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Brian Mayer: product and marketing strategy consultant.

I am based in New York City and I update my blog infrequently. About me.
Morning Routine

Morning Routine

I’ve never had a morning routine. I always considered them boring and, well, routine.

I also always was too lazy to have one. That sounds harsh but it’s true. Getting up at the same time every morning means discipline and self control. Making breakfast, going to the gym, reading the news—these are things that lame suburbanites with 2.5 kids do. I was cooler than that. I had the luxury of being able to do what I wanted when I wanted.

In the past couple weeks I’ve been getting up early and going to the gym almost every day. At first it was a huge chore. Now it’s almost routine.

It’s not that it isn’t hard…it is. But by making a routine out of it, including a breakfast, a shower and (on occasion) a blog post, I can force myself to do the things I never liked doing.

What has been the result? It’s probably too early to tell, but I can say that although I get more tired than I used to in the late afternoons, the extra freedom that evenings now afford me is worth it. These morning routines free up a lot of extra time to go out, meet up with friends, watch TV, write music, or whatever floats my boat, without the anxiety and pressure of all the things I’m supposed to do hanging over my head.

So, I think it’s working, and as long as I can stick with it, maybe I’ll get healthier too. Stranger things have happened.

April 12, 2019Comments are DisabledRead More
George Washington

George Washington

I was thinking about George Washington today and all of a sudden I realized that the image I had in my head of our first president was not of this guy…

Image result for george washington

…but of this guy:

Image result for george washington christopher jackson

I was astounded. Obviously, Hamilton‘s Christopher Jackson is an unmatched performer and his portrayal of Washington is a masterpiece. But the fact that his representation of this historical character had replaced the true original in my own head is a testament to the power of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s storytelling, and the brilliant way that Hamilton tells history through contemporary voices.

For, it’s not just the character that comes through in the show–the honesty, the integrity, the inner strength, and the other leadership qualities that made Washington such an extraordinary man in real life. By creating such a moving and accurate portrayal of our first president in living flesh, in modern vernacular, Miranda forces us to see ourselves in our history, and see Washington as more than an engraving on a dollar bill, but as a complicated and real man tortured by self doubt and fear.

It’s also through this portrayal that Miranda’s choice to cast non-white actors in all the main roles, especially Washington, holds true force. For not only is Washington the quintessential American in character and historical relevance, he also, at the time, represented the quintessential American in race and class (and, unfortunately, slave ownership). By casting a black man as George Washington, Hamilton is not doing what some have claimed and disrespecting American history. It’s doing the opposite: it’s embracing and respecting American history and mythos so much that it seeks to claim this heritage for all Americans, not just white Americans. It’s a testament to the power of storytelling to reshape our own perceptions–to force all Americans to recognize themselves in our founding fathers, even if in actual historical reality they were, well, much less representative.

April 11, 2019Comments are DisabledRead More
100

100

100 Days. 100 Blog Posts.

I’ll admit, I haven’t been very good about keeping up. I spend some nights where I write 4, 5 posts in a row just to keep on pace.

But, as I discovered at 90, the writing is getting easier. The hard part is carving out 15-30 minutes every day to do it.

April 10, 2019Comments are DisabledRead More
Dining and Dashing

Dining and Dashing

I’ve never done it before. Intentionally, that is.

One time, last year, a friend and I got up and started to walk out without paying. It was an honest mistake; we were having a great time and simply forgot we hadn’t paid. And the waiter chased us down and we paid, no problem.

Went to that same restaurant tonight, for the first time since the incident. The same waiter was working there, staring, tracking me the entire time. It was uncomfortable.

I left a monster tip.

April 9, 2019Comments are DisabledRead More
Poker

Poker

Boy, I got my ass handed to me.

It was supposed to be a casual game, and it was. It has been a couple years since I’ve seriously played poker, and I’d have to admit, part of me just wanted some action.

Instead, I walked into a den of snakes.

Some advice for you that I keep having to remind myself over and over again: if you can’t spot the bad player at the poker table, you’re the bad player at the poker table.

It was a strong table through and through–except for me–and I busted out twice. The only consolation is that I know I played badly and I know I can play better. But knowing and delivering are two very different things. As poker is a game of skill, I have to hunker down and re-educate myself before I’ll let myself go back to the table.

At least I was somewhat humbled in what has been an already pretty triumphant week.

April 8, 2019Comments are DisabledRead More
Honest Writing

Honest Writing

There are two types of lies: lies of commission and lies of omission. It stands to reason that there are two types of honesty: expressed honesty and repressed honesty.

My writing has almost always fallen in the former camp. I’m not proud of it. Here we are, my 97th blog post since January 1, and only a handful of times have I let slip what I actually, honestly, believe that I’m too afraid to say out loud.

I haven’t lied once, that I know of. But real truth comes from the darkness: The truths that are too painful or embarrassing or risky to say out loud.

I assume most writing is repressed like this. But I also believe that the best writing isn’t. The best writing is intuitively vulnerable and forces the audience to empathize, if not always agree. And the best writing comes from the hardest thoughts. Best writing comes from the darkness.

I wish I could promise to write more honestly and less repressively; and, maybe, that’s the goal I secretly had in mind when I set out on this one-post-per-day project. But knowing what it would cost me in terms of vulnerability–the kind of scandalous, embarrassing admissions I would have to put on the page–makes me somewhat afraid. OK, very afraid.

