Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

Hi, I'm Blake.

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

As seen on CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox, Wired, Yahoo!, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal

The pros and cons of electric car camping

Courtesy Chevrolet/Barry Staver

A strange thing happened to me recently. I started getting invites from consumer goods companies to attend travel-related press trips. For instance, a deodorant company built an epic treehouse in Tennessee and wanted me to stay in it, even though it’s not available to the public. A razor manufacturer wanted to fly me and a guest to the Bahamas under the guise that I’d mention their name while writing about the completely unrelated resort.

Why are companies doing this? Because people don’t watch ads anymore. That and up-and-coming generations increasingly value experiences (such as travel) above things (such as consumer goods or even cars). In any case, I had previously declined these invitations. That is until Chevrolet offered to let me drive their new electric car through Rocky Mountain National Park. Since both of those interest me, I begrudgingly said, “Yes!” Continue reading…

Please enjoy: The best things I published recently

Excluding undisclosed commercial work (i.e. the bulk of my work), here are the best things I’ve published recently:

Thanks for reading and sharing the above. 

How money often prevents us from seeing the big picture

Geoff Livingston

Geoff Livingston

A businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal village in Mexico. Just then, a skiff docked with one humble fisherman inside. His boat contained several large yellowfin tuna.

The businessman complimented the fisherman’s catch and asked how long it took to reel them in. “Only a little while,” the fisherman replied. The onlooker then asked why he didn’t stay out longer to catch more fish. The fisherman said he had enough to support his family’s needs. “What do you do with the rest of your time?” the man pressed.

“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, stroll the village each evening, sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos,” the fisherman replied. “I live a full life, señor.” Continue reading…

What’s in a name? What I learned staying in Trump’s #1 rated hotel

Before taking office, the vast majority of U.S. presidents were lawyers. President Trump, on the other hand, was a real estate developer, TV star, and hotelier of 14 properties—some of which by name-only.

One of those properties is Trump Waikiki. On a recent trip to Oahu I stayed there because at the time of booking and during my stay, Trump Waikiki was the number one rated hotel out of 84 in Honolulu, according to TripAdvisor.

That alone piqued my interest, as did the political novelty. But the real reason is because I was being hosted by the hotel in the hopes that I would write about it. And here we are. Not because I was contractually obligated to. In my capacity as a travel writer, I never guarantee coverage, meaning if I feel something doesn’t deserve your attention—even shiny freebies—I don’t write about it.

Why am writing about this shiny freebie then? Continue reading…

Map of the day: Where in the world have I been?

I feel fortunate to have visited 33 countries (plus territories) on six different continents so far.

And yet I’ve only scratched the surface—just 13% of the world’s 200 countries. Furthermore, the above map is grossly skewed. I’ve only visited 70% of America’s states. I’ve yet to visit mainland Asia, the Middle East, and 90% of the rest of Africa. And I’ve visited just one state (New South Wales) of the USA-sized Australia.

Granted, I have no intention of visiting every country on Earth. It doesn’t take that many to realize we’re all the same and that we live on the most beautiful rock in the observable universe. That and I still have a lot I want to do in my own backyard and on repeat trips abroad.

But I do hope to visit all seven continents someday. Not only does distance makes the heart grow fonder, but a change in geography is good at keeping us on our toes.

Love you, Earth.

PS—Airplanes are amazing and travel is overrated for the following reasons.

5 things I learned after visiting New Zealand

There’s solemn appreciation whenever I tell someone I’m headed to New Zealand. “Oh, wow!” they say. “My [insert relation] has traveled the world and that’s their favorite place.”

That reputation isn’t lost on me. But I wanted to know for myself—what’s so special about this two-island nation near the bottom of the world?

For one thing, it’s a long way away. Up to 10,000 miles for most people. In my case, it was 14 hours one way by jet. But after visiting both islands this month, I’d travel twice that number to visit New Zealand again. Here’s why. Continue reading…

Fake news: How excessive internetting increases groupthink and stupidity

The following is an excerpt from Log Off by Blake Snow


I believe excessive internetting divides and might someday conquer us.

In fact, it already spoils teamwork and our ability to have intelligent conversations about controversial topics, such as climate change, immunizations, nutrition, and politics. It does this because the unlimited amount of information and opinion found online actually heightens our susceptibility to confirmation bias, the cognitive disorder that most of us suffer from in which we tend to only listen to information that confirms our preconceptions and worldview rather than challenging us toward progress, compromise, and trade-offs.

Put simply, it increases hive-mindedness and groupthink.

Further, excessive internetting increases our susceptibility to information bias and the ostrich effect. The former has proven to weaken our decision-making since access to less information often results in more accurate predictions and decisions. The latter relates to the above. Since we can indulge and decide which worldview we choose to see now by filtering out things we don’t like to confront, it’s easier now to delude and shield ourselves from complex and uncomfortable realities. Thus, excessive internetting solidifies cognitive dissonance. Continue reading…

Published works: Colorful Colorado, web reruns, Cliffs of Moher, net zero buildings

Cliffs of Moher courtesy Visit Ireland

Excluding non-bylined commercial stories, here are my most recent published works:

Thanks for reading. 

How Disney turned me into a travel writer

Not long ago, I wrote a seemingly simple story that forever changed the amount of adventure I’ve been exposed to ever since.

For years leading up to that moment, my wife pleaded with me to take her and our kids to Disneyland. Although I went there as an eight year old boy with my family, I remember enjoying nearby Huntington Beach better than I did the actual park. So I told myself in the ensuing decades that Disney was a tourist trap and the great outdoors were the place for me.

Turns out, both man-made and natural wonders are for me. I probably wouldn’t have learned that truth, however, if it weren’t for my wife’s sage approach in tricking me to give The Happiest Place on Earth a fair shake. “Blake,” she said. “You could write about your experience—review it, report on how much you hate or love it.”

That’s all I needed to hear. Continue reading…

Recent long reads that will make you smarter

As curated by yours truly. Enjoy.
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YouTube videos that make you feel crummy about yourself

I’m genuinely happy with my life; who I am, the love I’ve found, the family and friends around me, a job that doesn’t feel like work, and the lifestyle choices I make that add to my fulfillment.

Nevertheless, I stumbled upon a YouTube video recently that made me feel inadequate and insecure. The video was cut by a young, good-looking couple with glamorous clothes doing glamorous things in exotic New Zealand.

“I’ve been to New Zealand before,” I defensively thought to myself, “But I was wearing ordinary clothes and didn’t look like a model while doing similar things.” I clicked on another video, showing the couple taking their kids snowboarding. “I’ve taken my kids snowboarding before, but we didn’t look that good while doing it.” Continue reading…

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Recent travel stories I’ve published for CNN, NatGeo, USA Today, LA Times, and more

Over the last four years, I’ve written and published hundreds of travel dispatches for CNN, National Geographic, USA Today, LA Times, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, Orbitz, Frommers, and Paste Magazine. Below are some recent favorites:

  1. Cliff-jumping The Atlantic: Ireland’s best coasteering spots
  2. Japanese zen: Hiking one of the oldest trails in the world
  3. Top 10 cycling cities
  4. 7 takeaways after cruising the Mediterranean with my kids
  5. Video: 6 ways to overcome your fear of travel
  6. Is Newfoundland the next Iceland?
  7. Which Utah National Park is right for you?
  8. Everything you need to know before visiting Machu Picchu
  9. What coasteering feels like
  10. Staying in President Trump’s #1 rated hotel
  11. Hiking the Alps: 10 days, 3 countries, 1 epic mountain
  12. Critic turned fan: My Disneyland conversion story
  13. What 10,000 miles from home feels like
  14. Went skydiving today. Didn’t die.
  15. Why Americans don’t travel abroad
  16. 5 reasons travel is overrated
  17. What I learned hiking Patagonia with National Geographic
  18. Why a monotonous view is better than none
  19. What I learned crossing South Africa by train
  20. 5 things I learned after visiting New Zealand
  21. The best of Australia
  22. 5 reasons cliche Costa Rica is still “Pura Vida”
  23. What it’s like crossing America’s Loneliest Road
  24. The greatest mountain wilderness you’ve never heard of
  25. My very best travel columns (so far)

Thanks for reading and sharing with anyone that might be interested.

