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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Instigation Capital Is The Marching Power

"It is mankind’s evolutionary obligation to use all the powers at our disposal." Love this passage from Inferno. It's a good reminder that we're much stronger, much smarter and a much more capable than we give ourselves credit for. We just need a testing ground. An enabler. A encounter that shows us what we're made of. Like playing trivia in a bar. Ever notice how many answers you magically pull out of your ass? How the hell did I know what lunar excursion module meant? Love those moments when we're obliged to go to our limits.

"Instigation capital is the marching power." If you're waiting for someone to tell you what to do, it's already too late. That's what I tell the interns at my office. You have to create your own projects and your own momentum. This isn't a job, it's a canvas. You have three months to make it as beautiful and valuable as possible. Oh, and don't forget to sign your work. Inspired by boxes.


"There's a growing need for products that offer privacy." This article on stealth wear got me thinking about the glaring hypocrisy in the privacy debate. On one hand, we don't want the government reading our emails. On the other hand, each year we publish twice as much information online as we did the year before. On one hand, we despise surveillance cameras. On the other, everybody has their own reality show. So which one is it? Do we really want privacy? Let's not shit ourselves. Everything is everybody's business, and we like it that way. Once we tune out people's words and tune in people's actions, one thing is clear––privacy may be our inalienable right, but narcissism is our dominant posture. 

"Not a lot, but enough." I don't need as many friends as I used to. The older I get, the more concerned I am with quality, not quantity. As long as I have someone to call from jail in the middle of the night––and someone to share the cell with my while I wait––I'm good to go. I'd rather spend time with ten friends I totally love than collect friend requests from a thousand people I hardly know. Inspired by a commencement address by Melinda Gates.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Caring Used To Be A Calorie Burner

"It's not like there's a limited number of slots." Aziz proves that the artistic pie has enough slices for everybody. That the path of bitter resentment and bullshit competitiveness is not worth taking. And that every moment we're lost in somebody else's orbit is a moment we're not improving life on our own planet. If your whole schtick is undermining the work of others, that's not art, that's fear. It's surrogate creation. A convenient excuse for not making stuff of your own.

"Caring used to be a calorie burner." Ten years ago, demonstrating that something was important to us meant an investment of time, money and energy. We wrote letters, stopped by in person or brought homemade cupcakes on the first day. Caring meant work. And that's precisely why it worked. Now, all we have to do is tweet. Or text. Or tap whatever digital shortcut we have at our disposal. And that works too. But it's less satisfying for the recipient because it's largely effortless for the sender. Which means it's hard to tell the difference between people who care and people who type fast. These days, if we want to show people they matter to us, we need to show them the calorie counter. Inspired by Amanda Bynes.


"You have to be the factory and the warehouse." If you don't write it down, it never happened. No matter how good your ideas are, if you don't have a system for organizing and finding them, consider your genius wasted. I learned this years ago from George Carlin, and was recently re-inspired by tweets from Carolla. I'm so glad I did this early and often. Smartest move I ever made. Everything I know is written down somewhere, and I can get to it in about ten seconds.


"Quietly willing an article you wrote to go viral." Over the years, I've published thousands of articles, hundreds of speeches and dozens of books, songs and videos. And yet, I'm still completely surprised to see which ones stick. That blog post I worked on tirelessly? Nobody cares. But that video I slapped together in five minutes? Goes viral. It's almost scary how little control we have over the spreading of our own ideas. Sure, we can put systems in place to make our work as shareable as possible. But like most things in life, timing isn't everything, it's the only thing. Inspired by the new science of memes.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Resistance Has No Power Of Its Own

“Nothing is more creative, nor destructive, than a brilliant mind with a purpose.” Genius is a neutral entity. Like tofu, it takes on the flavor of whatever sauced it’s immersed in. The hope is, whoever possesses that brain will channel their power into a positive direction. The problem is, evil usually pays better. And chicks dig danger. Stupid dark side and their amazing perks. Inspired by Dan Brown’s new book.

“Our nation is on a slippery slope to rationality.” This week’s article in The Onion made me smile. Meanwhile, some people feel guilty for wanting progress. Not me. Consider everything that’s happening: Pot is legal in eighteen states. Gay marriage is legal in thirteen states. Atheism is the nation’s fasting growing religion. Climate change was recognized by the president as the global threat of our time. Damn. Just when I thought our country was blessed with a broken sense of priorities. Finally some forward movement.

