30 Days: No Looking Down, No Looking Up

For a long time now, I’ve been a big fan of Matt Cutt’s blog, where he does these 30 day challenges.  I’m not sure if Matt’s the one that originated it (I know of other big bloggers like Dr. Pete that are also big on this), but the shared inspiration and transparence is something that I’ve always liked, and it’s something positive that you, as a reader, can likely relate with.

But first a little preface.

My life has been kind of a surreal ride over the past year and a half.  I live in a new city, running a new company in a new industry, am engaged to an amazing girl, living a life that I never dreamed possible.  Somewhere in this ride, a friend of mine helped me out in one of the greatest ways I think that anyone ever has- he got my into rock climbing at the surprisingly amazing gym in my small hometown of Bloomington, Illinois.

This was significant for me for a few reasons. First, I’m terrified of heights. If someone hadn’t pushed me out of an airplane a year earlier at a bachelor party, I don’t think that I ever would have considered. And my first time climbing couldn’t have been more terrible. I watched kids tear up the 65 foot grain silos at Upper Limits, while I sat there halfway up the wall. That about did it for me, until a friend there gave me a single piece of advice.

“Don’t look down. I never look down. In fact I rarely even look very far up, because that can be awful too. Just focus on what needs to happen next.”

And with that, I went from failing that first climb to succeeding, and just a year later was climbing 5.10 grade routes, attending the occasional competition, and passed a lead certification (to you non-climbers, that looks a lot like the cougar/exploding van-filled scenario up to the right).

But that brings us to this- much of what’s made the last year go so well for me is the above scenario. Life is a lot like this. Too many people paralyze themselves in fear.  They marinate in the past, where they feel safe, rather than reaching for the next great thing. I’ve been doing SEO for nearly 10 years, but it wasn’t until I washed away negative influences and talked myself up to take the leap, that I’ve been published on 4 of the top 25 marketing sites this year alone with relative ease.

That should have happened a whole lot sooner.

So with that, here is my first 30 day challenge (the ideal amount of time to form a new habit).  I will not look down.  No late night reflection over decisions made during the day previous, or before.  I will not look (too far) up.  I’ll make sure the next step is a bold one and keep some ambitious goals.  But no writing plans for my next 17 startup projects through a Monday afternoon.  No panic over how Northcutt will operate at 75 employees.  Just this moment, and the one to follow.

Paradise or Oblivion

Some interesting futurist ideas about a totally new society that would embrace technology and automation at it’s core.  Some of The Venus Project‘s concepts seem far out there and sometimes reach beyond what I totally understand. Regardless, these ideas are definitely a refreshing alternative to letting Fox and NBC numb your brain.

Whether or not this could actually do away with greed standing in the way of human progress remains to be seen, but it’s a nice to see somebody offering such far-reaching solutions.

2012 is Here

In keeping with the I’ll write an update whenever I damn well feel like it” nature of this blog, it seemed to be about time to post an update.

Part of what’s been keeping me from writing blog posts here in recent months is the fact that I’ve started writing about SEO and content marketing once a week, over here.  I’ve enabled feedburner subscriptions so that you can keep up (*hint hint*).  I’ve also working on building up blogs a bit for Northcutt’s clients (and more case studies on those folks can be expected this year).

In the meantime, I’d like this blog to remain the place where my mind goes to write when it starts to wander (that means no more posts about SEO here).  I’ve added a links page and plan to continue blogging on more random topics that are of interest to me (and who knows, could be to you as well).


Get Off the Internet

Really.  The world ends today.

But should it not, I’ll be back back in IL for a bit after a brief adventure up the East Coast.   My focus this month is on moving to Chicago proper, and continuing research/development to improve my SEO consulting process for my existing clients, as well as in preparation for the launch of Northcutt.com sometime in Q3.  Exciting times.

Over the Harbor

It’s a rainy morning at the Cabrits garrison in northern Dominica (which is where I’ve been living for the past few weeks).   Here’s what the office looks like today:

The misty storytale-quality of this photo is not an iphone effect, but rather the mountains here actually rest permanently inside of low-flying clouds.  And, it sounds like this.

