Blake Snow

writer-for-hire, content marketer, bestselling author

As seen on CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox, Wired, Yahoo!, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal
It looks like you're new. Click here to learn more.

Written by blake

My second album, Less Bad, arrives Jan. 31 on all major music stores


After six months of work, my second full-length album, Less Bad, drops January 31 on all major music stores!

All 14 songs were written, arranged, recorded, sung, and produced by me. The album was mixed and mastered by Adam Miele, my talented brother-in-law whose music has been featured in a SuperBowl commercial. In addition to his sonic mastery, Adam co-produced and played ginormous drums and additional keyboards on songs 3, 8, and 12. Track 9 features studio musician Matt Giella on trumpet. Song 11 was co-written by my good friend Derick Pulham, who also provided backing vocals and additional guitars. You can listen to the lead single and video here.

With their help, this record sounds bigger than it otherwise would. If you like the album, I hope you’ll check out my first record, Mr. Mustache, now streaming on all major stores.

“I’m average, but average people make it!”

My wife and I at the summit of Olympus (courtesy Steven Smith)

I firmly believe that all humans are remarkable and average at the same time. As my father used to say, “We are all statistically average in most things, above average in a few things, and below average in many things.” Even Da Vinci, Einstein, and Mozart were average to mediocre in many areas of their lives.

The vast majority of us, however, are neither geniuses nor special. We must accept that, on the whole, we are average. That shouldn’t keep us from dreaming big and trying to be remarkable in a handful of special ways. But acceptance of our averageness can be a powerful motivator in the proper context.

Recently I summited Mount Olympus, an eight mile roundtrip hike that climbs (then drops) 1000 feet every mile. While approaching the difficult push to the top, my brother-in-law Steven blurted out, “I’m average—but average people make it!”

We all laughed out loud and immediately appreciated what he was reinforcing. That is, life is hard sometimes, but the average life overcomes hardship—at least on average.

It’s reassuring to know that over tens of thousands of years (and millions if you consider our ancestors), average humans have survived incredibly difficult things, over and over again. Pandemics. Floods. Pestilence. Earthquakes. Racism. Wars. Famine. Poverty.

We survive despite our averageness. And that makes us remarkable. 💪

This story first published to blakesnow.com in 2020

Don’t stop believing: Discount the U.S. economy at your own risk

My adorable daughter photographed by my devoted wife Lindsey

I love this fact-based, feel-good article by Ben Carlson: “Since 2008, we’ve experienced flash crashes, government shutdowns, natural disasters, trade wars, a contested presidential election, a pandemic, and the fastest bear market in history. Yet the Dow rose from 11,497 to more than 36,000 and counting. Maybe our best days are behind us. Maybe it will be impossible to see the same amount of growth going forward. It’s certainly possible. I choose to believe that most people will continue to wake up in the morning looking to improve their lot in life. People have been betting against the U.S. economy for decades. They’ve never been rewarded for it. Progress is in our DNA. Good luck betting against it.”

Attention first, old people, regulatory vetos: Why America is running out of ideas

Courtesy Shutterstock

This is an excellent essay by Derek Thompson: “I want more new companies and entrepreneurs, which means I want more immigrants. I want more megaprojects in infrastructure and more moon-shot bets in energy and transportation. I want new ways of funding scientific research. I want non-grifters to find ways to innovate in higher education to bend the cost curve of college inflation. I want more prizes for audacious breakthroughs in cancer and Alzheimer’s and longevity research. As strange as this might sound, I want the federal government to get into the experimentation game too and found new agencies that identify and solve the problems that will be created by this riot of newness, as the CDC and DARPA once did. And, finally, I’d like Hollywood to rediscover a passion for cinematic blockbusters that don’t have numbers in the title.”

What would a world without internet be like?

Not long ago, browsing the Internet, I happened to stumble on a list titled, “The Best Sci-Fi Books of All Time, According to the Internet.” Like most lists of its kind, it was subjective and far from definitive, but still, it represented an interesting challenge. As someone who reads for pleasure as much as for job security, I decided to finish as many of the titles as I could handle.

After completing over a dozen (and taking in many of the film adaptations) the following occurred to me: Not one of these acclaimed futuristic stories—at least none of the many I was exposed to—took place in a world with any version of the Internet. All instances of published media, daily communication, romance—all offline.

In part, this has to do with the constraints of narrative writing, explains the technology writer Clive Thompson. “A lot of science fiction was primarily focused on moving people and things around in exciting ways,” he says. “These forward-thinkers were using flashy visuals to hook their readers, while understandably overlooking non-sexy things such as inaudible conversations.”

And inaudible conversations are the bread and butter of the world wide web. As Jon Stewart once put it, the Internet today “is just a world passing around notes in a classroom.”

