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Category : LIfe

LIfe

Eight Truths About Life Most People Learn the Hard Way

Self Improvement matters

Photo by Mauro Lima on Unsplash


I’m a dumbo.

You can’t tell me anything. I have to learn the hard way. Only through experience do life lessons truly sink in and become evidence we can reference when a similar situation comes up.

Honestly, I’ve had to learn these truths multiple times. My hope is that you’re not like me. Maybe reading these truths through simple words will help you see their wisdom.

Bad luck can be incredible motivation

I used to curse bad luck. I was superstitious in many ways, stupid in other ways. In my first real job, during the first year, I got made redundant. Talk about bad timing. I should have started in the mortgage team, instead they put me in the insurance team.

I thought I’d been given a gift from the high-priests of finance. On the first day it became clear: everybody in my team whinged and complained … about everything.

“Whyyyy is my coffee so cold? Wahhhh.”

“Why won’t someone buy us new office chairs? Wahhhh.”

All they did was complain. Every new idea the business gave us, they shot it down. “We don’t want to change. What’s wrong with the way things are?” That question right there has killed more dreams than the pandemic.

Pretty soon the business saw my team as a group of lifeless bodies to ship off to retirement. We all got made redundant. As someone who had barely in solid work history, this wasn’t good for me.

But I didn’t get fired. It was done for show. They appreciated my optimism and I was spared. I got to transfer to a new team, although I had to start from scratch. The bad luck of getting a redundancy made me hungrier. That hunger led to many career opportunities and my salary doubled. I progressed through the ranks faster than any other 20-something.

Bad luck can make you think you’re lucky. It can also cause you to give up. You get to decide.

Money is a measurement of time

A millionaire doesn’t have money. A millionaire has time.

We’re taught as we grow up to think of money in terms of what physical things it can buy us: house, car, trip around the world. Then you speak to the dying and everything changes. I had a conversation with a multi-millionaire who is on his deathbed. He doesn’t dream of another Bentley. Nope.

All he wants is more time. His life’s to-do list is still incomplete. There are people he wants to say goodbye to. There are people he wants to forgive. There are people he wants to have lunch with. There are people he wants to reach out to like Warren Buffet.

But he’s run out of time. It’s not realistic for him to jump on a plane in his condition and make any of it happen. So he dies with a garage full of luxury cars and a mind full of regrets.

Start to think of money in terms of time. $100,000 is a luxury car, or it’s two years off work. Get it?

Switching off social media heals the mind

Weird experiment: set up screen recording on your computer or on your phone. Let it run for a few hours. Then play it back.

What happens when you do is you see real-life monkey-mind in action. You should see me on an iMac. Too many tabs open. Alternating between emails and writing. Quick to respond to DMs. Constantly posting content on every single social media platform.

The result? Dopamine levels plummet. Tiredness sets in. If you do it for multiple days or even weeks in a row you will feel exhausted. You may even face burnout.

Switching off social media and your devices gives your mind a chance to rest. I’ve started walking more recently and I don’t take my headphones. It’s called no input time … time to decompress the mind, so it can expand again afterwards.

If you hang out with your devices too much you’ll feel tired, research suggests. You may think it’s a lack of sleep, or too much coffee, or not enough water. Or it could simply be the energy drain of your devices. Think about that.

Tech algorithms run our brains. They speed our minds up to their limit. But if you walk on a treadmill too fast, for too long, and keep increasing the speed, you eventually fall off and slam into a brick wall.

Those who are easily offended should be offended more often

We’re all content creators when we switch on our computers. Congrats.

There are people who wander around with ticking time bombs in their hands, ready to throw them at whoever they see while scrolling. They then blow up in the comments section for no reason. Onlookers duck for cover.

The brutal truth is, there’s no point having everybody agree with you. Some people will agree. Some people will disagree. The point is to make people think. When you do that, you change the world in a positive way.

Web 3.0 isn’t a scam

Haters of Web 3.0 are going to seem unintelligent looking back.

By this point you sound ridiculous if you say blockchain, Web 3.0 or crypto is a scam. It’s more than a $2.1 trillion industry now. The US government is regulating it to bring more trust and confidence. Pretty sure America doesn’t legislate ponzi-schemes.

A woman I spoke to the other day started dissing Web 3.0. At the end of the conversation she asked a few people to stay in touch. Have a guess how? She told them to add her on the Signal messaging app. Signal is Web 3.0. OMG.

My ex’s dad learned the hard way when he refused to understand that email would replace photocopiers and fax machines, and got fired, never to return to work again. At this point in history, it’s not worth being wrong about the innovation Web 3.0 brings, given you’ll be using it in everyday life and at work — and probably already do.

A day full of back-to-back meetings is a nightmare

Meetings fill up your diary. When there’s no time left, you get behind on the real work. Meetings are to discuss work, they’re not actual work.

I spent too many years stuck in back-to-back meetings. This resulted in zero time to talk to customers and execute business decisions. So I had to stay back late and work weekends to “find the time.”

My old boss ended up divorced because of this time trap.

Husband: “I never see you.”

Boss: “I know, I have to work.”

Years after their wedding day: “I’m leaving you. Surprise.”

Weekends and after hours time is meant for family and to relax. If you spend your free time catching up with the days you lost stuck in meetings, you’ll eventually burn out. Say no to more meetings. You can get away with it.

“Doing the right thing is always the right thing”

This quote comes from Gary Vee, love him or hate him (don’t care). I don’t use this sentence as a happy-go-lucky, tree-hugging inspirational quote for Instagram. Nope. It’s a quote to make decisions.

