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Too-Busy Chris Hardwick Shares His Time-Management Philosophy

Chris Hardwick is considered one of the busiest TV professionals today, hosting and contributing to a wide range of shows across several networks. The man somehow does too much with too little time, and here’s how he does it without burning out.


by Fausto Mendez / photo by Fast Co.

    When Chris Hardwick isn’t hosting the new Comedy Central talk show @Midnight, he’s hosting AMC’s The Talking Dead, voicing Nickelodeon cartoons, getting nerdy on BBC’s The Nerdist, releasing podcasts, cracking up audiences as a stand-up comedian, pitching his next project, or…. well, the list goes on. I think you get the picture. He’s obviously Superman’s buddy the Flash in a suit & tie, or maybe he knows something we don’t.

    His achievements in the past few years would make anyone jealous. Thankfully, he’s willing to share his secret to success: utterly amazing time management. He shares 7 eye-opening tips in an interview with Fast Co, and the one about overcoming a creative block (similar to a “writer’s block”) is perhaps the most inspiring. 

"Even if what you’re coming up with is gibberish at first, you’re unsqueaking the wheel, and you might not notice the benefits right away, but after 15 minutes or so, you’ll find them. You just have to push through it. There’s no trick."

   Though he finds value in pushing through a creative or even physical slump, he warns not to over exhaust yourself.

"Your body tells you when you’ve taken on more than capacity. That’s when you start getting really anxious, or getting insomnia … It’s important to take some time off to recharge, even if it’s just a day or two. Sometimes my girlfriend and I will go to Disneyland, just to take a day off.”

   Keep in mind that you have limits. Sometimes, pushing through the block isn’t worth it, and your relentless drive starts to backfire. Learn how to read your body. Know what it needs in every moment, and give it that.

The Most Important Time-Management Skill: Know Yourself

    Knowing your body and decoding its messages are invaluable productivity tools, and that’s something I quickly learned after college. It’s amazing what a difference my level of performance is now compared to the first year out of school.

    For example, knowing the difference between a caffeine comedown and actual exhaustion is critical for a creative professional like myself, but I had no idea how to tell the difference during my student years. I’d caffeinate myself for way too long with way too much, and little did I know that less caffeine in the right moments goes much farther than tons of caffeine all the time.

    In a similar lesson, I had to figure out that exercise has a very positive effect on my my mental state. My focus and energy were annoyingly inconsistent as a student. As a professional, I discovered the difference between over-exhaustion and exhaustion from not being fit enough. Little did I know that my brain’s energy is directly affected by the state of fitness of my body. The more fit I am, the more my brain can handle, and I could have only learned this lesson by first learning myself.

    Knowing yourself is one the most important time-management skills that you’ll ever develop. Start there, and everything else will surprisingly fall into place. 

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Illegally Perfecting All-Natural Ice Cream with Nitrogen in Silicon Valley

Stanford Grad Robyn Fisher started her business by illegally selling all-natural ice cream on the street next to unemployed chefs. Today, she’s the proud owner of the super popular Smitten Ice Cream shop.


By Fausto Mendez / Photo by Robyn Fisher

    Wired interviewed Stanford Grad Robyn Fisher on her recent successes as the owner of a made-to-order, all-natural ice cream shop that started out as an illegal operation on the street.

Wired: When you launched, it was sort of a pirate ice cream enterprise wasn’t it? Not strictly legal?

Fisher: At that time I started getting my ice cream out there in 2009, all these chefs had been laid off from restaurants. So they went to the streets to sell their food, and I joined them. We used Twitter and Facebook and about 12 of us would set up in a park or on the street and say “come and get it before the cops come.” It was totally not legal. We would get hundreds of people coming, and it was amazing. I learned so much from all of those street food chefs about pricing, marketing all sorts of things.”

    Fisher partnered up with laid off chefs to improve her recipes and business model. Around the same time, she also perfected the art of using nitrogen, all-natural ingredients, and a custom mixer to instantly freeze the ice cream sans freezer, and it’s not just flashy tech for flashy tech’s sake.

    The nitrogen technique creates the perfect texture in ice cream because the instant freeze enables her to skip some of the chemicals that ice cream makers inject into their product in order to achieve similar textures. Fisher does a really great job of explaining the science behind the cream during the interview.

"Wired: I know ice cream is cold, but what does the nature of ice crystals have to do with how good the ice cream is?

Fisher: The general gist of it is freezing speed makes all the difference in crystal size, and the smaller, the better for mouth taste and creaminess. Freezing speed is correlated with freezing temperature. So if you can freeze it really, really cold, you can get smaller ice crystals.

And if you can freeze really cold, you can freeze really fast. The benefit of that is if you make small enough batches you can freeze to order. Therefore you don’t need any of those extra ingredients that make ice cream far from natural.”

    Smitten Ice Cream is now one of San Francisco’s favorite ice cream spots, and it continues to reach new heights of fame as travelers from around the nation and the world visit the shop during their stay at the Bay Area.