5 ways to get kids off their phones

The following was presented last week as part of my book event series 

A year after publishing my best-selling book, Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting, the most popular question I’m asked is, “How do I get my kids off their phone?” After speaking with many psychologists, researchers, parents, and tech experts, in addition to testing said advice on my own household, I’ve found five convincing answers to this timely and challenging question.

But why are so many people asking this question? The short answer is parents love their kids and know first-hand how addictive said devices can be, especially for developing minds. The long answer involves stark evidence that smartphones: a) complicate childhood, b) increase exposure to bullying and sexual content, c) impair sleep, and d) increase both anxiety and depression.

Because of this, most psychologists, medical experts, and even tech executives recommend delaying or waiting until age 14 for basic voice and texting phones, and then up to 16 for smartphones and/or data plans. “There is no reason that a teenager really needs a smartphone,” says one Silicon Valley psychologist. “They are not taking care of a family, nor are they running a business. Therefore, a basic cellphone should be adequate for their needs.”

When you consider that these devices can be just as powerful as (or more so than) driving a car, it’s no coincidence that the ideal age falls within legal driving range of 14-16 (depending on the state). Nevertheless, the responsibility lies upon parents, guardians, teachers, and our collective villages to teach and instruct children on how to use and get the most from this powerful tools while avoiding the negative heads-down behavior they often cause.

If you’re hoping for a silver bullet to rid your children of their bad phone habits, I cannot help you. But if you looking for proven advice that’s easy to understand but often difficult to master, consider these five effective ways, according to the latest research: Continue reading…

The time I hiked Patagonia with National Geographic

It took the world a long time to discover Patagonia, the trendy adventure area shared by both southern Chile and Argentina. While other mountaineers had been hiking and climbing the Alps and Rockies for over a century, Patagonia wasn’t explored much until the 1980s. In fact, the recreational area didn’t become mainstream until the 21st century, when more accessible transportation, lodging and tourist amenities were finally added.

What’s all the fuss about? In between knife-like mountains, this is arguably the best place in the world to see moving glaciers. It is also a great place to meet gentle but playful people.

Last month I had the chance to examine this hauntingly majestic land up close on a guided tour with National Geographic Expeditions, the society’s official tour operator. Spoiler alert: it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Here’s what I witnessed hiking to what some call South America’s greatest “national park.” Continue reading…

Spinal fusion: 10 things I learned surviving a scary-sounding and life-altering surgery

blakefusion

Frankenstein back with 28 staples (credit: Lindsey Snow)

Life isn’t fair.

I was born with an 80 year-old back. Not exactly 80, but old. It first broke when I was 29. After surgery, it worked again, but only for another six years. It teetered and failed again late this summer in the same spot — a re-ruptured L4/5 disc. The thing was so decrepit, my surgeon had to remove the remains and fuse my spine.

Now I’m resigned to a life of low impact and light lifting. I can’t even hold my youngest brown-eyed boy in his final months of baby-dom, let alone lift a gallon of milk for a month. I can’t return to full activity for six months until the vertebrae fully fuse. And after that, I’m advised to give up running, basketball, soccer, and maybe wake boarding or else.

It sucks.

But it’s not all bad. In fact, I’ve got a heck of a lot to look forward to—a lot more to live for. While having my body deteriorate ahead of schedule and the long recovery are both humbling, I also feel inspired by the experience. Here are 10 things I learned post surgery:  Continue reading…

Traveling well: 5 ways to rethink your bucket list

Buying experiences is more fulfilling than buying things. That much we know. Which is why many of us have bucket lists. With so much to see and do in this wonderful oyster we call world, you’d be crazy not to keep a list of things to experience before kicking the bucket.

At the same time, there is no bucket capable of holding everything life has to offer. And more than one person has surely died focusing on what they didn’t accomplish rather than what they did. That’s a shame, because from the top regrets of the dying, “wishing I had traveled more” didn’t even make the list.

Not to get all schmaltzy on you, but the trick to planning adventures is not to plan too much. Here’s how you can do that and back into unplanned encounters more often, while still enjoying the anticipation, financial savings, and day-dreaming perks the bucket list affords. Continue reading…

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Recent long reads: Protein bars, science of miracles, paid to do nothing

I learned a lot reading the below recently. Hope you do too:

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Be extra kind online to these 7 minorities

Six years ago, I published one of my most popular blog posts entitled 8 people you should be extra kind to. If you haven’t read it already, I suggest you do. If you have, I encourage you to read it again as a refresher. It can make the world a better place.

Although it’s a fact that today’s world is healthier, wealthier, more peaceful, more welcoming, and overall better than ever before (more proof here), it’s also undeniable that online comments are nastier, ruder, more divisive, more hateful, more emotionally charged, and more intimidating than ever.

With that in mind, USA Today recently published a nationwide survey of harassment in America. These were the seven groups that reported the most hateful comments, and consequently the ones you should be extra kind too: Continue reading…

How dopamine loops ruin our smartphones

The following was taken from Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting

Remember that time you went online in search of a simple answer, only to find yourself, two hours later, clicking on links that had nothing to do with the original answer you sought?

That’s a dopamine loop. It’s the scientific reason we end up online more than we plan to. It explains why we can’t put our smartphones down. It explains why some people neglect real life in favor of virtual life. And it leads to compulsive disorders, similar to those who are addicted to chemical stimulants and depressants such as cocaine, caffeine, methamphetamines, nicotine, and alcohol.

“Dopamine starts us seeking, then we get rewarded for the seeking, which makes us seek more,” explains Dr. Susan Weinschenk. “It becomes harder and harder to stop looking at email, texts, web links, or our smartphones to see if we have a new message or alert.”

Worst still, research shows the dopamine system is bottomless. Since it doesn’t have satiation built in, dopamine keeps demanding “more, more, more!” And it goes absolutely bonkers when unpredictability is introduced—say, an unexpected email, text, or app alert from who knows what and who knows whom. Surprise! It’s just like Pavlov’s famous and classically conditioned dogs, for those who remember your introductory college psychology course.

“It’s the same system at work for gambling and slot machines,” explains Weinschenk. “Since dopamine is involved in variable reinforcement schedules, it’s especially sensitive to dings, visual alerts, or any other cue that a reward is coming, which sends our dopamine system raging.”

And so we stay online and on our phones longer than anticipated. We forgo our offline lives. It’s science.