But my experience led me to an interesting thought experiment: How might we live without the world’s largest note exchange? Or, in other words, what would the world be like today if the Internet ceased to exist? Continue reading…

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…

This reformed liar was asked to lie again for his dying wife

This is a moving love story by Bill Adair about a lying journalist, redemption, Alzheimer’s, and compassionate honesty. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

From the article: “Glass says he decided against assisted suicide because “she actually loved her life more than she ever had and she expressed enormous joy in her life.” Despite what she’d written two decades earlier, Glass decided that “your former self doesn’t get to kill your current self” if your current self doesn’t want it.”

10 ways frugality can actually cost you

When it comes to extending your buying power, being thrifty and frugal is an important half of the money equation (i.e. the other is income). But as with all things in life, too much of anything can lead to harm. Here are 10 ways you might be unknowingly sabotaging your savings.

  1. Buying things you don’t need because they’re on sale (i.e. “half off” is still hits your wallet by half)
  2. Avoiding preventative health visits (this can be super costly)
  3. Avoiding preventative car maintenance (this can too)
  4. Buying cheap, non nutritious food and paying for it with your health (you don’t want to pay with that type of currency)
  5. Buying wholesale or “free shipping” memberships without using them enough to justify the membership cost (do the math)
  6. Driving longer distances to save pennies on gas (silly)
  7. Believing that “doing it yourself” will always save money (it doesn’t, by my estimate, using experts half of the time can actually save you money in the long run)
  8. Failing to notice unit price before making a purchase (this takes five seconds but can have a big impact in the long run)
  9. Buying cheap products that you use often, which increases replacement costs (I’m guilty of this sometimes, so consider usage before paying for cheaper durability)
  10. Not buying things that bring you joy (money is a tool to get you things you want, need, and benefit from. It has no value in and off itself, so use it to invest in your daily fulfillment)

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. By all means, spend wisely, but consider the long-term costs before you do.

Published Works: Wasting Away at Margaritaville’s First All-Inclusive Resort

My latest for Paste Magazine: This story begins with a struggling musician in the 1970s who didn’t fit the establishment. Rock ‘n’ roll didn’t like him. Nashville didn’t either. So he said, “To hell with it,” moved to Key West, and popularized a new genre of counterculture music called Gulf & Western or Tropic Rock. He championed “island escapism” over hard work. Made fun of inebriated debauchery. Sang heartfelt songs about retired Caribbean sailors. And paired unapologetic poetry with catchy melodies.

His name was Jimmy Buffett, a name that has since outgrown the brilliant but often overlooked and underrated sound he created during that groovy decade. Not long after, Buffett started capitalizing on the endearing lifestyle he created by the late ‘80s, which grew to “Parrothead” levels by the late ‘90s, and stratospheric status by the turn of the century. Today, Jimmy Buffett is worth nearly $1 billion dollars. His “Margaritaville” empire includes dozens of best-selling albums, cafes, and hotels, three best-selling books, and even a handful of Southern retirement communities boasting thousands of homes. In truth, the “brand” far outweighs the music that inspired it.
Last year during the pandemic, just as the world was entering a second round of lockdowns, Buffett Inc. quietly launched the Margaritaville Island Reserve, its first all-inclusive resort, near Cancun, Mexico. Operated by the well-run Karisma chain of all-inclusives, Buffett’s resort could have easily turned into a tacky, kitchy, money grab. It is anything but. After visiting with my wife this winter, Margaritaville Island Reserve is one of the finest all-inclusives I’ve ever visited, replete with the best all-inclusive food of any resort, a helpful staff worth writing home about, and an impressive attention to detail (i.e. custom furnishings) to appeal to fans and non-fans alike.

About the only “on brand” thing the resort is missing is the debauchery, which no one wants on vacation anyway. Continue reading…

Looking to donate? Would you help fund a new national study on smartphone abuse?

PROVO, Utah (Dec. 14, 2021)—There’s no doubt: humanity has a smartphone problem. But there is surprisingly little research on understanding the mental toll that severe screen, social media, and internet use have on adults and children alike. Log Off Institute, a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit, hopes to change that this year with their first national study on digital compulsion disorder—who it’s affecting most, why, and what individuals and society can do about it.

“When I first published Log Off: How to Stay Connected After Disconnecting, I was baffled by the lack of research on digital addiction,” says Blake Snow, writer, author, and director of Log Off Institute. “While we know roughly half of all adults and children spend too much time looking at tiny screens, we’re just beginning to understand the long-term effects of this impulsive behavior, and why some are able to break free while others are not.”

