A walk through my value forest

I recently wrote about my value forest framework, and now it’s time to walk you through how I’ve implemented that framework in my own world.

Welcome to my 2021 value forest.

(If you need some visual inspiration, take a gander here)

The deep roots of meaning & purpose

Deep roots - the underground network that connects to all nearby Life and absorbs nutrients to feed the whole structure. We may never see it, but it's tapped in, grows far below the surface, and offers resiliency against whatever storms may come.

The root of all my meaning and purpose comes from Life.

My deepest meaning and purpose is to Maximize Thriving

  • I want to first maximize Thriving for myself
  • Then for my family
  • Then for a larger community (friends and beyond)
  • Then for a broad swath of humanity
  • Then for non-human life
  • Then for interplanetary life

This defined more specifically in my 50 year Master Plan.

The rich soil (/ wide trunks) of qualities & core values

Wide trunk - the simple but powerful structure that we first see and feel. It transports nutrients and information up to the branches and leaves.

The trunks of my trees include my Qualities and Core Values. This defines the "how" of whatever I seek to do or accomplish.

In the Roam JSON noted below, I include my full list of both, and for reference, I've copied in a handful below.


  • Accountable
  • Attentive
  • Balanced
  • Curios
  • Diligent
  • Empowering
  • Magical
  • Open-hearted
  • Open-minded
  • Thoughtful

Core Values

  • Optimization
  • Clarity
  • Integrity
  • Rationality
  • Sustainability
  • Non-judgment
  • Health

The value trees and their branches

Value trees - the varied forms that grow from the deep roots. Each tree is an Area of Responsibility that individually requires nurture and care for as long as it lives.
Diverse branches - the limbs, new and old, that constantly reach out and up to catch more light.

I have identified 18 value trees that I currently see in my forest. For each one, I define:

  • the scope and standard to nurture in 2021
    Note: scope may, but likely won't, change year over year.
    The standard to nurture is more likely to change and adapt to my life circumstances.
  • my resolves (feel state) and outcomes (do state)
  • my projects, broken out by expected quarter. I include some examples in the next section


  • Scope: My relationship with my wife
  • Standard to nurture: Love, care, support, respect
  • Resolve: To feel open-hearted and open-minded connection at all times (or as close as possible)
  • Outcome: 2021 is the best year of marriage to date


  • Scope: My relationship with my parents, brother, cousins, nieces & nephews, aunts & uncles
  • Standard to nurture: Deep connection with attentiveness, unconditional love, and compassionate care
  • Resolve: To feel as though time and distance are humorously negligible to the depth of our meshpuchah bonds
  • Outcome: Love maps for each focal family member


  • Scope: My relationship with my children
  • Standard to nurture: Cleanest & most dialed landing pad pre-conception
  • Resolve: To feel pristinely calm and confident that I and we are ready for parenthood
  • Outcome: Documentation for every thread in the tapestry of Thriving Conception for us


  • Scope: My relationship with our pack. (Later will grow to expand the land that we steward)
  • Standard to nurture: Highest quality diet & exercise regiment for pack
  • Resolve: To feel knowledgeable about and attuned to the health of our pack
  • Outcome: Dialed protocols for nutrition and exercise


  • Scope: Tending to our home space and the physical structure (cleaning, maintenance, organizing, improving, etc)
  • Standard to nurture: Cultivated zones for sanctum, temple, and studio (spread across multiple domains)
    > Sanctum is a space for respite and regenerative rest
    > Temple is a space for reverent connection to the divine
    > Studio is a space for productive, creative, inspiring work
  • Resolve: To feel elevated, engaged, and flow-inducing in every zone in our home. To feel as though my outer landscape is an accurate reflection of my inner landscape.
  • Outcome: Documentation for & implementation of dialed home zones


  • Scope: Tending to our income, spending, savings, investments, and taxes
  • Standard to nurture: Financial stability, freedom, and independence
  • Resolve: To feel as though I have all the resources to pursue any project or priority while also supporting Thriving within my family.
  • Outcome: Savings goals; budget flow; independent revenue streams

Global Institute for Thriving (GIFT)

  • Scope: Starting then managing the business, intellectual space (UTT), and physical space of the institute
  • Standard to nurture: Intellectually rigorous foundation via UTT; accessible and resonant introduction to build an audience
  • Resolve: To feel as though I am humbly studying at the altar of Life; to feel as though my documentation and synthesis of the current body of knowledge is serving the Thriving of others
  • Outcome: UTT Year 1; Thrive club


