My 10 Items – Stripped Down Bug Out Bag

Recently a family member has turned me onto a TV show on The History Channel in which contestants are left fully alone in a wilderness survival situation and the person who “survives” the longest wins a sum of money.

I really enjoy the TV show and one of the unique elements of the show is that each contestant can only choose 10 items to take with them (aside from clothing and a few other things). It got me thinking… if I ever have to bug out I have a pretty hefty bag and each member of my family has their own unique bag… but if I was limited to 10 items what would they be?

Bear in mind of course that my objective isn't to win a TV show prize but to last an undetermined amount of time outside of the city in a true survival scenario.

I am presuming of course that I already have my standard EDC items on me. Clothing, a pocket knife, my handgun, and a simple flashlight, and a few other things. With that in mind what follows is my 10 items that would make up my “limited” bug out bag. In no particular order…

Number 1: Henry Survival Rifle and .22lr Ammo

I love my Henry Survival Rifle. It packs down small with the barrel, frame, and magazines stowing in the stock of the rifle.

It has proven reliable for decades of US Military and civilian use. .22 ammo is cheap, stores pretty well, and you can keep A LOT of it in a tight space.

This should be an effective tool for hunting small game and getting enough meat for a small family in most environments.

Click Here to Learn More ~$400 + Ammo

Number 2: Solar Panels W/ Anker USB Portable Charger

I have purchased and tested a number of portable solar panels and I think this 28W BigBlue is really excellent especially for the price. Pair this with the 26800mAh Anker Power Charger and you should be able to store enough electricity from a single day of good sunlight to be able to charge all the other various things (see my below list) for about a week or more.

Instead of packing a ton of batteries, I'm effectively choosing electronic items below (like my flashlight, lighter, etc) that all recharge via USB and thus I can capture power from the sun, store it in the Anker charger, and then recharge my other various tools as needed.

For this particular article we are focused on only 10 things but consider the number of items you can source these days that can be recharged with USB power. Any type of battery, small vacuums, lanterns, coolers, heaters, bug zappers, and more.

Below I talk about a lighter, ham radio, and headlamp that will all recharge from my solar panels with power bank setup.

Click Here For the Solar Panels $73.96. | Click Here For the Anker Charger $59.99

Number 3: Trauma and First-Aid Kit

Crap happens and any bug-out bag without appropriate medical supplies is a bad situation waiting to happen.

Basic things like a good band-aid can prevent nasty infections and of course, more serious injuries can require a splint, tourniquet, heavy gauze, etc.

I would make sure your medical kit includes at the minimum: Tourniquet, Pressure Bandage, Chest Seals, Hemostatic Gauze, Elastic Wrap, basic first aid stuff like band-aids, and a splint.

I think the Wind River kit from Mountain Man Medical has about everything you could need. I would add a moldable splint to the kit and then call it good.

Click here for the Wind River $190. | Click here for the Moldable Splint $6.99.

Number 4: 1-2 Large Heavy-Duty Tarps

Tarps can be handy for a number of things but the obvious critical use is shelter building.

Shelter along with food and water is one of the three critical elements to any survival situation.

Also, tarps can be used to collect rain water.

A good tarp is going to set you up for quick and long-term success in most environments. The right tarps can also double as a thermal blanket.

Click here to learn more $34.99

Number 5: USB Rechargeable Arc Lighter

Obviously, you need a fire starter.

I've used a fair number of Ferro rods, and the “everstrike” style lighters but my current favorite option is an “Arc Lighter.”

Arc Lighters run on electricity, not lighter fluid. Unlike a Ferro rod, an Arc lighter works every time and isn't susceptible to wind.

A charge will last a long time on these things but of course, you can recharge it from the solar panels.

Click Here to Learn More $12.99

Number 6: Baofeng UV-5R+ Ham Two Way Radio W/ USB Recharger

Communications are important in any survival situation.

While I happen to be a licensed HAM operator, you don't have to be licensed to buy and own a HAM radio, and in an emergency, you don't need a license to operate the radio either. Sounds like a no-brainer right?

Also, a Ham is going to give you access to emergency frequencies and the NOAA weather broadcast. You don't need a traditional emergency radio if you have a HAM.

By default, most handheld radios will require an AC outlet to recharge but the handheld radio I recommend will recharge using a specialized but low-cost USB cable once again meaning I can use my solar power to recharge my radio!

Click Here to Get The Radio $29.99.Click Here to Get the USB Charger $5.99

Number 7: 620 LB Paracord With Integrated Fishing Line

Some time Google the phrase “survival uses of paracord” and spend the 10 minutes it will take to read all the various ways paracord can come in handy in a bad situation.

You want to make sure you purchase quality paracord and I prefer a paracord that is made up of fishing line, snare wire, and tinder among other things.

This means I can buy a single product (about 100 feet of strong rope/cord) and also have in it some fishing line and tinder if needed.

