July 7th, 2020
Employees work eight hours per day, five days per week.

Why? Because it’s the norm.

Does it make any sense? Not really.

Are 8 hours too much? Probably.

Are you a really efficient employee? It doesn’t matter. You still have to log on at 9 am and log off at 6 pm, every day of the week.

Whose fault is this? Your coworkers.

The other employees at your company are actually stealing your time - every day.

They slacked off, drank at the watercooler, gossiped, created stupid meetings, and called in sick.

All of this wasted time is what led to the 8-hour workday - it’s already built-in!

At its core, a business does not trust its employees. That’s why businesses mandate this across-the-board work schedule.

Everyone comes in at 9 and usually leaves around 6.”

Instead of rewarding great employees with time & freedom, businesses reward great employees with money. Why? Because (1) it’s a much simpler system and (2) employees value money greater than time.

When you start your own business, you don’t always get to reward yourself with money, but you’ll always get to reward yourself with time.

Time is infinitely more valuable than money, and it took me until I was 25 to figure that out.

I believe that all people should (at least once) experience what it's like to not have a 9 to 5 job.

It's not for everyone, but for some people, it's everything. For me it was.

July 6th, 2020
If you ever visit New York City, try to find Matthew Silver

Matthew typically wears a leotard and/or a diaper, has a giant beard, and entertains people by making farting noises with his mouth.

If you were in a rush to the subway, you might think he’s just some crazy homeless dude on PCP.

But if you looked closer, you'd realize he’s doing an act, and trying to change the world with peace, love, and humor.

This 5-minute video is worth a watch.

To some, Matthew is a crazy person. To me, he’s an artist.

Matthew Silver


July 5th, 2020
Fresh off of my think week, this June 2020 was the first full month of focus on Starter Story in a long time.

If you didn’t get a chance to read last month’s update, it’s important. (I didn’t send my monthly update last month because of the protests and craziness going on at the time)

But the tl;dr is that I’ll be moving most of my focus back to Starter Story.

Throughout June it’s become even more clear that this is the right move. 

The premium membership is performing very well. We did $8K+ gross revenue in June - that’s a 50% increase over May’s $5.4K, which was a 70% increase over April.

The growth here is promising but also shows why it’s so important to focus on just one thing - channeling all our energy purely into Starter Story is producing results. 

It also shows how much potential Starter Story has, and how under-monetized it is.

The main contributors to this growth? (1) more, diverse content (2) aggressive A/B testing (3) a metered paywall (4) switching to annual-only memberships and (5) taking advantage of email marketing automation (shoutout Klaviyo).

As far as content, we tested out a bunch of things with the ultimate goal of figuring out what our users want.

One experiment was to test if our readers want more “industry trends” (inspiration from Trends and trends.vc). We ran some experiments with content like this but it performed very poorly.

What worked? Our business ideas database - which further confirms our hypothesis that people want help finding a business idea.

To learn more about our users, we’ve started doing 1 on 1 video calls with them. We’ve been learning more about what our users are working on and where they’re struggling.

We also spent more time building out the backend CMS of Starter Story. It’s pretty damn cool what we’re building - as it allows us to take advantage of our growing database of case studies, tools, etc. 

Ultimately, this will allow us to be able to scale content in a way that other blogs cannot - because of the amount of data we collect on everything.

We also tested a new style of newsletter which is more long-form and opinionated. It is performing well so far.

Lastly, we spent much of June thinking about how we can approach decisions and ideas more experimentally - mostly building MVPs of new features and A/B testing everything - I wrote a bit about it here

June Numbers

- Monthly revenue (accrual): $11,921 (+30%)
- Traffic: 85k unique users (-4%)
- Content published: +109 (+17%)
- New email subscribers (net): +2,469 (+41.57%)
- Email collection rate: 3.4%

Plan for July

Our main focus for July is (1) more scalable content and (2) more optimization.