  • Scope: Work related to my startup
  • Standard to nurture: Leave a positive legacy on the industry
  • Resolve: To feel like I'm solving systemic industry problems (big picture) without losing focus o the business (little picture)
  • Outcome: Launch online course; CDaC; grow top line & bottom line

Day Job

  • Scope: Work related to my "day job"
  • Standard to nurture: Be an example of excellence in every project and domain I touch
  • Resolve: To feel diligent and precise with whatever projects or tasks are set before me
  • Outcome: Complete large cybersecurity project rollout


  • Scope: Everything related to my intellectual pursuits (i.e. reading, thinking, synthesizing, writing, debating)
  • Standard to nurture: Optimal throughput via systems, workflows, and routines
  • Resolve: To feel like my mind has a precious stone encrusted, titanium-reinforced, perfectly fitted exoskeleton that enables (previously) unimaginable feats of acuity and prowess. To feel like I am laying the foundation of my digital Alhambra / tilling the soil of my digital garden.
  • Outcome: Read extensively; think & reflect deeply; synthesize diligently; document and write thoroughly; minimize admin overhead; TH site; TT newsletter.


  • Scope: Everything related to my physiology and physical pursuits
  • Standard to nurture: Thriving body!
  • Resolve: To feel pain-free, confident, sexy, and empowered to run hard and play harder.
  • Outcome: Thrive Team; sub 7 min marathon; run 35 miles by 35 birthday

Online Presence

  • Scope: Everything related to my digital sphere (influence + vulnerabilities)
  • Standard to nurture: Established presence that is safe, clean, connecting, and empowering
  • Resolve: To feel confident that my presence online is supportive, safe, and empowering for my future goals
  • Outcome: Digital moat; dialed social presence; minimize admin to maximize responsiveness and connectivity


  • Scope: Everything related to my study and mastery of musical expression
  • Standard to nurture: Deliberate practice; touching mastery in simple arenas
  • Resolve: To feel inspired to practice diligently; to feel expressive when playing for self and others with some degree of mastery
  • Outcome: Recital; deliberate practice systems; base understanding of music theory

Plant Life

  • Scope: Everything related to the plant living things around me
  • Standard to nurture: Reverent relationship to growing plants
  • Resolve: To feel connected to Life by growing, nurturing, and eating plants
  • Outcome: Choose houseplants and take care of them; grow and eat vegetables, herbs, and culinary mushrooms (though technically fungus, not a plant)


  • Scope: Everything related to my connection to Life
  • Standard to nurture: Tap in and get out of the way to channel the magic of Life
  • Resolve: To feel deeply in touch and in active dialogue with Life
  • Outcome: Tea meditation practices


  • Scope: My relationship with friends and acquaintances
  • Standard to nurture: Deepen connection with meaningful existing relationships; cultivate new meaningful relationships
  • Resolve: To feel richly connected to and supportive of my dearest framily; to feel there is space for serendipity and making new connections; to feel like I am learning from and contributing to a blossoming online community (Roam + others)
  • Outcome: Love taps; SsOS graph; Slack connects; newsletter; Full Moon Tea; carefully chosen travel

Social justice

  • Scope: Understanding and rebalancing my ethics relating to restorative and empowering justice
  • Standard to nurture: Reduce the haze and fatigue of the unknown
  • Resolve: To feel more aware and conscientious of the thorny nuance; to feel empowered to respectfully engage on this topic
  • Outcome: Reading books; hosting talks

Graduate School

  • Scope: The time before, during, and immediately after my Stanford MSx graduate program.
  • Standard to nurture: Curate life-long relationship (within and beyond my cohort) while engaging fully with the knowledge and skills I need for GIFT
  • Resolve: To feel as though I made the most of an expensive and complex undertaking
  • Outcome: many zettels; personal CRM of relationships and connections; written documentation of the skills and knowledge I've acquired

Growing and pruning the leaves

Vibrant leaves - the individuated units of production that ebb and flow with the seasons.

Toward the middle of January, I had documented 78 projects that I wanted to accomplish in 2021. As is so often the case, my desire and drive to learn, create, refine and connect far outpaces my physical capacity. More to the point, as much as I adore having the master list of everything I want to achieve, having such a long list felt overwhelming to me.

To better manage my own expectations (and sanity) I divvied up my projects (leaves) into quarters. This made my master list feel more realistic and approachable. 

