Category Archives: DeskPM

Donating my 40th

Tuesday 4:25pm

On Sunday I will be celebrating my 40th birthday running the Madison Half Marathon. It’s already Tuesday so I need to get this post out to give you guys time to buy my birthday present!

That’s right, I’m asking for a birthday gift. I’ve done this a few other times including when I ran the Monona 20k and when I participated in Save a Drink. More details this week.

The organization I’m running for is called Blood:Water. If you choose to support me by donating, click the button at the top and in the comment you can write #HansMadisonHalf and any other comment you’d like.

If you donate, I’d love to hear from you via email or Twitter/Facebook DM.

Thanks for considering!

Wednesday 4:02pm
Yesterday I ran a fast 4-mile route through Oregon – gotta love race week and the taper! It’s only a half marathon but resting this week is critical. At work today a member mentioned that he saw me running and said I looked strong, so that’s always nice! He’s a good runner himself so I appreciate the love.

Friday 1:52pm
In reality today is your last day to buy me a birthday gift! Let’s be honest, Facebook on the weekend is just casual – nothing really happens.

Gifts of $5 and $10 are awesome because they cost us nothing and help in such big ways. It’s really all I’m looking for – a way to crowd-source my efforts into getting people involved in a great cause (clean water, people!) while I put in all the hard work running those miles!

Sunday I’ll be running my 8th half marathon: 13.1 miles through our Capital city. I heard yesterday there’s a “hill challenge.” Based on people’s chip times from the bottom of the hill to the top, the top three men and top three women win prizes. Very tempting but I haven’t found out where (mile-marker) on the course this is happening, so no decision has been made yet. It sure will be tempting to get a running start on that thing and go for it but boy, that effort will take a lot of juice out of the legs for the rest of the race.

Thanks again for considering supporting Blood:Water as we build wells and provide clean water for millions who are without. I am very excited for this weekend – partly for the birthday but mostly for the two runs. Katie is doing a 10k on Saturday night and then we are both running the half marathon on Sunday.

I’ll try to post a pic on Saturday of what I’ll be racing in so that if you’re on the course you can find me. I should be around 7:45/8:00-minute miles.

Have a great Memorial Day Holiday weekend.

10daysbetterblog 08 Goals

I have had goals for my blog for a long time. I’m willing to bet I’m not alone. But this time I’m working through the same process I take my clients through for their exercise and fitness goals, namely the SMART methodology. My SMART goal is to write one great blog post each week through the month of March. This meets all the criteria for this methodology. 

A couple notes. First, I’ve created a calendar item to get this writing done, including time to do any relevant research. Thursday mornings are where I will get this work done. Second, when I get this writing and work done, it will be great. Unlike my NoWriMo project, I won’t settle for posts that just got the thing posted; it needs to be something I’m proud of. 

First post goes live tomorrow. 

10daysbetterblog 07 Analytics

Gotta know your reader. I know this to be true, but when I look at my analytics I see that I’m telling a different story. It’s a good one. It’s me. But it’s not where I want to go (right now), or at least it’s not the primary shotry I want to tell.

Today’s assignment for #10daysbetterblog is to look at the analytics of our blog and reflect. Here’s a quote from the assignment:

“You see, when you know who your reader is (and what they are interested in) you can begin to tailor content to their specific tastes and needs. You are beginning to create a consistent audience which is a powerful mechanism in today’s digital economy.”

I am humbled by the page views, but there are other posts that I want to rise to the top of this list. I want to talk about goals, fitness, wellness, struggles in the fight to stay fit, and people’s stories of success as they pursue their health. My most popular blog posts have a special place in my heart. I’m using this feeling as motivation to write better in 2015 for the story I want to tell. Quick post today to get this assignment done. It’s late on Friday and I have to get to the family. I’ll have some time this weekend to flesh this out and create a plan.

Analytics: boy, proof in the pudding. Lots of work to do.

10daysbetterblog 06 About Page

Ah yes, the About page. Vitally important yet highly ignored. Day 06 of #10daysbetterblog continues the pruning practice from day 05. This static page on a blog needs to be clear but it also needs to be accurate, up-to-date. When I navigated to my about page, I was pleased to notice mine was fairly current. I don’t like the font size or the size of the pic at the bottom. And I need to add some more of my best writing and some easier calls to action. But this should be kind of fun and easy to do. 