Our goal is to publish 150 pieces of content and roll out 2 new “types” of content as experiments.

We’ll also be building out a scalable system for our step-by-step “how-to” guides, as we believe there is a huge gap in this kind of content online.

This next month we will add time on site and pages per session as key metrics going forward - we want to keep people on the site longer. We will build and test features and optimize for that as we go.

A couple of other smaller things:

  • Test out selling a course for a fixed price
  • Run an ongoing survey with readers
  • Try out some social media ads

Goals for July

  1. Pieces of content published: 150
  2. Email collection rate: 5%
  3. Subscription impressions: 10%
  4. New customers: 2.5% (as % of subscription impressions)
  5. Time On Site: 3:00
  6. Average Pages Per Session: 2.2

July 4th, 2020
I wish I was more impulsive.

I think too much before I act - and I always regret it, after the fact.

Today, I met a girl with friends and we hung out for a while. At the end of the night, I didn’t ask for her number. I think I overheard she had a boyfriend and then I got in my own head.

What would it matter if I just asked? She would have just said she had a boyfriend and I would have gotten my answer. Instead, I was all in my head about it.

Moving back to NYC and being in more social situations has led to many little situations like this - where I got in my own head and then kicked myself for it later.

That's the bigger issue - me not being present. I’m working really hard on that.

July 3rd, 2020
I did the math… I’m now generating more revenue with my own business than I did as a software engineer.

It’s a nice milestone, but it doesn’t mean anything.

Making $1,000/month with your own business is more valuable than $5,000/month with a salaried job.

The difference with building your own business is that you’re building something that you can sell at the end.

If you build a business that profits $100k per year, you keep that money and you get to sell the business for an extra $1M.

As an employee, you get nothing at the end.

The other difference is that a business has unlimited growth potential

While you might make $50k/year in Year 1, what’s to say you won’t be making $100k in Year 2? And $200k in Year 3? And $400k in Year 5? $1M in Year 6?

As a salaried employee, you’re probably limited to about $250k/year.

Most salaried employees can’t even comprehend the idea of making $1M+/year because it can only be attained from many years of building businesses, and failing (a lot). 

That’s the difference between entrepreneurs and employees. It’s a complete change in mindset.

July 2nd, 2020
Dave Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports, called himself “uncancelable” in some recent news.

I don’t know what he said or did, and I don’t care to learn.

Regardless of his words/actions, he is right about one thing: You can’t cancel Dave Portnoy.

Why? Because he is an owner. He owns a media company. And an owner cannot be canceled because they cannot be fired.

Kanye West cannot be fired. Elon Musk cannot be fired. Mark Zuckerberg cannot be fired. Donald Trump cannot be fired. Dave Portnoy cannot be fired.

And therefore, they cannot be (successfully) canceled from our society.

I don’t always condone their words or actions, but I’ll always have a level of respect for people that are uncancelable.

Why? Because being uncancelable is actually what we all want - to be free, to be our own boss. It’s the American dream.

July 1st, 2020
Earlier this month, I read my first physical book in nearly 10 years.

Since then, I’ve been reading a lot more.

The books I read this month:

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

This is a classic and considered one of the best novels of all time. This was my favorite book of the month and favorite book in recent memory.

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

I watched a great YouTube video about books. One of the messages from that video was that it doesn’t really matter what you read, but that you’re reading something. So I went to the book store and picked a random one off the shelf. Great book.

Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest by Hanif Abdurraqib

One thing that’s cool about reading more books is that you start noticing books everywhere. I found this book deep in some Reddit comments about A Tribe Called Quest. It was an awesome book and also helped me gain some new perspective on what it’s like to be black in America.

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

An absolute classic must-read. It’s about a journey a man goes on to find truth. The main theme I got from the book is that wisdom can only come from the self and through our own experience. And how important it is to be present with nature.

June 30th, 2020
Everyone experiences anxiety differently.

For some people, it’s a general feeling of fear, your heart beating fast, or trouble breathing.