Breaking the Silence

Earlier this afternoon, I officially sold my stake in Nobis, letting go of my creation that’s more or less dominated my life for the past six years (and is why I’ve been missing in action for the past few months).  The reasons and events that led up to this are complex on a level that I don’t think that I want to put too much out here (for risk of being misinterpreted) but I will leave this with these final words.

I’m grateful for all of the passion of their own that our staff put into building this thing that started as nothing more than some scribbling on a notepad.  Ubiquity has grown to scales that I never would have been capable of achieving alone.   We were incredibly fortunate to have had those first handfuls of hosting customers that stayed fanatics about what we were doing, still now, with thousands of others also worth thanking.  In just a few years, these experiences have taught me an incredible amount about myself, choosing friends, and the different effects that money and power have on people.  It’s also shown me what we are capable of building if we’re constantly optimistic and doing.

Nothing in my life has been more difficult that the events of the past year and a half, but looking ahead, there’s no doubt that I’m personally in a better place today than I was yesterday, and given the right efforts, I’m confident the next day will be better still, and so on.  I never really expected to run Ubiquity forever, nor did I ever believe that this would be the greatest thing in my life that I create.  It won’t be.   But those ideas will be blog posts for another day.

A Blog Update for 2010

It’s been over a year since the last time I updated this thing (which is amazingly more frequent than I expected I’d really be blogging by now).  About halfway through 2009 I in fact just took it down completely, which turns out is a great tactic in not reminding yourself that you haven’t updated your blog in a while.  So, for probably not much more than that this year, I’m a blogger again.  Hope you enjoyed it!

A New Years Rant

About 4 years ago now I watched (relative to your own disposition) liberal hippie lunatic / super-genius Noam Chomsky give a little talk in Braden Auditorium. He had no shortage of unique ideas to throw at the people that came, but among them, he summed up more with one sentence than I think I’ve ever heard a sentence sum up with it’s summing.

“There is nothing in life more difficult than seeing yourself in the mirror.”

The list of meanings that one sentence can pile on is endless. Personally it applies to me in this moment a sense of how often we forget that we’re writing our lives own narratives.. and abuse that fundamental ability to think ourselves into a corner like a confused irobot that bumped into the cat. So at the start of another year, I’ve decided that I’m done doing that. I’m done pretending that I have any actual problems, down to even the smallest things that bother me, that there aren’t solutions for… most of them pretty simple (unless barring some sort of disease I don’t yet know about).

Even though I constantly forget, I’ve had this perspective since one particular moment I can remember when I was 16. After taking over my dad’s old van, I inherited an old Crown Victoria, like right out of the Blues Brothers. It was a fantastic 2.5 ton car which I got into far more car chases with than any car since.Unfortunately I only have a (kind of dated) picture of the van. Pretend it’s a car.. it will make the story better.


One day not long at all into driving that car, I learned that 2.5 tons of steel + original tires from when the car was first built 15 years earlier + rain meant that it could stop from 30 in about 100 yards. This information was not altogether useful to me though, because on this day, I learned that the car could also stop just as easily in about 20 yards should something get in the way. Something did.

I  was fine.. I somehow drove home with the hood sticking straight up, showed my parents the completely crushed half of my car. My dad told me what I knew but didn’t want to hear- that it was totaled, and even though it was just a car.. I had been more than a little excited about all of this having a car business, and I was pretty upset.

I spent a couple hours locked up in my room before my dad came down, and explained to me he was pretty sure we could find all the parts it needed from a junkyard. I didn’t hesitate to point out the fact that he fixed appliances, not cars.. there’s no way we could reassemble the more important half of a Crown Victoria from random pieces. My dad then gave me the same sort of answer to that sort of question that he always has as long as I’ve known him.. which I had never taken seriously.

“I can fix anything”

Said in really a joking tone at the time. I’ve taken that mentality to heart ever since, because it wasn’t a few days later that we had everything in front of the car’s windshield in zip-lock bags with labels, half of which were mostly meaningless to us. About two weeks of work passed in the garage, and when we were done.. despite the piles of spare parts… the car ran even better than it did before. We even re-painted each of the new pieces with the same tacky two tone look that the car had to begin with.

I’ll end this cheesy sunscreen-song-esque rant by simply saying that same mentality has stuck with me ever since. Don’t think yourself into a corner and don’t be beat up by circumstance in 2009, and I won’t either.