Miami Zen

Ideas about ideas

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Hacking Habits to Become a Better Version of Yourself

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

You Are Your Habits

Your daily routine is the scaffolding that holds your habits together. A good routine should be built upon good habits, and it should  lead to an improvement in your overall well being.

The goal of any well designed daily routine should be the improvement of your mind, body and spirit (MBS).

Building a Routine

  1. Identify the new habits that you want to create.What new things do you want to do? Focus on improving your mind, body and spirit.
  2. Identify existing habits that you want to eliminate. Replace these with your new habits. The key is to remove the the good and add more beneficial habits for a positive effect.Good Habits
  3. Determine which habits to incorporate into your daily routine. Prioritize these new habits based on the ease benefit matrix.Ease can be defined as the time required, the complexity of the activity or the resources required to carry out the activity.Ease Benefit Matrix
  4. Create a schedule for your habits, this will become your daily routine.
    When do you want to do these activities? How does it fit in with your other responsibilities and existing schedule? At what time of the day would you prefer to do them?
  5. Start working on ingraining your most important habit.
    Consider habit sprints that last 4 weeks. Focus on building one habit at a time.  For the first sprint, do it at least 5-7 times per week.

Forming Habits

  • It takes 30-66 days for the habit to form.
  • Try to do the activity everyday for the first 21-30 days.
  • Keep it simple. Start with 1 habit.
  • Create a trigger that initiates the behavior.
  • Identity the reward / benefit you get from your new habit / behavior.

How do your approach creating new habits?

Notes from Steal Like an Artist

“Nothing is original.”


  1. Steal like an artist.
  2. Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.
  3. Write the book you want to read.
  4. Use your hands.
  5. Side projects and hobbies are important.
  6. The Secret: Do good work and share it with people.
  7. Geography is no longer our master.
  8. Be nice. (The world is a small town.)
  9. Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done.)
  10. Creativity is subtraction.
Good Theft Bad Theft
Honor Degrade
Study Skim
Steal from many Steal from one
Credit Plagiarize
Transform Imitate
Remix Ripoff
  • Start your swipe file
  • Buy and use a notebook
  • Get yourself a calendar
  • Start your logbook
Swipe File

This is where you keep your bits and pieces of inspiration.

Get Yourself A Calendar

A calendar helps you plan your work, gives you concrete goals, and keeps you on track.

Applying some of the ideas from the book to chess improvement.

“Share your dots, but don’t connect them.”

Recommended Reading List

altmba reading list

altMBA Reading List

altmba reading list

The following is the reading list for the 5th cohort of the altMBA. The altMBA is an intensive, 4-week online workshop designed by Seth Godin for high-performing individuals who want to level up and lead.

More altMBA Resources

Update: 2/28/2017 Added additional altMBA resources section

Life Changing Tools

Tools That Will Change Your Life

The following tools will change the way you work forever.

Writing Tools

Project Management Tools


Information Architecture

Information Architecture

What is Information Architecture

Information Architecture (IA) is the structure of shared information. It is how the content on a website is organized, structured and labeled.

The goal of IA is to help users find information quickly to help them complete tasks.

According to Peter Morville, the purpose of your IA is to help users understand where they are, what they’ve found, what’s around, and what to expect. As a result, your IA informs the content strategy through identifying word choice as well as informing user interface design and interaction design through playing a role in the wireframing and prototyping processes.

Main Components of IA

  • Organization Schemes and Structures: How you categorize and structure information
  • Labeling Systems: How you represent information
  • Navigation Systems: How users browse or move through information
  • Search Systems: How users look for information

In order to create these systems of information, you need to understand the interdependent nature of users, content, and context. Rosenfeld and Morville referred to this as the “information ecology”.

Information Ecology

  • Context: business goals, funding, politics, culture, technology, resources, constraints
  • Content: content objectives, document and data types, volume, existing structure, governance and ownership
  • Users: audience, tasks, needs, information-seeking behavior, experience

Website Information Architecture

The first thing to consider is the purpose and mission of a project.

Closely related to that is to get a handle on your client’s goals.

Finally, you need to have a good sense of the end users of the project. Technically savvy users who already have some working knowledge of the information contained on a web site have entirely different needs than beginners to a given topic who may not have a high level of technical understanding. If you don’t know what kind of user is going to be using the content, you can’t properly structure that content to meet their needs.