When I reflect on my page and compare it to others’, it’s clear to me how important experience is for this page.

  • What have I done?
    * How can I paint a picture of what I do and what I can offer you or your company to pursue your health?
    * Am I putting a good (great!) foot forward?
    * Am I viewed as an expert?
    * Am I perceived as capable of helping you pursue your goals?

As John says, this should be one of your most viewed pages. It deserves frequent time and attention. Updates should be fairly regular, and reinvention should be considered every six to twelve months. And with that, I’m happy with the adjustments I made – font, a better pic, and some links to my favorite articles.

10daysbetterblog 05

Today’s blogging workshop, day five of ten, is directing the participants to shift from the creator (me) to the content (the blog). What do I write about? How does it get organzied on the blog? Specifically, I’m considering adjustments to my strategy. I’m not changing strategies, I’m not starting a new sub-strategy, I’m simply looking at two aspects: categories and tags. Immediately when I read the challenge for the day, I resonated with the concept because I know how many times I write a blog post and then struggle with picking caegories after the fact. I ignore this discontent, but now John’s smacking me right in the face with it. Thanks, brother! My discontent is due to the fact that I’m writing something top of mind, probably (kind of) on topic, but certainly not as intentional as it should be. I kind of “make it fit” into categories when I’m done. John suggests 3-5 cagegories. He’s right. I need to fight the urge to write about all things. Pick my 3-5, assign the category before I write and makes sure it makes sense before I publish. Same thing with tags. When (really) is the last time you clicked a tag on a blog to find more of that topic. Just doesn’t happen. So maybe those should be eliminated all together?

For me this isn’t going to be a project of actually going back to change things. But rather I need to pick my categories and write about only those. I’m really tempted to have a miscellaneous category – some kind of hodge-podge for those blog posts I can’t not write. But we’ll see.

After only four minutes of analysis, I’m pretty frustrated with my lack of focus. I have categories like “grad school”, leadership, blogging. These aren’t the things I blog about. Sure, they’re part of my story, but to be sucessful as a writer, to be seen as an authority, I need to have a lot more to say that what’s represented here. I need to prune these away. I need to make room for what’s really important: exercise research and exercise application. My goal is to bridge the gap between the exercise research lab and the exercising community. I love those other categories, but I have to focus.

Life is a series of adjustments. As I enter the second half of this workshop, I’ve looked deep inside myself and now I’m looking deeper inside my content. I need to adjust. It’s not intimidating at all. We all need to adjust, we all need to stay sharp and focused. This was an essential exercise for me.


10daysbetterblog 04

On day 4 of my blogging workshop, the instructions are simply to reflect. Kind of interesting because as I opened John’s post for the day, I was looking at my Desk app and the three blog posts I logged. They have the same name with different numbers (of course) at the end, so they looked bigger to me. They looked organized, part of a series, a project, a story. I had a feeling of purpose and direction which is a primary motivator for me as I take blogging to the next level. I need this consistency. I need challenge and this confidence.

Then interstingly enough as I sat in my chair for the fourth night in a row to write this blog, I thought about yesterday’s post and the importance of the physical space. I won’t always blog like this, but the idea that “it’s about 8:30pm, work is done and I need to check in with the workshop. I’ve got my glass of water and I’m ready to write…” That was kind of a cool feeling. Great writers show up to write, pretty much on a daily basis. It doens’t mean it will all get published. But the act of writing is a discipline. Boy, is it ever. I haven’t refined my discipline here yet. But that’s why I’m reflecting. 

In this short closing reflection, I conclude that no matter what the rest of the workshop topics may be, I will write my tenth post having established a game plan for the year. I will have a direction, storyline, and monthly goals. I have goals for family, fitness, faith. I need to have goals for my writing. Reflection done.


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10daysbetterblog 03

This is day 3 of a blogging workshop I’m doing with my friend John Saddington.

My optimal writing environment is a coffee shop. I have a local one (coffee mugs are pictured in the sidebar) two blocks away from my day job as a personal trainer. During sections of my day I scoot over there for my writing. I love window seats, but when I’m writing I usually need to bury myself a little deeper into the cafe so I don’t stare out the window. My drink of choice is either a red-eye or a half-full Americano.