For me, it’s a very specific feeling.

What usually happens is time slows down a bit and my senses are crazily heightened.

It feels like my mind has turned into a video game that just had a major hit in frame rate.

My thoughts become less smooth and more choppy.

Another way I can sense a panic attack coming on is the heightened senses. For example, regular sounds around me will be clanky and jarring. The sun will be extra shiny. I’ll be extra hot.

And when I swallow, I can feel the saliva going down my throat. It’s super weird. 

For me, my panic attacks almost only happen in social situations - like at dinner with friends, in a meeting, telling a story, etc.

It never happens when I’m alone.

I think this is because if I’m in a social situation, I know that I have no way of getting out of it - I can’t just get up and leave, take a walk, or close my eyes.

In these social situations, it becomes a game of hiding my anxiety. But this usually makes it worse.

One way I’ve gotten around this is to just start talking. If I’m at dinner and feel a panic attack coming on, I’ll just start talking and ask someone a question to get my mind off of it..

Another tactic is to excuse myself and go to the bathroom. In these moments, I’m so deep in my own head that I have to lie about something as silly as going to the bathroom. (Nobody even notices)

This tactic usually never works though.

Another tactic is drinking alcohol. This is more of a gradual tactic, but it works pretty well. About two or three drinks and I can get myself back to normal.

But on the other hand, hangovers are also a trigger for panic attacks.

This is actually a big reason people become alcoholics.

Often we think of alcoholism as people that just want to get fucked up, but in reality, it’s people that have so much anxiety when they’re sober.

When I think about it this way, it makes me really sad, because that’s such a tough way to live life.

If you’re having a panic attack, one of the best things you can do is just own it. Just tell people how you’re feeling, and that you need to step outside or take a walk. 

Once you own up to it and admit it, you’re no longer only in your own head, which makes everything much better.

June 29th, 2020
Lately, I’ve been experimenting and learning about AB testing!

In this post, I’ll walk through how simple it is to do AB testing with Google Analytics and a bit of custom code. I'll show you an example of a successful AB test and some things I learned.

I don’t use Google Optimize, Mixpanel, etc as I found them to be way too clunky and hard to figure out.

The original feature

The AB test here has to do with email collection.

Here’s the original feature, or the "A" in the AB test:


The new thing we want to try

Instead of just asking to join the newsletter, I wanted to test out a "content upgrade" where the user can get access to 1,000+ business ideas:

The new test, or bucket B

These changes were made to a few other pages/places, as well as some UI changes, which you can see here.

Getting set up with Google Analytics

The key here is to use Google Analytics' custom dimensions.

Go to Admin -> Custom Dimensions and create a dimension for every AB test you want to try:

Admin -> Custom Dimensions

Server-side code

For every request made to our server, I run a simple method that puts the user into the random AB test bucket.

Only two buckets for this ab test: 'control' (A) and 'upsell_widget' (B)

Pick a random bucket and assign a cookie (as long as it's not already there)

Client-side code

Now, on the client-side, you need to send this data over to Google Analytics for every pageview or event.

Keep in mind, you must send the mapping as well as the values. Took me forever to figure this out.

For me, it looks like something like this this:

Submitting pageview data to Google Analytics (this is for 5 different AB tests)

The last thing is to change your code based on the test that each user is in. This is as simple as looking at what cookie they have:

This is pseudocode

And that’s it!

Now, set an event in your calendar to review the results a few weeks later.


The Results

Now, let’s dive into the results of the AB test.

In Google Analytics, go to Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Channels.

Right above the grid, look for the dropdown of Secondary Dimension, and search for your AB test:


Now, you can see how your AB test performs and cut this data however you’d like.

For this AB test, I'll use Google Analytics goals because I'm tracking email collection conversion rate, but you might be testing something else such as time on site, pageviews, etc.

Since the AB test is a custom dimension inside GA, you can do pretty much anything!


