Stop Counting Your Bullet Holes

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We can all feel a bit like this plane some days.

WW2 plane Survivorship bias

Lockheed PV-1 Ventura patrol bomber, Image by McGeddon

The Allied forces in World War II suffered heavy bomber losses to enemy gunfire. Planes that survived flew back to base peppered with bullet holes.

The U.S. Military inspected the planes and found the most holes pierced wings and tails. Armor is heavy and expensive, so they had to figure out the most optimal placement.

The plan was to add armor to protect those wings and tails from enemy fire. And so more pilots could fly back to base after a mission.

However, the Naval operations research team made a different conclusion. A mathematician named Abraham Wald flipped the idea upside down.

Wald realized that planes which flew back with bullet holes actually meant they could survive those shots. But the ones that crashed and never made it back for inspection were likely shot in the engines and cockpit. And that’s where the military ended up armoring the planes.

My friend died this week in a motorcycle crash.

He was 49. We grew up together. Even when he was a college student he’d still hang out with our ragtag church youth group every weekend.

He was a big brother to me. He introduced me to comic books, yo-yos, pocket knives, made incredible drawings, helped buy my first guitar.

I always looked up to him. He pretty much did everything better than me. He wrestled and played football in school. I wrestled and played football. He was varsity. I wasn’t.

We lost touch after he moved to the West Coast for work. We only got to visit him and his family once out there.

He restored a vintage car, owned a few motorcycles, set up a special room to practice judo with his sons. He volunteered at his kids’ local elementary school teaching music because the school had no budget — even after his sons moved on.

I heard through friends there were rocky patches. I know how that goes — we all do.

We all get hit by enemy flak.

It’s the knee-jerk reaction to wonder what if he had made different choices. Maybe things could have been different.

What were his last words — to his motorcycle buddies who rode with him that day, to his sons, to his wife, his siblings, his mom?

I am reminded not to count the bullet holes.

I am reminded to pay attention to what made him soar when I knew him.

His faith, family, friends. Those are areas that need bulletproof armor.

It’s not even about his choices or his circumstances and more about a wake up call to us.

Guard your engines and cockpit.

These are non-negotiables.

These are the vulnerable areas that will shield us from enemy fire and equip us to tackle our missions and survive to fly another day.

I’m not saying we ignore the pains and hurts, mistakes and regrets. I’m saying not to drown in despair and focus on non-critical damage.

Heal, recover, press on.

Of course one day we will all land for the last time. But today we write another page in our legacy. What have we written?

The measure of who we are will be summed up not by our bullet holes but by the way we flew. And all the more when we debrief back at mission control to equip new recruits.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Fly fierce, fly true — armor up, my friends.

Storm Hunter Inflight Checklist

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Hurricane Hunter NOAA42 Dorian Storm Flightpath


We are here. You are here.

You’re a pilot. And unlike an actual hurricane, you can’t fly around a storm system this massive. Hope your evasive maneuvers are navigating the turbulence.

Yes, there are circumstances and things beyond our control.

But you have choices. Choose your own adventure.

You could:

A. Ground the plane. Dig a hole, hug your bug-out-bag, eat canned beans until the vaccine arrives or you get abducted by aliens and/or the CIA.

B. Fly up and get above the storm. Flee to your vacation/country house in Costa Rica, lock down your nannies, butlers, security force, and stockpile gold, etc.

C. Cross your fingers and hope things don’t get too bumpy. Status quo. Numb out on Netflix, doughnuts, shopping, whatever your drug of choice is that drowns out fear, distracts you, and keeps you from getting too queasy.

Courage is knowing what not to fear.

Plato, philosopher, circa 400BC

D. Fly straight at and through the heart of the storm on a mission. Be a storm hunter. Learn as much as you can in the storm and blast out that intel. If you’re on this mission, here are just four preflight/inflight items for your checklist.

  1. Cut loose any extra weight. Chuck anything, entanglements, parasites that threaten the mission.
  2. Strap yourself down along with everyone and every instrument that is mission critical. You didn’t sign up for the sunset cruise. The turbulence will rock your flight, your mind, your resolve, like no other.
  3. Radio your coordinates to Mission Control and allies who will fly in formation with you and encourage your flight path.
  4. Go full alert mode. Learn the lessons, do the work. Invest time to be aware and amazed right where you are. And fly. Fly straight on through, and fly true. Enjoy the eye of the storm. Debrief.

It’s not about right or wrong answers. It’s your choice. It’s your adventure.

It’s how we answer “Who am I?” at the end of the day when we’re alone, and we’ve got one less day on earth. And we decide to live what we actually believe and not just what we say we believe.

Hunting the storm is not about frantic activity. It’s not about being a martyr. Hunting the storm does not mean you’re better, or fearless.

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt, 26th U.S. President, conservationist, naturalist, historian, Rough Rider, and writer, circa 1900

It’s a decision to turn what was meant for evil into good — not only for yourself but for others.

Numbing out is not going to get you through this storm in any meaningful way. The status quo is the worst way to navigate a storm. Ignorance is not bliss. It’s a dead-end abyss.

The storm is an opportunity to take stock of what you have, who you are, and where you’re headed.

Now, is a good time to choose your adventure and calibrate your nav.


p.s. Fly with the Hurricane Hunters to meet the storm. The moment they breakthrough the storm’s eye wall is epic. Only the U.S. Air Force 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron and NOAA fly into hurricanes.


Heartbreaks and breakthroughs.

Insane highs and lows.

Experiments and new rhythms.

Hell and/or high water.

Wherever you are in the turbulence, do not lose heart.

Be strong and very courageous.

I’m reminded that we need compassion not only for one another — but more than ever for ourselves as we navigate these uncharted waters

I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.

Benjamin Franklin, polymath, statesman, scientist, inventor circa 1750

A Simple Brain Hack. 3 Letters.

And if/when you feel discouraged, add the word YET.

As in, when you think: “I’m not good enough.”

What we really need to hear and say is, “I’m not good enough … YET.”

What do you feel discouraged about?

Add “YET.”

It’s not wishful thinking. Not a mind trick.

It’s speaking truth against the tyranny of stuckness.

It’s a declaration of independence from apathy, condemnation, and shame.

YET busts us out of despair.

YET opens us to finding new solutions.

YET roots our identities in learning.

YET calls for help.

YET means when you fail, recover and strengthen your brothers.

YET holds the “perfect plan” loosely.

YET looks forward, and doesn’t look backward.

YET invites you on an adventure not to a destination.