After I get my drink and my table, I need a few minutes to clear my mind. A quick check of Twitter, a quick glance of my notebook of items to do for the day so that I can try to keep those things from creeping in as distractions to my writing. Headphones are a must. I love the buzz and chatter of a coffee shop but (depending on the topic) I typically need music where I don’t know the words, often instrumental music to zone into my writing.

As far as the content, I am pushing myself lately to produce an outline first rather than just writing on the fly. I go on tangents. I lose my direction. I confuse even myself, the writer. Not good. This sounds much more professional here than what usually happens. I’m working on a better workflow. I do light editing while I write but I have certainly found that if I can get a draft done, walk away for a few hours or even upwards of a day, then come back to it, I can edit a lot more and get the piece in a better place to publish. I guess this is all part of the deal of becoming a better writer.

As I said yesterday, I have all the tools to blog. I could write on any computer, I could write in TextEdit, Evernote, or the web version of WordPress. But thankfully my writing process is enhanced with my 2011 MacBook Air and Desk. My Mac is an absolute dream to pull out of my bag and open up. Desk is clean and fully functional for my workflow as a blogger. I appreciate how opening Desk is exactly what writers should be doing – sitting at their desk. For decades, writers have pulled a chair up to a physical desk, pulled out paper, a typewriter, then a computer to do their writing. Today we write in apps. And when I open my digital Desk, I’m a writer.

10daysbetterblog 02

I’m on day two of a writing workshop, technically a blogging workshop. Day one was about my goal for 2015. Today the question is this: Why do you write?

I write to collect and publish my thoughts

Well, first I write because it helps me collect my thoughts. I’m a writer, it just doesn’t always go public. I process life when I write it down, analyze it a bit, and try to make adjustments to my game plan moving forward. And adding to waht I talked about yesterday, it also helps me feel like I’m moving things forward; I’m contributing to society, not just consuming everybody else’s stuff. Writing helps me learn, grow, and (hopefully) help people. And that second part, helping people, is really the second part of why I write.

I write because people are dying

This will sound harsh: I write because I don’t want people to die. Strong words. Let me explain. I was having dinner with my friend Jon Swanson last winter when he and his wife were driving through Madison. We started talking about me growing my health and fitness business and he asked the “why” question. “Why are you starting this business?” My answer didn’t satisfy him. He offered this: “You don’t want people to die.” He’s right. 

People are dying for many reasons, but heart disease is the leading cause in the United States. As an exercise specialist, this is a huge opportunity to help. I won’t save anyone by writing a blog post and getting a few hundred people to read it. But if I can cast the vision for a healthy lifestyle and provide tips, support, and challenges for people to pursue that lifestyle, now I can start saving lives. Keeping people from dying is a negative spin on why I write. There’s a positive, too.

I write because health is something everyone wants

There is a story around health and fitness. If it were a pill, everyone would take it. But there isn’t a pill. It takes work. And this work is made easier (a) with some science to tell us what to do, and (b) a team to join us in the game. People can relate to fitness. Either they had a good or a bad experience. Either way, they want it and I can walk them down the road. I write because I want to bring people to an undertanding of the importance of their health and then I want to empower them to take ownership it.

I’m glad I wrote this out. I think about it all the time but I’ve never put it into words. Thanks for the challenge, John. And thank you, kind readers, for another few minutes of your day.

10daysbetterblog 01

As an exercise specialist, the new year is a big time for us. Resolutions are on many people’s minds. I don’t like resolutions. Personally, I don’t think resolutions work. In fact, Merlin Mann would suggest that you’re “building the habit of unrealistic expectations.” But goals? Goals have power. That’s where great things begin: with a goal. When I talk to my clients about goals, we get very concrete and we the conversation gets serious. I won’t let a client set a “weight goal” or even get away with “I want to lose 5-8 pounds.” No, you need to give me something more defined than that. I want a SMART goal. I resonate with goals in my own life and I work hard to develop the same habit with my clients. So you can imagine how refreshing it was when I met with Judy last week and before I could start the goals conversation, she asked me what my goals were for 2015. 