I added all of these up inside Google Sheets and here are the results:

Bucket B wins!

Bucket B in the AB test wins!

Then I plugged this into Neil Patel’s AB test calculator, it shows we are statistically significant.


And that’s it!

Now that it’s confirmed to be statistically significant, I’ll remove the old code and think of the next AB test to run!

Thanks for reading!


June 28th, 2020
I’m back in New York City, for a good while.

I left NYC in October 2018 when I quit my job and went full time on my own business.

I didn’t leave New York because I didn’t like it - I left because I couldn’t afford it while starting a new business.

But I told myself I’d be able to come back here when I hit $10k/month in revenue, and here I am.

I love cities like New York because it feels like you don’t know anyone, and nobody knows you.

Every day, I feel like I can start something new, be somebody new, and do anything I want - and nobody would care.

Part of the reason I love that is because I grew up in a small town - where everybody is in each other’s business. I can’t stand that.

There’s a certain independence in living in NYC. It’s the best.

June 27th, 2020
My friend showed me HEY email today.

I’ve been following the hype and have huge respect for the Basecamp guys, but I still have no interest in the app.

No ‘app’ will fix email.

Email can only be “fixed” in the mind of the user. 

That's actually why HEY is doing so well - they’re helping people think differently about email, which may, at one point, help them 'fix' their inboxes.

But as I recently wrote, productivity apps have lost their luster.

I ‘fixed’ email a long time ago. The fix: doing 10x less of it.

Most problems can be solved by simply eliminating what is causing the problem in the first place.

In fact, these problems exist because we, at one point, made some sort of choice (or series of choices) that led to this problem.

If we just undo those choices, we solve the problem!

But instead, we try to solve our problems with Bandaid solutions

Using HEY won’t fix the core issues of your inbox, it’ll just put a bandaid over it.

This goes for many other things in life.

Problem: We’re unhappy in our jobs. 
Bandaid solution: Indulge when we’re not working, live for the weekend. 
Real solution: Quit that job, find something you love.

Problem: Unhealthy/overweight. 
Bandaid solution: Fancy diet, expensive gym, diet pills, etc. 
Real solution: Stop eating unhealthy forever. 

Problem: Boredom.
Bandaid solution: Netflix.
Real solution: Do something with your life.

June 26th, 2020
People are born a certain way.

Privileged people go to college and become intellectuals and eventually get the blue check marks next to their usernames.

Unprivileged people become working-class simpletons - they work in factories and McDonald's.

These simpletons could become intellectuals, but what's the point?

Society has a plan for all of us, and it's better to just follow that.

Society and economics are super predictable at this point - we know what will happen if we don't have a lockdown, or if the president passes the PurpleParty's bill - did you read what the experts are saying?

The PurpleParty are literally the worst humans on the planet - how can they be so stupid!?

Did you hear what George Stanton, leader of the PurpleParty, said in that interview?

If we keep allowing everyone to speak their mind, it will lead us to war and disease.

It's so obvious that we need to follow exactly what the experts are saying - how can the PurpleParty be so out of line?

I don't know about you, but I don't to want bring to my children into this world.

There's too much that could go wrong for children these days. Our society is too fucked up.

Growing up is also a bit pointless because kids can learn everything they need through the Internet and YouTube.

I think you can learn everything you need to know by age 12. YouTube is so much more efficient than the current schooling system.

It's ridiculous that we spend so much money on a college education - when you can learn most of it on YouTube.

Soon, we'll be able to download curriculums, knowledge bases, and logic frameworks directly into the brain.

Seems like there's not much of a point of having kids anyways, right? It's an incredibly unproductive thing, having and raising kids. Technology will solve that soon.

What's the point of marriage, too? Nobody gets married anymore.

Instagram gives me access to everyone in the world. I haven't met up with anyone in a few months, though, because I haven't really felt a connection with anyone when I do.

If I can't feel a connection with anyone after two dates, I don't think I'll find someone to spend the rest of my life with.

