Stuff of Note [Articles, Concepts, Gadgets, Books, Tech, and More for February 2024]

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This blog post is just a collection of things I feel were of note lately. They might be physical products, articles, or even a new way of thinking I'm interested in.

The only requirement to make this list is that it had some sort of impact on my life or business, brought me joy or piqued my interest. Some things might be deep and powerful while others might be insanely basic like what shows I'm enjoying. 

Things to Keep in Mind When Reading My "Stuff" Lists

I'm an entrepreneur who is hyper fixated on what I do. I over analyze nearly everything in my business and life, which is a gift (I can share insights others miss) and a curse (I can share insights that no one cares about or are unnecessarily deep for the topic). 

Things I use and recommend here are also just things that I subjectively enjoy. They aren't perfect for everyone. I try my best to be as insightful and in touch as possible with my average reader so I can help them have a better, more interesting, effective and enjoyable life. Just like I'm trying to have. 

So, even though I do my best to ensure I'm not sharing any blatantly bad or dangerous advice, assume I am wrong and experiment with the things I share with an open mind.

The things I write here are also NEVER to be construed as professional health advice.

Please do keep me honest and roast me in the comments if you think I've shared something idiotic here or step too far outside of my areas of expertise!

#1 [Software] I Am Somehow Just Coming Around to One of the World's Most Popular Apps

Have you ever put something off for so long that you just feel like it's impossible to ever even do it? For example, I've been asked to play Euchre for my entire life and I always just say "No thanks, I don't know how to play." 

I've been the same way about WhatsApp.

I've always felt like it was nefarious. The only people it seemed who wanted me to use it were virtual assistants cold messaging me to hire them or crypto scammers. 

But I finally downloaded it so I could communicate with the other speakers at an event I was just at and it opened my eyes. 

It's so convenient! I was able to message people over wifi without my cell service and I can seamlessly message people from my computer. 

Also, I really dislike Slack and like that WhatsApp is pretty bare bones. It's a messaging tool nearly identical to regular SMS except it is affordable across boarders. 

#2 [Misc.] Downloading Videos from YouTube, Prime and Netflix Is So Much Better Than iTunes

I logged a lot of time flying this month and brought my family along with me. I knew we we might not have wifi on the plane, so I preimptivately downloaded a bunch of my daughters favorite movies from Prime so she could watch them offline. 

They downloaded super fast and played with no issues. 

I used to spend money buying movies or shows on iTunes before flights, but this was much better. 

How have I not been doing this?!?

#3 [What I'm Watching] "Beef"

Speaking of downloading videos, I loaded my phone up with the entire series of the Netflix show Beef and it was super a fun watch. 


It's a dark comedy about a road rage incident that spirals into an ongoing war between two people who are struggling in other aspects of their lives.

I loved Steven Yeun in The Walking Dead but I wasn't very familiar with Ali Wong. I came away super impressed by her acting and then realized that I actually WAS familiar with her. She's a comedian who you might remember as the lady who is usually pregnant in her Netflix specials. Her special "Hard Knock Wife," is her biggest and best received one.

It's pretty cool she's got such range. Being an funny comedian AND a skilled actor is like being a two way player in baseball. Not easy, especially at the highest level. 

#4 [Food] Speaking of Beef...

I have no beef at all with Righteous Felon beef jerky. My father in law hooked me up with a variety pack recently and I'm not exaggerating when I say it's the best beef jerky I've ever had. 

Unfortunately, it's the same price as other jerkies (expensive) but if you're gonna get it, check out this brand. You can get it on Amazon. If you want just one type, I like the Truffle-o soldier best.

#5 [Video] The Worst Speech in History

Gerald Ratner turned his family's failing jewelry business into a nationwide empire. However, it all came crashing down when he delivered a speech to an audience of other business executives. 

The crazy part is that the audience actually loved the speech, but he found out days later that he made a series of irreversible, horrible mistakes. 

It was such an iconic flop, in fact, that the term ""Ratner Moments" is now used to describe similarly epic business failures where companies shoot themselves in the foot.

It's a very interesting story with a worthwhile lesson.

#6 [Misc.] No Hard Feelings by the Avett Brothers

I first heard this song on a podcast called Tom Brown's Body and it popped back up on my Apple music recently so I felt like sharing.

It's just a beautiful song about life, death and love. 

It's both sad and up-lifting. I nice reminder that everything is fleeting and that we should focus on love and not the pettiness that can so easily consume us. 

#7 [Concept] Pleasure Hacking by Scheduling Events/Experiences Far in Advance 

The anticipation of something can often be more enjoyable than the thing itself. Studies show that this is particularly true when it comes to anticipation for an upcoming experience like a vacation or concert.

In the study titled, “Waiting for Merlot: Anticipatory Consumption of Experiential and Material Purchases," researchers argued that consumers derive value from anticipation of something pleasurable, but that value tends to be greater for experiential than for material purchases.

