Jim McKelvey’s Innovation Stack Offers Inspiration For My Next Big Move

This post is sponsored by Jim McKelvey, author of The Innovation Stack.

As a resident of St. Louis, I was especially pleased to read The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time (2020) by Jim McKelvey. The book is instructive and inspiring.

McKelvey is most well-known as the cofounder of Square—a company that made it possible for small businesses and individuals to make credit card transactions using their mobile devices. The idea revolutionized the way people could participate in business activities, and even more importantly, a basis for Square was winning some justice for smaller operations.

Innovation Stack

McKelvey is a longtime artist, specifically he supported himself as a glass blower. The spark of an idea that would lead to Square occurred when McKelvey lost out on a sale of one of his products because he had no way of accepting a credit card payment from a potential customer. That problem prompted him to work with one of his collaborators, Jack Dorsey (co-founder of Twitter) to create Square.

In the process of researching steps to developing their device, McKelvey immediately became troubled when he learned that credit card companies were charging small businesses rates sometimes forty times higher than large-scale corporations. I was intrigued and impressed that economic justice was tied into the backstory of this familiar square device.

Innovation Stack

McKelvey discusses an “innovation stack” the cycle of “interlocking and evolving inventions” when and if you dare to make truly novel creations. Square was not simply one solution to a single problem. Instead, the company was created on a series of inventive developments, that is, an Innovation Stack.

This focus on a series of interconnected developments from McKelvey’s book really appealed to me. Over the last couple of months, I have immersed myself in the study of coding. How did I get here? More than ten years ago, I created a website to share my interest in shopping on a budget. Soon after, the challenge of producing high quality images led me to acquire skills as a photographer. The task of composing combinations of texts and photographs prompted me to learn aspects of graphic design.

Innovation Stack

Then, the process of transforming a hobby in fashion into a profession pushed me to learn how to interact with a variety of fashion, makeup, and PR companies. I was obliged to coordinate events throughout the city. Changing technologies made it necessary for me to master multiple modes of online media. Ultimately, my curiosities to think beyond the front end of websites and delve into the back end motivated my journey to coding. The series of problem solving that got me here, in other words, amount to an Innovation Stack, or a kind of skill stack.

McKelvey’s book provides encouragement for those of us who consider the value of responding to challenges with novel solutions. Of course, oftentimes a new solution reveals a new, unfamiliar problem, which requires yet another original solution. When we approach challenges with an awareness that powerful projects or wonderful accomplishments are the  results of an Innovation Stack, then we are usefully prepared for the extended series of steps that await us.

As a Black woman seeking to pursue a career in software development, I understand there are numerous barriers and reasons to feel professionally isolated. At the same time, I remain excited about the possibilities. And who knows? Perhaps some of those challenges are in fact opportunities for innovation.

You can purchase the book here. I’ll also be giving away a copy of the book on Instagram later today.

4 Important Things I’ve Learned about my Body from DNA

This post is in partnership with HomeDNA.

I’m turning 40 year this. One major goal I have as I count down to that milestone age is to feel the best I’ve ever felt. I’ve been stepping up my health and fitness goals. I’ve shared how I’ve been using technology to target and keep track of my fitness progress (see that post here). Last year, I was so blown away by the insights I gained about my skin (and its severe sensitivities) from a HomeDNA skin analysis. When I was given the opportunity to learn more about my body from a HomeDNA Healthy Weight Analysis, then, I seized the opportunity. And, just like my skin experience, I was floored by the insights I gained.

Before, I delve into what I learned, you must know how easy HomeDNA makes it to gather a sample. You receive a kit with an instruction booklet. The first step is setting up an online account using the code assigned to your kit. Doing so allows you to retrieve your results later. Then, using the four swabs included in the kit, you gather samples from inside your mouth. It’s as easy as swiping up and down. Next, you toss the swabs into the included sample envelope. Just like that, you’re on your way to insights about your body.

HomeDNA Healthy Weight Analysis

4 Things I’ve Learned about my Body from a HomeDNA Healthy Weight Analysis

1. My weight loss ability is below average. Yikes! Apparently, my body’s ability to lose weight from a program of regular diet and exercise is below average.

2. The optimal diet for me would balance complex carbohydrates with plant-based fats and proteins. I was particularly intrigued by the emphasis on plant-based sources for proteins and fats because I’ve been vegan for the last 10 years, and I’ve always felt like it was the best diet for me.

3. My DNA results indicate I have a higher risk of having low levels of key micronutrients. Some of these include B12 and vitamin D. As a vegan, I’ve been mindful about getting those nutrients since they do no not naturally occur in a typical vegan diet. Now, I’ll probably pay special attention to ensuring I get them.

4. My body’s response to strength training is enhanced but below average for cardio. Wow! When I introduced strength training, and I’m talking about serous lifting, into my fitness routine, my body completely transformed. So, this result is a kind of confirmation.

Now, the insights I shared today are only a snippet of what I received in my 30 page analysis. I received a detailed breakdown of results in 4 major categories, recommended diet plans, and even ideal workout regimens. Would you like this kind of information? Get $50 off your HomeDNA Healthy Weight Kit (making it a total of $69) using the code HW50 until 4/30.

How Technology is Enhancing My Fitness Journey this Year

Thank you Nokia for sponsoring this post. Visit the Nokia Body+ site for more info and start the new year off right!

