All Posts in “Life”

Patience + Persistence

Getting what you want is much simpler than you imagine.

You don’t need to find a magic hack. You don’t need to stress day in and day out. You just to need start doing something today that will lead you in the direction of your goals and stick with it for as long as it takes.

You need to be patient; you need to be persistent.

Lots of people have patience. They are willing to wait around all day for someone to give them an opportunity, but patience alone is not enough if they won’t invest time or energy into anything unless it is immediately rewarded. They are happy waiting, but afraid of working.

You need more than just patience; you need patience and persistence. Patience in knowing that big results and great opportunities will come your way and persistence in sticking with the small daily actions that grind you slowly towards your goals.

No matter what you want in the future, you can always a way to translate it into actions that you can take today to start moving closer to it. If your patient and persistent you will always find yourself moving towards your goals and creating a better future.

Commerce Brings Light to the Darkest Places (Wonder Woman) 

Last night I watched Wonder Woman for the first time. It is a great movie–probably my favorite superhero movie since the Dark Knight–and a true hero’s tale that is refreshing among the sea of dark and turbulent hero’s that have lead movies over the past decade.

There are lots of great insights you can pull from Wonder Woman (Is ‘Wonder Woman’ War Propaganda by Dan Sanchez; 9 Reasons Wonder Woman is the Best Super-Hero by James Walpole), but I want to talk about a small but powerful scene that you could have easily missed.

Around the halfway point of the movie, Wonder Woman (Diana) and her fellowship are in Belgium approaching the front lines of the war. They have just met up with The Cheif, a smuggler who will join their band and lead them to the front. Diana learns that The Cheif travels back and forth between the two sides, smuggling goods.

What’s there?
British tea from the Germans…
…German beer for the British.
And Edgar Rice Brurroughs
novels for both.

The Cheif explains that he has no side in this fight and that instead, he is here because he can use his skillset to make a large profit.

– So, who do you fight for in this war?
– I don’t fight.
– You’re here for profits then?
– No better place to be.
– Nowhere better to be than in a
war where you don’t take a side.
– I have no where else.
The last war took
everything from my people.
We have nothing left.
At least here…
…I’m free.
– Who took that from your people?
– His people.

In Diana’s (and most peoples) view this is not right. This is a battle between good and evil and to enrich yourself personally in this situation is wrong. But the opposite is true. The Cheif is one of the most virtuous people in the area and it is exactly his profit motive that drives him as a force for good.

In the midst of this hell on earth, where thousands are dying and being mutilated, you have someone who is risking his safety to improve the lives of the people around him. While the governments and leaders of armies on either side are engaged in the act of destruction, there still exists entrepreneurship and selfish profiteers looking to improve their own lives, and lives of others. They are still brewing beer, writing books, and working to make life better.

It is a stunning reminder of how commerce facilitates cooperation even in the extremes of antagonism.

The English soldiers may fight German soldiers all day, but they still want to drink German beer at night. There is no denying the quality.

The German soldiers may fight the English all day, but they still want to drink English tea in the morning. There is no denying the quality.

It is heartening, but profoundly saddening at the same time.

It reminds you of what could have been if the state and the leaders in charge at the time didn’t create this conflict, normal people could have experienced this beautiful cooperation. You wouldn’t need renegades on horseback to smuggle goods across the trenches, you could a fleet of ships and planes transporting beer, tea, and books instead of bombs, soldiers, and coffins.

Most of us live in places where we are enriched by the entrepreneurs and craftsmen in other countries. We can drink German beer, eat Mexican avocados, use Korean electronics, and most other things we want from most countries. But there are still places where the flow of goods is a dark and dangerous trade. Where renegades like the Cheif travel in the dark to bring goods that brighten the lives of normal people.

Great Work Requires Courage

A massively underestimated part of personal and professional growth is simply showing up and doing things that make you uncomfortable.

Not uncomfortable in a “selling babies on the internet” kind of way, but uncomfortable in that it doesn’t feel good because you’re out of your comfort zone.

As humans, we have a strong pull towards safety. We want to stay in the domains that we can control and that we are comfortable in.

The reason work is so beneficial for personal development is that it creates strong incentives to get out of your comfort zone. The social pressure and monetary rewards give you the motivation to stretch yourself and learn to master new things.

People look at others who do their jobs exceptionally well and attribute it to skill, talent, and hard work. Those things certainly play a role, but what is often overlooked is the simple commitment to following through with your responsibilities and doing the right thing, regardless of how you feel.

Rationalize vs. Actualize

Every day we are faced with small yet important decisions. These small points are opportunities to live up to our ideals or to hide and do what is easy. How we respond to those situations will determine how we respond when we are faced with large problems and they will determine the person we become in the future.

