Complete the Circles

I've been working on a number of projects related to behavior change in recent months. One is in a medical context. Another is in a leadership context. And yet another is in nutrition. 

At the outset the contexts seemed disparate. However, the more I've dug in to them the more similar they all seem. They're about motivation and aspiration. They're about habits and social contexts. They're about behavior and change. 

I grabbed an Apple Watch once they became available in stores. I had a set of reasons for purchasing it. As it turns out, those reasons are for the most part not among the reasons why I've grown to value it. 

One unintended consequence is the impact it's had on my desire to complete visual circles. Three nested circles represent different move goals for each day. I've changed the way I spend my time over the last three weeks at least once a week in order to get the circles filled in. 

There is a measurement component to this influence. There is a visual component. There is a proactive and positive component too.

What else could be measured, visualized and made proactive in an effort to influence behavior change? So many things. 

VR Link Collection

by Joseph Rueter

Virtual Reality (VR) has burst into conversations I've been having in the last few weeks. I've been poking around and sharing links with friends to nudge conversations along. Below you'll find a simple, non-exhaustive, set of links and descriptions that have been part of some of those early conversations on the subject. 

###
A site like YouTube but made to host VR video
https://littlstar.com/

Get the littlstar app for iOS
HERE

Example VR
Load the following video in Google Chrome, hit play and nav around -- VIDEO

A VR headset company - owned by Facebook
https://www.oculus.com/

A headset built in collaboration with Oculus
http://www.samsung.com/global/microsite/gearvr/

Cheap VR headset for your phone for under $25
https://www.google.com/get/cardboard/

An even cheaper VR headset
http://www.amazon.com/Cardboard-Valencia-Quality-Virtual-Reality/dp/B00LQ6ICJ8

An entry level camera configuration for capturing VR. Still around $3k+ for the 6 GoPros
http://freedom360.us/ 

A crazier camera.
http://www.jauntvr.com/technology/

Live stream VR is coming from companies like
http://www.nextvr.com

But you can live stream, in 2d, from your phone too - from apps like:
https://www.periscope.tv - owned by twitter
and http://meerkatapp.co
Just not in VR! But, can you imagine VR from your mobile phone? 


###

Clearly, folks will want to find a practical application for VR. We're getting along just fine now, right? So, why strap silly things to your head? 

Well, I can assure you that it does not feel silly when I'm in a VR experience that interests me. I suspect that you'll have a similar experience. Sure, it looks silly to others. But, hey, they can't see what you see. They're certainly not experiencing what you're experiencing. 

One of the most influential thinkers to my perspective on gaming is Jane McGonigal. Her book Reality is Broken seems to my mind to be all the more applicable to VR. Here we go. 

So, what do we do with it? 

I've not had a similar thought explosion of possibilities since I first encountered 3D printing. Your mind might also tend to race with implications after your first VR experience. Not sure really what to do with it. 

So... remember an IMAX experience you may have had with a helicopter lofting over a mountain ridge and your heart dropping out of your stomach? Folks are building VR experiences for that like http://www.wingsvr.com/#about

Placing VR cameras in beautiful or interesting places are killer first starts. Experience something you wish you could or might never ask to experience like sitting with an orchestra, riding in an F1 car, jumping out of something (per the above), etc.

Commercial applications for first responders and the like have been advanced in conversations. Clearly real estate provides a number of opportunities. What about mounting a streaming VR camera to the base of a drone? What about to the camera mount that flies NFL fields? You could sell a special ticket for that camera feed? And the list goes on.

A company called Visual is building a social media experience for virtual reality. This seems to be the group advancing communication between humans with VR the most. But what do I know? It's early. Things are moving fast. 

Imagine if your computer desktop was in VR? You could have a slew of monitors in your headset. What if your conference calls were in VR?

There is something magical about being able to turn your head and have the image move that so completely puts you somewhere else in a way that looking at a fixed object presenting a video just does not come close in engagement. Fascinating. More to come.

A new transaction vehicle

by Joseph Rueter

You don't want to pay for certain things with a credit card.  Consider a sausage from a street cart. You want the sausage but you don't likely want to pay for it with credit. Cash is easier.