It is that fear, more than anything else, that keeps me from becoming the best writer I can be.

April 7, 2019Comments are DisabledRead More
Losing Touch

Losing Touch

It’s never as hard as we think it is to lose touch with friends. As I’ve said before and I’ll say again, friendship is situational and requires equal effort from both sides. Losing touch is merely a reflection of the nature of the friendship, and has no bearing on how close a friendship it actually is.

The fact is, you won’t talk to some of your best friends for years. Other people, like coworkers, you’ll see every day and never have the same bond with.

I often express regret when I see old friends, as they will, that we haven’t kept in better touch. But the truth is, we’re exactly in touch as we need to be, as the type of friendship we are both comfortable with.

Don’t feel bad about losing touch with people. Focus on building and maintaining the friendships that matter to you and the rest will take care of itself.

April 6, 2019Comments are DisabledRead More
Hating People

Hating People

Why would you spend any time or energy hating anybody?

I had a classmate I hated once. Really hated. I won’t go into details for obvious reasons, but I so clearly remember the feeling. It was all-encompassing, frustrating hate. I thought about him all the time. Hate not only of who he was and his beliefs and his attitude, but his stubbornness and unwillingness to change. His complete lack of awareness. How could he be like that? I would spend hours complaining to him with a friend who understood.

The reasons I hated him are unimportant, in retrospect. What matters is, it was a complete waste of time. All the time I spent thinking about how terrible he was was time I could have spent having fun with my friends. Instead of tearing him down I could have been building myself up.

I think about hate a lot now, not because I’ve magically managed to become a higher-order zen master and have removed the feeling from my emotional vocabulary, but because I see hate all the time, everywhere. Our entire news cycle, for instance, seems to be dominated by hate. Even the word “nemesis” has been trending.

Hate and anger and jealousy sells really well. It’s a lot easier to get hate to go viral than cuteness. At the same time, it’s a complete waste of energy. Why spend even 5 minutes reading about something some weirdo in Florida thinks? You’re not going to change his mind by arguing with him. You can’t stop him from believing it or silence him through physical force–at least, obviously, you shouldn’t. Plus, maybe you’ve got him all wrong anyway. Maybe he is a victim of abuse. Maybe he has been badly hurt in the past, and maybe this is his way of venting his frustration. Maybe he just saw a tweet from someone he hated, and responded hyperbolically. Maybe if you met him in real life, you would think he was lovely.

Feel free to disagree with who you like. But don’t waste your time investing in hate when there are so many better things to do with your life. Channel your disagreements into positive forces for change: do something about it instead of stewing in anger.

I haven’t achieved zen-level, but I have learned to recognize when my thoughts are being clouded by feelings of resentment and anger. I have learned to turn off the news and most of the media that feeds off of my natural impulse to go tribal and reject those who think differently from me. I have been much happier ignoring sinners against my conscience in everyday life, because they just aren’t worth it.

Yes there are always frustrations and frustrating people. But if you spend any of your precious free time thinking about how terrible someone else is, instead of how great other people in your life are, or what you could be doing to make yourself better, you are doing yourself a disservice. Those feelings will make you bitter and resentful and mess with your judgment. And most of all, they will keep you from being happy yourself. And don’t you owe that to yourself?

April 5, 2019Comments are DisabledRead More
CoursePuppy

CoursePuppy

When I was in college I thought it would be a good idea to make a website that helped students manage their classes, take and share notes for homework. It did really well in one of my classes; everyone used it to prepare for the final.

Then I took it to the administrators and tried to get them to have me build their course management system, because our course picker was old school and I thought I could do it better. Went back and forth with the IT department for a while. Ended up giving it up and doing other things.

Low and behold, I found out today that my domain name, coursepuppy.com, is expiring. It also happens to be the same day I found out there’s a YC startup called CourseDog that just launched and is doing the exact same thing.

I debated hitting them up to ask them if they wanted to buy the domain. I like CoursePuppy more than CourseDog, to be honest. But I’m instead just going to let the internet gods give them the domain name instead, if they see it and ever want to pick it up.

I dug up the code for the site and took a screenshot, just so I could feel nostalgic for a second. RIP CoursePuppy. May you rest in puppy.

April 4, 2019Comments are DisabledRead More
The Interesting / Self Involved Graph

The Interesting / Self Involved Graph

“Imagine a graph,” my friend said, “where one axis is how interesting you are, and the other axis is how self-involved you are.” Done.

Everyone falls on this graph. Donald Trump: extremely self involved, but also extremely interesting. Elon Musk: also extremely self involved and extremely interesting. Probably why people call Musk the Trump of the left. Then you have Bill Gates: extremely interesting, but not at all self-involved. AOC: extremely self involved, and not at all interesting.

I guess the point of this exercise is to give people a little more credit for being self involved when they have something to be self involved about. On the other hand, it serves as a good litmus test for the sort of people you want to avoid (the self involved / non-interesting ones) vs the ones you want to get to know (the non-self involved / interesting ones). I, for one, am in the other quadrant: extremely self involved and not at all interesting.

Amongst other heuristics, this is one way to view the world. But it obviously isn’t the be-all-end-all of how people can be defined. Imagine another graph where there are completely useless heuristics on one side and heuristics that actually work on the other. This Interesting / Self Involved graph would be about in the middle.

Still, you can tell me friend it worked out great.

April 3, 2019Comments are DisabledRead More