Jay Shirley

I'm building an app to form great habits and achieve your dreams.

I hope you'll give it a try.

The Daily Practice

My Corpus.


29 May » Know Thyself, a Mission for Life

Reflecting back on my life, I realize the big transition where I felt truly happy happened out of one single moment and realization. It was quite simple, and it just stemmed from something very simple: Know thyself.

23 May » Inspiration, Motivation

20 May » Competition

It's far too easy to be caught up in competition, and in doing so lose track of exactly what we're competing against. Being mindful of this can really help, and ultimately help achieve victory.

26 Mar » Plan less, do more.

If you can lose weight by simply using a smaller plate, you can accomplish more by planning to do fewer things. I've been focusing on strategies to do more over the last 2 years and have settled on a plan that really works for me.

18 Mar » The problem with fun

There is a problem with having fun. Fun has a hidden cost. A cost that people think they can handle or may never acknowledge. This cost creeps up, compounding and can really bring havoc. It just lurks, waiting to explode and disrupt your life.

11 Mar » Symptoms, Solutions and Products

07 Mar » Time isn't fair

I learned that life isn't fair as a child. However the depth of this eluded me until recently. Equity is not even and it isn't even consistent. I think I'm a bit old to have this realization, but at least I had it.

27 Feb » Exciting developments!

I haven't been writing lately and I really have been missing it. I also haven't been working on TDP as much as I would like. I have not been idle though! I joined a startup called Cojourneo to lead their technology efforts and create amazing, life altering products.

07 Jan » Ramit Sethi taught me how to buy a car

I have been learning how to use scripts, mostly from learning some great techniques from other, more business-minded folks. I never thought of using them actually in business, instead in improving my personal interactions. Until it became time to buy a car.

04 Jan » Habits start small, rewards start smaller.

Habits are small. They succeed not with a blaze of glory but through evolution. The bad habits creep in, hopefully unspotted. Good habits are formed through daily adjustments. We need to stay on target and appreciate the small, consistent daily rewards rather than look to a larger prize.

01 Jan » Thoughts on a momentary break in habits.

Habits are supposed to be automatic. They are daily activities, but so many things we want to do each day requires constant effort. Why? What happens when we try to let habits take over? Failure. That's what.


    05 Dec » The vacuum of life

    I watch my kids struggle with good behavior. Everything, especially children, descends into chaos. Their good habits fade and bad habits enter. Why, and what can we do to stop or mitigate this?

    02 Dec » Revisiting Mental Renewal

    Last week I set about trying new things to enhance my ability to focus while maintaining or increasing my enjoyment. I'm not done yet, but wanted to jot down a progress report.

    29 Nov » Morning stillness

    I haven't even had a cup of coffee. It's not quite 5 in the morning; my house and neighborhood are still asleep. My mind is awake, far more than normal. My mental acuity is sharp but not dizzying. This is an amazing way to start the day. This is how I achieved this wonderful state.

    26 Nov » Optimizing mental rejuvenation

    For years I've taken myself for granted. Rather, I've taken my mind for granted. When I reach my cognitive limits I take a step back and rest, soon I'm renewed and refresh. That's the idea at least, and usually I do pretty well with this. I just realized I most certainly can do better.

    23 Nov » Constructive Critique of pv.Body's failures

    My wife tried to use pv.Body's subscription based clothing service, but couldn't. Their customer service didn't allow it, and after 2 weeks her frustration prompted her to write them off completely. It's too bad, instead of making referral sales they got negative referrals.

    20 Nov » Reading Queue and Review

    Taking a break from writing about my own thoughts and opinions as I traverse life, I want to put some formality to my book log.

    17 Nov » Seeing people for what they are

    My life has been one of separation and segregation. I divided up the people I knew in a separate category to those I merely interacted with. Service staff were not people to me, they were simply the means to an end. I needed to change this, and traveling to New York I was able to experiment. It was amazingly rewarding, more than I ever thought.

    14 Nov » Tip of the iceberg.

    This week I've met a lot of new people. I don't think I really met them. I certainly didn't get to know them, because so much of them is hidden from view. I can only see the tip, just like an iceberg. How can we truly judge a person with such limited knowledge?

    11 Nov » An unexpected life hack, removing a clock.

    My car developed an electrical problem, and while diagnosing it the clock was reset. I didn't set it. I noticed it and decided to see how life was without a clock. In a nutshell, it was better.

    08 Nov » I have no stress, and this is my story.

    Our narratives are important to our life. If we don't tell our stories, someone else will. My destiny is for me and my family to choose, so we must choose carefully. This is not a mandate; it's entirely optional. I don't think I can afford to not write my own future.

