5 Good Things That Will Follow From This Pandemic Cover

5 Good Things That Will Follow From This Pandemic

The best way to stay calm amidst the coronavirus madness is to focus on the present moment. Accept reality as is, realize you’re okay, and then handle the challenge at hand with direction and resolve.

The second best way is to time travel to the future. What will happen after all this is over? Can you imagine a more peaceful tomorrow? What good will come from this? There will come some good from this. It’s hard to see it now, but making the effort will give you something to aspire to in these dark times.

Of course no one can predict the future, but when I think about what positive, long-term consequences we could see from this pandemic, I spot a lot of potential. Here are 5 predictions to provide some comfort while we’re all stuck at home.

1. Cashless payments everywhere

In Germany, half of all payments are still made in cash. Half. Can you imagine? Who wants to carry around clunky, dirty coins and bills, which you constantly have to re-stock from an ATM in an inconvenient location?

Apparently a lot of people — but even those don’t want to pay in cash right now. No matter how advanced your country is in terms of paying cashless, chances are, the share of those payments — and the options required to enable them — will only go up from here. Humans are creatures of habit. Even the most die-hard cash fan might be swayed by the ease of swiping a card if they have to do it for several months.

It’ll be good for our hygiene, tracking our spending, and saving time.

2. Remote work for everyone

On paper, 40% of German companies allow employees to work remotely. The reality looks different, and it’s likely one of the factors why Germans are particularly unhappy at work. But now, even my dad works from home.

Especially small and medium-sized businesses usually only condone remote work in emergency situations. Even if it’s officially allowed, shifting towards more work from home will often get you weird looks and canteen whispers.

Your country might already be more open to remote work, but now, with everyone being forced to make it work (pun intended), I think we’ll likely see much higher acceptance rates for working from home after the virus passes.

Given most of us only need laptops and internet access anyway, I think more autonomy is a good thing. It’ll make us happier, and save everyone time and money. My dad definitely agrees.

3. (Even) better on-demand services and delivery.

In Munich, quarantined life isn’t so bad. We have Amazon PrimeNow, which delivers everyday goods within the same day. Some of our large grocery store chains also offer home delivery.

But if you’re stuck in a small town like my parents, you still can’t get any food without getting into your car. That’s bad, and it especially affects the large concentrations of older people in more secluded areas. For an 80-year-old woman, driving is dangerous enough as it is. Now, buying groceries might be a matter of life and death.

With millennials and younger generations already being used to the online ordering life, the trend here has always been clear. Coronavirus, however, might accelerate widespread availability of on-demand services and delivery around the globe.

Your doctor, optician, hairdresser — soon, they might all come to you. After this crisis, at least your groceries most definitely will.

4. Less spending on needless consumer goods

Call me crazy, but I think right now, people will remember what’s really important. Suffering, be it our own or that of others, prompts us to think.

Who feels like buying fancy clothes now? Who cares about VIP tickets? When you’re forced to reduce your expectations and stop living large, you gain space to reflect. A common conclusion is, “Oh, I never needed this to begin with.”

Suddenly, it’s enough to watch your children play. To read a book or talk to a friend on the phone. If you can’t fill your spare time with distractions, the only alternative is to spend it on what’s meaningful.

Granted, all this reduced spending might not be prolonged, and it might look bad on paper for the world economy — but I think in the end, it’ll turn us into better humans. We might even use more our resources to the benefit of others once we resume business-as-usual.

5. Improved global crisis management

While this will likely go down in history as the number one crisis in terms of how fast information was generated and spread with relative efficiency, many analyses and reports show there’s also lots of room for improvement in preparation and prevention.

Italy is one of the most advanced nations on the planet, and its healthcare system collapsed in the span of two weeks. Restaurant chain Vapiano filed for insolvency just two days after being forced to close most locations. 200 scientists had to write an open letter to the UK government to finally get them to take action.

If this were to happen all over again, I assure you everyone involved would do one or two things differently. At the very least, we should see larger stocks and emergency reserves of basic hygienic goods, medication, and medical equipment. But I think we’ll see much more. Just like 9/11 changed airport security forever, after coronavirus, healthcare will never be the same.

How to Get Rich the Humble Way Cover

How to Get Rich the Humble Way

One in 185 people is a millionaire. Credit Suisse counted 42.2 million of them in the 2018 Global Wealth Report. Divide that by the 7.7 billion people currently inhabiting this planet, and you get to that number — about 0.5%.

And just like you “get” to that number, we think “getting rich” is an activity. That it’s about movement, action, struggle. It’s implied. Think about how we use the word “get.” We get coffee. A job. To the top of a mountain.

It’s true, of course, that getting rich requires years of hard work. You’ll have to learn a lot, build skills, make the right decisions at the right time, and have a whole bunch of luck in the process. But if that’s all we focus on, we miss the most important aspect of how wealth is built: through compound growth.

This compounding happens in your choices, judgment calls, and financial decisions — but it also happens in the assets you own and, often, without you being fully aware of it, let alone doing anything to contribute.

After spending 5.5 years on the rollercoaster of building her own startup, Danielle Morrill ultimately sold the company with no big payday. Before that, however, she’d been the first employee at Twilio, a company that went public in 2016, and the growth of her share of that single stock was enough to retire.

Reflecting on the experience, Danielle writes:

After making my detailed spreadsheet it was undeniable: at a relatively conservative compounding growth rate, I could stop working and cover my expenses with my investment income and I would have more money than I’d ever need to spend in my life. It was very disorienting to have my net worth climb from something I hadn’t worked on since 2012, while my current efforts were amounting to nothing in economic terms.

Understanding that you’re most likely to build wealth on the back of something that grows exponentially is a huge perspective shift, but an important one to make. Otherwise, you might always be working on something, but be so busy hustling that you forget to build and hold stakes in ventures that can still work out after you leave them alone.

As you can see, getting rich is equally as much, if not more, about what you don’t do as it is about what you say yes to. The stock you didn’t sell, the side project you held on to, the old buddy you stayed in touch with.

In the same vein, it’s much harder to point to a set of wealth-building patterns than it is to spot what keeps people from getting rich and rid yourself of these behaviors. Once you’ve unlearned whatever wealth-rejecting habits you might have, all that’s left is to take action and wait for exponential growth to kick in.

Here are five of those habits I’ve spotted in myself and others over the years.

1. Stop Telling Yourself Money Is Evil

Have you ever noticed that people who claim money is dirty never seem to have any? It’s as if by rejecting it, they could keep their hands clean. That’s nonsense, of course.

Money doesn’t come in different ethical flavors. It has no flavor at all. It’s like a shovel, or a computer, or a typewriter — a tool with no inherent intentions. A purpose, maybe, but no intentions. In order for us to judge something as ethical or unethical, humans have to be involved. Only their intentions matter.

In that sense, money is just a consequence and an amplifier. It can be a consequence of ethical behavior or of unethical behavior. And it can enhance a person’s already ethical or unethical intentions. Nothing more, nothing less.

When you think “this person doesn’t deserve their money” or “they must be doing something fishy,” that’s jealousy in clever disguise. In that moment, you’re the one with questionable ethics. Instead, you should be happy for them and get back to what you can do, who you can do it for, and how to do it the right way.

Speaking of focusing on yourself…

2. Stop Playing Status Games

Think of the most popular person in your high school. Where are they now? Chances are, they peaked early. They got stuck playing status games.

The problem with status games is that they’re zero-sum games: The only way you win is if someone else loses. Politics, fame, prestige, these are all ranked hierarchies. For you to move up a slot, another person must move one down.

Naval Ravikant explains:

“The problem is that to win at a status game, you have to put somebody else down. That’s why you should avoid status games in your life because they make you into an angry combative person. You’re always fighting to put other people down, to put yourself and the people you like up.”

Building wealth by making things people want, however, is a positive-sum game: the more people do it, the better. If you and I both build cars, chances are, we’ll figure out a better way to do it together.

Getting the life you want depends on you playing wealth games, not status games. If you’re always busy trying to look good, you’ll have no time and energy left to actually do good. Sometimes, doing good is a thankless job, but you’ll have to keep doing it anyway to succeed.

3. Stop Rejecting Responsibility

Exponential financial rewards are the result of taking on asymmetric risk. Asymmetric risk is when there’s a disproportional difference between how much you stand to gain vs. how much you stand to lose.

For Danielle, if Twilio had failed along the way, her stock options would have been worth zero. That would’ve sucked, but she could’ve just gotten another job. The upside, however, was only limited by how big of a company Twilio could become. Right now, it’s worth $17 billion dollars at $124 a share. The reason she received enough of them to retire is that she took responsibility for important work inside the company early on. It was risky, but not dangerous.

In contrast, many employees at big corporations only play games of shift-the-blame. Everyone wants to point to their boss when things go wrong, but this comes at the expense of their asymmetric risk. No responsibility, no rewards.

Most of the time when responsibility comes your way, it’s not dangerous to take it. It’s just uncomfortable. It takes effort. You must stand for something, and there’s a chance you might end up standing for the wrong thing. But it’s rarely something you can’t recover from.

Better yet, don’t wait for responsibility to show up on your doorstep. Just take some. Speak up. Say, “I’ll write two articles for you each week,” or, “I’ll make your shoes look brand new,” or, “this tool will save you 10 minutes a day.”

All of this is taking responsibility, and all of it has the power to come with asymmetric risk. Choose the right responsibilities and then live up to them.

4. Stop Wasting Your Leverage

Working hard is a requirement of getting rich, but it’s not going to be the deciding factor. In the end, your judgment matters more. Wealthy people are thinkers armed with leverage. I also learned this from Naval.

Leverage multiplies the results of your decisions. It comes in different forms.

Money is one of them. If I can invest $1,000 into a stock that doubles in value, I’ll make more money in return than someone who can only invest $100.

Labor is another form of leverage. If I can teach you how to sell two pairs of sneakers a day, you and I can sell more sneakers together.

The third and most powerful form of leverage is code. Next to software, this includes digital media, like podcasts, articles, and videos. Thanks to the internet, you can spread these around the world at no cost, and if people use them, you get paid in money or attention. This kind of leverage also compounds like wealth itself.

In the beginning, we all play without leverage, but if you continue playing without it, that’s on you. Most people can struggle to start accumulating leverage, but they also waste the little they have, which is however much money they make. Instead of investing it into podcast gear, books, or a writing course, they just spend it. If you want to be rich, that can’t be you.

You have to use your time to build leverage. Start compounding.

5. Stop Working on What’s Not Working

When someone else spends their time working for you, that’s leverage. When you spend your time working, that’s not. There’s no multiplier there. But it’s our most limited resource, and, therefore, you have to spend it well. Getting to a point where you spend the majority of your time building and acquiring leverage will greatly increase your chances of becoming wealthy.

Of course, working a lot to begin with helps, but you should do so at your own pace. What’s much more important — and much harder — is to let go of things that don’t work and to do so as soon as you realize it. Whatever is financially unfeasible or won’t lead to a meaningful jump in leverage in a decent time frame has to go.

This takes self-awareness and guts. You’ll regularly have to check in with yourself and ask: What’s actually working, and what am I telling myself is working because I wish it would? Harder still, you’ll have answer honestly.

Quitting enough of the wrong projects to work on a sufficient number of right ones is the only way to build up the array of assets and leverage you need.

All You Need to Know

It’s far easier to be patient and let a few good choices compound than to rush and be forced to compensate for a lot of bad ones. Clearing up your muddled thinking around money is one way to do just that.

Once your vision is sharp, you’ll feel comfortable working towards focused, specific goals, because you know they’ll serve the long game you play.

Stop vilifying money. Quit the status games. Take responsibility. Build leverage. Work as hard as you can and drop failures early.

Getting rich is a game but not a hectic one. Playing it the humble way is no guarantee you’ll win, but if you do, it’ll likely be from a move you long forgot.

Happiness Is Loving the Boring Days Cover

Happiness Is Loving the Boring Days

Out of all the great TED talks that exist, Barry Schwartz’s is easily the best. He talks about what he calls The Paradox of Choice. I’ve gone back to it countless times for countless reasons, but my favorite part is when he shows this comic:

Ask anyone how they feel about their life from ten years ago, and they’ll likely tell you that “those were simpler times.” Less to worry about, more to enjoy. Somehow, everything was easier. Today, it’s all complicated. Always.

“Everything was better back when everything was worse.”

It’s more than a good chuckle. So simple, yet so instinctively true. But why does our gut want to agree so badly when we hear this? Barry explains:

“The reason that everything was better back when everything was worse is that when everything was worse, it was actually possible for people to have experiences that were a pleasant surprise.

Nowadays, the world we live in — we affluent, industrialized citizens, with perfection the expectation — the best you can ever hope for is that stuff is as good as you expect it to be.

You will never be pleasantly surprised, because your expectations, my expectations, have gone through the roof.

The secret to happiness — this is what you all came for — the secret to happiness is:

Low expectations.


I turned 28 a few days ago. I thought about what lessons I’ve learned so far in life. Barry’s is one that’s stuck with me throughout the years. What’s changed since I first heard it, however, is how I’m trying to live it. There’s a twist to it.

“Low expectations” sounds daunting. Shouldn’t we hope for good things? Optimism being a self-fulfilling prophecy and all.

