Mindfulness without the Woo Woo

How to survive Ubud, Bali as a skeptical empiricist.

I recently spent 6 weeks in Bali, most of them living and working in Ubud. Ubud is in the middle of Bali. There’s no beach. En route towards Bali’s highest mountains, the elevation is higher. The air is a bit cooler. Everything is lush rice terraces and

It has also been made famous by the book Eat, Pray Love (EPL). I’ve been there three times but only ever seen it post-EPL. Thousands of spiritual tourists head there every year to immerse themselves in breathwork, yoga, meditation, reiki healing and chakra balancing. You can get vegan food and coconut water on every corner and a coffee colonic any time of the day.

I haven’t spent a lot of time defining my epistemological views, but words like skeptic and empiricist would likely be included. No one would ever refer to me as spiritual. And yet, among all that “woo woo” hippie stuff I still manage to thoroughly enjoy Ubud. But I can see how someone, with views similar to mine might hate the place and the people in the place and groan-worthy stuff they sometimes talk about.

So I thought I would write a little empirical survival guide to enjoying yourself in a place like Ubud or generally any place filled with lots of spiritual stuff that you think is a bunch of hokum.

Just repeat the following mantras to yourself.

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Human-powered Software Services

Your bookkeeper, now with superpowers
Your bookkeeper, now with superpowers. Bench.co

I’m very interested in human-powered software services. I recently signed up for bookkeeping services from Bench which replaced my frustrating experiences with purportedly easy to use bookkeeping apps like Quickbooks and LessAccounting. Which is not to say that those options are bad software options, but Bench takes a completely different approach that I like much better.

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Debt Free

I turned 30 last week and as a birthday present to myself I paid off the last chunk of the nearly $60,000 in debt I accumulated trying to build a software startup. I thought I would write a little about what that’s like and whether I’d do it again.

In the Summer of 2011 — four and a half years ago… dang — I quit my job.

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Customer Support for Solo Founders

Customer support is a hard and important gig. There is a reason startups have begun upgrading the title (customer success, customer happiness guru) and trying to attract higher quality talent to these positions. Good support is critical to onboarding and retaining paying customers.

When you have launched a minimum viable product (MVP) and it is getting traction and attracting paying customers, your biggest challenge will be balancing good support with further developing the product. If you did MVP correctly, your product is horrible and currently lacks a ton of features and has more than a few bugs. You will be getting a lot of bug reports, feature requests from at times frustrated and confused customers. If you did really well, the backlog will be more than you can reasonably handle.

If you are building a Micro-SaaS product like me, then you are likely handling the support load all on your own, on top of the rest of your duties as a solo founder. Navigating support as a solo founder can be a minefield and I it’s important to have a strategy before waiting into the queue of emails and tickets. Here are a few rules that have helped me build a SaaS app on my own with happy customers and a churn rate that hovers around 1%. In a follow on blog post I’ll talk a bit about my transition from a one-man team to our first support team member, which deserves a post unto itself.

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