    05 Nov » Value of tranquility

    Oh no! A critical bug it was. I was stressed out, how could I fix this? I'm a terrible developer, obviously. I had to take a minute, heal my mind and move on. I took a deep breath and fixed it. It wasn't easy.

    02 Nov » Unfreezing the sled, or, regaining momentum.

    30 Oct » The power of vocabulary.

    Without describing and explaining what we go through, our experiences are muted and devalued. Even if we are explaining to ourselves, by first deciding on the right words to use we can better understand our own experiences.

    27 Oct » Rescheduling my future.

    Since I've obviously failed at posting publicly, I need to revisit and rethink my strategy. What are my options and how do they stack up? Before committing to anything I felt I should write them and publish them.

    21 Oct » Go read this book. Right now.

    I discovered a famous book, read by millions and millions of people. But not me, not yet. It needs to be read, so stop what you're reading and grab it. It's worth it.

    16 Oct » Tranquility of the float.

    Things will happen. Things have been happening. Our greatest efforts, strengths and ambitions does so little to change this. Spontaneous invention is evident that things happen, with or without us.

    12 Oct » Make choices.

    We have choices to make every minute of every day. We don't, though. They're automatically made without thought. Each choice can make us better or makes us worse but without thinking specifically about the choices we won't know which. There is no treading water. Someone else is going to get better and that makes you worse.

    09 Oct » Dissecting Product Growth

    Lately I've been thinking about product marketing and targeting specific audiences. It was too broad of a subject and I couldn't wrap my head around it. I began reducing it and came up with a very simple scenario: What would happen if they didn't use it? How bad would life be?

    03 Oct » Superheroes don't cry wolf

    Want to be a superhero? It's easy, just observe the dangers so many others blissfully ignore. Just be careful not to cry wolf. Sometimes it's cheaper to lose a cheap than to kill a wolf.

    22 Sep » A moment of solitude.

    I try very hard to listen to the various whispers in my mind. My intuition guides me and I trust it; I try to be fluid and change direction when things don't feel right. It's hard to notice when things are wrong, though. One thing I've noticed is I'm completely unable to write well when my brain is engaged in learning something. It took me a long time to realize this and be comfortable with taking a break from something I really want to do.

    12 Sep » Developing software without the Bystander Effect.

    The Bystander Effect is a psychological condition where we do not act when we have people around us. This creates some terrible product failures because we too easily ignore early warning signs. We ignore them because others ignore them. Break this down and save the day.

    09 Sep » Win once, or pivot trying.

    One win can change everything. It's all we need, but choosing the wrong win can destroy us. If you only need to capture one opportunity, how do you prioritize?

    06 Sep » The Second Month.

    Now I've been independent for 2 months. How's things going? Great! Of course, life isn't always roses and lemonade so it's important to break down and analyze what could be better.

    02 Sep » Learning, criticism and being offended.

    I identify myself as being a driver. I enjoy all aspects of driving, and it's one of my favorite things to do. My wife is quite the opposite, but she finds herself motivated to be better. This is the story of both sides coming to terms with this.

    28 Aug » The problem with learning.

    There is a lot that I don't know. I'm ok with that. How can I learn about things I don't even know exist? I think a combination of networking, studying and branching out into the unknown helps.

    22 Aug » Thriving on progress, through defects.

    I'm not perfect and my work isn't either. I don't expect anything to work. Ever. I'm genuinely surprised when things do work and this paranoia keeps me producing better products.

    18 Aug » One month of freedom

    I've been independent for over a month now. I'd like to look back on what's been done and how it has gone. What have I accomplished? What's been great and what could be improved.

    12 Aug » Presentation matters.

    Lately I've been thinking a lot more on presentation. I think about how I struggle or outright dismiss it. Looking back, I feel hypocritical for doing so. The lessons on presentation are deeper than just looks – it can open opportunities.

    09 Aug » Back in the saddle.

    A few days ago I wrote about my struggles being laid up and immobilized. Here is the writeup about my progress and tips I've used to stay motivated.

    06 Aug » Dealt a blow.

    I was dealt a pretty big blow. Both life wise and productivity, and it's been a challenge. This is how I'm trying to recover my momentum.

    01 Aug » Benefits of organization.

    I haven't always been organized. In fact, I still am not. I used to be a lot worse and only recently am I starting to benefit from being more organized.

    29 Jul » Associations of trust.

    Different products elicit feelings of trust or distrust. I've been trying to figure out exactly why, and I think I have a good assessment of how I feel.

