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Searching for Guinea Bissau in Midtown Manhattan

On a crisp morning in November, you find yourself waking up in the center of the universe. You look out your window and see 5th Avenue and the New York Public Library.

You step out of bed and feel the impact of three hours' time change from the west coast. It's 4:30am back there, your body informs you. But you have a mission ahead of you, and you can't be late.

The previous evening you had ordered breakfast for delivery and hesitated over the selection. At first you were thinking french toast, but then you remembered that Gary Leff recommends the lemon poppyseed pancakes. You're not usually a fan of lemon poppyseed, but you decide to trust Gary and give it a try.

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On the Road Again: Next Stop, Portuguese Africa

I'm off to see the world again, heading out to West Africa via JFK, LHR, LIS, and DKR over the next couple of days. This time, I'm attempting to visit two challenging countries, Guinea Bissau and Sao Tome. After ten years of active travel, these are also my final countries in all of Africa. These countries are hard to visit. In addition to being difficult to limited flight schedules and far-away jumping-off points (Lisbon and Dakar), I don't have a visa for either country, something that both require prior to departure. Why am I going anyway, with a real chance that one or both of the visits could fail? Because I have no choice.

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Continuous improvement: An Abbreviated List (And Yours?)

I said recently that I felt frustrated with myself due to poor focus and lack of attention to “big things.” Of course, whining doesn't get us anywhere—action is much better. Complete with built-in accountability, this post outlines a few things I'm working on. It's also a public commitment to correct my shortcomings through the process of continuous improvement.

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U.S. Frequent Flyers: New Opportunity to Earn Mega-Miles

*Update: Looking for more recent travel hacking posts? They're over here. Last Tuesday night, I returned home from Australia, via Hong Kong and San Francisco. I was as jet lagged as ever, but I had an important travel hacking task to complete: the next day, I paid a trip to my local Office Depot, where I purchased $2,000 worth of gift cards that would eventually be deposited in a bank account. This purchase was an experiment. If all goes well, I'll be carefully making a number of additional purchases over the next few months, and perhaps even longer.

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Powerful Words

The words we use matter. Here are some examples of words or phrases that are especially powerful.

Once upon a time. The most powerful words in storytelling. No matter how long the story goes, or how complex it becomes, every story has a beginning.

You. Because in business or in life, the more you can focus your efforts on other people, the more they will care about what you say.

“Yes and ...” The two words that keep improvisation going. Hint: they can also keep any conversation going.

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Small Things Can Keep Us from Big Things

Lately I've felt that I'm doing well at the small things, but failing to plan for more involved work. It's not that the small things are inconsequential—or so I tell myself. If you also struggle with doing small things well but neglecting the bigger picture, it's time to take action. The only way to break the pattern is to force ourselves to look ahead and answer the question:

What, exactly, am I trying to build here?

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What Is Freedom?

For me, everything began with the notion of freedom—the ability to determine the course of my daily schedule and overall life direction. I was very motivated by the opportunity to decide for myself. A normal job didn't fit into those parameters, so I did everything I could to create my own employment and well-being. But that was early on. Freedom is still extremely important to me. I'll walk away from any business deal or career option that restricts my choices or limits future decisions in a way that doesn't feel right ...

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In Search of a Few Great Stories (Can You Help?)

The best part of The $100 Startup was telling the stories of all kinds of people who started successful businesses without spending a lot of money. Happily, the book has been a big success, with more than 100,000 copies sold in the first few months and at least 15 foreign translations in progress. I'm now beginning the research process for my next book, which we expect to reach even more people. This book is about quests—a project of measurable challenge that you work toward over a long period of time.

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Chicago Marathon: Mission Complete

Yesterday I got up early ... and ran 26.2 miles through the streets of Chicago! This was my fourth marathon, but I haven't done one in several years and was somewhat worried. I had been apprehensive after not being able to train as much as I should have, and also after feeling some pain in my right leg on the longest run before the race. Thankfully, all was well yesterday. From start to finish, I felt comfortable. Even at the end, I was tired but not as exhausted as I've been for every other long race.

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Around Here: Notes from Thursday Afternoon

Whenever things are going well, it's always good to ask yourself “How could I improve? What could I do better?” Never rest on your laurels! Always be thinking: OK, great. What's next? Yesterday I woke up early and went for a quick run around the park. Then I went for a morning biscuit at Pine State, where I visit a couple of times a week whenever I'm home in Portland. Then I came back and got ready, and then we sold 1,000 WDS 2013 tickets to fun people all over the world. I looked back at the screen and thought, wow, that was exciting. Then I went for sushi.

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The Calling

Bob Dylan spoke to Rolling Stone recently. I liked these parts: You've described what you do not as a career but as a calling.

Everybody has a calling, don't they? Some have a high calling, some have a low calling. Everybody is called but few are chosen. There's a lot of distraction for people, so you might not never find the real you. A lot of people don't.

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Early Preview of the 2013 World Domination Summit

We've begun secret meetings at World Domination HQ (also known as my house). Field trips have been made to various potential locations (the best field trips always end with Happy Hour). Quote requests have gone out for skywriters and a mechanical bull (long story). We're still in early days, but the time has come: our team has slowly been gathering to plan a small event for next summer.

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