I have been DMing with Amy Halster though for a couple months, have you seen her page?

Her page makes it look like she's always traveling, but she actually posts all of these from home.

Why do people love to travel so much anyways?

I've found that everyone talks about how great a place like London is, but when I got there I found it's just the same as anywhere else.

What I found more fun was actually booking my travel and telling people I was going/went there, and to get the photo at one of those bright red telephone booths.

By the way, what do you think of this caption for that photo? I need to post this soon.

Did you see that guy on Joe Rogan yesterday?

That dude was crazy. I honestly can't believe he lives his life like that - he is going to die. I could never do that.

I followed him on Instagram, though, and have been watching his stories ever since. I can't stop watching.

But anyway, can you believe what George Stanton said?

He's been canceled by pretty much everyone now - what an idiot.

You shouldn't offend people like that. I know he probably had good intentions, but the way he said it was wrong.

He made them feel uncomfortable, and feeling uncomfortable is the scariest thing ever.

I hate that feeling.

--

This essay is my 2020 translation of Aldous Huxley's 1931 book Brave New World - a novel about a dystopian, futuristic society where people are born out of test tubes and into specific societal classes.

People of a lower class have no ambition to become smarter, because their brains have been trained to not want anything better. Ignorance is bliss.

People don't grow up, and have their brains trained through sleep hypnosis by an early age.

Society has trained people's brains to love spending money on travel, but to not actual enjoy the act itself.

There is no intimacy, as everyone belongs to each other. There is no love, no marriage, and people don't have kids (because test tubes are more efficient).

People are obsessed with the "outcasts" of society, but mainly for entertainment purposes and to demonstrate their own status.

Whenever people feel discomfort or stress or abnormality, they chant truisms in their head. If that put them at ease, they take prescription drugs that are doled out by the government.

These are not my own thoughts.

June 25th, 2020
Wow - it’s been nearly 8 months of writing every single day.

The benefits of writing every day is a topic for a longer post - but man, it’s hard to put into words how much this is helping me.

Most notably, it is allowing me to work through my own problems faster. I believe it is helping me grow as a human at an accelerated rate.

I’ve gone through many ebbs and flows over the past months. There are some periods where I dread writing these, and there are other periods where I really look forward to it every day.

The past week or so has been awesome. I sit down at around 10 pm every night and just write for an hour or two. I go into this crazy focused state - it feels like another world. I love it.

But I know that tomorrow I might enter a dull phase again - and that’s OK - I am still committing to daily writing.

I do feel that my writing has improved a lot over the past months. The other day, I went back and looked at some old posts, and it feels like I’ve come a long way.

One reason I’m doing this daily writing thing is because I want to become a really good writer. I want to write essays like Paul Graham.

I want to write about more than just my own story, and my own personal experiences - I want to get more deep. I don’t want to just write about startups and stuff - I want to write about life.

But I’m not there yet - and that’s OK.

I came across an awesome quote from Paul Graham’s blog on how to write better:

“The other constraint you can relax is a little surprising: publication. Writing essays doesn't have to mean publishing them. That may seem strange now that the trend is to publish every random thought, but it worked for me. I wrote what amounted to essays in notebooks for about 15 years. I never published any of them and never expected to. I wrote them as a way of figuring things out. But when the web came along I'd had a lot of practice.”

This daily blog is my version of that.

I also want to experiment with video essays on YouTube like this. I want to pair my writing with some cool visuals and also, I think YouTube is the best place for the distribution of my ideas.

If you have any ideas around that, I’d love to hear.

June 24th, 2020
I used to be really obsessed with productivity software.

Notion, Trello, Todoist, Slack, Evernote, Inbox Zero, GTD, etc.

I now believe all of that software is useless.

Nowadays, I just use one text file to track my todos.

It’s just the shit I want to get done for the day. No fancy Kanban, just a simple checklist.