Continue reading…

Making headlines: The best things I published recently

Courtesy: Blake Snow

Thanks for reading and sharing the below with anyone who might be interested: 

14 fantastic long reads that will make you smarter

As you may have noticed from previous posts, I’m a big fan of in-depth journalism. After reading several dozens over the last two weeks, these are the ones I recommend spending time with:

  1. How content management software will shape the future of media
  2. Remembering U.S. Soccer’s most improbable triumph
  3. Nothing can stop Google. DuckDuckGo is trying anyways.
  4. I cut Google out of my life and it screwed everything up
  5. The empty mason jar of the influencer economy
  6. A private court investigator and his controversial methods
  7. The quest to live to 180—is any of it legit?
  8. The enduring fight over the first Ironman triathlon
  9. The murky ethics of the “ugly produce” business
  10. The hard-to-believe conditions of air-traffic controllers
  11. Creating music while clean
  12. Can a bar feel like a bar without booze?
  13. How to suck at business without even trying
  14. Frank Sinatra has a cold (one of my all-time recently re-read favorites)
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John Williams is the world’s last great classical composer

My wife recently commanded Alexa to “Play John Williams.” For the next several hours, our household was treated to harmonious hit after hit after hit.

I’ve always considered Williams a genius composer since I was first exposed to his music as a boy. But I’m still in awe of the dozens, if not hundreds, of moving themes he wrote and even continues to write, such as this one: https://youtu.be/65As1V0vQDM

Like nearly everything else Williams touches, the above is remarkably regal. And like all of his contemporaries imply in the excellent Score documentary, Williams is the most prolific classical composer still alive.

10 things you might now know about me

Me standing tall in Kyoto, Japan

I was recently interviewed by a local magazine about my work as a bounty-hunting journalist, writer, and author. This is what I told them:  Continue reading…

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6 long-form stories I hope you’ll read

Some of my recent favorites:

Why NOW is the most important time

Leo Tolstoy courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Leo Tolstoy courtesy Wikimedia Commons

This issue of the Offline Newsletter is brought to you by Leo Tolstoy.

It once occurred to a certain king, that if he always knew the right time to begin everything; if he knew who were the right people to listen to, and whom to avoid; and, above all, if he always knew what was the most important thing to do, he would never fail in anything he might undertake.

And this thought having occurred to him, he had it proclaimed throughout his kingdom that he would give a great reward to any one who would teach him what was the right time for every action, and who were the most necessary people, and how he might know what was the most important thing to do.

Several learned men came to the King, but they all answered his questions differently (e.g. advance planning, multi-tasking, mentoring, high-ranking people, science, warfare, religion).

All the answers being different, the King agreed with none of them, and gave the reward to none. But still wishing to find the right answers to his questions, he decided to consult a hermit, widely renowned for his wisdom.  Continue reading…

3 great untruths to stop telling kids (and ourselves)

I’ve been reading Jonathan Haidt lately and find his work fascinating. From his latest book, he debunks the following three myths that make our kids and ourselves worse off:

  1. Children are fragile—what doesn’t kill them makes them weaker (which is why so many parents coddle now)
  2. Always trust your gut and seek out confirmation bias (which is how we quickly dismiss opposing ideas and evidence)
  3. Life is a battle between us and them and black and white (which is why we verbally fight as much now as we used to physically)

Haidt is quick to point out mounting research showing that we live in the most physically safe, peaceful, and prosperous time in history, despite our very real problems. But believing in the above only makes the world more offensive than it really is.

For a more fulfilling and less aggravating life, we must roll with the punches, look for disconfirming evidence, and treat most of life’s tragedies as the complicated gray messes that they really are as opposed to always looking for a villain to place blame upon.

The best long-form stories I’ve read recently

Romrodphoto/Shutterstocko

I read, learned from, and seriously enjoyed all of the below over the holidays. Hope you do too. 

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Year in review: My 3 favorite books by genre

I read a lot of good books this year, but these were my favorites (all four stars out of five or higher):

Children’s

Fiction

Non-fiction

READ ALSO: Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting by Blake Snow (wink)

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NEW BOOK REVIEW: “Blake Snow’s Log Off is this plug-in generation’s playbook for true social networking emancipation”

I’m flattered by the Midwest Book Review’s endorsement of my book and “Reviewer’s Choice” award to the syndicate libraries and media outlets it contributes to.

The concept of “offline balance movement” is genuine and Blake Snow’s Log Off is this plug-in generation’s playbook for true social networking emancipation. Exceptionally well written, organized, and presented, Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting is a well timed ‘how to’ manual for social media emancipation and control that should be a part of every community, college, and university library collection. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers that Log Off is available in paperback, digital book, and audiobook formats.

Thanks, James, for promoting my book.

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Roma movie review: Men suck, life is bleak, music has no place in this world

Courtesy Netflix

For its disjointed story, distracting dong shots, artistic cinematography, impressive set production, and a few emotionally gripping moments, I award Roma—the highest-rated movie of the year—3.5 out of 5 stars. Cynics will love it!

P.S.—Currently streaming on Netflix, Roma is better than the similarity overrated Boyhood, but the former still underwhelms. Next!

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7 tips for putting down your phone this holiday

The following first published in the Deseret News in support of my new book.

Turkey, ham, presents and Santa are no longer the only staples of the holiday season. Smartphones — and more specifically family members staring wide-eyed at screens around the dinner table — have become a common holiday sight.

Utah author Blake Snow wants to see that change. His book, “Log Off: How to Stay Connected After Disconnecting,” chronicles his divorce from a life in front of screens. Having spent time as a tech blogger and a freelance writer, Snow knows putting the phone down for good isn’t an option in today’s world, but he’s learned to find a balance that allows him to use his phone as a tool rather than allowing it to become a way of life. His book — a “self-help memoir” — aims to help others tackle that seemingly impossible task.

“I want to take advantage of these powerful devices and tools,” he said. “But I want to set boundaries with them, rather than have them hinder or distract me from doing the things I love.”

Snow spoke with The Deseret News to share his best tips for putting down the phone during the holiday season and how to sustain minimal phone usage long after Christmas dinner is over.  Continue reading…

RECENTLY PUBLISHED: Cliff-jumping Ireland, quitting news addiction, best cycling cities, logging off, better content

Courtesy Ireland Tourism

Excluding my non-bylined commercial work, these are the best things I’ve published recently for mainstream media:

Thanks for reading and sharing the above with anyone that might appreciate it.

NEW: Give the gift of “Log Off” this season

Dear, readers:

I’m happy to report that my book, Log Off, became a best-seller this year. I know it’s a little thing in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a big deal to me.

Recently a few family, friends, and work colleagues asked me about buying the book in bulk to give as personal or tax-deductible work gifts this year.

To that end, I can order author’s copies for $10 each with free shipping. If that fits within your gift-giving plans, please email books@blakesnow.com to place an order. E-book and audiobook copies are also available.

Thanks for considering this.

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8 ways to get people to like you

In the lifelong pursuit of love, acceptance, friends, and opportunity, the following eight habits have served me well:

  1. Smile. If it’s good enough for one of the most popular books ever written, it’s good enough for you.
  2. Follow the golden rule. They’re not the fastest “sprinters,” but nice people always win “marathons.”
  3. Admit your mistakes. Doing so is not only the right thing to do, it speeds learning and exposes your vulnerabilities, which makes you more personable and humanizing, which makes you more likable.
  4. Share. FACT: People who share have more friends and money than people who don’t.
  5. Create results. Earn your keep with merit, not just connections.
  6. Be interested, not interesting. Instead of trying to impress, take an interest in people you meet. You can always learn something from someone and should always try.
  7. Be honest. Don’t tell people what they want to hear. Tell them what you think. Be considerate of their feelings, but don’t let those feelings lead to dishonesty.
  8. Sympathize with everyone. If they’re human, they’re worth learning from, serving, and sometimes even listening to (depending on the situation).

SEE ALSO: How to influence more and be persuaded less

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What 10,000 miles from home feels like

On Earth, 12,450 miles is the farthest anyone can get from home. Take one more step in any direction, and you will have started your return journey from the halfway point.