Click here for my favorite paracord $29.98

Number 8: Bushcraft Survival Knife

I don't think I have to explain the value of a good knife in a survival situation. You want a strong, high-quality, fixed blade.

This is one of those types of products where you can spend $20 up to $2000 if you really want to. Here are two options worth considering:

Marakniv 4.1″ Fixed Blade Knife $17.99
Celtibero Cocobolo Knife $129.95

Number 9: Water Filter & Canteen

Technology has had a great impact on water filter options in the last 15 years.

You probably have a few Life Straws sitting around somewhere but I've recently upgraded to the “Survivor Filter” Kit.

This tool will filter 264 gallons per filter and comes with 5 extra filters. That is a lot of water.

In addition, is will screw onto a traditional water bottle which I think is a nice feature despite the small profile.

Click here to see the “Survivor Filter” $40.00

Number 10: USB Rechargeable Multi-Mode Headlamp

In an ideal world I would have a number of lantern, handheld light, and headlamp options but if I'm stuck with only 10 items I'll take a really good headlamp.

Once again I'm choosing a headlamp that can be USB recharged so I can utilize my solar panels.

A good headlamp should have some different brightness levels and an adjustable head as well.

Click here for the QS Headlamp I Use

If you are interested the TV show referenced above is “Alone.” You can find at least one of the 7 seasons on Prime, Hulu, and Netflix.

Space matters and while you may not be limited to 10 items in your bag, making sure you have the best gear matters!

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How to Launch A Successful Podcast

In December 2015 when my business partner suggested we launch a podcast I wasn't convinced. I was certainly familiar with podcasts but had never loyally followed or listened to one.

My initial response was a common one for me, “that sounds like a lot of work.” I'm always skeptical of new initiatives that don't have a clear ROI and podcasting was in that category.

A few months later I attended a series of presentations at the Traffic and Conversion Summit about launching a podcast successfully and I came home from that event ready to move forward.

Soon after we launched The Concealed Carry Podcast which quickly grew to be a top 2-3 podcast in our industry and as of today our “podcast network” consist of 4 podcasts.

What follows is the answer to the common question I receive “how do I launch a successful podcast?”

Finding Your Place in An Ever-Expanding Podcast Library

In 2016 when we launched our first podcast about 25% of the US adult population had ever listened to a podcast. Now in 2020 that number has about doubled.

Podcasts are effectively on-demand radio shows and as broadcast radio loses ground every year podcasting takes up that lost volume and more.

As such the podcast realm which was already plenty heavy is growing ever more saturated with new content and shows. Standing out and winning in this growing competitive platform is very challenging.

While not as difficult as starting a successful YouTube channel today, the risk of becoming just one more podcast that doesn't bring anything unique to the audience is your top concern.

Start by researching the other shows in your category. Take notes about how their shows are formatted, to whom they appeal, and what unique value they bring to the listener.

Consider what you are going to do differently.

What unique value will you bring to the audience?

What unique perspective can you bring to the category that nobody else can?

Choosing A Host & Platform

A lot of the questions I get are relating to hosting and technology. At its core a podcast is a RSS feed that is formatted properly for podcast marketplaces to read.

Don't fret, I'm going to break it down. Lets start with some vocabulary.

Podcast marketplace: A website or app that catalogs a large number of podcasts and makes it easy for consumers to subscribe to and listen to those podcasts. iTunes is the original and as of this writing the most dominant podcast marketplace. Google Play Music is also a growing marketplace. Spotify, Tune-In, I Heart Radio, and now even Audible falls into this category.

Podcast host: A service (often costs money) where the actual audio files are stored (hosted). When a listener tunes into one of your podcast shows they will stream or download the episode from the host's server. There are hosts out there that tailor to the podcast market and are purpose-built. Blubrry, Libsyn, and Soundcloud come to mind. That said you can use any website hosting service to host your podcast but you may experience performance issues when you use a service not purpose-built for podcasts. The host is also going to be the place where you are going to get all your reporting and statistics.

Podcast website: The website you build to support and be the face of your podcast. That website may or may not be related to hosting in conjunction with the Podcast Host. For example, if you use Blubrry as your host, you can build a website using WordPress and then connect the two via Blubrry's “Powerpress plugin.” Libsyn also will work with WordPress or you can just host your website directly on their platform.

Podcast Feed: The RSS feed URL that is properly formatted to be read and indexed by podcast marketplaces. This URL will be generated and will live with your Podcast host.

I strongly encourage you to work with a podcast purpose-built host. I use Blubrry exclusively because they have the best WordPress integration in my opinion and WordPress is my platform of choice for building and maintaining a website. I also think their reporting interface is very good. Depending on the frequency of publishing your show you will pay $20 to $100 a month.

I manage the podcast and publish episodes via the website using the Blubrry Powerpress plugin but the actual audio files are hosted on Blubrry's server.

Titles, Headlines, and Categories

Like most business ventures, naming your podcast is going to be a mission critical step. Don't take it lightly.