YET is the truth that can set you free from false limiting beliefs.


If you get a failing grade, you think, I’m nothing, I’m nowhere. But if you get the grade “Not Yet” you understand that you’re on a learning curve. It gives you a path into the future.

Carol Dweck, PhD, developmental psychologist, Stanford University, circa 2015


One of our fellow crew members couldn’t have children … YET.

In the depths of the pandemic, it seemed impossible.

But they kept at the mission — one step at a time.

And a couple months back after some miraculous circumstances, they adopted a baby son and brought him home.

While you have breath go at it.

Failure is not a definition, a state of being, or an identity.

Mistakes/missteps are just waypoints about how to improve next time.

Always on the way to better.

Add Another Critical Three Letter Word

As I mentioned last time, I bought an empty Fuente Fuente OpusX Bellicoso cigar box.

The wood box held my dream of a musical instrument.

But the box sat for 8 years. Taking space.

It found a secondary use, holding some stuff. But that’s not fulfilling its destiny.

At first, when I picked up the box to make a ukulele, I felt silly so many years had passed.

And then I heard Neil Gaiman explain how he had an idea for a story but realized he wasn’t good enough to write it … yet.

So, he put the story idea on the shelf.

Gaiman waited — practiced — before he took the story idea back out and crafted it into an award-winning bestselling book called The Graveyard Book.

How long? Ten (10) years.

Now, I didn’t make an award-winning best-selling ukulele. But I recognized now I wasn’t ready years ago to make this ukulele… yet.

I needed to learn patience, planning, and various tools.

I also needed a stronger ‘why.

Sometimes we’re not ready because we don’t want it enough… yet.

Yes, I wanted to make an instrument. But that wasn’t enough of a ‘why.’

But now, I made the ukulele to bond with my son — who wanted to learn how to play.

And it was important to me as well that he see me doing the work. Especially when I made a mess and I sent him sprinting down the hallway multiple times to get paper towels to wipe up glue.

He needs to see that there’s mess in the practice but when you persevere maybe you make something special.

Maybe you go from a box to an instrument. From taking space to making meaning.



Here are seven good books out of 20+ (also good) books I read this year — depending on how you count, some of these are trilogies / series.

Beyond the seven, I’ve organized the list in rough themes, some overlap of course.

Top 7

Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, John Mark Comer.

Don’t go back to normal. Go to better. Reduce hurry. Ruthlessly. This book was easily my top book that I keep thinking about even though I began reading it right before lockdown, and it was a perfect companion.
Favorite quote: “Hurry is a sociopathic predator loose in our society.”


Master of One, Jordan Raynor.

This book covered a lot of familiar ground for me, but it was a good kick in the pants to get serious about mastery and stop being so darned scattered. Not only the why, but also very practical how-to. Raynor provides a kind of roadmap so you know where on the path you can pickup and move further into mastery.


The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch.

You have a few months to live. What is your message to the world, and more importantly, to your young children (who may not remember you)? Randy spent his last moments on earth mulling this over and shared what he learned living out his childhood dreams.
Favorite quote: “The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.”

Breath, James Nestor.

You — like me — probably think that you know how to breathe. Think again. I picked up this book thinking it might provide some helpful tips about breathing, but this could totally changed the way I breathe — especially during workouts and before sleep. Nestor digs through the counter intuitive science and millennia of lost ancient wisdom. (Learn the Navy Seals “Box Breath” technique they use during ops.)

The Dip, Seth Godin.

For any of you who are creators, entrepreneurs, or on a mission, you know about the Dip. It’s that place in the dark valley when you feel like giving up. This book provides a solid framework to navigate or even sometimes to quit the Dip.


Show Your Work, Austin Kleon.

I’m constantly second-guessing myself and even anxious about my emails and blog posts to you all. Well, artist-blogger Austin wrote a little pep talk for me. Perfect for my short attention span, finished it in half an hour and it shoots down my many excuses.



The Road Back to You, Ian Morgan Cron.

I know. It sounds like pentagram, or something woo-woo. I thought so too. Amazing Grace and I have been in deep dive on enneagram. We’re shocked how little awareness we had of our own interior lives, let alone one another. This book provides a thorough overview of each type, providing tons of insight from childhood development to understanding how healthy you are.



Other Good Reads


Rocket Men, Robert Kurson.

Apollo 13 gets all the glory. But the story behind the Apollo 8 mission rocked my world. These astronauts made the first flight around the moon, in a mission that ripped up methodical plan in favor of a crazy 4-month sprint. Kurson is a masterful storyteller and I’m so glad I discovered him through Shadow Divers, the story of how some amateur divers discovered a lost WW2 U-Boat.


Development (Personal, Business, and otherwise)

Tribes, Seth Godin. 

Redux has always been about finding a Tribe. What I didn’t realize is that it requires someone to lead. I don’t consider myself a “leader” in the stereotypical figurehead, big headed way.
Favorite quote: “Leadership … is about creating change that you believe in.”


Achievement Habit, Bernard Roth.

Roth is one of the founders of the Stanford — D for design. This book is dense with ideas and creative ways to deploy design thinking towards a bias for action. Roth draws from his experiments teaching and learning with his students, and personal anecdotes. Think of this as a one year course from design school condensed into a book.

Favorite quote: “Don’t get caught up in how you’re going to get it just right. That’s what causes people to shut down and never get started. Avoid the desire for perfection right out of the gate. Instead, tell yourself that you’re prototyping your screenplay or your dress. The final version can come later.”

How to Have a Good Day, Caroline Webb.

This book is a neuroscience and behavioral science deep dive into a wide range of topics that might crush your soul from day-to-day. Webb tackles everything from how to boost energy and brain function to bringing out the best in others.

Favorite quote: “You make the most of your brain’s talents if you adjust for the limitations of each system. That means creating the conditions for your deliberate system to function at its best, and recognizing when to slow down and come off autopilot.”

Free to Focus, Michael Hyatt.

Actionable as always with straight forward pointers to learn to chop things out and make sure each day is maximized. But more than that it’s a roadmap for how to move towards a more meaningful life — and more rest on top of it.

Favorite quote: “If you design your life so that you spend most of your time working on things you are passionate about and proficient at, the discipline to do those things comes easily.”



Everyone Always, Bob Goff.

Bob is a crazy man who brings balloons to war torn Syria and desperate children in Uganda, and then somehow gets world leaders to sit together and talk. He’s also full of stories about how true love changes the world.

