Blake Snow

writer-for-hire, content marketer, bestselling author

Hi, I'm Blake.

I run this joint. Don’t know where to start? Let me show you around:

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Published Works: The 5 Best Kansas City BBQ Joints

Courtesy Visit KC

My latest for Paste Magazine: “When I was nine, my father took me on an overnight trip to Kansas City. It was the first time I flew in an airplane or stayed at a fancy hotel. Even though I wasn’t allowed to leave the room while my dad attended a conference in the lobby, I felt like a VIP watching the “foreign” city just outside my high-rise window. That and cable television.

“Last month, I was finally able to “leave my room” and properly explore Kansas City for myself. Located at the epicenter of the lower 48, KC is known for many things, including its beautiful trees and Super Bowl champion Chiefs. But I followed my stomach there on a mission to identify the two-state city’s best barbecue joints.

“Known for its ubiquitous “burnt ends,” ribs, and signature thick sauce—which most Americans think of and buy when reaching for BBQ sauce (a la KC Masterpiece)—Kansas City is home to over 100 barbecue restaurants, many of which are nationally renowned. While I wasn’t able to visit all of them, I spent three full days eating slow-cooked meats and killer sauces for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The things we do for science.”

Continue reading…

How concentrated breathing acts like “brain fertilizer” for more focus and less stress

The following comes from PowerSpace, the self-mastery newsletter I co-founded:

There is a great, if slightly oversimplified, scene from Karate Kid II in which the protagonist laments to his calming sensei that his life is out of balance after getting dumped by his girlfriend and wrecking his car the night before. To help him quickly move to the present, the beloved Mr. Miyagi encourages his devoted student “Daniel San” to deliberately concentrate on his breathing.

“When you feel life is out of focus, always return to basic of life: breathing,” the master says. “No breathe, no life.” From there he instructs both the protagonist and viewers to inhale deeply and slowly from the nose. Followed by  exhaling deeply and slowly through their mouths several times while using both hands as a guide to the inward and outward exercise.

Afterwards, Daniel returns to work and drives a nail into a two-by-four with a single thwack! Continue reading…

Hey, you there: I will send a free copy of my new book in exchange for an honest review

Hey, readers. In an effort to promote my latest book this holiday, I’m doing a free review drive.

It works like this: Email your address to: inbox@blakesnow.com. I send you a free copy of the book. You read it. Then post an honest review, short or long — I don’t care — on Amazon.com.

If you’ve already read and/or reviewed Measuring History—thank you. If you’ve read it but haven’t reviewed it yet, would you mind leaving a brief review? It really helps get the word out as Amazon prioritizes books that are getting reviewed.

Thank you. Hope you go out with a bang this year!

BOOK DESCRIPTION: In 1976, three engineers from Austin, Texas created something that would one day touch the lives of more than half of the developed world. Neither “starting a revolution” nor “changing the world” was included in their mission statement. But with the help of some very smart people, a little dumb luck, and a lot of inventive customers, that’s exactly what happened. From its humble beginnings in a garage and narrowly avoiding a burnt-down headquarters, to making it to space and being honored by the Inventors Hall of Fame, this is the story of how National Instruments (NI) made history. It might not be sexy. It might not be cool. But it’s a true tale that just might change how you see the world.

Book review: Hey Ho Let’s Go—The Story of The “Ramones”

I’ve been on a Ramones kick lately. Love their Beach Boys-like melodies, upbeat songs, and humorous lyrics—not to mention their invention of the genre that made me pick up a guitar and start writing songs (punk rock).

This week I finished reading Hey Ho Let’s Go: The Story of The Ramones by British journalist Everett True. It’s an honest, compelling, and telling read about a “dysfunctional family who still loved each other.” As drummer Marky Ramone explains it, “We were brothers – brothers fight. They make movies out of it. That’s how it is.”

Highly recommended. ★★★★☆ These were my favorite passages:

  • The Ramones had to work for a living. They were a real touring band. The Ramones took their thing to each person individually through the years and that’s why we’re talking about them now.
  • Although driving five or more hours a day, weeks on end, in a van with someone you never speak to, might seem like a good enough reason to quit. But then, loads of people are in jobs they hate, and stay in them for long past 20 years.
  • Even if it was just going back to the hotel, they would stop at a 7–11. To get cookies, milk, something for the hotel room. It was always nice, you know… Pizza was the only ritual before show time – just plain cheese, the round ones, nothing extra. They’d always ask for it on the rider, and be very upset if it wasn’t there.
  • They were always bitter about the success they didn’t have. They didn’t have the hit record. They didn’t get the respect for starting punk rock. They didn’t get the respect they deserved for this, that and the other. They were so concerned with what was written about them and their image, unlike any band I’ve ever seen.
  • The Ramones represent the truth of the fact that you’re never too old to rock’n’roll as long as you believe in what you’re doing, and you can do it with a purity and conviction. The age of your band is irrelevant. Rock’n’roll is not for the young. It’s for people who refuse not to give a shit.
  • As you or I might love the Ramones, Johnny and Joey loved the Ramones more than any of us could even comprehend. They wanted the Ramones’ legacy to be pure. We will all miss Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee very much. And we all wish we could see them together, just one last time.