“The absence of a body against my body created a hunger.” I guess I just haven’t found the right guy yet. Bullshit. If you wanted to find the right guy, you would have found him. Why? Because that’s what human beings do. Whatever they look for, they find. The end.

Resistance has no power of its own.” All it does it feed on our fear of it. The more we try to run from it, the faster it gets. The more excuses we create for not doing the work, the harder the work gets. Resistance is a bully. It has no real power. But, the minute we stand up to it, sock it in the gut with everything we’ve got, it crumples into the corner like a pile of swept leaves. Until tomorrow. You better believe, it will come back tomorrow. Thanks, Steven Pressfield.

“Make a discipline of it.” What drives me crazy about the personal development industry is, it’s all systems and formulas. Five steps. Seven ways. Ten strategies. But success is not a combination lock. In fact, most of it comes down to discipline. Commitment. Showing up early and often. Working hard and long and smart. No, it’s not sexy, but it’s worked for centuries. Inspired by Tiger Mothers.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Look Back At All Those Times The World Didn’t End

"You don't need a lot of downtime for your brain to turn on itself." Action isn't just eloquence, it's the antidote to unhappiness. The smartest, healthiest thing we can do when the waves of sadness come crashing in is to start surfing. Or snorkeling. Or painting a picture of the ocean. Whatever. The waves are an invitation to do something––anything––that burns calories, makes meaning and transports us to a place where the head and the heart are doing the dance they’re supposed to. Inspired by Carolla's Law.

"I had to work in order to have any sense of being human." If I was stranded on a desert island, I would still work. In addition to hunting for food, looking for water, building fires and keeping shelter, I would literally create a job for myself. I would create fake coworkers out of trees and mud, have an office that I commute to and hold meetings about various projects. That's the only way I'd keep from going crazy––by installing a semblance of order, routine, meaning and labor. Of course, this is assuming I don't get trampled by a wild boar on the second day. Inspired by an interview with legendary designer, Milton Glaser

"Starting work without a contract is like putting a condom on after taking a home pregnancy test." Amazing speech by Mike Monteiro about getting paid. I wish I had that level of chutzpah when I first started my company. But collections always terrified me. I was just too nice. Until one day, my dad told me never to be afraid of asking for my money. Good advice. Ever since then, I've made it a point to be proactive and prolific when it comes to payment earned for value created. 

"A look back at all those times the world didn’t end." Years ago, my power went out in the middle of the night. When I woke up, I still starting writing early, but had no way of checking email. Oh well. So I worked all morning, ostensibly disconnected from the world. And by the time I got the coffee shop for lunch, I logged on only to discover something I'll never forget. The world didn't end. Nothing happened and nobody cared. Ever since then, I've stopped worrying about an overflowing inbox. It's ninety percent spam anyway.

"Worrying over our anemic job creation rate has practically become our new national pastime." Just read this piece on the latest unemployment statistics. Jesus Christ. What's a brother gotta do to get a paycheck in this country? Hire yourself, that's what. Tap into the entrepreneurial spirit. Start your own thing. Even if you work for someone else. It's about agency. Not asking for permission. Not waiting for directions. Go, go, go, make something happen.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Time Ticks In A Really Weird Way

"Comedians are pastors who aren't lying." I've always appreciated a good preacher. Not from religious perspective, but as communicators and performers, those guys sure know how to deliver a message. When I used to drive across the country, one of my favorite rituals was scanning the radio dial for sermons from local congregations. I laughed. I cried. I took notes. I ran thought experiments. I even called in once, just for fun. Funny thing way, in most cases, the smaller the town, the more entertaining the preacher. Inspired by the podcast, You Made It Weird

"The sun has an economy." Heard this statement during a heated discussion on climate change. What a fascinating juxtaposition. Not just of words, but of ideas. I remember the first time my mentor asked me how my economy was doing. His question threw me for a loop at first, but eventually, I figured out what he meant. It's helpful when we treat everything as a system, with parts that need to be careful regulated and managed. Especially ourselves.