So also with things online.  You want the expertise of a specialist customer service agent or a specific technologist, and you'd pay for it, but you don't likely want to pay for it with your credit card or deal with the "cart" and "checkout" process. _____ is easier.

There is a new transaction vehicle opportunity. What is it?

Draft - Hydrazine Project

By Joseph Rueter

3... 2... 1...

Hydrazine. It's a man made rocket fuel. It's wildly flammable, unstable and explosive. It's perfect for moving stuff along. 

In the future, I'd love to build and lead a team of highly talented folks working on and building new products, systems and businesses. As I've searched for a name to wrap around this idea, Hydrazine Project has resonated most. 

The following is a introduction/pitch deck of sorts. It's in draft form. However, I thought it better to share where the idea is at now than keep it to myself. Onward!

 

../.
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Short Pitches

Ideas? What are they worth? 

By Joseph Rueter

Ive had an opportunity to be in conversations with a number of large company incubators in recent months. Those conversations provoked me to be thinking about large scale opportunities. What might be build-able with the resrouces of a large company these days? So, I started sketching.

I’ve also had a number of conversations with my network and thoughts about businesses that could exist differently than I am aware they do today or that will likely exist in the future. Some of them are undoubtably crazy sounding, maybe even actually crazy. Others, might be obvious, etc. I thought I’d take a swing a sharing a few of their short pitches and post ‘em with the intention that it provokes conversations among my network. If others, those I don’t yet know (is that you?) or have not yet talked to about these, would like to jump into the conversation. Please, by all means, reach out. Looking forward to it.

Oh, and I'm particularly provoked to share these semi-publicly (no tweets or social distribution from me) because of Thomas' public Evernote. Thanks Thomas! I'm not ready to give you all access to any part of my Evernote but maybe the day will come. I'll start here.  

So, Ideas for the following are found below: Self-Driving Furniture, Services for Demand Economy Workers, Subscription Toys, A Content Company, Local Merchant Brand/Platform, An Ad Market for Online Markets, A Transit/Transaction Company for US goods to Asia, Better - A Threads Company, White Collar Time Sheets, Pods for Travel.

 

Self-Driving Furniture
[HT to Simon on this one]
Opportunity: Corporations, schools and governments spend far more than they should or could on physical space. More commonly, they need more space for employees, students and the community but find it difficult to justify the expense.

Short Pitch: In the future, furniture will rearrange it’s self at the touch of buttons. Square footage will be more utilized. Cubical clusters will become conference rooms upon a simple command, gymnasiums will become mathematics rooms and architects will always add or include "furniture garages" in their plans. Space will be abundant. 

 

Services for Demand Economy Workers
Opportunity: Marketplace services (e.g. Airbnb, Uber, TaskRabbit) are creating demand for people to fill flexible time-shifted jobs on demand. Small businesses are being built upon these platforms (e.g. a team with multiple cars and drivers for Uber or an investor with multiple properties for Airbnb using TaskRabbit to fulfill cleaning needs). The workers love the flexibility and often the pay but are not afforded the typical support services of a full time job.

Short Pitch: The number of workers in these positions are quite large and accelerating at alarming rates. In the (very near) future, their numbers will be big enough to create insurable pools for car and health insurance, etc.

 

Subscription Toys
Opportunity: Toys are expensive, take up space and typically have a child’s attention span for a very short time (weeks). 

Short Pitch: Like AirBnb is for a place to stay, and Uber is for rides; in the future, toys will be wildly sanitary and easily rentable. Who buys much of anything anymore? Rent it.

 

A Content Company
[ala: Red Bull / Houzz / Pintrest / Goop]
Opportunity: Content verticals are showing promise. Sites like Houzz (for home improvement et. al.) have moved to care for a whole decision making process for end users and to make money on just one part of it. In doing so they’ve grown in substantial audience, impact and value. Brands like Red Bull are more media companies now than product companies. What does Red Bull sell again?

Short Pitch: In the future, there will be a content company for the enthusiastic design inspired shopper with a focus on the home that is about humans and their stories before the objects being sold. Like Red Bull has recording studios for musicians and networks of extreme folks leaping from airplanes, a brand will rise to the occasion for their customers to create the content they are inclined to create (to tell their story and to travel the world as families of 7, or more, etc.). And on and on.

