Real tools and techniques to help you work faster, smarter and healthier.

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2021 is here and I want to hit the ground running this year. For most of us, last year we tried hard to not have our “life on pause.” This year, we won’t let a pandemic be the excuse why we don’t make huge gains on our goals.

Let’s remind ourselves — there is a lot we want to achieve in our life, and there’s no time for excuses.

To that end, I’ll cover real tools and techniques to help you work faster, smarter, and maybe even healthier. It’s what I’m calling the Ultimate Guide to Faster Productivity. …

…in movies, episodic TV shows, and music.

In 2018 I watched 81 movies, in 2019 I watched 83. But in 2020, the tally comes to a mere 64. What could explain such a severe drop in productivity? Yup, you guessed it — I got married! Pretty good trade off I’d say and I’m due for a rebound next year!

Well, I know you came here for lists, so let’s get to it!

Top 5 Movies

  1. 1917 — The “single shot” effect cannot be understated in a movie that is so gritty and intense, but also contains stunning cinematography against a backdrop of war.
  2. Tigertail — Shocked by how easy it was for this movie to tap so deeply into my Asian-American culture, from the emotional distant father and the sense of family responsibility. Worst is my ability to understand the trade off of happiness and love for said responsibility. …

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Today’s the day! Today we set goals for 2021!

My friends make fun of me for getting excited about setting goals, but I really do. For me, when I hear someone set goals, that tells me that they’re on their way to achieving something they want. They’ve done the hardest part — being self aware enough to know this is something they want, that they’re willing to devote energy towards it, and can now articulate what it is they will do.


In preparing for today and setting up my tool to write down and track my goals, I realized I’ve been doing this technique since 2017! This trip down memory road reminded me that back in 2017, Venture Out hadn’t even started and my main goal then was to draw comic strips. (Here’s one of them!) I’m appreciative that I have this to look back upon and celebrate the accomplishments along the way. …

Get ready folks, today I take a personal look back on how the past year went. I’ll be using the two techniques to conduct an annual review that was described in my writeup, Never Has It Been More Important to Plan for Next Year.

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Snapped this picture while climbing Pikes Peak, which now hangs on my wall.

But first, without even having to do much reflecting, by far the greatest positive game-changer has been getting married to the most amazing woman. Feels like we have an amazing foundation built on the right ingredients, and it’s allowed me to grow as a person.

So, I hope you enjoy my personal review of last year and can take away something from it too. It’s a bit personal, but I encourage you to also take a moment to reflect before jumping into next year. And stay tuned, my next email will be planning for 2021. …

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I love movies and one of my favorite parts is when the hero makes a great speech to rally the troops. For example, here are a couple of my favorites, Gettysburg and Independence Day.

Yet, do I ever see myself giving a giant motivational speech? No, not really, if I’m being honest with myself. I see myself more as the behind-the-scenes, chief of staff personality, able to juggle a million balls in the air and coach a team at the same time.

In other words, I know what I’m good at and what I’m not the best at. I know doing what I’m good at will propel me to greater success. And while I won’t be giving giant motivational speeches to go fight aliens, I know I can lead large meetings, and that’s good enough to keep me competitive. …

Why You’re Not Further Ahead Than You Hoped

Before we dive into 2021, full of high hopes and confidence that surely things can’t go worse than they did in the dumpster fire that was 2020, let’s take a moment to understand what’s led us to this point in our lives.

If you’re like me, then chances are you’re considered successful and have most things figured out. But if you’re really like me, then there’s a hunger inside you to achieve more. Yet, the reason why you and I haven’t achieved more is because we don’t have it all figured out.

That’s why in this article we’ll dig into why we aren’t at that next level. Here’s a hint: we haven’t been brutally honest with ourselves. …

First, my credentials and why this list might be worth your time. I’ve been traveling the world and have been to 6 of the 7 continents. (I’m coming for you Antarctica!) I’ve done a couple solo trips to Nepal, hiking in the Himilayas and meditating, and to Iceland, where I drove around the country in my Happy Camper. Been to Africa, where I walked with cheetahs, and to New Zealand, where I did an intro class to ice climbing. Also, I’ve been on numerous hikes, with one intro to mountaineering class and summited Mt. Baker.

Now that we’ve established that, on to the fun stuff — gear list! …

This is How to Control Your Story

These are stories I tell about myself and the reality of them:

  • I have deep empathy for people, yet I have snapped at people or gone 0 to 60 in frustration with my parents.
  • My genes are not good, which is why I’ve worn glasses since I was a child, gotten LASIK, and have revert back to glasses again. (And also why I haven’t done ultramarathons.)
  • I’m a DECENT leader but I’m not a GREAT leader, otherwise I would’ve “made it” by now but still explains my mild success.

But ask my wife or any of my friends and they’ll refute all of the above storylines! So what’s the truth? …

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Fast Company

I got to thinking recently, how do the great game-changers, like Oprah, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, continually reinvent and spur whole new industries. Tons of articles are written everyday about these people, that dissect their unique personal style and document their greatest advice.

But let’s be real, I’m not a CEO of a $500M company (yet). I’m WFH during this pandemic, just like most of you, and in my sweatpants. Yet, it all starts here and now. Small changes we make today will build to massive progress.

In this article, we’ll dissect some of the greats and distill it down to things we can do in our lives. …

“We’re looking for someone age 22–26… with 30 years of experience.”

No matter where you are in life and in your career, the amount of experience you have matters.

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I started my career working on the Space Shuttles. Fresh out of college with a mechanical engineering degree, I was working alongside “gray beard” engineers (old timers with figurative grey beards to indicate their wisdom) who have been working over 20 years. How am I supposed to contribute value as a freshout?!

Fast forward to today, where I now run a business project office. Even today I question my lack of experience and wish I had accumulated more.
My point is, we can always benefit from having more experiences in life. …


Johnny T. Nguyen

Founder of Venture Out, employed by NASA, and wannabe adventurer. More at

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