Sure, it helps to dampen your excitement before any event whose outcome you don’t control, like a presentation, job interview, or publishing an article, but if you demand so little of life that you don’t even attempt any of these, you’ll soon walk around with a perma-long face. Most of us aren’t saints, so wanting literally nothing isn’t a practical everyday solution.

Avoiding misery, however, is. That’s what I’ve made my happiness about.

Long-term, everyday happiness lies in not being miserable.

Each day when I’m not sick, not stressed, there’s no drama, and I don’t have to do a lot of things I don’t like, is a good day. We think we need to accomplish our biggest goals to find happiness, but the truth is having a life with enough room to obsess about and chase them is more than enough. And yet, when we use this freedom to obsess, we often forget taking care of the basics.

Am I healthy? Is something psychological causing problems with the physical? Do I have a fit mind and a fit body? Or is one breaking the other?

Am I living below my means? Or slowly veering off track? Is paying the bills becoming a hassle? Or does it work out okay if I don’t splurge too much?

Do I enjoy my work? Am I spending my workday with good people? Or do I dread getting out of the house? Am I commuting 2 hours into a toxic place?

As long as you’re healthy, like your work, have a few friends, and money kind of works out, there’s quite little you really should be worried about. If one of these implodes, however, you should raise all hell to get back to your baseline.

It’s the same idea, just flipped on its head. Sure, low expectations are great when you’re buying a pair of jeans but, when it comes to the big stuff in life, you’re better off cultivating a high aversion to misery.

Once you’ve achieved your own little standard, you can settle into your base camp of being healthy, calm, and not having to do stuff you don’t like. From there, you can explore, try, learn, fail — all in hopes of higher things.

I think that’s how you really win. By remembering you’re a finalist long before the end game has begun. Wanting to do more, better, greater is honorable, and achieving big goals always gets you a burst of endorphins. But they’re not everyday occurrences. And so they can’t serve your day-to-day happiness.

If you live to 82, that’s 30,000 days. 27,000 will be boring. Life is about learning to love those days. Happiness is enjoying the little things.

Stop Optimizing Dumb Shit Cover

Stop Optimizing Dumb Shit

I have a friend. She’s brilliant at arts and crafts. Every time I enter her place, she’s tinkering. Decorating. Customizing a birthday gift. Preparing a surprise package. And it all looks amazing. Bar none.

But when she tells me the story of how her current project came together, I always die a little bit inside.

Last time, she was dressing up a gift box. The insides were lined with holiday napkins, like carpet in a living room. And into this soft bed, she placed little trinkets and treats. Three of them were tiny, slim bottles, two filled with a reddish-transparent, one with a tan-colored liqueur.

As it turned out, those hadn’t been easy to get. She told me that, first, she saw the walnut liqueur at the farmer’s market. She wanted to get two bottles, but they were expensive. I think it was $8 a piece. So she scoured the town.

Eventually, she found the same walnut liqueur in a bookstore. $5 per bottle. Score! But they only had one. Ugh! After deciding to fess up, she went back to the farmer’s market. Except now, their little stash of walnut liqueur was gone.

That’s how she ended up with two red and one tan bottle — and a big dilemma of which friend gets what. After all, there were multiple gift boxes to send.

This is just one of many stories and she is just one of many examples, but it goes to show: People are awesome. Humans have an amazing ability to focus on details, to obsess over the microscopic until a beautiful, big picture comes together. But we’re wasting this ability by applying it to dumb shit.

Like cents instead of dollars. Let’s say the whole “I’ll find it elsewhere cheaper”’ detour took my friend three hours. Ideally, she’d have saved $3 a piece for two bottles — a grand total of $6 — making her time worth $2/hour. In reality, she only saved $3 and missed her goal of getting two bottles, creating extra stress and losing even more time, on top of “being paid” poorly.

I see this all the time. People spend days deliberating a $50 purchase when they make that money in an hour or two. They obsess about coupons instead of asking for $1/hour more. And they’re afraid to drop $20 on the wrong book but spend the same money on two more drinks when they’re already buzzed.

I wish I could grab all these people — including my friend — by the shoulders, shake them, and yell: “Stop optimizing dumb shit!”

Stop flicking through 250 TV shows only to realize it’s now too late to watch even a single episode.

Stop tapping “next” in your playlist to find the perfect workout track if it ruins your cadence of sets.

Stop looking for that Instagram post “you know you saw just yesterday” and tell your friend the story instead.

Stop fixing details and finally start asking the big questions: How can I earn more? What really deserves my time? Who’s actually worthy of my love?

Stop saving ten cents on chocolate and start cutting your cable.

Stop running for the bus and start making enough to skip entire workdays.

Stop squeezing every sorta-ok yobbo into your calendar and start enjoying longer-than-planned breaks with true friends.

Stop haggling over 5% more pay for your first job offer and start applying to every company you’d actually want to work for.

Stop worrying about the cost of every broken door handle and start looking for a place that’s not owned by a scrooge and run by a lazy super.

Stop exerting yourself with niceties people won’t appreciate or have learned to take for granted and start finding folks who value your time.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to this:

If your life feels like a blurry, run-down, second-hand version of what it should be, it’s ‘cause you’re optimizing dumb shit.

You’re wasting your potential obsessing over the wrong parts. Like my friend’s gift box and the story I told about it, your life is littered with decorations. It might look gorgeous from the outside, but on the inside, it doesn’t function.

We pour our hearts and souls into details that, ultimately, don’t matter, yet we degrade our most important choices — where we live, who we date, what we work on — to go-with-the-flow gut decisions. We settle for what’s there.

What good is having all your ducks in a row? What purpose does that really serve? Forget presenting a consistent picture to society. Make sure you’re painting. Doing what matters to you. Spending time on the important things.

But what I find most fascinating about all this is this: The line between dumb shit and true productivity is often incredibly small. I keep telling my friend to document her decor extravaganzas. To post her creations on Instagram. She could have thousands of followers by now. Make the money to buy $8 liqueur without blinking. But that she is afraid of. Too personal, she says. Is it, really?

Nowadays, a lot of our dumb shit wouldn’t be so dumb if we shared it. Because others obsess about the same things. Finally! Someone who loves Magic cards as much as me. Who wastes as much time playing Fortnite. Someone, who stepped up and told me my dumb shit is worth it.

One minute, one picture, one tweet can turn dumb shit into the bedrock of your future career. The foundation of something wonderful. Even if it becomes just a small part of your life, it’ll now be a part that contributes. That doesn’t just take. That won’t drag you down.

But if you don’t show up, we’ll never know. You’ll rob us of your gifts and yourself of your happiness. You’ll let your fear of looking stupid conquer your fear of living with regret. You’ll still be great at a great deal of things, but they’ll matter a lot less. To a lot fewer people. Because that part is up to you.

So please, share your contributions. Not all of them, but all those you care about. Those you’d gladly dedicate a whole afternoon to. Where wasting time won’t turn into memories of time wasted, but memories of time enjoyed.

Stop optimizing dumb shit. And start caring about what matters.

14 Life Lessons From and for a 28-Year-Old Cover

14 Life Lessons From and for a 28-Year-Old

The most memorable birthday wish I ever received was my dad’s in 2017:

“Stay as you are by changing every day.”

I’ve tried to heed this advice ever since, but it never seemed more relevant than today. 28 does feel different. At 27, I still thought of myself more as “a kid in his 20s” than “an almost-30-year-old.” But I don’t think it’s the numbers. They’ve never mattered to me all that much. I think it’s the experience.

In the past twelve months, cumulative growth has really kicked in. Personally, professionally, financially. I don’t feel like a greenhorn anymore, struggling to build a foundation. More like a survivor, sitting on a base plate made of concrete. Battered, but here to stay. Here to make a serious dent.

There’s much foolishness left in me, but it’s a lot less than it used to be. I now am, as Oscar Wilde said, “not young enough to know everything.” I am, however, old enough to realize I know very little, that it’ll always be very little, and that that’s okay. As I keep finding more dark spots on the map, I question which ones I need to shine a light on. If I really need to close all the gaps.

The following lessons have been 28 years in the making. They’re both from and for a 28-year-old. Reminders about which gaps to close and which ones to leave alone. Hang in there, kid. Stay tough. Keep surviving. Here’s to 28!


1. If it’s not easy to start, it’ll be hell to finish.

I believe in hard work. But I don’t believe in struggling just to struggle. All the best things in my life — work, hobbies, relationships — were easy to begin. Frictionless. But that’s why they felt worth enlarging, worth persisting through the difficult parts.

Writing, video editing, friends, girlfriends, fun carried me into them and grit carried me through. If that initial bit of fun is missing, however, that moment where you clench your teeth will never happen. It’ll just be pain all the way.

2. Less is room for more of what’s not there yet.

At 27, I would’ve thought I need 27 life lessons. At 28, I’m wondering if even 14 is too many. When I first explored minimalism, I loved the simplicity, the freedom, the feeling of less.

Eventually, though, I realized it’s not so much about what you subtract, but about what you make room for. Room to think. To add meaning by solving life’s big challenges one at a time. That’s where true equanimity lies. And whenever there’s no challenge, it’s still soothing to know you have this space.

3. The older you get, the slower you should decide.

At 28, my next year will only account for 3.6% of the entire time I’ve been alive. As their relative share gets smaller, we worry less about committing more years to singular causes as we get older. That’s a good thing, as long as you deliberately and slowly pick the right causes. But most people don’t.

They panic looking at an arbitrary number, like 30, or 40, or 50, and jump into huge obligations in an instant, not realizing how “quickly” they’ll find themselves wondering where they took a wrong turn ten years later.

If you’re 28 and haven’t found the right partner, wait longer. If you haven’t found the right job, sample more. And if you don’t like where and how you live, please, move. Don’t settle just yet. Step back. Think. Then decide.

4. Happiness is mostly about not being miserable.

For the last three times I was sick for more than two weeks, I can tell you exactly which source of stress caused my physical ailment. If you enjoy your work, money isn’t a big problem, and you keep your emotions in perspective, there’s quite little that can really throw you off your game.

I used to think I need to accomplish all these big things to be happy, but now I’ll gladly settle for not having to do things I don’t like. If you’re here for 30,000 days, 27,000 will be boring. Life’s about learning to love those days.

5. Deserve what you want and want what you have.

Besides overestimating how important it is to achieve our goals, we also tend to double-cross ourselves in trying to reach them. Instead of creating a moral contrast between who we are and who we should be to deserve what we want, we pretend we already are that person — and now we just need to wait.

In the quartet of being and having, now and in the future, we focus on the wrong ends: our now of being and our future of having. Flip that to what you have now and who you could be, and you’ll eliminate not just a lot of disappointment, and impatience, but the desire for many goals altogether.

6. The “next big thing” is still the internet.

A side effect of dreaming intensely about the future is missing the opportunities to create it with the tools you have available in the present.

The internet exists since 1990. If you were born in a 40-year-span around that, this is your shot. This whole web thing is 30 years old. New technologies take decades to fully reach the globe. Half the world isn’t even online.

Yet most people bank on VR, AR, AI, blockchain, and a dozen other trends, instead of leveraging the single-greatest tool that’s not just proven, but bound to stay. Don’t wait for the next big thing. It’s already here. Now’s the time.

7. Reinvent your industry by reassembling yourself.

Everyone wants to be a pioneer, but no one wants to let go of what’s working. Historically great companies have successfully disrupted and cannibalized themselves. Apple went from computers to music to phones to wearables. Netflix sacrificed DVDs for streaming and licenses for original content.

Reinventing yourself before you need to is hard, because in order to reassemble, you need to tear yourself apart. The good news is if you do it, it creates a positive, reinforcing cycle of humility. And the more success you rack up, the more important this becomes.

8. Money is a habit just like health, love & happiness.

I guess it takes making a lot of money in a short time to see, but a full bank account is the same as a fit body, a rewarding relationship, or an optimistic mind: it’s easy to lose if you’re not careful, but with the right habits, you can always get it back.

Again, I’m not sure how to show this, but I know it breeds a lot of confidence. It’s a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free-card for our lifelong scarcity mindset with money.

9. Forget completion, make progress amidst chaos.

I only ever accomplish long-term goals by the date I initially want to when I set them and completely forget them. The more targeted my effort, the less likely I’ll be on point. It’s just human nature. We misjudge time all the time.

Therefore, focus on minimum stress, not maximum output. Manage your expectations, not your calendar. Track good-enough days, not just complete victories. Make progress amidst the chaos of life. Eventually, you’ll get there.

10. Low standards now beat high standards later.

Accounting for chaos means making room to fail. A low, but meaningful, achievable standard for today goes so much further than a high, powerful, challenging one for tomorrow. Or next week. Or the end of the year.

Do stuff. Do stuff. Do stuff. Then look around. Chances are, you’ll like what you see behind you. Gazing at the top of a mountain only exerts pressure.

11. If it’s not up to you, it’s up to you to change.

Since we control so little, most of our work should be done on the inside. Sometimes, it’s our attitude we need to change. Sometimes, our actions. But when the outside world won’t comply, we’ll always, always, need to update our perceptions.

Did you do everything right? Is this a slog to push through? Or is your tactic not working? What obvious aspect did you miss? “What can I change about myself here” is a question almost always worth asking.