Until I visit one of these places (aka 45° meridian east), I came as close to that point as I ever have last month. The distance from my home in Provo to Durban is over 10,000 miles, where I began a life-changing journey through the motherland.

I should have grasped this impressive separation sooner than I did. Upon booking airfare, total flight time read over 22 hours across three flights. “That’s a long haul,” I passingly noted, before moving to other travel arrangements.  Continue reading…

7 good reasons to read my book—Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting

It’s been invigorating to watch my bestselling book make waves throughout the year. As we enter the holiday season, I’m excited for its ability to connect with readers during an especially introspective time.

After all, I conceived Log Off, wrote the bulk of it, and even published it during the holidays, so I’m excited to see how it’s received during its first full Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year season.

To the hundreds that have already read the book, thank you. I’m honored. For those who haven’t already, here are seven good reasons I think you should.

  1. It’s on sale now, currently 20% off the cover price
  2. It averages 4.6 out of 5 star ratings, according to collective reader reviews on both Amazon and Good Reads
  3. It was reviewed by the LA Times, Psychology Today, Deseret News, ThrillistSmallBizLady, and more as a notable book of 2018
  4. It’s been well received on nearly two dozen radio shows this year, most recently this one
  5. It’s a quick and prescriptive read and can help you get off your phone so you can get on with your life
  6. It’s available in your favorite format—hardcopy, ebook, or audiobook
  7. If you’re still unconvinced, you can read two sample chapters here and here

Thanks for reading. If you know anyone who might be interested, I hope you’ll consider sharing this page with them. 🙏

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My childhood will mourn the death of Sears, even though I haven’t shopped there in years

Shutterstock

After Sears filed for bankruptcy (and likely its ultimate demise) last month, a part of my childhood died with it.

Long before I was born, Sears served as America’s first Amazon, allowing the entire country (especially rural parts of it) to mail order just about anything from a fat catalog. They didn’t offer two day shipping, but they delivered at a time when no one else did.  Continue reading…

Recently discovered: 7 terrific longreads that I think you should… um, read.

Shutterstock

As seen on Long Reads, Digg, and my own web browsing:

  • Is more democracy always better democracy? Yes, argues The New Yorker, especially since party primaries determine the leading candidates.
  • What happens when notoriety kills something? Here’s your answer in a terrific story titled I found the best burger in the country, then I killed it.
  • Missing the story. Rebuilding public trust starts by including more voices in the media and diversifying (or at least offering empathy training) to mostly white newsrooms, argues The Columbia Journalism Review.
  • Believing without evidence is always morally wrong. Or so convincingly argues Aeon.
  • Inside the booming business of background music. Why retailers and sports teams are spending big money on music design, according to The Guardian.
  • Why saving the world is crazy hard. According to a hard-to-read personal account of third-world atrocities by The Walrus.
  • How $3000 elite teams are killing youth sports in America. Expensive travel leagues siphon off talented young athletes and leave everyone else behind, reports The Atlantic. (Which is partly why my wife is starting a non-profit competitive league next year—go Lindsey!)

Even worse than we thought? New research on phone addiction

Courtesy Shutterstock

I spent nearly 10 years researching and experimenting with healthy connectivity habits for my book, Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting. The book contains dozens or reports and studies from “real news” outlets and distinguished universities from around the world, all of which conclude that excessive internet, social media, and/or smartphone use make us miserable. More specifically, overuse makes us more isolated, less confident, prevents us from experiencing the more stimulating analog world, and even dumber.

But recent research suggests that digital abuse may be even worse for us than originally thought. In an eye-opening expose this week, The Atlantic reported on the rise of sexual recession, in which young people are engaging in fewer intimate relationships than ever before and marrying less. Excessive phone use shoulder much, if not all, of the blame, the magazine reports.  Continue reading…

The ’90s according to CNN’s solid documentary on the decade

Earlier this year, I was enthralled by CNN’s excellent and Tom Hanks-produced miniseries on modern history, so much so that I binged them all during two long haul flights.

The first one I watched, The Nineties, was about my adolescence and it did not disappoint. In only seven sentences, this is how the documentary summarized the decade:

  • TV: The decade starts with “The Simpsons,” ends with “The Sopranos,” and MTV permeates Generation X eyeballs with “reality TV” while cable news sensationalizes everything.
  • Music: Nirvana releases “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Generation X finally feels heard. Women become the “latest trend in rock” and gangsta rap takes over.
  • Politics: Bill Clinton rides into the White House on a wave of hope, but his presidency is soon weighed down by scandal and staunch Republican opposition.
  • Globalization: The Soviet Union collapses and world leaders attempt to shape a New World Order. Nelson Mandela is freed and Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait.
  • Information Age: Computers go mainstream and the Information Age begins. Microsoft takes over everything and a new thing called the internet connects the world.
  • Terrorism: The radical right gains steam, with extremist elements carrying out acts of domestic terrorism. The Unabomber terrorizes the country.
  • Division: Racial issues erupt across the country. The police beating of Rodney King sparks the L.A. riots. The O.J. Simpson trial captivates the nation.

Not a bad recap for a fast-moving documentary about a forward-thinking decade. 4/5 stars.

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Recent reading: The best things I’ve published elsewhere

Credit: MoDOG/Shutterstock

I’ve recently published a lot of interesting reports for commercial clients, but all were either ghostwritten or NDA’d, so I’m not at liberty to share them. I hope to share some upcoming public ones soon, however.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these—a couple stories for mainstream travel media and a couple involving my book.

Thanks for reading.

12 questions with the author of Log Off (that’s me!) about offline success

Lake Bennett, Canada—courtesy Lindsey Snow

I was recently interviewed by popular author Melinda Emerson, aka SmallBizLady, for an upcoming podcast about my book Log Off. This is what I told her.

Why should I read your book?

I believe we live in the most distracted, bottomless, demanding, opportune, and noisiest time in all of human history. That makes finding offline (or digital) balance very hard indeed. It’s a great time to be sure, and we’re all empowered with more life-changing tools than ever before (i.e. internet, smartphones, work from anywhere). But we must deliberately harness these powerful tools with measured boundaries, otherwise they can dictate how we live our daily lives rather than consciously choosing how we want to. But offline balance isn’t just about good health—it’s the key to greater income, growth, fulfillment, freetime, and lasting relationships. That’s what my book puts forth in a short and prescriptive 100 pages.

Why is online addiction a growing problem?

While online addictions certainly existed in the desktop and laptop computing days, they didn’t go mainstream until the smartphone era about a decade ago. To compound the issue, the more information and entertainment that gets digitized, the easier it is to get lost in the bottomless search for distractions.

How does too much internetting negatively affect our lives?

The last decade of research shows that excessive internetting, smartphoning, and social media make us miserable. There are two reasons for this. First, online abuse stifles our individual and collective creativity and productivity. Secondly, it keeps us from bonding and connecting with others in more meaningful ways. That is to say that social media is mostly the illusion of relationships. True relationships develop largely offline, though facetime, human touch, body language, and shared presence and experiences. While social media can sometimes facilitate that, it mostly isolates us. In fact, in-person meetings have dwindled in the social media era, as opposed to being boosted by it. This all matters because all of us want to contribute and all of us are social creatures.  Continue reading…

I was recently interviewed by The LA Times about my book, Log Off—this is what I said.

Catharine Hamm from The Los Angeles Times, the nation’s second largest newspaper, recently interviewed me about my book, Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting.

