Food Entrepreneur Coworking

I worked in the restaurant industry for two years in my early twenties. During this time I learned a lot about how food regulations hurt entrepreneurs.

I don’t know if this is the same in every province or state, but in Alberta, Canada to sell food it needs to be prepared in a commercial kitchen. You are not allowed to sell food that you make in a home kitchen. It needs to meet certain government requirements, like having two sinks, and a number of other features.

As a result, the startup costs for creating a minimum viable food product are quite high. To do it legally you either need to find a restaurant willing to rent you their space. Or invest a lot of capital in building a ridiculously unnecessary kitchen that passes government mandates so you can legally run your food business.

The obvious solution to this issue is to abolish government. But since that is still a year or two off, the idea struck me that it would be cool to create a coworking space for food entrepreneurs. Instead of hot desks and printers, you could have a large commercial kitchen space, packaging/labeling, storage, and all the other necessary equipment and resources that you need to launch small-scale food businesses. You could even set up a small grocery store where the people who use the space can sell their products.

There are a ton of talented cooks and bakers out there, who are forced into shady backroom baking exchanges because they aren’t allowed to create small-scale food business. But in any city with more than a couple hundred thousand people, there are probably enough people to support a food coworking space.

Why I Love Starbucks

Lots of people hate on Starbucks. Whether it is the McCafé, “Starbucks customers are wasting their money” crowd, or the sipping hipster latte “Starbucks is evil” crowd, there is not much public love for the worlds biggest coffee shop.

But the market tells a different story. All around the world you can find Starbucks locations thriving and busy with customers.

I used to feel indifferent towards Starbucks, but over the past two years of traveling I have grown more and more fond for Starbucks.

There is something beautiful about knowing exactly what you are going get no matter where you are. If you’re in Korea, China, Mexico, Slovenia, or Canada your americano will taste almost the same. You know there will be some nice seats to work at, pretty quality wifi, and friendly service.

It doesn’t remind me of home, but it brings a welcome sense of consistency, an a oasis of peace, and a good location to work from no matter if I’m in Tapei, Bangkok, Calgary, or Mexico City.

How to Make Tedious Tasks Enjoyable

One of the household chores my parents assigned to me growing up was cleaning dinner dishes. It felt compulsory and as a result I would avoid it.

As I got older and did the dishes more often, I actually relized that I often enjoy washing dishes. It’s theraputic—feeling the warm water on my hands and watching as dirty plates come clean feels good.

The same goes for cleaning in general. When I am busy I often neglect tidying up, but cleaning and organizing my physical space is actually quite enjoyable.

Whether it’s cleaning, cooking, or making anything it is tempting to fixate on the end result. To feel that the process is a burden and wish for the end result (like clean dishes) without the work. But when you are actually present almost any activity can be deeply fuffilling. Everything from tie-ing your shoes, to cooking dinner, to washing the dishes can be an enjoyable activity if you stop fixating on having it done and just get lost in the doing.

There are very few activities that are objectively unpleasant. I once had to dig out a broken septic tank at my summer job, and I can say 100% that was unpleasant. But there were many other jobs there like picking up rocks, planting grape vines, and stripping plants of leaves that on the surface look tedious but were quite enjoyable if you just stuck with it.

When you have a task that will take a while, and you would prefer not to do it, the tempation can be to mentally escape. To put your mind on other things and fixate on being finished. A interesting podcast can be a great distraction during tasks like this, but often the unenjoyable task gets worse when you are fixated on finishing. Time stretches on and the it becomes almost torturous.

Almost any task will become unbearable if you are dreaming of being finished, but almost any task is enjoyable if you are present and doing it well.

It’s counter intuitive, but a lot of less enjoyable work, becomes more enjoyable the more you devote to it.

The next time you have a task to do that you don’t want to do, instead of mentally trying to escape, pay more attention to it. Pay attention to the smallest details. When you’re doing the dishes, notice the way the water feels on your hands and the plates feel under your fingers. When you’re writing a blog post you’re resisting, notice the sounds of the keys clicking as characters spill out on the page.

Instead of thinking of the finish and being somewhere else, be more present with the task. Pay more attention and see how the things that you though you didn’t enjoy become pleasant and pleasurable.

One Task at a Time

When you start your day and know that you have to finish tasks a, b, c, d, and e your mind will naturally be bouncing back and forth thinking about your various priorities. Especially if all the tasks are equally important and you are not sure where to get started.