12. Don’t hate anyone. Just don’t.

Will Smith is a big hero of mine. On Christmas, he said: “Love is help.” He also said that “everyone is having a hard time.” If that’s true, then peace is, at the very least, the absence of harm. And we all need peace of mind.

This means beyond not harming ourselves, we also can’t afford to harm one another. Life is short. And, until we offload it, our anger is our pain. I think the best we can do is skip it altogether. Ignore toxic people, share your frustration, get curious, do what you need to do, but make sure it leads to forgiveness.

13. Trust yourself first.

Because everyone is struggling, everything is chaos, and no one really knows what they’re doing, you might as well trust yourself. I know it’s a cliché, but he put it so succinctly, I always keep coming back to this Steve Jobs quote:

“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.”

More often than not, what we accept as given reality is only one of many possible outcomes. You can create your own options, but only if you run your own experiments. Your unique experience is the only data that matters.

14. The only person who can truly forgive you is you.

For every one thing you get right, ten others will go wrong. But everyone is busy fixing their own mistakes, so they won’t have time to hold your hand while you cry about yours.

Ultimately though, none of that matters, because you’re the only one who can grant yourself the power to continue. To move on and reject regrets. Think of it this way: you can survive everything except death. And that, none of us can.


I wonder how many lessons I’ll see when I’m 29. I hope less than 14. For now, this is all I’d like my 28-year-old self to know. If he comes back to this on occasion, I think he can stay who he is — and change every day.

How To Be The Calm Person People Wonder About Cover

How To Be The Calm Person People Wonder About

People often tell me I’m calm and laid-back. That I always seem like I’m cruising along, like nothing really fazes me. That’s nonsense, of course.

I lose my shit all the time. I worry about whether a girl will like me, I freak out about which path to take at work, and I panic when deadlines close in around me. The only difference is I do it in private. Because I can. Because they’re my problems to fix and I will take care of them.

There are two kinds of calm: the emotionally cultivated kind and the calm that comes from having real aces up your sleeve. Tangible assets you can fall back on in tough times. Both are important and both exist in more superficial and deeper forms.

But it’s the second kind that supports much of the first, and that’s the calm people are really getting at when they ask me how I can be so relaxed. A true sense of equanimity that lies underneath, allowing me to not fly off the handle in the face of most everyday problems.

Today, I’d like to show you where that equanimity comes from. What tangible actions you can take to develop real serenity, which then makes it easier to keep your composure on the surface.

Here we go.

1. Keep a Few Months of Living Expenses in Cash

More than half of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. No wonder 68% of them struggle with sleep at least once a week. Of course, correlation doesn’t indicate causation, but still, I can’t tell you how good it feels to go to bed each night knowing that even if the world has collapsed by the time you wake up, you’ll be okay.

Right now, I could survive for 2–3 years just on cash savings, depending on how cheap I have to get. Yes, this is harder to do if you have a family. Yes, it takes time to build up. But putting away 5%, 10%, 20% of your income buys you what’s hard to get anywhere else: time for when you need it the most.

I keep this money in a completely separate bank account that I don’t often access. It’s a bit like quitting smoking: each additional month of expenses you’ve saved up provides a little more relief. I found there’s a big break at the six-month mark and another once you’ve saved enough to survive for a year.

2. Diversify Your Sources of Income

About 44 million Americans have a side hustle. But less than 14 million make more than $500/month from it. That means only 10% of the whole workforce even has a remotely qualified source of secondary income.

Not everyone has to be an entrepreneur, but when your breakfast, lunch, and dinner depend on one person’s willingness or ability to pay you, that’s your fault. It’s not just that they one day might not like your face anymore, but that other, completely external circumstances may necessitate firing you.

When that happens, it’s incredibly soothing to know you have a second leg to stand on — even if it’s shaking. This doesn’t mean you have to hustle on three fronts at the same time, but, once you have a single, stable income stream, start another. It took me about two years to get two sources up and running and I’ve only just added a third, but it’s absolutely worth it.

3. Learn New Skills People Would Pay You For

Having cash and multiple sources of money you can rely on is great, but, at the end of the day, the single greatest asset you’ll ever have is yourself. Whatever time and money you invest into it will compound forever.

Skilled people aren’t as afraid of being stripped naked because they know they can use what’s in their mind to regenerate, recreate everything from scratch. If you’re good and you want to work, you’ll always find work. You’ll always find work. But you need to keep expanding your skill set to remain good.

One way is to learn skills that are tangentially related to those you already have and are in demand. As a writer, I can master different styles of articles to fit different industries, I can learn copywriting, translating, editing, creating ads, there’s a million sub-skills of writing worth paying for.

Or, you can pick up something completely unrelated, like woodwork when you’re a manager, accounting when you’re a creative, and so on. This is a great hedge against industry crises, but it also allows you to satisfy the demands of those who need a helping hand with tasks that lie at the intersection.

4. Grow a Network Around Yourself

I don’t like networking. But I love having a network. So I just built one around myself. Because what’s even easier than leveraging your skills into a new gig is to let your crew now that now, finally, you’re available. And you’ll have at least a few conversations and places where you can start from again.

You can do that too. It’s really easy, actually. Most people just overcomplicate it. You pick one platform you like and, depending on what you like, you either overwhelm it with good content — which you’ll learn — or you’ll overwhelm it with your presence and positive energy — which you’ll learn.

Some people like chatting on LinkedIn with 50 people for an hour a day. I like writing. But as long as you do either in public, people will find you. And you’ll find them when you need to.

5. Tackle Life’s Big Questions One at a Time

When I thought about life and meaning and happiness two years ago, I realized I only want good work, good people, and good experiences. But each of those is a big nut to crack on its own. You can’t do it all at once!

Since then, I’ve been trying to live my life in seasons and it’s made all the difference. Now, as I’m wrapping up my college career, I feel I’m in a really good place with work and I’ll likely shift to one of the others over the next few months and years.

We pressure ourselves enough. We kick ourselves enough. Focusing on one thing and knowing you’re focusing on one thing provides a huge sense of relief. It’s okay to let other areas slide because, after all, you’re figuring out one, big issue. When you’ve got that covered, you can tackle another. But, in the meantime, you won’t frantically try to fix your whole life at once.

6. Remind Yourself of What You Have Regularly

Whether you use a manifesto, mind maps, journaling, or physical reminders, creating real tokens of what you have — accomplishments, people, unfair advantages — helps you maintain a sense of perspective. Not every day and not in every situation, but most of the time.

It’s a lot easier to stomach a rejected proposal when you remember your family is healthy. It’s a lot easier to walk home in the rain when you remember you’re in a safe country. And it’s a lot easier to swallow being told you’re ugly when you remember that, at least, you’re still tall.

I have written down three things I’m grateful for every day for the past seven years. I keep going back to the little things, like hot water, coffee, or cheap food. Sometimes, a bigger insight comes through. That it’s nice to work from a laptop. That I’m lucky I “get” languages. But I always find something.

The one thing it never does is fail to provide a sense of calm.


You may wonder why these are mostly about money, but the answer is simple: when you know you’ll survive, you’ll know you survive. Securing our physical existence and safety might be the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid, but setting them in stone means cementing the foundation on which all else — belonging, love, status, self-actualization — is built.

There is a sense of true, deep equanimity that comes with them. A feeling you just can’t manufacture, no matter how good you become at controlling your emotions, thoughts, and temper. Arming yourself with hard skills and assets can’t replace this important job, but sure goes a long way in supporting it.

Of course, all of these are long-term efforts. You can’t achieve all this in a day. But you can start forming the rational habits that will help you get there.

Until, one day soon, people will think nothing can faze you. Until you become the calm person everyone wonders about.

Do You Believe in Ethical Wealth? Cover

Do You Believe in Ethical Wealth?

In Germany, we have a saying: “Geld stinkt nicht.” It means “money doesn’t stink” and goes back to emperor Vespasian.

Urine builds ammonia over time, which can be used to tan leather. Therefore, the Romans collected it in public urinals. When Vespasian levied a tax on those, his son Titus challenged the ethics of this move. The emperor grabbed some of the money and held it under Titus’s nose. “Does the smell bother you?” “No,” his son replied. “And yet, it’s made of urine.”

Eventually, the phrase morphed into “pecunia non olet” — “money has no smell.” When we use it today, we usually mean the exact opposite. It’s code for “something’s fishy here” or “don’t ask where this came from.”

Given how old this story is, this meme has influenced our culture for a long, long time. That’s a problem because now, a lot of us think money stinks.


Everyone you meet is on some grand mission. Maybe, they want to save the ocean, write great novels, or change education. While I do believe in our lofty aspirations, I think they’re just half the truth. Because what we also want, what most of us want even more, is to be rich. We tell people one thing, but the priority list in our head is another and, if we’re honest, its structure is clear:

1. Get rich.

2. Do all the other amazing things.

I know it’s true for me and I’m sure I’m not the only one. But then why do we twist the story? Why is it so hard to admit this? I try to be more upfront about it, but I’m struggling too. Why does it feel icky to admit wanting to be rich?

Well, “money stinks.” From Cleopatra to King Arthur, from the Rothschilds to Rockefeller to Elon, contemporary culture tends to demonize rich elites, regardless if they’re clean or dirty. You can build a billion-dollar empire on enabling cheap, digital payments, designing beautiful electric cars, and reducing space travel costs by a factor of 10, but Twitter will still brand you based on your flawed decisions, even if they’re comparatively small.

It’s the kind of movie we don’t want to see: The hero can do almost everything right and still die. That’s why, deep down, most of us don’t believe in ethical wealth. We tell ourselves it’s impossible and stick with the socially acceptable story: saving the dolphins, feeding the hungry, inspiring the kids. It might not be a lie, but it’s also not the truth.

Ironically, I think this is the exact limiting belief that’s holding us back. Screw dirty money and screw being fake. I want to be rich and I want to be good. As long as I know both are true, shouldn’t that be enough?

This is new for me and I’m sure I have a lot more to learn, but since I started pulling on this thread, I’ve already spotted some deep-seated anti-wealth behaviors. Subliminal ways to reject money, based on this ancient, toxic story.

Here are ten patterns and how I remind myself to try and avoid them.

1. Stop Seeking Status

Most people don’t want wealth for the freedom it brings. They want power. We’ll admit this even less than wanting to be rich, but just look at how you spent your last financial windfall.

Did you buy things to make a statement? To signal your improved lifestyle to yourself and others? Or did you quietly invest it? Tuck it away for a rainy day?

Getting a table in your town’s best restaurant, being revered, feeling superior, these are status games, not wealth games, as Naval would say. And they won’t get you an inch closer to your true goal.

2. Stop Wasting Your Leverage

Wealthy people are leveraged thinkers. And, up to a certain amount, money is just that: leverage. Nothing more. Most people don’t understand this.

$10 million is freedom. $100 million is too much. But $1 million is merely decent leverage. If you have a Western, upper-class standard of living, it won’t last until you die. But you can build a lot of assets with it. Spend it on growth.

Initially, money is the only form of leverage we have. No one’s working for us. No one wants to give us capital. We haven’t created any software or art yet.

But then why do we give away the one tool we have to enhance our decisions? The more you invest and reinvest, the faster everything compounds.

3. Stop Giving Away Your Time

Time isn’t leverage because it doesn’t multiply anything. So it’s not as valuable. But it’s the most limited resource we have. The underlying asset on which we build everything. Ergo, the more you can use your time to build leverage, the better.

Working for $15/hr is making a living. Spending one hour writing an article is carving out freedom. Don’t let immediate payoff trick you. Pretend your time is worth $1,000/hr. Would you spend five of them doing extra work for free? Would you waste one on being angry?

Living in frenzy is a sign we’ve squandered too much. If you’re stingy with time, you’ll always have enough for what matters, whether it’s an emergency with someone you love or calmly thinking through an important decision.

4. Stop Obsessing Over Work-Life Balance

“It’s very hard to be successful in business if you’re trying to live a well-rounded life.”  —  Naval

I like the Four Burners Theory. It says there’s family, friends, health, and work — and you can only focus on one or two at a time. Maybe, you can’t do it all at once, but you can live your life in seasons. I’m not telling you how to make it, but there is a tradeoff to be made.

The good thing is that deliberately making it is enough to feel content.

5. Stop Betting on Weak Links

Just like your work-life-balance will never be perfect, you’ll never have all your ducks in a row. A soccer team is only as good as its weakest member, but a great salesman carries the bulk of the profits.

Weak links can take many forms: a failed video, a botched talk, a toxic business partner. You’ll build those too, if just by accident. That’s okay. But when you find them, stop. Don’t fall for sunk costs. Ditch hopeless efforts.

Ultimately, you’ll always be your own strongest link.

6. Stop Fearing Solitude

There’s an exception to every rule, but if your plan doesn’t involve the internet in some capacity, it’s probably not worth executing. Whether it’s an online store, a contact form, a paid product, or a thriving podcast, the internet is the greatest form of close-to-free leverage we have. But building on it is lonely.

It means fiddling, googling, and tweaking, a lot of which you’ll do on your own, unleveraged time. At least at first. Time you won’t spend among friends, family, or in the company of who you love. But if it’s time spent wallowing in self-pity, it can’t possibly be productive. Solitude has its perks too.

