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!

25th Post – A Reflection of My Blogging Journey

Earlier today, I made my 25th blog post about how I Love Teaching – and it’s already been getting really nice traffic.  What is nice traffic you ask?!?  Well for a tiny phytoplankton in this giant internet ocean like myself, that looks like about 35-50 views – nothing earth shattering – but I’m loving the experience and the internal insights.  Writing is coming very naturally, and it’s really helping sort out my version of the human experience and organize my thoughts.  Sometimes it might look like ramblings – however some posts feel like the makings of some really quality content.  Usually, it’s just close family and friends finding it entertaining.  Whatever it is, it’s a good thing and this post is about reflecting on my last 25 blog posts, 3 personal transformations, and my favorite posts to date.

3 Transformations Since Starting to Blog:

      1. Two weeks ago, I began volunteering two nights a week to teach children, ages 13-18, how to code in HTML & CSS.  This has been tremendous, seeing kids light up about embedding a YouTube video or listing out their favorite foods and attaching pictures on a web page has really sparked some curiosities in a few youngsters that might grow into something great.  This has ignited a passion for educating people, and particularly youngsters that I want to seek out further.
      2. Started a Morning Routine that I’ve been consistent with 90% of mornings.  This one practice is BY FAR the most important key to my recent performance and productivity improvements.  Why report about a 90%? Because I’m human and want to emphasize how nobody is perfect, and there have been days I’ve woken up and not felt up to my hour-ish long routine.  The one thing I have noticed is this: The days where I don’t complete a morning routine are the days I’m typically least productive, which is a great thing to know about one’s self.
      3. Meditate for ~20min per day.  Doing this in the mornings helps me come alive and focus on the task of the day.  Doing it in the evening helps clear my mind of the day and prepare for a restful night sleep.  Overall, the benefits to my mood and mental stability have been phenomenal and I would recommend this practice to anyone who is setting aside even just 2-5min a day.

My Top 7 Favorite Posts Thus Far (in order):

why 7?…. why not…?

    1. My Morning Routine – It’s the one I link back to most and have edited the most, it’s my best work in progress.
    2. Oh Snap! That’s a Cold Shower! – Entrepreneur on Fire’s John Lee Dumas commented on this post and really inspired some great confidence about what I’m doing.
    3. 1 (More) Reason I Love my Mother – This has been, BY FAR the most visited post.  That’s because thanks to my mother’s Facebooking abilities, she was able to share it and attract nearly 900 unique visits to my site that day.  Even WordPress told me the post was, and I quote, “Blowing up.”
    4. Preparing to Ignite – This was the post right that inspired the morning routine.  I realized on this day that turning 30 was 1,282 days away and I wanted to transform.
    5. Just keep swinging, just keep swinging… – This post was a great personal reflection about overcoming the difficulties and frustrations of learning to code and the learning process in general.
    6. “I am Groot” – surprisingly, this post got me about 3 or 4 follows (like 30-40% of my followers at this time…)  It was a reaction to my experiences watching Guardians of the Galaxy and a metaphorical analysis of the Groot character.
    7. Group Therapy: Lessons from our 1st Group Project – We’ll round out the list with a reflection on what I learned from completing our first group project between back end, front end, and iOS developers.  It’s an honest post with some good takeaways.

Oh Snap! That’s a Cold Shower!

My great grandmother, Genevieve, God rest her soul, lived to the age of 96.  She was widowed during World War II and raised her son Toby Maxwell, my grandfather, by herself and was a very mentally strong woman.  I remember distinctly a moment when she pulled me aside and asked me the question, “Spencer, do you know what my secret to long life is?”  I must have been 13 years old at the time and politely responded, “Of course!”  She gazed directly into my eyes, paused for a moment and built up my suspense, and calmly stated, “Cold showers.”

Quick aside… I am a millennial born, American-raised male who enjoys the comforts of our the first world as much as anyone – my smart phone, laptop, pillow top mattress, etc.  So the thought of deliberately taking an uncomfortable cold shower was nonsense and was cast away for over 10 years… until 2 weeks ago.  I was in my normal morning routine, listening to Entrepreneur on Fire episode #848, where Ben Greenfield shared how he was fired up about cold showers.  When he was asked the question, “Why do you take cold showers?” he listed off 6 or 7 different physiological and psychological benefits to cold showers and he ended his statement by saying, “and because it makes you tougher.”

benefits_of_a_cold_shower

Sure, cold shower physiological benefits are great, but what really resonated with my soul was the “it makes you tougher” part – and not this Macho Man, WWE image of toughness, but specifically “Mental Toughness.”  Being able to overcome and conquer the variety of troubles life throws at you is a learned skill, and my personal goal is that of stoicism.  Stoicism, by definition, is the endurance of pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complaint.  So in my path towards this goal – cold showers are being added to My Morning Routine.