Some of the projects are strategic big ideas that require time and focus (i.e. Best year of marriage so far) while others are more tactical (i.e. host 3 talks on social justice).

In truth, I know I won't be able to get all 78 but, following the rule of OKRs, if I can get .6-.7 of all 78 complete (~50-55), I would be ecstatic at the extreme productivity of the year.

Just as I was feeling settled, everything changed. In a flurry of introspection, dialogue, and activity, I accepted Stanford's executive MBA program offer. It's a full-time on-site program (relatively rare for executive MBAs) starting in Q3 21 and lasting a year. As is so often the case in life, a new (in this case incredible!) development forced a reprioritization and refocusing process.

I pared my 78 projects down to a measly ... 68 to complete in Q1 + Q2. I genuinely cut a lot of big projects from my list, but the total number did not get cut in half because there were a couple dozen small, tactical projects (i.e. pack for moving out) that speak to the reorganization of my life toward a new reality. Again, if I can get ~45 of them complete before heading out, I'll be very pleased.

And to make sure I'm deeply aligned with a fine point on rank order, I prioritized my top 10 projects that I am committed to seeing through in Q1 and Q2. For funsies, they are:

📋 "Best Year of Marriage" dreamscape retreat

My wife is an incredible human being and we hold deep love, care, and respect for one another. That doesn't mean it's always roses and rainbows.

I was inspired by Bryan Harris who recently spoke about the wonders of committing to "Best Year of Marriage" with his wife. We are a little earlier in our relational journey, but the reframing of pouring myself into my marriage as my #1 project for 2021 really changed something for me.

The concept of a dreamscape retreat was inspired by Jadah Sellner who told me she's been doing a similar retreat with her husband for 4 years running now. Apparently having a hot tub is key, so we made sure to get that in our mountain retreat AirBnB. 😉

The intention of this retreat is to get aligned on what Best Year So Far looks like to each of us independently and together. Then, we can agree on how we can support and show up for each other to make that concept a reality. I'm genuinely excited and I look forward to what comes out of this weekend.

📋 Death planning workflow and requirements

As we look ahead to preparing for a family, it strikes me that my digital, legal, and financial world is rather convoluted. It makes perfect sense to me (most of the time) but it would be nearly impossible for anyone else to navigate the complexity of my world.

In some ways, that's just fine. I'm young, in the growth phase of my life, and rapidly trying lots of new things online and offline. That said, if I met an unexpected passing, I don't want to make it any harder than it needs to be for my loved ones.

The intention of this project is to get myself organized for what it would take to create my Graceful Death Lockbox. Basically, what do I need to get prepared for whoever picks up my pieces, and how can I streamline and automate that transition as much as possible?

To be clear, this project isn't necessarily to get everything done and dialed. There is a stunning amount of cleanup and organization that I expect will need to happen before I can tie a bow on my lockbox. Instead, this project is just to get myself organized and wrap my mind around the minutiae of execution so that I can parcel it out over the coming quarters into manageable pieces. I'll share my process along the way for those who care to do something similar.

📋 Framework & rubric for assessing academic articles (for non-academics)

A big part of my Unified Theory of Thriving (UTT) is reading reams of academic articles and turns out that's really hard to do. Only the most adept academics get legitimately good at parsing these dense texts, and for researchers, it's a critical component of their job function.

In parallel to setting up my global PKM system, I also want to distill a methodology for non-academics to read and internalize the lessons of academic literature. Almost no one I know reads academic literature, and even academics tend to focus on reading within their areas of expertise. I want to change that for myself and to make it accessible for other curious souls that don't necessarily make a living in the ivory tower.

📋 Hire & train a virtual assistant

I have seen many hyper-productive people recently sing the praises of their virtual assistants, and given how much I have on my plate, it's time for me to get organized and hire my own. I'm working with Great Assistants and I've been generally impressed with their methodology and process so far.

I haven't hired anyone yet, but the real work begins once I do. I am confident that GA can find a good fit for me and that I can train that individual to be a critical keystone of the larger vision I'm working to bring forth. I want to do right by them as humans and as professionals, and that requires the diligence and presence to show up for them before, during, and after their initial onboarding. And if I can go above and beyond for them, I have every confidence they can do the same in return.

📋 Launch first online cohort-based course

I'm fascinated by the recent proliferation of cohort-based online courses. Self-paced learning, though awesome in many regards, simply didn't do it for me most of the time. I really appreciate the interaction with the educator and my fellow classmates. I sense a greater depth of learning, introspection, and growth in cohort-based settings and I agree that this will be a critical piece of the educational landscape of tomorrow.