    26 Jul » If programmers were carpenters…

    If programmers were carpenters many wouldn't know wood comes from trees. In fact, I think they would react incredulously at such a suggestion. It may not hurt them in what they do, but anybody will be better if they know the history of their craft.

    23 Jul » Just one thing.

    Effective communication is hard. It's something I constantly struggle with and I work to improve. I know I want to speak better, but that's a different issue than learning to clearly articulate an idea and excite those listening.

    20 Jul » Daily notes let me sleep at night.

    I have a hard time sleeping. When I lay down, my mind starts to race. I think of all the things I did. I think of all the things I need to do and want to do. I think of things I could have done better. It's not really productive, but I have a pretty good solution.

    17 Jul » Partial success is still success

    Again I find myself struggling with maintaining all of my goals. This causes some lost confidence and worry, but it shouldn't. I'm still accomplishing a lot of great things. I need to focus on that.

    11 Jul » Teaching Beginners

    I'm often told that I'm not gentle. Sometimes people even think I'm mean. It's not that I'm mean, it's that I am particular about things. If I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it well. That means doing it my way, even if it alienates some people.

    08 Jul » Staying positive.

    I believe the world has too much negativity in it. Negativity comes in all shapes and sizes, sometimes it's just fate and other times it is the bitterness or jealousy of others. Everybody should try to contribute positive behaviors.

    04 Jul » Conserving energy means spending it.

    My wife and I had a long, multi-day conversation about people with innate talent and ability but no motivation or misguided motivation. In the end, she blew my mind.

    01 Jul » Opinions on Opinions.

    I have opinions. No shortage there, and I think it's a good thing. I try to only engage in a decision if I have an opinion on it, because that's all I see a decision is.

    28 Jun » Improvement is a journey.

    Improving yourself is a journey with no destination. It can be defined simply as being better than how you were yesterday. Very simple, except it isn't. It's really hard to maintain this.

    27 Jun » Psychology of Improvement and Progress

    When faced with a daunting task, there are a lot of psychological elements that kick in. Sometimes we don't want to acknowledge things.

    25 Jun » It all changes now!

    Today I made what may be the biggest move of my life. I resigned from my day job. I left a good salary for a realm of uncertainty.

    22 Mar » Why I do what I do.

    There has been a lot of discussion about the software industry. Lately, most of it is negative. Why am I involved in this industry?

    13 Mar » Being positive reaps benefits.

    Raising children has been so much more enlightening than I ever expected. One particular challenge is in explaining the intangible benefits of behaviors; most notably the power of just being happy.

    10 Mar » Success is who you know. Maybe.

    I've often times wondered how certain people, companies and ideas are successful. A lot of times it doesn't make sense to me, and it's easy to think, "Well, it's just because of who they know."

    07 Mar » Practice Failing.

    Embracing failure means two things. First, that you're trying new things. Second, you have incredible opportunities to learn and progress.

    03 Mar » Value in the eye of the beholder.

    Our value is only valuable if the other party agrees to it. How can I be sure that the other party sees my value? How can I practice improving this?

    29 Feb » Be a master of your craft.

    Skilled labor is a great thing. Anybody can do it if they put in the requisite level of practice and study, even without a college degree. But it requires constant improvement. Don't give up on study once you make it.

    25 Feb » How I plan to be amazing.

    I've been reading about presidents. They all, for the most part, have done amazing things. I want to be amazing, too.

    22 Feb » Words mean things.

    People often times misspeak, or don't speak at all. Sometimes it's intentional. The world would be much easier if we all just said what we meant.

    19 Feb » The carrot and the stick of stereotypes.

    An innocent comment I relayed to my wife prompted a passionate response. She was pigeon holed. It meant she had to fulfill the expectations. I never realized that.

    16 Feb » Benefits of success.

    I often times focus on failing to meet my goals. Failing to accomplish the things I set out to. I don't give enough credit to the things I get done. It feels good.


      28 Dec » Star Wars and a 5 year old.

      I watched Star Wars with my 5 year old son. He had a myriad of questions which were intuitive and interesting to hear. The insight children have should not be discounted.

      11 Dec » Failing at solved problems, or, identifying bad leaders.

      There are certain things the human race, on the whole, has figured out. Gravity goes down. The sun is hot. You can't take 9 women and make a baby in one month. Except that last one, actually. People still try.

      08 Dec » Thoughts on Google.

      Google (and Twitter, to be fair) receive quite a bit of negative commentary. I don't think all of it is fair, but I am really getting tired of Google. It's a shame.