Published works: Why this Colorado hut hike ranks among the world’s best

Credit: Blake Snow

My latest for Orbitz: “If you enjoy hiking but aren’t fond of heavy packs, dry food, or sleeping in tents on the hard ground, we’ve got something for you. It’s called hut hiking, and it combines remote wilderness with some modern “cabin” conveniences such as bathrooms, a roof over your head, the wonder of mattresses, and easily prepared hot meals.

Although big in Europe, hut hiking never really caught on in America. That’s not to say hikeable huts don’t exist here. But they are limited to only a few routes in the entire nation and are noticeably more primitive when compared to the often full-service, multi-course meals, and shower-powered huts found abroad.

Regardless of quality, hut hiking is a game-changer for people who like good food, better sleep, lighter packs, fixed shelter, and improved hygiene as they explore the great outdoors on foot.” Continue reading…

I ate Applebee’s for the first time in 15 years — here’s what it was like 🤮

Courtesy Shutterstock

Once upon a time in the mid ’90s, my family regularly enjoyed lunch or dinner at Applebee’s. The national restaurant chain was founded in my home state of Georgia and rapidly expanded across the country that same decade. Americans loved the affordable comfort food, as did my father. Our whole family did really. So we ate there often.

Fifteen years ago, that all came to a screeching halt. After the last of an increasingly disappointing, if not unappetizing, meal, my twenty-something wife and I turned to each other and announced, “Let’s not eat here again.” So we didn’t.

Until this month. Continue reading…

After visiting 35 “United States,” these are the ones that stand out (so far)

Courtesy amCharts

I’m incredibly biased and totally indoctrinated, but I admire America. Objectively speaking, it truly is one of the world’s most diverse playgrounds. Granted, I cherish my adventures abroad and look forward to future ones. But I treasure my own backyard as much as I do exotic soil.

So far I’ve managed to spend meaningful amounts of time in 35 states (excluding states I’ve driven or flown through without doing more than filling gas or eating a roadside meal). As you can see from the accompanying map, I’ve traveled through all of the West, much of the South, and the better part of the Northeast.

Which states have left the biggest impression on me so far? To keep things fair, I’m excluding my home state of Utah, although many would argue it’s an impressionable one. Also, I tend to value “great outdoors” over cities. That said, these are my favorites until further notice: Continue reading…

W​hat Oklahoma tornadoes​ taught me about survival

An Oklahoma tornado courtesy of Shutterstock

Before moving to Georgia in my adolescence, I lived in Stillwater, Oklahoma for the first 12 years of my childhood. It was a wonderful place to grow up as a boy.

There were flat streets for my brother and I to skateboard all around town, lots of arcades for us and our friends to dump quarters into, and fishing at Theta Pond. Oh, and chili cheese dogs on Washington Street.

But there was also a harrowing threat of living in Oklahoma, especially in the summer. That’s because the state is home to more tornadoes than any other place in the world—right smack in the middle of Tornado Alley. And I distinctly remember many close encounters with them, if not once every other summer.

My first memory of a tornado was watching a slow and calming funnel cloud form directly over my house on Admiral Street. It was this giant, swirling, but graceful thing that looked like it could explode into a tornado at any moment. My family and I all watched from the front street. No one said it, but I’m sure all of us we’re thinking: “Please don’t touch down. Please.” We didn’t run because it wasn’t violent looking, and the sirens hadn’t gone off yet. In other words, when you live in Oklahoma, you learn to live with the threat of tornadoes every summer. And you don’t scramble for cover or storm shelters until you can feel, observe, and hear that something violent is about to happen. Continue reading…

How volunteering boosts your productivity, self-worth, and happiness

Courtesy Shutterstock

The following sample lesson come from my employee training curriculum, Power Space.

No one disputes the overwhelming evidence that volunteering does wonders for our self-worth and happiness. Giving, it seems, really is better than receiving when it comes to how we feel about ourselves and the greater world we live in.

But the power of service doesn’t just begin and end with our own improved happiness. In fact, when we feel better about ourselves, we are much more likely to contribute, collaborate, and ultimately work at maximum capacity, research shows.

