The 3^3 Project: 2009

Around this time last year, I came up with 3^3 — an idea to endorse genuine word-of-mouth by promoting products and services that deserve recognition.  If the Super Bowl is the day where we stop and appreciate great advertising (and occasionally football), then maybe 3^3 can be a time for us to stop and spread great WOM for things that more people really should know about.

And yes, I did just compare an idea for a blog post to the Super Bowl.

If you didn’t take part in the 2008 round of 3^3, here’s the full explanation (scroll to the bottom to get the gist of it):

Over the year, we all discovered new things that we now love and recommend to everyone.  Restaurants, food, beer, movies, songs, albums, bands, books, websites, blogs, articles, software, Youtube videos, etc.  We recommend them because we’re confident that they’ll enrich another person’s life in some way or another.  This is genuine word-of-mouth marketing. The person making the suggestion has nothing to gain from it personally, other than the satisfaction that he gets from knowing that he’s made someone’s life a little better.

But when you’re online, it’s a bit harder to find authentic recommendations.  You don’t know if the source is being paid to write something or if they’re doing their friend a favor or what.  But I’m not going to let that happen on this post.

I’m calling this “The 3^3 Project” (three to the third) because you need to recommend 3 things, describe each of them in 3 sentences, and then ask 3 more people to join this discussion.  It allows us to find really cool stuff through word-of-mouth, and possibly even come up with some Christmas gift ideas.

What I want you to do is this:

  • Post (preferably in the comment section below or on your own blog) your top 3 favorite things that you’ve really gotten into this year and want other people to check out.  Your suggestions can be anything.  They don’t even have to be things that came out this year; you just have to have fallen in love with them in the last 12 months.
  • For each of your recommendations, you have to sell us on each thing in 3 sentences or less.  No paragraphs — just a few sentences.  Bonus points if you make it actionable by including a link, which will make it easier for everyone to actually see what you’re talking about.
  • After that, you should ask 3 more people to add to the list.  Or you can blog about it and pingback to here.

Rules / Guidelines:

  • No more than 3 things. Think hard about all the stuff you’ve fallen in love with this year and really narrow it down to the best of the best.
  • Be specific. Don’t say things like “Film – Get into watching movies!”  Tell us which 3 films you really loved this year and why we’d love them, too.
  • Give us a link. Where can we find / buy the product you’re recommending?  Where can I listen to that song by your favorite band?  Can I test out the software you love?  Make it easy on us and LINK IT UP!
  • Avoid mainstream recommendations. No one wants to hear about how great the iPhone is.  But if you’ve found a really great iPhone app, tell us about that.
  • NO SELF-PROMOTION OR PROMOTING SERVICES YOU’RE AFFILIATED WITH. If you try to make your recommendations about you, your friend, or your company in any way (“I recommend my blog – I really got into it this year LOL!!1″), you will have officially killed the spirit of this list.  I will delete your comment if I get a self-promo vibe from it.  And so help me god if you post an affiliate link…

So that’s it.  Your 3 favorite things from 2009, in 3 sentences or less.  Then ask 3 more people to join.

Here are my 3:

  1. Backpack by 37 Signals – I use this everyday to keep me on schedule and my life in order.  Only $7 per month for an incredibly easy, painless way to store, organize, and collaborate on documents/projects over the web (and more).  Take a tour here, or try it free for 30 days at the link above.
  2. HBO’s “Eastbound and Down” – Funniest new series on TV this year.  It’s about a wildly narcissistic ex-major league baseball player who is forced to live in a small town as a substitute teacher.  Check out this classic scene (1:30), or buy the first season for $10 at the link.
  3. “Feed the Animals” by Girl Talk – Classic pop riffs + Rap = Greatest party mix of all-time!  I’ve come across a ton of artists doing mashups, but Girl Talk is the best I’ve heard, by far.  Listen to a song from the album, then download the rest for free at the link.

Looking forward to what you guys come up with!

28 comments on “The 3^3 Project: 2009

  1. Vibram FiveFingers – Scientific evidence supports the benefits of barefoot running. FiveFingers provide these same benefits, increasing strength in the legs and feet and allowing for a healthier running style. Plus, just look at them — they’re remarkable.
    “11:11” by Rodrigo y Gabriela – Spectacular use of acoustic guitars to create a powerful blend of rock, jazz, and flamenco styles. I’ve been listening to this album nonstop. Listen to a song here.
    Moleskin Pocket Journals – It’s frustrating to come up with a great idea and not have any way of preserving it. I found these journals via Tim Ferriss’s blog, and they’ve proven invaluable in allowing me to take notes on the go. They’re compact, fit perfectly in pockets, and are quite durable.