It builds confidence. You’ll realize the world won’t fall apart. Don’t be scared. Learn to step out into the cold. It’s where most of the rewards are anyway.

7. Stop Offloading Responsibility

99% of people’s actions in big corporations are moves in a giant shift-the-blame game. Junior employees blame senior employees who blame their boss so they can blame their boss’s boss. And leadership? They hire consultants and point to the next company, where the cycle starts all over again.

The easiest way to wow people in this world is to take responsibility without being asked to. “Oh my, so generous of you, how can I thank you?” It’s sad how simple it’s become to stand out.

But the truth is we all have responsibility for our own lives anyway. 100% of it. Can’t outsource that. So why should anyone reward you for trying to push it away? Take it. Embrace it. And then get some more.

Stop wanting, start deserving. Jump in the mud. Dig in. What can go wrong? And if things do, you’ll try again. Outcomes don’t matter to the responsible man, because the responsible man knows he can get any outcome to change.

8. Stop Outsourcing Your Judgment

The terror of responsibility is just another broken story the world keeps telling us — but you can’t see that if you’ve handed your judgment to the masses. You need to take it back and exercise it.

Good judgment attracts leverage. But building it requires making calls and seeing them through. You’ll be wrong, but you can learn.

What you can’t do is build independent thinking on imitated decisions.

9. Stop Giving Away Your Agency

Life is full of narratives like wealth being unethical or responsibility weighing you down. But that’s what they are. Just narratives. You can reject them. You can do something that’s never been done before.

You have so much more power than you think. Not the kind we fear, but the kind you can use to be creative, to solve problems. If someone tells you something’s impossible, does that shut you up? Or send your brain in 100 different directions, looking for ways to prove them wrong?

Stop giving your agency, your say in how your life — how the world could be — to opinions and conventions. To invisible social agreements you never consciously signed up for, but deep down still believe anyway.

“Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.”  —  Steve Jobs

10. Stop Regretting

Of course, it would’ve been great to start practicing all this yesterday. But the best you’re gonna get is today.

It’s very hard to let go of regret if you try to fight it with emotions. I just tell myself it’s unproductive. An obstacle at work, like a frozen laptop screen. So I reboot the system. Take five. Remove the friction.

The only assets I can work with are the time and leverage I have right now. And the only direction I can build in is forward. So that’s what I’ll focus on.

Until I have the money I want. Not too much. But enough.

And not a single dollar is going to stink.

This Is Why Most People Will Never Be Rich Cover

This Is Why Most People Will Never Be Rich

If you even remotely entertain the idea that one day, you might be rich, I want you to answer this question right now:

Which decade of your life are you going to sacrifice?

If you don’t have a clear answer sitting in your gut or can’t even look at the question with a straight face, I’m telling you right now: Find that spark deep down and extinguish it, because you’re lying to yourself.

I had no idea this is what it’d come down to when I started, but now I know. If you’re not willing to give up almost everything else for at least ten years, you mustn’t expect to be rewarded with a bank balance only 1% of people have. For what? Getting all your ducks in a row, like everyone else? Yeah, right.

All my life I was told I was special. Smart. That I’d one day make a ton of money because of my intelligence. I think that’s why I was always a dreamer with great visions. When I was 23, I finally realized that dreams without work are nothing but delusions. So I sat down and got started. It is only now, four years later, that I can see that back then, I made a deal with myself.

And it’s time to make my peace with it.

Yin, But No Yang

You see, I was raised a big believer in balance. If I played outside all day one day, I’d spend the next mastering video games. If I visited friends, I’d go home and do something alone. If I ate cereal in the morning, I’d have bread for dinner. All aspects of life function that way. With balance, you can maintain everything. But that’s the problem. Function is all they do. You can’t excel.

The Micro

If you go to the gym three times a week, you don’t make Monday, Wednesday, and Friday leg day. You switch. Your legs need rest, but you can use that time to work out your arms. If you eat pasta seven times in a row, your body will likely send you some signal that it’s time for something other than carbs. Even if she’s your best friend, hanging out just with her will eventually become annoying.

The list goes on and on. Balance works wonders in the micro. The human brain and body aren’t wired to repeat the same experience, activity, or memory over and over again. It will drive you insane. But if you zoom out…

The Macro

What do you remember about Einstein? Science. Why do you know Michael Phelps? Sports. Justin Bieber? Music. You might think it’s sad, but life is binary like that. And the world’s money is spread accordingly.

There’s this wonderful four burners theory of life: you have family, friends, work, and health. Whether you choose or not, all your time and energy are somehow allocated between those. Here’s how this allocation progresses for most people:

  • As a kid, you’re mostly around family. When school starts, you get some work and a lot of friends. Everything’s easy to balance.
  • Once you graduate high school, you choose college or a career. This is when most people think it’s their time to make a big push.
  • Eventually, however, we get sucked into focusing on health or our friends, sometimes even back to family. That’s why you see most students hit the gym six times a week or party every other night.
  • In their late 20s or early 30s, people realize it’s “now or never,” which is when they either start a second, proper attempt at an amazing career, or, without really admitting it, settle.

After four years of working harder and more than ever, I feel like I can’t go back. I don’t want to go back. I don’t know why or how it happened, but I’ve decided to put my head down at 23 and look back up when I’m 33.

Balance works in the micro, but in the macro, unless you’ve made your peace with it, it will ruin your life.

All around me, people are graduating, starting their first proper jobs, and they’re looking to work hard, yet still find time for sports, dating, and friends. A lot of them will make good money, but I think many more expect to be filthy rich than actually ever will be. Because they’ve already settled without admitting it. They don’t feel they’ll sacrifice their 30s or 40s, just like they haven’t sacrificed their 20s either. Because here’s the thing:

If your sacrifice doesn’t hurt, it’s not working.

Being upset about “only” working out twice a week isn’t a sacrifice. It’s the natural result of a compromise. I am painfully aware of the fact that I’m out of shape. Or that my dating life is as exciting as an IKEA manual. I think about these things. A lot. And it hurts. But that’s how I know it works.

The Biggest Misconception in the Western World

The reason I think the four burners theory is wonderful is that it’s a genuine solution. You can set all burners to 25% and live a long, happy life. But it’ll be an average life. Not wrong, just average. For some reason, some people, like me, get anxiety when they picture that life. Way more anxiety than any job could ever induce. Those people have to swallow the bitter pill, look at the big four of life, and choose: If you want to be a top 1% success, pick one.

I don’t like this. Again, it hurts. But I’m sick of lying to myself and I don’t want you to lie to yourself either. All this sugarcoating is bullshit. I think it’s the biggest misconception in the Western world:

People believe they can become extraordinary by living a balanced life.

That’s not true. If you live a balanced life, you will never be rich. You will never raise three superstar children, become world-famous, or win the Ironman. Because all these things lie opposite of one another. You can have one, even do well with some of the others, but you can never — NEVER — have all of them.

I don’t know which one it’ll be for you. The average? The money? The family? The fame? But I know that if you’re kinda like me, it’s the choice itself that will make you happy. Because even if it hurts, it’ll allow you to sleep in peace.

At the end of the day, even I think that’s more important than being rich.

How to Be Kind in a World That Never Taught You to Be Cover

How to Be Kind in a World That Never Taught You to Be

“Well, some things you just can’t get for money.” The older I get, the more I think this is just something we, the not-yet rich and successful, tell ourselves to feel better. There is almost nothing money can’t buy. Because even for what you can’t trade straight for dollars, there’s almost always a proxy.

You can’t buy time, but not having to work 40 hours a week sure helps. You can’t buy health, but I bet your cancer treatment fares better if you can drop $2 million into it. You can’t buy happiness, but there’s a material sweet spot around $75,000/year.

Money makes the world go ‘round. I don’t think that’s bad, it’s just the way it is. Capitalism isn’t perfect, but it’s helped us do good things, and I believe for many, the struggle for money is the right choice. But I also believe in being kind along the way. Work hard, be nice, win. There’s enough to go around for everyone.

And that’s where the road forks, because most people don’t think you can do both at the same time. Not every struggle is a battle, but if your only options are competing and conceding, they might as well be the same. If you tend to view the world as this dark place that you have to fight tooth and nail against to get what you deserve, I feel for you.

We don’t agree, but I have an idea where it came from. And it’s not your fault.

YOBO

The world doesn’t teach anyone to be kind. Throw a kid to the wolves, and if he survives, he’ll be a wolf himself by the time he does. No, passing on kindness is your parents’s job. Or was. One day you’re two, the next you’re 18, and whatever happened in between is in the past. You enter the real world, whether in working, dating, or elsewhere, and suddenly, you’re drowning in responsibilities. Of course now it’s much harder to develop what you didn’t bring along. That’s one thing money really can’t buy.

You’re only brought up once. No reruns.

You can’t just grab a box of ‘great upbringing’ off the shelf and even if you could, you would neither have the money nor the awareness to do so when you need it the most. Because what 3-year-old can ask her parents for the money to get, well, new parents?

I hit the jackpot in that sense. I come from the most cotton candy sunshine rainbow family you can imagine. We’re not perfect, but my childhood was as close to it as it could have been. It equipped me with all the right tools. Optimism, determination, care, love, and discipline. Frugality, joy, gratitude, self-awareness, work ethic and responsibility. Now that I think about it, maybe there are things money can’t buy and some it even makes harder to attain.

None of the above can guarantee I will live a happy life, but I feel that so far, they’ve allowed me to live a good life. And that’s worth plenty on its own. For one, they’ve spared me from many a millennial struggle. Like financial irresponsibility, unrealistic career expectations, and immature relationships.

Of course I’m not immune to problems. As Ryan Holiday noted: “The world is undefeated.” It breaks everyone, it just does so in different ways. And yet, a loving family and a good upbringing is something I truly wish everyone could have. I’m painfully aware that’s not possible. Maybe you’ve had tough parents, no parents, or, let’s face it, downright shitty parents.

I can’t snap my fingers and turn back time any more than you, but I’d like to at least share what I’ve observed about how my own kindness transpires. Maybe there’s a process you can copy and it’ll ooze out just the same.

But to do that, we first need to talk about a topic dear to every German’s heart: rules.

Two Kinds of Two Kinds

Besides being German, I’m also an Upholder. It’s a personality type that thrives in meeting both inner and outer expectations. This means I don’t just abide by the rules, I love them so much that, if there aren’t any, I’ll set up my own, just so I can have a lane to drive in with bumpers along the side.

Whether you share my love for rules or not, you too have lots of experience with them. Making rules, taking rules, faking rules, breaking rules. But next to the rules you set for yourself and those the world pushes you to follow, there’s another dichotomy here. Some rules are stated clearly, others implicit.

Source

Case in point: Area 51. When you drive past that “Restricted” sign, you know there are laws you’re about to violate. You’re trespassing on secret government property, you can be searched, arrested, shot, photos are forbidden and boy, you better not launch any drones. Those aren’t all of them, but enough for you to break a sweat.

It’s the second set, however, the unwritten rules of Area 51, that make venturing there a trip worth taking for thousands each year. Nobody knows exactly what they are, but they lead to all the rumors and myths surrounding the place. Because the only way to find out is to go there. What am I getting at?

Every situation in your life is like entering Area 51.

It might not be as exciting and, thankfully, not as dangerous, but wherever you go, there are rules, written and unwritten. They depend on the time, the people, the country, the culture, the politics, and a whole lot of other values. Unlike the government’s secret military facility, however, finding out what those unwritten rules are isn’t just encouraged, it’s your job.

And if you do it well, you’ll automatically be kind to others.

Mirror, Mirror…

We’re always told to break the rules, but I think there’s often a huge caveat missing: it’s advice for how to do things, not how to treat people. When it comes to social interactions, let the written rules inform your behavior while you figure out what the unwritten standards are. Following such rules as best as you can is less a sign of being a blind follower than it is a gesture of respect for others.

Adapting is a way of being kind because often, the two are one and the same.

We are a social species. It’s not just animals, we too mimic each other’s behavior. Subconsciously in conversation, on purpose to be part of the group. I tend to get along well with all kinds of people and I now see a big part of it is doubling down on that trait. Call it diplomatic, call it manners, but no matter how you feel about rules, showing a little flexibility helps us coexist.

Here are some of the unwritten ones I’ve discovered so far:

  • When you enter a quiet room, be quiet. When you enter a lively room, be lively. In other words: Read the room.
  • When your opposite is talking to you, don’t use your phone. Don’t even touch it. Chances are, you both can’t multitask.
  • When people notice you in the street, notice them too. Look, nod, be part of the world. Don’t stare at the ground. Don’t be an antibody. We get little of it these days, so acknowledgement is almost synonymous with respect.
  • When you meet someone new and notice them using certain words, pick up their vocabulary. An easy way to bond is meaning to say the same thing.
  • Whoever tells you a story, recap it as a question. “Wait, so you ran out of gas and the station was closed?” It’s called active listening, but it’s empathy.
  • When you disagree with someone, ask if they think you disagree. Often, it’s not the case. Let them explain again.
  • When someone shows you they like you without words, show them too. Look at them, be attentive, listen. They’ll understand, just like you.
  • When you can help people without really going out of your way, do it. Including, but not limited to, holding doors, standing up, and giving exact change.