This is due to several reasons:  Continue reading…

Published Works: 5 Ways This Trendy Reservoir Rivals Nearby Lake Powell

Courtesy Utah Tourism

My latest for Paste Magazine: The first time I visited Flaming Gorge, I had no intention of boating it. After traveling through nearby Dinosaur National Monument, my family drove two hours north to Red Canyon Overlook to hike the rim and take in the 1400 foot cliffs.

Then we saw a handful of ski boats far below, enjoying “glass” conditions on the giant lake, in the middle of the afternoon. “We have to come back to boat this,” I said to my wife.

This summer we did. After years of enjoying Lake Powell on the opposite end of Utah, we now have a new favorite spot that’s a lot more “socially distant” but just as fun as the more popular Powell. Here’s why. Continue reading…

DRUMMER WANTED: My cover band is looking for a new member

Hey, Utah County readers. Due to scheduling conflicts, my cover band, SUPER COVER, is searching for a new drummer. We currently play these 33 songs. (new wave rock classics to indie alternative from 2005-2015). We rehearse twice a month in Provo on Wednesday evenings and play paid gigs 8-10 times a year. Your own gear and transportation is required. If you or someone you know is interested, please send a 1-2 minute audition video of the following songs: 1901 by Phoenix, Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears For Fears, the big buildup from Mountain at My Gates by Foals, and Rio by Duran Duran. You can send these to band@supercovermusic.com or text to 801-404-8542. If we like your submitted audition, we’ll be holding live auditions in early October. Thanks for considering.🤘

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Published Works: Berlin’s abandoned spy station is the most dystopian thing ever

“Devil’s Mountain” in Berlin (Courtesy Berlin Tourism)

My latest dark tourism review for Orbitz: “Walking up from the parking lot, I was then greeted by a 1990s television set, ottoman, and office chair sitting in the middle of an overgrown courtyard… as if it belonged there. Beyond was a series of five rectangular buildings and four bulbous radome towers rising above. Not only are many of the windows busted out or partially broken, the buildings themselves are brightly colored, as if a giant toddler took a box of crayons and started filling in the shapes.” Continue reading…

Green Day’s “Basket Case” is the greatest punk song of all-time

While driving home recently, Basket Case started playing on the radio. Within seconds, my wife, oldest daughter, and I all started singing in unison and rocking out to this remarkable, upbeat, and absolutely perfect punk song.

Written by a 21-year old Billy Joe Armstrong, the three minute track sounds like it’s on speed. It has six breakdowns, numerous chord changes, and amazing melodies. I adore it.

In fact, this was the song that inspired me to learn guitar. Although I had picked up a few open chords before, I was determined to learn this song in its entirety. And with the help of barre chords, I quickly did and never looked back.

So there you have it: the greatest punk song ever that inspired a 15-year old me to learn guitar and eventually write songs for myself. Thank you, Green Day.

Cool news: My second book is being giving out to new employees now

Last fall after publishing my second book, the company it’s largely written about (NI) placed a very large order “to give out to current and future employees.”

This week my friend, Ron Wolfe, who was an instrumental source, sent me the above photo. It looks as though Measuring History is now part of NI’s new employee welcome package.

I’m thrilled that even more people will be given the chance to read the book. Just this week I ran into a family friend who didn’t know it existed, even though she read my first. Hopefully things like this can get the word out further.

Selling books is hard!

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Published works: America’s best museums, 5 “Southern” Cities, Spanish interview

Courtesy Art Institute of Chicago

Here’s a recap of my recently published works:

Review: The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro is a riveting profile about Italian fortune and folly

I recently read Joe McGinniss’s excellent book about a minor league soccer team that did the impossible: qualify for the second highest professional league in the world, despite coming from a mountain town with only 5,000 people. The book is so heartfelt and devoted, you even see the author becoming unreliably impassioned through the course of the seasons as the book wears on, particularly at the bittersweet ending.

While reading it, I appreciated the race to the finish and cultural insights into Italian behavior and ways of thinking, which are dramatically different than Americans. I was emotionally torn at some parts but could not put it down. Basically the book is a culture clash that will give you pause, make you think, and cause you to laugh.

Here are some of my favorite passages:

  • They recognized history when it was made, even at their own expense, and they had waited for ninety long minutes, swelling their own disappointment, simply in order to pay tribute to the men from the mountains of the Abruzzo, who would never be considered little again.
  • The golden color of the abruzzese fall had begun advancing down the mountain’s flank like an army, each day driving back a few meters farther the doomed green forces that had ruled all summer long.
  • I’d long been of the view that only people in positions of power from which they cannot be easily unseated — they, and the mentally deranged — will talk for half an hour or more when it is obvious to everyone except themselves that no one is listening.
  • It is remarkable, really, how much specific information can be conveyed through even the most impermeable of language barriers if the conveyor truly wishes to do so and has the patience and resourcefulness to keep trying, no matter how obtuse the listener might seem.