The way to get a lot of stuff done is to focus on one individual task at a time, but focusing on one task at a time isn’t as simple as just deciding to focus on it. You need to know that your tracking of tasks is taken care of. Whether it is an app like ToDoist or a simple piece of paper, you need a way to offload the tracking of your activities from your mind so you can focus on getting the activities done.

When you’re especially busy and have lots of urgent tasks, it makes sense to want to dive straight in. The sense of emergency might help you get one thing done in the short-term, but if you need to have a fully productive day it is better to step back, make sure you’ve got all your priorities tracked, and then start the first one. Once you have noted all your tasks and gotten rid of the sense of panic and scatterbrain you will be able to get the task done efficiently and effectively.

To get a lot done you need to be present with one task at a time. To be present with one task, you need to be aware of the tasks you need to get done and have them outsourced, so they are not on your mind.

School Work Is Not Work

Work is valuable. School “work” is valueless drudgery.

Work is using your skills and energy to create value for someone else in exchange for money. School “work” is investing your skills and energy not creating value in order to avoid negative consequences.

Work is creation. School work is destruction.

These are two very different activities and confusing them as the same thing ruins a lot of people’s ability to enjoy the process of creating value for themselves and others.

Work Like You’re Playing a Game

If you have a lot on your plate, it is natural to sometimes wake up frustrated that you didn’t get more done the day before. Or to to feel afriad of all the stuff you need to do during the day in front of you.

When you feel this pressure in the present, it makes you wish you could change the past. It can lead to regret and unproductive ruminating. But the past is fixed and other than pulling lessons from it, there is no point dwelling on things you can no longer change.

I know that, but when I tell it to myself it often doesn’t help me move forward.

Instead of telling myself, “I can’t change the past,” I find the best way to quickly accept reality and get to work is to imagine that I am in a video game and that today was the scenario that was created for me. Instead of feeling burdened by what didn’t get done yesterday, I feel light and excited by the challenge of working with the odds against me.

Of course I realize that yesterday was in my control. If something didn’t go well, I pull the lessons from that. But one of the fastest ways to move on, is to zoom way out, imagine that this is all new and let go of any baggage I have about the past by imagining it a scenario in a game created to test me and help me grow.

The Decency of a Robber

Taxes suck.

Having your wealth extorted from you is not enjoyable, but what makes losing your money worse is how much work you have to do to facilitate the extortion.

A thief who comes to your house and takes your TV at least has the decency to do the moving work. He doesn’t expect you to help him take it off the wall mount. He doesn’t come back in 4 weeks demanding a new TV if your stolen TV breaks. He knows that he is taking your stuff and does the work involved to take it.

The government expects you to do the work. They are like a thief that invades your house, forces you to help them take your most valuable possessions and then decides to move into your guest bedroom.

Robbery and mugging are terrible, but compared to the government everyday thieves have great customer service.

Celebrate vs. Escape

Days off are not to escape, they are to celebrate the hard work that you’ve done. You aren’t entitled to enjoy them, you earn the ability to enjoy them with your hard work.

By showing up, working hard, and doing your best over a period of time you earn the ability to celebrate.

This is something most people don’t understand. They use the weekend and vacations as a way to escape from the responsibilities of daily life, they imagine that if their employer grants them more vacation time they would be happier. What they miss is that a celebration is empty unless you have something to celebrate.

If you aren’t working hard, if you aren’t proud of the work you do, the break will feel empty and you will be driven to escapism. Only when you work hard can you be present and enjoy your time off.

One Day at a Time

New Years is a time when people are thinking about making big changes. Most people fixate on long-term results and the outcomes they want in the distant future. A distant goal can be a good motivator, but for me what has worked best is to focus on consistent daily action in the direction of my goals.

Right now I have four activities that I am committed to every single day and I use a simple app called Way of Life that keeps track of them.

After you reach a certain point (around 10 or 15 days for me), the pain of losing your streak becomes a great motivator. Even at 1 am when sleep is calling, I will sit down and blog to protect the streak.

I’ve built some solid momentum over the past two months:

  • Meditating 57 days in a row
  • Blogging 54 days in a row
  • Writing Gratitude 41 days in a row
  • Reading 15 minutes of Mastering Bitcoin 11 days in a row

I know that taking care of these activities each day will lead me in a direction that makes my life better.

For each daily activity, I have very low standards. Most days I meditate for 15 minutes in the morning, but 1 minute of quiet, focused breathing counts.

Some days I will write out long blog posts, but even a small 100-word post counts.

Some days I will write out a detailed paragraph about someone I’m grateful for. But, even writing their name and thinking about why I appreciate them counts.