When you do what you believe to be right, even when you are faced with negative consequences, you take steps towards actualization. You become a more confident, capable, and real version of yourself.

But when you don’t do what is right, when you choose the easy way out you sacrifice yourself to hide from reality.

It is incredibly difficult to live with the fact that we have not lived up to our standards. Instead, most people naturally and unconsciously rationalize and explain away their actions. They fall into the trap of rationalizing their behavior and hide from reality to protect their increasingly fragile egos.

This battle between right and easy, between rationalizing and actualizing happens every day of your life. That is the good news. You will never be perfect and you will never be irredeemable. When you wake up tomorrow you have a choice. Choose to build the better version of yourself. Choose to do what is right, not what is easy.

How to Get a Remote Job

A lot of people view employment relationships as a fixed unchangeable state instead of a dynamic two-way relationship. As a result, they fixate on job descriptions and fit before taking on a role and discount their ability to adapt to any role, once they’ve started.

A prevalent example of this comes from the desire for remote work. A ton of young professionals want remote work. But in the search for remote opportunities, many young professionals are ready to throw away great opportunities because they require an in-person commitment.

The best way to get a job you love is not waiting around for the perfect job to open up for you. It is to start working and through your work, create the role that you are best suited for.

For remote work, the best way to get a remote job as a young professional isn’t to wait around for a remote work opportunity to pop up on indeed.com. It is to find a job that you like and can kick ass at, and to get to work.

After 6-months of doing great work in-person, you will likely have the leverage and trust you need to turn a non-remote role into a remote role. Once you prove you can do your job well, then it is so much easier to create more freedom in your role.

Waiting around for freedom to be handed to you will almost never get you what you want. Only by consistently helping others get what they want, will they be eager to help you get what you want.

Empathy as a Superpower

People give a lot of credit to others for the ability to emphasize. But when they talk about empathy, they usually refer to the ability to feel sadness along with others. The ability to feel sad because someone you know feels sad.

This form of empathy is oversized and overvalued.

The truly valuable aspect of empathy is much less common, it is the ability to adopt someone else’s perspective and appreciate their point of view. To overcome simple frustration or emotion that comes from your limited perspective and see the situation you are in from the viewpoint of everyone who is involved.

This is a skill that typically comes from age and experience. Building relationships with friends, partners, and co-workers give you the experience to learn that to get what you want you to need to understand what other people want.

But it is not a secret power. Empathy is a habit of thinking and something you can choose to make a part of how you analyze and understand situations. As a young professional looking to build a career, there is incredible value in consciously choosing to view your interactions from the perspective of the people you are interacting with.

Imagine that you are the person conducting the job interview you are about to interview for, what would make you want to hire someone?

Imagine you are the person making a job offer, how quickly would you want someone to respond to your emails?

Imagine you are the coworker who just gave you constructive feedback, how frustrating it might be that you’ve delayed a project?

This simple trick of taking time to view a situation from another perspective will take almost no time but will give you incredible insight into how to approach confusing situations and get what you want in the long-term.

A great example of this powerful form of empathy is Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones and his ability to change perspective and understand what other people want:

 

Making Shitloads of Money

Never before have individuals and teams had the power to create so much value in short periods of time.

A beautiful example of this is early adaptors of Ethereum. Two years ago today, Ether (the Ethereum token) was $0.90/Ether today. It is $325/Ether today. If you bought $1000, you would have profited more than $350,000 in two years. And many people did.

In the past, it was old rich folks who had the capital and connections to make that much money in short periods of time. Now it is anyone who is smart and has an internet connection.

A sizeable number of nerdy teenagers have earned retirement level incomes over the course of a couple years from their interest in cryptocurrency.

But the opportunity to make a shitload of money extends much further than bets on cryptocurrencies. Entrepreneurial insight and hard work have allowed young entrepreneurs around the world to create generational wealth in short periods of time.

A recent example was the founding team of the social media app tbh, which Facebook acquired for somewhere under, but close to $100 Million. The founding team is joining Facebook and made professional athlete level incomes for the one year that they had been working on the app so far.

These stories are still rare and outliers, but they are becoming more and more common. And the publicized stories of new young deca-millionaires are the tip of an iceberg of wealth creation. For every one person who had millions off crypto investments, there are thousands more that made tens of thousands of dollars.

For every $50 or $100 million startup exit, there are thousands of entrepreneurial side-hustlers who are doubling their annual incomes in new and novel ways.

This is interesting and exciting, but what does it mean?

It means that we need to fundamentally change how we view creating a career and generating personal income.

