A reader sent me this fun video from a long-ago sketch on Sesame Street.I love the turning point right at the halfway mark: Dan would do everything that Stan did, until one day he decides to make a change. “Hi, I’m Dan. I decided I’m not going to do everything that Stan does anymore." Isn’t this exactly how it works in life? You go along with the crowd, playing follow the leader and keeping your head down. The status quo is maintained—until it isn't. Read More
Deciding how you value your time can help you make decisions. But how do you really know what your time is worth?
It’s partly a hypothetical question, because you don’t always get to choose how much money you'll make or how much free time you'll have.
And it’s partly a practical question, because sometimes you do get to choose. Life is all about making choices, some of which are exclusive and limit us from other opportunities.
A free tool guides you to your own answer of "How much is your time worth" in both hypothetical and practical scenarios.Read More
I was coming back from a run up and down Mount Tabor in Southeast Portland. I know the route well. It’s about a 5-6 mile loop from my house, depending on which path I take. More often than not, when I’m home for a while I run it at least once a week.
As I neared my neighborhood toward the end of the run, I noticed a cat in a driveway. Being a cat person, I often say hi to felines when I see them out and about on my run. Cats being cats, sometimes they follow me for blocks, intent on being my friend for life, and other times they can’t be bothered to acknowledge my presence.
This cat, I noticed, was different. He was sitting on his hind legs in the driveway, staring intently at something. Maybe it’s because he was so intent on the object of his fascination, or maybe I was just tired toward the end of the run—but for whatever reason I decided to slow down and walk over to the driveway.
“Hey, what’s going on?” I said to the cat. (Yeah, I talk to cats the same way I talk to people. If you’ve ever had a cat, you understand.)
The cat gave no response. He was fully immersed in something, and as I got closer, I could see what it was. There was a mouse! A tiny one, shivering in an isolated section of grass near the driveway—and just a paw’s swipe away from the cat.Read More
I had coffee with an aspiring entrepreneur who was struggling with priorities.
“I worry I’m doing everything wrong!” he said.
Everywhere he went, people gave him free advice. They told him about email marketing ... and webinars ... and the latest new social network ... and all the things he had to do to keep up.
"I'm not sure I'll be able to do all these things," he continued. "I can hardly keep up with the list!"
Well, that’s the thing. First of all, it’s very hard to fully "keep up" these day. There’s always a new network to learn, a new tool to master. There’s always one more thing that can be done.Read More
Long ago, right before I started this blog and began the full-time quest to "go everywhere," I went through a six-month period of thinking about it. When I say I was thinking about it, I mean it occupied my mental world approximately 80% of the time. I was still working and going to grad school during the day, but my attention lay elsewhere.
Then, at night, I'd go to bed with a notebook on my nightstand. I kept it there because almost every night, I'd wake up feeling excited. I'd have another idea or something new to add to the outline.
I loved this story of Benny Hsu making $100,000 from his t-shirt designs—a huge entrepreneurial success on his own, no doubt. But I also related to how the project took over his life and became all he thought about.Read More
That’s why I’m naturally predisposed to like new research that shows that when you’re by yourself, you shouldn’t just stay at home and avoid activities that you might normally only do with someone else.
"People decide to not do things all the time just because they're alone," said Rebecca Ratner, a professor of marketing at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, who has spent almost half a decade studying why people are so reluctant to have fun on their own and how it may lead to, well, less fun overall. "But the thing is, they would probably be happier going out and doing something.”Read More
"Every day is like a self addressed envelope we post to ourself. Be careful what you post in it.”
I went through a phase as a kid when I collected autographs from baseball players. It was a pretty short phase—I don’t care much for baseball now—but for a few moths, I spent all my allowance on baseball cards, then consulted a book that listed the addresses of retired players. I’d send off a card to five or ten of them a week, including a note asking for an autograph, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope, then wait to see what happened.
As I recall, the results were pretty good. It took a while, but on average about half of the players returned my envelope with an accompanying autograph. It was fun to get mail, and the response motivated me to send out more batches of requests so I could await the returns in future weeks.Read More
You’ve heard the conventional wisdom: never check email in the morning.That sounds great, unless your job involves communicating with people, or if you happen to care about what people have to say to you. In either of those cases, you very well might want (or need!) to see what's happened overnight just as you sit down to work. It's also true, though, that it's easy to get sucked into replies and never end up creating or building or just working on something that requires long-term focus, all because you can't get your nose out of the inbox. Years ago I found a better way that I still use most days of the week. Here's how it works. Read More
I loved this video from Smarter Every Day, where host Destin Sandlin learns to ride a bicycle that has been custom welded to reverse the handlebars.
It sounds easy—all you have to do is think left when you normally think right, and vice versa. Can’t be too hard, right? But it is hard... very hard.
After he learns to ride the reverse bicycle, he then has another big problem: how to switch back to an ordinary bicycle. It turns out that's really tough, too.Lesson: “Once you have a rigid way of thinking in your head, sometimes you cannot change it, even if you want to." Read More
I do wish it were simpler. I was surprised last year to learn that I agreed with Donald Rumsfeld on something.Part of it is my own fault: I keep starting new businesses and entities. I have a tax return for my career as an author, another for my entrepreneurial work, another for WDS, another for the WDS Foundation (a separate organization), and now another for Pioneer Nation. Who knows what else I’ll have next year! Why can’t Amazon or Zappos or Apple figure this out for the federal government? Imagine the possibilities. Read More
When you encounter a setback and need to regroup, think back to a time when you won. You mastered a skill, navigated a tricky negotiation, or otherwise came out on top.
Can you use the same skill or strategy now? Can you adapt that skill or strategy to a new situation?
Sure, circumstances may have changed. But you haven’t always lost or struggled, so think about that time when you got it right.Read More
This post is a "greatest hits" mashup of travel hacking tips, stories and features. Take a look and see if anything might be helpful to you!Read More
Here’s a trick that will help every time.
Work hard during the day, and cross off as many things from your list as you can. But as you’re winding down, save something. Leave one thing undone.
Don’t actually do that one more task—but do identify it.
Stop before you’re completely ready to stop. Build a bridge to the future, and leave your current day’s work knowing what you’re going to do next.It will work. Every time. Read More
Some inspiring insight from Laura Vanderkam:
"I have never believed that book writing needs to be all-consuming. It wasn’t for Toni Morrison writing The Bluest Eye at night after her kids went to bed and let’s face it, we’re not likely to produce anything like The Bluest Eye no matter how much time we spend writing. Books are projects like any other. Incidentally, you can make time for the rest of your life too. I’m always amused by the lines in book acknowledgements in which authors (generally, male authors) thank their families for putting up with all their missed dinners. Not only am I not missing dinner, I’m generally cooking it."Read More
As part of the promotion for this year’s B-School program with my friend Marie, I wanted to point out two very clear things:1. I think this course is fantastic, and well worth the cost. If you like the idea of establishing a freedom business, like I’ve done and so many AONC readers have done, this is a great way to get going in a structured program. 2. If you don’t have the money or aren't sure you're ready, you don’t need to pay for this or anything else. You’re not "missing out." There are always other ways you can learn and participate. Read More