The bar is low so that even when I am tired, sick, and disconnected from my goals, it is still possible to jump over.

If you’re interested in the idea of setting daily challenges instead of results-focused goals, Isaac Morehouse has a great post on the topic that I first read as a Praxis participant in the fall of 2015. It motived to experiment more with daily challenges and that experimentation led me to my current view on the value of daily challenges over result focused goals. Check out his post here: https://isaacmorehouse.com/2015/09/03/tiny-ridiculous-daily-challenges-work-better-for-me-than-big-goals/

All My Blog Posts From 2017

I wrote 67 blog posts in 2017. They cover lot’s of different topics, but the two main areas of focus are work and cryptocurrency.

Here they all sorted by topic.

Books, Movies, Podcasts

1) Men of Opinion vs. Men of Action
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/01/men-opinion-vs-men-action/
The types of people who care about what others think, instead of focusing on what they do.

3) The Quality Without a Name
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/01/quality-without-name/
Christopher Alexander’s idea applied to people.

6) Re-Reading Harry Potter
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/03/re-reading-harry-potter/
I re-read all the Harry Potter books this spring and wrote out some of the ideas that stuck out.

12) Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield | Notes & Quotes
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/09/turning-pro-steven-pressfield/
The follow up to The War of Art is a fantastic read for anyone trying to do something hard.

13) The Fish That Ate the Whale | Notes & Quotes
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/09/fish-ate-whale/
The story of banana titan Samuel Zemurray.

26) The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz | Notes & Quotes
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/hard-thing-hard-things-notes-quotes/
Ben Horowitz shares the trials and tribulations of building a company.

27) Commerce Brings Light to the Darkest Places (Wonder Woman)
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/commerce-brings-light-darkest-places-wonder-woman/
Shining some light on an easy to overlook sign from the great Wonder Woman.

37) Masters of Scale Notes: Episodes 1-4
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/masters-scale-notes-episodes-1-4/
My notes on the first half of the Masters of Scale podcast.

Work

10) Sitting and Working
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/08/sitting-and-working/
A big part of getting things done is just getting started.

14) Commitment is Key
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/09/commitment-is-key/
Personal growth happens when you commit to something you don’t know you can do.

15) Self-Motivation and Commitment
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/10/self-motivation-commitment-obsession/
We focus too much on the idea of motivation and too little on commitment and courage.

20) Making Shitloads of Money
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/making-shitloads-money/
Effort does not equal value created, but to learn how to create lots of value you need to work hard.

23) How to Get a Remote Job
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/get-remote-job/
Jobs are dynamic.

24) Rationalize vs. Actualize
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/rationalize-vs-actualize/
You choose your future dozens of times a day.

25) Great Work Requires Courage
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/great-work-requires-courage/
Courage isn’t just for war movies.

28) Perspective and Digital Work
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/the-importance-of-perspective/
You control how you feel about your work.

35) Momentum at Work
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/momentum-at-work/
Doing small things well leads to big results.

36) Committing to Work
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/committing-to-work/
Don’t think of your job as continuing forever.

45) Forged Not Built
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/12/forged-not-built/
Don’t prepare, jump in and learn as you go.

47) Why Businesses Hire
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/12/why-businesses-hire/
Don’t get lost in the abstraction of a job.

48) You Don’t Like Your Job Because You Suck at Your Job
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/12/dont-like-job-suck-job/
Most negative feelings about work are driven by disatisfaction with your own performance.

53) Learning To Work and The Great Divorce
https://www.yours.org/content/learning-to-work-and-the-great-divorce-71f3ff193e3a
Learning hurts.

60) Creating a New Standard
https://www.yours.org/content/creating-a-new-standard–c877a981aa6c
When you make something great, people come to expect greatness.

64) Build Your Own McDonald’s
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/12/build-your-own-mcdonalds/
A lesson from The Founder.

Cryptocurrency

29) The Beautiful Chaos of Cryptocurrency
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/beautiful-chaos-cryptocurrency/
The awesomeness of a market for money.

32) What Is Bitcoin?
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/what-is-bitcoin/
Some thoughts about bitcoin.

33) Why Cryptocurrency Matters
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/why-cryptocurrency-matters/
Thinking big picture about cryptocurrency.

41) Culture and Betting
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/12/culture-and-betting/
The power of open prediction markets.

42) Cats on the Blockchain
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/12/cryptokitties/
Some thoughts on CryptoKitties.

49) Technical “Analysis”
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/12/logic-technical-analysis/
Technical Analysis is dumb.

