It’s a choice

You will live a long and happy life if you get joy out of other people’s success.

Jealousy and envious remarks when someone else wins is the path to the dark side.

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Safety Blankets

“Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch. ”

James Baldwin

What is your safety blanket?

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Risk free glimpes

“I am not young enough to know everything.”

Oscar Wilde

Sometimes being young and ignorant is the best state of mind to start a business, emigrate, quit your job, sail around the world. If you knew all the risks and peril ahead of you, then you probably wouldn’t start.

The upside of age and experience is that you skip the upfront thrash of mistakes and false starts.

The downside is that you know where all the problems are, so you don’t leap until there’s limited downside. Unfortunately those risk free moments are scarce.

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You gotta hang around the hoop if you want to score

The older I get the less credit I give myself when things go right. I’m not as hard on myself when things go wrong. Good luck has played a huge role my life.

Outcomes in life are super random. The 2020 pandemic is a good reminder. In 2019 nobody saw it coming or was prepared for the global impact. In the aftermath some people have thrived and others have suffered. Excellent travel companies like AirBnb are in major pain, while video conferencing companies like Zoom are at all time highs. NOBODY SAW THIS COMING.

I’m happy to give myself credit when I’ve taken action and followed through on a decision or started something. I might not control the outcome, but at least I’m in the game and moving forward.

You gotta hang around the hoop if you want to score.

“At the moment of commitment, the entire universe conspires to assist you”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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Indelible moments of encouragement

The right teacher at the right time can change your life.

I still remember words of encouragement from when I was a kid at school. Whether it was in the classroom or on the sports field. Those moments matter, and they are indelible.

Someone believing in you is a huge motivator, and it’s the place you go when things get dark. For some people, it makes a world of difference. It can be the difference between quitting or persevering.

One of the best things you can do in life is to marry someone who believes in you and sees the good in you.

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Imagination factories

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Break free from your indoctrination and step into your imagination.


Here are a couple of indoctrination factories that seduce you, recruit you, shape you, and end up using you:

  • Any schools (except Montessori)
  • Universities with prescriptive degrees
  • Corporate jobs like accounting firms, law firms, and banking jobs
  • Organised religion

Here are some of the imagination factories you should seek out:

  • Travel
  • High-velocity start-ups
  • Cities like San Francisco, New York, LA
  • Montessori schools
  • Festivals and gatherings with like-minded people who will challenge you
  • Twitter and Reddit
  • Books shops
  • Book clubs and writing groups

I learned more at university, sitting with my friends at night trying to figure out life than I did in any lecture hall.

In a post-pandemic society, I hope fewer people attend university, and instead, they get busy working and learning. Now that “top tier” universities charge tuition and fees of over $60,000 per year, can you stomach paying that much money to watch classes via Zoom and YouTube? Instead, start a business or learn in the field.

As tertiary education demand drops, I also hope there are less grooming and rote learning type educations at schools where the sole aim of an “education” is to get a child admitted to a university for further indoctrination.

Getting a gold star in the school of imagination is not about the right answers; it’s about asking the right questions.

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Less is more

“I make myself rich by making my wants few.”

Henry David Thoreau

If you earn a lot of money but spend more than you earn then you are on the treadmill like everyone else. You aren’t wealthy; you just make a lot of money.

Living within your means is real wealth.

If you earn $100k per year and spend $50k and are saving $50k each year, you are wealthy.

It makes a lot of sense:

  1. You accumulate capital and a safety net over time.
  2. It’s less stressful because you aren’t living pay check to pay check.
  3. You avoid debt.
  4. You won’t get trapped by a job because you can’t afford to leave.
  5. It’s less stressful.

Being rich can give you control over your time, but another way to achieve financial independence is to be frugal.

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Ball machines are predictable

It’s easier to criticize or dole out advice than it is to do. If people don’t have skin in the game or consequences of a decision or actions, then their opinion doesn’t mean much. 

It’s the same as getting advice from a highly paid consultant who has never run a company day to day. Everything always looks simple and obvious when the outcomes are academic. Academic recommendations don’t factor in real-world dynamics that are unpredictable and filled with unknowns.

Getting academic advice on how to implement something in the real world is like practicing tennis on an indoor court with a ball machine. At the end of an intensive tennis training camp with the ball machine, I’m sure the error rate will be low, and the person will have a stable backhand. Now take that same person and put them on a tennis court in the middle of a sunny day with a breeze. See how their tennis game deteriorates when they are serving with the sun in their eyes and their opponent charges the net after returning serve. Ball machines are consistent and predictable. Real-life is the antithesis of predictable.  

Instead of asking for advice, ask for shared experiences and draw your conclusions. If a person doesn’t have any shared experiences with the task at hand, then press mute and move on.

Believe in someone

Imagine this clip wasn’t about sport. Imagine it was about academics and encouraging a young kid at school. It’s a little hazy now but I can’t recall ever hearing a teacher talking like this to me or anyone else when I was at school.

Marry someone who believes in you, work for people who believe in you. Then pay it forward and make sure your kids or young people in particular hear that you believe in their potential.

Choices and Luck

Success is a combination of luck and good choices.

Hard work and long hours don’t automatically result in success. A lot of people work hard. I’ve gotten off a train in Delhi, and seen taxi drivers sleeping in their cars at 5 am waiting for a fare. After I have knocked on their car window and woken them up, they wiped their face with a damp cloth and started the car. The back seat was still warm from where they were sleeping. People around the world work freaking hard. The Americans and the Chinese think they have a monopoly on long hours, my advice to them would be to travel a little and see the world. Travel will humble anyone.

I’ve seen people born on third base blow everything away including money, friends, and reputation because of poor choices. They had the luck of being born to the right parents but screwed up anyway. Being born lucky with a security blanket makes it way less likely thst someone will blow up their life, but a few bad choices will get the ball rolling. That’s why the mega-wealthy people set up trust funds with rules and conditions. The wealthy have learned to build safety valves that protect their offspring from dumb and ego driven decisions.

But it’s not just about luck. Opportunity favors the prepared mind. We are faced with choices every day. Where do you spend your time? Who do you associate with? When someone takes a chance on you, do you accept or do you demure? Who do you marry? Do you marry?

Saying it’s all about luck is a story we tell ourselves to justify our own situation. It’s hard to admit that the right decisions at the right time were involved as well. The trick is to acknowledge the luck, stay humble and choose wisely when they the big decisions are on deck.