Rating: ★★★★★

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Introducing “Get Out There,” my new travel column for Paste Magazine

Since mass tourism began in the late 1800s, humans have always needed encouragement when it comes to exploring the world. Today I believe humans need more travel encouragement than ever before.

Which brings me to my new travel column, Get Out There for Paste Magazine (7 million monthly readers). Here is the description: “Get Out There is a new column for itchy footed humans written by Paste contributor Blake Snow. Although weird now, travel is still worthwhile—especially to these open borders.” My first column on 5 “Southern” Cities That Never Get Old just published this week. I hope you like it.

Moving forward, I’ll focus on domestic profiles and roundups, including a review of America’s newest national park, Kansas City BBQ tour, and the next Lake Powell. After that, I hope to incorporate international destinations again as borders slowly reopen.

Whatever happens, I’m thrilled to be writing a column for Paste Magazine again. Thanks for reading.

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What I think about my Dad’s looming death

Brent Snow surrounded by his wife and grandkids

My dad is dying.

Two years after a disabling stroke that compounded his dementia, he is largely brain dead now and rapidly deteriorating. I haven’t spoken to him since Christmas. Even then it was like speaking to a toddler.

Bedridden for most of the year, he mumbles gibberish on occasion. But he mostly sleeps while confined to his bed on heavy medication. It’s deeply saddening.

Earlier this summer, my uncle said it best: “Your father was the smartest, most intelligent, and funniest of the three of us,” he said, speaking of the three brothers. “It’s heartbreaking to see him lose that gift before the rest of us.”

As terrible as it sounds, I’ve actively hoped for my father’s death all year. This is no way to live. I don’t fault any of my family members, however, for wanting to keep his warm, breathing body around. I fully trust my mother’s and nearby sibling’s selfless care of him.

We tried hard as a family to help him rally, but it wasn’t meant to be. On top of that, I take great comfort in my conviction that I will see him again, in all his glory, in the afterlife.

Some people think that’s fake news. But there’s no proof either way—which makes this beautiful, mysterious life on Earth all the more magical. Whatever happens, I hope you tell your dad you love him after reading this.

I’ll go first: Dad, I love you. I never got to say it with the knowledge that it would be my last time doing so, but I love you. Thank you for being an extraordinary and devoted father. I miss you.

Read also: 10 reasons my dad is awesome

The weirdos who don’t like weekends

Courtesy Shutterstock

According to widespread reports, most people look forward to taking two days off at the end of the week. Not everyone does, though. These are their stories.

Humanity loves weekends for a variety of reasons. Topping the list: Sleeping in, unstructured free time, and a higher chance of leisure, extra-curricular activities, and social encounters with friends and family.

But not everyone is a fan of weekends. Although I was unable to locate any published research or studies on the percentage of people who dislike weekends, I recently interviewed over two dozen Americans who self-identify from that group. This is what I learned.

Work is the biggest reason

The vast majority of people I spoke to—well more than half—blamed an obsession with work as the reason for hating weekends. Most claimed to be self-prescribed “workaholics” and didn’t like to see their progress slow to a crawl for a couple of days while the rest of the world checked out and remained largely unreachable.

“I’ve always felt that people use weekends as an excuse to be lazy,” says Hope Alcocer, an “overly caffeinated” marketer from Chicago. “Your motivation and momentum is stunted as you hold your breath and wait until Monday. I understand the need for work-life balance, but I’m unsure who decided that two full days is required for such a thing.”

Milana Perepyolkina, a therapist from Salt Lake City, cites an aspirational lack of purpose when she’s not working. “During weekends I don’t feel like I’m making the world a better place,” she says. “The only way to change my displeasure of weekends would be to fill them with appointments with people in need of help,” which is difficult to do, she adds, because most of her patients don’t want to see doctors on weekends.

In general, the temporary idleness or lull of the weekend is distressing for some. “I don’t like to be bored, and I find myself getting bored on the weekends with too much free time on my hands,” says Beth McRae, a publicist from Phoenix. “Weekends just feel less productive,” adds Amanda Lauren, a freelancer from Los Angeles. “That stresses me out and then I feel really guilty about not working.” Continue reading…

Navy Seal secret: Saying “I’m done!” is only 40% true

Courtesy Shutterstock

Forbes explains: “The 40% rule is simple: When your mind is telling you that you’re done, that you’re exhausted, that you cannot possibly go any further, you’re only actually 40% done.”

This simple trick is often used by Navy Seals to help them dig deeper than most humans are capable of. In that way, the human mind is an amazing thing. “It both propels us forward and holds us back,” Forbes concludes.