Favorite quote: “I had flown two thousand feet over the highest mountaintops because I wanted to be safe; these (fighter) pilots flew through the valleys because they wanted to get better.”

Renovation of the Hearth, Dallas Willard.

This is a deep dive into what it means to follow Jesus and how character formation gets worked out. It’s pretty dense reading, but Willard fills the pages with tons of insightful gems.

Favorite quote: ““A carefully cultivated heart will, assisted by the grace of God, foresee, forestall, or transform most of the painful situations before which others stand like helpless children saying “Why?””



Forward Collection, N.K. Jemisin.

This is a collection of short stories where each one is based around a look at the future of technology. From quantum mechanics, to artificial intelligence. Each one is a mind warp and really fascinating to catch a glimpse of possible outcomes/consequences. Last I checked, it’s also free to borrow if you’re an Amazon Prime member.


Star Wars Trilogy, Timothy Zahn

I didn’t believe my nephew when he told me Disney ruined the Star Wars story line. He was right. This trilogy was originally part of the authorized cannon. But Disney disavowed them after they bought the franchise. These stories pick up five years after the first movies with the original crew: Han is married to Leia, Luke training Jedi, Chewbacca doing his thing. The main villain, Grand Admiral Thrawn is a much more nuanced character who is a ruthless and brilliant tactician that leads through attracting loyalty rather than outright Darth Vader style fear.

Favorite quote: “Concentration, focus, long-term thinking—those are the qualities that separate a warrior from a mere flailing fighter.”

Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

I’d read The Hobbit three times and loved it, but always felt I didn’t have time to wade through Lord of the Rings. I’m still boggled by the intricacy of Tolkien’s world making.

Favorite quote: ‘The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”

Trigger Warning, Neil Gaiman.

This anthology of short stories is a mind bending journey. It wouldn’t occur to me to call this horror exactly, not in the gruesome kind of bloodfest. But there’s much darkness, but not for darkness sake but for elucidating the human condition.

Favorite quote: “Where there’s a monster, there’s also a miracle.”


The Wholeness of Father Brown: The Complete Collection of Detective Mysteries, G.K. Chesterton.

Where Sherlock Holmes is about looking at evidence, Father Brown is about understanding the interior of the criminal’s minds. The priest-detective is afterall in the habit of hearing all sorts of confessions, so he has some insight into all kinds of evils humans are capable of. Sherlock is kind of flashy and prone to mood swings. Father Brown is even keeled, quiet, and unassuming. A very unlikely detective indeed.

Favorite quote: “You see, I had murdered them all myself…. I had planned out each of the crimes very carefully. I had thought out exactly how a thing like that could be done, and in what style or state of mind a man could really do it. And when I was quite sure that I felt exactly like the murderer myself, of course I knew who he was.”


Team Sport

I’ve also rediscovered that reading can be better as a team sport. Amazing Grace and I have read a few books together in the past.

However, during the lockdown, we’ve been intentional about reading some books at the same time.

This has been huge for a several reasons:

  1. We get to externally process the book and discuss stuff that stands out. Often the same points resonate, and that’s a great way to reinforce.
  2. Sometimes different things stick out to Amazing Grace, and that’s extra helpful because that adds depth to the experience.
  3. What if we’re not interested in the same stuff? That’s OK, take turns picking books. You’ll likely be surprised. There’s never any obligation to finish. No guilting or pressure.
  4. No more awkward silences at date night. Sometimes in the busyness of kids, work, and other daily grit, we might get disconnected from one another. And sometimes it might be difficult to actually find things to talk about besides the kids or work. Reading a book together provides a nourishing common ground and bridges the gap that can sometimes sneak into a marriage.
  5. Taken together, all these add up to a sense of nurturing one another and growth and progress in a marriage.


Thriving in Love and Money, Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn.

Finances can be such a touchy subject, and then especially sometimes a tripwire in marriages. This book is a culmination of years of extensive surveys to understand how best to communicate and strengthen marriages not in spite of but through better understanding one another’s’ values.


And if you’re not married, reading books together works just as well with a friend or two. A group of friends from our church group read Lord of the Rings together and it was illuminating to chat and even trade funny insights.

Family reading is fun and bonding as well. We read together a lot, starting with each morning and evening.

On weekend mornings we started reading novels together, and now it’s something special we all look forward to. We just finished:

Kingdom’s Dawn, Chuck Black. Knights, swords, quests, evil enemies, this book has it all. The story is well written, easy to read, and each chapter has a few discussion questions in the back to aid reflection, discussion and more critical thinking. Black is a former captain and Air Force F-16 fighter pilot and tactical combat communications engineer so he knows all about missions and adventure and weaves a wonderful story. Chuck is also a father of six kids, so he knows what it takes to capture attention. This series of six books grew out of his desire to share a parable that would captivate his kids. For those of you in The Way, the protagonist also serves as an allegory of Biblical narratives.

You , Me, We, Erin Jang.

This one’s not a conventional book. More of an invitation to creativity and bonding opportunity with your kid. Each book is actually two books. One for you, one for the little. You take turns filling out matching pages and then compare what you wrote/drew. Scout loves doing these together, and would have done the entire thing in one sitting. But I wanted to savor the excuse to just sit and have a good laugh with him.

Making noise to make some music.

Here’s a musical entry from my cabinet of curiosities.

I’m a 7 on the Enneagram. In brief: I’m always looking for adventure, afraid of being stuck, and always planning the next project.

This translates into many unfinished projects.

So, I vowed recently as we went into lockdown that I wouldn’t start any new projects until I finish my backlog. Felt like an ambitious goal, but I knew it was important for me to stop being so scattered.

Jack of all trades, master of none and all that.

One of the projects on my list for many years was a cigar box guitar. I had already commissioned a 3-string because I found a vintage cigar box I really didn’t want to mess up.

But I wanted to make one myself.

How hard could it be?

I quit smoking anything decades ago because I started racing triathlons and I always hated the aftertaste. Still, I always appreciated the designs on the boxes and labels of cigars. The rough construction, the typography, the handmade feel.

Plus, the quality boxes are made of nice cedar wood. I already had all of the parts, and just never got around to building it out.

I bought a Fuente Fuente OpusX Belicoso cigar box back in 2012. I intended to make a guitar. A six string. I even bought a guitar neck to install.

Well, eight years later all I’d done with it was stored some bonsai tools in the box.

I sat down to plan all the parts and quickly discovered that the salvaged guitar neck wouldn’t fit properly because it had just been an impulse buy, unmeasured, unplanned. At least I was able to take the tuners from it.