Her story titled Travel may be key to ending your unhealthy love affair with electronic devices is really good. You should read it. Not only because I’m quoted in it, but because it offers an excellent explanation on the difference between bottomless distractions and those with and end, as well as sage advice on gaining offline momentum.

Hope you enjoy it. Thanks, Catharine, for including me and my book. 

How an overlooked state park cemented my love for hiking the world

Cheaha Overlook, Alabama courtesy Jim Vallee/Shutterstock

Over the last 15 years, I consider myself lucky to have hiked half of America’s national parks and many of the world’s top 10 hikes on six different continents. None of that would have happened, however, if it weren’t for the unassuming beauty of a little state park in eastern Alabama.

I didn’t grow up hiking. My parents took my siblings and I on vacation to Yellowstone, theme parks, and several beaches instead. There we mostly sightsee’d, thrill rode, and relaxed.

That all changed after I enrolled in college. On a whim one weekend, some friends and family members decided to hike Cheaha State Park. Just a two hour drive from my hometown, I went for the company, but stayed for the view—specifically Cheaha Overlook (pictured).

Truth be told, I had never seen anything like it. After a moderate walk through the woods, we arrived at the rock around sunset and I’m sure I uttered something like “Wow!” Looking over a valley that big made me feel small. And I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since.

To this day I prefer wide open spaces over the alternative (i.e. caves kinda bore me). What’s interesting, though, is I didn’t set out to be a hiker that day. Nor do I necissarily identify as one today. Hiking the outdoors is just something I enjoy doing, especially as a vehicle to explore new places or witness the seasons change in my own backyard.

In that sense, hiking Cheaha for the first time was one small step for me, but one giant leap for a hobby that has filled my life and taken me around the globe. I’m forever grateful I tagged along that day. Itchy feet, keep itching.

Write-ups of some my favorite hikes to date: Patagonia | Mont Blanc | Western Brook Fjord | Canyonlands | Monument Valley | Gravity Falls, Costa Rica | Bryce Canyon | Kumano KodoHigh Uintas | New Zealand | Cheaha | Machu Picchu | Zion Narrows/Angel’s Landing—both top 10 hikes that I inexplicably have yet to write about

Best road trip songs: Fall 2018 edition (with links to streaming audio)

Courtesy Over The Edge

My family and I just returned from an unexpectedly awesome and relaxing road trip to Fruita, Colorado. With weather in the low 70s, we swam the Great Divide Villa, hiked Colorado National Monument, and mountain biked Kessel Run while the kids were on fall break.

But that’s a story for another day. Today I wanted to share my favorite songs while making the seven hour roundtrip drive. From most righteous to least righteous, with links to streaming audio, they are as follows:  Continue reading…

Three books that changed my life


I was recently asked which three books changed my life. This is what I said:

  1. A Short History of Nearly Everything. How did we get to where we are today? Bill Bryson spent three years asking dozens of experts that very question to produce this awe-filled masterpiece of everything we know and don’t know about the world. Unlike other “science” books, Bryson turns astronomical numbers into metaphors you can not only understand, but gain inspiration from.
  2. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage. I literally gulped and grasped for air while reading this gripping true account of bravery, loyalty, and beating all odds.
  3. Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting. I’m biased because I wrote it, but the explanations, principles, and lessons contained therein changed my life and can for anyone else who struggles with digital obsessions. At just over a 100 pages, the helpful advice can be read over a weekend, if not a few hours.

Honorable mentions: Thinking Fast and Slow—a tad dense a times, but also the most empowering research on how to use your brain more wisely. The Book of Mormon—also dense at times, but waaaaay better than the Bible if you want to understand the doctrine of Christ, which also changed my life.

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Recommended reading: The best travel listicles I published recently

Courtesy Sam Dean/Visit Rapid City

Excluding non-bylined commercial work, here are my recent published works for news media:

Thanks for reading.

A short history of technophobia: Why it matters

Since writing Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting, I’ve been interviewed many times on how to break away from addictive technology. Today I was interviewed by a talk radio show in Phoenix on the subject, more specifically on the history of Luddism and technophobia in general. Here’s how I explained the issue to them, starting with some basic definitions.  Continue reading…

Having little ambition and earning an entry-level income for life is not an injustice

Courtesy Chicago Tribune

I read a thought-provoking story recently about Othea Loggan, a Chicago man who has bussed tables at the same restaurant for 54 years. He still works their today, earning just under $3 more per hour than minimum wage. With tips and annual bonuses, it’s estimated Loggan earns $14 an hour bussing the same tables he has for over five decades.

Unlike most entry-level bussers, Loggan gets five weeks vacation per year and works at a place he seems to really enjoy. Like every other busser, he gets no retirement or health insurance, however.

Despite all of this, Loggan (and his full-time working wife) raised a family, bought a house, and is seemingly happy, or at least he isn’t verbal about expressing any regrets. In fact, his son says as much. “My father is old school — never complains about nothing, never. My mother too. There were times it was hard to get food on the table, and they did not complain. But he got this job, he did it well, held on to it, and there needs to be a lot of respect for someone like that.”

The chef that has worked with Loggan for more than five decades says the same. “I think Loggan just decided to be a busboy. He is content. It’s all he wants. So I ask — isn’t that OK?”

It’s not okay, implies author Chris Borrelli. Continue reading…

Bucket list addition: 7 wonders of the world

Not long ago, researchers from Switzerland surveyed tens of millions of people on what they considered the New Seven Wonders of The World.

After all the votes where counted, only The Colosseum (Italy), Machu Picchu (Peru), Chichen Itza (Mexico), Christ The Redeemer (Brazil), Petra (Jordan), Taj Mahal (India), and The Great Wall (China) were left standing. As the only survivor of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World,” the Pyramids of Giza (Egypt) were granted honorary status.

Because I like lists, glowing recommendations from large samples, and travel, I’d like to visit all someday. So far, I’ve experienced Machu Picchu and The Colosseum and think they exceed expectations. My friend James has visited six of eight and dubs Machu Picchu his favorite.

Readers—have you visited any of the seven wonders? Have a favorite? Where would you start?

When it comes to raising kids, “quality time” is a complete lie

I have a confession to make—when it comes to raising a family, I don’t believe in “quality time,” a phrase you’ll often hear in America as justification for earmarking or designating an especially important encounter with children.

In truth, I just believe in time. And sometimes that time is nothing more than quantity. In other words, I try to be accessible and available to my children, even if I don’t have something particularly profound to say or a bond-worthy experience worth sharing. For example…  Continue reading…

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What I learned returning “home” after 10 years

Courtesy Blake Snow

I didn’t realize until recently, but I had forgotten who I was. I had forgotten where I was from.

More than 15 years ago, I left Carrollton, Georgia for the great American west. Like many others from the former, I graduated from Central High (class of ‘98—go, Lions!) and began my collegiate studies at the University of West Georgia. Halfway through my bachelor’s degree, however, I had a change of heart and transferred to a prominent university in the mountains of Utah.

To be clear, I wasn’t running away from the admittedly rural town, county, or “Peach State.” I relished my upbringing there. But sometimes the soul asks to see someplace new. In that sense, I was running towards something new, fully expecting to return someday.

But then I met a girl from the Pacific Northwest. Continue reading…

READ THIS: 4 terrific reports on fake news, quirky business, rural china, and mental bias

The writing, reporting, and humanity of the below four articles are absolutely excellent. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did:

BOOK REVIEW: Boys in the Boat highlights American grit, hardship, and winning history

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown is a wonderful story about overcoming neglect, economic depression, immense pain, and even global fascism in the 1930s. With exception to the Nazis, the characters are likable. The prose is poetic. And the well-documented feat is awe-inspiring. Five stars out of five.

