Personal Canon

Things that have influenced how I think and often the things I most frequently share with others.

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Things that have impacted how I think and process about what it means to be alive

The Truman Show

A hauntingly valuable reminder of the dangers of in-authenticity and the importance of being true to ourselves. 

The Shawshank Redemption

A beautifully moving story that demonstrates how life can be unfair and cruel but having hope and a dream is a powerful weapon.

Harry Chapin

A musician and songwriter whose words and actions always inspire me to do a better job of loving the people in my life.

Derek Sivers

A profoundly unique thinker and writer who has deeply contributed to how I view the world around me.

Jon Krakauer

The author of my #1 favorite book: Into the Wild and one of the great adventurers of my era. 

Into the Wild

The only book I read every single year. No matter what. For me, no book has better-provoked my own reflection on what the human experience can be than this one.

Shannon Nickel

My person. My wife. The individual who makes life, life.

Start With Why

Discovering my WHY, HOW, and WHAT was an important milestone in my personal growth journey and this book was what took me down that path.

John Goddard

The singular person who inspired me to write my first bucket list which over the years has become my ‘life list.’


Tools, resources, and stories that have helped me connect with the natural world

Gaia GPS

Anytime I go off the beaten path I rely on Gaia GPS for my map needs. It has the best collection of layers available to cover all my topographic, nautical, and historical needs.


AllTrails is an app/website must for anyone who loves hiking. All hikes can be filtered by location, distance, altitude gained, popularity, etc. so chances are it can find your next favorite hike.

Merrell Shoes

I’ve tried many hiking shoes over the years and Merrell is the winner when it comes to providing traction and comfort. My current pair are the Merrell Moab Speed.

Innotree Socks

Socks are the difference maker for me when it comes to getting or preventing blisters during long hikes. Innotree makes a product that is both durable and has never given me a single blister. 

prAna Zion Pants

At long last I have found my perfect hiking pants. The Zion series from prAna looks nice, has all the right features, and lasts forever. I’ve put hundreds of miles of hiking into pairs of these pants in tough conditions, and they don’t show any wear.


Strava is the app I use to track my runs and bike rides and compare fitness progress over time. It syncs beautifully across all my devices and has so much awesome data if you are like me and geek out over that kind of thing.

Coros Pace 2

I knew that if I was going to wear a watch every day it had to be lightweight and simple to use. The Coros Pace 2 is both these things and also packs a ton of awesome features that are perfect for helping me track of my health and fitness activities.

Trek Verve 1

A great beginner bike for someone such as myself who is just getting into the world of biking.

Gazelle T4 Tent

Spacious and easy to set-up. We can set up and take down this tent in less than a minute. Plus, the materials, thoughtful add-ons, and general construction are all top notch.

REI Trailbreak Poles

Simple to use, reliable, and at a not-so-unreasonable price that is easily justifiable if your long-term plan is to reduce impact on your knees.

Eureka Ignite Stove

This camp stove has been a game changer. It heats evenly and efficiently every time. I’ve been able to get multiple weeks of camp meals out of this thing on a single 16oz propane tank.

Nemo Stargaze Chair

After dealing with many cheap camp chairs that left us uncomfortable and frustrated, we finally decided to go for it and get these from NEMO. Never going back.


Things that never fail to make me laugh

Make Some Noise

Every show on Dropout earns laughs, but the antics from this show gets the loudest ones. Especially the episodes that feature Josh, Zac, and Brennan.

Conan O'Brien

My favorite comedian/late-night talk show host who I find most entertaining in his travel shows.

Nathan Fielder

Nathan Fielder is one of those people who makes me laugh even when he is doing mundane things. ‘Nathan For You’ and ‘The Rehearsal’ are ingenious pieces of comedy.


Things that help me learn more and with greater intention

Marginal Revolution

I don’t know as much as I wish about economics, but everything I do is from this blog by Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok.

Buster Benson

Buster Benson has written multiple things that have entirely impacted how I view intentional personal growth. ‘My Life in Weeks‘ and his ‘Codex Vitae‘ are great places to start.

Everything is Amazing

A Substack from Mike Sowden that deep dives into the most fascinating topics around the theme of curiosity.

Brendan Schlagel

Brendan is a writer and project doer who came up with this ‘personal canon’ page idea which in turn has helped me learn about myself and what influenced me.

Stephen King

The author of many of my favorite books, but also a gifted instructor on how to write. If you want to discover your writing voice, I higher recommend you read ‘On Writing.’

Unusual Wikipedia Articles

An amazing repository of what makes Wikipedia an essential website: unexpected click journeys.


Things that have made me into a better traveler

Google Maps

My favorite and most used website. I can spend endless time navigating around, bookmarking places to go, and feeling the sense of awe that comes from realizing how vast the world is.


A community updated place to learn the important facts and tips before visiting any major city.

Toyota 4Runner

The gas mileage leaves something to be desired, but outside that, this is the perfect road trip vehicle.


All the things that make me feel things

Scene from Schindler's List

“He who saves one life, saves the world entire.”

Scene from The Return of the King

The Ride of the Rohirrrim

Scene from Dead Poet's Society

“Oh Captain, my Captain!”

Scene from Spirit

The visuals of the American West + Bryan Adam’s voice is too much

Scene from Field of Dreams

“Hey, Dad… You wanna have a catch?”

Scene from Wonder Woman

The crossing of ‘No Man’s Land.’