What’s your “Blessed Score”?

Calculate your current blessed rating out of a 100 point scale.

 

Point Values:

You’re reading this: 98.5 points 

(This factors in the fact that you are alive and have the means to access the internet and the wealth of information it provides.  We can further deduce that you have the means to feed yourself, access to clean drinking water, and have your other essentials covered.)

You are in love: 10 points

You have children: 10 points 

You have grandchildren: 10 points

You have great grand children: 10 points

You make a living doing what you love: 5 points

You’re debt free: 5 points

You purchased Apple stock before 2000 and still own it: 5 points

 

Now total your score:

98.5 – 100: Blessed

100 – 109.5: Really Blessed

110 – 119.5: Crazy Blessed

120 and over: Mega Blessed

I’m Really Blessed on my way to Mega Blessed and chances are you are too.

Give thanks for today and wish yourself and others well.

 

Thank You Everyone – But Seriously – I’m Just a Regular Guy

Dear Family, Friends, Strangers, Future Associates, and World Wide Web,

Earlier this week, I posted about my experiences running a Piggy Back Spartan Race with my sister Carden.  It was an extraordinary experience, taking a stand against muscular dystrophy and not letting it define what can and can’t be done physically.  That post, and some of the facebook photos, have gotten quite a bit of web traffic and social media attention, and for that I’m very grateful of the power of the web and sharing.  I’m also extremely thankful for those of you who have donated to our mission – we set out with a $500.00 goal and raised $690.00 – awesome stuff.  People I haven’t connected with in years are reconnecting and reaching out and that is a wonderful thing.  Simultaneously, I’m being flooded with personal emails, comments, and speaking face to face about how inspiring that story is, and for that I’m incredibly thankful and we feel the love and support from each of you.  So much adoration this week, it honestly feels like Carden and I can do no wrong in this moment.

cw-sw-spartanrace

So Here’s The Thing People…

I am a regular guy who does regular guy good things and regular guy bad things and I fail quite often, usually in a forward direction, or so I think.

The reason I’m sharing this is because I can see (ever so slightly now) how a ton of “overnight” attention can get into a person’s head and mess with their psyche.  I also don’t want to be portrayed as this super great brother guy who can do no wrong and has it all figured out.  Yes I love my sister, yes I struggle with the fact that she struggles every single day, yes we ran an extraordinary Spartan Race, but that doesn’t mean I’m this Golden Child either… I have tons of faults that I’m working on.  And personally, I don’t want to have any Kony 2012-ish meltdowns of my own – so I’m writing today with the intention of self inflicting some humility on myself and giving my audience some more honest truths about me.  I’m really nervous about sharing all of this, but I think that’s a good place to be.  Some people might even respond back to this and say, “Spencer – you shouldn’t share all of your faults, insecurities, and misbehaviors online because now people will perceive you as those things.”  To that I say, maybe they will, maybe they won’t…  I consider this as a step towards living my life with full transparency.  If I have nothing to hide, there’s nothing anyone can do or say to break me down or have against me.  This post is a test of strength, and most of the time those tests are uncomfortable and difficult – so here goes…

List of my Not So Perfect, Often Disgusting, Just a Regular Guy things I do:

I sometimes leave the seat up after I pee standing up… OK, most of the time I leave it up.

Sometimes when I pee standing up, it splashes everywhere – and sometimes I clean it up right then… but sometimes I don’t.

Usually I brush my teeth twice a day, sometimes it’s only once, there was a time in my life where it was less often than once a day admittedly…

I have really bad smelling farts and they reload often… particularly recently.  I think it’s because my nutrition and gut health hasn’t been top notch recently.

My feet smell after a long day of being in socks and that only gets worse if you throw a workout in the mix.

I drink alcohol, typically only on weekends – beer, wine, whiskey, tequila

This morning, I had Oreos for breakfast – that was before finally getting motivated to going to the store to buy eggs and bacon.  This is not completely out of the ordinary.

I will pick my nose, usually in the car or when I’m deep in thought at a computer.  Most of the time I don’t realize I’m doing it, but sometimes I do, but then I keep doing it anyway.  It’s super gross, but sometimes I eat those boogers too.

I used to have an addiction to pornography – the temptations are still there and I give in to the temptations occasionally and then feel bad about it afterwards like an AA person who slips up.

