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Ben Milne

I write, read, and make things.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Over the years I’ve done quite a few interviews and not many questions stump me anymore but this one did.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

It’s not very often someone asks a question about you in a interview.

I came home and talked about it and realized that I’m an introvert whose job has requirements to be an extrovert on occasion. I think, truly, that I can be an extrovert when I need to be.

My closest anythings know that if given the opportunity I’d close the door, shut the lights off, and probably work on something in the dark for weeks on end. Darkness tends to reduce distractions. In the weekends I got to spend alone in my SF apartment, I’d typically draw the shades and turn my phone off from Friday night until Sunday night. I’d spend the time reading and writing what those same anythings know as shitty code.

Most of that code has either been long replaced or never shared, like a terrifically strange journal entry that I don’t even know where I left.

With all the time in the world and a lack of responsibility I tend to use the time I can to invent and try to make something new. There’s a deep irony that in order to share whatever idea comes from that time, I need to share it if I want it to go anywhere.

Over the years writing has been a very passive way for me to engage in sharing while being able to control the frequency at which I’m required to do so.

Lately, I’ve started blocking off time to intentionally be alone. There are places that I’ve come to understand that I can go and just be. I really value those places.

I realized that I’m an introvert through the question and time talking/thinking after. The times when I need to be an extrovert, on stage or otherwise, I decide to be. It took a lot of practice and it still takes a lot of energy.

When I’m truly left to do whatever I want I tend to close off and use the time to recover and create. Recovering and creating feel like the same thing to me.

The Death of Pablo

I may not fully understand the project but it’s hard not to like it. A group called The Pablo Collective released this on Bandcamp quite some time ago. I’ve been meaning to post about it since.

It’s a little strange but definitely worth a listen just to consume what they did here. There are 4 individual tracks you can listen to below.

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Saying Goodbye To Old Products

I shared this with a friend a few years ago. It’s humbling to work on a project long enough to see most of your best work replaced by something new. A lot of the work I contributed to in the early days at Dwolla, we’ve shut down or replaced. Even my early business models have been replaced a few times.

It’s been a somewhat therapeutic exercise to talk about some of this with friends/founders lately. There’s no shame in discontinuing a product. No more than when a better engineer replaces something you did years prior or a better designer replaces something you created around the same time.

Companies, brands, and technology are meant to evolve. Sometimes that evolution is just an end to a product.  Continue Reading

Showing up

I was having a conversation with Jami this afternoon at brunch about different books that friends or acquaintances have written and how that ends up changing our relationship with them, normally for the better, because of how much more we know about them and the depth of what we’re able to discuss when we are all together.

It makes the time we have together that much more meaningful and our relations stronger because they wrote the book. We didn’t do the work, they did.

This was also spawned from another conversation the night prior when we attended Around The Table, a small private dinner that I can only really describe as an artistic experiment. We ate and talked with a bunch of people we didn’t really know and before I got so tired I had coffee at 9pm, this was a point of conversation.

I started thinking and have throughout the day about what topics, anecdotes, or ideas I’d want to convey in a book if I were to write one. The one that keeps coming up is that if I didn’t show up to either one of these meals, dinner or brunch, neither one of these discussions would have happened and I absolutely benefited.

An amazing amount of progress in life is a function of what you show up for. This is one of many reasons I spent the morning prior at the Women’s March in Des Moines.

Show up. Be present.

It’s amazing what you can miss by not showing up. The more intentional you are about where you show up everyday and how, the more good things happen.

I have been surprised a few times at the dramatic impact someone’s lack of presence can have on them and those around them. Especially, if they are a leader.

On the flip side, it’s even more amazing what showing up and being a positive contributor can do for your career, family, and company.

Whatever your IQ, political affiliation, gender, or disposition, it really doesn’t matter. Show up and positively contribute. Do that and you’ll change your life and the lives of those around you.

No excuses. Show up and do the work.

This was something that popped into my head as something that felt obvious that I’d want to convey if I did write a book. Then I realized I don’t need to write a book, I can just put it on the internet.

No one ever really knows what will work and what won’t but in order to find what does work, we must show up and give it a shot together.


5 Takeaways from 2016

2016 is a year that I’ll remember more about how I felt emotionally rather than the milestones. The specifics of it I don’t think I will recall well 10 years from now. I think I’ll remember more about how I felt at various points this year as opposed to specific events.

Jami broke out on her own in a big way in 2016 professionally and that’s been a change at home. As weekend and nights became time for shoots and creative projects it was an adjustment but a positive one. The amount of work in terms of volume she produced this year is astonishing.

I traveled less and that had benefits as well as new learnings. My Travel in 2016 was ~50% less than what it’s been in years past. Continue Reading

Much respect to those that ship

I had the extreme pleasing of giving my first college lecture with my partner Jami this year.

This was unique for me. I’ve given more college lectures at this point than I received in college so I always take a lot of joy from these interactions. I never found my place in college as a young man and I’m appreciative that I seem to have found my place there later in life.

Also, I’ve never given a lecture with someone. I was asked by my friend Dave Gould to attend his green room class. Whenever Dave has a class that’s doing something new I want to be a part of it.

Dave has a unique approach to life and learning which I know is a guiding light for those around him. Including me. He is a perfect example of what happens when you practice and teach gratitude.

Dave is also open minded enough that when he talked to me about coming to class I mentioned bringing Jami and Margaux. After some really long conversations with Jami we decided we would do the class together and thought this was the right forum to give it a try.

thank you to Dave and his class for being open to this experiment. we are both grateful.

The reason that I thought Jami’s inclusion was so much more important than mine is because Jami just struck out on her own recently and started her own business.

Emotionally and financially it’s scary as hell to get started.

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