"Time ticks in a really weird way." I don't know if it's the city I live in, the world I work in or the life stage I exist in, but I've completely lost all sense of time. My clock is fucked. I'm not sure what day it is. I can't tell if time moves fast or slow. I barely remember my former life as an entrepreneur. And I don't know if I've been living in my neighborhood for two years or two decades. It's the strangest thing. Perhaps it's the byproduct of major life change. Or maybe I just need a new watch. Do people still wear watches?

"When the camera was invented, artists didn't just throw away their brushes and start taking pictures." Hopeful advice from the last of the great ad men. Proving that no matter how amazing our new technology is, we still need artists. We still need dreamers and wackos and painters and makers. After all the startups die and the gold rush comes to a grinding halt, art will be the only survivor. Thank god.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Sanctuary Where I Could Forget Who I Was

"I wanted to create spaces where people felt held." About a year ago, I started tinkering with scale. Not sure why. Probably because I moved to a city that was big enough for me. My first experiment was blowing up photographs to poster size. That changed my entire experience of what a picture can be. Next, I began thinkmapping on twenty-foot dry erase walls. That rejiggered my entire creative strategy process. Lastly, I started playing concerts in the park underneath the historic tunnel arch. That allowed me to find notes I didn't know existed. Man. Scale changes everything. Inspired by an enormous yarn installation.

"You look down at all these hungry little beaks, and you say to them, 'Which of you needs to be fed?'" This article on journaling got me thinking. You don't decide what you want to write, you listen for what wants to be written. You don't decide how to solve the problem, you allow the solution to present itself. You don't ring the bell, you invite the bell to sound. It's like the Quakers, who practice silence until someone is moved to speak. I like approaching life in that way. It's more relaxing.

"Don’t require them to think as hard about this as you have." Awesome article about collaboration from Derek Sivers about minimizing the burden of your coworkers. I've been practicing that a lot at lately. Overthinking early and often, but then giving my team an annotated version. Look, people are busy. They don't have time to go down the rabbit hole with me. Their brains need a break. Good advice.

"You only get so far if you work by staring at a screen, because the resolution of the paper page is much higher." It's not a waste of paper if it alters my perception of the work. That's how I rationalize. By printing out pages of notes, sticking them on the wall and squinting at them from afar, I can see patterns previous unavailable to me. I can literally touch my ideas and become more intimate with them. Plus, it blows out the canvas. Why limit myself to seventeen inches of glass when I could spread my stuff all over the floor and stand above it like a mad scientist admiring his creation?

"A sanctuary where I could forget who I was." We all need a place where we can disappear. A divine refuge that allows us to lose all sense of self and just melt into the floor. No expectations. No accountability. Nothing but the people we were before the world told us who we needed to be. Pure freedom, pure creation. It's the safe haven that restores us. Wow. I don't know how people survive without one. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Where Commitment Becomes Another Risky Venture

"Molly makes you feel unplanned, and that’s not a common feeling." The older I get, the more I feel like not doing drugs puts me in the minority. It's crazy. Every time I smell pot on the streets or read articles about the high of the moment, another veil gets pulled back. Does everyone do drugs but me? Good lord. And yet, I fully support drugs. People should be allowed to consume whatever they want. It's interesting, though. The less naive I become, the less I want to partake.

"I ran an extra mile just to find out how it ended." Great interview with Dan Brown, one of my favorite authors. He seems like a solid role model for young writers. Reads a ton, always researches, loves language, dedicates himself to his craft, works every single day, stays out of the tabloids and creates the right environment for ideas to emerge. Sigh. Plus, he uses his work to take the piss out of religious people. Bonus points for that.


"Everything that's good about this city is outside your door." By the time the weekend comes, I'm pretty worn out. But despite my desire to sleep late and chill at home all day, we usually go out and do stuff. That's why we moved here, right? We're not paying insane rent because our apartment is some kind of paradise. It's the city. It's the energy. The smorgasbord of opportunity that awaits once we step out the door. But we have to step out the door.

"My yoga is underlining sentences." A famous line from Joseph Campbell. I'm kind of the same way. I can reconcile almost any activity––cleaning the house, sitting through a boring meeting, reading a crappy magazine––as long as I can take notes. That's my thing. If I'm writing sentences, I never feel unproductive. It's how I engage with the world. It's how I metabolize my life. And it's how I fill the reservoir to enable the creative process to flow quickly and easily. Every sentence is a blog post, a book or a song lyric waiting to happen.

