When you’re wandering cobblestone streets in Europe, stopping at cafes and making unexpected discoveries, it’s fun to lose your way and wander off the well-trodden path. You’re on an adventure! When you’re out on a long run and don’t mind if you take a wrong turn or two, you know that the extra distance is good for you.But here’s the thing: you’re not really lost in those situations. You’re exactly where you wanted to be, even if you didn’t know it before you took the detour. That’s why "getting lost" feels oddly welcoming. When it comes to wandering in the wilderness of the soul, however, it’s a different situation. This is the wilderness where you feel truly lost. You lack direction, enthusiasm, or purpose—or maybe all three. You don’t know what to do, and every option you can see feels like two steps backwards. Read More
I’m as guilty as anyone else who says that to build a business, or a blog, it’s good to ask people what they want and then give it to them. It works!But there’s another side to this thinking, and I heard the counterpoint presented beautifully last week by Paula Pant. For years, she's published a popular blog about personal finance. But as she shared in a talk, after starting down the familiar path of "Hey everyone, what should I write for you?" she realized that maybe it was better to ask herself what she wanted to do. Read More
Just as there are some things that can’t be fixed, there are also some things you can’t control. This fact can be hard to accept for those of us who like to both fix and control things.You might have a lot of influence, all the autonomy you could wish for, and independence for days—but when it comes to things you can’t control, none of that matters. I was reading a thread on Quora recently and noticed a recurring theme in what people mentioned as being outside the realm of control. Read More
Imagine revisiting a place you’d been long ago during a hard time in your life. Maybe that time was long, long ago, and the place far, far away. Or maybe it was last week, and the place is the coffee shop down the street.Whatever the story, you walk in and experience an unpleasant flashback. You remember what happened when you received bad news, that thing that someone said, or whatever the hard time was about. But it’s not just about the memories. You can feel it. The anxiety tightens, and maybe you’re short of breath. There's no doubt about it: that thing was hard! Not just a little hard, but hard in a life-changing way. Back then, during the time of the hard thing, you had no idea how you'd recover. You couldn't fathom ever being "okay" or normal again. But maybe there’s also something good about this experience, the one that feels so unpleasant at first. Read More
Link: Perennial Seller"What if I'm not good at making ideas happen? I just like to have ideas!" Ever since I started Side Hustle School on January 1, I've heard this question a surprising number of times. And believe me, I know it would be nice if you could just have ideas and then someone else does things. That's not how it works for most of us, though—even those who are successful writers, entrepreneurs, or artists of all kinds. Ideas gain value not through brainstorming but through the getting-it-done phase that all good work needs. Read More
A while back I wrote about the idea of your life as a movie, with you as the director. When you go through your archives in post-production, you might stumble on a scene that feels particularly surreal.In those times, you may want to ask yourself, “Why did I put this scene in my movie?" With the benefit of perspective, I realize that some of the scenes in my movie are a little surreal. Looking back on those scenes, it's easy to wonder, “Did that really happen?” Read More
Arnold Schwarzenegger on being a self-made man:
“I always tell people that you can call me anything that you want, but don’t ever, ever call me a self-made man. It gives the wrong impression, that we can do it alone. None of us can. The whole concept of the self-made man or woman is a myth. I would have never made it in my life without the help. I want you to understand this because as soon as you know you are here because of a lot of help, then you also understand that now it’s time to help others. That’s what this is all about.”Read More
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!” Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
So hey—I started a podcast! Yes, it's true: I’m catching up to the technological age of 2005.And let me tell you: I’m having so much fun. I feel purposeful. Readers—many of whom are now listeners—are really enjoying it. And best of all, I truly believe it’s going to be helpful to people. So that’s great! There really is no downside. I’m glad I did this. But what have I learned? That’s what this 6,500 word post is about. I'll share my own lessons and observations, as well as my early advice for anyone thinking of starting their own podcast. Read More
I got a call to do some filming for a marketing agency in Los Angeles. I had the date open and it sounded interesting, so I decided to go.The filming took place in a Beverly Hills mansion, probably the largest single-person home I’ve ever been in. On the way in I waved awkwardly to the car valet who was hosing down a Porsche, then said hello to the personal chef chopping vegetables in the kitchen. All over the studio, which looked a bit like what I’d imagine a porn set to be, there were whiteboards set up with verbal cues. Most of them related to the science of persuasion: scarcity, limited-time offer, feel better about yourself. Read More
In this (very abbreviated) Annual Review series…
- Decide Now How You'll Evaluate Yourself Next Year
- Why I've Resisted My Annual Review for the First Time in 10 Years
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.Read More
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. Read More
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.Read More