My tax return is complicated for a lot of reasons. First, I run several different businesses which all have their own set of accounting. WDS, our annual gathering, has its own legal structure, including a foundation that is completely separate from all my other projects. Last year we started an all-new event that also has its own legal structure.
So yeah, it’s complicated. It takes about 20 hours just to prepare all the info for my accountant, and as with most tax-prep tasks, it’s not usually a fun process. But I do enjoy seeing some of the charges on my statements from the previous year. They remind me of the crazy life I have, and the many fun experiences that I'm fortunate to participate in.Read More
In reading the transcript of Bob Dylan’s speech at MusiCares, I also liked this part on the origins of his songwriting:
“There's nothing secret about it. You just do it subliminally and unconsciously, because that's all enough, and that's all I sang. That was all that was dear to me. They were the only kinds of songs that made sense.
I learned lyrics and how to write them from listening to folk songs. And I played them, and I met other people that played them back when nobody was doing it. Sang nothing but these folk songs, and they gave me the code for everything that's fair game, that everything belongs to everyone.
For three or four years all I listened to were folk standards. I went to sleep singing folk songs. I sang them everywhere, clubs, parties, bars, coffeehouses, fields, festivals. And I met other singers along the way who did the same thing and we just learned songs from each other. I could learn one song and sing it next in an hour if I'd heard it just once."Read More
From time to time people ask my advice about marketing to Generation X or Millennials or any other group of people. When this happens, I always worry.One research firm offered me $250 for an hour-long consultation on this exact topic. I said no, partly because I don’t like to trade time for money, but also on the principle of “What would I say?” If forced to say something, I suppose I’d say that unless you’re selling diapers, it’s a bad idea to market to people based on what generation you think they belong to on account of their birth year. Instead, maybe you should think first about making something that matters. Then, stop putting people in boxes based on how you expect them to behave and what you think they want. You might be surprised at the results, and you might be a lot more successful. Cartoon: Tom Fishburne Read More
I met a guy who was a busy executive at a startup in Silicon Valley. His family, a wife and three young kids, lived several states away. He lived in a hotel during the week, worked every evening, and flew home every weekend before returning to the office on Monday morning. Not a very dedicated family guy, right?
On the contrary. When I asked him about living in two cities, he admitted it was sometimes a challenge. But then he talked about what the weekends were like. “We do everything together,” he said. “We go camping. We bake and cook. We play hard the whole weekend long. I know I have to go back on Monday, so I'm constantly thinking about how to squeeze as much time and as many experiences in as we can.”
His family had discussed the arrangement of him being away mid-week, and they re-evaluated it twice a year. So far, at least, it was working.Read More
Some past reflections and enduring lessons learned during the launch process:***
This morning I woke up at 7:20am, and it felt so late. There was a touch of light outside—what was that? Oh right, sunrise.
For the past few mornings I’ve been getting up at the entirely unreasonable hour of 5:30am or sometimes even earlier. My breakfast place opens at 6am and I’ve been at the front of the line shortly thereafter. The sun rose two hours after I’d been awake.
Two nights earlier, I went to bed with my laptop on the nightstand. Yep—it was another product launch week.
As I made another cup of coffee on the morning after having slept “so late,” I thought back on the launches over the years. How many have I done? I honestly don’t remember ...Read More
What’s it like to live and work in one of the most mysterious countries in the world? A new book shines a spotlight on the working day in Pyongyang, North Korea. Here are a few of my favorite points, as reproduced by the Guardian:Apartment life is a challenge.
"Those who live on higher floors may have to set out for work or school a little earlier than those lower down. Due to chronic power cuts, many elevators work only intermittently, if at all. Many buildings are between 20 and 40 storeys tall – there are stories of old people who have never been able to leave. Even in the better blocks elevators can be sporadic and so people just don't take the chance. Families make great efforts to relocate older relatives on lower floors, but this is difficult and a bribe is sometimes required."Electricity requires coordination.
"Every day people liaise with their neighbors about the electricity situation. A large proportion of Pyongyang operates an 'alternative suspension of electricity supply' system, meaning that when buildings on one side of the street are blacked out, the other side of the street gets power. When the alternation time arrives there is a mad rush of children as they head for their friends' apartments across the road."Read More
Seems obvious, right? We wouldn’t expect that driving past the gym will make us any healthier.
But when it comes to money, those of us who are self-employed tend to spend a lot of time on activities that do nothing to help the bottom line, either directly or indirectly.
I don’t just mean “administrative work,” because some administrative work has to be done even if it’s not particularly exciting. You still need to do customer service, update outdated info, and so on.
No, I mean the tendency we have to log-in just to see something. I’ll just check one more time... says the addict.
So here’s an idea: the next time you feel like checking website stats or bank account numbers, hold off a moment. First, do something that matters. Do something that will actually increase or improve whatever metrics you’re tracking. Then, go ahead and check them—because that’s human nature. But make yourself work for it first. Make yourself earn it.Read More
From David Brooks in the Times — “The real contradiction of capitalism is that it arouses enormous ambition, but it doesn’t help you define where you should focus it. It doesn’t define an end to which you should devote your life. It nurtures the illusion that career and economic success can lead to fulfillment, which…Read More
Productive people are never "free." They don’t have 15 minutes on their lunch break to "have a quick call." They don’t "kill time"—a terrible phrase. You can always put a window of time to good use if you work for it. Productive people schedule their priorities—not always their time, but always their priorities. When they don’t have something to do, they find something to do. By the way, it’s not that productive people don’t make time for friends, family, recovery, and play time. They do. But because they do, and because they have plenty of other things to consider... they’re rarely "free." Read More
Short version: there’s a new manifesto you should read. It’s by my longtime friend Jonathan Fields, and is all about a new way of thinking about entrepreneurship. Go download it! The Art of Revolution (free PDF download) *** Last year Jonathan started a revolution by talking about revolutions. After he unleashed a series of powerful…Read More
I’m not very good at all the things you’re supposed to do to be more productive. I check email first thing in the morning and then continually throughout the day. I jump from task to task and I read the news five times a day. But I do try to be outcome-focused, and I appreciated…Read More
Q: What are your tricks for time management? “The simple answer is to attempt to avoid, at all costs, situations that waste people’s time.” “Regarding my personal time management, I also try to live by the philosophy that focuses on: ‘What did I do that was productive and beneficial in the last 40 minutes?’ I…Read More
At the Hyatt Dulles, my shuttle driver was named Abdullai. He was extremely enthusiastic about welcoming his early-morning travelers on board for the ride to the terminal. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “Welcome to my shuttle. I’ll be taking you to the Dulles airport this morning. The journey will take exactly 13 minutes.” Then he…Read More
I often enjoy the Ethicist column by Chuck Klosterman. A recent column posed an interesting question: “Do I have an ethical duty to find a better job even if I’m unhappy with the work?” The letter writer explained that his or her parents had funded a college education, but it had only led to what…Read More