In the past, you approached your career in a linear way. You would try and move up from role to role, gaining more status and more income as you go. The best predictor of how much money you would make next year was how much money you made last year.

The old pathway to making ten million dollars was a slow climb in annual income.

Now, the goal is to put yourself in a position where you gain the skills and connections to improve your chances of a massively positive outcome.

Instead of taking on promotions and roles at new companies because of the increase in annual income, you should view opportunities through the lens of how they relate to your chances of having a large positive outcome.

Through this new lens, your title, specific responsibilities, and income are much less important than the project you are working on, the people you are working with, and where you are doing that work (The community the work put’s you, which you may or may not physically be in).

The new path to making $10 million is likely working on a number of failed startups, investing effort and time in projects that may not work out, but leave you with skills and connections that eventually lead to you making $10M in one year.

In a world where the right people, willing to work hard on the right idea, can create massive amounts of wealth the thought of investing any significant time, energy, or anxiety about marginal increases in your salary is ridiculous.

Instead of worrying about getting a $5000 raise this year, make enough to support yourself, but focus on making $10 million ten years from now.

Gaining Perspective

It’s easy to get frustrated when a situation doesn’t go your way.

Whether it is a lead that doesn’t buy your product or a client that is doing something unexpected, the natural reaction is to feel frustrated.

From your perspective, you can see a better way. Events could have gone differently and a whole lot smoother. But they didn’t and now you are left with a challenge that makes your life more difficult.

It’s easy to externalize this feeling of frustration. To place blame on people other than you, whose actions could have made your life easier. It’s easy, but it is unproductive.

In these situations when you start to feel frustrated about the current course of events, the way forward is to step back and gain perspective. To depersonalize the situation.

Instead of being stuck in the first person and being frustrated by the challenges you are now facing, you can choose to see your situation in the third person. You can view the challenge as an obstacle in a heroic tale. You can see yourself as the hero in a movie, a story, or a video game, and accept the obstacles that lye in front of you.

And of course, there are obstacles. It would be terribly boring without them. You would have no opportunities to grow and gain power if everything was smooth sailing. If you customer did exactly what you wanted them to do, you would have no opportunity to improve your skills in communication and persuasion.

When the short term is less challenging, the long-term is less prosperous.

When you take the mental step back and gain perspective the challenges become a lot less frustrating and a lot more fun. They become puzzles to crack instead of roadblocks slowing you down. They become a critical part of what makes your life interesting and what makes your current situation a valuable experience.

Making Good Decisions

Most people approach most decisions as win-lose situations. Win if you pick the best option and lose if you don’t. It’s as if every decision they make is a carnival game with cosmic consequences.

The reality is that our lives are full of good options and as long as we decide and keep moving forward we are likely to find good outcomes.

A great example of this is the way people feel about buying cars. In the big picture, whether you pay $34,000 or $30,000 for your car makes little difference. But if you and a friend just bought the same truck and you find out you paid $4,000 more you will likely feel terrible. The happiness of the new purchase disappears and you feel like a loser.

This win-lose mindset paralyzes us. It takes up energy and time and makes us unhappy.

We are incredibly lucky to live in a world where we have amazing options. Whether it is where you live, what you do for work, where you go on vacation when you start a family or almost anything else in your life there is no one right decision. There are certainly decisions that will lead you closer to outcomes you would prefer, but with big life decisions, like taking jobs or moving, there will always be an element of the unknown.

The best way to approach those situations is not to think longer, harder, or to waste paper on pro and con lists. But, instead to trust the context you have put yourself in and remember that even if another route could have hypothetically turned out better, you will never know for sure. You will only ever know the timeline you are on and the timeline you are on will likely turn out well.

Old Rules vs. New Rules

We are at the intersection between two aims for life. Two different goals that people build their lives towards. The old way approach to a life’s work and career was optimizing for survival. The new approach is optimizing for meaning (fulfillment, happiness, purpose).

Driving the change is technological advances that make a good life less and less costly. If you aren’t focused on keeping up with the Jones’ you can travel and live well for relatively much less than ever before. At the same time, it dramatically increases your ability to create wealth in a very short period of time with much more freedom.

The old approach was the differed life plan. Make money doing something you may or may not like, save your money in a 401k, and eventually retire. Don’t invest your money in living a good life now, secure yourself for the future.

The new approach is to build a life and career that you never want to retire from. That could mean investing long hours in building a business you love or it could mean learning a valuable skill that you can use to freelance and work on something you care more about in your extra free time.

Old rules optimize for survival. New rules optimize for meaning. 

The old way of thinking was terrified of reaching 70 and not being able to afford a condo in Mexico. The new way of thinking is terrified of reaching 70 and feeling that you have wasted your life.