Log Off Institute hopes to combat this trending health concern starting with a donation drive to help fund the first of several national studies to be published in spring 2022. This will be followed by national media campaigns and ongoing awareness programs to support this important cause. “We’re not anti-technology, but we are pro-user,” Snow says of the new nonprofit. “We exist to empower people with helpful information about the growing problem, the benefits of offline health, and the joy of living a heads-up life.” Continue reading…

“I can do better:” 7 proven ways to be more honest and earnest with yourself and others

The following comes from my self-mastery newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.

Being honest with others is hard enough, especially when it involves any embarrassing, compromising, or (heaven forbid) incriminating information. If honesty really is the best policy—which all behavioral psychologists agree with—then we will spend a lifetime trying to master this crucial, trust-building, but difficult skill.

If that wasn’t hard enough, I’ve got some more uncomfortable news for you: being honest with yourself might be even harder. That’s because we often lie to ourselves for extended periods of time about the person we really are, so we don’t have to confront the parts of ourselves that we don’t like.

That explains why so many people delude themselves or live in denial. If we are close to perfection or blameless in our own mind’s eye, then we don’t have to change. We just need to wait for others in the world to change for us. This, of course, is a recipe for stagnation. Not to mention loneliness, depression, and remorse.

Heavy stuff, I know. But I have some good news. All of us can learn to be more honest with ourselves and others, even if we were raised around bad examples of both. Granted, doing this is a life-long endeavor, but we can all increase momentum and hasten our own awesomeness by practicing the following: Continue reading…

Published: 4 “Big Easy” tours worth taking

Fritzel’s European Jazz Club is a French Quarter main- stay for over 50 years (Photo: Blake Snow)

My latest for Travel Weekly: As one of America’s most distinct cities, few places are more beloved by both travelers and the travel media than New Orleans. My wife and I recently visited the Crescent City and found it to be just as charming as ever, even with pandemic restrictions in place.

Of all we did on our visit, these experiences stood out: Continue reading…

Science of storytelling: 5 proven ways

The Boyhood of Raleigh by Sir John Everett Millais

Earlier this year, I watched a TED talk by Will Storr about the science of storytelling. As social creatures, each of us possess a brain that was preprogramed to tell stories for the influence of other humans.

While all of us have storytelling in our DNA, there are several things we can do to tell more believable stories. According to Storr, they are as follows:

Continue reading…

Comments Off on Science of storytelling: 5 proven ways (0)
READ MORE:

5 new things that blessed my life this year

Like many people, my family is the ultimate joy. Although happiness and fulfillment are deeply personal, my wife and children inspire me to be better and make me feel like the luckiest man alive. I am forever grateful to them, and this year was no different. Same goes for the many friends that have stayed with me over the years.

But there are several new things that came into my life this year that I’d like to recognize. Some of them are simple. All of them make me even more grateful to be alive. While I don’t mean to be insensitive to anyone still struggling with this moving goalpost of a pandemic, I can honestly say that I’m happier today than I was pre-COVID.

Here’s why: Continue reading…

Better circulation, skin, and vitality: Why ice cold showers are awesome

Courtesy Shutterstock

Six years ago, I started taking Scottish Showers, which are ice cold then finish with a warm rinse. By the end of the year, I abandoned the warm rinse altogether and stayed ice cold the entire time, even during the mountainous Utah winter.

Cold showers still take my breath away on extremely frigid days, but I love how they make me feel. In addition to the scientific skin, blood circulation, and immunity benefits of cold showers, the act cools me off after a hard workout and gives me a free energy boost at the start of each day.

But there is another benefit of cold showers I absolutely love and take advantage of once or twice a week: they turn my hot showers into a built-in hot tub or steam room. For example, on Sundays I always take a relaxing hot shower. I did this yesterday and felt like a Turkish king.

Additionally, I sometimes take hot showers after an extra fatiguing day of soccer with friends or after I pull a muscle or something. Again, this turns my shower into a free therapy station. But even then, if I know I have to be somewhere, I’ll finish with an ice cold rinse to get me going.

Now some of you might be thinking, “Uh, Blake, you realize you can take hot showers everyday in the developed world?” Of course I do. But after taking ice cold showers virtually everyday for the last six years, the benefits far outweigh the discomfort.

I’ve become so addicted, I get disappointed while showering closer to the equator, because there is no such thing as cold showers there. 😭 In a world filled with mindless “life hacks,” this one truly is a keeper.