“The 40% rule reminds us that no matter how exhausted we might feel, it is always possible to draw on an untapped reserve of energy, motivation, and drive that we all possess.”

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Published works: 8 epic road trips in Utah, plus best time to visit

Courtesy Lonely Planet

My latest for Lonely Planet:

  • The best time to go to Utah. With five national parks, more than two dozen national landmarks, and its award-winning skiing, Utah is one of the most beloved adventure states in America. With four distinct seasons, however, your mileage will vary depending on the timing of your visit. Whether hiking, off-roading, or playing in its snow or desert waters, these are the best times to go.
  • The 8 best road trips in Utah. Utah is world famous for its red-rock arches and deep canyons, but as with many things in life, the journey is often better than any singular landmark. The same is true for the Beehive state – to really get to know it, fuel up, roll down the windows and hit the road.

Thanks for reading (and sharing with someone who might appreciate these).

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Log Off interview: “Staying online all of the time is a great way to burnout”

Courtesy Lindsey Snow

I was recently interviewed by the largest newspaper in Chile about my book Log Off. This is what I said:

1. Why it is important to log of?

Staying online all of the time is a great way to burn out both body and mind. Twenty-first century evidence clearly demonstrates the negative affects to our mental and physical wellbeing when we fail to disconnect at regular intervals.

2. Why do so many of us fail to do it?

The internet is bottomless in its ability to encourage us to click on one more thing. As such, it feels empowering to keep clicking and getting rewarded for seeking out topics and relationships of interest. So we get sucked in and suffer from compulsive disorders. Then we find ourselves feeling empty and alone, because the internet can only simulate relationships, belonging, and even understanding. As sensory beings, we were meant to experience life, not just read or watch videos about it.

3. What’s the beset way to succeed?

Deleting all of your phone’s visual and audio notifications unless they come from your soulmate, children, or parents is my biggest recommendation. Even Apple CEO Tim Cook does this, because he knows that phones are just a tool, not something that should interrupt our life at every waking minute. There are a lot more specific recommendations in my book that many people have adopted over the years, but that’s where I’d start.

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Published works: 10 reasons this might be America’s best lake

Courtesy Shutterstock

My latest for Fodor’s: “America is home to a glut of amazing lakes. Tahoe, Crater, Flathead, and Havasu just to name a few. But in terms of sheer adventure, nothing beats Lake Powell for its houseboats, water-skiing, cliff jumping, swimming, boat-hiking, extra elbow room, and limitless exploration. Here’s what makes Lake Powell the most fun-loving body of water in the country.” Continue reading…

Winning time: 7 ways to crush your calendar

If you’re able to organize your life without a calendar, I have two things to say: 1) You are a miracle; and 2) The following does not apply to you.

For everyone else, I have some proven advice that will help you get the most from your daily, weekly, monthly, and even annual schedule, while helping you free up precious time and prioritize things that are more important to you.

In no particular order, they are as follows:

Continue reading…

5 different values: Why half of the people you disagree with aren’t stupid

The majority of presidential elections in my lifetime have been determined by little more than 1% of the total vote (roughly 50/50). Regardless of who wins, I always hear the same thing: “The other half of the country is stupid and doesn’t get it.” Which is a stupid, ignorant thing to say.

That’s because when someone disagrees with how you want to govern others, what they’re really doing is valuing different things, regardless if they live in a big city or rural community.

More specifically, researchers have found that humans universally value the following five morals: harm, fairness, loyalty, traditionally authority, and purity. Liberals largely value only harm and fairness. Conservatives value all five about equally in the middle. Libertarians value all five equally, albeit on low levels of all five.

Those values determine whether you’re a liberal, conservative, or libertarian—all of which are inaccurate labels, by the way. Liberals should really be called “People who only care about harm and fairness,” but admittedly that doesn’t roll off the tongue. Conservatives really should be called “People who are slow to change because they want want to value it all,” and libertarians are “You’re on your own, whether you’re a winner or loser in this unfair world.”

It’s interesting to note how values change over time. For example, a liberal living in the ’80s wouldn’t have thought twice about where his tomato was grown or what diet the piece of beef sitting in front of him was raised on. Nowadays, “food purity” is a huge deal to liberals, almost as much as “sexual purity” is to conservatives, even as the latter is increasingly open and accepting of homosexuals.

The truth of politics, according to philosopher Jonathan Haidt, is that liberals and conservatives aren’t right or wrong. Like yin and yang, night and day, or how each of use can be either financially liberal or conservative at times, these ideologies can and should both work together to preserve the good parts of society while improving deficient areas.

Easier said than done, of course. But as Haidt argues, the sooner we accept moral humility, the sooner we can abandon our own self-righteousness about the human condition. When that happens, we can organize, order, and improve society even more.