Project Pivot

Another thing I’ve been doing over these lockdown months is working with my son to help him learn to play ukulele. And, well, I had always wanted to learn to play as well!

I measured the box and found that it would be the perfect size for a concert ukulele.

I loved building airplane models as a kid. But I always built them raw. I never had the patience to paint the parts piece-by-piece before assembly. And I usually wanted to be finished all in one sitting. As you can imagine, I had lots of planes — in the unadorned plastic. Glue everywhere.

Decades later, I’m finally learning to plan out my projects (a bit more) and have the patience to go step-by-step.

I opted with a pre-machined neck and fretboard because although I have optimism bias, I am at least sober enough to realize I have neither the skills nor the tools for crafting a uke neck from a wood block.

Ukulele Fuente Fuente OpusX Belicoso Idea

I thought the fretboard would be already attached to the neck.


In fact, it appeared that the neck was too wide for the fretboard by half an inch on both sides (You can see above in the photo). So, I sanded both sides down by hand as close as I could to match the fretboard’s width.

Usually, fretboards are left with a kind of tail that extends on to the body of the instrument, primarily decorative because people rarely play all the way up there (except if you’re Jake Shimabukuru). I decided to shorten the fretboard because I want the option to open the body again in the future if I want to add a piezo element pickup for amplification.

Curves Ahead

When I went to attach the neck to the body, I realized that the box edges are more curved than I realized. That meant the neck would jut off the bottom, because it had a straight edge.

So, I sanded that down to add a slight curve in the neck joint. I taped a piece of sandpaper to the curve and ran the flat side of the neck until it fit. 

I think I probably could have gotten away with gluing the neck and bridge in, but I was worried the tension from the strings might warp the neck joint. Also, the cigar box has a nice protective layer of varnish and stain on the surface, which I was worried might lessen the bond of the wood glue.

Cigar Box Ukulele Neck Curve

Too curvy

Cigar Box Ukulele Neck Attachment

I masked the areas off before applying the glue. What’s great about this cigar box is that it’s thick and sturdy.

At first, I had planned to just rely on the screw for the bridge and neck, but I was kind of paranoid that there might be too much stress, so I glued and screwed.

Ukulele Neck Sanded Area

Ukulele Bridge Sanding

Scout Donated His Purple Tape Because Scout Hates Purple And Won’t Use It


Tangent: Fuente Fuente OpusX Belicoso?

I was curious what kind of cigars came in this box.

Turns out there’s a really interesting backstory to Arturo Fuente, a family business that makes these cigars. Cigar aficionados “highly covet” these Fuente Fuente OpusX cigars because some say they’re even better than Cubans. They took a big risk over 20 years ago and are the only cigar maker in the Dominican Republic that grow a Cuban leaf used to wrap cigars

That explained why the boxes were so nice. The name of these cigars is an interesting mashup of meanings:

/end tangent.

The box held additional wood insert sidewalls. So, I didn’t need to add any reinforcements for attaching the neck, because they’re already there.

For the bridge, even though the lid is thick, I wanted to distribute the tension across the lid. I pulled out one of the wood trimmings from the sides — which wasn’t functional — and glued it to the area beneath the bridge.

Ukulele Bridge Clamping

The project required creative clamping because I don’t have any of the fancy wood clamps and don’t foresee needing those for other projects any time soon. 

Sound Hole Dilemma

I thought and sketched for a week about what I wanted to do about the sound hole. I wanted something distinctive, not just one traditional single hole. But I also had to work within my woodworking limitations. 

I worried I wouldn’t be able to make the avocado or other non-traditional shapes as well as I’d like. And maybe I’d get sick of an odd shape — or worse, ruin the box.

Ukulele Sound Hole Shapes

Sound Hole Shape Candidates

Ukulele Sound Hole Drililng

In the end, I went with a traditional circular sound hole with an added offset hole to hopefully open up the sound more. A bit of research didn’t reveal anything definitive about sound quality except tests with violin shaped holes, which I entertained for about one minute.

I borrowed a 2.5 inch bit and a 1 inch drill bit from my friend. The drill bits wobbled a bit and were not exactly straight. But I did my best to go slowly and stabilize the bits. You can see the 1 inch hole is a bit irregular.

Ukulele Sound Holes Rough

Ukulele Sound Holes, Rough

Ukulele Sound Hole Refinement

Ukulele Sound Hole, Refinement

I ended up with little piles of cedar and the cedar smells so good. It’s amazing how fragrant the wood smells even after almost a decade in my closet. I might have to make some cedar candles.

I didn’t want to add any varnish to the sound holes in case I wanted to edit them in the future. So, I used some wood oil to seal it up for now.

Cigar Box Ukulele FinishedTo finish the Fuente OpusX,  I chose some black string, and didn’t feel like fussing with tying knots on the bridge because I was eager to see if it would actually play and stay in tune! Next time I replace the strings, I’ll probably tie the knots though since the little beads aren’t great-looking.

Overall, I’m pleased with the ukulele and enjoy its mellow sound. Maybe as mellow as the smoke some cigar aficionados enjoy — just without the after-stench.

And instead, every once in a while I catch a woody musky gorgeous scent of cedar.

Cigar Box Ukulele and Guitar

Cigar Box Ukulele and Guitar

(I’m not sure exactly where I found this PDF, I can’ track down the original URL. But I found some helpful tips, and skipped bits I didn’t need in this build. I’ll leave it here in case you’re looking for more technical and legit instructions for making your own: How to Make a Cigar Box Ukulele by Steven Miller)

A quitter’s manifesto for non-quitters, join me?

I quit thinking managing better is the answer.

I quit trying to make it all cram into one day.

I quit having my attention pulled in too many directions.

I quit others’ priorities.

I quit a constant drip of emails and Slack messages.

I quit the excuses that a salary wraps a comfy blanket around inertia.

I quit being dragged here and there by the tyranny of the urgent, rather than driving at the important.

I quit feeling cranky and dismissive of my kiddos, and my Wonderwoman.

I quit the blur.

And here’s my why.

What’s yours?


“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Seneca, statesman and philosopher, circa AD 50

And friends, it’s not just about quitting, it’s about going.

Going to the Other Side.

If you’re interested, here’s where we’re headed (and why).

… technically, I resigned. Friday was my last day at the day job. 


I worked that day job for about 7.5 years, longer than Scout has walked the earth. The job began as a comfy pit stop.