I recently experienced this as I was anticipating my upcoming vacation. The anticipation was nearly as enjoyable as the trip itself. 

Give yourself something to look forward to, even if it's not lavish and expensive.

Here are a few additional articles on the power of anticipation that I read while fleshing this all out.

#8 [Concept] Pairing Neutral Habits with Good Ones

A spin on habit stacking. The main difference is that habit stacking general pairs multiple good habits together. Some things in life are neither good nor bad, but we like to do them. Why not leverage those everyone once in awhile?

The model here is basically an IFTTT formula (if this, then that) where we marry two habits together. One of them is either neutral or slightly negative (like spending a little too much time playing video games) and the other is productive, healthy or otherwise worthwhile. 

Here are a couple of examples.

  • If watching TV then fold laundry. 
  • If scrolling mindlessly on phone then listen to an educational audiobook.
  • If drinking a beer then drink a glass of water. (Within reason of course, this doesn't give us unlimited permission to drink as much as we can whenever we can).

We can also spin this to have our good habits be rewarded by neutral ones. 

  • If I exercise then I will buy a post-workout smoothie I enjoy. 
  • If I read for 30 minutes then I will let myself scroll mindlessly on my phone for 15 minutes.
  • If I do 50 minutes of deep work then I will go drink a cup of coffee. 

Supporting Evidence

In a 2013 study on “temptation bundling,” participants were given an MP3 player loaded with audiobooks and were told that they could only listen to them at the gym. Participants worked out 51 percent more than people who weren't given the MP3 player. The pull was so powerful in fact that when the study ended, 61 percent of the participants said that they would literally pay to have gym-only access to the audiobooks.

I'm working on pairing one of my biggest time wasting habits (playing video games) with a good one (education). I've made a rule that I will only play video games when I'm listening to an audiobook (with the weekends being an exception). 

Important Considerations

This concept can be abused and become harmful if not done with careful consideration.

#1 We shouldn't let an unquenchable thirst for productivity keep us from enjoying down time. Balance is key. My audiobook/video game habit pair works for me because I was spending objectively too much time on video games. I was spending more time than I wanted to be spending and it wasn't bringing me joy. Video games are made to be addictive, so I wanted to pair them with something to leverage that existing craving that the company engineered at the highest level. The reading helps me limit the amount of time I spend playing as well as I do get a bit bored of a book after about an hour.

#2 We can't justify terrible habits by pairing with good ones. An extreme example would be "I'll let myself smoke cigarettes when I read non-fiction." The habit should be something that does no lasting harm to our mind, body or relationships. 

Is this just a light rehashing of James Clear content? Maybe, but it's nearly impossible to talk about habits without recovering his stuff! He's just too prolific on the topic 🙂 

#9 [Concept] Burn One Down!

Ohio, where I live, just legalized recreational marijuana, but I'm talking about candles! lol 

One of my favorite things is coming into my office and firing up a new candle. I prefer different scents based on the time of year. Fall and winter are more woodsy scents and spring and summer are fresher and livelier. 

Side Note: While researching for this, I did come across a few arguments that burning candles might lead to inhaling toxic fumes. I'm confident though that that isn't a real concern and most candles emit little to no dangerous chemicals. [Supporting Evidence]

There are enough benefits to burning candles such as increased focus and general wellbeing to make them worth the absolutely miniscule risk. 

#10 [Concept] There Is No Best Note Taking App

Note Taking Apps Don't Matter

I've written at length about this on Medium. Note taking apps are fantastic, and tech nerds like me are drawn to them like moths to a flame. However, the app itself has very little to do with it. It's just the act of taking notes AND having an app that serves as a vehicle for quickly logging, storing and easily retrieving information later on. 

These apps exist already and I can safely say there is very little room for improvement with the exception of some AI integrations like the ones we're seeing in apps like Notion.

But for the most part, it doesn't really matter if its Evernote, Notion, Apple Notes or something different. What matters is that you use the app consistently. Jumping regularly to the next shiny app takes away from the value because you're either losing your old notes or spending a bunch of time always moving the around.  

The longer you use a note taking app, the more value it has. Read about the idea of creating a "second brain," if you want to dive a bit deeper into the art of note taking for effective retrieval later.

There is no one-size fits all "perfect note taking app." It's relative to the user. The one you use consistently is the right one for you. Don't overthink it. 

#11 [Concept] The Only Way to Be Successful as a Writer Is to Schedule Your Writing Time and Respect It Like a Job

I've fallen deeply behind this year on my writing habit and it's upsetting me. The problem was I stopped relying on a fixed time to write that was non-negotiable. 

I've relied purely on serendipity and randomly finding time to do it. 

The content I've written has been solid BUT I haven't written it at the volume that I'd like to or that I need to to really move the needle. 

If you want to become a writer who earns real money from it, you need to set a non-negotiable time when you write. Whether you're inspired or not.

#12 [Concept] The AI Sweet Spot in Writing

I spoke at the Wizard's of E-com event recently and my topic was AI and content marketing. My main point is that AI doesn't make great content, but humans + AI can consistently make better content than humans alone. 