My answer: write more.

I have soaked up enough knowledge and experience to write a few books. No, that’s not a pat on the back. It’s an admission that I’m a really good collector and a really poor creator. When the words “write more” flowed out of my mouth, I didn’t even hestitate. It’s deep in me. I know that I need to write more, both for the good of my soul and for the good of my business.

I have all the tools. I love writing on my MacBook Air using Desk. While I’m at work (or at a coffee shop in “minimalist mode”) I love writing on my iPad with Editorial. I have plenty of expertise in wellness. I’ve been a certified trainer for almost a decade, coaching longer than that. I have a masters degree in kinesiology; in exercise science I’m well read. What’s next?


– John Saddinton

My writing coach says I need to publish. John probably isn’t the first one to coach writers and bloggers with this powerful word, but his promptings always reach me in very personal ways. And he’s right. I need to sit at my desk for about 30 minutes each day and write. So I’m committing to his 10 Days to a Better Blog writing workshop. One down, nine to go.

Thanks for reading. I’d love for you to join my team for the next ten days. Send me a message and ask me what I’m writing about. Leave a comment. Or jump in and join the challenge. I’d love to hear from you. But either way, thanks for lending me a few minutes of your day.

Year in Review: 2014

As I look through my blog from this year I see two themes. First, I recorded more of my family life than ever before. I imagine my Twitter feed would be even better. Second, I pushed a lot of other people’s stuff. Let me explain.

We all know the importance of family. I am so happy that I have pics published of my kids’ first day of kindergarten and 4K. I’m so glad I have pics of Hans Christian in his Elmo suit at Halloween climbing those big steps, trying his hardest to keep up with the big kids (he’ll run circles around them all in six years). Katie and I at Wine Harvest festival immediately brings me back to the streets of downtown Cedarburg. I captured a bunch but I still want to capture more. I want to be more consistent and I want to keep telling a better story.

What I’ve realized is that blogging about our family stuff keeps me better involved. I think ahead. I try to make it a little more fun. I try to be creative. I do it for me and I do it for others. I’m no better than any other dads, but I’ve certainly been inspired by some great ones. I think if dads can lead their families by creating and documenting great memories, our families will be very healthy.

I also spent a good portion of 2014 promoting other people’s stuff. What I mean by this is that I aligned myself with organizations, causes, even app developers and joined their stories. It feels really good to vouch for other people’s work – especially when it’s great work. That’s the theme. But upon further reflection, the lesson learned is this: great results require work, pruning, and reworking.

For example, I worked on the beta for Pressgram, a small iOS app that allowed a user to publish a picture right to his WordPress blog. I thought it was a fantastic app, so did many other people. But John Saddington, the developer, had to discontinue it to work on something greater. Personally, I think he either pulled the plug too early or was a few yeas ahead of his time, maybe both. Now that it’s gone, I really miss the simplicity of getting a photo to my blog. But I digress. Saddington pulled the plug because he needed all his resources to be focused on his full time job plus a project 10 years in the making: Desk.

When I take this lesson and apply it to my life, I see that certain projects, even certain jobs have lead me to where I am here at the end of 2014. I worked on a big website project last year that came to a sudden end. I worked at YMCA and learned some important lessons before was hired at Pinnacle. I figured out to transition from tree care to the health and fitness industry. Jobs, projects and responsibilities grew, developed, some died, others thrived, and the result is very satisfying to me. But only through my reflection process in the last seven days have I realized this, which highlights the importance of blogging, journaling, writing of some kind. The point of this blog post isn’t to review everything that happened, but instead realize that I grew things, cut things, added things, and can see my next pursuits in life. I also see that promoting other people’s successes, other people’s projects has inspired me to pursue my own great work. I have all the tools. I have the expertise. I’m doing a good job, but I can expand and do a great job. I can be at the top of my field. I realize this after watching and walking with other great workers in my life. I’m a sports guy. 2014 was the year I studied film and put together the game plan; 2015 will be game day.


Life is a series of adjustments. And if we can take the necessary time to capture moments, reflect on them, and make the necessary adjustments, we have the opportunity to set ourselves up for greatness. I believe that. Do you?