The AM Frequency Podcast Ep. 4: Noah Scalin

Noah ScalinLoved chatting with artist and creativity guru, Noah Scalin. We had a great conversation about how he found his way to making a living as a creative and how he’s inspired many more people to integrate art and creativity into their lives and work.

Here are some of the links and resources mentioned in this episode —


Skull-A-Day (Noah Scalin)

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life (Twyla Tharp)

Art of Asking (Amanda Palmer)

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (Betty Edwards)


Black Iris (location host) –

Lowland Hum (theme music) –

Skull-A-Day –

Creative Sprint  –

Another Limited Rebellion (Noah’s company) –

League of Space Pirates (Noah’s band) –

Noah’s Website

How to come up with

How to Come up with 1000 Product Ideas

Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or just looking for an idea for a product or service to market in your spare time, coming up with that great idea is the most crucial and challenging task. Here’s a simple way to generate at least 1000 product and/or service ideas. Let’s begin:

Step 1: Know Thyself — Write Down 10 Things About You

To start things off, write down 10 things about yourself. Are you single? Married? Do you play golf? Are you short? Are you diabetic? Take a moment write down this list of “I am”s. Here’s mine, as an example:

  1. I am a man
  2. I am a father
  3. I am a husband
  4. I am a musician
  5. I am a lawyer
  6. I am a Mets fan
  7. I am tall
  8. I am a home owner
  9. I am a curly-haired person
  10. I am mixed ethnically

Step 2: Problemos — Write Down 10 Problems Related to Each Characteristic

Now take each of these characteristics, qualities, hobbies, whatever, and write down 10 problems (or needs) for each. These can be serious or silly, but they need to be actual problems, wants, or needs. Draw from your own experience. Take time to think through actual problems that you’ve had or problems that you’ve observed in other folks fitting this description. For example, what are 10 problems that fathers have? My list might look something like this:

  1. Lack of Time with Kids
  2. Lack of Time for Exercise and Rest
  3. Financial Stress from Supporting a Family
  4. Reduced Time for Career Changes and Side Ventures
  5. Lack of Child Rearing Knowledge
  6. Decrease in Physical Contact from Wife (who has kids hanging all over her all day)
  7. Lack of Time with Friends
  8. Risks — Needing Insurance and Protection Against Big Losses, Injury, and Health Crises
  9. Need for Father/Child Activity Ideas
  10. Lack of Contact/Connection with Children After Divorce

Repeat this exercise until you’ve created a list of 10 problems for each of the 10 characteristics you listed. Now you have 100 problems to solve!

Step 3: Solutions — Write Down 10 Products or Services that Help Solve Each Problem

Now comes the fun (and hard) part. Once you have your list of 100 problems to solve, make a list of 10 possible product or services that would solve each problem, alleviate each need, or make that person’s life better. For example, let’s say I wanted to address problem #5 above (Lack of Child Rearing Knowledge and Skills), my list might look something like this:

  1. An online support forum or Q&A site for dads related to child rearing
  2. Research a specific child rearing topic (e.g. discipline) and create a ‘crash course’ for dads (with references to the best books you’ve found)
  3. Organize a ‘fathers meetup’ in your town to connect local dads
  4. Organize a one-day event for soon-to-be dads (monetizing through sponsors and/or ticket sales) featuring speakers and networking
  5. Create and market a ‘daddy boot-camp’ course online (or live)
  6. Create a podcast for dads, interviewing experts in the field of child rearing
  7. Create a newsletter for dads, highlighting good articles and books on parenting, sharing stories of victories and failures
  8. Write a story (or cartoon) that helps illustrate good fathering skills in some way (sell the E-book on Kindle)
  9. Consulting large companies on how they can provide better support for fathers in the workplace (classes, activities, paternity leave, etc.)
  10. Become a motivational speaker for dads

Since this problem was knowledge-based, all of the ideas were related to educating and supporting fathers. Some problems will lend themselves to services, others to ideas and some to both products and services. Either one is totally fine, just do your best to address the specific problem.

This step will take longer than steps 1 and 2, so I suggest taking on 1–3 problems then taking a break (e.g. go for a walk or run). Let your mind wander on your breaks and then come back to the drawing board fresh. Or, attack a few problems each day until you’ve worked through them all. This is also a great activity for break-time at work.

Do not be afraid of bad or crazy ideas. Do not judge your ideas. Your only goal is to get to 10 for each problem.

At the end of it all you will have 1000 ideas to call your own. Many will be bad/silly or may have been thought of by someone else (sometime that’s a good thing, since it validates the idea). That’s ok! In producing such a large number of ideas you will be left with a few gems worth investigating and just maybe you’ll find one that changes the game.


I hope this helps you if you’re feeling stuck or don’t know where to get started as you launch into a new venture. Ultimately, launching products and services is all about solving problems for a target market. That’s what you’ve done here, perhaps without knowing it. Here’s a more technical understanding:

Step 1: Identify a Market (e.g. independent musicians)

Step 2: Identify Pain Points and Problems in That Market (e.g. lack of money for recordings)

Step 3: Develop Products and Services to Solve a Problem for That Market (e.g. a crowdfunding website)

Obviously, there are many other steps to take in developing a viable product or service, which many others have dealt with elsewhere. But, I hope this helps you see just how many possibilities there are out there for you. Please leave a comment with thoughts and share some ideas!