The original idea, nearly 8 years ago, was to finish journalism school, then land for a year or so to pave the way for Scout’s arrival and our transition to a family of 3. Years later, we’re a family of 4+1 (we sometimes jokingly refer to Redux as our second child, born when Scout was a toddler).


I really did enjoy my job. I built things, made experiments, launched projects. I learned tons. 


But I knew that job wasn’t where I was meant to be long term. Somehow the years crept, then blurred, and flew by.


For years my passwords were some iteration of “learn” and “go” with the current date. i.e. I was there to learn what I could, and then go, and the passwords were a constant reminder to myself. And every few months I’d update it and wonder why I was still there.


Resign sounds like defeat to me. Nope.


I quit.

There was no dramatic throwing of things across the room or yelling something and storming out the door. I just gave my 2 weeks. Thanked my team and appreciated an unexpectedly nice farewell on Zoom. And *POOF* a new start.


I quit thinking managing better was the answer.

I quit trying to make it all cram into one day. 

I quit having my attention pulled in too many directions.

I quit an entire set of others’ priorities.

I quit a constant drip of emails and Slack messages.

I quit the excuses that a salary wraps a comfy blanket around inertia.

I quit being dragged here and there by the tyranny of the urgent, rather than driving at the important.

I quit feeling cranky and dismissive of Scout and Storm, not to mention Wonderwoman Grace. 

I quit the blur.


Of course, this wasn’t some random impulse. The thought had germinated for years.


After we launched COURG via Kickstarter, one of my co-workers asked why I was still there, since I’d launched my own business. Big looking numbers can lead to big daydreams, apparently from others.

It was tempting to think I should have cut loose then and went all-in on Redux. I often wonder whether that would have been the right move.


But I know I wasn’t ready.


And now, 2020. It’s not that things have somehow become clearer. Quite the opposite.

Every time I send a newsletter out, I get a chorus of unsubscribes. 

What did I say to annoy them? Maybe it was too long again. Maybe I made no sense.

But I’ve had to settle it in my mind and for my soul that maybe it’s just not the right fit for those people… at least not yet. 

And maybe all they want is new watches and discounts.

I totally understand. I’m all for less emails, especially if they don’t add value for you right now.

It’s ok. No hard feelings.

And I also recognize that I’m not where I want to be on the level where I hope to equip and encourage you. 

We have a vision for what we hope to build, but as far as the nitty gritty of how to get there, well that’s being worked out.

And I feel it requires my full focus.



We decided to take a six month runway and see where it leads.

I certainly don’t have it figured out. 

But I’m not going to let that stop me from exploring and pushing out into the deep. Because that’s all I can do.

I’m quitting from the shallows. I’m quitting from clinging to the shore. 

A couple years ago I felt the words, “Let us go over to the other side” resound deeply in my soul. In every fiber of my being.

I still have no idea exactly what that means, but I’ve been working it out, and I’m thankful to be on the way.

I know that the “other side” isn’t just some meta meaning, just some way of thinking.

We began to shove off shore in many ways.

Finding footholds to make a start.

I knew deep down that the Other Side meant a radical upside-down stomach lurching change. Less evolution and more revolution.

I’ve seen the horizon of the Other Side in my own work in spirit, soul and body. I feel more at peace than I ever have in my life.

I’ve glimpsed the other side in my marriage in the most profound and meaningful way with Wonderwoman grace.

I’ve glimpsed the joy and fulfillment of being present with the littles. 

And I’m not shy about my faith because I feel closer to Jesus than ever before. 


We started 2020 with ideas that it was meant to be a year of big change. We would run a Kickstarter. We hoped we would find confirmation that COURG was not a one hit wonder. And with that assurance we would leave the day job.


Well, that’s not how it worked out. And I’m thankful. 

Thankful that I’m leaving for the most important and right reasons. 

Thankful that in the end it was our call and not something that just happened to us — even if a severance package would have been nice to have.

I’m brutally aware that this is all probably too much information.

But I’m risking the overshare because I figure if I can just open up my soul a bit and show up, maybe it’ll help someone. Maybe someone will be encouraged.

To quit.

Doesn’t have to be your day job (unless you should).

Of course the follow-up question I’m repeatedly asked is: “Where are you going? What’s your new job?” As in, assuredly you have another job lined up already?

Well, yes. Just maybe not in the obvious way.

It’s not just about quitting, it’s about going.

Going to hit hard reset.

Going to learn how to homeschool Scout. Too many hours staring at a screen remotely learning. Remote in every sense. Scout asked to be homeschooled since even before the lockdown. It’s time.

Going to focus on serving you all better.

Going to start a new chapter.

Going to the Other Side.

Who’s with me?


by Amy Hodges

No matter how much you do it, practice may never make you an expert. But it probably will make you better.

“This question is the subject of a long-running debate in psychology,” says Fred Oswald, professor and chair of psychology at Rice University. “Why do so few people who are involved in sports such as golf, musical instruments such as the violin, or careers such as law or medicine ever reach an expert level of performance?”

For a new study published in Psychological Science, Oswald and colleagues reviewed 88 previous studies (more than 11,135 total participants) published through 2014 that investigated relevant research on practice predicting performance in music, games, sports, educational, and occupational domains.

Within each domain, the researchers averaged the reported results across all relevant studies and found that “deliberate practice”—defined as engagement in structured activities created specifically to improve performance in a specific field—explained 26 percent of the variance in performance for games, 21 percent for music, 18 percent for sports, 4 percent for education, and less than 1 percent for professions.


“Deliberate practice was a strong overall predictor of success in many performance domains, and not surprisingly, people who report practicing a lot generally tend to perform at a higher level than people who practice less,” Oswald says.

“However, perhaps the more important contribution of our study is that no matter how strongly practice predicted performance in our findings, there was always statistical room for other personal factors to predict learning a skill and performing successfully, including basic abilities.”

Significant amounts of research have already identified basic abilities as also being important to predicting performance, but some researchers tend to minimize them and consider practice as the sole determinant of performance.

“Other factors matter as well, but even so, no one says that practice will ever hurt you; but be careful if you are walking tightropes.”

Rice University, Princeton University, and Michigan State University funded the original study.

A version of this article first appeared on Futurity.

A Clarifying Potion

Estimated read time:

No matter what, storms leaves wreckage and loss. What can be shaken must flex — or break.

And yet on the other side of a storm … all things are new.

We’re not through this storm yet, but we decide how we’ll navigate trauma.

We’ve all heard of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

But there’s an opposite. Post-traumatic growth.

Transforming trauma to growth. Resilience.