I stress all the time about money – how I don’t think I’m making enough or worried that I won’t have enough to live the lifestyle I want to live or support a family.

I’ve smoked marijuana, I inhaled it, and I still do in moderation.

I’ve never been in a fist fight and often wonder how I would do in one… that being said, I have been hit in the face by a punch – but I don’t remember how or why it happened… I was probably being a dick at the time which brings us to the next point…

I’ve been to jail 3 times – all three were misdemeanors, all three were alcohol related, all three were expunged.

I can be a jerk sometimes, usually unintentionally, and there are times when I feed into other people’s gossip or create gossip – I’m not proud of it and am getting better at putting out those unnecessary, destructive fires.

I have taken psychedelic drugs before – but haven’t done so in years.

I have taken a picture of my man parts before and sent it to someone full well knowing it will probably live somewhere on the internet forever.

I can get really angry, but most of the time keep a cool head and am good under pressure.

I get down on myself pretty easily and often because I constantly have high expectations for my accomplishments.

That’s all I can think of at the moment – there’s probably more – but for now, weight lifted.

Why did I just share all this?

Because you needed to know and it strengthens me to share it with you.  The truth is, I want to be an inspiration to others and educate masses of people along the way, and that mission is a journey… and it would be undeserved, irresponsible, and untrustworthy of me to just accept current and future adorations without sharing my faults that make me (and You) human.  So that’s where I’m currently at in my human process – I hope you see this post as an act of courage versus a chance to judge, ridicule, or start your own gossip cycle.  The things I’ve shared might close some doors, and I’m ok with that.  However, as God as my witness, I think the doors it will open will be doors I’m more interested in walking through.

Thank you for your support and your readership.  More great content coming to you soon.

-Spencer Wyckoff

1st Hackathon — Great Success

This was an absolutely crazy weekend.  Not only did I participate in my first Spartan Race, but I also participated in my first hackathon – sponsored by The Iron Yard Academy and SolTech.

Now if you don’t know what a hackathon is, don’t worry, I’m only about a week ahead of you, for I didn’t know what it was either until it was announced.  Basically, the Atlanta based tech company, SolTech, had some of their movers and shakers come in and pitch 3 different application ideas to our cohort.  We split up the Iron Yard students into 6 different groups, 2 per project idea.  My group had the privilege of creating a sports management app for managing recreational sports leagues – we called it Genius Sports.

gs-logo

 

Genius Sports, the smartest way to manage your recreational sports team, was a blast to produce.  Our group, consisting of 2 front end developers, 3 back end developers, and 2 iOS developers were able to create a nice looking, basic functioning prototype in 36 hours.  We had great communication throughout the project and our back end server guys were particularly solid.  They had our endpoints and documentation produced in no time and were forging on, creating functionalities that we knew we weren’t going to be able to get to in the short time given, a nice problem to have.  It was a great project to be a part of and I made some great strides working with Angular.js.

Presentation Day:

In real world fashion, each of the projects were presented as if we were asking for funding from investors.  It felt like our very own Shark Tank.  This is where I really shine, giving presentations is in my DNA.  My mother is a 5th grade teacher, my father is a musician and long-time church choir member, and I’ve taught 2 years of CrossFit classes and attended 4 years of business school at Georgia Tech – giving a great presentation is my ace of spades and comes very naturally, plus I enjoy it.  So I volunteered to give our product presentation and am very glad I did.  We ended up winning the best presentation accolade and got noticed by some employers in the industry, pretty cool.  Even though we were a fictional company, I wanted to give the impression that we were the real thing and make it feel like we wanted the audience’s business.  That meant not getting too technical, not showing any code, and focusing on the consumer benefits and the why’s.  It was a fun exercise and a memorable experience overall.  All of the groups did an excellent job creating functional products in under 36 hours and major props to the Iron Yard faculty who organized it for us.