How to Read Good

How to Read Good

Over the past few years, I’ve read quite a few books in an effort to learn how to be a better entrepreneur and a better person. It’s been amazing and I’ve learned a ton. There’s only one problem, I didn’t do a great job of taking notes, so there’s a lot more that I don’t remember than I do. And much of what I do remember, I’m not sure exactly where to find it. One other problem — I’m kinda slow and I have a tough time finishing books.

If you’re like me and have any of these problems, I want to share a new tool (beta version) that I’ve developed to help combat these issues and more. If you’re interested, I’ll write more about the ideas and, er…science this is based on. Suffice it to say that I’ve drawn on the collective wisdom of others to create this two page journal-style tool.

If you’re a big reader or aspiring big-reader, I’d love for you to try this out and send any feedback. I’m sure this will only be the first iteration, so please let me know how this can be improved.

I’ll write more about the method and components later, but I really wanted to just get this up to get the conversation going. Hope it helps you get the most out of your reading!

Without further ado… here’s the ReadWise Journal (version 0.9)

A Daily Practice for Dads (and Other Busy Folks)

IMG_3073For the past six months or so, I’ve been binging on the writing and podcasts of James Altucher. If you don’t know who he is, go look him up (especially the podcasts). Short version — he’s an eccentric and off beat writer, investor, businessman, and chess prodigy. Right up my alley.

Altucher talks a lot about having a Daily Practice. His practice involves caring for the physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual side of his life. I highly recommend checking out his stuff (he talks about the Daily Practice quite a bit) and can write more about it later for the lazy (er, busy) folks out there.

All along though, I’ve struggled to figure how to actually do some kind of daily practice at this point in my life. I’ve got two small kids, a full time job, and a couple of part time hustles. Really the hardest part (time-wise) is the kiddos because they awaken at or before dawn like roosters and the older one (age 5) manages to stay awake almost every night until 9:30 or 10:00. No, I’m not letting her stay up on purpose, it’s just that she’s smarter than me.

So, how do I find time to grow and care for my mind, soul, body, etc? Well, I’ve set a simple goal for myself. I call it my 10, 20, 30:

10 Minutes of Meditation

20 Pages of Any Book

30 Minutes of Exercise

These three practices take about an hour to complete, sometimes less using a trick I’ll share at the end. That’s just about as much time as I can get to myself these days while still getting 6–7 hours of sleep every night.

So, why these three things? Well, in my study of people who have been able to accomplish some pretty cool things, most are voracious readers and many spend time in meditation every day. Trying these out for myself, I’ve found the first two habits to add tremendous value to my life. Exercise has always been important to me, but since having kids it’s taken a serious hit. Here are some thoughts on why and how I execute the 10, 20, 30.

Meditating. I didn’t know much about meditation before giving it a try. However, over the last six months of trying it out, I’ve found that it adds a clarity and calm that I’ve struggled to find in this crazy season of life. I feel more connected, to myself, to my family, and to God. For me, it helps me be honest with myself, because I can actually stop with all the distractions and just be. Try it. And yes, there’s an app if you need one to do anything in life, like me. Check out Calm.

Reading. As the classic 80s PSA once told me, reading is fundamental. (Wish I were funnier, but that’s all I’ve got) Seriously though, if you want to grow, build something, whatever, it’s been decided by science that you must read. Makes sense though and I have learned quite a bit since committing to reading every day. But sitting down with a book of any length has always felt overwhelming and there are so many books that I started but never finished. But 20 pages feels doable and has been. Add that up over time and you’re reading almost 3 books a month. Take it to the bank. Here are a few books that I’ve been reading lately.

Exercise. As for exercise, I just want to live and apparently exercise is really good for that. Again, I set the bar low — a 30-minute walk totally counts (that’s what I do about 50% of the time). Again, science has decided that even just a short amount of exercise each day has a myriad of benefits including fighting physical and emotional ailments. I’m not sure I’ve felt any kind of miraculous change, but I do feel a sense of strength and confidence when I complete a workout. Long walks have also been really important in gaining clarity and with creative thinking. So many good ideas have come while out on the pavement walking it out. Developing the habit is the most important thing — as time opens up, I know that will pay off.

Shortcuts! Here are a couple of shortcuts if one hour seems like too much of a time commitment or if you’re pressed for time on a given day. Go the gym and walk on the treadmill (or ride a bike) while reading a book. Yes, multitasking is not always ideal and you’ll look like a giant nerd walking on a treadmill with a book. But it gets the job done.

If you can’t find 10 minutes to meditate or that feels like an eternity, break it up into two five minute sessions. Even just five minutes is a great place to start.

I can write more about these things if you’re interested. Just let me know in the comments (or wherever) if you’d like to hear more about taking time for growth as a dad. And please respond with your daily habits or tactics for staying sharp and growing as a human being.