I didn’t make that up. It’s when you emerge from trauma, shaken but unbroken.

Clarified. Focused. Lessons learned.


The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.

Aesop, author, circa 600BC

Sometimes (often) I get stuck in a project muddle. Especially during the year of massive delays.

A new watch design or project idea lights me up and I dig deep.

It’s almost like a fever. Consuming. Obsession.

But sometimes that fire loses some fuel as I wrangle watch design details or wrestle with manufacturers that say, “That’s impossible.”

From mountain highs of vision to valleys deep in drudgery.

Many hundreds of decisions that chip away at resolve.

For example, here’s tiny details on COURG/42. And this is just one round out of months of revisions.

COURG/42 Corrections

A Clarifying Potion

I think it’s similar to when I haven’t picked up my ukulele for weeks.

A big reason is because I’ve gotten bored with the songs I know.

I’m no longer playing. I’m just going through the motions.

We all need the new song spark.

Exploring. Stretching. Trying new things.

Because nestled amid the awkward, stiff, twisted fingers of learning a new song — there’s a special moment.

A click. The notes start to ring clear. Then the rhythm springs to life.

When the sounds become the shape of a song.

When I start to feel the music, or maybe it’s the music filling me.

It’s flow state in the stream of melody and it’s a taste of rapture.

Intoxicating — not in a drunken sort of blurry way. A kind of clarifying potion.

And then I return to what muddled me before with renewed vigor and fresh insight.

A heightened state of awareness — even appreciation for a project to pick up and work through.

On Your Mark, Get Set — Make Your …

Whatever way you make your music — designing watches, restoring cars, writing code, serving your community, loving your family, flying planes, teaching kids, healing people, building a business …

Don’t let boredom lull you to sleep so you forget to learn new songs.

Play when the first few notes sound discordant.

Play when your fingers feel like sticks.

Play when the melody sounds alien.

Play when it feels like it’s been too long — sometimes that’s exactly when you’re really ready to get back to work.

And remember these words of wisdom from someone who knew a little something about deep work:


Play is the highest form of research.

Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist, circa 1950

The flow will come. You’ll find new work, new solutions also bring new insight into previous muddles.

Often when you least expect it.

Keep on making your music.

Carry on.

Play on.

And people might laugh. They might hate it. They might fall asleep. They might run. They might misunderstand.

Those who matter will get it. They’re the ones who matter.

And they’ll thank you for showing up and playing your music.

Don’t give up. Give it away.

A project from my cabinet of curiosities.

Meet Fuente Fuente OpusX Belicoso.

A cigar box ukulele I made during lockdown.

For the brave: Full origin and build story.

When I first learned to play my new ukulele, my fingers hurt. They turned an angry red. They ached.

The notes sounded horrible.

In time the pain receded and music ascended.

Through a long year, suffering produces callouses in our lives.

We harden. The shell thickens to dull the onslaught.

But we have to be careful that we don’t allow that layer to get too thick.

Or we won’t feel a thing. And worse — we’ll lack compassion. 

It takes time to process and let your soul catch up with all that’s happened and changed.

Cigar Box Ukulele Finished

Distressed for Purpose

It’s the callouses that enable us to press into the pain.

Because we’ve been there. We’re willing to push in.

Because even if we can’t see it, we know deep down suffering can become glory, and glory is a beacon.

And that requires time and space to heal and recover.

When we press into the pain that has healed, we make musical notes that resonate with others who bear the same pain.


In the Dark

Sometimes, we think of callouses as a bad thing.

Ugly. Rough. Coarse.

The mechanic or carpenter with tough scaly hands. Yet what wonders they craft with their hands — which have been formed by the work they’ve practiced repeatedly.

They become so practiced they could do their craft with their eyes closed.

Sometimes before bed, I dim the lights and strum my ukulele to decompress.

At first I had to squint down at my fingers. But after a few weeks I realized I didn’t even need to look down at the strings anymore.

Our practice shapes our lives to the best form to serve others. Our work makes something, and at the same time the work shapes us. It builds muscle memory in our lives so we can build others up.

But it takes time. Reflection. Being willing to stay in the dark. Sit and learn from the pain.

To be unashamed of the scars.

And even when we can’t see, even when things are dark and uncertain, because of our practice, we will know which notes we need to play in the night — for ourselves and for others.

Cigar Box Ukulele and Guitar

Want to make your own? Here’s how I made mine.



  • Why Gratitude Isn’t For Wimps
  • New Product Drop Next Week: U.S. Navy SEALs Zodiac Strap

What’s your most recent win?

What invigorates you every morning?

Sometimes it’s tough to crack that sheet of ice that chills our souls in sleep.

For some it’s a sweat. Working out, running, HIIT. Caffeine.

We pay attention to our bodies and that’s certainly a good start.

But what about your mind and emotions? How do you kickstart that in a meaningful way?

A life of abundance is awareness and attention. Not rushing here. There. Everywhere.

Not when we’re clamoring, clawing for something else.

Glass half empty? Or half full?

Neither. It’s enough.

Go for a gratitude workout.

When practiced correctly gratitude is guaranteed to level up your life.

It’ll take less time than your workout, heck you can even incorporate the mindset shift into your physical workout.

Here’s 3 simple experiments to try today. Continue reading

Why Gratitude Is Not For Wimps

Estimated read time:


A research team studying the positive effects of daily gratitude says it can change people’s lives—but it takes mental toughness and discipline.

The payoff, however, can be significant.

Compared with those who dwell on daily hassles, people who take time instead to record their reasons for giving thanks exercise more regularly, complain of fewer illness symptoms, and feel better about their lives overall. They also feel more loving, forgiving, joyful, enthusiastic, and optimistic about their futures, while their family and friends report that they seem happier and are more pleasant to be around. Continue reading

I hope you voted (if you’re in the U.S.). I did.

But I don’t care if you voted Trump or Biden or other.

I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat or neither.

What matters is we’re in this together and we all want a brighter future.

Better than yesterday. Bickering won’t get us there.

Watching the news won’t get you there.

Let’s all take a collective exhale.

Let’s vote for an epic today and an amazing tomorrow.

Not by what we say, but by what we do and how we live.

That was then. This is now. Uncertainty will pass when you focus on what is certain.

What is certain is you have a purpose to fulfill today.

Good work to do. A family to lead. Problems to solve. Wounds to heal.

Let’s go.


  • A Secret Path to Your Heart
  • Simple U.S. Navy SEALs Breath Technique
  • What (Not) to Do When Flying Upside Down
  • Origin Story. HONNR -> VALOR -> SCOUT -> ENDUR -> COURG/2c

Continue reading

Over the many months of lockdown, I found some gear super useful.