Money, fame, happiness, success, it’s our right to fight for these things, but you’re not fighting against one another. We’re all in this together. Ultimately, either everyone wins or none of us.

Photo by Joshua Clay on Unsplash

Everyone’s Favorite Movie

I don’t think it’s a coincidence Germans are considered a nice people. We love rules. A little too much, maybe. That said, compliance is far from the only way of adapting.

Sometimes it’s your turn to reflect, sometimes it’s your turn to be the mirror. The most important rules are always the unwritten ones, because no one has dared articulate them yet. Let alone be the first to follow them and set an example. Imagine you treated everyone the way you would be treated if your life was a Hollywood movie. You’d constantly exceed everyone’s expectations.

I wish we could have nothing but perfect childhoods, wealthy families, and kindhearted humans. But a lack of the first two must never come at the expense of the third.

The world is only as dark a place as we allow it to become. So let’s not let it.

303 Life Lessons We All Learn But Keep Forgetting Cover

303 Life Lessons We All Learn But Keep Forgetting

I used to think beyond 7th grade math is only useful for physicists and statisticians. After the rule of three, which allows you to calculate discounts on prices, diminishing returns start to kick in fast.

I’ve remedied that view a bit; geometry and calculus have led to some of histories strongest philosophical insights, but I still like to imagine a world in which our high school table of subjects includes:

  • Human behavior.
  • Relationships.
  • Communication.
  • Body language.
  • Personal finance.
  • Etiquette.
  • Career discovery.
  • Work habits.
  • Creativity.

Until that happens, however, I’m grateful for people like Alexander J.A Cortes, who compile the curriculum of such a school of life for us to learn it now, as adults. On February 25th, he shared a tweet storm previewing his next book titled Untaught Truths of Adulthood, which went viral.

As I read through his nearly 100-tweet-long outpour of life lessons, many examples from my own life popped up in my mind. It’s only natural, for all of us learn many of these things, but we never articulate them. I reached out to him and asked whether he’d be up for a collaboration: The result is his treasure trove in long-form, with my experiences as backup to his insights.

Here’s the full list of Alexander’s 303 untaught truths of adulthood, underlined with examples, comments, random quotes and thoughts from my life. Some of them are contradictory, some personal. Some are deep, others just funny. I put down whatever first came to mind.

Note: Corrected for spelling, duplicates, grammar and the occasional typo. All  bolded bullets are from Alexander, what follows is me.

This list is long, so feel free to scroll to a random section, jump around, open it, read one, then come back a day or week later, etc.