My Cold Shower Approach:

So… I’m not all the way in on this yet, and don’t want to portray that I am.  My current approach is the first 50% of my shower is lukewarm (half hot, half cold) and then for the last 50%, I turn it to all cold.  I think this is a great start for the beginner looking to make a transition.  You can adapt it to be 90% lukewarm and finish the last 10 seconds of the shower all cold and get a similar effect.  Doing this is better than a cup of coffee in the morning, guaranteed.  I find I’m much more alert the rest of the morning and feel much more present in the moment.

The first time I turned to all cold, holy crap, I was screeching like a little girl, gasping for breath, body clinching, fighting the overwhelming sensations that were robbing me of all happy thoughts in the moment.  Now, after nearly 2 weeks of practice, I find myself accepting the coldness and almost welcoming it with much less body clinch.  You can do this, and it will get better.

Ok… so the panda represents me. The water represents the shower. And the panda’s facial expression represents my first time in a cold shower.

In time, I see myself fully committing to a 100% cold shower, but for now it’s still in the testing phase and I feel progress has been solid thus far.

Some extra inspiration:

One of my role models is Rich Froning – 4 time champion of the CrossFit Games, and he has an entertaining video of one of his workouts called “Mental Toughness.”  During “Mental Toughness”, he and a training buddy complete a workout, in the snow, that finishes with a swim in an icy cold pond – furthering demonstrating my point from above.

 

Meditation App – Changing to Calm.com

Last week I wrote a post about getting into Meditation and testing out the Headspace application and applying it to My Morning Routine.  It’s a great application, but it was just ok for me… Here’s why:

Headspace, I could see being particularly great for women because it’s this Australian dude’s voice calmly guiding you through your first time meditating and nurturing your spiritual growth.

What I pictured was this… a much scrawnier version of Russell Crowe leading you down a path of self-exploration with 9 out of 10 on the creepy scale cartoon puppet robot things bouncing in and out every so often.

headspace_guy

I’m not bad mouthing this application, it is actually a really great application particularly for tracking progress and teaching beginners, but that’s just the image that comes to my mind – and some people might dig that kind of thing.  Plus the little elf-like, clown-like, bow-tie wearing Teletubby reincarnate gave me the heebie-jeebies.

So… I’ve since revived an old favorite mediation resource that I’ve used previously, introducing…

Calm.com

just breathe….

Reasons I Prefer Calm.com

  • The woman’s voice is super calming to me
  • It has a great mobile and web interface
  • It doesn’t try to sell me on meditating or require me to sign up, it’s an option
  • It gets right to the point, go to http://www.calm.com and you can start meditating in under 5 seconds
  • It has multiple different categories of guided meditations
  • If you don’t need a guide, it will simply be your timer

The Categories they Offer:

  • 7 Days of Calm (beginner track)
  • Calm (the core product)
  • Anxiety Release
  • Compassion
  • Confidence
  • Creativity
  • Energy
  • Focus
  • Forgiveness
  • Gratitude
  • Inner Peace
  • Inner Strength
  • Motivation
  • Positivity
  • Self-Acceptance
  • Sleep – yes Sleep!

My Approach:

  • Calm.com is now officially part of My Morning Routine
  • I take 2-10 minutes, the moment I wakeup, and select a category for the day
  • In the mornings – I’m generally taking the Energy or Motivation path – but I change it up, no biggie
  • Usually in the evening I’ll take 2-10 min as part of My Bedtime Routine – and love doing the Sleep version.

and that’s my product pitch of the day – just going to put it out in the universe – I want to be paid for product endorsements I believe in some day.

Happy Meditating!

Testing HeadSpace – Meditation App

As I continue to refine and reiterate My Morning Routine, I keep hearing 1 topic come up consistently among highly effective CEO’s, founders, entrepreneurs, self-starters, and various other people I look up to:

MEDITATION

What’s that you say granola-head?  You want me to meditate?  Like repeatedly chant Ohmmmmm and connect deeply with past incarnations of myself – no thanks, not for me – that kind of stuff is for Ace Ventura.

AAAAhhhhaahhhaahhaallll-RIGHTY THEN

Sure, it’s safe to say meditation is not for everyone – nothing ever is… However, I find in my personal life that my mind is constantly bombarded with ideas, thoughts, and external stimuli and sometimes I just feel cloudy and need some SPACE!  Well that is exactly what Headspace is setup to solve.  Headspace is an application that walks the ultra beginner meditator through some guided, thought clearing exercises that take just 10 min a day and leave you feeling at peace.  You can get started for free and everything can be done from your mobile device.  I am testing it into my routine for the next 10 days to see if it fits.

Many experts and high performers swear by meditation as a daily or multiple days a week practice.  This post isn’t meant to convince you that meditation is the way – you can make your own call on that.  However, I am going to recommend that if you’ve always thought about trying out meditation and have heard good things, this would be a good place to get started.  Plus, who doesn’t have 10 minutes in their Morning Routine they can spare?