Comments Off on Better circulation, skin, and vitality: Why ice cold showers are awesome (0)
READ MORE:

Unseen Utah: 15 hidden gems you’ve probably missed

Courtesy Visit Utah

Utah is well-known for its “Mighty 5” National Parks. But there is way more to see in this disproportionately beautiful state. Consider the following landmarks that are routinely overlooked by visitors but beloved by those who know. I’ve visited all several times and plan to again:

  1. Fantasy Canyon. Like something out of Star Wars.
  2. Mirror Lake. Picturesque mountain lake.
  3. Goblin Valley. Like walking among giant rock people.
  4. Snow Canyon State Park. Would be a national park in any other state.
  5. Cathedral Valley (pictured). One of the most remote sections of any national park (4×4 only).
  6. Wire Rim Pass. Stunning slot canyon.
  7. Lower Calf Creek Falls. Best hike in Grand Staircase National Monument.
  8. Peak-a-boo/Spooky Slots. Also out of Star Wars.
  9. Muley Point Overlook. Dramatic finish at the end of a dramatic drive (i.e. Moki Dugway).
  10. Kanarraville Falls. Terrific short hike.
  11. Corona Arch. Probably the best arch in the entire state accessible by land.
  12. Kodachrome State Park. Would also be a national park in any other state. Really.
  13. Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Probably the best arch period, accessible only by boat on Lake Powell.
  14. Valley of the Gods. Almost as good as the nearby Monument Valley but worth visiting nonetheless.
  15. Cedar Breaks. A mini Bryce Canyon.
Comments Off on Unseen Utah: 15 hidden gems you’ve probably missed (0)
READ MORE: ,

The meaning of all 12 songs from my debut record

I’m putting the finishing touches on my second album right now. I’m very excited to share it with the world in the coming weeks and months.

Until then, I wanted to look back at my first album, Mr. Mustache (streaming on your favorite music store) released last fall. While I believe every song should speak for itself, as a writer I’m also big on context, if not over explaining things until they are crystal clear.

To that end, here is why I wrote each of these songs, how they came to life, and what the recording process was like:

Continue reading…

Money, brands, and nations: Why humans believe in intersubjectivity

When it comes to believing a story, most people think there are only two kinds of truth: objective realities (such as a physical head wound) and subjective realities (such as an untraceable but observable mental illness).

But there is actually a third kind of truth: intersubjective reality, which depends on communication among many humans, rather than the observations, beliefs, or feelings of a few individuals.

Take currency, for example. Money only has value because we say it does. Is $100 bill really worth $100? Only because a lot of respected people (i.e. governments) say it is.

Similarly, the stock market is another great example of intersubjectivity, since a stock is only worth as much as a lot of people believe it is.

Same goes for alma maters, sports teams, companies, even nations. While we can physically view these institutions, they only have value because a lot of people believe in them. From an objective or pure subjective point of view, they do not exist.

Interestingly, intersubjective realities are just as influential (if not more so) than objective and subjective realities.

I’m not saying they shouldn’t be. But they are a fascinating and powerful reminder of just how social we are as a species. It’s another phenomenon that makes us uniquely human.

Why writers get more hate mail than fan mail

Courtesy Lindsey Snow

I became a full-time writer 17 years ago.

While covering consumer technology and video games as a twenty-something blogger, I would regularly receive hate mail from fanboys (never girls) who disagreed with my reporting.

I even received several death threats on occasion. While I never took these threats seriously, it never feels good to have your life, family, or property threatened.

After leaving video games in the late aughts, the hate mail mostly stopped. But I still get upset emails sometimes.

A few years a go, a man berated me for an article I wrote for CNN that was missing a comma. “You have no credibility,” the anonymous man concluded. “If you can’t master simple grammar, you have no business writing.”

He’s not the only one who has questioned my continued mistakes, two books, and thousands of published articles. In fact, the hate mail I’ve received far outweighs the fan mail—which is not unlike sustained rejection in general. Continue reading…

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…

Comments Off on How concentrated breathing acts like “brain fertilizer” for more focus and less stress (0)

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.

Comments Off on Hey, you there: I will send a free copy of my new book in exchange for an honest review (0)

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…

Comments Off on I ate Applebee’s for the first time in 15 years — here’s what it was like 🤮 (0)
READ MORE: , ,

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.🤘

Comments Off on DRUMMER WANTED: My cover band is looking for a new member (0)
READ MORE: ,

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!

Comments Off on Cool news: My second book is being giving out to new employees now (0)

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: ★★★★★

Comments Off on Review: The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro is a riveting profile about Italian fortune and folly (0)
READ MORE: , ,

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.

Comments Off on Introducing “Get Out There,” my new travel column for Paste Magazine (0)

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.”

Comments Off on Navy Seal secret: Saying “I’m done!” is only 40% true (0)

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).

Comments Off on Published works: 8 epic road trips in Utah, plus best time to visit (0)

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.

Comments Off on Log Off interview: “Staying online all of the time is a great way to burnout” (0)

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…