Confessions, Cautionary Tales & Case Studies

The Personal Blog of the Undaunted Hustler

Opinions so new, they may not even be mine yet. 
I blog about business, family, & goals. 
When I'm out of willpower, I talk politics

Making The Worst

Making The Worst

Many of the big problems in my life aren’t times when I made the worst of a bad situation.  I was probably more right than wrong at the outset, but…the reaction was graceless.

A few things I would do differently

A few things I would do differently

  1. Don’t change your cell phone number (unless it’s to disconnect from people.)
  2. Don’t allow (many) inbound calls.
  3. Add 6x more value than what you take away.
  4. Don’t be snarky.
  5. Be nicer to family.
  6. Stay in shape.
  7. Get in shape to begin with.



Deep Work – Cal Newport

Deep Work by Cal Newport is an amazing book that will certainly change my life.  The process is going, and I’m excited about where it will take me. It’s a book that I can’t really criticize because it’s so good

As something of a workaholic, I’ve had spurts where additional hours not only no longer produce value, but undo work I’ve done.  A case in point is the current state of the Simplifilm website.   I have done, undone, and redone it dozens of times and I’m not substantively closer to being OK. It’s consumed hours and yielded little extra benefit.

That’s because I’ve worked while distracted, while unfocused, and this means that the work suffers.  A little focus – at the expense of other things – is the way to go.

But Deep Work truly is at the expense of other things. If we are to make an amazing contribution we have to “drain the shallows.”

The book is divided into two parts: one “the case for Deep Work,” and two “How to Work Deeply (which also spends about half its time reinforcing the case for Deep Work).

The first part is for motivation. We learn why this matters, we learn how peer-reviewed academic journals have treated topics like concentration, performance and mental throughput.  (Beginners can practice a musical instrument for about an hour a day. Masters can rarely go past 4 hours.)

The main gist is that Deep Work is rare.

In Part II, we’re given more specifics. We’re given definitions and exhortations.

-work deeply (create habits that support it)

-quit social media

-drain the shallows

-have a quitting time (so you can go back)

-embrace boredom (which means that you can’t scratch the itch all the time to do things.

This book has started a curriculum for me of things that I’ve meant to catch up on.  I finished Scott Adam’s new book : How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. That book compliments this one. In that it provides an example/case study of a person who has optimized his life to work deeply.

The case for deep work is compelling. It’s our chance to in fact make a contribution that lasts longer than we do. It’s done through deep work, not merely getting better at “cranking widgets,” which has diminishing returns.

I’ve optimized my life to be able to be more productive. I’m working from home again, and I’ve got my things about me.  It’s time to make a big contribution.


Connected To The Stream

Connected To The Stream

There’s a feeling when you are connected and working in flow that really feels good and works well.  You’re sharper because you’re connected to the stream.

That is like flow but different.  Because you’re studying and working hard (for me reading, writing, all my life) you are the best version of yourself.  Because of that, you have opportunities that are often not available to you.

That’s how winning works.

Batching Work

Batching Work

Reading Deep Work by Cal Newport.  One of the ideas that I want to do more of is to batch work and that is something that I haven’t done a tremendous job with yet.

Hopefully in lieu of trying to dabble at a little of everything I can have the guts to go deep and bold.

I am, I suspect, too connected for my own good at the moment, and it’s impacting my ability to do deep work, which impacts other things as well.

Ruby’s Journal

Ruby’s Journal

Has a journal. Currently, in her journal are nothing but memories of what her friend from Portland are like.  So she doesn’t forget them.

Pentel NeedleTip 0.5 MM Ball Gel Pens

Pentel NeedleTip 0.5 MM Ball Gel Pens

Not for nothing, but these are my current favorite pens.

The Hard Way

The Hard Way

We find ourselves at a rockclimbing exhibit a few years ago.

My boy Jack, then 6 looks up at three paths.

The easy path with lots of handholds.  The hard path with few handholds and tricky angles.


To Jack, it’s not a choice.  He tells the attendant “Our family rule is that we do everything the hard way.”

Too true.  He tries to go up the hard way – his first time rockclimbing.  Admirable, but foolhardy.

Our family. Same deal. A wind sprint from the couch.

We eloped and didn’t have the support and sendoff from the people that loved us.  This put us on a rocky path.

We bought real estate in the ghetto.  The place where the cap rates were high, but the tenants were even higher.  That was the overhead lesson.  (Thank you, Robert Kiyosaki).

I changed jobs every 2 years or so to chase away wanderlust.

We’re both stubborn people and we wanted justice at the expense of everything else. Someone had to be right, someone had to be wrong.

We didn’t take care of our health.  Good genetics kept us out of the hospital.

We sold all we owned and then packed everything we owned – everything – and put it in a minivan to get a change of scenery and we moved from Columbus to Portland.

Then, Heather was enrolled in an intense program that selects a select few and works them hard.

With a 3 and a 6 year old.

That’s the hard way.

That’s how we did things.  There’s more: taking on overhead, running a startup.  It was ugly and it was terrible.