Just as important is an understanding that the title of each show episode is a critical headline. Episode titles determine if the listener is going to engage and listen much like an email subject line determines if the recipient is going to open the email and read it.

Be deliberate and thoughtful when you write your episode titles.

When you launch your podcast and add it to catalogs like iTunes you will have to select a category and often a sub-category. There are 2 reasons why choosing the right category will matter for you.

First, potential listeners may browse a category in search of new podcasts they want to listen to. You want to be found in the place they are most likely to search when looking for your content.

Second, some categories have more podcasts and competition than others. If you have 2 different categories that both seem equally accurate and appropriate, but one has less competition you might choose that one in order to maximize your odds of ranking higher in your category.

The Launch Plan – The first 4 weeks are critical

Launching a podcast correctly will have a strong impact on your ongoing success. Many Podcast Marketplaces have a category for new and popular podcasts and getting a lot of downloads quickly may put you in a position where the marketplace will highlight your show and get you a lot more views and attention.

This effectively builds a cycle of growth. Getting downloads brings more listeners that get you more downloads that get you more listeners.

So in the first few weeks of your launch your goal is to drive as many listens and reviews/ratings as possible.

Strategy 1: Make the First 5-10 Episodes Your Best

Spend a lot of time thinking through your first 5-10 episodes. Ask people for their input and make sure the titles/headlines are amazing.

This will naturally increase loyalty early on and drive larger audiences.

Strategy 2: Publish A Lot of Episodes All At Once

Your ongoing publishing plan may be to publish a new episode once a week but in the first two weeks publish 3-10 of them. This helps you maximize the number of downloads you can get from your initial audience in the first few weeks.

Strategy 3: Make A Launch Team

Reach out to influencers, blogs, and friends and ask them to join your launch team. Effectively you are asking them to set aside some energy in the first 2 weeks of your launch to help you promote your new podcast.

Prepare assets for them to help them promote your show. Images for social media, press releases they can reference, and anything else you think would be helpful.

One way to encourage an influencer with a large audience is to invite them to record one of these early episodes with you. This gives them an incentive to promote your show and gives you greater credibility.

Promotional Plan – How Will You Drive Listeners

First read my post “How To Get A Large And Engaged Loyal Audience

Here are some additional thoughts specific to Podcasts:

Strategy 1: Offer to be a guest on other podcasts in your industry

If you want to reach people who already consume podcasts there is no better place than on other podcasts.

It can be a tough sale to convince a competing podcast to have you on as a guest for obvious reasons (note the word “Competing). You will have to have a unique, attention-catching method of asking AND you will have to bring something valuable to the relationship. Something that causes them to NEED you as much as you need them.

Strategy 2: Invite Guests Who Have An Audience You Want to Reach

Your industry has influencers. People with large email lists, Instagram followings, blog readers, etc. When you invite these people on your show not only does that add to your credibility but it also gives them a good reason to share your show with their audience.

Strategy 3: Attend Industry Trade Shows

Your industry has events where you can shake hands with hundreds to thousands of consumers and or businesses. Go to those events and network. If finances allow get a booth and record episodes right there at the show.

Formatting and the Publishing Schedule

Formatting is the word we use in broadcast to refer to the process of determining how your show is going to be laid out. What content you are going to have.

While some successful podcasts have no format, they just consist of the host(s) talking for some length of time; MOST successful podcasts follow a specific format. Perhaps they always start with the sponsor message or an introduction. Perhaps they discuss current events followed by listener questions.

Whatever it may be, listeners like consistency. Think of your favorite news broadcast, late night TV show, or radio show. The consistency of segments and layout creates loyalty and tribe. You want both.

Also in thinking about consistency, the most successful podcasts create what is effectively an appointment with their listeners. How often you publish and what day you publish is far less important than picking a schedule and staying true to it.

Production Value

There are few things that will turn OFF your audience faster than poor production value. In the case of an audio podcast, I'm talking about audio quality.

Invest in quality microphones and recording equipment. If recording remotely with guests and other hosts experiment with various tools to reduce audio variance and quality loss due to bandwidth.

Ask guests to participate from quiet locations with quality internet. Ask them to wear headphones to minimize audio feedback. Trust me, audio quality matters a lot!

Securing and Pitching Sponsors

Let me first say that if your only or primary motivation for starting a podcast is to secure paying sponsors just stop now. Unless you have a built-in library of salespeople and advertisers you already work with you don't have what is necessary to be successful out of the gate.

A podcast is a great way to support a passion or to support an existing business plan, model, or product. The amount of energy and time that will have to be invested to get a large enough audience to be able to make decent money from sponsorships is VERY high.

With that in mind here are some ideas that will help you with sponsors.

Pricing

The industry standard way to price podcast advertising is on a CPM (Cost per thousand impressions). This is similar to most other forms of online advertising in which the advertiser is paying based on the ACTUAL reach of their message.

