Awesome Bucket III: Challenge 2015


In this, my third annual Awesome Bucket Challenge, I break down the primary goals I’ve set for myself in 2015. As per usual, they’re broken down into four categories, followed by a few notes on how I plan to make them happen.

While I may be posting late this year, rest assured, I’ve been cranking away on the Awesome Bucket for these first few months of 2015 and have already made some great headway.

And even though House of Cards Season 3 tanked, and Suns management has returned to their mind-boggling, downward-spiraling old ways, this year is off to a blazing start: work has been crazy with cool projects, big changes and opportunities to stretch myself; and the W.P. Carey MBA program keeps challenging me to my core and surprising me with unforeseen benefits. I’m busier than I can ever remember, but it’s a good-busy and I’m excited to keep it going.

Thanks for following along. Here are my goals for 2015:

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Mazel tov, bro

The best man

A speech for the best man

At first I wasn’t sure I’d give a best man speech at my brother’s wedding.

Nobody had mentioned anything to me, and Hermano’s style doesn’t lend itself to the spotlight or ceremony. So I figured they might just not be doing toasts, and I was fine with that – one less thing on the plate as work and school ramped back up for the new year.

But my feelings changed as the big day got closer. I realized this was going to be one of the most memorable days for him, her, and our families, and I wanted to give them all something special to show how much they mean to me. Considering that they live out of state and we don’t talk that much, the best man speech was my best shot.

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One semester in the books

10 takeaways from my first semester in the W.P. Carey ASU MBA program

“You’re going to be busy,” an executive told me after learning I had been accepted to the MBA program at the W.P. Carey School of Business. “But it’s a good busy.”

I didn’t realize how right he was.

Much like my first Ironman triathlon, my first semester of grad school somehow managed to break me down, beat me up and challenge me to the core, while invigorating and strengthening me at the same time.

I slaved over homework, group projects, papers and presentations all weekend, every weekend, and stayed up past midnight most weeknights. I developed a recurring eye twitch in the weeks leading up to exams, and replaced a rigorous exercise routine with copious amounts of coffee.

Constructive disruption. Enlightening masochism. Creative conflict. “A good busy.” Call it what you will.

But as I mentioned in my 2014 Awesome Bucket results, I can already tell the decision to pursue my MBA is one of the best moves I’ve ever made – and I’m only a quarter of the way through.

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2014 Awesome Bucket Results

A recap of my top goals and accomplishments from 2014


Two years ago I decided to get organized, methodical and passionate about my New Year’s resolutions by creating an Awesome Bucket and laying out my goals for the year. That inaugural Awesome Bucket helped make 2013 a wild success by keeping me focused and driven to develop habits, strengthen skills and cross epic finish lines.

And by publishing the list and posting status updates throughout the year, the Awesome Bucket holds me accountable. At the same time, I hope this exercise inspires others to add some Awesome Bucket Sauce to their New Year’s Resolutions. More importantly, I hope this exercise gives you ideas for how to stay motivated and make those dreams realities.

This year, my sophomore Awesome Bucket effort, the goals fell into four categories: Creative, Fitness, Travel and Awesome. In addition, my top priority for the year focused on applying and getting in to grad school at the W.P. Carey School of Business.

I’m happy to report I knocked this bucket out of the park, accomplishing 10 of the 11 goals on the list in another exciting and memorable year. I completed my first semester of grad school (more on that later), fabricated walkability in a city of sprawl, wrote and played guitar every day and hiked to the highest point in Arizona. Plus, I can now do a handstand – nbd – just another drop in the Awesome Bucket.

Here’s a breakdown of my 2014 Awesome Bucket and how I made it happen.

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Awesome Bucket 2014: Status Update

A domination progress report for my 2014 goals

a bucket full of cloudy sky by Ermolaos

Nine months ago, with an overflowing passion bucket, I laid out my second annual Awesome Bucket – a brimming list of goals I hoped to accomplish in 2014.

Posting those goals publicly and revisiting them throughout the year is a big part of the process. It helps me stay accountable, and see the whole board.

This year has been a whirlwind of goal domination so far, with eight of the 13 goals not only accomplished – but accomplished with authority.

Read on for a complete breakdown and status update to see which ones were crossed off the list, and how the rest of the year is looking for the ones that remain.