How to negotiate: 6 points to remember

Shutterstock

According to Quora: “We all find ourselves in negotiations at some point in our lives. Raises, marital disputes, car shopping, you name it. I’d imagine that the Internet waited with bated breath for an answer to the Quora question, “What are the basics of the art of negotiation?”

“Thankfully, author, entrepreneur, and angel investor David S. Rose chimed in with his thoughts. Rose’s answer was concise and simple. Six points, really. Understand the market, understand your options, understand the other side’s options, decide on your walk-away outcome, decide on your ideal outcome, and negotiate with integrity.

“As a bonus, Rose notes that the critical aspect of negotiation is deciding on your walk-away outcome. Once you figure that out, the rest is easy.”

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Food for thought: If your house was on fire, what would you reach for first?

Courtesy Shutterstock

If it were me, I’d grab my home office computer. It has gobs of family photos and videos on it—nearly one terabyte and two decades worth. It would likely be several times larger than that, but

For years I paid and used an online backup service. But then it didn’t work so well. So I backed up some of my library on Google but have yet to organize and upload everything.

But that’s not really the point. The point is thinking about what you value most. And since I value experiences over things, I suppose the only things I really collect are memories and photos.

So that’s what I would reach for first in a blazing inferno.

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How to avoid misinformation

One of my biggest fears is having any of my loved ones, especially my children, succumb to misinformation or worse—disinformation. The former is false but not intentionally so. The latter is an outright lie and politically misleading. Both are bad for your health.

But there are several steps each of us can take to avoid, investigate, and ultimate correct misinformation. They are as follows: Continue reading…

LISTEN: Top 10 “How I Built This” episodes

I recently binged on several dozen episodes of How I built this over a few long flights and a couple long nights. These are what I believe to be the most insightful, heartfelt, and inspiring stories:

  1. Jonah Peretti (new media mogul)
  2. Blake Mycoskie (three-time entrepreneur)
  3. Barbara Corcoran (real estate mogul)
  4. Sarah Blakely (corset underwear inventor)
  5. Jimmy Wales (encyclopedia savant)
  6. Jack Conte (artistic crowd-funder)
  7. Tony Hsieh (online shoe kingpin)
  8. Rick Steves (travel magnet)
  9. Vlad Tenev (Wall Street disrupter)
  10. Ben & Jerry (modern ice cream pioneers)

Honorable mention: Joe Gebbia (home share inventor)

How speaking up gets you grease

Courtesy Shutterstock

This is a sample lesson from my new employee training company, Power Space

Admitting that you’re stuck is a hard thing to do. Asking for help is even harder, especially for the more prideful souls among us, of which there is no shortage. On top of that, many of us refrain from asking for help because we think doing so is imposing or causes unwanted work for others.

Nothing could be further from the truth. While it’s true that asking for help sometimes creates more work for others, we do not get to decide what is unwelcome work for others. Predicting or telling ourselves that is an unhelpful projection. That may be true some of the time, but research shows that humans are usually willing to help. As social creatures, it’s in our DNA and has been for tens of thousands of years.

But to get the help we need, either personally or professionally, we must ask. We must speak up. No one else will do that for us and, in fact, it’s no one else’s job except ours alone. Waiting for someone else to ask on our behalf is not only unfair, it prolongs our frustration, delays fulfillment, and saps motivation. Continue reading…

80’s Night: Help promote my band’s biggest show ever w/ cool posters 😎

Hey, SUPER COVER fans.

My band is excited to play an all-new, 80’s-filled, rocking setlist this Saturday, June 26, 7:30 PM at Platinum Music in Provo. We’ll be covering The Clash, Duran Duran, Billy Idol, The Cure, Hall & Oates, Tears for Fears, Springsteen, and more, plus a few contemporary dance-rock surprises. Kids welcome—this is an all-ages show.

To help make it our biggest performance to date, would you please share the below posters with everyone you know?

Thanks and see you Saturday. 🤘

PS—Watch our last show here.

Book review: Among The Thugs is hilarious at first, but ends tragically in crowd violence

Sometimes I read something by someone that’s so brilliantly written, it makes me doubt my status as a professional writer. Bill Buford is one of those writers.

For years I’ve wanted to read his first book, Among The Thugs, published in 1990 about violent English soccer fans, but it was out of print or not in ebook form until I last checked this month. After securing a copy, I devoured the book in two days.

One critic describes it as “A grotesque, horrifying, repellant, and gorgeous book; A Clockwork Orange come to life.” I enthusiastically agree.