  1. Everything you do matters. In 2012, I applied to a US exchange program. I got in, but not at my preferred school. I was the only German going to that particular school. I went. Unlike the other participants, I had lots of time after finishing my assignments. I read a lot. A friend sent me a link. I clicked it. I fell in love with blogs. I kept reading. Two years later, I started my own. Random sequence or perfect order of events? Both. But everything you do matters regardless.
  2. Consequences have consequences. The above is also called ripple effect. See also: 1 > 0.
  3. Life never gets simpler. But that doesn’t mean it won’t get better.
  4. Rarely do you ever figure anything out fully. I think for most things, it’s better that we don’t. Knowledge is power, but power can lead to madness.
  5. (Almost) everybody is faking confidence. Cut the almost.
  6. Most people are compensating for high school. The rest is playing the same game they played in high school. Examples of games: My daddy is rich, I’m too cool to learn, I’m not built for school, I need everyone to like me because I don’t like myself, I’m trying to prove something. All of these might be true. That doesn’t make them good games to play.
  7. The sooner you begin managing your finances for life, the better. A few days ago I overheard a woman say she wants to buy a car for her daughter, but she doesn’t have the $1,000 bucks she needs. With a stable job in a Western country, how the fuck do you not have $1,000 at hand at all times?
  8. The people that live for the weekend are not the people you want as friends. Add to that everyone who celebrates ‘hump day,’ i.e. Wednesday, i.e. the halfway point to the weekend.
  9. No one is ever going to make you happy if you cannot be happy by yourself. Take this literally. If you cannot stand being alone, you’ll still feel alone when you’re with others.
  10. Most of the math you learned is useless. See my introduction to this post. Told ya.
  11. The math you should have learned is the same math that will make you rich. As I said: The Rule of Three.
  12. Everyone overestimates their expectations. You’d be surprised how much people are willing to compromise as long as they can see you gave it your best effort. Intent matters.
  13. When in doubt, pay your fucking bills first. I once went into the red because I lent my then-girlfriend money. That was a bad Monday. If your balance is green, never make it red to help someone else.
  14. Those who vacation constantly have the right idea about their work. Unless they wish they’d never have to return.
  15. Those who never take vacations will never ultimately be fulfilled by their work. “If you love something, let it go. If it comes back it’s yours.” I think this applies to work more than people.
  16. 80% of working is pretending to work, 20% is working to make up for the 80%. Young, motivated people do the 20% first. Old, tired people do the 20% last. Few people ever change the ratio.
  17. Few people are worth being friends with. But everyone is worth giving it a try.
  18. Networking is pretending everyone is worth being friends with. This is why I don’t like it. So I don’t do it. If you work hard enough, the network will form around you.
  19. If you need a business card, you are not truly successful. “Work until you no longer have to introduce yourself.”
  20. Beware of people that want to give you their business card. Take it, then ask if they remember your name.
  21. Managers want to get paid more, they don’t want to actually manage. If all a manager does is manage, they’re not right for the job anyway. True managers lead.
  22. People are lazy. In 8 years of living with roommates, I haven’t had one who keeps their room cleaner than me. Am I a neat freak? Absolutely. Does it still speak volumes? It does.
  23. The best boss is never your boss. Even if they are, they won’t be forever. And they’d never let you call them ‘boss.’
  24. The worst bosses love being bosses. When I was riding the school bus, the driver constantly threatened to throw people out along the way. He never did, because he wasn’t legally allowed. But he clung to his tiny shred of authority because it was all he had. That’s not worth your anger, just worth your pity.
  25. Anyone who introduces themselves with a title, but isn’t a medical doctor, they’re a phony POS. We were in a hotel in Austria once. Everyone approached my Dad with his title, even though he never explicitly mentioned it. It’s part of their etiquette. They chose to do so. But when you force your etiquette on others, it’s not etiquette. It’s bullying. Oh and doctors can be phonies too.
  26. Anyone who thinks letters after their name make them successful is never successful. I had an interview at LMU Munich for a different graduate program. One of the three other participants was a count. The professor called him Konstantin, his first name. He corrected him. “Count Konstantin.” I like to think that guy never got in and if he did, that move sure didn’t help.
  27. Freedom is how little you are able to work while doing what you want. That’s freedom. But happiness comes from finding the balance when to switch between the two.
  28. People that hate cats always miss critical details and are easy to fool, and get cheated on. Lesson: Don’t hate cats.
  29. People who have dogs instead of children are always easy to manipulate. Lesson: Don’t love dogs more than kids.
  30. People that own Lizards with names are people to do business with. Lesson: Don’t define yourself as a cat person, dog person, lizard person, or any kind of animal person. Just a person.
  31. Don’t choose to do anything you hate, regardless of the upside in doing it. The only way to learn this is by doing it many times. Until it hurts.
  32. When a child says you look sad, angry, unhappy, or fat, they’re right. That’s why I care more about children’s opinions than adult opinions.
  33. It’s never too early to buy life insurance. Or liability insurance. Or health insurance. Or insurance for anything you can pay to have covered, but is of infinite value to you.
  34. When someone is being self destructive, don’t try to stop them. It’s contagious. “Never wrestle a pig. You get dirty and the pig gets happy.”
  35. Help those who help themselves first. When I answer reader questions, I sometimes check on them a few months later. If they’re in the same place they were before, I might not answer their next question.
  36. Stay away from anyone over the age of 25 who calls their parents before making minor decisions. Stay close to anyone who calls their parents over major decisions. At any age. In fact, stay close to anyone who regularly calls their parents.
  37. Single people who own lots of unused dishes have hidden problems. When I moved to Munich to intern at BMW, I brought one plate, one set of utensils, one bowl, and one mug. You can always get takeout. Or buy more plates. Loneliness and consumerism usually aren’t that hidden though.
  38. Always hire a Jewish CPA to do your taxes. All clichés come from somewhere, but that’s mostly racist. The well-intended kind, but racism nonetheless.
  39. Better to be overdressed than underdressed. There’s a guy in the library who always wears a suit. Most people probably thinks he’s a douche. But it forces them to admit he’s a douche with style. Ironically, dressing up helps filter superficial people.
  40. You’re successful when you can dress however you want, and people envy you for being able to do so. Russian oligarchs like to show up to gala dinners in sweatpants. Underdressing can be a statement too.
  41. If you don’t make your health a priority by 30, you’re setting yourself up for a midlife crisis at 40. There’s a 50% chance you’ll have a major health setback take you out for 6 months or more by age 45. Don’t increase this chance.
  42. If you don’t make fitness a priority by 25, your dating prospects diminish considerably. Fitness = business. Girls under 25 like sexy guys. Girls over 25 like stable guys. Guys under 25 like hot girls. Guys over 25 like pragmatic girls.
  43. Being popular makes you appear more competent. But one day, you’ll have to back it up.
  44. Being too competent makes you unpopular. But one day, you’ll get your shot.
  45. The best way is to be highly competent, but never in an obvious way. Corollary: When you’re not competent, be highly transparent.
  46. People that don’t believe in God but believe in good vibes are always hypocrites. Or they’re just spiritually confused.
  47. Never trust anyone who doesn’t care about what they eat. But trust everyone who’s aware that they eat badly.
  48. People that lie to themselves will lie to you. And we all lie to ourselves. What does that tell us? The key to stop lying is to stop lying to yourself.
  49. The key to finding trustworthy people is being willing to trust. “Sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith first. The trust part comes later.” From Batman v Superman.
  50. Dishonest people always know each other. Therefore, dishonest people will always try to do business with honest people, not each other.
  51. Most of “good business” is simply good character while turning a profit. That’s why negotiations with upright people are always easy.
  52. Don’t loan money to friends or family. Give money, with no expectation of repayment. That was my mistake from #13.
  53. A house with a 30 year mortgage isn’t an investment. It’s a place you live and overpay for living there. A house is only an investment if you don’t move in.
  54. Don’t take health advice from unfit people. I only know one healthy doctor. And even he works too much. That’s a problem.
  55. Don’t take financial advice from poor people. But pretend to be poor every once in a while.
  56. Anyone who claims to understand “economics” or “the economy” but isn’t rich is full of shit. I routinely hear students solve global economic crises over a bowl of chili at the university dining hall. Then I remember they live in one of the bubbles they always talk about.
  57. People that judge you based on your car are always assholes. Part of my job as an intern used to be to drive flashy cars around or chauffeur people in them. The “what-a-douchy-rich-kid” looks can be an obstacle or an advantage. You choose.
  58. People that don’t take care of their cars always neglect critical relationships. The same holds true for people who don’t make their bed in the morning.
  59. The only real knowledge is learned by experience and proven by practice. Which is why the only path to knowledge leads through time.
  60. Don’t wait until people die to start appreciating people. Inevitably, you’ll remember this more vividly once people do. Sadly, they always do.
  61. Drink more water. Put a glass of water next to your bed. Don’t get up before it’s empty.
  62. Eat less carbs. Eat less overall. 80% turns to 100% after waiting 10 minutes.
  63. Get more sunlight. Everyone has a type of weather they like the most. Move to where that weather prevails 80% of the time. You’ll love most of the year, but hate enough of it to still appreciate the good weather when it comes back.
  64. Call people if they are truly important to you. Yes, calling people has become weird. Do it anyway. If you’re important to them too, you’ll get through.
  65. When in doubt, be calm. Note: It’s hard to be calm when you’re in doubt, which is why it’s so valuable.
  66. When uncertain, take time to think. Once certain, remember how you went from uncertain to certain. If you can’t, you’re not really certain.
  67. Sure or unsure, always attempt to speak clearly. And yes, “I don’t know” is a clear and acceptable response.
  68. A sense of humor will keep you young. Sometimes, a sense of humor will keep you alive.
  69. A lack of humor will age you. “Life is too important to be taken seriously.” — Oscar Wilde.
  70. Laughter is the ultimate form of disrespect and ego destruction. But it’s also the best medicine.
  71. Be swift in paying off debt. Better yet, don’t accumulate any debt at all.
  72. Be early in saving. And late in spending.
  73. The safest investment are those things that will always exist and always be needed. Invest in eternity. Ironically, those things aren’t practical, because practical items are always used. They’re things like art, books, memorabilia. See also: the Lindy effect.
  74. Always carry $100 cash in your glove compartment. It will come in handy. Especially if that $100 is $500 and robbers break into your car, but forget to steal it. Happened to a friend. Reminder: lock your glove compartment.
  75. Habits don’t improve of and in themselves, it’s the practice of doing them that improves you. This means your habits are important. But your habits are not you.
  76. Repeat anything for long enough, and it becomes a part of you. I’ve been biting my nails since I was 12. When my mom took me to the doc he said: “He’ll drop it by the time he’s 18.” I’m 27 now and I guess he was wrong.
  77. The actions you don’t think about are the ones that make and break you in equal measure. Therefore, the man who thinks about everything and the man who thinks about nothing both lose. Find the middle.
  78. Everything is going to take more work than you think while somehow requiring less work than you end up doing. This will never cease to be frustrating. They’re called hubris and paranoia and they always travel together.
  79. The best talkers & the best looking people get promoted, so be one of them. If you’re neither, take option C: Don’t wait to get promoted. Promote yourself.
  80. Never trust Human Resources. But go to lunch with everyone from Human Resources.
  81. People that want to be friends with everyone are never to be trusted. People with no friends may most deserve one. Extend a hand.
  82. Stupidly confident people are always lucky. Confidence is part of the skill it takes to get the job done, because confidence allows you to wipe off the times you’re unlucky until you strike gold.
  83. You become the people you spend the most energy with. Remember to always reserve some energy for yourself.
  84. You will never not hate your alarm clock. Side note: Never use your phone as an alarm clock. Then again, maybe hating our phones would be a good thing.
  85. The hardest work is the work you hate to do. Only do it until you get to choose.
  86. The easiest work is the work you are passionate for. And you can always choose to be passionate about something.
  87. Everyone is “inspired” when they are getting paid the big dollars. That’s why investment bankers say they love their job. They don’t. Golden handcuffs. They’re shiny. But they’re still handcuffs.
  88. Be very careful doing business with anyone who gives and expects favors. But only if they explicitly call it favors.
  89. Don’t sleep with coworkers. Or class mates. Or anyone you see every week.
  90. Don’t sleep with your boss. Especially not your boss.
  91. Don’t sleep with clients. Summary of the past three lessons: Don’t poop where you eat.
  92. Your work wife will probably know you better than your actual wife. So make sure you always tell your actual wife things only she will ever know about you.
  93. Anyone that mentions both their exe(s) and their parents in a negative light on the first date is not someone to see for a second date. Extension: Anyone that spends most of a first date gossiping has likely been going on many first dates for a reason.
  94. Car insurance is a racket. I’ve been driving for 10 years. No incidents. It’s not always up to you, but it’s not rocket science either. Of course you’re going to crash if you text and drive all the time. Drive safely. The best insurance is doing your job. And when you’re at the wheel, your job is to pay attention.
  95. Tip 20% or do not tip at all. Fun fact: In Germany, tips are really just tips. The waiters get paid adequately regardless. If you’re where people depend on them, don’t be a cheapskate.
  96. Always have a signature drink. I’m thinkin’ Slippery Nipple. “I’ll take a slip nip.” That should get the conversation going one way or the other. How about you?
  97. Single women past the age of 30 with multiple small dogs are single for a reason. They’re busy tending to the dogs. Don’t read too much into things.
  98. Be fit enough that you need all your clothes fitted and tailored. Corollary: Earn enough to have all your clothes fitted and tailored.
  99. Do not ever cross men with big shoulders who wear custom suits. You want to look like them, not be one of them.
  100. Wealth is waking up whenever you want. Happiness is looking forward to waking up when you go to bed.
  101. Don’t waste time explaining yourself to people who don’t understand context. In fact, don’t waste any time explaining yourself at all. Unless you did someone wrong. Explaining is draining.
  102. Learn how to orate, elocute, persuade, and convey. There are many opportunities in life to give presentations that don’t matter. Take them. For there will come a time when they do.
  103. Don’t try to outslick a slickster. Chances are, he’s been slicking longer than you.
  104. Don’t try to brawl with a brawler. See pig analogy from #34.
  105. Don’t try to hook with a hooker. In fact, avoid hookers altogether.
  106. Learn to box. But don’t use it unless you need to.
  107. Your employer doesn’t care if you quit or not. Any small to medium-sized company will survive any individual loss, no matter how tragic. Everyone is valuable, but no one’s irreplaceable.
  108. The only employees that matter are the ones that produce the big $$. Everyone else is disposable. Direct contradiction to #1. Everything matters. The big earners stand on the shoulders of the slow movers. Result? Hire more big earners, then hire more slow movers.
  109. The highest performers tend to make the worst leaders. Let race horses race and draft horses draft.
  110. Everyone hates chain emails. If five people who’re paid $100k/year spend five ours on a five email chain, that’s a lot of money down the drain. Email is more expensive than it seems.
  111. Beware of women who own multiple red dresses. Especially if they also own multiples of every other item of clothing.
  112. $$ alone does not keep a woman loyal. In fact, $$ alone are a great incentive for anyone to become disloyal.
  113. Whenever you can, get a room with a view. Marriott Waikiki Beach, 30th floor or so. I still remember the sunset vividly, five years later.
  114. Convertibles are fun to drive only in movies. ← Alexander does not own a convertible. Convertibles, balconies, a front or back porch. Open space is something you can pay for, a direct connection to the infinity of nature isn’t.
  115. Women with high tolerances for alcohol have a low capacity for sanity. And low incentive to develop it.
  116. Talk to your friends on the phone. Simple test: How happy are you when a friend calls you unexpectedly? How often do you call friends unexpectedly?
  117. Always give speeches at weddings. More free presentation practice.
  118. If someone is upset, take them for a walk and talk to them. Or just walk. They’ll start talking eventually.
  119. Managing people is managing personalities first, performance second. In that sense, all workers are managers.
  120. Most people don’t change past 25, they only become more of themselves. Character forms like an onion. Each year, a layer is added. The more layers, the harder it is to peel it away and start over.
  121. You know you’ve improved when people say they don’t even know you anymore. You know you’ve become better than them when they stop talking to you altogether.
  122. If you can’t explain it in 5 sentences or less, you don’t get it. “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” — Robert Frost
  123. Big words and numbers are the easiest way to lie. I knew a sales guy once, who’d return home from every customer visit and say: “They’re on board. This’ll make us millions!” Of course most of the time, they weren’t on board, and most of the times they were, the resulting revenue was negligible. Eventually, everyone called him ‘Mark Millions’ behind his back. But no one believed he could actually deliver.
  124. If you can strike an emotion and attach to it something that sounds true-ish, a person will believe it. A friend once made me believe dog biscuits were chocolates. They looked delicious to begin with, and he kept going on and on about how yummy they were. Since then I always read the label.
  125. The only way to develop intuition is by using it. “I. Will. Try. My life would have have been empty of so many things, if I did not think the words: I will try.” — Henry Winkler aka The Fonz