"Where commitment becomes another risky venture." Commitment is my thing. Always has been. A serial monogamist, as my friend used to call me. So when I read articles about people who can't engage that muscle, it always confuses me. When did commitment stop being cool? When did we decide that sticking with something––or someone––wasn't worth the effort anymore? Of course commitment is risky. That's the whole point.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dreams Always Bring More Questions Than Answers

"There's nothing sexier than not having an agenda." I'm not here to win. I'm not here to prove myself. I'm not here to be seen. I'm not here to get my name out there. I'm not here to be discovered. I'm not here to make money. I'm not here to network. I'm not here to create mutually beneficial relationships. Once I strip away all the striving, all the expectation and all the ego, it's amazing how attractive I become.

"If you want what he’s got, you can’t get it anywhere else."  This article on Steve Miller contains the true definition of value. Something exclusive, singular and scarce. The three most important words in business. And nowhere else. People don’t want duplicate happiness. When we offer them a one-time, limited edition, never before/never again moment that actually captures their imagination, we win their hearts forever.

"When you are gone I will miss your gentle noises." This cartoon about paper books becoming an endangered species makes me sad. I miss books. I mostly read digitally these days. And it kills me.  It's just not the same without paper. You can't smell a Kindle. A book is a device you can throw on someone’s desk and start a conversation. A book is a contract between writer and reader. A book is an old friend that meets you where you are. I hope they don't go away.

"It’s a long time for me to spend on something that means absolutely nothing." I could watch Jerry Seinfeld talk about his creative process until the cows come home. And I don't even have cows. And his comedy is brilliant, don't get me wrong. But his system for creating comedy is what blows my mind. Always by hand. Always with yellow legal pads. Always the little world he investigates to a great, high level. How is this not a graduate level course at art schools? Doesn't anybody realize that half of being funny is being organized?

"Dreams always bring more questions than answers." The first thing I do every morning is journal my dreams. It's a ritual I've practiced for many years. But I don't actually know anything about dream symbolism. Nor do I care to find out. I just write them down. Every day. And what happens is, I start to notice patterns. Certain themes reoccur in my dream life as certain things happen in my real life. It's spooky as hell. Like the one about getting to school at not knowing where my classes are? Usually shows up when I have a high level of stress. Academic anxiety. Noted. Definitely one of the best daily habits I got into.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

We See What We Can Afford To See

"Everyone who is making progress in today’s economy isn’t doing something with a certified skill." When I retired as an entrepreneur and starting looking for a day job, the first order of business was to catalogue my assets. The frustrating part was, I had no advanced degrees, no designations and no certifications. And that made it very hard for potential employers to put me in one of their neat little boxes. On the other hand, I did have a wealth of experience as a professional, an amazing portfolio as an artist and a proven reputation as a strategic thinker. And although it took a few months, I finally figured out how to wrap those assets into a valuable package that was worth hiring. Thanks for the adviceSeth.

"There’s nothing more powerful than saying no to people." I remember the first time I had enough money, enough work and enough confidence to say no to a prospective client. Greatest feeling in the world. Especially when you've spent years desperately saying yes to anybody, anytime, for no money, just to get your name out there. Nothing beats the sweet satisfaction of rolling your tongue back into your mouth and saying no to somebody who wants to give you money to do what you love. Inspired by an interview with Louie.

"Cynicism presents itself as wisdom, but it’s really just a wound." I went through a cynical phase a few years ago. Didn't get me very far. Turns out, cynicism doesn't make you look cool, it makes other people not like being around you. Fortunately, I had a friend who loved me enough to tell me how crappy my attitude was, and that he didn't like the person I'd become. That whipped me back into shape pretty quickly. I confronted my wound, created a plan for healing it and crawled my way back to the person I used to be. Inspired by an interview with Rob Bell.

"People's attention spans are getting shorter, and I want them to suffer." Judd Apatow makes me happy. I love that he purposely makes his films too long. Fuck the networks. Fuck the standards. If you're an artist, you have the right do make your work as long and prolific as you want. If you have something to say, say all of it. Who cares if the audience is bored? Who cares if people want the piece to end? Freedom means never having to say it's almost over.