 

 

The Tale of the Piggy Back Spartan Race

Before the Race

Three ordinary people set out toward the Georgia International Horse Park on Saturday March 7, 2015 around 7:00am.  Our bellies were full of steel cut oats and maple syrup – fuel for the day’s main event – the Atlanta Sprint Spartan Race.  The crew: Dani Pasierb, Carden Wyckoff, and Spencer Wyckoff were listening to Barbell Shrugged’s episode #147, where they showcase Tony The Fridge – an ordinary man doing extraordinary things.

quick aside:  Tony the Fridge raises money for curing cancer through running ultra marathons with a large 42kg fridge on his back.  There are so many pearls of wisdom in this particular podcast with Tony, however my favorite part is when he speaks about the two other voices inside his head.  1 voice says he’s done enough, it’s ok to stop, go ahead and pat yourself on the back.  The other voice says no, keep going, don’t stop ever, do more do more do more.  During the races, Tony tells his interviewers “I take both of these (subconscious) voices, and I tell them to shut the $&%# up.”  From what I can tell, Tony is a master of getting into a mindset that solely focuses on things that matter in the present – focus on breathing, focus on each step – over and over again – he paints this picture of laser like focus when doing his races.

tony-the-fridge

Back to the Tale of the Piggy Back Spartan Race… So we arrive around 8:00am, an hour before our start time (or so we thought).  The venue resembled a large music festival type event, with lots of people, vendor booths, dj booth, course obstacles, and mud… yes LOTS of MUD.  We each became instantly excited and a bit nervous about what we were getting ourselves into.  

We pull into handicapped parking, and found a spot in front of a dumpster that honestly probably wasn’t even a spot until we made it one.  We step outside, take a deep breath of fresh air, and realize – it’s chilly outside, low 40’s chilly… this is going to get interesting.  “Ok, we ready to do this?” I ask Dani and Carden.  We agree, and then I assume the position that I will be assuming for the bulk of this day – I squat down in front of Carden, she gracefully falls over on top me, and we take the form of a brother/sister piggy back.  Just like Tony racing with his fridge for cancer, we raced to take a stand against Muscular Dystrophy – FSH MD in particular.  If you’re interested in supporting Carden’s cause – check this out.

pre-spartan-race
Look how cold Dani looks – haha

So we go to check in – and find out our race start time is at 10:30am as opposed to 9:30am which we originally thought.  So, nearly 2 hours early, we had to painfully wait for our turn to race – the tension started to build.  We purchased some shirts and watched some of the elites finish their races with jumping over a big bonfire and splashing into the final mud pit.  We were getting anxious, and cold, so we went back to the car to warm up and mentally prepare.  After some time, conversation, and failed attempts at streaming pump up music over crappy cellular service, we made our way to the start line for the 10:30am heat.  In fact, to get to the starting line, you have to first scale a 6 foot high wall… our first obstacle.  Knowing that we were going to encounter a bunch of these, we found this was the perfect way to start our journey.  Dani hopped over the wall first, then I lifted Carden over it and placed her in Dani’s arms.  From there I jump over the wall myself, and Dani hands Carden back to me.  Boom – first obstacle overcome.

Mile 0-1:

The time has come.  We’re in a heat of a couple hundred able bodied people who were chomping at the bit to start this adventure, and we were just 3 ordinary people out of that group.  There was a very fast talking hype man who greeted our group, led us through a few AROOS!, and blazed through the risks and liabilities at lightning, Twista-like pace.  Spartans Ready?!?! GOOO!!!  Our pack begins to move, 99% of them running and jogging ahead, leaving us in the back of the pack.  We weren’t racing for personal records today, our purpose was extraordinary though – help Carden complete a Spartan Race in the face of her muscular dystrophy.  Since she is not too sturdy on her feet, the only way to accomplish this was through a piggy back ride.  So there we were, at the back of the pack, taking our first steps forward as a team on a mission.

The first mile we encountered a good bit of obstacles – the first was 3 or 4 giant mud / water pits.  Carefully, we stepped through the sludge and came out ok.  There was a moment where I almost completely lost my footing and fell over with Carden – that would have been a really bad sign only 1/4 mile into a 3-5 mile race… but we kept the balance and kept forging on – mud entirely in the shoes.  Next obstacles were high, uneven logs to climb over.  We were able to lift Carden over each of these obstacles and make it happen – no burpess for us yet… Then we reach our first BIG obstacle – the high wall triplet.  The high wall triplet is a series of three walls increasing in height.  The first wall was probably 7 feet, next 8.5ft, finally 10ft.  We managed to get Carden over the first 7 footer, yet the 8.5 and 10ft were asking a little too much.  Dani and I knocked out Carden’s 30 burpee penalty for each of the two walls she couldn’t scale.  Yes, there is a 30 burpee penalty for each obstacle a racer does not complete, no exceptions, so that was par for the course.  The first mile finished with some cross country trails through the woods.