These are my favorite passages:

  • The sport offers so many opportunities for suffering and so few opportunities for glory that only the most tenaciously self-reliant and self-motivated are likely to succeed at it.
  • Physiologists, in fact, have calculated that rowing a two-thousand-meter race—the Olympic standard—takes the same physiological toll as playing two basketball games back-to-back. And it exacts that toll in about six minutes… The common denominator (of rowing)—whether in the lungs, the muscles, or the bones—is overwhelming pain.
  • For eight hours a day, he shoveled steaming asphalt out of trucks and raked it out flat in advance of the steamrollers, the unrelenting heat rising from the black asphalt melding with the heat from the sun overhead, as if the two sources were competing to see which would kill him first. Continue reading…

Cultural contradictions: 10 things I learned after visiting Japan

Courtesy Blake Snow

After writing a story for USA Today (plus slideshow), I had a hard time shaking Japan from my memory. In fact, not since South Africa has a country changed my perspective as much.

In truth, Japan is the most foreign place I’ve ever visited. I mean that in a largely positive, often disorienting, and sometimes frustrating way. Looking back, here’s what I learned most:  Continue reading…

Book recommendation: Red Card is a riveting and dizzying expose of FIFA bribes, world soccer, and colluding corruption

I feasted upon and finished reading Red Card: How the U.S. Blew the Whistle on the World’s Biggest Sports Scandal in just two days.

Although I’m a devoted World Cup fan, you don’t have to be a soccer fan to enjoy it. The hard-to-believe true story, mob-like drama, and lavish chicanery are more than enough to keep the average reader interested.

Written by Ken Bensinger, a wonderful wordsmith and storyteller, the book is the most well-researched non-fiction I’ve encountered since Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit or Unbroken.

For its ability to show how bribery hurts everyone except the few involved, I highly recommend it.

Four stars out of five.

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THIS WEEK ONLY: Log Off on sale for just $5.99 (45% off)

Hi, readers—My new book, Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting, is on sale this week for just $5.99 (45% off). If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll read the Kindle, audiobook, or paperback version. If you have, I hope you’ll share a copy with your friends and/or review it on Amazon. Thanks for your support.

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This video goes out to all the countries that didn’t win the World Cup

Congratulations, France. You won the most exciting, upset-filled, and closest-contested World Cup in my lifetime, at least since I first started watching the tournament in 1994.

For everyone who lost or didn’t qualify, please accept the below video as consolation:

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Blake Snow: The best things I published recently

Nachi Falls Pagoda courtesy Wakayama Tourism

Thanks for reading my work:

10 reasons we’re wrong about the world (and how to fix them)

The news is wrong.

In terms of health, nutrition, income, vaccinations, education, sanitation, transportation, homes, lifestyles, modern conveniences, violence (i.e. death from wars or terrorism), abuse, and many other parameters, the world is a much better, happier, healthier, and peaceful place than ever before, according to consensus data.

As proof of this, Factfulness by Hans Rosling is the latest in a growing number of fact-based news that show we really do live in the best time ever, and things are getting even better.

Why does the news and human perception bemoan our impressive existence rather then celebrate it? The short answer is fear sells and human are irrational beings. But Rosling adds 10 specific myths that keep us from seeing the truth, along with ways to fix them.

They are as follows:  Continue reading…

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Map of the day: Americans aren’t the only ones that say “soccer”

Courtesy Reddit

In fact, Irish, South Africans, Canadians, Australians, Kiwis, and even four-time World Cup champions Italy call the sport something other than “football.” In addition to America, the first five say “soccer,” while the latter call it “kick ball.”

As for how “soccer” got it’s name, the English actually invented it, according to the U.S. Embassy in London:

“Soccer’s etymology is not American but British. It comes from an abbreviation for Association Football, the official name of the sport. For obvious reasons, English newspapers in the 1880s couldn’t use the first three letters of Association as an abbreviation, so they took the next syllable, S-O-C. With the British penchant for adding ‘-er’ at the end of words—punter, footballer, copper, and rugger—the word ‘soccer’ was born, over a hundred years ago, in England, the home of soccer. Americans adopted it and kept using it because we have our own indigenous sport called football.”

There you have it. Don’t like the name “soccer,” blame the British.

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5 ways to rig your environment for success

Columbia Pictures

Humans are easily distracted by a lot of things.

Smartphones, gossip, social media, substance abuse, endless email, mindless web browsing, too much TV, video games, unnecessary meetings, bargain hunting. When done in excess, these activities zap you of energy, productivity, a willingness to serve, and ultimately fulfillment.

It doesn’t have to be that way, however. Here are five ways to rig your environment for greater success and happiness: Continue reading…

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10 reasons my dad is awesome

dad

I forgot my Dad’s birthday yesterday. Maybe I should start consulting my calendar on weekends again. Or plan accordingly when something important doesn’t fall on a weekday.

In any case, here are 10 reasons I love my Dad. Yup, I said love. But I say that in a man-to-man sort of way. If that makes any sense. Which it doesn’t. So just read on. Continue reading…

My friend’s writing on depression is powerful

Derek Buck in 2015 overlooking the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee

I’ve never stayed in bed all day. At least not for mental reasons.

Thanks to the optimistic and high-energy genes I was gifted at birth, not to mention some healthy lifestyle habits (regular exercise/activity, balanced diet, lots of sleep, an appetite for reading, and scheduled relationship time), I’ve never felt depressed for more than a few hours at most.

So it’s difficult for me to relate and empathize with those who struggle with depression. I’m not saying that depression is invented. Not at all. But I am saying that it’s difficult for me to identify with or understand depression because I’m wired so differently.

My friend Derek Buck, on the other hand, knows depression all too well. I’m not sure if he’s up to his knees or up to his neck at the moment, but his excellent writing on the subject has increased my sympathy.  Continue reading…

Concerning evidence that ignorant liberals are just as dangerous as ignorant conservatives

Here’s how “This American Life” listeners recently reacted after the podcast interviewed a right-wing student who was berated to tears by a left-wing teacher who didn’t think right-wing ideas deserved a voice on campus:

I don’t even want to listen to this bullshit. I’m so sick of [you] highlighting the right. You don’t have to give equal airtime to stupidity just because stupidity took the office.

Thanks for giving voice to a fascist organization. I’m out.

So many pieces about how we “elite” liberals just don’t understand conservatives.

I understand them just fine. They’re usually racist, don’t “believe” in science or facts. I’ve had enough of these kinds of “but what about the poor conservatives?” pieces.

Honestly, I’m getting a little tired of This American Life’s fixation on conservatives. I really have no interest in them or their feelings.

“This intolerance to even listen to someone else, that’s new among our audience,” says journalist Ira Glass in his excellent commencement speech on the rise of fake news and extremely divisive audiences. He went on to call the reaction “dispiriting.”

I completely agree and would only add that an unwillingness to listen to opposing ideas, even hateful ones, is as tyrannical at it is radical, ignorant, and fearful.

Long live the first-amendment.

Iconic travel: 7 things to do on 7 continents

Credit: Dragon Woman/Creative Commons

What luck we have. Not only were we born on the most marvelous planet in the observable universe—not to mention the only habitable one out of gazillions—but the one we inherited has seven distinct, magnificent continents.