"We see we can afford to see." Denial is a critical part of the human coping mechanism. What sucks is, sometimes people don't have the emotional means to confront the reality of their situation. And there's nothing you can do. You can't fix them. You can't persuade them. You can't even lovingly expose them to reality. They're simply not ready. All you can do is love them. All you can do is trust that they'll see what they need to see when the time is right. Good one, Robert Langdon.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Forces Of Denial Are Lavishly Funded

"My best experiences as a moviegoer are when I go in knowing as little as possible." On a daily basis, I recite the mantra, "I expect nothing." Those three words changed my life. They taught me the virtues of acceptance, mindfulness and relaxation. Why? Because expectation determines outcome. It's been scientifically proven. If we want to set ourselves up for optimal experiences, it's not about lowering expectations, it's about losing them. Inspired by secrets from a trailer guru.

"You’re not waiting, you’re hiding." Good point, Seth. Now that permission is a thing of the past, we're all out of excuses. We no longer have the luxury of blaming the gatekeepers for our anonymity, blaming the marketplace for battering us into submission, or blaming the competition for keeping us small, scared and dreamless. Everything is up to us. The golden age of artistic agency is here. And if our art never sees the light of day, it's because we didn't want it badly enough.

"The forces of denial are lavishly funded." Brilliant observation from the creator of the Internet himself. That's my problem with politics. No matter how many blinding flashes of the obvious cross our path, if an idea is too convenient too be killed, our government will spend billions of dollars convincing the world that it doesn't exist. Drives me crazy. Look, we all outgrow some of our beliefs. We all place our faith in ideas that fail us. Instead of clinging to hopelessly dated and naive perspectives, can't we all just act like adults, rebuild our understanding and get on with it? God damn.

"Humanity in the abstract will never inspire you in the same way as the human being you meet." I'm a textbook extrovert. Engaging with other people gives me energy. Meaning, if I go too long without human interaction, I don't feel like myself. If I spend two days without looking another person in the eye, I grow anxious and lonely. And forget about social media. Tweeting doesn't satisfy my interpersonal longings. When I used to work out of my home, I would take breaks and go to Starbucks, just to talk to people. And I don't even drink coffee. But when the soul needs humanity, the stomach shuts its mouth. Sparked from a commencement speech given by Melinda Gates.

"Hollywood is the only town where you can die of encouragement." It's an old saying, but I just heard it for the fist time on By The Way with Jeff Garlin. Frankly, it's kind of hard for me to swallow. I'm a fundamentally affirmative person. I find a way to love everything. Hurting people's feelings isn't my forte. Then again, there are some people who, despite their best intentions and boldest ambitions, are not going to make it as a full time whatever. Which doesn't mean they need to stop doing what they do. But somebody needs to beat them with the practicality stick. And it's not going to be me. I'm too nice.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

You're Scheduled To Be Who They Think You Are

"If you get paid for being crazy, I call that sane." Yesterday I learned that my nametag topped the list of the worst tattoos in the world. I have to say, I've never felt prouder. Not because my ink got ink, but because every day that passes, the joke gets funnier. The audience gets bigger. And guess who's laughing the hardest? That's the greatest magic trick you could ever pull. The art of choreographing attention. The satisfaction of getting paid to be yourself. Inspired by an interview with Hunter S. Thompson.

"Piracy is just one of the many punches you have to learn to roll with." A few years ago, I got the idea to create a website called www.stealscottsbooks.com, where readers can download every one of my books, for free, forever, for real, no strings. I did this for a couple of reasons. First, because it's awesome. Second, to flip the bird to the publishing industry. Third, to completely eliminate all barriers to people accessing my art. Fourth, because I'd rather be heard than paid. Fifth, because I can. And lastly, because people have been stealing my work for years, and who am I to stand in their way? Touche, Stephen King.

"Identify the awesomely popular and pretend that the serendipity can be reverse engineered." The only thing funnier than watching a viral video is watching companies try to recreate the same lightning in a bottle for their own crappy products. That's the punchline. By the time they figure out the formula, the variables have already changed. Just because some deodorant company accidentally made a funny commercial doesn't mean your next marketing stunt is going to matter. 