During the early chapters, I laughed out loud twice. By the middle chapters, I felt complicit if not guilty for reading such eyewitness horrors. I admired Buford’s honesty and vulnerability, both as a writer and journalist. As the New York Times noted in its review of the book, “Buford pushes the possibilities of participatory journalism to a disturbing degree.”

That’s because each of us become who we associate with. And after studying and associating with weekend thugs for eight years, Buford admittedly got close to becoming one. In that way, Among The thugs is an uncomfortable but important work on group think, violence as a symptom, and what can happen in overly proper societies when the root cause of problems are rarely addressed.

Five stars out of five, although it dashed my spirits for a couple of afternoons. These were my favorite passages: Continue reading…

Published works: Best things to do in Utah with kids

My latest for Lonely Planet:

“With five fabulous national parks, roads that encircle mountains and navigate red-rock deserts, and miles of slopes for skiing and hiking, Utah is an outdoor playground. For families, it’s one of the best destinations for exploring only-in-Utah natural wonders. Whether you’re looking to dip your toe into a canyon river or hike to a remote stone arch, these top experiences are perfect for families.” Continue reading…

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Published works: 9 travel myths you shouldn’t believe

My latest for Orbitz: “Depending on the trip, travel can be easy, hard, or somewhere in between. But it’s rarely (if ever) one of the below. Here are some of the most popular and enduring beliefs that do more harm than good when it comes to planning, navigating, and enjoying both domestic and international travel.” Continue reading…

Published works: The 9 coolest caves in America

My latest for Orbitz: “Caves are figuratively and literally cool. As natural voids below the surface, caves offer a chilly refuge on hot days, and a place to marvel at unique rock formations and ancient stalagtites. National Cave Week, June 6-12, celebrates these natural wonders. In the spirit of spelunking, these are the greatest caves in America.” Continue reading…

SAVE THE DATE: My band is playing a free outdoor music fest on June 12

My band Super Cover is playing a free, live outdoor music fest on June 12, 5:00 PM, at the Cranberry Farms Clubhouse in Lehi. There will be food trucks, free prizes, games for kids, and three rocking bands. Show starts at 5:00. We go on at 6:00. See our last concert here

Please bring your family and friends. It’s gonna be an awesome night. 🤘

PS—If you can’t make this performance, please join us for our 80’s only show on June 26, 7:30 at Platinum Music in Provo. 

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Success: Okay losing everything you have?

Before his death last year, respected businessman Tony Hsieh once defined success as “being okay with losing everything you have.” He died a single man a few years later at 46 as a multimillionaire and pioneer of online shoe sales.

I’ve recently pondered his definition. I like and mostly agree with it. But I would not be okay losing my wife and children. I would be devastated. I suppose I could come to accept it in time and try the best I could to move on. But it sure would break me for a long time.

As a writer, I would not be okay losing my hands or voice, which would prevent me from typing or dictating my thoughts. But I’d like to think I would be capable of reinventing myself and using my inquisitive talents in other ways.

Perhaps that’s what Hsieh meant by success. A living person that is capable of finding new meaning and contributing in new ways at any point of their life.

But I believe success can and should be so much more than that. If anything I would hope that when I’m gone, the world is a slightly better place, at least in my little village.

What do you think, kind reader?

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Need a convincing reason to work less? Try this.

Courtesy Shutterstock

Working long hours is killing hundreds of thousands of people a year, according to the World Health Organization.

In a new study, researchers found that people working 55 hours or more a week are 35% more likely to suffer a stroke and 17% more likely to die of heart disease compared to people putting in 35 to 40 hours a week. That amounts to about 750,000 people a year across the world — and that was before the pandemic hit and rejiggered work-life balance struggles.

The evidence keeps mounting.

30 conversation starters that can help you make friends and learn new things

Lady Bird by Universal Pictures

I would never ask someone all of these questions, but I regularly reach for a handful of them when meeting new people and talking with my family over the holidays.

  1. What are you excited about? (This is my all-time favorite icebreaker because it instantly tells you if that person is interesting or not.)
  2. What do you like better: waking up in the morning or going to bed at night?
  3. What would you do if you had a million dollars?
  4. What is a weird habit that you have?
  5. Would you rather go without television or junk food for the rest of your life?
  6. Where is the most interesting place you have ever been to?
  7. Do you believe in extraterrestrials or life on other planets?
  8. What does a perfect day look like to you?
  9. What was it like growing up where you did?
  10. Is the world a better or worse place than it was 10 years ago? Will it get better in the next 10?
  11. What are your top three all-time favorite movies?
  12. In what ways are you different from your parents? How are you the same?
  13. What are three things you have that your parents didn’t have when they were growing up?
  14. What is the most useful thing you own?
  15. What do you think of tattoos?
  16. What is something popular that annoys you?
  17. What is a controversial opinion that you have?
  18. Which is more important: a great house or car?
  19. What is your guilty pleasure?
  20. What is the most overrated movie?
  21. Which is better: movie or books?
  22. What’s your favorite season?
  23. What was the last book you read?
  24. What’s the best place you’ve ever traveled to?
  25. How has technology changed music?
  26. What is the best thing about being a kid/adult?
  27. Who is your favorite extended family member and why?
  28. Which is better: buying experiences or things?
  29. Is the world a mostly safe or mostly dangerous place?
  30. What was the best part of your day?
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In a heartbeat: 6 countries I’m going back to after borders reopen

