Mar 17, 2023

What I'm Up To - Vol. 68

Here’s what I’ve bee up to since Vol. 67…

1. Highlights on the Home Front

Last Fall, Wendy found out she had advanced degenerative arthritis in her right hip. On the one hand, she was relieved to finally know why she’s been dealing with chronic pain. On the other, she needed to have hip replacement surgery. Warrior woman that she is, Wendy scheduled it for the first opening on her surgeon’s calendar. That happened to be the day after we returned from a grueling five-day conference. Let’s just say, she didn’t leave any mileage on that tire.

Her surgery was nothing short of miraculous. The surgery itself was less than 90 minutes. She was up and walking a couple of hours later. And she went home that same day. Within 24 hours, she ditched her walker. The next day, she ditched her cane. While Wendy still has several weeks of rehab, we’re thrilled with the early results. We expect to see her back in the gym in no time. Thanks to everyone who sent notes, flowers, cakes, pies, desserts, and meals.

My sister gifted Wendy with a collection of funny t-shirts!

February was a bad month to be a tree in Austin. We also had a massive ice storm that took down trees all over the city. We had trees or major limbs down at eight of our rental properties. Thankfully, nothing landed on a roof or a fence, so we just had to deal with the cleanup.

Our friend, Lexi, lost several big trees. 😭

What do you get when you combine a Jewish founder, border town mystique, and a passion for cheeseburgers? Shalom, y’all! The answer is Jewboy Burgers! It’s been on my list for a while and we finally tried it out. Jewboy is an import from El Paso and my assistant (also from El Paso) put it on our radar. We ordered a selection of burgers and fries for movie night and were blown away. The “Goyim” easily claims a spot on my top five all-time burgers list!

We got all gussied up for Casablanca, the CASA’s annual gala and fundraiser. I understand they raised over $2M for kids that evening and we were proud to play a part.

Finally, I deleted TikTok (again.) I know lots of authors who sell a lot of books. I know creators who have used it to build big followings. I just couldn’t find the value to make up for Tik Tok’s outsized ability to devour time. I guess I’m officially an old fart.

2. Highlights on the Work Front

February is always defined by our annual convention, Family Reunion. Weeks of prep, five days filled with training, followed by a week or so to recover. This year I had about 17 hours of presentations, not counting appearances at various functions. That’s a lot for this introvert! Still, it’s incredibly rewarding. I got to share the stage with Ryan Holiday, Dr. Layne Norton, and Molly Fletcher. And Ed Mylett delivered a tour de force keynote!  I shared a few of my favorite takeaways in this edition of the TwentyPercenter.

Gary and I got to chat with Molly Fletcher after her keynote.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about ChatGPT and what it means for writers. Whenever any technology is hyped, I look to Amara’s Law. In short, it says that we tend to overestimate the short-term impact of new technologies while underestimating their long-term impact.

I don’t think AI will ever replace the creativity and insights of human writers but I do think it will be a useful tool. If anything, by making research and drafting easier, AI may open doors for many great thinkers to share their ideas. Finally, 90% of business writing is garbage. If all those blog posts and newsletters disappeared, few would notice save their creators. AI could be a great replacement for those boilerplate productions, thus freeing copywriters to do better, more impactful work. If you write tripe, you should be scared. Otherwise, lean in.

My partner Gary Keller will be teaching his signature life improvement class, Quantum Leap, in June. He does this every year for the young people in our world. Ticket sales are open for anyone aged 18 to 28. If you have a young person you’d like to attend, you can buy them tickets here.

3. What I’m Reading

I found my reading groove again in February. I read How to Buy or Sell a Real Estate Agent Business by Hank Sorensen to prepare for one of my breakouts. It’s a solid and timely read given how many agents are preparing to leave the business. I thoroughly enjoyed Ryan Holiday’s Discipline is Destiny, the latest in his Stoicism series. Few authors can match Ryan for curating stories and quotes to illustrate his ideas. I also enjoyed Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. Kleon does a good job of prodding creatives to do a better job promoting their work.

Finally, I indulged in a mindless thriller, The Driver by Mark Dawson. Gary Keller turned me on to this series. I hadn’t realized until this month that I’d been subscribing to Dawson for years. He found success through self-publishing and has built a nice business teaching fiction authors how to create and promote their works. Felt very on point after Austin Kleon’s book.

4. What I’m Watching

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse (Apple+) is a loving reproduction of Charles Macksey’s bestselling book. If you adore the book like me, you’ll want to watch it. Wendy asked me if I’d watch 1883 (Paramount+) again. I’d watched while quarantined with Covid. I must have slept through a lot of it! It was even better the second time. I also enjoyed watching Devotion (Paramount+) on a flight to Scottsdale for a keynote. It’s about a black Korean war pilot and the many obstacles he fought to earn the right to fight our wartime enemy.

Wendy slept a lot while recovering from her surgery. During her naps, I watched several episodes of CB Strike (HBO Max). The show is adapted from the novels of Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling).  The first three episodes comprise “Cuckoo’s Calling” and were excellent. “Silkworm” (episodes 4-5) was a bit gruesome for my taste. But I still like the casting and characters. A bonus was this generated a nice conversation with my kids about whether or not we can enjoy art created by individuals with find distasteful. We are staunch LGBTQ+ allies. I was proud that my teenagers could separate the artist’s art from the artist’s personal views.

We finished the anime series Chainsaw Man, Season 1 (Crunchyroll) with Gus. Although I did tarnish my anime credentials by repeatedly referring to it as “Lawnmower Man.” Queue the eye rolls from my kids. Finally, I tried to like Kaleidoscope (Netflix) with its creative, non-linear storytelling. Sadly, it’s just a mess.

That’s it for this month. Please reply back and let me know what you’re up to!

Be well, do good deeds, and eat tacos!
Jay