Browsing Business

Shepherd’s new front page goes live!


Woohoo, last night we went live with the new front page!!! Almost 9 months after launch and we now have in place search, a real front page, and bookshelves (aka topic pages). It feels good to have a more complete website out there :).

We still have a ton of bugs to crush, but it is so nice to have a real front page instead of that big ugly placeholder :)!!!

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Shepherd launch of search + bookshelves!


A good day, as we shipped search + bookshelves! We’ve been working on this for 5+ months so it is very exciting to see readers using it. And, the new front page is coming toward Feb 7 which gets the website in a real good position.

For launch, I had 1,009 bookshelves ready to go. And, I have another 909 I need to go through to finish setting up.

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Energy, energy, energy.


I am notorious for working and living my life in a series of burnout cycles. And, I love it. I like to work very hard and then balance that with significant downtime. The challenge is timing when to slow down and making sure I get quality downtime when I do. I didn’t do a good job with burnout this year. And, I am paying for it now with a cold, general exhaustion, and a physical injury I got a few weeks ago.

It is really hard when a business is new and small to be able to take quality downtime. When I did manage some downtime I went on an adventure instead of vacation and that didn’t replenish me (I also needed an adventure). And, it also didn’t help that we didn’t go on a family vacation in 2021 due to covid related reasons. I take solace in the fact that I am about 100x better at managing myself than I was 10 years ago as I used to just run through walls. It was fun but I don’t want to do that now to myself or my family (especially if I want to stay healthy).

Starting a new business is hard, it is like juggling 3 knives and a hungry tiger. You are lucky if you only get cut.

Starting a new business while you are married and have a young kid is even harder, it is like juggling 3 tigers, 6 chainsaws, and 9 knives. Especially when you want to stay happily married and be part of your son’s life :). It is always a learning process and I’ve done fairly well this year while working a ton to boot Shepherd up. I am going to aim to do better next year, as I didn’t leave enough space in between all those things this year. Some of that was on purpose, some of that was trying to accelerate Shepherd.

Just some random thoughts I’ve been mulling on the last few months…

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Shepherd! Just hit 2,000 BBL Pages :)


Shepherd just hit 2,000 published pages today, very cool as that was my goal for the year (hit it a month early). For next year my goal is to hit 6,500 published by the end of the year. That should provide a nice steady pace as we get going.

Added Dec 15th -> We also had an awesome mention by Jane Friedman here which is cool to see :)


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Shepherd 6 month anniversary!


Today is the 6 month anniversary of Shepherd’s beta launch! Things are going very well and we have 1,878 lists in the system with 1,561 published. My goal is to reach 2,000 published by Dec 31st :)

And, we are building the 3 big features that I hope to launch in early December (rough ETA). Those being the book recommendation search, new front page, and topic pages.

Slowly but surely :)

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Shepherd officially launched into beta!


Fun day, Shepherd is officially launched into public beta :)

A TON of data entry and editing over the last 4 to 5 weeks. 409 book lists, 2305 books along with all the data and cover images, and 2,452 author profiles.

Lots more to come :)

btw, a really nice writeup here by the awesome Marton who built this :)

And, a short interview with Phil about the project here. And, another one here too. And, a nice podcast interview here on WritersCast. Another one here much later on too in the Oxford Indie Book Fair.

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I got to interview Tommy Chong!!!


What a very cool day, I got to interview the man, the myth, the legend, Tommy Chong.

We got to talk for an hour and what a super cool human being. I love talking to people who have really lived their lives, through everything, mistakes, success, insanity, fun, grief, love, etc. Tommy is truly someone who made me think of the famous Hunter S. Thompson’s quote:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

I got to talk with him for an hour (as he agreed to do a book recommendation for Shepherd). I got so many great stories about the authors/books that really connected with him along with his life through now. The focus was on his spiritual side of things and a really powerful conversation. I made him laugh really hard which is always fun (let me have my moment). Cool day and going to pick up a book he recommended shortly.


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Been busy, Shepherd is going well!


I have been really busy! Shepherd is going really well and the response I’ve gotten from authors has been amazing. It has been nice to be so busy, especially while Portugal is in extreme lockdown.

I am up to 150 authors who have published a page in anticipation of our April Launch. I’ve got 131 more in the queue for working on one. And, that is growing fast :). I am working to stay on top of everything and build the systems so we can go faster as we get ready to launch and then ship some key features before June.