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Radiolab: 9-Volt Nirvana

Takeaways from Radiolab’s fascinating episode: 9-Volt Nirvana

The Radiolab podcast episode 9-Volt Nirvana grabbed my attention immediately:

“Learn a new language faster than ever! Leave doubt in the dust! Be a better sniper! Could you do all that and more with just a zap to the noggin? Maybe…”

Sign me up!

I pressed play, expecting an entertaining analysis of some new technology, drug or medical operation that could instantly make you think and do stuff better – like a get rich quick scheme for the brain.

The 25-minute episode did all that, and sparked a much deeper discussion, calling into question concepts of self, entitlement, ethics and the learning process.

I recommend you set aside about half an hour to listen to the show, and stew on it for a bit after it’s over. Then, read on to see how your reactions and takeaways compare to mine.

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The real MVP

In a world smothered by scripted interviews, entitled stars and vanilla soundbites, Kevin Durant – the 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player – delivers a slam dunk speech that pulls back the curtain, transcends sports and inspires leadership, humility and perspective.


These days, I don’t expect much from post-game press conferences, sideline reports, superstar interviews and other sports speeches. Why? Because we rarely get more than a quick thank you to God, followed by a litany of canned sports cliches.

If we expand the scope, the same low expectations can often be applied to other arenas, with force-fed agendas, rhetoric and scripted remarks clouding our glimpses at the true character and opinions of our leaders, influencers and role models.

But every now and then, we’re treated to something genuine, something thoughtful, something inspirational.

Kevin Durant’s exceptional acceptance speech for the 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player Award was one of those times.

Judged in a vacuum (in my amateur opinion), the speech stands strong as an organized address with a heartfelt and well-delivered story.

However, in the vanilla, lay-up context we’ve grown accustomed to in sports speeches, Durant’s MVP remarks deliver a posterizing slam dunk.

In this post, I’m going to break down why the speech is so special, and list a some of the lessons I took away after watching it a few times.

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Navigating the social media seas at #SMMW14

Top takeaways from Social Media Marketing World

Attending a conference is a lot like managing a business’s social media initiative:

You need to have a content strategy by planning which sessions to attend, engage your audience by chatting with other attendees, and gather feedback by asking the speakers specific questions that will add value to the conversation.

I kept these principles in mind when I attended Social Media Marketing World (#SMMW14), presented by Social Media Examiner in San Diego, March 27-28.

On the plane to San Diego, I highlighted the top three sessions from each time slot to help me manage my time efficiently and give me quick-reference safety valves should I need to switch day-of. I also talked with as many other attendees as possible, and joined in the the #SMMW14 Twitter conversations to share my notes and get an idea of what was going on in the sessions I didn’t attend.

Most importantly, I outlined in advance the main topics to investigate at the conference: corporate blog strategies, social media customer service training examples, trends in the creep factor and the declining News Feed reach for Facebook pages.

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Road to the MBA

Lessons learned from the application process.

Last time we chatted – back in January – you learned about my Awesome Bucket 2014 and the big plans I lined up to take down this year.

As excited as I was (and am) about those goals, there was something glaringly absent from that list: my one thing. It’s the most important goal of the year and takes priority over pretty much everything else on the plate.

Last year my one thing was to become an Ironman, and I sacrificed sleeping in, Filibertos, nearly all my free time outside of work and many a happy hour to make that dream a reality. (Read all about that glorious day in my IMAZ race report.)

When you get to the top of a mountain you have two options: head back down satisfied and keep reliving the moment; or quickly celebrate, learn from the experience and start looking for the next peak.

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Awesome Bucket 2014

My list of goals for 2014, broken down into the categories of Creative, Fitness, Travel and Awesome.

“Chemistry is, well technically, chemistry is the study of matter. But I prefer to see it as the study of change.” — Walter H. White

As we launch into a new year, change takes the spotlight for many of us.

We reflect on the year that was, look for areas to improve upon and dream about the changes we’d like to make in the future.

I’ve developed into somewhat of an obsessive, merciless, fanatical goal hoarder. As you’d imagine, New Year’s resolution season is an exciting time for yours truly.

Not only am I still riding the high from last year’s Awesome Bucket performance – a dominating 7/9 performance that left 2013’s head spinning – but I’m even more jacked up to keep the Awesome going in 2014.

Brace yourself: the word Awesome is used another nine times in this article.

What’s the point of the Awesome Bucket?

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