 

Local Merchant Brand/Platform
[HT to Steve L. for provoking thoughts on this one]
Opportunity: As customers become more connected across cities and countries by way of the internet and/or relocation; their desires for the “local” product of another area/ increases. Local suppliers typically focus on production. Distribution, marketing and growing sales are not commonly their core daily functions. As a result, they miss those sales. 

Short Pitch: In the future, It’ll be easy to list your goods on a national network of brands. It'll also be easy buy the best honey from a small brand in a city you used to live in or the one you just visited. It’ll be easy to send care packages to college students filled with the heartwarming local products of their home town, etc. It’ll be easy to buy from "locals" regardless of where you are physically.  

 

An Ad Market for Online Markets
Opportunity: Where small suppliers and makers of goods struggled to get products listed for sale online they now struggle to get enough people to find their products on the marketplaces in order to buy them.

Short Pitch: In the future, the data driven online marketing tactics of the largest corporations will be easily “rentable” to the smallest of suppliers of unique goods. Sales will increase.

 

A Transit/Transaction Company for US goods to Asia
Opportunity: China might manufacture much of the worlds goods but Chinese overwhelmingly don’t want to purchase Chinese made products, even luxury goods. It’s better to have an Audi made in Osnabrück, Germany than the same model made in Changchun, China. They pay more for German ones too. In South Korea there is a rising tide of purchasing goods in the US and shipping them for a total cost noticeably lower than acquiring it in South Korea.

Short Pitch: In the future, global commerce will be easier than it is now because companies will build the necessary components to smoothing the transactions. Products will be more globally available, currencies will be easier to convert among the credit networks and global shipping and customs will all be “uber-ed.” 

 

Better - A Threads Company
Opportunity: You deserve better than a crotch-shot. A better education. Better relationships. Better - A Pants Company.

Short Pitch: In the future, new brands of basic and awesome threads will be easily available in your home if you’re a woman or a dude. Clothes are easier to buy when they just show up at your house and you can ship back what you don’t want with ease. Currently, services like this are only available for high-end designer threads. There is an opportunity to make great (but owned) brands with quality goods available in homes.

 

White Collar Time Sheets
[HT to Tim B. for provoking this one]
Opportunity: Consultants, lawyers, agencies and the like are typically salary based individually but are required to “bill” their hours to clients. Many of them find time-sheets to be a form of lying, at best. However, government regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley require compliance. 
 

Short Pitch: In the future, smart timesheet software will make reporting not only automatically complaint but super easy. It’ll be more like approval process that could easily take 3 minutes or less per week. Reports will sync with individual workers calendars and the location of their mobile phones as well as their colleagues. Intelligent summaries will be created from behavior (e.g. time spent at work locations and the time spent in meetings with project team members and clients). Summaries will be sent for simple editing and submission by individual employees. Viola. Accuracy from data delivered in a proactive way will deliver value to busy and highly paid workers.

 

Pods for Travel
[Ok, now for a bit of a crazy one.]
Opportunity: The vast majority of travelers have distain for the process of going to and from the airport, standing in lines and sitting next to strangers. Just ask the person you sit next to next time, “Do you like sitting by strangers”?

Short Pitch: In the future, travel pods will arrive at your home or place of work, you’ll get in side and enjoy your personal space and entertainment. Upon arrival at your destination you’ll exit refreshed and ready for your itinerary… at your final destination (not the airport or train station or taxi stand).

- - - 
Note: Opportunities in corner lot beer and/or salad brands, medical records and communication (that don’t make you wish we were still using paper), etc. are also in development. Reach out of you’re interested in talking about any of those

../.
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So, what did I learn from the last post?

by Joseph Rueter

Conflict resulting from writing and publishing is something that has held me from writing and publishing in the past.

I guess it was my mental construct of what to do with conflict that played a part in holding me from publishing in my mind. I figure conflict is part of writing. What do you do when people disagree? This is an especially important question in a place where the writers thoughts are in public and the recipients/readers thoughts are not, as in a blog.

How can this dynamic of conflict in public be effectively managed? Do you stuff the conflict deep in your consciousness and dwell on it? Do you block it out and with herculean effort cease from paying attention to it? Or, do you hit it head on? I am starting to think it may be more helpful to aim for conflict and to use it as a thing to work on. Maybe.