In the case of a podcast there are two ways this can be done. You can calculate the number of downloads after a certain amount of time has passed and bill the advertiser based on those actual numbers or you can bill the advertiser in advance based on a minimum guaranteed reach in a certain number of days based on your past history.

For example is I know my average episode is downloaded 11-12 thousand times within 30 days of being published then I might sell my podcast episode sponsorships based on 10K downloads minimum.

The CPM rate varies significantly by podcast but ranges between $20 and $100. That variance is going to be justified by the uniqueness or value of the average listener and the loyalty to the show if the average listener.

CPM is cost per thousand. You can find CPM calculators online to help you figure out the numbers.

Pitching Assets

It is common place for savvy and larger advertisers and agencies to request a media kit. A media kit is a file (PDF is most common) that highlights the various aspects of the show and it's audience. It often contains advertising rates and options as well.

Reach out to other podcasts in your industry and request their media kit to reference as examples.

Over Deliver

Whatever you do be sure to over deliver for your advertiser. Do everything in your power to make sure their message is received by the audience. Be a user and consumer of their products so you can naturally refer to them in context outside of sponsor messages.

Conclusion

If you think a podcast may be a great way to reach and grow your audience you might be right. Investigate existing podcasts in your market and do something to be different.

Invest in quality gear and work to product a high quality podcast.

Figure out a business plan that isn't dependent on finding paid advertisers unless you already have the experience and access to salespeople and paying advertisers in your industry

Build a launch plan that will maximize your odds of success.

If you have other questions about launching or operating a podcast let me know!

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Enalito Thriving eCommerce Summit Nov 2020

Enalito is a company that provides various software tools to empower and support eCommerce businesses.

On a regular basis they conduct a summit in which they host these style of discussions to help educate and support their existing and their potential customers.

Currently, I do not use any Enalito's products and at no point during this process did they pitch me. This is an important thing for me to point out because Enalito appears to be focused on truly supporting and empowering their audience. This attitude of being useful and valuable first, and then exchanging money second sets a great example in their space.

Here is the video recording of the panel in which I participated:

Things we discussed:

  • The importance of identifying and communicating your brand's deepest purpose and passion
  • How is COVID affecting the eCommerce space and how does that affect different business categories?
  • What are the best marketing strategies to dominate your market in the next 5 years?
  • The growth of SMS and direct messaging
  • How does the ROI on paid advertising vary by category?
  • How to understand your consumer's behavior
  • The single greatest point of advice for new internet entrepreneurs

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Interview: “Doing Things He Loves – Guns and Internet Marketing”

On May 21st 2020, my interview with Bart Merrell on his podcast was published.

Bart and I crossed paths in a business venture back in 2007 and I was very excited to hear from him and honored to be invited as a guest on his podcast.

Here is the interview:

Some important topics we covered:

  • What is the “Field of Dreams” entrepreneur myth?
  • The success formula for hiring the right people
  • The three ways to get customers
  • The formula to a stable business that can survive a storm
  • Getting the plan B and being ready to pivot
  • The book I most frequently recommend to people

Learn more about the podcast and subscribe with your favorite app by clicking here.

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How To Get a Large and Engaged Loyal Audience

  • How do I build my email list?
  • How do I get more podcast listeners?
  • How do I get more website traffic?
  • How do I rank higher on search engines?
  • How do I get more YouTube subscribers?

All these questions have the same answer, and in my experience, it isn't what you want to hear.

The real question at the root of all of these:

Question: How Do I Get A Large and Engaged Loyal Audience?

Best Answer: Build and sell a product that you can profitably advertise at scale.

You may not believe me but don't worry I'm prepared to back up my claim and provide a roadmap.

There are three ways to build a large and engaged audience.

While I do feel that selling a product at scale is the easiest way to build an audience I must admit that there are other options. I just feel it is the easiest of the three methods.

Option 1: Be among the first in your market/niche on that platform. In almost every industry, you can go on YouTube and find a dozen or so channels that are very large. Often you might watch their content and ask yourself WHY they are so popular. The answer is often; they were an early adopter.

Today the odds are very low of you starting a YouTube channel in your industry and just taking off because you think you are as good as or better than the other giants already on YouTube in your industry.

YouTube is cluttered. It's been done. The low hanging fruit is gone.

This attitude is the equivalent of thinking you can be bigger than McDonald's because you can make a better hamburger.

For Option 1 to work you either need to be among the first voices in a new market or conversation or you need to be among the early adopters on a new platform that doesn't have great market penetration yet. Good luck.

Option 2: Do something so different, wild, interesting, entertaining that despite being late to the game people notice and share.

Sound hard? It is. Companies spend a lot of time and money trying to break through the clutter and it rarely works.

Option 3: Sell a product.

A Product Offering Saves the Day

If you can predictably break even or be profitable selling a product online by running advertising for that product, then you can scale that to some degree and acquire customers.

Customers = Audience.