"You can’t do it on your own, but you can do it on your own terms." My friend Bob is an artist in every sense of the word. For twenty years, he's stuck his fingers in his ears, trusted his voice and taken responsibility for the reverberations thereof. But he's never been afraid to collaborate, ask for help and enlist the artistry of others. Bob does his own thing, but he does it with people he loves. And that's something I've always admired. My predisposition to working alone kind of boxed me in over the years. But now that I'm learning to function as a different pronoun, I can see what Bob was talking about.

"You're scheduled to be who they think you are all the time." Love this article about India Arie's new record. Proving that success doesn't just breed success, it breeds expectation. Proving that people develop a vested interest in keeping you where you are. Proving that you have to remember who you were before the world told you who you needed to be. Crazy, man. Crazy.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Too Passionate To Process Rational Thought

"I’ve broken the sharing seal." I've been writing music for twenty years. But it wasn't until last year that I finally released my work into the world. Partly because I wanted to keep my art to myself, and partly because I was scared of sharing my deepest feelings publicly. What's interesting is, once the musical floodgates opened, the sharing has only gotten deeper. Since then, I've taught songwriting classes, performed at open mics and played free concerts at the park. I can't wait to see what's next.

"Too passionate to process rational thought." Passion doesn't get a bad enough rap. Thanks to a legion of commencement speakers who  are afraid to scare their audiences, we've been convinced that passion is the answer to everything. Truth is, passion can work against us. Yes, it's an essential component to a meaningful life, but it also can be a veneer over the realities of that life. Inspired by an interview with John Oliver.

"We are solution agnostic." That's how my boss describes our company. I think it's a smart way to do business. Too many organizations are devoutly religious about their deliverables. If the client's request doesn't fit into their neat little box, they don't know what to do with themselves. But that's what innovation is all about. If you're doing it right, you're doing it differently each time.

"I don’t believe in optimism, I believe in optimal behavior." Enlightening passage from an interview with Ray Bradbury. What I appreciate about this attitude is, you're focusing on the one thing you can control––yourself. Everything else is wishful thinking. Once we come to that realization, the excuses of life just seem to melt away. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

It's Not Okay With Me That I Don't Understand That

"It’s not okay with me that I don’t understand that." Seth Godin made a great point about being a noticer during yesterday's presentation. I can relate. There's this relentless mechanism inside of me that demands to know things. Like when the cashier at the clothing store asks me what kinds of things I plan to do in my new shorts. I need to know why she asked that question. Was she trained that way? Was she genuinely curious about my life? Was she just shooting the shit until the credit card receipt printed out? Why that question? Why now? I want answers. Find me the nub of why or there will be hell to pay. 

"Boundless susceptibility to suggestion is just another form of intelligence." Hypnosis scared me at first. The idea of being under the spell of a shrink made me feel uneasy and out of control. And then I tried it with a doctor I knew and trusted. And to my delight, the experience was completely relaxing. Not what I thought at all. No dangling pocket watches. No spontaneous chicken dances. Just a safe place to let go. Six years later, I don't even remember why I needed hypnosis in the first place. Mission accomplished. Inspired by an article on quitting smoking.

"Choose the hard path that leads to the life you want." When I was in college, my academic advisor gave me the option of sticking around for a fifth year. It would've been the easiest two semesters of my life: Light course load. All classes in my major. Part time job in the marketing department. Sounded pretty cush to me. And I seriously considered it, too. But ultimately, I made the decision to graduate on time. I had this book inside of me, itching to get out into the world, and there was no stopping that train. Little did I know how well that decision would pay off. The point is, when we sit at the feet of that thing that sticks inside of us and says now, we should listen. Thanks for the advice, Steven Colbert

"Easily wounded by constructive criticism." When I ran my own business, it was easy to insulate myself from criticism. But now that I work with a team, I have to face the music daily. And most of the time, it hurts my feelings. What can I say? I'm a sensitive guy who takes things personally. Fortunately, that pain only lasts for about five minutes. Once I realize people are both correct and helpful, I'm happy to make the change and get on with my life. Inspired by an article in Bloomberg.