Mile 1-2

The second mile started to encounter more hills and obstacles.  Most of the elements Carden could not complete on her own, so Dani and I were doing burpees – a good bit of them.  We started getting some notice from our fellow racers – a bunch of “Can I have a piggy back too?” remarks started flying around more often, usually just in passing.  Some of the elements we faced were a 3 sided rock climbing wall, a large monkey bar set, and some 2-3 story high obstacles to climb up, over, and down from.  My body was starting to feel the weight of Carden, however I was in a pretty good place mentally, focusing carefully on each step, and taking each obstacle as it came without being overwhelmed by the magnitude of it.  One “obstacle” they had during this phase of the race was a memory section.  You had to stare at a giant board of codes and memorize the 7 digit number sequence and passcode that corresponded to your race # – you were going to have to remember this towards the end.  When I saw the 2 mile marker – there was a moment I thought, thank you God, there is only ~1 mile left to go.  This is after all a 5k right…?

Mile 2-3

Mile 3 started off with some GIANT mud hills and ice cold water pits – 5 or 6 of them in total.  Unfortunately, we knew we were’t going to be able to scale these with Carden, so after getting through it, covering ourselves in mud, and knocking out the 3 burpees – we smeared mud all over Carden so she could wear that muddy feel of the race.  It was during this obstacle too, that we made our first friends – The Latino Ninja Guardian Angel Twins.  These guys didn’t speak a bunch of English, but they did wear Sub-Zero like Mortal Combat masks, and they took notice of what we were doing and began to knock out some of Carden’s burpees with us.  They always seemed to be in our peripheral for the remainder of the course, hence the term guardian angels.  Mile 3 was particularly rough – we encountered a bunch of hills, a grueling obstacle with a large bucket of rocks, and several others.  For me, it was getting through the hills that was the toughest part – we’ve made such great progress thus far – just keep moving forward.

Mile 3-4

Thank the Lord – we just saw the 3rd mile marker.  That means we’re in the home stretch right? A 5k is 3.1 miles – so we should be nearing the finish line!  Well this is technically a Spartan Sprint – which is loosely described as 3-5 miles after some more research… eh just another minor obstacle we took in stride.  At the time, we didn’t know it, but we were actually coming closer to our greatest obstacle yet.  We started scaling down a very steep hill.  We were getting very worried that we might not be able to continue, but some fellow Spartans began volunteering their help and guided us down to the bottom of it.  Ok, can it get much tougher than that???  Well yes, it can.  After traversing the bottom of the hill, we began to approach another, steeper version of that same hill we just climbed down – however this time everyone was climbing up it…  It get’s nearly vertical towards the top…

spartan-race-woodsI’m scared.  Carden’s scared.  Dani’s scared.  We’re all scared.  We’re looking for a way out, there is none – only at the top of this hill or go back – and we weren’t going back.  So we made the decision to scale this 3 story mud mountain using just cargo nets, ropes, and the help of other Spartans.  It started at a gentle incline, but soon got to be incredibly steep.  If I lose my footing now, Carden and I will fall nearly 3 stories, taking out other people behind us in the process.  There was no option for failure.  Step by step, we make our way up the mountain, and once I scaled over the top to safety let out this primal, celebratory roar.  People were amazed at what they just witnessed.  A few people even called me their hero and kept racing – it was an inspiring moment, a moment where I felt all my personal mental and physical barriers shattered.  I haven’t been the same since.  But no time to pop champagne yet… we still had plenty of race to run.  At this time, we had two local guys, Chase and Brandon, join our team and they helped us for the remainder of the race – thank God for those guys.