Here’s what it looks like:

Sublime Text & a text file, saved on iCloud drive

-

Productivity software makes us overengineer our workdays and overcomplicate our lives.

It’s busywork.

It prevents us from the most important thing - taking action.

So what is up with our obsession with productivity software? I think it’s something deeper - our obsession with being in control of our lives and our inability to stop working.

For me, productivity has been somewhat of an addiction and the more I work for myself, the more I realize how unhealthy it is.

June 23rd, 2020
Most people that are making money on the internet are not talking about it.

It may feel like there’s a small community of successful entrepreneurs, but there are actually thousands (if not millions) of people making money on the internet who you will never hear about.

Recently, I just heard of a dude who sold his Australian car blog for $60M+.

It’s not that they are trying to keep it a secret, it’s more that they probably don’t care much to tell their story and they just want to live their life.

I think online forums and Twitter are a great way to meet people and for inspiration - but the issue I see is many people treat them as a single source of truth for starting/running a business.

Reddit & Hacker News & YC & Twitter: these communities are amazing but they have turned entrepreneurship into a subculture. If you go on these sites, you’ll read about the “right way” and the “wrong way” of doing things. 

When I see that, it's usually a sign I should turn around and go look in a whole new direction.

I always think about this video about investing in the stock market. The key takeaway:

"I retrained my mind to identify game-changing things in my own life that were having game-changing impacts on publicly traded companies. The trick here is to understand that when you see something in your own life that Wall Street hasn't picked up on yet - that's when you have an opportunity to make an information arbitrage investment. Now, the moment that Wall Street starts talking about that thing you earlier picked up on - that's when you exit the investment.

-

I think that online forums and communities can be very toxic to our minds.

The thing is, to be a great entrepreneur, you need to have a constantly open mind - you need to be able to go into any situation with no assumptions. 

Starting a business is precisely about not caring about wanting to be right. Unfortunately, Twitter + online forums are all about wanting to be right.

What I’m trying to say is that to accelerate your success, you need to go out into the world, talk to people, ask questions, and be insanely curious.

Instead of letting information just come to you (podcasts, Twitter, etc), go out and find some new information on your own. 

Go find that "simple hack" to 10x your business - I promise that it will be really simple, but I also promise you won't find it in any trendy blog post.

This simple act of getting out and figuring this shit out is what will set you apart from 99% of other people.

Over the past couple months, I’ve been doing this. 

Instead of reading blog posts and Twitter, I’m just going out and figuring shit out on my own.

I’m talking to people, asking for feedback, and spending hours scouring actual successful websites and taking ideas from them and applying to my own business.

Doing this + working hard and moving quickly has seen some of the biggest growth at Starter Story. 

Last four weeks at starterstory.com

June 22nd, 2020
In high school, I was not cool.

I came from a small town, with a graduating class of about 150 - the kind of high school where everyone knows everyone - the type of high school you’d see in a Hollywood movie.

However, I was not the type of uncool where I was secretly cool.

I was just the type that was uncool where I secretly wanted to be cool and popular.

I probably wouldn’t have admitted this at the time, but it’s so obvious now.

I can remember all of the popular kid’s names right now - Adam Stanton, Alex Salazar, Sam Cooper, Mitch Van Dyke, etc.

Those guys were so cool, and funny. I wanted to be them.

I probably had a bunch of opportunities to be cool in high school, but I ruined all of them, probably from trying too hard and caring what people thought about me.

After high school, I still wanted to be cool.

In college, you get to start over. And that’s what I did.

I went to a college thousands of miles away, and I worked hard to be cool.

I was more successful at this in college - and I actually became somewhat of a ‘cool kid’ - at least in the eyes of the previous popular kids I wanted to impress so bad in high school.

A couple of these guys from my high school visited me at college. We hung out and became a sort of friends. Nothing crazy, but all of a sudden we were chilling like some normal dudes. I think they thought I was cool.

Yet, in college, I suffered the same problem. 