"In the absence of an empathetic witness." Most of what we do in life has no witness. We’re all just winking in the dark, hoping somebody will make us feel seen. The secret is to point our passion in the service of that need. For example, anytime we meet with a prospective client, I always take furious notes. I can't help myself. I'm a writer and I love sentences. But before the prospect walks out the door, I print out a copy of my notes, in the raw, in real time, look them in the eye and thank them for all the interesting things they said during the meeting. People remember stuff like that. Inspired by a book on trauma.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Forgiveness Is Not An Ability, It's A Vocation

"People that are like batteries to your creative endeavors." The ones who answer how with yes. The ones who spark your productivity by proximity alone. The ones who don't make you feel stupid for speaking up. I love these people. Thanks to them, instead of your ideas solely living and dying in your imagination, they're able to grow up and reach the world. Inspired by Kevin Smith's description of Scott Mosier.

"My personal hell would be standing in a humid room, listening to people not make decisions." Nothing infuriates me more than the idleness of the indecisive. Sweet merciful lord, somebody help these people. In fact, schools should teach this stuff. Not how to make a smart decision, but how to make any decision, and how to live with the result. Master this skill, and our country's productivity would triple in a matter of weeks. Inspired by tourists.


"Forgiveness is not an ability, it's a vocation." I genuinely enjoy forgiving people. It makes me feel good about myself. Especially in those mundane moments of stubbed toes and bumped shoulders. I try to say the phrase, "I forgive you," several times a week. It's good practice. Not unlike saying, "I love you," "Thank you" and "I'm sorry," it's a phrase that seeps into my conscience a little more each time. And after a while, saying it becomes second nature. Inspired by a sermon at St. Patrick's Cathedral.


"We are more than our worst things." We are better and bigger than our past. We will not organize our lives around our hurts and wounds. We refuse to stay fiercely devoted to whatever keeps us miserable. And we will keep our distance from those who remind us how we are no longer what we were. Inspired by Hopeful World.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

You're Paying For Psychology, Not Quality

"This is why I don’t have goals." For years I promised myself that if I could just accomplish this, then I would be happy. But despite checking off goals on a weekly basis, the list kept growing and growing. Like a regenerating monster. And the hunger was never fully satisfied. Until one day, it hit me like a slow, hot wind. Holy shit. I've done enough to be okay with myself, I realized. Since that moment, my approach to goal setting has inverted. Instead of postponing happiness until a specific goal is accomplished, now happiness is the goal. And everything I do on a daily basis helps me get there. Inspired by Dilbert.

"Everything is created for stupid people." Jeff Garlin is so right. Every time I watch television, read trashy magazines, listen to the radio, walk through the grocery store, shop at the mall or stumble across a banner ad on the internet, all I can think to myself is, I feel stupid. These people treat me like a drooling buffoon. But that's what we've come to. Mainstream media are the merchants of the lowest common denominator. Because that's what sells. Stupidity never goes out of style.


"I knew there was something waiting for me." Patience and delayed gratification are the two most underrated competencies of the human repertoire. Sadly, schools are terrified of teaching those kinds of things because they can't be tested. Crap. Looks like parents are going to have to step up and lead the charge. Which will be an especially tough battle to fight, since our entire culture is based around me me me, now now now. Inspired by the Nerdist.


"I'm never getting off this train." I believe people change. I really do. I also believe people have certain wirings, certain propensities and certain obsessions that never leave them. So, any time I get a chance to meet someone who isn't afraid to own that part of themselves, it just melts my butter. Better yet, any time I meet someone who taps into that engine to make the world better, oh man. Sparked by an interview with an original gangsta.

"You're paying for psychology, not quality." If you see a long line at the falafel cart, the story you tell yourself is that the food must be better. Why else would everybody be queuing up? So you get in line. And the your expectation goes to work. Because the longer you wait, the less likely you are to admit that the food is mediocre. That's too much cognitive dissonance for the human brain to handle. We all see what we want to see. Taste buds live in the mind, not just the mouth. Inspired by midtown.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Count Your Fingers After You Shake His Hand

"There's a breed of nerd that's become a bully." Awesome interview with Jim Jeffries about the evolution of nerds. One one hand, all the nerds who grew up in the seventies and eighties have become successful. On the other hand, all the nerds who grew up in the nineties and beyond have now become trolls. To the point that they're using the Internet to bully each other. What happens when the nerds become the bullies? Sounds like a perfect horror film to me.

"Count your fingers after you shake his hand." Earlier this week, a woman whispered that warning into my ear moments after I met her husband. I'm pretty sure she was kidding, then again, every joke contains a shred of the truth. But I should be okay without a pinky. Except for those diminished ninth chords that I love so much. Dang it.

