Success is not an arrow upward


Success is not an arrow upward. It’s messier than that.

The above images appears in This Is a Book by Demetri Martin


There’s Only One Genuine Real World/Digital Identity

Mos Def, “Thieves in the Night”

Stop hidin, stop hidin, stop hidin your face

Stop hidin, stop hidin, cause ain’t no hiding place

  • Show your expertise.
  • Voice your opinion.
  • Demonstrate your creative skills.

Whether you like it or not the gap between the real world and digital world is closing. Soon there will be no such thing as online/offline behavior as the two become one of the same.

We should be able to tell who you are, what you like, and what you believe in based on the content you provide or share across the Internet.

Everyone should have a blog demonstrating what they know, what they want to know, what inspires them, or what they’re interested in.  At the least, everyone should take responsibility for their own voice and get a Twitter account.

Don’t be afraid to hold back and be ridiculous.

Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to tweet a few strange things. – Paulo Coelho

You only have one identity so you might as well own up to it and be authentic.  The only mystery is your own fear.

Build Beyond Your Own Moat

Image via George Hiles
Image via George Hiles

Build your own moat. The moat is your first line of defense, the fundamental skill(s) that you excel in and give you a chance at survival.

You can always rely on your moat.

But most people stop there. They focus on doing one thing well and forget the rest. They think that 20% of their potential skills produce 80% of their success is good enough.

The moat doesn’t work all the time. Times change, technology disrupts, consumption evolves. You won’t last forever and neither will what you do for a living. At some point, your moat will dry up, and people will just walk all over you.

Keep the moat at bay but your skills elastic. There’s always ways to improve. The moat is just a starting point.

Focus is scarce

gif by @jaysprogell

The market is fighting for your attention. You’re one click/touch away from succumbing and losing a grasp on your next big idea.

What’s gratifying right now is probably unimportant and too brief to remember. For many people, those quick hits of happiness through distraction eventually add up to a bunch of regrets.

You can like, share, or comment in two seconds or you can spend that time concentrating on shipping something impactful that everyone will help share for you.

Be disciplined; acknowledge life’s ticking clock and push onward with full focus on your craft. Create and deliver with determination or self-destruct into the abyss of futile networking.

What Vegas Teaches Us About Life

via giphy

There are so many life lessons learned in coming to Vegas, some trite but too true to ignore.

In no particular order:

  • The best things in life are achieved through raw, hard work and love for what you do
  • What goes up, must come down
  • Losing sucks, always
  • Fun is deceptive
  • The Chinese takeover is imminent, for real this time
  • Surprises are guaranteed
  • Weird is not necessarily creative, especially if it’s commercialized
  • Tattoos are meant to be temporary
  • Gambling releases dopamine but so does a like on Instagram
  • Be RƎVOLUTIONary and LOVE like the Beatles
  • Radiohead are the Beatles of our generation and nobody knows it
  • Have fun! It doesn’t last forever
  • Ignore society’s actors
  • Materialism is bunk
  • The ridiculous isn’t always remarkable when everything is ridiculous
  • Spanish is just as ubiquitous as English
  • Budgets are fragile
  • Overindulgence makes you fat, and bankrupt
  • Enjoy the ride because it’s damn short
  • Life can giveth and takeaway in a hot minute
  • Ersatz places, people, and things will never replicate the original
  • The trashy and classy lifestyle always coexist
  • What happens in Vegas, stays in life


Randomness, probability and uncertainty

antifragility: being in a position where the unexpected allows improvement, where the potential gains from a surprising event outweigh the potential losses.

Nassim Taleb’s book Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder asks us to be ready for the unpredictable and see it as opportunity in disguise.

It’s no surprise that when bad things happen to us, our physical, emotional, and spiritual strength evolves. We’re forced to reflect, become more appreciative of the fragility of life, and make improvements where we may have previously accepted mediocrity.

Those that refuse to evolve fall at the wayside and repeat history. The unpredictable provides a valuable lesson: be ready to take advantage of the moment to become something or someone new.

Chances are if you worked for everything before, you’re more likely to rebuild again. A broken bone returns stronger. It’s a Darwinian world, after all.

Pen & Paper, Still Useful

We’re much better at reading and editing on paper rather than a computer screen, even if it’s retina.  Words just make more sense on paper.  Here are some other benefits to using paper: #gif #writing

Paper is about control, allowing for manipulation of the hands, eyes, and pen.  If you’ve ever had to send or read an important email, you should print out hard copies first.  

We’re much better at reading and editing on paper rather than a computer screen, even if it’s retina.  Words just make more sense on paper.  Here are some other benefits to using paper:

  • Getting things done
  • Creating mind maps
  • Spilling/Connecting ideas
  • Thinking clearer
  • Editing
  • Scanning email threads
  • Presenting
  • Note-taking

I don’t know what I think until I try to write it down.

Joan Didion
Writers Work - Get Paid to Write

Paper is also better for thinking. Sure, there’s apps for mind mapping and note-taking but pen and blank paper allows you to make a final dump of all your big ideas and then reconnect them to see the big picture.

It’s difficult to think when information is scattered in computer folders, emails, and in different apps. If it’s important enough, it should make it on paper. Below is my own recommendation for balancing digital and print worlds:

Here’s a holistic digital/paper 5-step approach:  

  1. Start with a digital device for idea acquisition.
  2. Snag the best thoughts and write the down on paper.
  3. Connect the thoughts with hand-drawn mind maps and notes.
  4. Return to writing application and begin writing what will be the final product.
  5. Make printouts throughout the writing process and reread/edit so you don’t miss any details.

Children today are already skipping steps 2, 3, and 5 and completing everything from thinking, brainstorming, writing, and editing all on screen. On the whole, businesses still depend on pen and paper to conduct business.

While using less paper means saving trees and reduced clutter, it also makes people susceptible to more grammatical errors and missed connections. Pen and paper will remain useful until digital can mimic or make writing easier.

art via giphy



We need a little skepticism to be free thinkers. Doubt is what pushes is to think outside the box. But we have to balance uncertainty with the facts, the stuff that works.

Skepticism, like coffee, is the jolt we need to reexamine habits. It gets us started. As the questioning fades, we come back to the realization that some things are valid and unchanging for a good reason.

You only break things to make them better. The whole is the sum of the parts. The iPhone broke Nokia and Blackberry. Apple is working to disrupt the television as we know it. Apple may fail.

Every invention/reinvention gets put to the test. Acceptance signals what’s working. Marketing usually helps with that.

Innovation starts at the bottom of S-curve and then peaks out. Those that ride the wave at the top will win for some time before burning out. Those that ride the wave of opportunity and remain skeptic and open to improvement will likely make another lasting change.

There is no guarantee but the willingness to try and make fact.

Kurt Vonnegut: ‘Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories.’

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“Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

Kurt Vonnegut, [easyazon_link identifier=”081297736X” locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]A Man Without a Country[/easyazon_link]

Seeking ignorance and uncertainty

Curiosity is a powerful tool. It makes us question our surroundings and compels us to ask why things work the way they do. It kicks the mind into exploration.

But the addition of courage takes curiosity a step further; it tries to fill the void through hands-on experimentation.  These tests plan to convert ignorance into knowledge yet most of them fail.

The greater challenge, therefore, is the audacity to continue guessing, for even when something gets discovered, it opens up a whole new can of ignorance. The learning never stops if the asking never stops.