After the last post one of you suggested that while I am "loved" I should not email updates more than once a week. A few minutes later, another of you suggested that I publish daily and that you love the email summary with the link. Ha. This contrast is fantastic. My conclusion is that I’ll write as I can fit it in. I am aiming to write as often as I can reasonably do so because I am finding that it’s a fantastic conversation with myself. I’ll publish as often as I can polish things ready enough to publish. Success will hopefully be measured by some kind of consistent rhythm to beginning with.

 

A few other points made by readers include:

1/ "Don’t title posts Buzzfeed style"

I did “33+” to capture attention. However, the content is different than a typical click-bate headline. True. Just getting started here.

2/ "I wish you broke some of these these themes up and went more in depth."

Posts that could be written with more depth might go something like “Productive Business Travel” and a second, “How to Pack for Business Travel.” With each the aim could be to illuminate the points focused on of the 33+ that address efficient work product while constantly on the move and preparing to have the right things along. Take the negative roller bag stance I hold. I traveled last week with a guy that had a roller bag. He waited for the elevator as I took the steps. 

3/ "Do you want to share with close friends or expand to a wide audience?"

Another way to address this might be to ask about what success looks like. For now, the aim is to build a habit… to strengthen the desire and the practice of writing and thinking in public. It's kinda semi-public because I'm intending to only use email as the alert mechanism that a new post exists in public for the foreseeable future. The extended aim maybe to be more distributed. For now, however, it's plenty to just build the habit and share with a small group.

I’ve concluded that I enjoy the process of writing enough that I am gaining from the habit of having a conversation with myself. That’s what I know now and what I will continue with. However, I think the following, pulled from an email from one of you, delightfully captures the challenge of a journey to competence in writing for myself. We’ll see how it goes.

 

[quoted]

if your goal is a mass following, your challenge in blogging or podcasting won't be having great ideas or sharp insights. it will be finding a way to make them resonate with a wider audience. you have the unfortunate gift of being hyper intelligent and well educated. your brain moves faster than most people's brains, which means you connect dots other people don't see clearly and can't see clearly unless they're taken through the connection dot by dot. and with your education in design, philosophy and theology, you sometimes use constructs and language that are lost on a lot of people who aren't in those (mostly academic) circles.

this is where slowing down in editing is your friend. so is having a good sounding board or three to help you achieve clarity in communication and making sure you hit the right points for resonance before you hit publish to a broader audience. and lastly, being willing and patient enough to discuss your posts/ideas in comments, watching to make sure you don't come off as condescending/arrogant.

 

Note: I passed this article to one of you for editing. No reply. :) I'll keep looking for an editor and doing the best I can on the editing front for now. 

../.
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33+ Travel Hacks from 150k+ Flight Miles

[+150k miles on 8 airlines in 10 or so months.]
by Joseph Rueter

I’ve been reflecting on my sprint of business travel last year and thought I’d pass long some hacks. I am not sure that I’d suggest seeing both coasts of the US and flying 5 to 8 segments a week on a regular basis for anyone. However, there are likely a few tips in the extremes that I experienced that could aide even the one-off traveler. 

Here it goes.

Try not to look like you’re traveling
Blend in. It is awesome. Glancing eyes suck. Over stuffed bags grab attention and say “I’m not from around here.” Wrinkled suits say, "I did not sleep well.” Wondering slowly through an airport says, “I need a taxi." Have the appearance of a local as much as possible. Wear neutral clothing and do all you can to go where ever you’re going, even if you don’t know where you’re going, with confidence. 

Always have a bag packed with duplicates at the ready
This dramatically reduces stress because you’re always ready. Give me 10 minutes and I can be packed for a week. Be planned and ready to be ready. Have duplicates of everything in your bag and your house for basic personal care (2 tweezers, 2 nail clippers, and 2 of all of the normal stuff - hair goo, floss, etc.). Having a travel duplicate of your home care kit will reduce cognitive dissonance about what you’re missing. You’ll always have what you need. Moreover, remember that your devices need to charge. Those cords and adapters are as important or maybe even more important than your toothpaste and toothbrush. Bushes and paste are easy to find in comparison to charging cords. Have multiple ways to charge every device you have and keep one of each in each of your bags. Bags can get split up after all… but you'll stay charged regardless. A charged phone and bad breath is way better than the other way around.