Resource: Machine Builders

And not just any audience… buyers. People who are willing to put in a credit card number to buy a product in your industry. There is no better audience than a group of past and current customers.

So, as a content creator who wants to build a large audience for whatever reason; consider that the answer to your problem might be building and selling a product at scale… even if you only break even.

But I Just Want to Be An Influencer I Don't Want to Sell Stuff

This is an understandable sentiment. Afterall, you want to grow your audience not go into business right?

You can always take a run at options 1 and 2 above but your odds of success are very low and I have to ask, what is the end goal of growing your audience anyway?

Isn't your intent to monetize that audience by getting sponsors or companies willing to give you product and money? So your end objective is to go into business anyway right?

Why not accelerate that by creating or finding a product you can sell online at SCALE. Something you can advertise and still break even or be profitable selling.

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The Perfect Yellowstone Vacation Plan

I grew up in southwestern Wyoming, only a few hours from Yellowstone but only visited a few times in my youth. I married a woman (also from southwestern Wyoming) whose family visited almost annually.

Thus, Yellowstone trips are now part of our family culture and our kids hold us accountable to keep our commitment of visiting every 4 years. We are not experts by any means but I really like our approach and plan we have followed when we've been the last 2 times and given the number of times I've shared it with others I decided it was time to put it in writing so it would be easier to share.

To give credit where it is due, my first Yellowstone trip as an adult was planned by my in-laws, who are Yellowstone experts and veterans. It was fantastic and since then I'm inclined to follow the plan the same way every time.

What follows is a helpful guide to anyone visiting Yellowstone but it caters to our 5-day trip which includes 2 days for travel and 3 in the park.

Jump to a Section:

Getting there – Airplanes, Cars, and which entrance

Yellowstone National Park is not close to any major airports. One could in theory fly into Jackson Hole but the cost is prohibitive for most. More likely you are going to fly into either Billings MT, Salt Lake City UT, or Denver CO.

Billings MT is the most expensive as it is the smallest of those three airports and finding a direct flight is near impossible.

Choosing between Salt Lake City and Denver is an easy choice as the drive from SLC to Yellowstone is appx 5 hours while the drive from DEN is 8 1/2 hours. Save the 3.5 hours in the car and fly into Salt Lake City.

If you rent a car get something with a little muscle. You likely won't be visiting during the winter so 4-wheel drive probably won't be necessary but you will be stuck behind your fair number of rented RVs and having a little muscle makes it easier to pass those vehicles, going uphill, on a 2-lane road.

I strongly discourage you from driving a RV or pulling a camper. Far too many places you visit are going to have PACKED FULL parking lots with limited spaces for oversized vehicles. You are going to hate parking.

This will also allow you to enter the park from the Southern entrance which is in my opinion preferable. There are several points of entrance to Yellowstone.

Image courtesy of this helpful page on the official park site that goes into more detail on each entrance. https://www.yellowstonepark.com/park/yellowstone-park-entrances

Coming from Montana you can enter at one of 2 northern entrances, or from Montana you can enter from “West Yellowstone” (which is almost Idaho), coming from Wyoming you can enter from the East coming from Cody WY, or lastly, you can enter from the south via Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole WY.

If you are driving from somewhere northwest or north perhaps one of the Montana entrances or the Idaho entrance will just be the most convenient for you but the Paulsen family comes via the south entrance primarily because visiting Yellowstone, but failing to visit Grand Teton National Park and/or Jackson Hole is a MAJOR Fail.

So trust me and come via Jackson Hole and enter the park from the south. If you fly in from Salt Lake City that will be the most convenient and direct route anyway. Coming from Denver it is equally as convenient as coming via Cody WY.

Where to Sleep – Camping VS “Lodges & Cabins”

Throughout the park there are many campsites, lodges, and cabins. Also immediately outside the park you can find lodging in Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, West Yellowstone, and Cody.

On the Paulsen Yellowstone trip we don't camp. We are campers generally speaking but it isn't part of our Yellowstone experience. That said you do you.

Where you decide to stay, camping vs a lodge may be in part due to availability on your selected travel dates. Yellowstone allows you to book campsites and hotels/cabins up to 1 year in advance… and if you want your choice of options you should book 1 year in advance.

If you are traveling to Yellowstone between June and September and don't want to sleep on the ground you better be booking at least 6 months in advance.

Resource: Book Here

On our Paulsen trip we stay in the lodges and cabins. We book as far in advance as possible. More detail below in the “Itinerary” section on where we stay but if you are lucky to happen to find any available room at the iconic Old Faithful Inn book it immediately.

Image Courtesy of the official Yellowstone website. – Grant Ordelheide. Use this link to learn more about Old Faithful Inn https://www.yellowstonepark.com/where-to-stay-camp-eat/historic-old-faithful-inn

The Inn is the largest log hotel on the planet and was built in 1904. It is amazing.

What Should I Expect For Food?