You might soon grow tired of me saying this, but I’m turning 40 later this year. Yass! I’m so thrilled about it that I’ve been busy setting goals. One of my major goals is to seriously boost my health and well being. I want to be in the best health of my life. And, the start of the year is a cool time to start targeting that goal, right?

I’ve taken some important steps in that direction in the past. I created a fitness regimen that I love. I also cleaned up my diet. This year, to take things to a new level, I’m incorporating technology into my routine. And, when, I encountered the Nokia Body+ scale, I knew I found an accountability partner in fitness technology.

I know what you’re thinking, “not another scale, Psyche!” But, rock with me for a second. The Nokia Body+ is not just another scale, y’all. It is a body analyzer. This beautifully-designed device captures some critical components of your weight, including BMI, fat mass, muscle mass, body water, and bone mass. And, as if that wasn’t enough, it’ll even tell you the weather.

There are differing opinions on weight check-ins when on a fitness journey. When I worked with a trainer, we’d do periodical check-ins to get the kind of data that my Nokia Body+ gives me whenever I want. For me, getting information is crucial for tracking progress and targeting or retargeting efforts. By the way, the Nokia Body+ makes it easy to track progress because it syncs with the Health Mate app automatically and keeps a complete history of your health data. These two things together are like the ultimate fitness coach.

In addition to making it so easy to track your progress over time, the Health Mate app also gives encouragement and tips on how to best achieve your goals. By the way, if you’re already using other apps, like MyFitnessPal, Health Mate can sync to them as well.

fitness technology

My dog Nevis must’ve heard that the Nokia Body+ was family-friendly because he always wants to be around when I’m using mine. While he won’t be using it, the scale and its Health Mate partner can track up to 8 users. So, I’ve been tracking my husband Howard’s weight data too. It’s a family affair.

(Get 10% off at the Nokia Health store through December 1, 2018 here with this code: NEWYOU-WFA-N9Z)

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

This New App Helps Me Track All My Shipments

Thank you Shopify for sponsoring this post. Track your holiday shipments in one place with the new Arrive app!

A package once sat on my porch for 3 days before I realized it had been delivered. 3 days, y’all! I have orders and PR packages coming to my house frequently via the major carriers. I thought I was being proactive by setting up accounts with each carrier. But, it’s a chore to keep track of multiple accounts.

Enter Shopify Arrive (download the app here).

It’s a new mobile app that lets you track all of your online orders and shipments in one place, regardless of carrier and retailer. It’s peace of mind in the palm of your hands.

Juggling deliveries is usually stressful for me this time of year. I’m receiving time-sensitive materials for blog content. I’m also receiving orders I have to get to family in St. Kitts. What’s coming? What’s already been delivered? Finding answers to these questions would typically make me dizzy. Arrive takes all the stress away by making it so easy to keep track of all of that information.

Setting up Arrive App

Just so you know, the Arrive app is available for free for iPhone. Getting set up is a breeze too. Find the app here, install it, then sync (by simply entering an email address at log in) a gmail account to the app. The magic begins immediately. With your explicit permission only, the app instantly scans your email for orders and tracking information and automatically organizes the delivery information for you. There’s no need to be concerned about the app getting all up in your business either because it only uses information directly related to packages like tracking numbers and mail carrier information.

Don’t use just one email account to manage your orders? No worries. You can also manually enter delivery information into the app.

Favorite Features of Arrive

My favorite feature of the Arrive app (find out even more here) is that it gives me up-to-the-minute package tracking on my orders. I ordered a special holiday gift from a store in California, and I’ve been closely monitoring its journey to me because I have to be available to sign for it. I love being able to do that right from phone.

Shopify Arrive App

The ability to do this is so crucial because estimated delivery times can change, especially during the busy holiday season. For example, I expected a shipment of my go-to skincare products last Saturday, but the package surprisingly arrived early on Friday. I only knew to collect the package because Arrive (get it here) notified me that it had been delivered. You have the option to enable push notifications for delivery changes in the status of your deliveries.

Keeping track of ALL of my deliveries in ONE place makes life so easy. And, after a package is delivered? Arrive (download it for free here) continues to be useful because it keeps a delivery history too.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Warby Parker Opening its First St. Louis Store Right on Time

Warby Parker, the eyewear brand known for its high-quality, fashionable, affordable specs, is opening its first St. Louis store this Saturday, November 11. The store is in the heart of the Central West End at 304 North Euclid Ave, a space previously occupied by Kit and Ace. I got to preview this new Warby Parker St. Louis location, and it is everything we need right now in the Lou.

This new store has a cool library feel. All the eyewear sits on open wooden shelves with colorful books for decor and a curated collection of books for purchase.

Warby Parker St. Louis also has a very joyous and welcoming vibe because of the colorful mural done by St. Louis artist, William LaChance. It’s an ideal backdrop for a bomb Instagram shot, don’t you think?

Warby Parker St. Louis

From what I heard, there are going to be some sweet treats at the grand opening this Saturday. In addition, for a limited time only, the St. Louis store will exclusively sell the crystal sunglasses below. Crystal frames with mirror lenses are so fly right now. I actually took home a similar pair, the Ormsby  sunglasses in crystal aqua with mirror lenses.

Another cool perk of the Warby Parker St. Louis store is the availability of the eye exam service. Not all Warby Parker locations offer eye exams, but ours will!

Keep scrolling for more inside looks at Warby Parker St. Louis before it opens on Saturday.

I was invited to preview the store and received free merchandise as part of my visit. All images and opinions are my own.