"Men reenter humanity at age thirty." Terrific podcast about how men and women are wired differently. I've been thinking about that a lot lately. The process of getting as much as you can out of your system––spiritually, sexually, professionally, whatever––and then coming back to Earth and rejoining the rest of the species. I'm glad I did it. Turns out, once you've checked those boxes, once you've conquered the need to conquer the world, life becomes a lot less stressful. 

"I've put in too much effort here." You can only burn so many calories before your body wears out. And I don't mean physically. When we're doing various projects, eventually, we come to a point where we either let go and move on, on get someone to help and come back later. Otherwise we drive ourselves nuts. Inspired by chaos.

"I would tell you about myself, but I think it's highly irrelevant." Ramone Ray made that disclaimer during his speech this week. Made me really happy. In fact, I may start using that line. Good way to keep narcissism at bay. Because as much as I'd like to believe, people aren't as interested in me as I think. That's how I describe this city to my friends back in the midwest. New Yorkers aren't rude, they're just goal oriented. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Everyone In New York Has Four Jobs

"Fill the silence with ideas." The first step in creating value is taking initiative. Literally, the first step. Only when you physically move your carcass out of our chair can you truly contribute. That doesn't mean you have to be right. That doesn't mean you have to be perfect. Nor does it mean you have to be loud. But if you wait for people to tell you what to do, you'll disappear. Inspired by the winner of the award for the best acknowledgements.

"Young people overvalue the importance of their own opinions." Fascinating article about the digital manifestations of modern narcissism. Their study points to the millennial generation as the highest offenders. But you don't have to be young to fall in love with your own image. You don't have to be in college to have an inflated sense of self-importance. Facebook's average user is forty years old. We live in a culture that celebrates narcissism, and we live with technology that enables it. Perhaps age isn't as big of as factor as people think. 


"I examined your words as colorful butterflies flashing at my eyes." That was the headline of an email I got from a guy in Malaysia. Totally made my day. Don't you just love those lost-in-translation moments when the language feels off, but the spirit in which it's spoken feels awesome? There's something so human about that moment that just kills me.


"Everyone in New York has four jobs." Somebody once told me that when I first moved here. And they weren't joking. In this city, nobody does one thing. Partly because it's crazy expensive and people need to underwrite their lifestyle. But the other part of it is, New York is a permissionless platform. It's a city that naturally accelerates the process of putting dreams together. So when anybody can do anything, anytime, anywhere––and maybe even make a few bucks in the process––they will. And it's a beautiful thing.


"Made merciless demands on his own body as a transmitter of ideas." Creativity is not physical labor. It's not hard work. And it's rarely worth complaining about. But the process taxes your brain, and the pressure toys with your psyche. Especially when the quality and frequency of your thoughts determine your livelihood. No wonder so many artists go crazy.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Built With Thousands Of Tiny Perfect Bricks

"The emotional center of my customer is the most magical data I could have." I spoke at a business conference yesterday along side Gary Vee. Loved his philosophy on research. Real research. Not quant. Not sentiment analysis. Not fabricated consumer profiles. But the excavation of actual human feelings, usually compressed into something as small as a single tweet, that provides insight into their world. That's the drop of iodine that purifies all the water.

"Built with thousands of tiny perfect bricks." Fascinating book about famous artists and their journals. Wes Anderson's chapter was my favorite. His approach to the screenwriting process is highly incrementalist. He focuses on one small chunk at a time, makes that piece as good as he possibly can, and trusts that all the bricks will hold up in the end. I've always taken the same approach with books, songs, even business strategy. It's a lot less threatening when you only have to worry about the bricks, not the entire cathedral.

"The art of strategic indifference." The secret to not caring is doing some simple math. Here's an example. If somebody emails me with a list of typos they found in one of my books, I quickly factor in the calories it would take to care, plus the calories it would take to correct, then measure that against the importance of the result. That equation takes about a half a second to, and most of the time, the answer is the same. At which point I delete the email and get on with my life. You should try it sometime.

"Compete in clear air by writing all those pseudo covers out of your system." I spent the first five years of my writing career impersonating the work of my favorite authors. But eventually, once I wrote all the mimicry out of my system, there was nothing left but my own voice. I think most art is that way. We start out as carbon copies until we become originals. Inspired by the best book I've read all year.