  2. Crossfit – The most challenging and awesome workouts I’ve ever done. Check out their website

    Mauy Boran – I watched Ong Bak Thai Warrior and instantly wanted to learn his fighting style. One of my best decisions this year.

    Travelling internationally on Wednesdays – I realized that this is the cheapest day to fly. You can save upward of $800.

  3. 1. Google Documents. I like being able to work on a document at home and then being able to access it anywhere else without having to worry (as I did before) about whether I was working on the most recent version.

    2. The rock band Deas Vail’s new album “Birds and Cages.” Melodic hooks that stick in your head for days, and a tenor vocalist who reaches into the stratosphere. Someone uploaded tracks from the new album (probably illegally) to YouTube; check out Atlantis, The Great Physician, or Sunlight.

    3. Can’t think of a third right now.

  4. 1. Mint – Can’t say enough about It makes dealing with finances easy and fun. Their blog has got some interesting content and really cool infographics too.

    2. Disney Parks – Nobody beats Disney when it comes to entertainment. They just recently started a blog and twitter account that shows neat behind the scenes stuff. It gives you a bit of vacation when you’re still busy at work, and some of the photos and videos can help inspire your creative side.

    3. Mo Willems. His books are not only great for kids, but they’re really fun for adults. The Elephant and Piggie books are awesome, and his blog is pretty fun too. I get excited when I have to go to a kid’s birthday party because I get to buy another Mo book.

  5. Pingback: Tweets that mention The 3^3 Project: 2009 « Hoehn’s Musings --

  6. 1. Way better than Pandora, it lets you search for songs, build playlists and play them whenever you want, no commercials and no costs. You can also turn on the “radio” option and listen to other peoples’ playlists, based on what you like.

    2., I saw him when he opened for Rodrigo & Gabriela at their show in NYC. Amazing guitarist and vocalist, if you like R&G or Jeff Buckley, you’ll definitely be into Rocco Deluca.

    3., this may not count since its so mainstream, but I just started using it this year and I can’t get enough. I keep track of all my RSS feeds, email, news, my calendar and everything else I could possibly need. I basically only go to there and read everything without having to surf the web.

  7. 1. Oolong tea from adagio teas. Especially like the Jasmine Oolong with the flowers that open up in the hot water. Use this number as a gift certificate to get $5 off 9179154229

    2. 1Password to store all my passwords. I now only have to use one master password to log into all my online accounts, love it!

    3.Basecamp to manage projects for the student entrepreneurship club that I run. It’s super intuitive and well thought-out.

    Gotta add 4. My favorite brand of 2009 is Johnny Cupcakes Check him out, his story and brand are amazing. I brought him to Clark University for a lecture about his experience and it was awesome.

  8. 1. Apple ProCare — My laptop’s logic board was fried, and I needed a replacement. Luckily, my AppleCare covered the $1200 cost… but I’d have to send my computer (and all the files I’m working on for my startup) away for a week. The $99 ProCare upgrade got my MBP fixed up and back in my briefcase within four hours.

    2. The wonderful world of tea — Fine, I started exploring towards the end of ’08. But things really picked up this year, with the discoveries of lapsang souchong (“smoky” tea), pu-erh (particularly when mixed with dried blood orange), and a fantastic oolong I know only as “Super Butterfly Wuyi.” Now I can’t wait for my latest shipment to arrive!

    3. Books — Yes, these have been around my entire life. But after years of putting off reading books I’ve wanted to read, simply due to the reading burnout that is undergrad… well, this year has been ENLIGHTENING.

      • Ha! I was planning on staying vague, because there are so many amazing ones I’ve read. In the spirit of this thread… here are three choice picks that you may not have heard of:

        Christ Was An Ad Man (Robert C. Pritikin) — thoughts of a REALLY successful old ad-man. Fantastic insights into classic, mass media forms of advertising, and developing clear, concise, and spread-able messages.

        Telling True Stories (Mark Kramer & Wendy Call) — a collection of short essays from famous authors of narrative non-fiction. A deep look into the world of journalism from its leading minds, and the human element Reuters and Google will never be able to replace.

        Rules for Radicals (Saul Alinsky) — yes, Ryan Holiday talks about this one all the time, so some may not consider it “new” or “off the radar”. But it’s talked about for good reason. How to rally others around a cause, by the guy who turned it into a science.

        So there’s my 3^3^3.

  9. Co-working space – I found a way to socialize with local designers without being awkward. It also allows for a physical separation of work and home.

    The Envato marketplace – It’s my secret time and money saving weapon. Whether it’s,, or the other three, they take tons of roadblocks out of a project. They make my projects look amazing, which makes me look good, all while putting money in other designers’ pockets (and it’s super low cost).