  126. Don’t ever make important decisions while you are angry or underslept. And yes, the decision to drive a car, potentially transporting other humans, is an important one.
  127. When in doubt, apologize to the person. Maybe it’s a boys thing, but I hated apologizing well into my 20s. It still feels like ripping off a bandaid, but I’ve gotten a lot better.
  128. Do not ever apologize to mass demands of apology. Tell them to get fucked and do what pisses them off 10x harder. Apologize for what you do wrong, but never for who you are.
  129. Learn how to learn. Here’s the only tool you need for it: Why?
  130. Always assume there is more that you don’t know than you do know. Insignificance is freedom.
  131. Obsession makes discipline easy. Don’t develop habits that drain all your energy. You’ll lose the ability to play on your strengths.
  132. Desire cannot be negotiated. It can only be dampened.
  133. A relationship is broken when sex is used for bargaining. In fact, it’s broken whenever sex is used as a means, not an end.
  134. Fit people do in fact have way better sex. And people who have more sex are way fitter.
  135. Don’t ever wear a cheap watch. I had 2 or 3 digital watches as a teenager. Then nothing for a long time. In 2014, I was gifted a $500 watch. It was stunning and I wore it every day, but it kept breaking. Eventually, I had to let it go last year. I haven’t worn one since. Now I’m looking to get a new watch. Just one. But one I’ll wear every day. This isn’t about being a prick, it’s about quality. Watches made by fashion companies like Armani, etc. aren’t watches. They’re conspicuous consumption. Only watches made by watchmakers are watches. If you get the right one, it’ll last a lifetime. And those are expensive.
  136. Don’t ever wear shoes that do not fit well. Or contort your feet into a shape where they leave you in pain every time you walk barefoot. Make sure you wear your shoes, or in time your shoes will wear you.
  137. Learn how to dress well. Like the guy from #39. He knows why.
  138. A custom belt buckle is powerful. I bought a belt at Desigual in 2010. Later, I realized the buckle was upside down. At first, I was upset. Then, I was glad. A lot of people have Desigual belts. Almost no one has a Desigual belt with an upside down buckle.
  139. Manicures and pedicures are for everyone. I’ve always wanted to try the thing where you put your feet into water with some fish and they eat off the dead skin. Does it tickle?
  140. A good barber and a good haircut are worth their weight in gold. Not a saying but it just as well might be: Lucky is the man with a bald head.
  141. There is nothing brave about being mainstream. I’m sure you have those moments too, where you think “I just want a normal life.” But then you see your neighbor, or a coworker, who has exactly that, and every time you turn around thinking “fuck, that’s depressing.” Because it makes you feel like a coward who’s given up. So you say “screw it, I can’t do it,” and go back to being weird. Thank you for being weird.
  142. Do the opposite of “you know what they say” say you are supposed to. You know what they say? They say you can’t do it. Whatever ‘it’ is.
  143. The wisdom of crowds is mostly bullshit. To every yin, there’s a yang. For this, it’s herd behavior.
  144. Experts on theory are not experts. You know how sometimes on TV shows ‘celebrity experts’ pop up? That’s when it’s time to turn off the TV. See also: #56.
  145. If its not tried and proven, to hell with it. If no one’s tried it before, it may be up to you to prove it.
  146. People will defend a narrative sooner than they will consider being wrong. Opposing evidence often only leads to reaffirmation of the previous belief. It’s called the backfire effect.
  147. People that never change their mind are the most ignorant people. Wisdom is inversely correlated to the number of times someone uses the words ‘never’ and ‘always.’
  148. If someone’s perspective has changed dramatically over time, listen to them. It indicates they’ve reduced the usage of ‘never’ and ‘always.’
  149. Politicians are as dishonest as the society they politic in. There has never been an honest society. And there never will be.
  150. The most honest leaders are the most like dictators. That’s why the best leaders can’t get by on honesty alone, but also need empathy.
  151. You’re only informed if you can predict outcomes. If you cannot, you know nothing. And if you can’t do it repeatedly, you need to start all over again.
  152. Family feuds are the most draining and no one ever wins. We stopped talking to my grandpa a few years ago. The reasons were valid, but that doesn’t make it less sad. Ripping out a thorn is better than leaving it in your skin, hoping it’ll vanish, but you’ll get a scar either way.
  153. You don’t need a lot of friends. Only a few good ones. My best friends I’ve known since elementary school. My second best friends I’ve known since high school. My third best friends I’ve known since college. See a pattern there? “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver, the other is gold.” — Kid’s song.
  154. Your best friend is the one that knows you’re going to change. Friendship is about shared history, not shared identity. True friends will never hold it against you if you change.
  155. Don’t be friends with people you don’t fully respect. The quickest way to determine if you do is to give anyone you meet respect and see what they do with it.
  156. Suffering is real. And it’s subjective. Now that’s something you should respect.
  157. You have the ability to act in a way that reduces suffering for yourself and those around you. “Everything you can imagine is real.” — Pablo Picasso. This goes for the good and the bad.
  158. You have no idea what the ripple effects of that might be. You not losing your cool over the waitress spilling coffee might prevent her from committing a crime later in the day. Or worse. Life is intense like that. We just glaze over it most of the time.
  159. Do not ever come between a person and their dog. Or a dog and their person. Wolves can bite through bones. Dogs are tamed wolves.
  160. Loneliness is a better alternative to losers. It’s just harder to bear.
  161. Solitude reveals who you are, friendship defines it. Take a walk by yourself. Bring back what you learned to your friends. That way you’ll find out if it sticks.
  162. A single good friend is worth more than infinite bad friends. I sometimes went to a guy down the street in elementary school to play video games. He was fat, nerdy, lonely, and ate way too much crap. But he loved video games. In the beginning, I still made fun of him behind his back. But whenever I went there, we could rave for hours about video games. Eventually, I started defending him whenever others talked about him. I was his only friend, and I couldn’t stand being a bad one.
  163. Sacrifice is mandatory for anything or anyone that you love. And the more you love it, the less often it’ll feel like sacrifice. It’ll still hurt, but it won’t bleed as long.
  164. Compromise works best when the outcome is equally unsatisfactory for both parties. That’s why compromise rarely works.
  165. Don’t ever cry around people who you wouldn’t want to remember you crying. Once at gym practice I got a ball straight in the nuts. It hurt so much I fell down. With everyone standing around me, looking down at me, I didn’t want to cry. So I blacked out for a few seconds. Not that it was a choice, but would do it again.
  166. Nice is the non insulting descriptive for boring. If you are called nice, radically rethink your life. I like being nice. I don’t like being used because of it. You don’t have to stop being nice, you have to stop others from feeding on it.
  167. Motorcycles are never not cool. Except when they’re wrapped around a tree with you underneath them. I once flew off my bike and ripped open my entire chin. I had to wait in the ER for 2 hours because of a motorcycle accident. That day, motorcycles weren’t cool at all.
  168. Sometimes it really is only about sex. Once you realize this, it’s important to remember that you can still choose.
  169. People for whom sex is only sex are broken people. Most people who claim sex is just sex still know the exact number of people they’ve slept with. Why?
  170. Cats are better judges of character than dogs. Dogs love almost everyone. Cats love almost no one. Dogs chase cats because they want to play with them. Cats run away because they fear dogs. Being smart doesn’t equal being happy.
  171. People that own parrots have above average verbal IQs. That’s because at least at home they have smart conversations.
  172. If you have small children, you should get them a dog. But only if they can ride the dog, yet the dog can’t eat them.
  173. Sunlight and exercise always make you feel healthier the more of them you get. Instead of coffee, try sitting in the bright sunlight for 10 minutes. It’s pure energy. You can tell.
  174. Hangovers are only worth if you wake up next to someone who looks as good as they looked the night prior. Even if it’s just yourself.
  175. Order one drink, or drink the flood. Moderation is for cowards. A good question to determine which one it should be is “how do I want to remember this night five years from now?” Occasionally, the answer will be “I don’t mind if I don’t, as long as I have the story to tell.”
  176. If you behave poorly while drinking, do not drink at all. Chances are, you behave poorly even while sober.
  177. Dark whiskeys turns regular girls into bad girls, and bad girls into VERY bad girls. Good girls only get sick, and then want to leave early. There is no drink that turns bad girls into good girls.
  178. Don’t fuck with any man who you know can fight and drinks his liquor straight with no chaser. It will end badly for you. Clubs are where ego can be lethal.
  179. Happy drunks are the most sincere people on earth. When I get drunk I get honest and blubbery. But I can still write grammatically perfect texts. Not the best drunk skillset to have, but could be worse.
  180. Mean drunks are the most miserable. Mostly because they were miserable long before they started drinking.
  181. It is when things fall apart that you find out, too late, how they really work. Sometimes, even saving just yourself comes at a terrible price.
  182. Loving someone for the sake of maintaining a facade is not loving them. It’s fearing them.
  183. Lies of omission cause more damage than lies of fabrication. We leave things out to protect ourselves. We make things up to protect others.
  184. Your children always know when you’re being a hypocrite. Never deny it when they call you out on it.
  185. Your siblings always know when you’re bullshitting. They’ve known you since you were kids, so they always know when you’re being a hypocrite. If you’re lucky, you have siblings who call you out on it.
  186. No amount of pre-marriage counseling, planning, or preparation fully prepares anyone for marriage. Because no one’s ever ready to commit their life to one thing. All we can is do it and see if it works out.
  187. The secret to healthy skin is sunlight (daily), sweat (frequently), and sugar (never). Our skin is the biggest organ that connects us to the world. It’s also the most sensitive. It’s underrated and paid too little attention to.
  188. Those who get winded walking are never to be relied upon for anything that tests endurance of character. He who runs out of breath will just as quickly run out of discipline.
  189. A strong body is one that finds movement effortless. And effortless movement leads to a strong body. See: Ido Portal.
  190. Idiots think in words and absolutes. Geniuses think of themselves as idiots.
  191. Non-idiots think in heuristics and concepts. When I was 8, me and the neighbor’s kids took most of our pocket money to the local store to buy Kinder Eggs. Each came with a surprise inside. The valuable figurines were heavier, so we put them on the scales. 32–34 grams was optimal. We were kids, but not idiots.
  192. Anti-knowledge (what is not/what not to do) is vastly more revealing than knowledge. Knowledge leads to arrogance, caution leads to respect. Warren Buffett calls it his circle of competence.
  193. The question of “how did I get here” is easily answered by “what were you doing yesterday?” #1 reason to keep a journal.
  194. One day of practice is worth more than a month (at least) of study. Probably a year. Only practice reveals anti-knowledge.
  195. Trying to control others is the easiest way to be hated. The more you try to control the world, the less in control you are. One feels like a substitute for the other, but it isn’t.
  196. Studying how “power” works and claiming to understand power is akin to studying how to lift weights and believing you will deadlift 500 pounds. Neither are happening. “Desiring a thing cannot make you have it.” — Mark Wahlberg in The Gambler.
  197. Action and experience > theorizing. The fact that this ratio is tipped in favor of doing is the reason that our education system is broken. A friend and I took an automotive engineering class in college. We knew all about gear sequencing, engine limitations, and friction coefficients. But we couldn’t fix a car if we tried. If I had to do it over again, I’d become a mechanic, then go to school.
  198. The mark of proper resistance training is pristine posture and beautiful movement. My spine has a slight s-curvature because I spent too much time sitting at a desk. I’m 27. How old are you? See also: Spinefulness.
  199. The mark of improper resistance training is poor posture and ugly movement. Lesson: You learn neither posture nor movement at the gym.
  200. Good girls can play at being a bad girl. “The advantage of intelligence is being able to play dumb. The opposite is quite impossible, however.” — Kurt Tucholsky.
  201. Bad girls can only lie about being a good girl. And the true loser is the guy who believes the lie, not the girl who tells it.
  202. Men that care about women liking them are repulsive to women. One of the hardest truths I learned about love from my last relationship: You cannot find love by looking for it. Goes both ways.
  203. Men that don’t care whether a woman likes them are always attractive. A cheesy, but insightful movie that explains both why this is true and flawed is Ghost of Girlfriends Past.
  204. Nice girls are always lovely. And always lonely.
  205. Nice guys are always losers. And always lonely. See a pattern here?
  206. Nice girls and nice guys have entirely different meanings. Which is why somehow, they can never seem to find one another. Thanks, society.
  207. You become unattractive the instant you began changing your behavior to get someone to like you. Hence #202.
  208. The worst thing a man can do to a woman is to not do what he said he was going to do. I think this extends to women.
  209. The worst thing a woman can do to a man is to not be who she pretended to be. I think this extends to men.
  210. Women want you to listen to them, not solve their problems. This, I also learned in my last relationship, even though a prior ex-girlfriend had told me this. Literally. The exact, same sentence. Apparently, we’re not only bad at listening, but also at remembering.
  211. Men want to solve problems, with a minimum of listening. Oh, that’s why. We’re focused on doing stuff to improve the situation. This is what I told said ex-girlfriend. The exact, same sentence.
  212. The lack of understanding of the above is why many stupid arguments happen. See also: Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. One of the underlying ideas is that women need to find solutions on their own, men just want solutions, no matter where they come from. Now that I think about it, the ex-girlfriend that told me about it mentioned this book. Goddammit brain.
  213. Every man wants a good girl who will be bad only for him. There was a couple like that at my high school. In the end, the bad rubbed off and there were naked pictures of her circulating all around the school.
  214. Every woman wants a bad boy who will be good only for her. There was a couple like that at my high school too. In the end, the bad rubbed off and she cheated on him.
  215. This rarely works out how anyone idealizes it will work out. Sadly, we keep trying it long after we’re done with high school.
  216. Mastery requires obsession, passion, and time. I’ve been writing for 3.5 years. I used to say I don’t mind what happens in the first 10, but I didn’t mean it. I was always looking for a new side hustle. A new gimmick. A new get-rich-quick-scheme to put in motion. Sometimes, I still do. No matter how much obsession and how much passion you have, accepting the time part is a lifelong struggle.
  217. You can only have one great passion at a time, but you can have many high level interests. The trick is to not let those interests eat away at your passion, but to funnel them into it.
  218. A transcendent master is who can teach as well as they perform. A great teacher is like a great Kung Fu master: they only perform if they really have to, but when they do, the world watches in stunned silence.
  219. Pedantic people are never worth dealing with, in any capacity. They’re the reason for #16. Because they make people work an extra 80% for the last 20% of the results. So most people don’t do it.
  220. Don’t do business with people you don’t like. When I was 12, a kid who I knew was the town bully wanted to make friends with me. He practically shoved some of his 18+ horror movie DVDs into my face. I didn’t want them. I didn’t watch them. But the whole weekend, until I gave them back to him, they haunted me nonetheless.
  221. Arguing with pedants is an exercise in futility and self-flagellation. Or a move to subconsciously sabotage yourself. In The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks has this idea of upper limits. Deep down, we don’t think we deserve to be extraordinarily happy, so we arbitrarily drag ourselves back down again if we reach too high. Arguing is one of the ways we do that.
  222. Coworkers rarely last as friends beyond the extent of you doing that job. My supervisor at my internship was only a few years older than me. We did lots of things outside of work and got along really well. But after the internship ended, at some point, he just stopped replying to my emails. Very few people manage to view work as a way to broaden your circle of friends. That’s also where #153 comes from. Ironically, it’s those few who tend to have the best careers. Work is an amplifier for life, not vice versa.
  223. High-anxiety men who cannot do push-ups are the most useless of all living creatures. Just did some push-ups. Wouldn’t wanna mess with Alex. Physically, that is!
  224. No one wins against gravity, they only have a good or bad relationship. The law of reversed effort from Alan Watts’s The Wisdom of Insecurity: “When you try to stay on the surface of the water, you sink; but when you try to sink, you float.”
  225. The “secret” of immense health is optimized hormones. I like to think of our body’s internal workings as perfectly matched to a mix of countries. For example, when it comes to food, skin reactions, energy levels, sleep, etc., you might require 50% Italy, 30% Brazil, 13% Sweden and 7% Turkey. You need to travel a bit to figure it out and you can never be certain of it all, but once you have a gut feeling, move to the place with the highest match and take vacations in the other places.
  226. It is easier to critique what you lack as being pointless than to admit to your uselessness. Especially when you’re asked in public.
  227. Physical and mental strength go together, separating them weakens them both. There’s a study in which participants imagined doing weightlifting exercises and became physically stronger as a result. Of course this can’t replace actual exercise, but it shows that mentality matters.
  228. When in doubt, choose challenge over certainty. Prerequisite: When in doubt, don’t doubt yourself.
  229. Wealth mindset is the mentality that value can be many magnitudes greater than the number of hours in which it was created. Henry Ford once called Charles Steinmetz into his factory to fix a broken machine. After 48 hours of non-stop examinations, Steinmetz made a chalk mark on the machine, told the workers what parts to switch there, and went his way. Ford was very happy, until he got the bill: $10,000. When demanding an itemized list, Steinmetz responded: “Chalk mark, $1. Knowing where to make chalk mark, $9,999.” Lesson: The skills with the highest hourly pay are never paid by the hour.