Positive Affirmations

I’ve added a new element to My Morning Routine – and it happens in the shower… Bow Chicka Bow Wow!

Actually it’s quite clean, it used to be that I’d blast my iPod classic 80gb with the 30 pin on the iHome original (remember those?) – typically to the sounds of Drake, Lil Wayne, and/or Shakira.

Cue up “I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLachlan

 

However, through listening to the Entrepreneur on Fire podcast, one quality of highly successful people keeps showing its face… and they are known as Positive Affirmations.  You see fear and doubt plagues all of our lives in some respect, and positive affirmations can be used as a preventative, mental medication of sorts for overcoming these doubts and ASSURING yourself that you are a highly valuable and capable human being.  It is my belief, and the belief of many others, that this boost in self-confidence, early in the day, can have a dramatic, lasting, positive impact on the quality of your life and could give you the courage to take more risks you otherwise would be too doubtful of.  Basically I’m trying to level up and be more like Mega Man every day.


 

So! Here is a list of my current Positive Affirmations that I repeat to myself in the shower and you might find value in developing your own:

  • “You are loved by God.”
  • “You are bold and powerful beyond measure.”
  • “Today is a gift – give thanks.”
  • “You are love – share it with everyone.”
  • “You are resilient.”
  • “Overcoming fear and doubt is a daily practice that you’re becoming increasingly better at.”
  • “You can be an inspiration to others – will you be?”
  • “You are the present and your future is your creation.”
  • “Are you going to be excellent today?”

This is a working list – yet is serving me well for the current time.  You’ll notice there are also some questions added into the mix… The questions are there because everyday you have the power to choose who you are going to be – and asking the question allows yourself to give the answer you wish to give.

Do you have some Positive Affirmations or mantras that you live by?

please share!

Some Final Project Ideas

It’s 5:40 AM – I can’t sleep – and I’ve got IY Final Project Ideas flowing – here’s a list a potential candidates:

  • Hold Me (the app) – My girlfriend loves to be held and I admittedly do to.  There is something primal and nurturing about a good, strong, loving hold and it is a focus and priority in our relationship to reserve time each day to do so.  Every couple is different, but I imagine if more people knew about the secrets of a good hold, relationships around the world could be improved dramatically – and what’s not to love about that!  Not sure where this app could go but it came to mind.
every couple should enjoy a good hold
  • Morning Routine App – yes I’m on a total kick recently about a morning routine and I think an app that made a morning routine customizable and was built into your phone’s API would be pretty cool, I certainly would use it.  It could be community based where people could share their morning routines with eachother and get a sneak peek of how highly successful people operate.  Again, definitely brainstorm phase but I think it’s got some momentum and could provide some real value.

side note: I see there are some apps that do this already, however building my own could be the exercise – plus competition always improves a marketplace and empowers the consumer.

  • Countdown to 30 App – This is a play off my friend Evan’s 1K Day Change concept where he asked himself one day – “I wonder how many days until I’m 30?”  He realized, ON THAT DAY, it was exactly 1000 days away (KRAZY like GLUE riiiiight!?!)  and he has shifted his entire life towards seeking personal achievements and entrepreneurship by the time he’s 30 – an inspiring journey he is now over 100 days into.  The countdown to 30 app would be a goal management, priorities aligner, and accountability manager to those who are looking to cause huge, constructive change to their lives.  It can be applied to all facets of life career, fitness, nutrition, health, family, significant others, travel… whatever is important to you.  It could also evolve to be a Countdown to 40, 50…. 100 to account for more mature populations.
http://1kdaychange.com/
  • Intermediate Level JavaScript Practice Exercises – Seeing as I’m now just a month into learning a new language, I find myself like any other language learner – needing to stay focused on practicing the fundamentals.  I’ve heard this termed as VIRTUOSITY –   I’m no longer in the “fully green” stage of learning to code – I understand basic syntax, ground rules, concepts of OOP, and have done some pretty cool stuff already with API’s – but I feel like I need more reps in simple, intermediate JS exercises to really sharpen this new toolset… like math word problems from 5th grade – find the value of x type stuff, not just what is 2 + 2.  This is completely ambiguous at this point, however I feel most of the resources I find online are for strict beginners learning to code and teaching what is a variable, what is a string… I need that next step in the learning curve and I bet I’m not alone.  It would also be highly convenient to be able to do this practice on a mobile interface.

  •  My Event App – Are you in charge of planning a project or event?  Something simple like a child’s birthday party or simple house party?  This app could walk you through step by step if organization is not your thing and prompt you along the way.  Instead of you doing all the thinking, it has that logic built in and you just logically build your checklist step by step.  This is my least favorite idea thus far but makes a clean 5.

HOLY SMOKES YOU ACTUALLY MADE IT TO THE BOTTOM? I’M FLATTERED!  PLEASE DROP A LINE IF YOU’RE ENJOYING THIS CONTENT!   🙂