Eating is a complicated thing in my family. My wife is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and we are blessed with one extremely picky eater child. All the same, with some basic sacrifices that are required for any vacation the below generally works well for us.

Throughout the park there are a number of “Lodges” and each is generally equipped with a restaurant and a cafeteria.

For the Paulsens we just plan to eat at the cafeterias as they tend to offer a lot of options, don't require waiting to order and be served, don't require tipping wait staff, and generally serve our needs well.

Resource: Click here to see all the dining options in Yellowstone

We also generally have a large cooler that we stock with some fresh food items including everything we intend to eat for Breakfast each day. We pick stuff up from a grocery store before we enter the park and use a cooler that can be “plugged-in” in both the car and in the hotel rooms.

Note that there are a few small stores in the park with a few basic grocery items but it is the equivalent of shopping at a 7-Eleven convenience store so don't count on finding what you need.

More details on where we eat in the Itinerary section below.

The Loop

Yellowstone National park is huge but most of the best tourist sites are right off the main highway of the park. The main highway system of the park looks like a big number 8 with two connecting loops. There are 5 core highways that connect the number 8 to the outside world.

When we visit we enter from the south entrance and circle the bottom loop of the figure 8 as shown in my little photoshop map below.

Screenshot from Google Maps with some Photoshop rough editing by yours truly.

Most of the awesome stuff is on this loop and while one day we may venture north to Mammoth Hot Springs and the old arch entrance, for now, we are very content with our loop shown above.

The Paulsen Itinerary – Day by Day

A fun Yellowstone map from the National Park Service website that highlights some of the most popular attractions in the park. https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/kidsyouth/places.htm

Day 1 Arrive in Jackson Hole

Day 1 is a travel day. Our objective on this day is to get to Jackson in time for dinner. We eat dinner at Bubba's because my wife's childhood says we have to; and I am on board. Great BBQ and been a famous stop for over 40 years.

If budget and time allows and you want some excellent entertainment to go with that meal you should also consider the Bar J Chuckwagon.

After dinner we explore Jackson Hole downtown. Take the required picture at any of the four entrances to the town park and go in and out of all the fun tourist shops. Maybe buy some chocolate or laffy taffy just because.

2017

Stay that night at either the Antler Inn or the 49er Inn and Suites. Both are local, non-chain options that are affordable and come with plenty of local flavor.

Day 2 Explore Old Faithful & The Upper Geyser Basin

Day 2 wake up and head north toward the National Parks. Stop at most of the turn offs where tourists take pictures of the Teton Mountains. Yeah, you will never grow tired of the view and you can't take enough pictures.

My Son Is Awesome

Enter Grand Teton National Park and pay the $5 or whatever it is per vehicle entrance fee. Drive north to Yellowstone National Park. Pay another fee. Drive to Old Faithful and the Upper Geyer Basin. (Follow signs for Old Faithful).

We generally end up eating dinner at the Old Faithful cafeteria. We either packed in lunch or we eat lunch at the cafeteria as well.

Spend the rest of the day at Old Faithful. Things to do:

  • Watch Old Faithful erupt.
  • Explore the visitor's center. This is the best and most comprehensive visitor's center in the park by far. Our kids love it and we do too.
  • Walk down the hill, starting at Old Faithful and going roughly west and then north, past all the various geysers on that trail. Don't stop until you get to Morning Glory Pool.
  • Even if you aren't staying at Old Faithful Inn, go in after dusk and sit by the fire and admire the building and fireplace.
This picture was taken in June. Bring a jacket.

If you can stay at Old Faithful Inn you are lucky and I'm jealous. We've stayed at Snow Lodge before and it is very modern. We've also stayed in the Old Faithful Lodge Cabins and they are fun as well.

Day 3 Grand Prismatic, Paintpots, & Grand Canyon

Wake up and leave Old Faithful. Continue the loop to the west and north. Stop at all the larger parking lots where you see cars. Its probably worth stopping.

On Day 3 we drive all the way to Yellowstone Lake but on the way we are going to stop and see:

  • Grand Prismatic
  • The Paint Pots at “Fountain Paint Pot Trail”
  • Lunch at Canyon Village Cafeteria
  • Inspiration Point
  • Lower Lookout Point
  • Upper Falls of the Yellowstone (take Uncle Tom's Trail)

Finish the day at Lake Lodge. Eat dinner at the cafeteria and stay at the lodge or one of the Lake Lodge Cabins.

We love spending the evening on the porch/patio looking out at the lake and we love taking a short walk or hike along the lake.

Day 4 Enjoy the Lake and Finish At The Tetons

Wake up and take your last look at the lake as you drive on, now west and then south.

Stop at West Thumb Geyser Basin and walk those trails.

Then proceed south out of Yellowstone and into Grand Teton National Park.

Depending on how quickly you are moving you could get lunch at Grant Village or in Grand Teton National Park.