  230. Working hourly is how everyone starts, but it is not how you want to end. In Germany, interns currently getting a Master’s degree are often paid $15/hr, even at the biggest brands in the world: Siemens, BMW, McKinsey. On my first job as a self-employed writer, I was paid $15/hr. I had a Bachelor’s degree, but no qualification in the field. On my second job, I demanded $25/hr. On my third job, it was $50/hr. Then, I stopped taking payments by the hour altogether. Because it’s nuts. The lesson from the story above is that time and value are two completely independent issues. Always calculate your ballpark hourly revenue, but never bill it that way.
  231. Always create multiple incomes streams, the more the better. The average millionaire has seven sources of income. Whether any millionaire is average or this urban myth holds true, the principle remains: more income streams, more chances for one to explode, and less risk you’ll have a single point of failure.
  232. Your tolerance for risk is predicated by how much, or how little, you have to lose. Tim Ferriss calls this fear setting. Think of the worst case. Then what? And again. Then what? And again. Then what? Usually, you find you’ll neither lose freedom, nor family, nor anything else that’s important. Most of the time, it’s just money. And you can always claw your way back to more money. Define fears, set fallback plans. How much you have to lose is different from how much you think you have to lose. You need to look at it clearly to see one is usually much less than the other.
  233. Those that get “rich” through risky investments and games rarely stay rich. From my favorite King of Queens episode: “Sure, Douglas, you’re white hot. You rode the frog to the top, but lady luck can be a fickle whore.”
  234. 99% of people cannot think wealthy, and henceforth never will be. Corollary: 1% of the world’s people own 50% of its wealth.
  235. The only appropriate time to be obsessed with sports is if you have money on the outcome; this leaves players, gamblers, and owners. Only one of those can win even if the team loses.
  236. Competition is only honestly competitive when it’s your life or your reputation. Everything else is dress-up. That’s why I was never a good fencer. It was a noble sport, but I neither made it my life nor cared about my reputation.
  237. Life is always hierarchy, be it vertical or horizontal. Horizontal hierarchies are a lot messier, because you can’t see who’s above who and the pecking order constantly changes. Much easier to undermine a vertical one, because it’s more transparent. Better the devil that you know than the devil that you don’t.
  238. Those that wish to absolve hierarchies merely turn them sideways. This provides a cheery delusion whilst allowing everyone to backstab each other without being watched. As I said: Horizontal hierarchies are messy.
  239. The most noncreative thinkers love authority. Dyson Freeman put people into two categories: birds and frogs. Frogs are in the midst of the swamp, deep down in the thick of the grass. They have a detailed view of a small patch of life. Birds fly high above, seeing various patches of land and how they connect, but they can’t zoom in too much or they won’t see where they’re going. There’s a reason nature made both birds and frogs.
  240. The most creative are, by default, anarchists. “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people no smarter than you.” — Steve Jobs.
  241. The balance between the two is realizing order provides stability while chaos creates space for things to grow. If you’re orderly, make room for chaos. If you’re chaotic, find the thread of order.
  242. Everyone is addicted to something, except those who are not. Those people are not worth talking about though, as they are worse than boring, they are DULL. Being addicted to nothing is called nihilism. And that’s the worst addiction of them all.
  243. Anyone who schedules a meeting to talk about meetings should be fired immediately. Unless they want to take meetings off the agenda.
  244. Anyone whose job entails food and beverages, always treat them well and give them the benefit of the doubt. If you’ve ever walked into a shabby looking place, only to eat some of the best food you’ve ever had, you know this is right.
  245. Hole in the wall cuisine > Michelin stars. What good is food if it doesn’t leave you satisfied?
  246. An obese physician should never be listened to except when he is prescribing how not to kill yourself with the drugs he’s telling you to take. Once he’s done, go home, throw the drugs in the toilet, and call another physician. But remember the name of the drug.
  247. Surgeons are largely psychopaths who wanted an excuse to cut bodies open and play God. Nassim Taleb talks about preferring a surgeon that looks like a butcher over one that looks like a neat freak. Why? Skin in the game. The odd-looking surgeon will have had to prove his or her worth as a surgeon a lot in their career, as opposed to the slickster, who may have slipped through. See also: #103.
  248. Plastic surgeons know more about human psychology and behavior than most psychologists. A friend of mine had a tiny bump on the back of her nose removed. For 28 years, it made her feel uncomfortable and insecure. She’s been happier since it’s gone. I used to think plastic surgery is only a sign of lack of confidence. I’m starting to rethink that. See #156. Suffering is subjective.
  249. Women who have a bachelors in psychology possess anti-knowledge about human behavior. While they have sacred knowledge, they lack all manner of self-awareness. Knowing what not to do is different from knowing what to do.
  250. Exceptions do not disprove rules, and people who think they do are idiots. Do not have relationships with these people. People who read too much into exceptions tend to think of themselves as one. I know because I used to think so. I learned I was wrong when I got poor grades in spite of studying a lot; before, all my life I had been used to getting fantastic grades without studying at all. Mother nature is the teacher of last resort, but eventually, she always gets the job done.
  251. You make two impressions; what people think of you, and how they think you think of yourself. The latter informs the former. Lesson: Think highly of yourself, but higher of others. Both’ll shine through.
  252. Wealthy men who woo women with their wealth will also lose their wealth to a woman readily. In fact, they’ll most often lose both.
  253. Smart men have accountants. Dumb men have their wives handle their finances. Unless their wife is an accountant.
  254. If you are not tall as a man, be physically fit, very well dressed, rich, & charming. Order of attaining these things from easiest to hardest: charming, fit, well dressed, rich.
  255. If you lack appreciation for life, go volunteer at an animal shelter. You will change. Or spend a day at an old folk’s home. You’ll learn from everything they tell you they’ve done and everything they haven’t.
  256. Cynicism and selfishness always go together. So do nihilism and ingratitude. So do optimism and gratitude. Which bundle you choose is up to you.
  257. Irrational positivism creates a better reality than rational pessimism. In Zero to One, Peter Thiel outlines 4 perspectives of looking at the future: indefinite pessimism, definite pessimism, indefinite optimism and definite optimism. The indefinite is the equivalent to irrational, the definite equal to rational. He suggests three of them work, but only one works out well. Definite optimism: Aspire to something crazy that’s good, and set a fixed timeline to build it. Even if you fail, at least you’ll have done something.
  258. You’re tough only when you can show your weaknesses openly, and no one dares to attack you. The most common response to “I don’t know” isn’t “you’re an idiot.” It’s “I don’t know either.” Everyone knows Superman’s weakness is Kryptonite. But how many come at him?
  259. If you are honest about everything, it’s very difficult for anyone to hurt you with anything. In 8 Mile, the last scene reveals what made Eminem the greatest rapper of all time: he took everything his opponents could possibly have to say against him and confessed it up front. Like a great lawyer, he left his enemies not just without evidence, but without words at all.
  260. Don’t fuck with people who are beyond caring about their reputation. They really do have nothing to lose. See #232.
  261. A lack of gratitude will make everything you do worthless. A tad of gratitude will make everything worth something, no matter how little.
  262. Losing everything is the only reliable way to learn to appreciate anything. I was never thrust out of my comfortable lifestyle, but I still learned to appreciate things. I remember enjoying my first car as much as on the first day each time I opened the door two years later. The source, however, was the same: there was some level of discomfort in my life. Rock bottom always works, but that doesn’t mean you have to hit it in order to make it so.
  263. Believing you can learn anything is a superpower. So use it while you have it. With each passing year, you’ll believe it less.
  264. Fight like you are already dead, and you may come out alive. Some businesses switch to high risk maneuvers the closer they get towards going under. In 2017, Yahoo! sold most of its internet business to Verizon and only kept its stake in Alibaba and Yahoo! Japan, then rebranded. The stock is up 50%. Desperation doesn’t always work, but resignation guarantees failure.
  265. Confidence based on gratitude is infinite. Confidence based upon skill is limited, but easier to acquire for most people. Confidence without skill is the easiest to acquire, and hence the most common.
  266. Love is perfect, as it both creates and destroys in equal measure. “Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy or boast, is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its on way, is not irritable or resentful. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” — 1 Corinthians 13:4–8. See also: #143.
  267. You will fail more than you succeed. And you’ll most often do it before you succeed.
  268. You will succeed only if you are able and willing to fail. I once told a girl I had feelings for her knowing full well that it wouldn’t go anywhere. From the first second it was clear that the outcome would be failure. Going through it regardless felt like a success in itself.
  269. You truly fail only when you give up, or are killed. “The only time you mustn’t fail is the last time you try.” — Phil Knight, founder of Nike
  270. If failure doesn’t kill you and you are not being eaten alive, you are fine. Keep going. When life feels like you can’t go on, it usually just means you can’t go on that particular path anymore. But you can always turn left. Or right. Or back. Your life’s not a highway. It’s all off road.
  271. Life has no peak, the summit will continuously change. Satisfaction comes from the continued exploration, not reaching the “top.” More so, summits tend to flatten once you reach them. The high from reaching the top lasts for a few seconds. The memories of the ascent last forever.
  272. Perfectionists are the best at convincing themselves their inaction is for the “right” reasons.
  273. When a woman is upset, give her food, sex, cuddles, and listen. This solves 99% of problems. If it doesn’t solve the problem, you REALLY fucked up. From How I Met Your Mother: “True love means wanting the best for another person. Even if it means you’ll get left out.” Sometimes, it’s not your turn to solve a problem, even though you might have caused it. When she needs it, give her the space to talk things through with a friend. Move over and surrender to #3.
  274. The way to a Man’s heart is through his stomach. That means be able to cook, LADIES. Finally. I’m sick of hearing ‘guys have to be able to cook.’ Not that that isn’t a great quality, but when men say it about women, it’s supposedly sexist. How about we all cook together?
  275. A woman can be the most destructive force in a man’s life. And she doesn’t even have to date him. I was in love with the same girl for 3 years in a row, but I never stood a chance. There is no worse way of missing someone than to sit next to them, knowing they’ll never be with you. I lost so much time, so much emotion, so much energy through these years. But I still ended up with a lesson I’ll never forget.
  276. A man can be the most destructive force in a woman’s life. And he doesn’t even have to date her. I can only imagine, but especially at work men must block women’s ways all the time. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes by accident. By societal design. But it happens nonetheless.
  277. The right man or the right woman can transform your life in a way that nothing else can. If that’s true then you haven’t seen anything from me yet.
  278. Taking yourself too seriously gets you killed. A famous German politician sat in on a radio show. His name is Gregor Gysi. When asked about regrets through his long and successful career, he said: “You end up taking yourself too seriously. Everyone always tells you you have such an important job. You make all these important decisions so eventually, you start to believe you’re important too. It’s true, the decisions matter, but you can’t let your responsibility stop you from living your life. I wish I’d spent more time with family.”
  279. Fear makes you weak. Seeing through fear, however, doesn’t make you strong. Just more courageous.
  280. Giving into fear makes you a coward. But sometimes, being a coward keeps you alive.
  281. If you are too afraid to do it, someone else will.
  282. You cannot have everything that you want, but there is always a way to get what you want. The Stoics have a few sayings around desire. The gist of one of them is: the richest man is the man who desires what he already has. We don’t notice it, because we cling to our wishes so much, but wants come and go. I want a lot of things. I want to be a DJ, breakdancer, snowboarder, pro video gamer, freestyler rapper, jet pack inventor and hip hop dancer. But they’re all hay balls, floating by in the dust while I sit here, writing. The trick is to recognize them as hay balls.
  283. Deciding what you want has plagued human beings for millennia. It can be answered only individually, not universally. The physical consequences of choosing have become less and less severe throughout the years. Compared to 100, 500, 2000 years ago, food quality is up, clothing quality is up, hygiene is up, status of shelter is up, health support is up, and so on. The psychological burden, however, has gotten a lot worse. Barry Schwartz describes many new kinds of anxiety and regret we face when making decisions in our modern consumer culture in The Paradox of Choice: There’s the paralysis from having too many options, the pressure to make the perfect decision because we have so many options, and of course the blame for not having been able to make it in spite of so many options. The truth is not much has changed. We’re always faced with an imperfect list of options, so we should just choose and blame the imperfections on outside forces. But that’s tough to wrap our heads around.
  284. You know less than you think you know, and you can always learn more than you’ve already learned. Going back to #192 there are three important kinds of knowledge: Knowing what you know, knowing what you don’t know, and knowing how much you need to know. The last one tells you how much of the gap between the first two you need to close.
  285. What you don’t know can and will hurt you. And it might not even be your fault. Looking at you, #183.
  286. What you think you know but don’t will hurt you most of all. “It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” — Epictetus
  287. The people that love you the most will, inevitably, be the greatest sources of pain in your life. Case in point: giving birth.
  288. The most generous acts of fortune, kindness, and luck will come from strangers. Why? Expectations. If we expected our friends to treat us like strangers, our loved ones to treat us like friends, and strangers to not treat us at all, we’d always be pleasantly surprised.
  289. Don’t ever lose any keys you are trusted with, both literal and metaphorical. Everyone carries a nuclear arsenal of knowledge around with them. Think about how many people’s lives you could destroy, simply because of what you know about them. And yet we’re still here. Mankind is better than we think. Hand out more keys.
  290. You can always make life worse and you can always make life better. Your attitude determines your life more than anyone readily believes. Happiness as a word is greatly overused. We confuse happiness with excitement, with ecstasy. We think of it as a state, not a mindset. Optimism might not be happiness, but it’s damn close. You can’t attain it, only cultivate it.
  291. Emotion, positive or negative, is contagious. So is yawning. Especially after you read the word yawn. I’ve yawned already. Even if you don’t see someone yawning. Picturing it is enough. Again. Have you? Rumor is it comes from times when most locations weren’t safe. Seeing someone yawn meant they secured the premises enough to relax. Three times now. Eventually, the gesture of calm emotion was hardwired into our bodies, so that we’d always use it to pass on this important information. Okay four times, enough yawning.
  292. The best way to ensure someone wastes their natural talent is to continuously remind them of how talented they are. Talent is leverage. But the lever is much smaller than you think. It might accelerate your learning by 1%, 5%, or even 10%. But no matter how big their lever, all winners will tell you what they’ve gone through to get where they are: hell.
  293. Excellence is an environment, so is mediocrity. Choose carefully where you invest your time. If you find yourself spending most of your time alone, you may be hiding from excellence or running away from mediocrity. Both mean it’s time to step up.
  294. You will be hurt and betrayed by people and you will hurt and betray people, even if you never intended to. Both times what matters most is not why you landed where you ended up, but what you do once you realize you’re there.
  295. Pain alone does not make you special, ever. That in itself is painful.
  296. Pain is special only if you make it useful. As a kid, Stephen King was in constant pain. His first memory is dropping a cinderblock on his foot, out of which flew a wasp and stung him. Then his babysitter farted into his face. Then gave him 7 eggs until he threw up. Then locked him in a closet. Then he developed an ear condition which he had to get his eardrums pierced for. Pierced. Repeatedly. Out came the tonsils and on came the rash from wiping his ass with poison ivy. None of that made him special. What did make him special was that he took all this pain and channeled it into over 50 novels.
  297. Do not ever waste pain. Be special.
  298. It takes urgency to begin anything, and it takes patience to finish it. In 2010, I had what I thought was a great idea: restaurants where you could order from iPads. You’d just have the iPad in front of you, swipe around, assemble a menu, hit submit, pay, and the food would be delivered to you. Was it any good? I wouldn’t know. Just that it was good enough to try, because in 2012, I saw that very system at the airport in Toronto as I was passing through. I sat down, ordered, it was flawless. Except it wasn’t mine. Without urgency, patience is useless.
  299. The thrill of victory is always temporary, and usually disappointing. Instead of trying to make the thrill of victory permanent, learn to make the pain of loss temporary as well.
  300. A system without a goal is organized nothingness. It’s also not going to stick.
  301. A goal without a system is simply a nice idea. Derek Sivers has this neat table of idea multipliers. He says they’re just a multiplier of execution. You need the execution as a baseline, then the quality of the idea only amplifies it. So with no execution, you get nothing. Reminds me of work and talent. See also: #292.
  302. Bad things happen to good people, and good things will happen for bad people. But no one gets out of life without a gamble.
  303. Nothing is fair, except that everyone eventually dies. And no matter who you are, death will be an interruption.