Now, with a surge of cases expected going into the fall and winter, I thought it might be helpful to share what I’ve found. Just some recommendations for some gear I’ve found indispensable, and you may find useful too.

There’s some other gear that I’ve put to use over this year, but those are things I made for myself. I’ll share them soon as experiments or part of opening up my cabinet of curiosities.

What follows below are items that have been a great help straight off the shelf.

(I think you know this by now, but in case you don’t it bears repeating: I don’t accept pay to play. I only recommend good stuff I use myself and have proven worth in my kit. If you purchase from affiliate links, we might get a clink in the tip jar. Thanks if you do!)


  1. (Spray Some) Force of Nature
  2. Take a (Laptop) Stand
  3. Rock It
  4. Packable Chair
  5. Clean Up Your (Hair) Act
  6. Walkie-Talkie
  7. Jump (Rope)
  8. Daylight in a Box
  9. You Scream I Scream: Make Your Own Cones!

Continue reading

Transformation doesn’t just happen while we sleep. Everyday we must choose to grow.

We must start, but we can’t rush.

Science provides suggestions for how to install upgrades. Not everything works for everyone, but finding out what does work is the work.


  • Wisdom kryptonite
  • Don’t be a drooling dog
  • How to enjoy food more (And improve cognitive and hormonal function if you’re interested in that kind of thing)
  • Try this time expanding experiment
  • Be stødig (Norwegian word of the week)
  • Savor Tooth Tiger
  • 5 Prototypes enroute

But if you want more, you can always keep reading. Continue reading

by Samantha Harris, UT Austin

New research indicates that our cognitive capacity is reduced whenever our phones are within reach—whether it’s turned on or off.

Adrian Ward and coauthors conducted experiments with nearly 800 smartphone users in an attempt to measure, for the first time, how well people can complete tasks when they have their smartphones nearby, even when they’re not using them.

In one experiment, the researchers asked study participants to sit at a computer and take a series of tests that required full concentration in order to score well. The tests were geared to measure participants’ available cognitive capacity—that is, the brain’s ability to hold and process data at any given time.

Before beginning, participants were randomly instructed to place their smartphones either on the desk face down, in their pocket or personal bag, or in another room. All participants were instructed to turn their phones to silent.

The researchers found that participants with their phones in another room significantly outperformed those with their phones on the desk, and they also slightly outperformed those participants who had kept their phones in a pocket or bag.

The findings suggest that the mere presence of one’s smartphone reduces available cognitive capacity and impairs cognitive functioning, even though people feel they’re giving their full attention and focus to the task at hand.

“We see a linear trend that suggests that as the smartphone becomes more noticeable, participants’ available cognitive capacity decreases,” says Ward, an assistant professor at McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Your conscious mind isn’t thinking about your smartphone, but that process—the process of requiring yourself to not think about something—uses up some of your limited cognitive resources. It’s a brain drain,” Ward says.

In another experiment, researchers looked at how a person’s self-reported smartphone dependence—or how strongly a person feels he or she needs to have a smartphone in order to get through a typical day—affected cognitive capacity.

Participants performed the same series of computer-based tests as the first group and were randomly assigned to keep their smartphones either in sight on the desk face up, in a pocket or bag, or in another room. In this experiment, some participants were also instructed to turn off their phones.

The researchers found that participants who were the most dependent on their smartphones performed worse compared with their less-dependent peers, but only when they kept their smartphones on the desk or in their pocket or bag.

Ward and his colleagues also found that it didn’t matter whether a person’s smartphone was turned on or off, or whether it was lying face up or face down on a desk. Having a smartphone within sight or within easy reach reduces a person’s ability to focus and perform tasks because part of their brain is actively working to not pick up or use the phone.

“It’s not that participants were distracted because they were getting notifications on their phones,” says Ward. “The mere presence of their smartphone was enough to reduce their cognitive capacity.”

Source: University of Texas at Austin. Original Study This piece was originally published on Futurity.

A family favorite.

We tried this after I picked up a store made batch and Wonderwoman Grace thought she could do better. She was right.

These are amazing.

(I feel slightly ridiculous offering you a recipe, but it’s way too good not to share, and I’d feel like a totally bad friend if I didn’t at least give you the opportunity to try these with your family. Also, Wonderwoman Grace tells me they’re crazy easy to make. So, don’t say I never shared good stuff with you. I promise I won’t do it too often haha!)


  • 1-1/3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Total Time

Prep: 10 min. Bake: 25 min./batch (Makes a 18-20 or so, depending on your scoop.)


  • Combine coconut, sugar, flour and salt.
  • Whisk egg whites until frothy, then add with vanilla into batter.
  • Mix well.
  • Scoop spoonful onto greased baking sheets.
  • Bake at 325° for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

We modified it a bit from the original to reduce sugar and make it more crispy, crunchy on the outside.

(H/T Taste of Home)


Let’s START something new. 

Redux exists to equip and encourage you to tackle your missions. I just happened to start with hardware — watches. 

Now, I’m starting an experiment to be more intentional about ground support for your wetware (mind, soul, spirit, character) upgrades. 

Once a week I’ll debrief with you on three waypoints (like trail markers) converging on one theme.

Why three? 

Well, it takes three points to triangulate your position. When you connect the dots, and remember where you’re headed, you can course correct as needed. 

Weekly Waypoints will include: 

  • Ancient wisdom
  • Scientific evidence
  • Workshop visit / Prototype intel

  • A personal story I’m digging into (this week literally)

Everything you need will be in the email, think of it as a heads up display. But if you want more, you can always meet me here the jump for a dive deep.

This week, in honor of this humble launch, let’s START SMALL.

It’s been an insane year. Many people are waiting for 2021 to make things better.

<Breaking News> 

There’s no point in waiting for January to get a new start. January 1 resolutions are pegged to an arbitrary date anyway. It’s only meaningful because we assign some magic to that date.

Any date will do. Today — right now — is as good a time as any, and certainly better than later.


Mission Impossible

Waypoint 1: Ancient Wisdom + Starting

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

Francis of Assisi, friar, deacon, mystic, circa 1100s


How Pee Breaks Could Change Your Life

Waypoint 2: Science + Starting


A Stanford behavior scientist wanted to do more pushups everyday. We all know exercise is a keystone habit that cascades into all kinds of goodness in our lives.

