We packed a lot of good times into October. I joined some fishing pals in Houston for an Astros game on the eve of the playoffs. Despite the ridiculously priced beer and snacks, I still love going to watch baseball. Glad I rooted for the Astros in the World Series - according to the Wall Street Journal, the last three times the Phillies won the Series, the US slipped into a recession.
We also took the kids to Oregon for our first family trip in a while. We spent the first three days on the coast near Depoe Bay. We explored the tide pools, drove the coastal highway, popped by Rogue Brewing, and went whale watching. It was incredibly foggy most days but magically cleared up for our whale watching trip.
From there, we visited Mt. Hood and the Timberline Lodge. The drive up and the views were amazing, but I was most excited to go because the Timberline Lodge doubled as the “Overlook Hotel” in The Shining. While I didn’t meet a bartender named Lloyd, the infamous elevator and carpets are exactly as they were in the film.
Finally, we spent a few days near Hood River overlooking the gorge. We went on day hikes, visited local breweries, and we saw some amazing waterfalls.
Closer to home, we ventured to Bastrop to hang out with friends and visit The Painted Porch Bookshop. This is the bookstore that author Ryan Holiday opened during COVID in a historic building in old downtown Bastrop. Every book in the shop is personally recommended by Ryan or his wife. It was an honor to see a stack of The ONE Thing in the business section. We will definitely be going back. The whole area is perfect for a day trip from Austin.
Finally, Wendy and I attended the Formula 1 race at Circuit of the Americas (COTA). It was our first race and we are hooked. We started watching the Netflix series, Formula 1: Drive to Survive that evening.
We also had some family milestones worth sharing this past month. After months of deliberation, Gus decided to stop rowing. After 5 years, practicing for 12-15 hours a week just wasn’t fun anymore. He really wanted to focus on his senior year and college prep. I’m proud of how he handled it. He told us he was thinking about quitting this summer. Rather than make a rash decision, he gave it several more months to make sure it wasn’t just a moment in time. Can’t wait to see what he’ll do next.
I’m happy to report my sister Jan completed her 4th and final round of chemotherapy. She managed to keep all her hair and her positive attitude throughout. So proud of her and happy she is making great strides in her treatment.
Our youngest turned 17 and Gus voted for the first time. If I’m honest, both made me a little weepy.
Finally, for the first time in 22 years, I can eat ice cream again. We had dinner with my publisher in Oregon and they brought ice cream. Hearing I am lactose intolerant, Amy (who has a Chinese medicine practice) recommended I try Dairy Digest Complete. Expect me to weigh 500 lbs the next time you see me….
I’m still leading our marketing department on an interim basis. I feel like we’ve found our rhythm. We did an offsite 2023 planning retreat at our home. It was energizing to get out of the weeds, spend time together, and look to the future.
My executive assistant, Carly, has been helping me keep the TwentyPercenter newsletter going. Four months in, we just crossed the 3,000-subscriber threshold. Open rates are steady at 77% and we’ve had 21 total unsubscribes. Woohoo! It’s been tough finding time to write every week, but I’m super proud of our results.
Wendy and her partners hosted ~450 businesswomen in Scottsdale for their annual Her Best Life conference. By all reports, it was a huge success. Lots of learning, bonding, and dancing with their tribe. And they got to play with fire!
4. What I’m Reading
Traveling provided some good reading time. For non-fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed The World’s Worst Assistant by Sona Movsesian. Sona is Conan O’Brien’s longtime assistant. She makes a strong case for assistants having a right to have a life in the often toxic world of Hollywood executives. And she is also hilarious. Don’t worry, Conan is one of the good guys and appears to tolerate her decline in professionalism because she consistently provides great material for standup. Just a fun read. The Power of Regret by Daniel Pink is also a terrific read. He is a great researcher and storyteller and poignantly shared how regrets are vital to our decision-making.
For fiction, I ripped through The Cleaner by Mark Dawson, which was recommended by my partner, Gary Keller. The main character is a British assassin trying to get out of the business and do good deeds for a change. Strong Jason Bourne vibes. I also enjoyed the sixth volume in Daniel Silva’s “Gabriel Allon” series, The Messenger.
Wendy and I wrapped up the first season of the feel-good Welcome to Wrexham (Hulu). It’s a documentary on how Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney bought a failing Welsh soccer team during COVID and try to revive the team and the town with it. The 17th episode, “Wromance” included a deep dive into how men often use sports as a way to express love and connection.
We also enjoyed both Rings of Power, Season 1 (Amazon) and House of the Dragon (HBO). While the former got a lot of negative reviews from hard-core Tolkien fans, I liked it better than the Game of Thrones prequel. I felt like House of the Dragon was trying too hard to out “Game of Thrones” the other series with uncomfortable betrayals and violence. We love dragons in this fantasy nerd home, though, so we’ll likely keep watching.
Finally, I watched Werewolf by Night(Disney) on a lark before Halloween. It felt like a throwback to old monster movies. Good, simple fun.
That’s it for this month. Please reply back and let me know what you’re up to!