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How to Do the Right Thing

From time to time, I write about the general subject of thinking for yourself—also known as why you don't need to take anyone's advice about much of anything. Whenever I do, I always receive lots of concerned emails from people who make their living by telling other people what to do, explaining why “surely” I don't mean to imply that their clients should stop giving them money to help them make their decisions.

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The Feeling of Landing on a Remote Airstrip

You appreciate the big cities. Tokyo, Hong Kong, London—all of these you visit often and love well. But sometimes, your adventures take you further afield. You fly to a big city, then to a smaller city, and eventually on to an airstrip that could be anywhere. Stepping off the rickety commuter-jet stairs into the void, you're tempted to shout in expectation of an echo.

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The Moment You Knew

I've spent much of the past four months interviewing unconventional entrepreneurs for my next book, and throughout the process I learned what kind of questions solicit the best answers. For example, I often asked people whether their venture was "worth it," which might sound simplistic. Of course it's worth it! I've learned, though, that this question often leads to a good story, so that's why I ask. I also learned to ask if there was a specific moment when they knew for sure they would make it. These "moment they knew" stories can be fun and inspiring.

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Notes from a Cold Bathroom Floor in South Africa

Tomorrow I'll be headed to Madagascar, the final stop of my latest trip before I begin the long process of returning home. But at the moment, I've been spending the past three hours sitting on the floor of the bathroom during a brief stopover in Johannesburg. Why the bathroom? Because it's freezing here in Johannesburg—we're now in the middle of the southern hemisphere winter—and the only heater in my room is located by the sink.

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Running in Frankfurt

It’s always a sunny day when you arrive in Frankfurt. You might think this is impossible, but Frankfurt is like Seattle: apparently it rains all the time, but never on your first day. (It helps to arrive in the summer months.) I’ve been here on a dozen stopovers, nearly half of them last year when…

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Be Nice to the Cleaners

I went to participate in an event held at a bookstore in a big city. I saw on the store's calendar that a Very Famous Author (we'll call him Mr. X) had been there the day before.

“Wow,” I said to the staff. “'I'm intimidated to follow Mr. X. What was he like?”

The two exchanged a glance, and apparently decided I was trustworthy enough to not report them to their manger. “To be honest,” one of them said, “Mr. X was an asshole. He came in, didn't say hi to anyone, and threw his keys on the counter, demanding that someone valet his rental car.”

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How to Make Money on the Internet

When it comes to working online and making money on the internet, most discussions tend to look at specific tactics. How do you set up a mailing list? How can you get a merchant account? And so on. The answers to these questions may be useful, but you can learn about them elsewhere, and I thought it would be helpful to take a step back and look at something higher-level.

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