Mile 4-5

Here we are, the home stretch – the final mile.  Back is sore, feet are tired, we are all completely covered in mud and grime, yet we can hear the music playing and can feel the energy of the finish line.  Some of the obstacles we took on included climbing over tall gymnastics-like bars, carrying atlas stones, and throwing spears at hay targets – quick glory moment, I went 2 for 2 on the spear throw so Carden didn’t have burpees to do for that one, no big deal 🙂

All of this was leading up to the final 250 yards of the race, which was 250 yards of all obstacles.  One of the standouts was a 60 yard, barbed wire space that you had to crawl under in the ice cold mud.  Carden was determined to get this one done, despite her immobility and lack of upper and lower body strength.  Without assistance, she made it 45 of the 60 yards herself before fatigue finally set in.  We pulled her through the remaining 15 yards, and she triumphed.  Unfortunately, this triumph came at a cost… The ice cold mud had put her into a pre-hypothermic state.  She was frozen to the bone and shivering uncontrollably.  We got her off the course and called for medical assistance.  A medical team came over and wrapped her in solar blankets and correctly suggested that she go to the medical tent to heat up.  But if anyone knows Carden, they know that she wasn’t up for this option – not until the race was finished.  So I got her on piggy back one last time and walked through the remainder of the course, dodging the final few obstacles and going ahead without our teammates.  Time was of the essence here and Carden was potentially heading towards hypothermia.  Upon finishing, there were no flashing lights, no post-race interviews, or photo finishes.  Simply the knowledge that we conquered an incredible challenge and took a stand against muscular dystrophy and FSH together and that with a great team you can achieve a seemingly impossible goal – that’s what Spartans do.  AROO!

spartan-carden-finish
Just so everyone knows, Carden was able to recover after the race and warm up. Here she is with her completion medal and a big smile.

If you’re interested in supporting Carden’s cause and fundraiser for a cure… navigate to our Go Fund Me page.  I believe this won’t be the last time we set out for an incredible challenge like this.

 

My Favorite Podcasts and Should I Start One?

I have found podcasts to be one of the single best resources for acquiring knowledge, entertainment, and news in industries I care about.  But Spencer, when do you find the time???  Quick life-hack moment – I listen to these during my morning commute and while I eat breakfast – but mostly in the car.  I’ve been able to consume hundreds of hours of content INSTEAD of listening to Katy Perry and Imagine Dragons on repeat on the radio.  Side note: I love Imagine Dragons stuff and I’ll admit I have a guilty pleasure for Katy Perry’s stuff.  But let’s face it, free public radio is the ancient past – podcasting is the present and the foreseeable future – and listening to bands on repeat isn’t getting me ahead in this world.

Ok, I’m not writing to convince you that podcasts rock, you can decide that for yourself.  I’m here to list out my favorite podcasts to date…

My Favorite Podcasts (in order):

  1. Entrepreneur on Fire by John Lee Dumas

    This podcast is my personal favorite because it is a key part of My Morning Routine.  Each day, nearly 900 episodes in a row, John Lee Dumas has put out quality, ~30min shows that focus on interviewing entrepreneurs – both big and small fish.  The format of the podcast is consistently the same, which I’ve grown to really enjoy, because I can analyze a wide range of answers across hundreds of different entrepreneur experiences.  He interviews real people and hones in on the journey of what it takes to grow your own business.  It’s not all rainbows and unicorns though, each episode there is a focus on the greatest obstacle that entrepreneur had to overcome, and the answers are always inspiring and eye-opening.  For someone like myself, who is aspiring to be in business for themselves, I’ve really grown to appreciate and value this content.

  2. The Tim Ferriss Show by Tim Ferriss

    During my senior year of undergraduate study at Georgia Tech, I read Tim’s The 4 Hour Workweek and was inspired at the possibility of owning and automating my own business so I could live the best version of life I could imagine.  Since then, Tim Ferriss has become a household name and published two other NY Times bestselling books.  His podcast interviews some of the most successful savants across all industries and has very in-depth, personal interviews with them.  The insights I’m gaining are tremendous and it’s incredibly interesting to learn about the lives of such high performers.  The episodes vary between short and long, depending on whether he does a long-form interview or an “in-between-isode.”

  3. Barbell Shrugged by the guys at Faction Strength and Conditioning

    I’ve actually had the pleasure of sitting in on the live recording of Episode 62 of their podcast – be warned – there was a good bit of drinking done because the filming was done at CrossFit Regionals 2013… That being said, these guys put out great content when it comes to lifting, endurance, mindset, and building strength.  It definitely fuels my inner-athlete and it’s worth a watch if you are into fitness, body building, or competing in athletic events.