Me standing tall in Kyoto

Before pandemic closed international borders and decimated airline routes, I held the ridiculous job of getting paid to travel the world. I’d jetset to far-flung places (often with my family) and then write a review of what I liked most about the place, people, attractions, and/or food.

It was unreal.

Although I plan on taking up that job again, for now I can only dream. And when I look back on the dozens of places I’ve had the privilege of visiting, these are the ones I’ll return to in a heartbeat—one for every inhabited continent.

When daydreaming or adding places to your bucket list, few countries are more lovable than these:

Japan (Asia). Half of the food is amazing. The other half is gross. But the people are 100% adorable. And their contradictory culture is mesmerizing—everything from their language, customs, formality, architecture, tradition, and scenery. BONUS points for being one of the safest and cleanest countries on Earth—a place where kindergartners freely roam downtown late into the night, it’s so safe.

Continue reading…

Why I love my car: 2011 Dodge Journey

Someone recently asked what kind of car I drive. “A discontinued Dodge Journey,” I replied with zero pretense.

My particular model is a 2011—a decade old. My wife and I bought it used when the odometer read 20,000 miles. It now has 130,000 on it, the most I’ve ever logged on a vehicle.

I still love my car and hope to drive it for at least a few more years. Here’s why: Continue reading…

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How facing our fears is fulfilling and rewarding

Facing your fears is never easy. It doesn’t get easier with age.

My wife and I were talking about facing our fears recently with our daughter Sadie. She runs on the track team but it makes her nervous, as any track athlete well knows. We complimented her for running, which is a painful event at the speeds track runs.

Quick backstory: Sadie finished second in the state of Utah while running the mile in grade school. Nevertheless, she was so scared she’d finish last in her first high school meet, that she didn’t even register for the mile. She chose sprints instead and got blown away. That’s what happens when distance runners run sprints.

Anyways, her mother and I encouraged her to run the mile, 400, and 800 next time. She accepted the challenge (we didn’t force her), and she registered for all three events at her next meet. She was visibly nervous for the full week leading up to the big day.  Continue reading…

Musicians are in peril, at the mercy of giant monopolies that profit off their work

This is a great read by American Prospect on the decline of middle-class musicians who can no longer make a living.

From the article: “Spotify also pays out absurdly low per-stream rates, though not as bad as YouTube. ‘Last year, the COVID year, Galaxie 500 had 8.5 million streams on Spotify,’ Damon Krukowski explained. ‘We also released a 2,000-copy, limited-edition LP. They raised the same amount of money. Neither is enough to live on.’ Krukowski calculated that to earn the equivalent of a $15-an-hour living wage, a band would have to get 650,000 streams per month per band member.”

This is sad news without a clear remedy.

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“Exit, Voice, and Loyalty” explains why neighborhoods decline

In his famous book, Exit, Voice and Loyalty, Albert Hirschman boiled the choices a citizen had for influencing a larger organization into three broad categories. Exit (one could leave if one wasn’t satisfied), Voice (one could try to change the organization by speaking out, and Loyalty (one could go along with the organization as it was, and expect some reciprocity for their commitment).

A key challenge for fighting neighborhood decline, and overcoming concentrated poverty is building a credible expectation on the part of neighborhood residents that things are going to change, and change for the better. Building hope is needed to reinforce loyalty and minimize exit, reports City Observatory.

Strong Towns adds the following: “If you let the naysayers overwhelm your community, then they’ll be right; nothing will change. But just as the negative attitudes can pile on top of one another and grow exponentially into a massive weight that begins to drown your city, so, too, can positive actions pile on top of one another and buoy your town toward a better future.

“If you look closely, you’ll see that there are already people around you who are starting to take those actions. It might be your neighbor down the block who carefully tends her front garden each spring. It might be the hardware store owner who says hello to people as they pass by. It might be the mom who picks up trash with her kids as she walks them to school in the mornings.

“Let these people inspire you and start taking your own steps to shine a positive light on your neighborhood. Then join with your neighbors, tell them their efforts matter, and be part of building the future of your community together. Don’t let the psychology of decline be the death of your neighborhood.”

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