Pareto’s Law Is the Antithesis of Excellence Cover

Pareto’s Law Is the Antithesis of Excellence

It’s a sunny day in 1896 in Lausanne. After his morning coffee, Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto takes the usual stroll through his well-tended garden.

An engineer at heart, the new chair of political economy of the University of Lausanne meticulously tracks the performance of his vegetables. Today the peas are up. He grabs a few sample pods from the nearest row of plants and goes back inside.

At the kitchen table, he starts counting. One pod, two pod, three pod, four. Five peas, ten peas, twelve peas, more. As he lines up each pair 45 peas emerge from 15 pods.

Just as Vilfredo is about to pin down today’s observation in his tracking sheet, he pauses. Hm. Those first few pods lie next to an awfully large number of peas…

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Death Is What Gives Life Meaning Cover

The Biggest Paradox in Life

In Marvel’s Dr. Strange, there is a scene where he and his mentor are standing at a window, looking out on a titanic thunderstorm.

The Ancient One, who’s lived for hundreds of years, gives Dr. Strange a piece of advice for the final challenge he must face.

Dr. Strange: I’m not ready.

The Ancient One: No one ever is. We don’t get to choose our time. Death is what gives life meaning. To know your days are numbered; your time is short.

Almost a year after seeing the film, I still remember this scene most vividly.

The only reason our lives have meaning is that they end.

From the moment we’re born, we’re thrown on to an unstoppable curve of momentum, slingshotting towards the only definite event in life: death.

Think about it. Everything that makes life great is fleeting.

  • Your ice cream tastes so good because it’s about to melt.
  • Time with your partner is precious because you can kiss them only a finite number of times.
  • Your grand mission to change the world is urgent because you don’t know how long you have to accomplish it.

Every single experience that makes our time here worthwhile goes back to that time being over soon. No one wants to live forever once they’ve lived long enough. And yet dying is what we’re most afraid of.

It’s the biggest paradox in life.

The next time your ice cream falls on the floor, your heart is broken or you have to let go of a dream, remember this:

Death is what gives life meaning. We don’t get to choose our time.

But each second passed is a second that made it more precious. No matter how you spent it.

Hero Worship Cover

The Importance of Worshipping Your Heroes

Three weeks ago, one of my heroes took his own life. You never know who your heroes are until they’re gone. One day you listen to an old song from some band you like, the next you realize they’ve shaped who you are for over a decade.

One of the saddest truths in life is this:

“Great heroes need great sorrows and burdens, or half their greatness goes unnoticed. It is all part of the fairy tale.”

– Peter S. Beagle

Sometimes, it’s not until the hero collapses under that very burden and the fairy tale finds no happy ending that our eyes open.

I don’t think Chester Bennington realized how much of a hero he really was to me and millions of Linkin Park fans around the world. Because we didn’t either.

Now all that’s left for us is to write your name on every wall we walk past.

But even amidst the torrential outpour of love over this tragedy, there are the voices of those who tell us not to channel our grief into worship. To stay grounded.

“We mustn’t idolize him.” “He wasn’t that special.” “Suicides happen every day.”

Somehow, whatever greatness we find in a special person must be explained away. He had a great coach. She followed the 10,000-hour rule.

In our politically oh-so correct world of all equal everything, it feels out of place to have heroes. I feel out of place for worshipping my heroes.

That’s fucked up.

Nobody Remembers a Nobody

In The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, Will Durant writes:

“The history of France is not, if one may say it with all courtesy, the history of the French people; the history of those nameless men and women who tilled the soil, cobbled the shoes, cut the cloth, and peddled the goods (for these things have been done everywhere and always) — the history of France is the record of her exceptional men and women, her inventors, scientists, statesmen, poets, artists, musicians, philosophers, and saints, and of the additions which they made to the technology and wisdom, the artistry and decency, of their people and mankind. And so with every country, so with the world; its history is properly the history of its great men.

In other words: Nobody remembers a nobody.

Even in a world where everyone can reach millions of people at the click of a button that hasn’t changed. We just hate admitting it more. Because fame feels so close. But it is as it always was: most of us won’t remember most of us.

Yes, thanks to viral videos a lot more people will get their 15 minutes of fame. But very few will get on 60 Minutes.

Leaving a legacy is a different game altogether. You really have to mean it.

Chester knew this:

“I always wanted to be a rock star. That was my childhood dream. That’s what I told everybody I was going to be when I grew up.” 

You may have a real talent for singing. Maybe, singing is a big part of your life. But to Chester, singing was his life. There’s a difference and a profound one at that.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Herman Melville, Monet, Bach, Kafka, even Van Gogh, died poor and unknown — after having dedicated their entire life to their craft.

The reason we still remember their names now is an incredible combination of luck, timing, chemistry and, most importantly, a lifetime of dedication and perseverance.

Who are we to take that away from them? Who are we to think we’re entitled to an entry into the books of history?