Fun times :). And, here are a few screenshots from staging as the frontend for the site is up and running!


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What am I working on? Shepherd!


Shepherd is like browsing the best bookstore in the world.

I want to help people discover books in a new way and help authors connect with new fans, sell more books, and build a larger fan base. It has been a blast to work on so far and the last 3 weeks have been so much fun. Right now I am emailing amazing authors to see if they will recommend five books on a subject they are passionate about. The response has been great and I hope to have my first 100 pages by the end of the month.

I am aiming to launch the beta in March or April. I am working with an amazing developer on the backend now. It is rare to find someone with whom you communicate so well with and it makes all the difference. The same goes for the designer whom I’ve been working with on a variety of projects for the last 4 years.

I got a webpage up Friday that shows some mockups so authors can understand how it will all work for them.

How does it work?

We work with authors to get the 5 best books on a topic they are experts in and why they recommend each of those books.

Then, we make it easy for readers to follow their curiosity from topic to topic. It is like browsing the best bookstore in the world.

If you are an author, we would love to work with you to create a book recommendation on a topic of your choice. Then, we promote you and your book on that same list forever. This is just one aspect of how we help authors to promote themselves and sell more books.

Fun stuff!

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My First External Office Since 2006!


Today is my first day working in an external office since 2005/2006 when I had my own little office in the Dublin Enterprise Center in Dublin Ireland.

I rented an empty storefront near where we live. It is about 60m2, so a bit big, but that means I can keep my bike here and plenty of room to work on it in the dark back. Because of Covid, I wanted something that wasn’t in a shared hallway and this makes it really easy to get my back in and out. Plus I don’t have to worry about noise and I can setup my bike on a bike trainer to do some indoor rides here.

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Shutting down my entrepreneur sites.


I am doing some spring cleaning and taking these 3 sites offline. They were a fun project and reminded me how much I hate working with WordPress :). I pulled the content over here for now that I had written.

I launched these to test a larger project I was playing with (to build a community for entrepreneurs). I am glad I did the tests as I learned that entrepreneurs really don’t have time for anything as most of them are in a pretty hectic place. And, I got a good look at the content mills around that entrepreneur space.

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Thoughts on where our economy goes from here…


My worry is how do we get out of this mess.

Everyone is hoping for a V-shaped recovery, but I do not see that as likely.

Not only did the USA botch just about everything they could, but the current response is still too slow. Europe dragged its feet but at least now they are now serious with countrywide lockdowns. I do not think a V-shaped recovery is likely for Europe either though… especially because tourism is such a huge part of GPD here.

The USA is going to have to go into lockdown to get this under control. It is already happening unofficially which is worse than officially, an unofficial lockdown is just going to prolong the pain. At least with an official lockdown, you pick the times and everyone has to go into lockdown together to stop the spread and give the USA time to respond.

Who is most affected right now? (USA numbers)

  • Restaurant industry – 15.3 million workers.
  •  Retail – 15 million workers.
  • Air Transport – 10 million workers.

The unemployment numbers for March/April are going to be crazy as restaurants are going layoff entire teams and close for ~1 to 2 months. I can’t imagine retail is going to be much different. All these businesses have thin margins and do not have savings to weather 2 to 3 months with no sales. And, that is a lot harder to bail out than 3 or 4 big companies.

And workers? In the USA, unemployment benefits max out at ~$800 a week and they do not count tips. That is a lot of people who won’t have money to pay rent or buy groceries.

The investor Warren Buffett once gave a famous warning:

“It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked.”

Not only do we face a severe problem in labor, but we are about to see which businesses have fucked up their balance sheets with cheap debt. Given the amount of cheap credit floating around this is going to be interesting. Especially since the FED is going to do everything possible to help, but you can’t create consumer demand when you are facing an existential threat like this. I can easily see companies getting bailed out or loans at 0%, but that is adding even more dead wood to their balance sheet. It might be the only choice and hope to burn it all down later with a *natural* recession.

