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No Reservations to Parts Unknown: Thank You, Anthony Bourdain

I wasn’t always an Anthony Bourdain fan. My first exposure to him came when I read a critical comment he’d made that didn’t sit right with me. But that was evidently just a passing comment, and I didn’t even know the context, so a couple of years ago I started paying more attention to him. I enjoyed his show whenever I saw clips of it in hotel lounges and airports around the world.

Then I read a New Yorker profile that radically shifted my early perspective. I loved it! I remember reading it more than once while traveling in some country or another, no doubt one that he'd been to as well.

I liked the article so much partly because I identified with his style and approach. I could see parts of myself in how he lived. Not in terms of the level of success, since I am no Anthony Bourdain in that department, but in terms of his work ethic and willingness to keep pushing himself over and over.

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If You Want to Make Money, Don’t Study Hard in School

If you want to make money, question the rules and don’t study hard in school. That’s the finding of a new study.

In 1968, researchers began studying 12-year-old students who were in the sixth grade. They examined the influence of their intelligence, characteristics, behaviors and their parents' socioeconomic status.

Then, 40 years later, they followed up with those students. Not surprisingly, the students who were described by teachers as "studious" were more likely to have prestigious jobs. But, the studious kids didn't make the most money in adulthood.

The highest income earners were the "naughty kids." The kids who broke the rules and defied parental authority became the highest income earners as adults.

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The Truth Is a Terrible Thing, But Not Compared to Falsehood

Reality isn’t just what someone tells you. They could be lying to you, or they just might be speaking from their own limited perspective. We know this, right? We can't just accept at face value everything we hear.

But reality also isn’t just what you tell yourself, at least not if you're trying to avoid something. You too have a limited perspective. You have weaknesses, insecurities, and fears that can be surprisingly resilient in their pursuit of a false narrative.

Reality is at least somewhat objective, at least when it comes to basic facts. Sure, you can interpret those facts as you’d like, but facts are facts.

When you choose to persistently believe something that you know, deep down, might not actually be true, you’re lying to the most important person in your life: yourself.

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What Is Your Personal Moonshot?

A moonshot, according to the ubiquitous WikiPedia, is a "is an ambitious, exploratory and ground-breaking project undertaken without any expectation of near-term profitability or benefit and also, perhaps, without a full investigation of potential risks and benefits.”

For a long time my moonshot was going to every country in the world. Then I accomplished that goal (without ever getting to the actual moon—it's not a country, after all) and had to figure out what came next...

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I’d Like to Hear Your Stories About Failure

In many of the talks I’ve done, I’ve noticed that one topic comes up over and over: failure.

What’s your biggest failure?

Are you afraid to fail?

How are people able to recover from failure?

Even though I have a daily podcast that tells success stories, I believe we can also learn a lot from failure. And here's the thing: I don’t know if the learning objective is always to “bounce back.” Some failures may be, well, permanent.

In any case, I’d like to hear from you. Maybe your failure story will help someone else avoid a similar mishap, or maybe the act of naming it will help you move on.

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Choose a Long Life, Be Forgotten Immediately Afterwards

Even if you've never read Homer's Iliad, you're probably familiar with parts of the story. Much of it is about heroism and valor, but it's also about choice.

Here's an alternate history interpretation of a choice that Achilles faces:

He gives this speech, this response that is weird, where he says, effectively, “The prophecy is that if I go back to fight here, I will die here. My name will be immortal. If I don’t go back to fight, I’ll go home and live a long life and will be forgotten.” He chooses to go back and be forgotten. Then, later, he changes his mind because his friend gets killed.

I think the existential examination of this Greek warrior and this heroic culture that clearly valorizes heroism and deathless fame and everything, and who is, canonically, the most famous heroic warrior and the one with the most deathless fame, he’s the one who says, “Nah, I’d rather go back and live a long life on my farm.”

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To Win the Lottery, Buy a Ticket and Never Check the Numbers

I recently bought my first lottery ticket in something like 15 years. The purchase happened on a whim, as I was walking down the street in California. When I passed by a minimart, I thought, “I should go inside and buy a lottery ticket.” And so I did.

To a lottery novice such as myself, the process was a little confusing. Apparently there’s not just one lottery... there are many! Not being familiar with the pros and cons of various options, I asked the clerk for the cheapest one.

I bought the ticket on a lark and didn’t really have a plan at first. But then, before I left the store, I knew what I would do next: nothing at all. I’d hold on to the ticket but never check the numbers to see if I’d won.

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Under the Unseen Blue Sky in Sydney, Australia

If you’re going through a dark night of the soul, you might as well pass the time in a beautiful place.

That’s what I was thinking as my hour-long Qantas flight from Melbourne began its descent to Sydney. Australia has long been a place of joy and peace for me, and Sydney in particular. Ever since I first stumbled into town five years ago, when I was denied boarding on a flight from Brisbane to Nauru (long story), I’ve been coming back every chance I get.

This time felt different because, well, I’m different. I’ve been judging the days on a 1-10 scale, and I get excited—at least moderately so—when I feel higher than a 3.

And so as the flight lands in Sydney and I take the airport train to the city, bracing myself against an onset of anxiety, I begin my self-talk.

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New Travel Hacking Offers: Earn 100,000 Hilton Honors Points & More


Greetings from paradise, also known as Australia.

I started writing this post from one of my favorite places in the world: the balcony of my room at Park Hyatt Sydney (check out this photo of the sunrise!). I’m staying here with points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred, my #1 recommendation for travel rewards cards.

Normally the room would cost $900 a night (!), but naturally my cost is ... $0. I’ve been here over and over, usually at least once a year, and every stay has been “funded” through my points from this card.

And it’s not just here. All over the world, I’ve been able to fly and stay for nearly free, all thanks to the wonders of travel hacking.

All of this is possible for you, too! Or at least it is for many of our readers, who regularly write in to tell me about how they used their points for amazing experiences of their own.

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Don’t Feel Pressured To Find Your Life’s Purpose At Age 21

I don't think you're supposed to know your true passion or purpose right away. It tends to emerge as you embark on different paths.

It's good that you're frustrated—it shows that you understand the importance of the search. But I think the best thing you can do is be open and explore different paths. The truest one tends to appear as you go along, not before you start.

At least that's how it was for me. From a young age I felt exactly what you describe: the idea that I was just pushing my life along with no north star.

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The Importance of Having a Breakdown, AKA “What Happened to the Annual Review”

What can I say about the Annual Review process that I’ve completed without fail for more than a decade?

This year, I gave up on it and walked away.

Well, not quite—that would be an exaggeration. But to be fully honest (and we shall return to this phrase again), I had a hard time facing it. Eventually I was able to make some progress, which I’ll note below, but the overall sense was one of sadness.

Last year was hard, too. And there have been other hard years. This time, however, felt nearly insurmountable.

A challenge became a struggle. The struggle became a crisis, and the crisis became, well, something that approaches a total breakdown.

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Is It Better to Have Status or Be Likable?

I’ve always thought you aren’t supposed to try too hard to be liked. You should be nice, of course—but choosing likability as a goal feels odd.

Still, new research shows—and 9 out of 10 dentists agree—that being likable is more important than being “known.”

"People who seek to be likable tend to end up healthier, in better relationships, with more fulfilling work, and even live longer. Status-seekers, on the other hand, often end up anxious, depressed, and with addiction problems."

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