I'm currently taking Billy Broas' first Keystone Accelerator cohort so I can learn and practice while launching my first course online. I expect to create more of these "info-products" in the future, so this is just the first step on a longer journey of discovery.

📋 Setup Algorithms of Thought with Roam42 SmartBlocks

I am beyond impressed by the RoamCult community, and especially Chris the RoamHacker behind Roam42. For anyone even moderately excited by Roam (and I'm in deep ...), the SmartBlocks function of Roam42 is a quantum leap of capacity.

I have yet to dig into SmartBlocks because I can already tell it's a rabbit hole that I'll never come out of. I'm especially interested in pairing the SmartBlocks with Algorithms of Thought to build out a higher-order layer of metacognition. I sense so much possibility and power here, and I'm excited to dig in when the time is right.

📋 Gather a Thrive Team to maximize my physical development

I am generally fit and healthy, but deep down I know I'm not Thriving. That begs the question: where is the gap and how can I reach my peak physical performance?

Right off the bat, it's clear that I've reached the edge of my capacity to notably move the needle myself. The marginal effort is way too high for an incremental gain in physical development. Put another way, I need experts on my team. And because I can't help but go big, I want a lot of experts to have many distinct lenses to round out a vision for how I can dial in my body.

Practically, I am interviewing and bringing on a

  • nutritionist
  • physical therapist
  • massage therapist
  • acupuncturist
  • personal trainer

Together, this is my Thrive Team and we will create a dedicated course of action so I can achieve "elite cognitive athlete" status. Oh, and I want to run really far, ideally pretty fast, without getting injured too.

📋 Dial-in the gear and flow for my Full Moon Tea rituals

I study Cha Dao, the Way of Tea, under the lineage of Wu De from the Global Tea Hut. This is a ceremonial tea tradition grounded in Chinese and Zen Buddhist philosophies.

Inspired by the full moon ritual of one of my dearest friends, I started hosting Full Moon Tea services. Generally, that's a short hike near a river or body of water under the full moon capped by a silent tea ceremony. As they are outdoors (yes, even in the frigid Colorado winters), they feel like a relatively safe and accessible way to still connect over bowls of steaming tea with friends new and old.

Turns out, boiling water in sub-freezing temperatures at altitude is more complex than I originally thought. And there are a variety of other considerations that I also hadn't imagined. The intention for this project is to get myself organized around the logistics and mechanics of Full Moon Tea so that I can be more present, and serve better tea, for whoever chooses to join.

📋 Write a Table of Interests to facilitate connection

This one was directly inspired by Andy Henson of the RoamCult community. He threw out the idea of a "Glossary and Talking Points" page where folks in Roam can write up their interests and activities so that others who resonate can connect with them directly.

I'm not sure if his idea ever took off, but it really struck a chord with me particularly as I am gearing up for the Stanford Business School experience. On the one hand, it'll be helpful for anyone who wants to connect with me to know areas of overlapping interests. On the other hand, it'll be deeply meaningful to see the before and after of that page so I can see the immediate impact of a year of focused study and expansive inspiration from new ideas, cultures, and communities.

The intention here is two-fold:

  1. breath more easily for myself by writing down, and cross-referencing, all my interests so I can see my own wacky mind map
  2. foster simpler, easier, and more accessible connections with others by offering myself in a humbly precise way

👐🏼 Serendipity slot

This concept was lifted wholesale from Tiago Forte in his 2020 goal reflection.

He talked about leaving one slot open in his Top 10 to encourage room for serendipity and the unknown. I'm prone to over planning (clearly) so I adore the concept of planning to leave space for the magic of happenstance to blossom.

To round it out, each of these projects (except the serendipity slot) have their own set of dates, deliverables, and tasks that I track on individual project pages. These tasks then feed into my daily, weekly, and monthly review cycles. I'll write about that workflow in a separate post.

Wherever I go, there I am

No matter how many words I write, or how many projects I document, the most important thing is how I show up in service for the greater Thriving of Life all around me.

That is my true north - the compass by which I navigate this reality. And whenever I look up at the trees in the forest, I see them looking right back down at me with gentle, playful curiosity. Like magnanimous giants giggling to themselves at the ant who, grain by grain, can move entire mountains.

And so, what does Life have in store for us on our walk today?


For my fellow Roamans, the JSON to import to your graphs.

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