    The Wire – The most amazing tv show ever made. It’s Shakespeare on TV. And Omar is without a doubt the greatest TV character of all time.

  10. 1. Nikki McClure Wall Calendars – they are simple, artsy, and inspiring. You can get the 3 pack to put together to see 3 months out or give as gifts.

    2. Longchamp Le Pliage (“folding”) bag – great for an everyday bag to throw in books, netbook, hat/scarf/gloves, the high heels you will put on after you walk to your office.

    3. Jake & Amos Sweet Dipping Mustard – the best honey mustard for dipping chicken nuggets – the kind you get frozen and bake in the oven when you are too lazy too cook.

  11. I second Matt’s Rodrigo & Gabriela listing. – Really comprehensive and accessible online dictionary for English, French, Spanish and several other languages…It’s my best friend at work when I’m stuck on how to phrase something just right in French…

    Shravan Vidyarthi Photography & Video ( – this may be a risky one, since I know this guy. But even if I hadn’t passed a long-haul flight with him chatting about British colonial history and the Kumars at No 42, I would still recommend him. Based out of New York and Nairobi, he has a knack and a passion for capturing the lives of some of the world’s least remembered and most forgotten – from New York taxi drivers to former Sudanese soldiers starting health clinics in south Sudan, to victims of gender based violences in Congo Brazzaville. Stunning.

    The Kamusi Project ( – ultimate online pan-Swahili course. Normally you can pay bucket loads for good language tools, but the Kamusi Project has an indepth 55 chapter course available in French or English. Could do with a boost on the audio side, but for a totally free course, pretty rad. If I wasn’t living off a volunteer’s per diem, I would actually even donate to it…

    As for telling 3 others, I’ll be linking to this on my next blog post…

  12. 1. You type in your ZIP code or city and it searches all of craigslist up to a 250 mile radius. It also gives a picture preview.

    2. Google Chrome: Free, easy, and quick to use web browser. Simple, sleek design. Automatic Spell Check. Never crashes!

    3. An awesome forum for rally, rally-cross, and auto-cross enthusiasts. Very knowledgeable and friendly people. Very good layout, easy to use.

  13. Pingback: “Oh my maiden, let me woo thee with phone credit…”, a sobering look at malnutrition in Djuma and the misadventures of being detained by smart southern Sudanese military « Lucie en Afrique

  14. 1. Radiolab ( – It’s like Wired for your ears. Tackling the latest developments in science in the context of “big questions,” with impressive amounts of attention paid to presentation and style (Plus a huge back catalog of shows for newcomers).

    2. Quicken Online ( – Is this mainstream? For a blog by a young 20-something seemingly read mostly by 20-somethings, I’m gonna say no. A really simple way to track finances and monitor your spending. Apologies to the Mint guy – I’ll have to check it out.

    3. mental floss ( – More interesting facts per page than any magazine short of the Economist, made much more interesting by their randomness and pretty colors. A fantastic substitute for anyone who kind of misses the “learn stuff you’ll never use” aspect of school.

  15. 1. “Leverage” — TV show, Wednesday nights on TNT. A group of criminals (hitter, hacker, grifter, thief) and an ex-insurance investigator who’s tracked all of them at one time or another, come together as a Robin Hood-like team that gets payback for little guys who’ve been abused by the Big Guys. Every week is like a new one-hour “Ocean’s 11.” They’re on hiatus right now; second half of season two starts up on January 13.

    2. John Fullbright. This kid is from Okemah, Oklahoma, home of Woody Guthrie, and he’s the second coming of Woody, honest to God. Woody’s little sister, Miss Mary Jo, loves him to pieces, and folk and Americana artists are lining up to get behind him and play with him. Don’t miss.

    3. Fage yogurt. Yum.

  16. I got 3…

    1. “O-sumo”, or what we non-Japanese call “sumo wrestling”. If you ever go to an event you’ll find yourself thrown back 2000 years to some seriously awesome action. No gatorade and arrogant athletes here, just Chikara mizu (power water) repeated stare-downs and immediate cash payment upon victory.

    2. NFL. I’m an Australian and finally decided to give this sport some time after seeing it always on cable. Now I love it, but have trouble with some of the rules still. Go Vikings!

    3. Charlie’s blog. Someone had to say it, and i think(?) I found it this year…

  17. Gary Vaynerchuck – Have really become a “Vayniack” and I don’t even like wine. Love his edge and his book “Crush It”. Check out his personal site and his Wine video blog.

    DropBox – Not exactly a new product in 2009 but one of the best web services I have ever used. File syncing and storage. So easy and free!

    Asus EEEPC 1015HA – Awesome netbook. 2009 was the year of the netbook and 2010 will surely see more innovation. Light, portable and inexpensive.

    Thanks Charlie, great idea

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