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”If You Can Invest in Someone Else’s Company, You Can Invest in Yourself”

On an upcoming episode of Side Hustle School, I tell the story of someone who obtained a patent for a special kind of mittens for runners. Unlike a $100 Startup, getting a patent is not an easy or cheap process. It look several years and more than $5,000.

Still, she stuck with it because she believed in the idea and was convinced of its value. When she asked one friend where she was going to get the money, he said, “Do you own any stocks?” She said yes.

“If you can invest in someone else’s company,” he told her, "you can invest in yourself. Sell the stocks!”

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“We Run Away from Desperation:” Thoughts on Pursuing a Creative Idea

I recently recorded a Side Hustle School episode about Michelle D’Avella, a designer who spent several years building a blog before turning it into a full-time income.

The first year she started her blog, she made $0. Last year, after experimenting with a series of virtual workshops and mentoring sessions, she made $50,000. The success isn’t just about making money, it’s also (maybe even more importantly) about finding work she believes in.

Her advice to others is to create from a place of joy.

"Don’t put so much pressure on figuring it all out, but make sure what you’re doing is something you can feel good about. When we create from joy, people feel it. When we create from lack, people feel it too. We run away from desperation."

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It’s Not My Birthday

Despite what Google or Wikipedia tells you, today (April 4th) is not my birthday. Last year on this day I got a flurry of messages from people all wishing me a joyous celebration.

“Thanks,” I’d reply, “but it’s not my birthday."

I finally developed a working theory of what happened. I’m not positive it’s true, but it’s something that feels comforting, so I’m going with it.

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“Everything Is Figoureoutable:” Notes from Paris to Doha

On a recent trip, I had to get back to Doha from Paris, a 5 1/2 hour flight. I was transferring via an initial connection from Zurich, and I booked the Zurich flight to arrive less than an hour before the Qatar Airways flight departed.

You might think that’s cutting it close, and it was. In the worst of times, Charles de Gaulle airport can be an absolute nightmare to navigate for transit. It’s not unreasonable to walk more than a kilometer between terminals, and some terminals are reachable only by an extended bus ride. Add long security lines (no PreCheck!) to that equation, and it’s not unreasonable to allow 2-3 hours for a connection.

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Even When You Aren’t Sure What to Say, Don’t Be Silent

I recently had the honor of introducing Emily McDowell and facilitating a Q&A session with her at Powell’s for her new book, There Is No Good Card for This.

You probably know Emily’s work even if you don’t know her yourself. She’s the creator, designer, and entrepreneur behind a line of greeting cards and related products, all with the goal of serving “the relationships we really have.”

Here are a few of her popular cards (order yours online or from one of 2,000 stores around the world):

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Afternoon Rituals

If I’ve done my job well and managed my time properly, most of the crunch time work has happened in the morning. I work every morning, afternoon, and most evenings, but in different ways.

The afternoon is a slower form of work. I have at least 40 minutes for lunch, which I usually read with the New Yorker or Economist or (when in my hometown) the Willamette Week. Afterwards, if the weather’s nice, I might walk for a while. I run an errand or two. Eventually, I end up at a coffee shop, or I pick up a pastry and head home.

The 2pm-4pm work period is nice and easy. I might have deadlines but I usually avoid calls or interviews. I plan ahead and do some editing, a bit of writing, maybe some business work. But it’s thoughtful. I’ve already read all the news in the morning, but I might read more analysis or an article on Longreads with my coffee.

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Morning Rituals

When I’m not jet lagged from flying around the world, I have a clear routine that I follow as much as possible. This routine allows me to stay relatively sane while also working as much as possible on things I believe in.

I love living on the west coast, but working on Pacific time can be a challenge. Even when I get up early, I’m three hours behind the other side of the country. My 6am is their 9am—most people have been awake and starting their days for a while. Their idea of an early call is extremely early for me.

When I have a book out, I do my best to accommodate anyone else’s schedule. Drive time radio for a major show on the east coast? That usually means even if I’m in the later portion of the show, I’ll be calling in at 5am or earlier. It’s okay; I do what needs to be done.

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2016 Annual Review: Let’s Look Forward to Big New Things!