We Can’t All Be Famous

Technology may distort our view, but the numbers don’t lie: Very few of us will end up on someone else’s pedestal. And that’s not a sad thing.

In fact, most of us aren’t meant to. Or want to.

But we’ve gotten so angry about this fact, as a collective we’ve managed to push our heroes into a corner of humility — whether they like it or not. Chester felt it.

He’d always say things like “If fans come up to me, I talk to them.” or “You’re constantly trying to prove yourself, even after you’ve made it.” or “We’d like to think that our music will always be bigger than any one of our individual personalities.”

PR teams tell their athletic talent to play it cool, entrepreneurs say their idea was “just common sense” and actors read out long thank you lists at award ceremonies to not look entitled.

How often do you see a noteworthy individual take pride in their accomplishments? How many of your heroes have you heard say: “I deserve this. I worked hard for this.”

Even more importantly: How many times did you agree?

The Value of Shameless Worship

Imagine, just for a second, you embraced all the inequality in this world. What if you gave credit where credit is due, even if it means credit for just a few?

What if you let go of all that anger? Why not let your heroes do the screaming? Wouldn’t you feel a lot closer to them? At peace?

I know Chester’s screaming helped me a lot when I was younger. He wore his heart on his sleeve, so darkness wouldn’t grow in mine. Anything but reverence would be a disservice.

No, I refuse to let my hero get lost in a sea of equal faces. Life’s never fair. But my shameless worship is my relief. It makes it easier to bear.

My shameless worship is my vision. It allows me to see.

And oh how clearly I see – just like Will Durant:

“I see men standing on the edge of knowledge, and holding the light a little farther ahead; men carving marble into forms ennobling men; men molding peoples into better instruments of greatness; men making a language of music and music out of language; men dreaming of finer lives-and living them. Here is a process of creation more vivid than in any myth; a godliness more real than in any creed.” 

You Can Shape the Course of History

Miserable people chisel away at heroism every day. She got lucky. He’s not special.

Let them keep chiseling in blindness, because that’s exactly what makes our heroes special. That they saw the odds and continued anyway.

We can’t all go to the places they’ve visited. But we can take our hats off. Stop pushing them. Stop envying them. And help them earn their rightful place in history.

Open your eyes. Find your heroes. Lift them through the fucking roof.

And worship them while they’re still here.

2 Minutes to Forever Improve Your Writing Cover

2 Minutes to Forever Improve Your Writing

The following 4 tips took me 3 years of writing to collect but will only take you 2 minutes to learn. Your writing will be better forever.

Refuse to Use the Word “Thing”

Each thing can be described in more detail. When we don’t we’re just being lazy. Don’t drown the cake in frosting to avoid baking a new one.

Let a device be a device, a trait be a trait, a feeling be a feeling.


“This is the greatest thing my parents taught me.”


“This is the greatest lesson my parents taught me.”

No Brackets

Like “thing,” parentheses only weaken what you actually want to say. If you want to say it, say it. If not, don’t.

Whether it’s the brackets that are unnecessary or what’s in them is for you to decide. But one of the two is. At least 99% of the time.

Probability is on your side when you ditch them.


“You must pass a (ridiculously hard) course.”


“You must pass a ridiculously hard course.”

Fewer Prepositions

Many of us need to free up time these days. But time doesn’t go anywhere on its own. Not up. Not down. You don’t have to pull it. You take it. Or make it.

Don’t free up time. Make time. Don’t move out. Just move. You won’t miss out on the concert. You’ll miss it.

Sometimes we even add two unnecessary prepositions to one verb.


“He wants to meet up with Sarah in the morning.”


“He wants to meet Sarah in the morning.”

Eliminate Redundant References

The reader arrived from your last sentence. She’ll remember it. Don’t begin the next one with a preposition or injection.

“So” doesn’t say so much, “as before” breaks my flow, “or” repeats the obvious alternative. “Well” means you’re not done thinking, well, take more time to write.

Never reference the end of your previous sentence at the beginning of the next one.


“Writing improves your thinking. With this in mind, I suggest you write daily.”


“Writing improves your thinking. I suggest you write daily.”

We’ve known what makes good writing for almost 2,000 years. Often, it takes just a few seconds to improve a sentence. If you want to write a book, that’s still a lot of seconds.

Four tips, two minutes of learning, but a lifetime of discipline to apply them.

Will you find it?

If You Secretly Dream About Being A Billionaire, This Is For You Cover

If You Secretly Dream About Being a Billionaire, This Is For You

I was raised with a lot of privilege. I’m not trying to deny it. But you know what the massive side dish is that comes with privilege? Delusion. You always expect more food to magically appear on your plate, without so much as leaving the table.

One of the most common, yet most dangerous illusions my generation secretly indulges in is the idea of becoming a billionaire.

Go ahead. Feel it. Deep down. It’s there.

“I’ll become a billionaire.”

As if it was just a matter of when. If you just felt a slight tingle, I have a few questions for you. Questions for future billionaires.

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