a quick reference method for knowing which cash back cards I should use where for the max kick back at various retailers.

Here’s what I pulled together digging into the credit card benefits and copying and pasting them over into a quick chart for my reference (the benefits change occasionally though, so keep that in mind). I color coded some of the benefits to see who’s best in different categories for quick reference. Feel free to clone and fill in your own card info.

I learned a good deal, including:

  • Most cards use pretty standard templates for their benefits, especially related to travel, but there were some noticeable differences on certain cards. Some were just terrible!
  • Most of the cards have extended warranties on purchases that cover things like theft, fire, damage also (which I’ve never used and suspect it it’s good to know and I’ll make my purchases a little more strategically in the future).
  • My oldest card is basically the dog of the group. I’m on the verge of shutting down. I never use it but still have it since it’s been such a long and positive credit history, I just have a few auto-paid bills running on it so they don’t close it, as Ramit recommends (#3).
  • If you buy a lot from Costco or Amazon (which I do) it’s probably a good idea to get both cards and use them at least for those retailers.
  • There’s a Chrome extension that I tried for a little while that would help you with deciding which cards to use on which websites, but I’ve kind of learned my habits and cards and don’t need it, but if you have a LOT of cards maybe it’s beneficial.

I’ve always been a cash reward credit card fan but recently read this piece on Racked about, “The Credit Card Obsessives Who Game the System—and Share Their Secrets Online” that has me debating if I might need to change my approach:

“Using points for travel is smarter from a financial perspective,” explains Joe Westreich, a 27-year-old accountant from Queens who follows several credit card blogs. “The option to get cash back is reliable, it goes to your bank account, but you really don’t get more than one or two cents per purchase. Using the rewards for miles, though, translates exponentially to dollars. It’s really like getting free travel.”

Some of the folks in the article seem like ultra-couponers, which can get crazy, but I love travel and I am at a period in my life where I’m free and available to do so (at least for the next couple years before I settle down), so maybe I should focus a little more on travel benefits for tens of thousands of miles instead of a few hundred dollars to get some free flights back to Asia, Russia, South America. I ‘bought’ my flight to Japan for my first Asia World Tour in 2014 with Delta miles and saved about $1,500.

If you’re looking to switch up your cards or compare benefits Nerd Wallet has a pretty fantastic tool for checking out your options for various rewards, airlines, other credit cards.

 


Happiness research: Spend on experiences, not things.

Check out this fantastic article on Fast Company, “The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things” with research about how buying material goods has limited effect on happiness, compared to shared experiences:

“One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation,” says Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University who has been studying the question of money and happiness for over two decades. “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”

“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” says Gilovich. “You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

I’m glad I learned this early on. (I’m a big ‘quality time’ love language guy over ‘gifts.’)


Welcome to Kaizen Will

Kai Zen - "Good Change" in Japanese

Kai Zen – “Good Change” in Japanese

Welcome to Kaizen Will, a new site about living a life of continuous improvement.

I have to thank my parents for my curious thirst for knowledge and constantly improving nature; they were both teachers whom with modest means, medium salaries and resources constantly strove for excellence, balancing frugality with finding a high quality of life and sought constant improvement and education to achieve this.

Throughout my life those values have influenced my journey. When I finished my Masters degree at Northwestern University, I made a promise to myself that school was not over; I was just beginning my voyage of continuous, lifelong learning and improvement.

I couldn’t have envisioned how massive, rapid and constant change came (and still comes) to the media and technology industry. But embracing kaizen helps you face that challenge. It translates to “continuous improvement” or “good change.”

This constant thirst for knowledge was channeled into into Journerdism.com (one of the early leading online media blogs), more than a decade of attending, speaking, leading and organizing workshops and training for the rapidly evolving media.

This practice also crosses over to my professional life. While at The Palm Beach Post, working as Interactive Projects Editor, a brilliant colleague, W. Mark Hartnett pointed me to the revolutionary business and management book, The Toyota Way, which discusses the practice of kaizen.

As I advanced in my career through project management and leadership positions, this principle continued to become a reoccurring theme in my life. From Jim Collins’ book Good To Great to getting certified as a scrum master building products with Agile processes — the same kaizen concept has been reinforced again and again in different forms and with different names.

This year I decided I wanted to get back on the horse and start creating some content and sharing my experiences and advice with the world. I wrestled with a lot of concepts for how to tackle my focus, but kept coming back to kaizen. How to change and evolve to get better and better and better. To go from having a good life, a good family, a good relationship to a great–the greatest life.

Will synonyms

And since I’m Will Sullivan, “Kaizen Will” seemed to fit perfectly.

The attitude.

The resolve.

The passion.

The discipline to create a life of continuous improvement.

Let’s start the journey and see where it takes us. :)

To start off, I believe I’ll focus on these Kaizen Will categories and topics (subject to change/grow/shrink as the blog evolves):

  • Management & Leadership – Throughout my career I’ve been fortunate to have some amazing mentors and bosses and a couple some terrible bosses — and I’ve learned immensely from both, as well as extensive study on how to develop as a manager and leader in the modern tech and media business and entrepreneurship world. I’ll share best practices, advice, lessons learned and things “I wish someone had told me” so that you can improve yourself.
  • Money & Personal Finance – Being fiscally responsible, frugal and smart about your spending, saving and investing helps give you the resources to enjoy time, stuff and share with people, so I’ll share what I’ve learned to help you get this in line.
  • People & Relationships – People are the most important part of my life. From inspirational mentors, family, friends to speakers, authors or even characters in fiction, our humanity and relationships are what helps humans to survive and thrive. Growing from a socially-awkward, introverted teenage nerd up to a professional executive has had it’s growing pains and plenty of bruises and bumps along the way. I’ll share what I’ve learned to help others on my journey, as well as stories about people who have been inspirational.
  • Travel & Adventures – Travel and finding adventures ‘exploring the infinite abyss’ is a huge part of my life. From finding quirky local secret spots to backpacking across Asia alone, I love exploring new cultures, places and perspectives. I’ll share some of my best practices and pro tips here.
  • Recommended Gear, Books & Stuff – I was raised rather frugally and to appreciate a Spartan, non-consumerist life, relish libraries and shared resources, so this definitely isn’t a shopping blog or anything, but also to appreciate and take care of the things you do purchase.
    • Best Purchases of … – The past few years I’ve really relished a few purchases that have changed or enhanced my life. These might not be indestructible “Buy It For Life” items, but they’ve really been great purchases that have added a lot of value for me.
    • Buy It For Life – Gear that will last your entire life (or close to it) that you can give to your grand kids (largely inspired by the BIFL Sub-Reddit I’m a huge fan of).
    • Treat Yo SelfLike Tom and Donna on Parks and Rec said, sometimes you gotta treat yo self. This is once-in-a-blue-moon stuff to splurge on that I’ve found worthwhile. They might not be ‘buy it for life’ or the best purchases, ever, but they were worth it on special occasions.

Welcome to Kaizen Will.

Let’s all get better together.