Once I leveled up my cool factor, there was now a cooler group of kids - and I wanted to be like them.

Just like in high school, I wondered what it would be like to be these cool kids.

So I did the same thing - I worked hard to get to their level. 

Then I got there.

You can probably guess where this is going.

The cycle continued. After college, I discovered the next batch of cool kids. But this time it was about the cool job and the cool career.

...

I don’t think this mentality is all that healthy - but I also think that it’s a part of what drives many successful people and high achievers.

Becoming cool did not solve my problems - but it did get me closer to what I was really looking for.

When I chased the approval of others, I eventually got it - and it was always at that point where I realized it was never what I wanted in the first place.

This is my story - I did this enough times that I've trained my brain to care less about being cool.

These days, I live in my parents' basement, own just a suitcase of clothes, I'm not in a serious relationship, and run an online business from my laptop. 

To 99% of the world, this is extremely uncool.

Sometimes people will tease me about this, but these days I just laugh it off. It doesn’t bother me as it would have five years ago. I secretly know I'm cool as fuck - but I don't need to show it.

Maybe this is just me again trying to be cool... but it feels different this time.

...

About a year ago, the #1 cool kid from my high school sent me a message telling me how he was inspired by my story.

We got to talking, and I told him how much I had admired this speech he did back in high school. Here was his response:

"Honestly my motivations for that speech came from my own struggles with fitting in and going along with norms and my experience of being judged by others for the smallest, dumbest, and meanest things."

It just goes to show you that all of this shit is just in our heads.

June 21st, 2020
In October 2018, I quit my last ‘real’ job.

That moment, that first day working for myself - that was one of those moments that I'll never forget.

The main thing I can remember is that everything was so clear.

I had that great feeling of purpose, of no anxiety, and being ultimately present.

Some people feel this moment early in life. Some later. Some people never feel this. (note - it's also not for everyone)

It took me nearly 10 years of working 'real' jobs and different careers to finally figure this out.

The road to get there took a lot of twists and turns - could I have figured it out faster? It's complicated.

But there's one thing I think that slowed me down: I didn't always listen to myself, deep down.

Because deep down, I had this crazy idea in my head the whole time. Deep down, I knew I could do it. Deep down, I knew the answer was right in front of me. Deep down, I knew I didn't need a big job, a nice apartment, or nice things. Deep down, I knew I could lose it all. Deep down, I knew this is what I always wanted.

If you don't listen to yourself deep down, you're living a lie. And if you lie to yourself consistently, over many years, you might become sort of miserable.

Life is about finding meaning. To find meaning, do what you find meaningful.

You just need to look deep down to find it.

June 20th, 2020
After watching 10 hours of footage, interviews, and analysis on the greatness of Michael Jordan - there's one thing that I can't stop thinking about.

Michael Jordan's greatest achievement was his ability to always be present.

https://twitter.com/JGelnar7/status/1263109313846968322

“Michael’s gift was not that he could jump high, run fast or shoot a basketball. His gift was that he was completely present, and that was the separator.”

Watch that video and the accompanying interview commentary in the tweet above - even while the whole world was watching (and competing in the highest levels of sport) he was able to enjoy himself, be present, and stay focused.

That's what made him so great.

https://twitter.com/adelleplaton/status/1262203969197060097

June 19th, 2020
du jour - adjective - (of food in a restaurant) available and being served on this day.

Twitter is full of outrage and we should all log out for a while.

I'm not talking specifically about BLM, or Trump, or 'Call Her Daddy'.

I'm talking about the outrage du jour - every hour we are served up a new controversy on a silver platter.

This celebrity said that, Donald Trump said this, this cop did that, and this VC said this.

All it is is he-said-she-said.

And we are the suckers.

Politicians, media & tech companies are laughing all the way to the bank.

While we sit here and argue worthless semantics, the media and tech companies are heads down, figuring out how they can find more outrage du jour to feed our already fat bellies.