You know I love graphics (almost all of the graphics on this site are made in house through Canva or SketchWow) so I made a quick one showing the concept. 

#13 [Health + Fitness] Paying for a Meal Plan Is Actually...Cheaper?

Doing your own meal prep is awesome for a ton of reasons. It saves time, money and is a great way to make sure you're eating healthy, well portioned meals regularly.

I don't love doing my own meal prep so I'm actually paying for pre-made meals now from a local place here in Columbus called Clean Eatz. They have a lot of chains but not enough that there is likely one near you (you can check locations here, not an affiliate link). However, there is surely a similar company around you that sells pre-portioned meals for great prices!

  • I'm only paying for meals I eat at my office when working (breakfast and lunch from Monday-Friday).
  • Meals average out to about $6.52 each. 
  • Each meal is microwavable and good (not great).
  • They have awesome macros (good ratios of proteins, carbs and fats) and are much healthier than anything else I'd buy for lunch. 

For $6.52/meal, you really can't beat that. I highly suggest looking into meal prep places in your area! 

Companies that do this rely on bulk orders, so committing to a lot of meals is certainly your best bet for getting prices that make it more affordable than other alternatives.

Check out my article here about other expenses that seem extravagant but are actually often more cost effective than you think.

#14 [Reading] Book Everyone Should Read

My oldest sister majored in psychology in college. I remember literally laughing when she told me that was her major.

In hindsight, that was both quite rude and ignorant. I majored in economics but would certainly consider psychology if I was forced to do college again (emphasis on forced).

I know now as an adult that psychology isn't some wishy-washy soft science. It's a topic that those who rewards those who study it deeply in every facet of life. Relationships, business, athletics, everything!

Philosophy, on the other hand, is the one that will leave you on a treadmill of madness, only feeling like you've learned you know nothing lol 

Since we can't all go and immediately enroll in psychology classes, The Psychology Book is the next best thing. It's an easy read (academics would likely call it "pop psychology") that covers all of the most important aspects of the topic. 

The Psychology Book

It's not something you need to jump out of your seat to go buy right away or prioritize over more practical education, but if you want a really nice, holistic view of the field of psychology, this book is the one I recommend.

Note: It's available on Kindle and Audible BUT I highly recommend a printed copy. It's loaded with graphics that make the concepts very easy to understand. 

#15 [Concept] YouTube Shirt

Remember when I said some of my tips are super basic and perhaps extremely specific to me and a small handful of folks? This is one of those!

It's hard enough to get any videos recorded, edited and published these days AND actually run my businesses. Lots of times I've wanted to record I didn't just because of the minor excuse of "I'm in my sweaty cut off gym tee-shirt so I'll do it tomorrow." 

Not anymore, I'm keeping a plaid shirt at my office now that will fit perfectly in every video. I can just throw it over my gross shirts and boom, we're rolling. 

Plaid is also a great type of shirt for recording as well because the color makes it easy to remove backgrounds and give you an effect of popping out from the background. 

#16 [Stuff] Purchase I'm Regretting (Even Though I Haven't Received It)

I am an absolute sucker for new technology and I believe that AI wearables are going to be a huge part of our lives going forward. Things that record every word and moment throughout our days. This sounds like a Black Mirror episode (because it was one) and surely makes a lot of people uncomfortable, but I'm obsessed with it and excited to be able to review my days as captured by AI. 

However, the device I bought is 99% not the one. It's called the Humane AI pin. 

Since I'm such a hyper consumer of these things, I didn't even watch the keynote video. I went back and watched it recently and .... wow. This thing seems to do absolutely nothing of value. If it does, they didn't convey it at all. 

Watch this video by Danny Gonzalez (an absolute STUD YouTuber you should subscribe to by the way) to see what I mean. 

Either way, I'm going to still review it and let you know if it's as bad as I'm concerned it is. 

#17 [Software] Zapier + Humans? I'm Intrigued but Unsure Yet

I try and automate as much as possible, but "possible" is far from everything. Most of what would be my most valuable automations require a real human somewhere in the process. 

That's why I nearly jumped out of my shoes when I got an ad for a software called Wrk

It's like Zapier but they have the ability to actually add humans into the process. Most of my dream automations are held up because they need a human's touch, so this is potentially huge.

The only problem I'm seeing is that the costs of the API calls might make it much more expensive than simply hiring a virtual assistant.

I just created an account and am playing around with it. I'll report soon if I like it or not. 

#18 [Fun] Univeral Yums

Every month we get a "Universal Yums" box and my kids love it. It's a box of about 15 different items from a specific region of the world. The regions change each month. 

Great for date nights with friends too. 

Universal Yums

I haven't tried it out yet, but I'm also considering the Finder's Seekers "Escape Room at Home," monthly box.

I love the monthly box model by the way. During your next shower, brainstorm a box you could make. I might be your first customer!

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