Pick a color
Stick to it. I go with purple. I only buy shoes and socks and shirts and suits and everything in a color that goes with purple. It’s an accent and making the decision removes wondering about what items I can pack that coordinate. Grab specific pants and pullovers that coordinate well with your color when layering.

Layer up
Layering is the secret to packing light. Make it all work together and you don’t have to bring so much along. You also will remove the cognitive stress of not knowing if what’s in your bag is going to match. It’ll match. Also, if you find my go to pullover (a Patagonia R1) in the Seattle Airport, please send it to me. It’s the only thing I’ve “lost" in all 150k miles. I used it as a pillow on a flight from Hawaii and left it right there on the 757. So sad to have lost it. 

Get a really well tailored suit
When that thing fits, and I mean fits, you’re rockin’! You’ll look like a local. Get something that has an allergy to wrinkles. It really does not matter what it costs… just find one that does not wrinkle easily. Wrinkles make it look like you’re traveling. Former clients of mine to this day still think I live in their town. Nope… I just buy clothes that travel well.

Dudes, spend $250 for a shirt
Get an Eton, or three. No joke. You’re going to want it because it does not need ironing or tailoring (likely) and has a number of very specific finishes so you can command a room if you need. Pull it out of your bag… put it on and 10-20 minutes later it’s un-wrinkled from the heat of your body. Amazing. The collar stays are stitched into the shirt so you’re not going to loose them and the front buttons are on crisp reinforced fabric so there is a very small likelihood that they’ll present as un-crisp or puckering. There’s also a strip of stiffer fabric that rings the collar to keep the neck area sharp. Perfect.  

Dress shoes should be as much like sandals as you can get them
Not many are. When you’re traveling your dress shoes often need to be able to hike too (like 23 blocks at rush hour or some such madness). I’ve gone with Allen Edmonds. They have a cork base in them that break in like a pair of Birkenstocks. Some 7+ pairs don't lie. When you’re standing in line to pick up your second rental car in a 20 hour window, this one in LA (the previous in some other ridiculous town two flights ago)… your feet will thank you! Seriously. 

Running shoes should pack like sandals
Get a pair of Nike Free’s because the heals collapse. It’s a simple thing that makes for really easy packing. I’ve forgotten I’ve had sneakers along before… but, upon looking, they were packed. Fantastic. 

Pack light
Remember, you have to carry all this stuff to the lines that you stand in. Ick. It’s tough to justify a jacket and swimsuit when you’re going light. Maybe a GoLight Jacket (if you can find one after they recently went out of business) for the times it’s sprinkling or there is some wind and you are out on a walk or just trying to get some air. Drop in a swimsuit that does not look like one. Consider board shorts from Hurley if you’re a dude. Aim for versatility. These will help. Also, when there is a killer pool… get in. It helps muscles and your state of mind to just be in a different environment if for only a few minutes. 

Roller-boards - Blach!
Again, try not to look like you’re traveling. Rollers scream “I’m Traveling!” Get small and flexible bags with soft sides. It’s easier that way to do the whole experience. You can blend in. Moreover… regardless of the smallish and tiny plane you find yourself on you’ll be able to stick that non-roller somewhere on the plane. Maybe if you smile at the flight attendant they’ll even help you by putting in their compartment if needed. But, usually you can stick your bag under your seat. This keeps your flight schedule flexible. If something goes wrong you can grab your bag and jump the next flight just one gate down going to a town close enough to drive the rest of the way (it’s happened to me more than once). You did not check anything! It also keeps you from having to invest your life in waiting for your bag to come off the not-sure-where-your-bag-is conveyor. So helpful!

Get a convertible bag
Is that your bag? Is that all you brought? It can be a shoulder bag AND it can be a backpack bag. So, if you need to book it like a cheetah to the next flight 52 gates in the other direction… you can go backpack. If you need to look like you’re not traveling you can shoulder it and be all slick in and out of your meetings. Then your clients are less likely to wonder “Are your underwear in there?" Nope. They never had to ask the question. You had a bag that did not look like a suitcase. Consider the MLC from Patagonia. Go with Black.