      04 Dec » Don't ship it. Please.

      I'm really tired of half-baked products. More than that, I'm tired of half-baked products filled with half-baked features. Either get the features fixed, remove them or don't ship it. Pretty Please. With sugar on top.

      25 Nov » Starting a new tradition.

      Today we started a new tradition. Rather than dealing with any shopping, we spent the morning building a Lego train. It was a lot of fun.

      20 Nov » Temporarily Embarrassed Googles.

      Building for an imaginary future. Icarus! Striving for greatness before adequacy is achieved. Recipes for failure, they are.

      16 Nov » Being Content

      Recently I was thinking about Happiness and Loyalty. Then it got me thinking about dynasties and simply maintaining them. Once you get to a peak, it can be hard to stay there. What's worse, it can be too easy to stay there.

      08 Nov » The value of happiness and loyalty.

      I saw a website that had a profound impact upon my thoughts. It was simply a method for rewarding employees. I wonder if it built loyalty or happiness. I then wondered why the two were different to me.

      05 Nov » Lessons from U6 Herding.

      I wrapped up my first season coaching a U6 soccer team. I had a few priorities that I focused on. First, integrate love of the game. Second, avoid magnet ball. I think I did pretty well.

      03 Nov » Defying Failure, or rather, Failing trying to Defy Failure

      I had a very annoying habit of putting myself into contrived and difficult situations. I really wanted to see if I could succeed in the face of adversity.

      26 Oct » Learning when to get out of your way.

      I learn a lot but still feel like I could be learning more. Some of it is vision and just understanding what is in the world. Sometimes it's something that is just obvious and it pains me to not have known it previously.

      25 Oct » The fascination with the obscure.

      The other night I encountered a woman from Cuba. I was completely fascinated. Cuba! How do you even get here from Cuba?

      24 Oct » The balance of customers.

      Dealing with bad customers is worse than dealing with bad companies. In most cases, customers can vote with their wallet. Some businesses can't. Then they attack their customers, which often yields negative outcomes.

      23 Oct » Missing Goals

      Yesterday I missed a few goals. It's frustrating, but how I react is important. If I attempt to redouble my efforts, I'm likely to just burn myself out. I have to see why I failed and possibly even excuse myself. More importantly I have to strategize for the future.

      18 Oct » Working on something you love.

      I'm having a revelation. A sudden and abrupt change in the way I do things. I'm loving every minute of it.

      15 Oct » When I grow up...

      What happens when you become what you want to be when you grow up?

      13 Oct » Blogging is hard.

      Right. It's been a very long time since I've written anything public. I've even shirked a bit writing things not public. A lot of reasons for it, but none are really that good.

      05 Sep » The dangers of following along.

      I think we all heard, many times, about a cliff and people jumping off it. My mom constantly told me about it and asked me questions about following along. Maybe too often, who knows. Really, though, she was right. Blindly following can be very dangerous.

      04 Sep » Why Open Source matters.

      Many people try to explain Open Source. I think they're missing the mark because they try to either focus on the business sense or the developers sense of ownership. The reality is that it's about the environment, and environment is the most important thing.

      30 Aug » Being helpful with conflict.

      I like to be helpful. I like to be efficient. I don't mind conflict. This is a very good combination I think. Unfortunately, it seems to make a lot of other people uncomfortable.

      17 Aug » Perception is reality. Even after perceptions have changed.

      The expression "perception is reality" is well traveled. What is more important is that even a corrected misconception can be hard to get away from. It can eat away, always present. It's hard to be logical.

      15 Aug » Building a reputation and reputation management.

      If I were in a perfect world, a perfect business what else would I have? What do I have now that helps? What do I not have? What is preventing me from getting them? Reputation, or the lack thereof.

      11 Aug » Handling Failure, or trying to.

      Handling failure is hard. Failing is hard. I don't mind coming in second or third place. I hate not finishing, though. That's what I eschew and work hard to prevent.

      09 Aug » Being exceptional.

      Being exceptional is more challenged than it needs to be. It's not defined well. The definitions that are there are subjective. Subjective definitions are my favorite things, as I can then define them as I see fit.

      08 Aug » Golfing for the next generation.

      Regrettably, I hate golfing. I really find it to be dull. I love the outdoors and the object of business socializing out of an office building is equally appealing. Why does it have to be over golf?

      02 Aug » Perception as a vice

      I always hear about open mindedness, adaptability and embracing change. Unfortunately even if people strive for that the subconscious biases from previous experience usually is the largest vice.