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Four Tips to Help You Pitch to Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors

Pitching is perhaps one of the hardest things to do in business. You’re asking for a lot of money and - even more terrifying - faith in you and your ideas. Here’s some tips to seal the deal for your next pitch.


By Fausto Mendez

    Back in March, Kate Rogers published an insightful piece on tips about pitching your ideas to VC investors, but the same tips can apply to many other types of pitches. These tips will stay relevant for decades to come. Here’s the second one.

Tip #2: 

"…one of the biggest mistakes companies are making today is thinking too small. That won’t get this VC veteran’s attention."

Finish reading this article at Fox Business.

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Don’t Say These Five Things in Your Next Business Email to Someone Important


By Fausto Mendez

    Encourage intelligent and useful responses in your next business email to someone important by avoiding phrases that miscommunicate your intentions or that make you look like a dumb robotic (thoughtless) employee.

    Business emails are a tricky thing; actually, navigating the social norms of non-business email can be rather weird too. Email culture carries a lot of influence from the good-ol’ snail mail days, and it’s also influenced by well-intentioned manners (or lack of) that can turn fairly standard conversations with important folks into awkward moments of miscommunication. With that in mind, you should probably avoid the following five phrases in your next business email - whether or not the recipient is “important” - in order to sound like a real and intelligent person that deserves a real and intelligent response.

    Of course, you may find that there really are situations in which the following five phrases should be used, but more often than not, they are overused without a second thought - thrown in because we don’t know what else to write.

Don’t Say, “I Hope You Are Well.”

    Please, don’t say this unless you really know the person and actively do things to show that you care because if you don’t actively care, the recipient will assume that you just want something from them. And that’s actually OK, but successful people tend to be very realistic. So if you’re trying to manipulate them, they will sense it right away. After all, they didn’t get to where they are by being naive to manipulation. They don’t like it, and they try to gravitate towards people that don’t try to manipulate them.

Don’t Say, “I Thought I Would Reach Out.”

    Obviously, you had that thought; otherwise, you wouldn’t have reached out. Important people don’t have time for thoughtless conversation. By limiting your email’s content to what is immediately relevant, you show the recipient that you understand how valuable their time is. Important people always value time over anything else, so if you throw in meaningless phrases like this, you are basically saying one of two things: 1. Your time is not valuable. or 2. I’m too stupid to understand how valuable your time is, so I don’t deserve a response.

Don’t Say, “Can I Pick Your Brain.”

    As I noted earlier, there are times when these overused phrases are certainly appropriate, and this is probably one that is harder to misuse. But the reason it’s often misused is not because it’s not relevant, not polite or utterly thoughtless. Actually, it’s misused because you asking for a very important person to spend their extremely expensive time and wisdom on you, not on anything else that he or she would like to get done today. If the recipient is not in a good mood, what seems like a compliment may actually be interpreted as an insult. 

Don’t Say, “Bounce an Idea Off You.”

    This is probably better than “can I pick your brain” because at least you’re going into it with the attitude that you’re going to contribute to the brainstorming that you’d like the recipient to do. It’s not just the recipeitn doing the work; however, it suffers from the same major problem. You probably misunderstand how much it costs for the recipient to do anything for anyone.

Don’t Say, “Sincerely Yours.”

    It’s really weird that we still say this. The phrase really belongs in a love letter, and even just “sincerely” doesn’t sound right. Of course, you are being sincere, so why would you need to say it? The fact is you don’t need to say it, and if you can come up with anything that’s more meaningful or relevant, you’ll probably stand out amongst the other tens, hundreds or thousands of emails that the recipient received today.

    Thanks to Fast Company for the original list of five phrases, but FC’s article didn’t suggest substitutions for these phrases. We offer the following suggestions.

What to Say Instead

    If you’re looking for some good substitutions when avoiding the above phrases, the best thing to do is to say something real. In other words, say something useful or relevant. I might also suggest being entertaining or funny, but that could cause more problems than it solves. If you are not familiar with the recipient’s sense of humor, you should probably avoid humor at all cost.

    More importantly, if you’re asking for something, such as to “bounce an idea off” the recipient, bring something valuable to the table that you can offer in return. I know this can be really hard in some situations, such as when a student reaches out to an experienced executive, but even the inexperienced have valuable info or stories to share. Everyone sees the world from a different perspective, and the important people that you’re trying to reach via email are surrounded by people - more like robots - that never have anything important to share. So you really make yourself stand out if you can offer something useful in return for the favor.

    No matter what happens, you should always thank the recipient for sharing their valuable time with you. That’s actually the signoff I use in most of my serious emails. Later on, I may choose a less serious signoff, such as “may the force be with you”, but I certainly make sure the recipient knows that I know their time is extremely valuable. While the above five phrases can be easily misinterpreted in many situations, thanking someone for their time is always a safe bet.

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