We are sitting around the table at the restaurant with crumbs on our shirts and food all over our face, being rude to the waiter, and leaving no tip.

We are sitting around the table chatting about the latest Donald Trump tweet - and believing we are sophisticated because it's about politics.

"Exquisite! The outrage du jour tastes especially good today, doesn't it Karen? Have a like! Hell, this is so good, have a retweet!"

This hits in every single industry. In education, sports, music, and even startups, for example:

https://twitter.com/benedictevans/status/1273871395479568386?s=20

^^ a tweet designed to spark outrage, about a completely mundane topic (email software)

I have two things to say about this:

  1. Cancel culture will only continue to get way worse - this will cause political and economic meltdown over the next 10-20 years.
  2. We must actively discipline ourselves to ignore this outrage every single day.

I don't have an answer on how to fix this, but the only way for me to deal with it is to ignore it and focus on productive things.

Read books, research papers, hang out with friends, play sports, run, write, speak, create, draw, build companies, build wealth, and meditate.

My point is that we cannot not solve this problem by uninstalling Instagram or putting our phones in the other room.

For me, staying off social media is really hard. It feels like I go through cycles of addiction to social media and news, and I have to consciously pull myself out of it.

And it's still not enough.

Consuming this outrage du jour makes us feel good, in the moment. How can we stop ourselves from hearing the juicy gossip or the tea?

We all succumb to this level sometimes, and that's OK, we are not perfect - but there's one thing I know for sure - unhealthy portions of outrage du jour over many years will make us unhappy, unsuccessful, and uninteresting people.

Because it's nothing more than a distraction.

Dad
June 18th, 2020
When I was in 4th grade, I played Little League.

Baseball was my favorite sport - but I was horrible at it.

I was unathletic, weak, and scared of the ball. When I went to the plate, I wouldn't even swing - I would just pray that I would get walked.

If I remember correctly, Little League has a thing called Mandatory Play - which prevents kids like me from getting benched all game.

Within these rules, I only got to bat once per game, rather than 4-5 times like other players. As far as defense, I was benched most innings, too.

My coach at the time was very competitive, so it was in his best interest to prevent me from playing as much as possible - and rightly so, I sucked.

But, how could I get better if I could never play?

This is where my dad comes in.

He started taking me to the batting cages after work/school, and we practiced a lot on my game.

He taught me how to actually hit the ball. We worked on fundamentals. He showed me how to not be scared of the ball.

After months, I actually started to get better!

But still, my coach wouldn't play me.

Even though I was getting better, I wasn't getting enough exposure in real games to improve.

But then, all of a sudden, towards the end of the season, I started getting more at-bats - the coach started putting me in.

I didn't know this until years later, but apparently my dad actually confronted the coach about it, and behind the scenes got in his face about it. He had to do this every game until the coach finally relented.

When I got more playing time, I started to gain confidence. I still wasn't getting hits, but I started making solid contact with the ball.

In the last game of the season, in my last at-bat, I got a huge hit into right field. My first hit of the season. Everyone was going crazy - the parents, my teammates, and especially the coach.

After this game, we went to the playoffs. In the playoffs, there was no mandatory play rules, and players could be benched for 100% of the game.

But the coach put me in the regular lineup - and benched other players!

He must have known something... During those playoffs, I batted .600, and that was against some of the best pitchers in Little League.

--

I think about this story a lot. 

Most notably, because of the bravery of my dad - to be able to go up to the coach and force him to play me. I'm not sure if all dads would do that.

Maybe some dads would just complain about the coach not playing me, and how that was unfair. 

But no, my dad decided to do something about it. He worked his ass off to get off work early, take me to the batting cages every day, to work with me to build the skills I needed, and then he did what he needed behind the scenes to get me in the game.

This not only was the right thing to do, but it showed me that you can get what you want through action, hard work, and proving yourself, the right way.

When I'm a dad, I hope to remember this story.

I hope to remember that these things will change a child's life.