      30 Jul » How to build an informative web presence.

      Constantly I am frustrated by inadequate and wholly unusable websites when I'm just trying to find basic information on a business. This is mindboggling as it's such an easy problem to overcome. I will try to explain how to create a useful web presence.

      28 Jul » Technical Debt for Executives

      Geeks talk in weird words, sometimes they mean things that matter. It's hard to understand when it does matter. Well, this one does matter. Technical debt is a concept that every executive must understand. Any time someone asks, "Why is this going to take so long?" it's because of technical debt. Either to prevent it or because it was incurred.

      26 Jul » Continuing to improve is hard. Why?

      I think everybody wants a better life. That's really the only explanation for the lottery. It's hard to know how to get there. It's even harder to stick with it. I don't understand why, though. It should be very simple but it's one of the hardest things to do.

      22 Jul » Practice Excellence and make a dead Greek guy proud.

      We attach quotes to our lives because of specific and particular meaning. The most important for me is from Aristotle. _We are what we repeatedly do, therefor excellence is not an act but a habit._

      19 Jul » You aren't the hottest girl in the bar.

      Everybody wants to be the hottest girl at the bar. Complete with a line of suitors hoping to be granted the opportunity to just offer a drink. Don't do this.

      17 Jul » Revisiting Delicious

      I never cared when Delicious was independent. Nor when it was Yahoo, now maybe with new owners I will. Probably not.

      14 Jul » Making Quality

      Quality is not an option. It's not listed as an extra. Something either has quality or it doesn't, and the quality may not be user facing directly. A pet peeve in my life is when I hear excuses about why things are low quality.

      13 Jul » Mentoring vs Teaching

      I recently was thinking about what makes people want to engage with others and teach them. I think what they want is mentoring, not teaching. Teaching is essentially compulsory. The rewards are limited. By having a business reach out and fulfill the role as a mentor higher rewards are gained.

      11 Jul » Protecting Misconceptions

      It's a common behavior to not only have misconceptions, but to also protect them. This is different than being wrong, this is about perceptions (usually of self) and protecting them even with they are not favorable to adhere to.

      07 Jul » My thoughts on improving myself.

      Self-improvement is weird. It seems it's almost a bad thing to talk about improving yourself.

      06 Jul » The Trust Paradox

      By the time an astute individual learns enough about someone to know if they are trustworthy, they are likely to be a sufficient authority on the subject. This means the only time someone is qualified to evaluate trust is if they, themselves, are able to be trusted. Or I'm just really, really cynical.

      05 Jul » I stole something today and don't feel remorse.

      It's unfortunate that in many cases it is easier to steal than to rightful acquire. Well, not easier but more sensible. It should never be more sensible to steal.

      03 Jul » Momentum matters. Software development succeeds by it.

      The most dangerous and difficult to detect (or deter) killer to developing software is losing momentum. Projects have a flywheel that can be easily disturbed.

      02 Jul » Software is made of people.

      Software is like soylent green, it's made of people. It has nutrition or empty calories. Being smart about what you consume is important.

      01 Jul » Fantasies are the enemy of progress

      Confusing a fantasy with a goal is an immediate way to impede your own progress, all in the name of change.

      27 Jun » Book Review: Purple Cow by Seth Godin

      I read Purple Cow very rapidly but greatly enjoyed it. I think it was overly verbose and repetitive but contained very valuable information. It taught me quite a bit, and now I get to ramble about it.

      24 Jun » Resignation is a good word.

      When it is time to give up there isn't much you can do. People talk about never quitting, but the reality is that quitting is the best thing to do. You're in this game once, learn what you can and as fast as you can. If you aren't learning you aren't improving. I always want today to be better than yesterday. The result? I quit.

      23 Jun » Hiring Passionate Developers

      Hiring passionate developers isn't hard but I'm amazed at the number of people who do it wrong. Here is some advice on what to do and what not to do.

      22 Jun » Environmental friction and developers coasting along.

      Momentum is important and it's valuable to understand that the environment has friction. This won't abruptly stop momentum, instead can slowly or quickly grind it to a halt without anything obvious happening.

      20 Jun » The value of committing.

      I believe you must commit yourself to success. Often times this means that you'll look like a fool if you fail. It's better to try, fail and look like a fool than look like a fool who never tries.

      19 Jun » This is what we do.

      Far too many people don't understand what developers do. I mean the guys building full products, really. I'm going to try to explain it. Many others have tried this and I recommend reading their explanations as they're probably better than mine.

      12 Jun » Hello.

      This is my introduction article, sharing why I'm writing and what I hope to gain.

Corpus is a fun word to write.