In this (very abbreviated) Annual Review series…

I’ve never really had writer’s block. I think it was Seth Godin who said something about how writing is the only profession where it’s acceptable to stop working because you can’t be “creative.” There’s no such thing as nurse's block.

But … for much longer than usual, I didn’t know what to say about my review! I really didn’t.

One thing I know is that it’s important to pay attention to how things make you feel. If you look forward to something, that tells you something. If you dread something, or even if you just don’t feel that excited about it, that gives you other information.

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Looking Back on 2016 (All in One Post!)

I mentioned that I felt some resistance to this year’s review, so I ended up doing it differently. Not surprisingly, some things will be different about my recap process as well.

The biggest difference is that I’m pretty much entirely focused on the future at this point. I call it the review, but it’s much more of a forward-looking, goal-setting practice. I typically spend one day looking back and the rest planning ahead.

This time I didn’t even look back at all. It wasn’t until I started writing this post that I realized I had spent the time only looking forward and working on my new project (more on that in a bit).

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Why I’ve Resisted My Annual Review for the First Time in 10 Years

I can trace whatever success I’ve had to instituting and diligently following the practice of completing an Annual Review. It’s helped me write books, travel to every country in the world, start various businesses, produce events for thousands of people, and so on. After feeling that my life wasn't well-aligned, I recently added more categories focused on wellness and relationships—that decision helped a lot too.

But for some reason, as this year’s review time rolled around, I felt some resistance to it. I didn’t look forward to it the way I always have in the past.

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Decide Now How You’ll Evaluate Yourself Next Year

For the past 10 years, I’ve conducted an Annual Review each December to look back on the year and plan ahead for the next. During this time I set a number of goals in different categories of my life.

I’ve written about the review extensively on the blog, and over the years many people have completed it for themselves or adapted it in their own way.

This year I’ll be doing something a bit different. The review is still relevant and very much part of my life, but I’ve felt for a couple years now that something about it needs to change.

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If You Can’t Learn Math, Maybe It’s Not Your Fault

My experience in higher education was unusual and erratic. I eventually earned a master’s degree in International Studies, but long before that I was a high-school dropout.

One thing I haven’t talked about much is that I’ve never been able to learn higher math: algebra, geometry, calculus, or anything of the sort. It’s not for lack of trying, or at least it wasn’t for a while. (I have zero interest in trying to learn it these days.)

No, I tried and I just couldn’t learn. I tried over and over and it never got any easier. Lots of people tried to help. I read books and went to study groups. But no matter what I did, it didn’t sink in.

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It’s Time to Change the Road You Walk On

You could make a big change at any point in your life. The world could be floating along, with or without you, just as it usually does. Then one day you go out for a sandwich, and while you’re eating it in the park, you think to yourself, “You know, I don’t think I’ll go back to work.” That same afternoon, you book a flight to Tanzania and spend the next ten years volunteering in a nature reserve.

It could happen.

Most of the time, though, that's not how it works. Usually we've been thinking about something for a while, and then those thoughts collide with an unexpected external event. Discontent + stimulation = motivation.

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We’re Not Going to Change the World. You Are.

17139584230_5cf47081bc_z I’m not sure where to begin, or really even what to say at all.

I just wish I had done more to stop it. I’m not very political, I’ve never given to any candidate. I’ve always voted but never registered with a party. I’m not one of those mythical “undecided voters," but I certainly am independent.

Still, this election was the easiest voting choice I’ve ever made. I know it’s naive, but I was genuinely amazed when I met or heard from people who thought differently.

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“How could you go back to living a mundane life?”

Cassie de Pecol is on a quest to become the fastest woman to visit every country in the world. We sometimes exchange notes about visa issues, long flights, and drinking a bottle of wine while stuck in no-man’s-land transit zone for eight hours or more.

There aren’t many people who’ve gone to every country. Cassie is pursuing a Guinness World Record (I like those too!) but for me, I wasn’t trying to be the youngest, fastest, or any other adjective. In my case, I did it for myself.

She said something to me recently that I really liked, and I’m sharing it here with her permission. For context, we were talking about the dreaded “What do you do after completing a big quest?” question.

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