  4. Adventures in Angular by the guys at DevChat.tv

    Since enrolling into The Iron Yard Academy‘s Front End Development program, the conversation of JavaScript and all things web application have been constantly on my mind.  Now being a novice programmer, I do my best at following along their conversations, but don’t always gather what it is their saying.  That being said, I figure the more I hear the words and the language being spoken, the quicker it can be learned.  Angular.JS is a JavaScript framework I’ve grown to enjoy working with and has some real power when it comes to building web applications.  Unlike some other programming podcasts out there, the guys on this show really do a good job of honing in on subjects, stay on topic, and do so in a way that is not super dry – that being said, it is programming talk.

  5. The Clark Howard Podcast by Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a bit of a hometown hero in Atlanta.  I grew up with my parents listening to him on AM750 WSB radio – in fact he might still be on their.  Clark has crossed over and made his content available in a digital format and continues to provide a ton of financial guidance and advice to the public.  As a young professional looking to get ahead, being careful with my money is always a consistent effort and I appreciate Clark’s conservative approaches to money management.


 

There you have it – my top 5 podcasts to date.  I imagine this will be a growing and ever-evolving list and will make sure to continue updating it as I find more and more value out there.  Additionally, I have this nagging gut feeling that I might be starting a podcast soon – I don’t know what topics it would cover – but the idea of creating and producing something is in my blood – I think I have what it takes, let me know if you agree and what you might want to hear!

1st Hackathon this Weekend

In case I didn’t have enough planned this weekend with my 1st ever Spartan Race, it also happens to be the weekend where The Iron Yard Atlanta is hosting its first Hackathon of 2015.

What is a Hackathon?

Truth be told, I’m not entirely sure.  If I had to guess, it’s somewhere between a Halo LAN party and a ton of JavaScript and server talk.  And yes, Halo is yet another Spartan reference, 2 for 2, I’m on a freaking roll.

Ok, I’m beating around the bush… a hackathon is where a company, or multiple companies, give some participants a software project and the goal is to get it finished in a certain period of time.  For me and the rest of my classmates, we’ll have from Friday night @ 6pm to Sunday @ 3pm to give our best shot at completing a project they assign us.  At this time, I have no idea what the project topic is, who my group is, or the who the companies are – but I can assure you it’s going to be a crazy, fun, most likely sleepless weekend.

Let’s freaking do this – AROO!!!

Spartan Up This Weekend!

So freaking pumped for this weekend’s Spartan Race in Atlanta.  Best part is, I get to do it with my sister Carden and officially, as of about 10 min ago, my girlfriend Dani – way to go girl!  Truth is, I never really intended to do one of these races – and then I got inspired one day.  In August 2014, I was listening to Barbell Shrugged’s episode #147, I was deeply inspired by listening to a 52 year old man known as Tony – The Fridge.  This man straps a 93 pound fridge on his back and runs ultra marathons raising awareness and money for cancer, which has deeply impacted his life and his family.  When asked, “why do you strap a fridge on your back – isn’t that inconvenient?” he answers something like “of course it’s inconvenient! do you think cancer is convenient???”  That resonated with me, and I’ll tell you why below – quick poll:  would you rather watch 1hr of really inspiring stuff or 1 hr of Vampire Diaries – if your answer is Vampire Diaries, leave immediately.  If it’s inspiring stuff, I strongly suggest you watch this…

One of the biggest takeaways I got from Tony The Fridge, is that he claims to be a normal guy – he just has super human resilience.  I believe we can all manifest this power through practice and enough healthy stubbornness.  So that’s what I’m going to do with my sister Carden this Saturday.  We’re going to complete a Spartan Race together.  Quick history lesson – Carden has FSHD, a rare type of muscular dystrophy that sabotages her muscles and limits her mobility, and it neither has a cure nor any real treatment at the moment.  The thing about Carden is, she doesn’t let any of it stop her – she is the most resilient person I know for this and possibly the bravest person I know too.  So this Saturday we’re teaming up to run the Spartan Race together to flip a giant bird in the face of FSHD.  She will do the parts she can, and I will help her through the bulk of it.  Will it be convenient?  Of course not, but neither is her living with FSHD and it won’t stop us from completing our task at hand.

Time to Spartan Up!