How Users Find Information

There are four main ways that users seek information on a website.


In this seeking pattern, the user knows exactly what they’re looking for, they know how to describe it, and they might even know where to start looking. These are an IA professional’s dream.


The exploratory visitor has an idea of what they might need to know, but they might not have much idea of how to actually find it or where to start. They may dive into your site’s menus to see if anything looks like it might be relevant (this is where well-thought-out labels are key), or they might attempt a search.

Search that auto-suggests terms is a huge advantage for these visitors. They may know a keyword or two, and a search that will suggest related terms to help narrow their results is likely to be a huge help to them and give them a better user experience.


The unknown user doesn’t really know what they need. They might have a vague idea, or they might think they know, but they don’t know enough to effectively find it without some assistance. This is common in more complex industries like legal or financial.

It can also be present in many educational settings, where users might be looking for a solution without really understanding their problem.

This can also be apparent when someone is referred by another user, or when a visitor is simply looking to keep up to date with a topic or industry.

In any case, you need to find a way to guide your visitors through your content, to help them figure out both what they need and how to find it. How you do that can vary depending on the specific likelihood of each scenario.

For example, how you guide a visitor through a news site is entirely different than how you would guide them through content on a site offering financial advice. The main similarity, though, is that the user needs more guidance.


These people are looking for things they’ve already seen, and they may or may not know exactly how to find those things again. There are two different ways you can deal with this type of visitor.

The first way is to passively save content for users (such as a “recently viewed” section on an ecommerce site). This type of system requires no action on the part of the user, but can also be limited in how effective it is. For example, you might opt to save the last five pages a user visits, but what if the thing they want to get back to was ten pages ago? Or fifty? They’ll have to re-find it on their own.

The other is to provide active tools for visitors to use to save content so they can easily re-find it later. This could be things like a “save for later” function, a wishlist, a favorites, or something similar. These active solutions can make it easier to for users to re-find content that’s important to them much better than an automated, passive solution can.

Content Organization Models

There are six basic models for organizing and structuring content on a website or similar project. These models can sometimes be combined, or used on their own.

Single page

A single page site puts all of the content and information on just one page. This works best on a site with limited content and a very focused purpose. Single page sites are generally broken down into different sections, often with navigation to permalinks for each topic.

Single pages are common for things like personal websites, sites for individual products (either digital or physical), and similar sites. You may also see them as stand-along sub-sites on a larger site.


Flat structures are most often seen on small sites with less than a dozen pages. On a flat site, all of the pages are interchangeably accessible, ie, there’s only one level of navigation. This kind of site is most common on things like portfolios and agency sites, simple business sites, and e-commerce sites with only a handful of products.

Flat sites become significantly less usable as they grow in size. If you’re considering using a flat site, be sure that the content will not eventually grow to the point that this kind of structure would become unwieldy.


Index sites are similar to flat sites, though they often have a list of all of the pages on the site in a central location. This makes sites with larger numbers of pages still usable with a close-to-flat content structure, which keeps them simple.

Again, these kinds of structures are best for sites with a specific purpose, like an e-commerce site, a business site, a portfolio, or a site educating on a very specific topic.


A daisy structure is most commonly seen in things like web apps, though it is also seen on educational sites sometimes. The daisy structure means that users return to a central point (like a home page or landing page) after completing specific tasks on a site.

Strict hierarchy

With a strict hierarchy, pages are only accessible from their parent page. This can be a great structure for sites that wish to guide users through information in a very specific manner, without allowing them to skip ahead. This type works well on educational sites.

Multidimensional hierarchy

Related to the strict hierarchy, which provides users with more than one way to access particular content. This is one of the most common organizational patterns, partly because of its ease of implementation.

Multidimensional hierarchies can also be the trickiest to pull off. Because while you want to allow users multiple ways to access content, you still want to guide them along logical paths whenever it makes sense to do so.

Multidimensional hierarchies at their simplest include pages that are accessible from their parent pages, along with from a central navigation menu (often including sub-menus).

At its most complex, you have sites like Wikipedia, where pages are linked to one another in contextual ways, as one page is mentioned on another. This weaves an intricate web of interrelated content that seemingly goes on forever.

These types can be combined to create a hybrid.

Dan Brown’s Eight Principles of Information Architecture

Information Architecture Tools





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