Grab the Tumi folding thing
This thing does a fairly great job of keeping the folds you have to iron out of your clothes to a minimum. Many folks use Gallon (or larger) Zip Lock bags for their suits. I’ve had some favorable experiences with this but find it constraining. The Tumi folding thing just adds to the ease of the system.

Google.com/flights
Finding the mix and match of complicated or even simple itineraries are a complete cluster of clicks on most airline sites. Check that… all of them. Skip ‘em. Start at Google.com/flights. Their user experience is simple… and lighting fast. Try out your various configurations of options for travel to get the best price or shortest flights and then book strait to the “cart” page of the selected airline. Seriously. Strait to the cart page. There is nowhere else to start the booking process even if you’re a Frequent Flier. The information there is fast and empowering. But, remember, some of the smallish flights from say, Melbourne FL to Washington Dulles, or the Southwests of the world are not listed. Check those too. 

Park in the same place
Pick a place out of the way. You know the place. It’s where no one else parks. The reason you’re doing this is because when you get off the plane at your home airport for the 12th time in the same month or the 75th (or even the first) you’ll know exactly where to go. Easy. 

Get the Global Entry Thing
They’ll have your fingerprints. Yep. But, you’ll have quick access to the country which will save you hours of your life not standing in line at customs. You’ll also likely have access to TSA Pre-Check. This will also save you hours of time in your life. Once I had Pre-Check I rarely, if ever, arrived at the airport more than an hour before a flight. This keeps you from investing your life into standing in line.

Listen to books in lines
It took me 10 to 15 flights to think of this but eventually I got to the point where I walked into the airport with headphones on and a book on play. The act of learning during what is traditionally a "waste of time” provides an accelerant to productivity. Not only did you learn something but you did it when you were not likely going to do so. Bonus. Consider Audible for your book files. 

Grab an Airline Club Membership
Water, the daily paper, and Quiet! Those three things alone are going to pay for your club access over and over. The water is $5 bill each time. The paper keeps you connected to the world. At $2-3 dollars for the paper you’re at $16 dollars saved round trip by picking them up in the club. Further you’re reducing the friction. You don’t have to actually stand in line and buy these things. Seems simple but it helps a ton. It’s weird that when you’re traveling you’re among people all the time but seldom part of a shared story. The news helps connect you to the larger story. And then, finally… the quiet. There is a set of unspoken and sometimes written (but seldom read) rules of conduct that makes clubs a place worth including as part of your travel experience. It’s way better than the chaos of sound and “Anything-could-happen-right-now” in the terminals. 

When you don’t have club access or you’re at a tiny airport
Go semi-private. One of the hardest things about flying all-the-time is the lack of privacy. I go the the bathroom and shut the door just to be alone sometimes. Hey, it’s private. The club provides a semi-private alone-ness that proves to reduce the friction and cognitive load of travel. The gate as far away from anyone as you can get does too. Go there. 

Use the phone feature on your mobile
Check in on the airline apps. Have your backup boarding pass there, etc. Use it. Check your gates and times, etc. But more importantly, use the phone feature. As soon as anything gets delayed... call the airline. The number of times I’ve been sitting on a plane while also on the phone getting booked on another flight is way too numerous to count. The number of times I’ve flown into a city on one airline and out on another is also too numerous to count. Call the airline. Call right away.

Walk up to your gate 5 minutes after they start boarding
As you move up the boarding slots and get on first you have more time to work too. It’s sounds like a fussy perk. It’s not if that 20 minutes is all email time. Do you know how many emails you can process in 20 minutes? Tons. The airplane becomes a mini office of sorts. Use it that way. Get to the office early. You’ll get more done. The goal here is to minimize the amount of time invested into nothingness. Standing in line is horrible. Cranking out email is better.

Get a hotspot that boots quickly
iPads from T-Mobile with a data plan are awesome. It won’t charge you overages. It’ll simply clock your speeds down once you blow through your data (you’ll still get data if only at a trickle of speed). Who, cares, you’ve got data! Further, it’ll boot in under 60 seconds verses the +3 minutes the little hockey puck options (with crazy contracts) take to boot up. It’s not the actual time that matters… but the fact that you’ll be sitting there staring at it blankly while waiting for lights to come on. It’s just like watching paint dry and it’s a horrible way to invest your life. Most phones are also just as fast at “tethering” as the iPads. Save yourself the 3 minutes a few times a day.