Picking just one experience from each that best personifies the greater landmass is an impossible job, not to mention totally unfair. But life isn’t fair. Nor is this column. If you need someplace to start when attempting to bag all seven continents, make it one of these iconic and universally well-rated encounters.  Continue reading…

5 ways the great outdoors will make you a better person

Ryder Lake, Utah courtesy Blake Snow

Many of us spend the majority of our time indoors, breathing stale air, working under artificial light, and staring into glowing screens. While none of these things are toxic, at least in moderation, they can have a monotonous, if not negative, effect on both our performance and overall health, research shows.

What’s the antidote? More outdoors. Namely, spending more time walking in the woods, hiking in mountains, being near bodies of water, and simply just spending time in nature, under the sun, and breathing fresh air. Here’s the science behind the latest findings.  Continue reading…

Here’s what happened when a billionaire company overpaid me by $20,000

Fox Networks

Fox Networks

Even if you think you’re honest person, your integrity will forever be challenged, usually when you least expect it.

I recently learned this lesson after a client tried to overpay me by $20,000 on two separate occasions. The first time they simply wired the money into my account without realizing I was already paid. “Either they sent duplicate payment or liked my work so much they gave me a huge bonus,” I thought to myself. I knew it was the former, but sat on the blunder for a few days before notifying the client.

The reason: The devil on my left shoulder made a convincing argument. “Blake,” he said, “maybe you didn’t invoice them the first time?” Nope, I checked my records. I’ve been paid in full. “Okay,” he went on, “but they’re a billion dollar company. They won’t even notice the misplaced $10,000.”

“I doubt it,” the angel on my right shoulder replied. “Imagine if someone got fired for this. Besides, you didn’t earn this money. It doesn’t matter if you omit or commit theft—stealing is wrong. You’re better than this.”  Continue reading…

Frequent flyer: 5 ways to travel like a pro

Courtesy National Geographic Films

While I’m far from being a “diamond” level frequent flyer—ya know, the ones who travel well over 100,000 miles per year—I’ve learned a thing or two about deftly navigating the airport as a frequent travel columnist.

The first is that the big metal tubes that jet us around the world in hours (as opposed to months that it used to take) are downright awesome—the first world-wide web and easily one of the greatest modern inventions of our time. The sooner you appreciate this, the less miserable you’ll be while traveling.

The second is that a little pre-planning, shortcutting, and forward-thinking can greatly improve our enjoyment of the mostly friendly but sometimes hostile skies. To make the most of your next domestic or international flight, consider doing all of the below:  Continue reading…

There’s no such thing as a tech company anymore

“The reality is that calling a business a ‘tech company’ is a ploy to make it sound exciting to potential consumers and investors, not a method of assigning greater meaning,” aruges David Yanofsky for Quartz. “The moniker says nothing about what type of company it actually is, only that it is a business that uses at least one technology to provide its product or service.”

He goes on, “The era of tech companies is over. To stay competitive in today’s marketplaces, every company, by the current standard, could be called a tech company, which of course, is another way of saying that none of them should be.”

Nailed it.

Blake Snow: The best things I published last month

Excluding my commercial writing, here’s what I published last month:

Thanks for reading.

5 smart ways to do more in less time

Blake Snow

When it comes to increasing both your output and your impact, here’s how to work smarter instead of harder.

For Entrepreneur—If there’s one thing I learned while researching and writing my first book, Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting, it’s how to get more done in less time.

For the first five years as a self-employed writer, I passionately and excitedly burned the midnight oil, thinking the act would get me ahead. While it certainly helped to cut my teeth and quicken my understanding of the craft, in hindsight I spent much of that time with my head down, spinning my wheels in the mud, and failing to see bigger ideas and opportunities.

That is until my “Montana Moment,” a life-changing and completely off-the-grid vacation in Big Sky Country that upended and improved my relationship to work in more ways than one. Since that fateful week, I’ve enjoyed record personal, professional, and social growth. But only because I radically changed my underlying approach and motivations for work.

There are as follows:  Continue reading…

Despite testing negative for the “wanderlust gene,” here’s why I still love to travel

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Why do some people like to travel more than others? Are nomads born or raised?

Furthermore, why do I keep an ever-growing list of places to visit that I can never seem to get a handle on, despite having visited hundreds of amazing places on six different continents?

In an effort to find answers to some of those questions, researchers recently identified the so-called “wanderlust gene” (DRD4-7R, to be exact), which is present in about 20 percent of humans. This gene is said to cause a strong desire, if not impulse, to wander, travel and explore the world.

As a working journalist and travel columnist, I was recently tested for this gene by Curio Hotels. After vigorously swabbing the inside of my cheeks, I seal-locked my specimen in a plastic bag, overnighted the sample to a lab on the East Coast and awaited the results.  Continue reading…

Why work-life blending doesn’t work

Columbia Pictures

The following is an excerpt from Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting

In recent years, a new ideology has emerged. It is this: work-life balance is impossible; therefore, humanity must embrace work-life blending instead.

I tried work-life blending for six years before we ever called it that. I’m here to tell you it stinks and is largely a pipe dream—nothing more than a new term coined by self-absorbed workaholics to justify their personal regrets, negligence, and imbalances in life.

Now let me tell you how I really feel.

The phrase work-life balance entered our lexicon when faxes reigned supreme, the 1980s. Knowledge workers, globalization, and computer networking went mainstream that decade, and, with it, the temptation to work ’round the clock on the Hedonic Treadmill (i.e., the misguided belief that the more money one makes, the happier they’ll be).  Continue reading…

5 ways adventure travel makes you a better person

Courtesy Iceland Tourism

(For Entrepreneur)—In the 15 years I’ve worked for myself, the last decade has been much more profitable than the first few years. Though several factors contributed to my successful turnaround, one in particular has led to more confidence, inspiration and awareness than any other: adventure travel.

I’ve met plenty of frequent business travelers who want nothing more than to stay home once they get there. They certainly don’t want to leave their creature comforts for something as seemingly trivial and meaningless as scaling mountains, walking quietly in nature or surfing Australia for several days. I get it. But I promise that adventure travel can do wonders for our business lives. That’s especially true if we consider travel an educational experience more than anything else.

Solely for the fun or challenge of it, I’ve visited nearly half of America’s national parks, stepped on five of the seven continents, explored dozens of foreign countries and met hundreds of people who are smarter than me. Doing so taught me several lessons that I’ve put to good use after safely returning home. They are as follows:  Continue reading…

The sudden rise of plucky Pickleball

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Last summer, I was invited to play a game I had never heard of: “Pickleball,” a regional sport that resembles tennis on smaller courts but is played with paddles (like table tennis) and a specialized wiffle ball that travels much slower than either tennis or ping pong balls. This makes the game easier to pick up and ultimately compete against more advanced players, something neither tennis or ping pong are good at.

Admittedly, it may sound boring and look peculiar. But over the last four months of playing, I’ve become an enthusiastic participant, devoted fan, and happily retired tennis player who now plays pickleball upwards of twice a week. I’m not the only one.  Continue reading…

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Paternity leave: 7 questions and answers from one working dad

Photo: Lindsey Snow

I was recently interviewed in Work & Money about paternity leave. While the story was edited for brevity, this is what I said in full:

Can you tell me more about your paternity leave? Paid, not paid? How much time did you end up taking with each child, and how did you make sure work responsibilities were covered?

​I work for myself so it was basically unpaid. With the first two children I only took off the day of the birth. With the later three, I took a full week each time and am glad I did. I worked a little overtime before hand to make sure I had everything in order and then turned on an autoresponder ​during my absence. 99% of the coworkers are more than understanding, I found, and the 1% who aren’t you probably shouldn’t be working with anyways.  Continue reading…

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Why travel “comes easy” to some but harder for others

Wild elephants walking a road in Thailand’s Khao Yai National Park (Khunkay/Wikimedia)

(ENTREPRENEUR)—Is it easier for extroverts to travel than it is for introverts? Can travel be learned? If so, what does it take to overcome the fear, anxiety, and logistical challenges often associated with long-distance travel?