Most of us would just grit our teeth and do some until we “forgot” by day three.

Instead, Fogg picked an everyday trigger and started tiny. Every time he went to the bathroom, Fogg did ONE pushup.

Soon enough he could do more each pee break. He kept going and is up to 70 a day (depending on coffee intake haha).

“Take a behavior you want, make it tiny, find where it fits naturally in your life, and nurture its growth.

If you want to create long-term change, it’s best to start small.”

BJ Fogg, PhD, founder, Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University

Make sure to celebrate small wins tangibly. i.e. *YES!* (queue: arm pump) because science confirms habits change through feeling good, not beating ourselves up.

Fogg’s TED talk. And book.

What’s a goal or change you need to make? How can you start tiny and trigger it with something you already do every day? Write it down, START today!


Cabinet of Curiosities

Waypoint 3: Redux + Starting


  • Over the next few weeks I’m going to open up my cabinet of curiosities (more below) and see if you’re interested in adding any of it to your kit.
  • We have multiple watch prototypes underway flying evasive maneuvers through some turbulence. Partial update now (scroll down), full update next week…
  • Even so, we’re not just about the watches (deep dive below). How else can I help you? Reply and let me know!


… and a little something extra: 

Rubies, Diamonds & Gold, A Story

My 7 year old son, let’s call him Scout, looked up a word in the dictionary. On the way, he came across the word “ruby” with pictures of a gem before and after being cut.

Scout is obsessed with rocks.

Recently Scout saw a roughly polished opal of mine. He grabbed some generic rocks. He sanded. He painted. He coated them to look like my opal. He’s spent hours gently cracking geodes open.

Last week he said, “When I grow up, I’m going to be a geologist, and that’s my final answer.”

Needless to say, that ruby image hooked Scout.

After hours of research, Scout told me we needed to take a trip and he knew where to go and what to do. He even had a plan:

“How to find rubies, gold, and diamonds: Shovel with Knifes, Buckit, Hammer, Chesle”

Cue big eye roll (not a proud dad moment).

I felt the urge to say, “It’s not that easy. You have no idea how many people spend their lives trying to dig up treasure. Let’s be reasonable.”

And then I checked myself — we all need to START SMALL. The last thing he needs is me telling him what’s not possible, especially when I haven’t even tried.

Heck, I (probably) wouldn’t have launched Redux if I had known all the pitfalls and frustrations.

Sometimes, the not knowing — being unreasonable — is the only way we will go on the adventures we’re meant to explore.

So, instead I said, “Pack your chisel, kiddo, let’s plan a trip!” I’m not sure we’ll find anything, but I’ll let you know what we find.

What I AM certain of is that worst case no gems, but we might just dig up something far more precious — a treasure trove of good memories and the sparkle of exploration together.



Welcome to the new abnormal.

On January 1st, I posted a message on Instagram about making 2020 epic. Little did I know… it’s been epic alright.

And now that we’re already barreling toward the end of 2020, I wanted to check in and debrief with you.

As some of you know, we planned to launch new watch design projects in 2020. Prototypes were originally scheduled to arrive last December. [Spoiler alert: We grounded those plans — actually that makes it sound almost pleasant and peaceful, it really feels more like a stomach lurching turbulence-induced stall.]

But then the world turned upside down. We hit massive delays from our industrial engineers and manufacturers.

Rest assured, we will push forward. Stay tuned for further intel next week.

In the meantime, I’m writing now for three reasons:

  1. How is your “new normal” going?
  2. Sharing lessons from 6+ months of turbulence
  3. I’m opening my cabinet of curiosities for you to gawk at

What’s that about curiosities? I have a bunch of projects in stealth mode. These have never seen the light of day for various reasons. Sometimes I just get distracted and need to make something. Other times these were experiments to find solutions for myself. 

The End. 

We’re down to our last watches! To be exact:

COURG Zero-Hour

COURG Zero-Hour

13 Zero-Hour

2 Minimalists

1 Type-A  SOLD!

This is a huge milestone for us since we turned off all marketing and advertising a year ago with plans to transition into the new crowdfunding.

In the meantime, we received kind requests for specific variants not actually in stock. So, I’ve built them when I have the components — and bandwidth — to make them. A few Type-A potentially, if you’re interested.

If you’ve been on the fence about owning a COURG, now’s the time. I’m not sure whether we’ll make another production run ever.

Now, with the new designs still in a holding pattern, we need to try something different. 

Just waiting around until the prototypes arrive to our satisfaction and then the months required for a proper crowdfunding launch is not an option.

We also want to respond to what’s been happening even with our limited resources. So, we will dedicate a percentage of sales from small batch projects to directly support first responders and healthcare workers on the front lines.

And most importantly, we want to ask: How are you doing and how can we help?

Many of you are members of our Valiant Alliance and are first responders.

I have a couple ideas I’ll share soon, but reply and let me know. We’re here to equip and encourage.

I hesitated a long time before sending this (I’ve been drafting this series of dispatches since April!) because I feel a bit torn. I know that most of you, understandably, think of Redux & Co. as a watch company ( @reduxwatch and all that).

Not Just Watches

But we never set out to just sell watches — they’re the flagship. Not the end goal. 

Our vision is first and foremost about redeeming the time, and helping our crew live fuller more purpose-filled days. Part of that was building a workshop-business where I could create, make, design, and see what deserves a spot in your kit.

So in some ways, what we’re asking you is also an existential question for us. Are there further ways we can equip and encourage you? How do we better support you on your missions? What do we do better than anyone else in the world for you?

A More Focused Experiment

Redux & Co. began as an experiment, and somewhere along the way I started feeling inadequate. Like I needed to be more polished — that we had to pretend that we had it all figured out. 

I tried to make it sound as if we had a larger organization. The royal nebulous “we.”

But really it’s just Wonderwoman Grace, our two littles, and I here in our NYC apartment, and we’re going to keep it real. 

We are who we are. We’ll continue to be authentic and not pour on any veneer.


P.S. Thanks to those of you who made the deep dive with me and landed here. What’d you think of this? I’d love to hear if this was helpful (or not).

In the meantime, check out pre-turtlenecked Steve Jobs talking about not playing it safe one year BEFORE he took Apple back and rebuilt it. Let’s you and I bash through some walls. [Video just under 2 minutes]

Here’s a quick tutorial about how to adjust your titanium flex band for personalized fit. I prefer a pretty secure and snug fit from my watch straps. So, I found that for my wrist, the best length was when the overall band was one inch shorter than my wrist measurement.

Continue reading