Never put anything in the seat pocket
Everything has it’s place. Seriously. Seat pockets are for trash and that folded cup you don’t have anywhere else to put when you’re sitting coach. They are not for your phone… your tablet or your wallet. Hold this rule… stick your stuff back in your bags… every time. Get your two bags (one is the mobile office and the other is the soft side bag mentioned above) and you’re ready to go. This goes for your rental car and the hotel room too. Everything has it’s place and goes back every single time. Your wallet, your phone and your charing cords all need to go back in their place every time you use them. Build your system. When you deviate from it you’ll know right away… get the train back on the tracks and you won’t be losing things. 

Don’t talk to people… it’ll create memories
This one is a bit harsh. I understand that. However, you don’t remember your drive to work today vs. yesterday vs. two months ago. Do you? You only remember what’s different. You forget what's not eventful. It’s the same thing over and over. When traveling constantly, it was imperative that I found ways to make each flight as similar to the last and the next as possible. So, I don't talk to people. Talking to people creates memories. Those memories have cognitive load. That cognitive load is a tax that’s not worth paying. Practice in the mirror before hand “I’m sorry… but if I talk to you I’ll remember it. I am trying to make this as forgettable as possible. Thanks.” And get some killer headphones. You’ll be good.

Noise cancel
When you talk about this outside the context of an airport or flight it seems like a pesky little preference to have noise canceling headphones. Maybe it is. However, get a pair of headphones that cancel noise. Get the smallest ones you can find so you can pack them in a bag that does not look like you have them in there. Consider something from Bose. Then get two other pairs of earbud headphones too. The Apple ones are fine but make sure you have a pair that act a bit like earplugs. You’re going to want to have your own thoughts and controlling your audio input is imperative to accomplishing that goal. Make sure you have 2-3 tools in your bag to empower you to do so. Oh, and on long flights, the slim Apple earbuds are way better for sleeping with your ear on a pillow than most anything else.

Build a go-to playlist
Listen to what you want to listen too. Forget the story about the kids and the dog and the chatter about the next flight or if someone landed or is about to takeoff and all that other stuff people are inevitably murmuring about… oh, and CNN. Forget all of that. Create space to create your own experience. Audio has an extraordinary power to impact mood. Get a playlist that becomes your travel playlist. Turn to it. I’ll be a bit like “home.” I've found Spotify to be the absolute best for my own experience. It's super easy to find cool new music. 

Get off the airplane
Take all the time you want getting on the plane. It’s fine. Know where your bags are. No, really. However, when it’s time to get off the plane… just get off. Remember, you know where your bags are. This is not likely the first time you’ve gotten off an airplane. Stop acting like it is. Seriously… get off!

Walk up rental car rates are cheaper (depending on the day)
I’ve landed in a city without transportation or a place to stay on an airline I did not plan to use on a day before or after the day I was suppose to be there more times than I can count. Be flexible. Further… walk up to the rental car desk. It took me awhile to figure this out. I thought that if they had you in their lobby the price would be higher then the internet rates. Nope. On the internet they are all competing on price. In the lobby they can keep their low rates out of the sight of their competitors. Cool. So, rent on a day other than a Sunday or a Monday (everyone else already has the cars those days) and walk up. Oh, and know what’s going on in a town for sporting events and conventions before you go. The rates are regularly 1/3 to 1/2 for the listed internet rates on days when they have an excess of cars. Helpful!

Dial up your Uber and then text or call the driver immediately
I’ve used Uber regularly. Often, depending on the city, the Uber can be cheaper and/or way faster than getting a car. In nearly every case it’s cheaper than a Taxi. In those cases… Uber. When you do… book your Uber and then get on the text or phone with that driver… immediately. I’ve found it’s just easier to coordinate pickups. Let them know where you are and what you’re wearing. It’s weird for them to ask but when you offer the information it makes the pickup smoother. Depending on what city you’re in this is more important than others. It also builds a nice introduction to what is nearly aways a very warm conversation. This is one place where I try to make connections. I talk to the Uber drivers because it’s very clear how long the conversation will be and because I can get a sense for a place from a local with a degree of ease. 