On our last trip we stayed at Colter Bay on Day 4 and we loved it. I'm sure staying at Jackson Lake Lodge or Jenny Lake Lodge would be equally picturesque.

Image from Grand Teton NP official site. https://www.gtlc.com/lodges/

My wife remembers hikes to and around Jenny Lake from her childhood and we enjoyed it as a family as well. Spend the afternoon and evening of Day 4 staring at the mountains from various places in Grand Teton National Park.

Day 5 Go Home

Day 5 it all comes to a close and we go home.

A few closing helpful thoughts

  • Don't plan on cell phone coverage… anywhere in the park
  • A few lodges may have wifi you can pay for
  • There is going to be a lot of wildlife. Stop and take pictures but don't be those annoying people who cause a traffic jam every time there is a Bison off the road
  • On our last Yellowstone vacation, we saw a license plate from every state but Delaware. Yeah, we play the license plate game and this is one place where you can probably find them all
  • The person who isn't driving should be on the lookout for wildlife as you go through the park. Deer, Bison, and Elk should be easy. Coyotes are bonus points. Gold star if you spot a bear. Call me immediately if you see wolves. A decent pair of binoculars would be nice.
  • The lodges and hotels don't have air conditioning. Its cool in the mountains… open a window. And even if you are coming in the middle of the summer bring a jacket or sweatshirt.
  • August is the busiest month at Yellowstone but the entire summer is pretty packed. Coming in the Spring or the Fall helps avoid crowds
  • Leave your dog home. I love my dogs but they are prohibited in most parts of the park. It isn't worth the hassle.
  • Here are answers to other frequently asked questions
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The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek – Book Review

The Infinite Game

The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Great read from Simon Sinek. I'm a huge Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action fan and while I liked Leaders Eat Last to me it wasn't nearly as good. Still well written just not as life-changing.

The Infinite Game is very applicable and actionable. At first, I was a little concerned that the book was going to become repetitive and overly exhaustive. Afterall how many different ways can you tell the reader to focus on the long term and not the short term?

But it turns out there are a lot of different contexts where that philosophy changes the way one acts and I didn't feel the book was dragging on or repeating itself too much.

Only 4 stars here for 2 reasons. First “Infinite Game” feels a lot like Find a Why and Don't lose it. The concept of the book just didn't feel super different from the core Sinek philosophy presented in Start With Why.

Second, the entire book is focused on the business arena but I think the idea of playing the infinite game in one's personal relationships and stewardship is even more valuable. It obviously wasn't the author's intent to discuss parenting etc but I feel it would have been nice to do so.



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What Do People Find When They Google Your Name?

There were 5 of us inside the cab of a Ford F350 driving back home from our week-long trip to SHOT Show in Las Vegas. 12 hours in the car doesn't exactly go by quickly and somehow we got on the topic of what one finds when they type their own name into Google.

I Know What I'll Find

Over the last decade, I've put some effort into tracking search results for my name and optimizing pages that I want to be found when people check me out.

For the most part my colleagues in the car it turns out, haven't given it much thought or effort.

Does It Matter?

I think it matters. When I interview potential employees I Google their name. When I meet someone at a tradeshow or get an email introduction to a new person, I Google their name.

A quick search tells me a lot about the person… even if what I learn is that they don't have much of a digital footprint. In 2020 when I'm writing this, the lack of a digital footprint can be a real bad thing depending on the business you are in.

So How Do You Control Searches For Your Name?

All normal SEO principles matter and of course depending on how common your name is the greater the challenge you have in front of you. There are a decent number of Jacob Paulsens' in the world but nothing like trying to compete on Google for Mark Smith I'm sure.

The things I've done over the years that seem to work:

  1. LinkedIn is a SEO Giant. When I search for a name on Google the odds are very high that one LinkedIn profile will be in the search results. ONE. Make sure you have an up to date profile and make sure you have built out your profile really well. Do you have a cover image, a profile image, a description, etc?Do you have your employment history and credentials? Do you have recommendations? There are plenty of other good reasons to be rocking it on LinkedIn, but ensuring that YOU outrank others with your name on a search engine search is a really good reason.
  2. Twitter is almost always there. For whatever reason when it comes to search power Twitter beats Facebook every time. Generally, when there is a Facebook link in a Google search result it just takes you to another search result page in Facebook. Not very useful. Twitter not only generally outranks Facebook in search but it also indexes specific user accounts and will take the search directly to your profile. Make your Twitter profile awesome and complete. Obviously make sure it has your name… not a nickname but the name someone might type into a Google search when looking for you.
These are the top 4 results on Google at the time of this writing when searching my name. LinkedIn, my business site, Twitter, and then my personal blog. LinkedIn and Twitter just dominate most of the time when I search a person's name.
  1. Have a website that is your name as the domain. Having a website does mean there is a cost and you have to have some basic knowledge and skills to build and maintain said website but if you can get some version of yourname.com that is going to do wonders to control search traffic for your name.
  2. Identify the single place that you WANT to be the #1 search result for your name, and make sure your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and all other web assets you can control link back to that website.
  3. As a general rule cross-link everything. On your LinkedIn profile and YouTube channel, for example, be sure to put in your Twitter link. The more all your web assets link to each other the easier it is for Google to see that all of that is associated together and that this “Your Name” is more relevant and popular than anyone else sharing that same name.
  4. Rename images. When you upload an image of yourself anywhere online (Your website, Twitter, Facebook, etc) be sure to put your name as the file name of the image. Also if you are loading it to a website you control; add your name as the ALT title of the image. Almost for sure in the top 10 results on Google for your name is going to be some image results. Google is going to show 3-5 images and give the user the option to see more images that meet that search criterion. Uploading images online that have your name as the file name and/or alt text is going to help you control that part of the search results.
  1. Use Google Alerts to find web content with your name and where possible link it back to you. Google Alerts are a free service from Google that alerts you anytime a given phrase or set of words are found newly anywhere online. I have a few Google alerts set up with different variations of my name and so on occasion, Google emails me to let me know the word Jacob Paulsen has just popped up somewhere new. I ALWAYS check those web pages. If it is about me I certainly want to know what people are saying about me. I might contact the website owner or publisher and ask if they can please link my name back to my website. I might leave a comment if it is a news story, blog post, or article that accepts comments and in that comment include a link to my website. The goal is for Google to see that this webpage that has my name on it also has a link back to this other website that has more information about me. This ensures that the website I control is more likely to be the authoritative source for my name that should rank higher in search results. If the web page is about some other Jacob Paulsen out there I may still try to leave a comment and say something like “hey nice name” and still link back to my site.

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Jacob Email Sins

I have a problem. I'm neurotic when it comes to email. I manage my inbox really carefully and I care too much about proper email etiquette.

Over the years I've developed a list of what I've come to call Email Sins. Things that are just against any decent email etiquette and, in my opinion, should not be done. Here they are:

No Subject Line Emails:

If you are going to send someone an email have the decency to include a subject line. Leaving the subject line blank does make me more likely to open your email but also more likely to think you are incompetent or lazy.

Using An Old Thread:

What I think happens is you want to send an email to someone but you are too clueless to know how to create contacts and then reference them when adding a recipient to your email.

So, you do a search in your inbox for that person's name and find the last email conversation between the two of you and you reply to that email with an entirely new conversation that is in no way related to the previous email you are replying to.

This creates confusion. As I read your email I'm trying to understand what it has to do with the previous conversation and in the future, if I ever have to search my inbox to find your email I am going to have a hard time finding it because it is nestled in a threat with an unrelated subject line.

Sending An Email With a Request To Call or Text

I still don't understand why people do this. I get an email that looks something like this:

“Hey, Jacob give me a call.”

That is all. Nothing more to the email than that. This is super annoying.

There is the whole fact that you could have just called me but more importantly and really what makes this an email sin is that you went to the effort to type an email but effectively refused to tell me WHY you feel we need to chat on the phone.

Would it be that hard to append something to the end of the sentence to communicate the topic of the desired phone call?

What is worse is when that phone call takes place and the topic of conversation could and should have been fully handled via email. Why did we have to get on the phone at all? Clearly you have my email address and are capable of typing…

An Unruly Inbox

Now if your email inbox is a disaster that shouldn't affect me but what sometimes happens is I walk past a computer of one of my employees or a friend and I catch a glimpse of their email inbox and see they have somewhere between 150 and 14,000 unread emails.

This makes me want to vomit a little inside. Your personal email is your business I suppose but in the business world quality communication via email is a standard. Anyone not capable of managing an inbox so as to ensure they don't drop the ball or an important thing doesn't fall through the cracks needs to make a serious change.

So what are your email sins? What really gets on your nerves? Let me know in the comments below.

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The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau – Book Review

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New FutureThe $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wish I had read this book a few years ago as it would have been more valuable then but all the same I'm glad I read it and would recommend it. The author basically takes you through several examples of modern “micro-businesses” and shares patterns or lessons you can learn from many of them.

For anyone who is primarily familiar with traditional large businesses, venture capital, and writing business plans this should provide a valuable view into a new type of company.

Simple concepts like how to build a product and how to perform a good product launch are my favorite things in the book.

That said, I'm not giving the book 5 stars because it utterly failed to discuss TRAFFIC. Endless stories are given that provide the reader with the impression that you can just create a product, build a website for it and somehow magically the customers will find it and give you money.

Even in the product launch chapter, it assumes that the reader has a list or audience of potential or past customers they can message about the new product being launched.

The success of any online business is directly tied to getting web traffic via some means and generally, this means spending money on advertising or engaging in some sort of joint-venture or great PR.

If you want a more comprehensive book that will help you start and launch a simple “micro business” online I suggest you go read The 4-Hour Workweek instead of or in addition to this book.

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