Now, we’ve gotten Heather earning income.  We’ve gotten into a house that we love.  Everything – everything should be easier.

Current Projects & Status

Current Projects & Status

Simplifilm:  This is my main revenue generating project.  We made some Q4, 2015 errors that we are paying mightily for right now.  Our current sprint lasts between now and April 30th.  The goal is to have clean books and financial integrity everywhere.

The Line Which Is Dotted:  This is my “Pixar.” It’s a to-be-launched project that will teach what I know.  Simplifilm has had a lot of success and we we’ve had over 400 clients.  I can teach the methods to get and keep clients.  This will have a podcast, Facebook Group.  I’ll be building it as a personal platform to teach sales and selling to anyone that needs to know.



For 7 years, Heather has been going to school to be a Nurse Practitioner. She’s worked in an intense program while we’ve lived in Portland.  It was intense, financially it was tens of thousands of dollars (I don’t even know anymore).

It was relentless pressure for Heather. Every test was the end of the world.

It was pressure for me, financial failure meant Heather couldn’t go on.

This made it hard, we stared at the abyss. What kind of family arrangement do we want? Do we capitulate?  Break up the band?

Of the people in her (elite) program, during her program 40% of them didn’t leave the program with the partner they started with.  We came as close as humans can to that abyss.

I had to make choices at the business to generate cash today to pay the bills. That was pressure. We had to take now money out and take higher salaries than we needed, for both me and my partner. The personal cash needs constrained some of our options.

That’s over.

I have serious challenges to overcome in the business. But the conditions have never been more favorable to me.

I don’t have to earn much money from it, for now.

I work from home now – will never have the type of overhead I had before.

My life is set up to have some success. and I look forward to what’s to come.

To Be In Practice

By Christopher Johnson | August 15, 2018

One of the things about opening up a business is that you need to find your way to what you want to do. In my case, I’ve missed out on being a practitioner of sales for a few years. Thinking back, it’s been over three years since I’ve really sold with the idea that maximizing […]

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Dear Microsoft:

By Christopher Johnson | July 24, 2018

Dear Microsoft: Listen, I am rooting for you. I love me a good comeback story, and it seems that you are dialed in right now. And I’m glad. But, look, you’ve got to respect me a little bit more. I have two of your products: Office 360 and Xbox One. And they both annoy me […]

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The Muse Vs. The Practice

By Christopher Johnson | July 19, 2018

We’ve all had those moments where we can work effortlessly. Where it “comes.” Our creative output is remarkable. The Muse visits. They happen. It’s a thing. We’re right to embrace those days. We’re right to feel proud and good of being in the flow and producing something great. Emrace anything that helps. The beginner, though, believes these […]

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That Old Familiar Fear

By Christopher Johnson | July 7, 2018

For the last year, I’ve been winding down Simplifilm. I’ve got this idea about what I did right, which was getting clients for agencies. I love to sell, I love to hunt and I love to help. So I put a little site together with the intentions of launching something on Monday. At Simplifilm I […]

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Daily Operating System: A Theory To Practice

By Christopher Johnson | June 24, 2018

Days have gotten away from me, and I’ve not accomplished enough in 2018. My decision velocity is sluggish, as has been the output/throughput. For those of you nice people like David Gibbons that are telling me I’m too hard on myself, I say to you “meh.” I’m not, trust me, I’m not. Time Freedom is […]

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At First, You’re Writing For Yourself

By Christopher Johnson | June 22, 2018

I’m starting something new after spending a long time on Simplifilm. I’ve got: No following No Audience A network I’ve worn out. Bad work habits. This isn’t me saying “poor me,” I’ve started things from nothing before – and an assessment of where I’m at is so necessary. I read from Russell Brunson (who I […]

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Mental Toughness, Part I.

By Christopher Johnson | May 16, 2018

I’ve been running again for about a week now. A few weeks ago I learned that I had a fractured elbow, and a bone spur.  Fractured may be overstating it a bit, but there are fractures there, and it’s grown spurs to try to ‘reach out,’ for the tendon. This kept me from playing racquetball, a […]

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Boundaries and Consequences And Children

By Christopher Johnson | May 12, 2018

When we see our flaws in our children, it’s a heartbreak. When I was young, I wanted to find the end of the line. I wanted to know what was permanent. It was a hard thing for me. I chased them, and society kept me safe. My parents sure tried, but I wound up being […]

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Some Music

By Christopher Johnson | May 7, 2018

A few simple songs I used to dig at some point in my life and have lost touch with for a time: 2 Kool 2 B 4gotten – Lucinda Williams 2 Cool 2 Care – Anna Burch Everlong – Foo Fighters Heartspark Dollarsign – Everclear Please Send The Letter – Alison Krauss & Robert Plant […]

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The Promise & Peril of Social Media.

By Christopher Johnson | April 26, 2018

I came to the Web when it was new. It was asynchronous. It was anonymous. It was decentralized. It was truly amazing. It had the “wild west” vibe. You could become someone different. More specifically: you could transform yourself into someone different. You could become the future-self. Bit by bit by trying on new identities […]

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