Some thoughts…

  • You might see the French/Spanish/Italian GDP’s crash by 5% to 10%. Tourism and what it supports is huge and that is all going bye-bye. Maybe if Europe can get this under control fast they could at least retain EU to EU tourism. And, China might step back up in a few months if Europe can clear this. But, I could easily see the EU banning the USA from visiting for a long period if they can’t get this under control (or requiring records/tests in order to visit).
  • Trump is an absolute idiot and could drive the USA right off a bridge. I could easily see him declaring no lockdown… thus putting half the USA in lockdown and half not (he has already done this with poor leadership). Then this becomes a battle between cities and states and prolongs the economic damage.
  • You are starting to see problems in the corp bonds/loans market. If companies were counting on refinancing debt or getting that to fund x project that might all disappear. Then you have fewer companies investing in the company, downsizing, and this gets even worse.
  • The USA has a terrible social safety net and the medical system is beyond broken. Maybe this will spawn real fixes to that system… but maybe not. I’d love to see us fix unemployment, improve social security, add paid sick and vacation days, and more. But until poor people and the young start to vote that will NEVER HAPPEN.

So you might ask… why not just weather the virus?

We could, but there is a huge RISK there.

Society doesn’t tolerate mass breakdowns well… if 60% of Americans get Covid the entire medical system breaks down.

You will have people dying at home from both Covid as well as other things. And, because you can’t handle the breakdown you see a much higher death rate. Say the death rate is 3.4%, which is ~7 million people in the USA. That doesn’t count all the other people who will die because they can’t get a bed at a hospital.  Even in South Korea where it is 0.8% right now, that would be ~1.7 million people (keep in mind they have a ton of active cases, their patients are way younger than the average because of the cult that caught it, and their hospital system is still working).

People are already terrified and panicked. They are not going to overcome that and go eat out and buy things while watching everyone die. And, if they have to watch 1.7 to 7 million people die over the next 12 months the political implications are HUGE. Which should scare the shit out of everyone.

I hope we see some leadership emerge in the USA. People forget how important that is in times like this. Can we get Zombie FDR back in the White House?


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WorkDNA work analytics app released!


We did a big release last week of our new free work analytics app. It is based on what we have learned over the last 9 months and crunches 12 months of calendar data and shows you how much of your life you have for deep work and shallow work, how much you spend in meetings, a bunch of stats, and compares you to co-worker and global averages.

We had a good release on Product Hunt which was fun :)

We also rebranded from to to WorkDNA, I am really looking forward to launching the wider site and new pivot in maybe 6 weeks or so.

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My digital nomad review of Project FI.


As a digital nomad, the first thing I would do when I got off the plane was to find a SIM card so I could get my phone working, and my little 3g/4g modem as well (the modem was harder as you had to be able to find specific tech settings for the gateway etc). This was always a bit of a pain, especially with language differences. That is why I was really excited about trying Project FI as it is a Google-driven cell phone plan that promises your SIM works around the world the minute you land and with a low rate on data of $10 dollars per 1GB (plus if you are over a certain amount it freezes).

Why is this awesome?

I can land somewhere and not have to worry about it knowing that my iPhone works fine with fast 4G. And, for free Google will give you a data SIM for your modem that will also work. So it is super easy to get my laptop connected even if the place I am staying has internet problems.

I have been very happy with the results. I did a trip to Spain/Portugal with my wife and our phones worked flawlessly as we drove through both locations. We even got a quick stomach bug, and with internet broken at our AirBNB, I watched about 8 hours of Amazon Prime while in bed and it worked fantastically. Back home in Colorado, the service has been great too. Usually, we have problems in our house with our old AT&T plan and a bad signal, but no problems so far and wifi calling works great inside our house.

I REALLY hope to see them drive down the cost per GB soon, as that price per GB has been stuck for some time. Oh, and their iPhone support doesn’t allow you to pair with your laptop, but I just grabbed a cheapish 4G modem and their free data SIM as that is faster anyway. Otherwise, I am very happy with the service :)

If you decide to sign up for Project FI please use this link as I get a little off my monthly bill if you sign up :).

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Cool method to get a CEO’s attention.


I tried a method I ripped out of this book and it worked! I wanted to get in touch with a very cool CEO (Shopify) so I created a 3 foot by 2-foot poster with a story pulled from internal culture about him. Here it is…

We exchanged a few emails so it seemed to help get some attention. Fun stuff :)

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This is bwb’s personal blog so he can share his thoughts with the world, however scary or silly they might be. Plus family and friends can track what I am up too, and where I am in the world.

I am pretty simple. I love Mangos. I love the ocean, although mostly at sunset as I’m a ginger. I love to travel, eat exotic food, read, and use my imagination. I love creating and developing ideas into businesses, understanding how all businesses work, and building cool stuff. I am a globalist and see the entire world as my responsibility and playground. And, I am married to an amazing woman who makes life even more fun :)! And, we are now the proud parents of Calico Jack :).