In search of answers, I asked several seasoned tourists and travel converts for their stories and advice. This is what I found.

First, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. People that travel as children are far more likely to travel as a adults. “Thanks to my parents, I started traveling when I was young,” says Avery Blank, an avid international traveler and strategy consultant from Philadelphia. “That made it relatively easy for me now to adapt to new cultures, surroundings, ways of doing things.”

Obviously if you were raised by homebodies, you’re at an immediate disadvantage. But so are risk-averse individuals who are particularly scared of the unknown, of which there are substantial amounts of when traveling to a new place with new customs and sometimes new languages.

“Much of the anxiety arising from travel revolves around being infantilized,” says Sheridan Becker, an American art director living in Belgium. “For example, not knowing how to do anything in a foreign language, asking for a bathroom, what to do if you lose your wallet, where your next meal will come from (and will you be able to stomach it), or how to handle medical emergencies.”

These are all disorienting questions, the fear of which keeps many people away. So extroverts don’t necessarily have an easier time traveling than less outgoing individuals. Rather, it’s more about how you were raised coupled with a willingness to try unexpected things that determine your propensity for travel.

The good news is wanderlust can be learned. Here are six ways to do just that.  Continue reading…

Blake Snow: The best things I published last month

Smiling after getting lost in the Swiss Alps

Excluding my commercial work for software and consulting companies, here’s what I published last month:

For Entrepreneur (13 million readers):

For my facecast channel on YouTube:

Thanks for reading.

After making a mistake yesterday, this sign instantly cheered me up

I made a boo-boo at work yesterday. The client I was working with was very understanding, forgiving, and even accepted some of the blame. But I felt pretty rotten about the oversight.

Now, I’m not a perfectionist because done is better than perfect. But I couldn’t shake my disappointment of letting them down. So much so that I continued to worry about my mistake into the night.

Then I awoke to the above new sign on display in our kitchen today, which was ironically crafted by my eight year old daughter. It immediately cheered me up. Partly because I learned some things from my mistake and instituted two immediate changes that will make me a better writer. But also because the sign reminded me that it’s okay to make mistakes sometimes.

Showing up really is half the battle. As my friend David says, “You gotta play some sour notes in order to make your sound sweeter.” I’m grateful of those simple truths that make moving on, closure, and even improvement possible.

Thanks, Jane.

5 sensations every human should experience (updated with video)

Controlling a human body is an awesome experience.

Unlike other animals, we talk and live long after we stop reproducing. We wear dapper clothing, are remarkably brave and dexterous (which allows us to do amazing things like this), and we can even make fire. Like Remy says, “Humans don’t just survive—they discover, they create!”

In addition to the things we create, numerous sensations define our experience. Turning a pillow to the cold side, for instance. Quickly taking shelter to avoid pelting rain or peeling protective plastic off new electronics.

But there are deeper, if not more universal, feelings than those. Excluding the obvious (i.e. sex), here are five physical sensations every human should experience, many of which are facilitated by travel.  Continue reading…

READER QUESTION: Should emojis and animated gifs be used in business email?

My answer: As I’ve said before, Emojis and animated gifs are not only appropriate in business emails, they often improve the response of work-related emails when used sparingly. I wouldn’t use them more than 25% of the time. But they’re downright endearing because business correspondence is often stuffy and staid. So the occasional visual surprise keeps things interesting and reminds the recipient that they’re dealing with a personable human being. I highly recommend them.

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8 ways to raise resilient children

How can parents help their children to manage and overcome stress?

The answer is resilience, according Barry Fell, an adolescent therapist and personal friend of mine. So to help our children overcome stress, we must first help them develop resilience.

Here are eight ways to do just that, according to Fell:

  1. Give your child as much responsibility as they can handle. Chores, taking care of themselves, making healthy choices on their own.
  2. Encourage age appropriate independence. Don’t do for your child what they should be able to do for themselves.
  3. Let your child experience appropriate natural consequences. This includes skinned knees, loss off friends stemming from bad behavior, and poor grades in school. Continue reading…

In the news: Why people are weirdly obsessed with Southwest Airlines

I was featured in Thrillist this week for a story on Southwest Airlines. This is what I said:

“Southwest seems to be the most disorderly airline I’ve ever flown,” says Blake Snow, a travel columnist and author of Log Off: How to Stay Connected After Disconnecting. “The service, attendants, and even the branding are fun. But the boarding process is a mess. You can find similar fares with other airlines and without the hassle of Southwest’s Black Friday-like boarding process.”

The process he’s referring to is Southwest’s policy of open seating, wherein you’re assigned a boarding group A, B, or C, and then a number within that group. You board in order, and choose the first available seat you like. Many refer to this as a “cattle call,” although anyone who’s seen Group 9 crowd around an American Airlines gate during pre-boarding knows it’s more a matter of herding cattle versus letting them run free.

Thanks, Matt, for including me in the story. And thanks Bryan for sharing the link with me.

How busy moms and dads can spend more quality time with their kids

I was interviewed recently on how parents can spend more quality time with their children. This is what I said:

“I used to think I needed to have these elaborately planned and profound experiences with each of my children,” says Blake Snow, a time expert, father of five, and author of Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting. “But the truth is I was overthinking the issue of quality time.

“Now I just remove all distractions, especially my phone, and spend time with one of my kids while riding bikes, playing Uno, teaching them chess, walking the dog, or even taking them on an errand to the grocery store or post office. The trick is showing your child that you deem them worthy of your time. Admittedly you’re probably busy—we all are. Which is why our undivided attention means the world to our children.”

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In the news: 10 hobbies you can turn into a side hustle

I was interviewed by Motley Fool recently (and syndicated to MSN) about one of the quietest (if not greatest) side hustle’s of my career: producing slide decks on the side to the tune of $30,000 over fifteen years.

“After learning that one of my friends was paid very well to produce a PowerPoint presentation, I wondered if I could do something similar on the side,” Snow said. “Determined to find out, I launched a professional looking website for a few hundred dollars — then waited.”

It took 18 months for someone to finally order, but then the orders just kept coming. “Every one or two years, someone new  — and a few repeat customers — would order another presentation,” Snow said.

Over 15 years, he was able to earn around $30,000 from producing presentations. In his words: “Not bad for the few hundred dollars I spent on website design and hosting.”

Full story here. Thanks for including my story, Christy.

 

Why the internet is hard to put down

The following is an excerpt from Log Off, available now on paperback, Kindle, and audiobook

The “king complex.”

That’s the reason it’s difficult for many individuals to leave the internet—even for as little as a few hours in the evening, over a weekend, or on vacation. In short, the internet makes us feel like kings.

“Bring me this,” I demand, and it does. “More!” I say. It complies. “Still more!” It does not disappoint. “Let me watch, this, that, and the other.” Each time, I ask, it delivers, because it’s endless. When I run out of requests, I move to new subjects and interests.

In the event the internet is unable to supply what we ask of it—say, a physical experience, creation, or sensation—it will simulate that experience as often as we like from all possible angles: videos, photos, secondhand observations and reviews by those who have actually experienced what we’re after.

As you can see, the internet offers power, or at least the illusion of it. That’s the real reason the internet is so addicting. For the first time in human history, everyday people can convincingly simulate the experience of kings and exercise dominion over their own fantasized corner of reality.  Continue reading…