Smile at the hotel desk. It’s simple… just smile
The agents at the desk transact key cards for credit cards over and over and over. Smile at them. Trust me. It makes a difference. I know you just traveled there on 14 flights for 30 hours. I know you’re tired. I know. Just smile. I promise. Just smile.

Iron your clothes immediately
You just got to your room. Now is the time to do your chores. Do it now. It’s the first thing to do is to lay our your clothes for the next day. Know you are ready to leave as fast as possible the next morning. Ironing is work for night hrs.

Workout. Seriously… move your body. Find a way
Walk the staircase to the top and back down. Hit the beach. Be the brisk walking weird person in the mall. Get out of your room and walk. After traveling all day sitting in your room is what you'll likely want to do. Don’t. Get out and move your body. There are a slew of things I’ve tried to reduce the impact of travel on my mind and sense of wellbeing. NOTHING has the kind of positive impact of moving my body. Maybe they even have a gym? Go there. Hit it. 

Crush the email with classical music
You are traveling. Meh. Now you’re email is full. Crank the classical when it’s time to crush email. I don’t know what it is but the time flies and the emails are shorter and more to the point when I have classical on.

Go. To. Bed
Traveling all the time is nothing compared to having to do it while you’re sick and/or sleepy. You might want to stay up and hit ESPN or HGTV for hours. Don’t. The sleep will provide a statistical advantage for your health. Take all the help you can provide for yourself to be as well as you can be. Sleep.

Protein and Vegetables. Nothing else
I don’t know what it is about our culture but protein and vegetables are two of the hardest things to find in airports. Pasta, sugar, carbohydrates, grain - that stuff is everywhere. Don’t eat it. It’s better to be hungry than on a glycemic roller coaster. Asian, and Mexican are always my go to foods. Just drop the rice. Grab a salad if you’re reasonably confident the place washed the leaves really well. Like, really well. Eat eggs for breakfast. Do it everyday. You’re going to enjoy travel so much more happliy when you eat only protein and vegetables. Trust me. 

Clean everything and repack right away
So, you’re home. Now, before anything else, clean your travel gear and re-pack it. You’re likely going to be leaving in under a day or two. Be ready. Oh, and mow the lawn.

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Ok, 33+ tips, for now. Enjoy! 

Why dept7

by Joseph Rueter

A friend recently asked "What are you chiefly good at?" My response was without hesitation that I am a thinker and a strategic one at that. 

I thought the question was fantastic, however, it caused me to ask why I am not expressing the thing that I am chiefly good at in a public way.  See, I think and build perspectives on all sorts of topics but I don't often share. 

It took a few days but when the pieces fell together on this issue it occurred to me that a few road blocks were in the way and that if I wanted to express thoughts via writing in public I'd need to attend to them. Here are just a few.

One, I am more than what I write. 
For sometime I've had my name as a URL and I've used that URL as the domain for my blog. The problem with this is that I am so much more than what I write or what's found when hitting enter on the URL. It seems obvious now, even a bit silly, but one of the reasons I've not been sharing thoughts in public is that I had a conceptual block on the branding of the blog I was maintaining. I thought that whatever posts I'd write would need, in some way to connect to who I was/am. My name was on the site after all. So, I've obtained dept7.com and feel much more free to write without a direct connection to the results of that writing defining who I am.

Two, I want a lab.
Over a year ago a different friend and I were talking about the future and he said point blank "You want a lab." The phrase resonated and I whole heartedly agreed. There is something refreshingly crisp about thinking of a blog as a lab. Ideas can be found, tested, refined and tinkered with in a lab.

Three, labs are about aiming for the future and making progress.
I've not been thinking in public because I've valued perfect over progress. The number of posts I've drafted to the point of being ready to publish but have withheld hitting "publish" due to some unsolved point of contention, or potential blind spot to "haters," are far too numerous.  With this lab that'll hopefully change by design.

So... dept7.
dept7 is about providing a lab like space for ideas to be to formed from learning and experiences and shared in a public way. Ideas need space to be aired, space to be shared, space to grow and space mature.

Welcome to dept7.