Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash

Culturally, we web developers have a bad habit of selling things by telling you they’re easy — just follow these steps. Simply do x, y and z. From the beginning, it’s been driving me crazy.

Nothing about programming has ever been simple or easy for me. In fact, it’s been a struggle every step of the way. Is it me?

Just, simply and my personal (least) favorite programming descriptor — trivial — are presumptive, tone-deaf, very frequently wrong.

What’s missing here are the qualifiers: Trivially easy… if you have a decade of programming experience. Simply follow these steps… assuming your…

I want to be more deliberate about how I spend my time. I’ve lost months of my life focusing too deeply on any one activity, this is a list of activities I’d like to balance my time across. What am I missing?


I like to interact with the strictly logical world of code, and it feels fun to have that immediate, tangible impact. A hard to trace bug is like being the protagonist in a mystery thriller. I can easily spend too much time here, but always want to spend some.


I love connecting with people, hearing their stories and…

It’s been a difficult week, and I want to give the people around me a clear insight into how I’m thinking about the events unfolding around us. Some concepts that are on my mind:

Focus on the things you can control

It feels terrible to feel so out of control from all the things we see happening in the world. Everyone processes events in their own way; personally, I clean. When the world feels chaotic and overwhelming, I can at least organize my small little corner of the world. Maybe it’s my work area, or my inbox. Clean that smudge on the door that I haven’t bothered…

Everyone wants to predict future sales, but there isn’t general consensus on the techniques that should be used. Because there’s generally a seasonal curve to the businesses I’ve run, I’ve developed a habit of using the portion of the period that’s already complete, coupled with data from the previous period and how that period ended. Let’s call this the Proportional Method, and it works like this:

By cross-multiplying, we come up with a formula as follows:

I’ve spent most of my life thinking my father and I didn’t have that much in common, and only recently realized how wrong I was.

What I’ll remember my father for is his patience over the course of years. His kindness and generosity. His steadiness and loyalty.

Those qualities created the fabric of my youth. Houses, towns, and characters came in and out of frame, but my father was constant.

And the qualities I strive for myself- kindness, equality, patience, loyalty; I inherited those largely from him.

I’ve spent most of my life thinking my father and I didn’t have anything in common, but now I know that we had everything in common.

Everything that matters, anyway.

If he were here today, I would tell him thank you. For raising me. For teaching me morals. For making me strive to do great things. And just for being there.

Modified from DKNG’s poster for Black Keys

When I started writing earlier this year, it was supposed to be a kind of therapy. Yes, I had also hoped to raise my profile, help others, and ultimately benefit my businesses (one motion, many actions!), but personally, I had hoped it would help me process what I was experiencing.

I spent the first handful of years at Whiplash re-treading ground I had covered before– getting from Zero to $1M annual revenue. That didn’t make it easy, but it was familiar. Whiplash is somewhere else now– we’re on track for nearly $7M in 2016 and while that’s not huge, it’s…

Modified Tame Impala poster by Marianna Raskin

At some point, there’s a hard limit on what we can accomplish in life, purely through the time it takes to master a skill compared to our time on earth.

If we’re going to accomplish the things we want, we don’t have time to dedicate to each task in isolation. Some things are obvious: taking a call while walking to work. Hanging out with a friend while working out. Folding laundry while watching a show.

For the same reason we multi-task throughout the day, we have to align our life goals so we’re multi-tasking in the big picture, too. Time should never be spent working on a task that doesn’t satisfy at least two goals, preferably three or even 4.

Being an entrepreneur lends itself to this: even at the…

Modified from DKNG’s Jack White gig poster

Part 1: Defining What Matters

As professionals, we have quite a bit of latitude in how we spend our time. Sure, we’re “working” during work hours. But is the time we spend moving us closer to our goals in the most efficient means possible? Simply having worked is not the goal– but it’s easy to get caught in a trap of treating it that way. You rarely get extra credit for how hard you worked– what matters is what you accomplished.

Let’s assume for a moment, that the goal itself is clear. Let’s use a metaphor of marbles in a box– our goal is to…

Modified from Ryan Mowry’s art for Chelsea Wolfe & Wovenhand

When Sean and I started Whiplash, we generally put off as many things until later as we could. We knew we’d eventually use barcodes to scan all of the items as they shipped to ensure accuracy, but it could wait. We knew we’d bill for storage based off the dimensions of products. But to start, we could just count pallets. And, we knew we would have an automated billing system. But when we had 2 clients and the Whiplash app was just a script to print invoices, we needed a quick & dirty way to get paid.

That turned out…

James Marks

Serial entrepreneur. #457 on the Inc. 5,000. Process, compassion, and empathy rule all.

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