52) Don’t Let Crypto-FOMO Ruin The Revolution
https://www.yours.org/content/don-t-let-crypto-fomo-ruin-the-revolution–5d4d54e106a2
Don’t lose the forest for the trees.

54) Tipping For Everything
https://www.yours.org/content/tipping-for-everything-1b3e4f60cb63
How small payments can make the world run smoother.

56) Assumptions and Arguments for 1mb Blocksize
https://www.yours.org/content/assumptions-and-arguments-for-1mb-blocksize-3bcdf8612060
Thoughts on the block size limit.

58) Cryptocurrency Calendar Idea
https://www.yours.org/content/bitcoin-cash-calendar-idea–2d855039e06e

59) A Store of Value is Relative
https://www.yours.org/content/a-store-of-value-is-relative-b509706079f1
Thoughts on the BTC is a store of value arguement.

61) For Cryptocurrency Marketing is Overrated and Underrated
https://www.yours.org/content/for-cryptocurrency-marketing-is-overrated-and-underrated–a154a18cec0c

65) Which is Bitcoin?
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/12/which-is-bitcoin/
What is the true bitcoin.

67) The Nights Watch | Trusting a Network with Fewer Nodes
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/12/the-nights-watch/
Solution to the risks that come from node centralization.

Liberty

2) Freelancing and Immigration
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/01/freelancing-and-immigration/
How the future of work is making borders irrelevent.

40) Uber Heroes
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/12/uber-heroes/Uber-Heroes
Uber drivers are heros.

44) A Generation Without Borders
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/12/generation-without-borders/
The internet is disolving the borders between nations.

Personal Development

7) Human Being Owners Manual
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/05/human-owners-manual/
Books that have changed my life.

8) Travel and Learning What You Like
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/06/travel-learning-like/
How travel helps you learn what you like.

9) Becoming Who You’re Meant To Be
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/08/becoming-youre-meant/
Self-improvement means leaving part of your old self behind.

16) Old Rules vs. New Rules
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/old-rules-vs-new-rules/
What different generations are optimizing for.

18) Making Good Decisions
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/making-good-decisions/
Not being afraid to make a choice.

19) Gaining Perspective
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/gaining-perspective/
You have the power to change how you interpret a situation.

22) Empathy as a Superpower
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/empathy-as-a-superpower/
People misunderstand the value of empathy.

30) Patience + Persistence
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/patience/
The two keys to success.

34) Taking Education for Granted
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/taking-education-granted/
It’s easy to overlook what you are learning.

38) Three Morning Actions to Make Your Day More Productive
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/three-morning-actions-make-day-productive/

39) The Labour (or Wordcount) Theory of Blogging
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/12/labour-wordcount-theory-blogging/
More words does not equal a better post.

43) How to Learn What You’ve Learned
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/12/learn-youve-learned/

46) Being Remembered Isn’t Worth It
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/12/remember-isnt-worth/
Live your life for enjoyment, not for history.

50) Gap and Gain
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/12/gap-and-gain/
Look at how far you’ve made it, not how far you have to go.

62) My Four Favorite Motivational Videos
https://www.yours.org/content/my-four-favorite-motivational-videos-bdff27efeb16

66) Easy Money is Never Easy
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/12/easy-money-never-easy/
The desire for results without work will leave you with poor results.

Other

4) Trump and Scapegoats
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/02/trump-and-scapegoats/
Rene Girad’s idea applied to how people view Trump.

63) Free Likes vs. Paid Votes
https://www.yours.org/content/free-likes-vs–paid-votes–3e607b15a3b5
How paying to vote on posts changes a social network.

55) Four Yours.org Use Cases
https://www.yours.org/content/four-yours-org-use-cases-f469870ef326

57) Three Unrelated Predictions for 2018
https://www.yours.org/content/three-unrelated-predictions-for-2018–61ce2682ea68

Updates

5) So Far This Year Update | Travel, Podcasts, Writing, Reading
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/03/far-year-update/
A scan through the first quarter of 2017.

11) Introducing: Game of Thrones Philosophy Breakdown
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/09/introducing-game-of-thrones-philosophy-breakdown/
I started a new podcast this year with my good friend James Walpole!

17) One Month in Mexico City
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/one-month-mexico/
Initial thoughts on our base for the next 6 months.

21) My Two Best Purchases This Year
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/two-best-purchases-year/
A laptop stand and an app.

31) 177 Episodes
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/11/177-episodes/
We’ve podcasted A LOT since 2014.

51) 12 Days of Yours.org
http://ryanaferguson.com/2017/12/12-days-org/
Recap of my 12 day experiment blogging on yours.org.