Should I say sorry? Doing the right thing is always the right thing. Should I issue a refund? Doing the right thing is always the right thing. Should I answer that question? Doing the right thing is always the right thing.

When you do the right thing it can look like you lose in the short term. But behind closed doors, when you do the right thing, it builds a reputation in the long term. A reputation builds trust. And trust can unlock your wildest dreams.

The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear — Socrates

Those who complain the most accomplish the least

Social media is flooded with complainers. They stand on their Twitter soapboxes and add to the noise. They get drowned out and often feel like it’s hopeless.

Then I look at someone like Greta Thunberg. Some idolize her and some hate her — who cares.

As a kid she gave up school time to protest about climate change. Her decision led to an enormous movement. (Notice how she didn’t go on Twitter and simply scream?) Now she has achieved more than most of us will achieve in a lifetime. She’s no smarter than you and I. She simply takes action over complaining. A lot can be learned from Greta.

Most of all, nobody is coming to save you. May as well roll up your sleeves and take action.


Takeaways

  • Appreciate when life goes bad. Use it as motivation.
  • Look at every price tag in time, not money.
  • Slow down your brain with less time spent under the influence of tech algorithms.
  • Reject all the meeting requests so you can get your free time back. Use that free time to build your own tiny empire.
  • Use this quote to make decisions faster: “Doing the right thing is always the right thing.”
  • Resist the temptation to complain all the time. Take action on the things that upset you. There’s always something you can do.
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LIfe

The Pandemic Destroyed Our Honeymoon. We’re Going to Celebrate Anyway.

Pandemic relationship advice

Photo by Karen Holmes on Unsplash

Your wedding day is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life.

Mine is coming up fast. Right after the big day, my partner and I had planned to go on a non-fancy honeymoon to The Great Barrier Reef. We assumed that we would be vaccinated by then and out of lockdown. We compromised already by ensuring the location for our honeymoon is in Australia where we live. It seemed likely we could make it happen, despite the pandemic.

What we didn’t expect was “Delta.”

Australia has had a minimal supply of vaccines, so the variant in the virus has spread rapidly and caused havoc. In year two of the pandemic we are in the 6th phase of lockdowns. The borders between states of Australia have shut again.

We found out yesterday that our wedding at the government registration office could be in jeopardy too. There’s simply no certainty anymore. I feel like you can’t make plans and expect them to stick.

What do you do when your plans continuously get ruined by a pandemic?

Adopt this mindset

A few close friends and family have succumbed to the wrath of the pandemic. They’ve given up. They’ve turned on the government. Some have even made the stupid decision not to get vaccinated. They say “well, what’s the point? The variant is going to require ongoing vaccinations anyway. May as well wait until the updated version of the vaccine.”

Giving up doesn’t solve the pandemic. Being selfish definitely doesn’t solve the pandemic.

In fact, you could argue that selfishness is what brought us to this point in the first place. All those knobs who refused to wear a mask when the science was clear. I still don’t get why the N95 mask isn’t held up like the holy grail. It’s so much better than a normal mask and isn’t hard to source. Heck, I’ve got boxes of them at home if anybody needs one.

But here we are. There’s no changing 2020.

All we can do is learn from the destruction. Future pandemics should be bliss, I hope. With a bit of luck my future children will have a father who is trained in pandemics and ready to fight the invisible enemy with N95 masks, hand sanitizer, social distancing, stay-at-home orders ( for early on), and thick books on the science of pandemics and how to overcome them.

Sometimes I feel like the pandemic has been an intelligence test.

And, unfortunately, masses of people around the world have failed. They think we can simply wish all of this to pass and go back to chugging beer, yelling in traffic from oversized SUVs, and showing up to some open plan office nightmare. The pandemic inserted multiple back-to-back gap years into our lives. My honeymoon is over. It may not happen for years.

The mindset I use to fight the war in my head is this: People have it worse than us. The problems of others make your own disasters smaller.

Daily uncertainty is a habit to be learned

Certainty isn’t returning to a town near you anytime soon.

The pandemic forced us into lives filled with uncertainty. There are many paths from here. Maybe things slow down with the vaccine. Maybe more variants of the virus emerge. The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 actually got deadlier as it progressed — when people complain about the current pandemic, I like to remind them of this fact.

It’s bad … but it could be way worse. Expecting things to go back to normal is a reflection of our need for certainty. Certainty feels safe and so we expect it. There’s no certainty for the rest of the year though.

What’s helped me is to make uncertainty a habit. I’ve had to train my brain to adapt to the varied scenarios on a daily basis. For example, I’ve been in and out of lockdowns for the past few months. In between each lockdown has been a few weeks of freedom.

During those weeks my partner and I have filled them up with activities. We make the most of freedom, safely, while it lasts. This has given us a whole new perspective on what freedom really is. Previously, we took a nice meal in a restaurant or a hike to the mountains for granted. It’s almost like we expected these things. That’s the ugliness of privilege that can quietly slip into your life without you realizing it.

Tomorrow is unknown. How can you make the best of today?

Choose to be happy with whatever happens

Our honeymoon is destroyed. Our wedding day is up in the air. What’s odd is that getting married doesn’t change anything, according to my friends who are already hitched.

We already live together. We’ve endured the pandemic together without murdering each other. We’ve worked side by side from home and have not lost any major customers. We’ve supported each other through some of the most difficult times in history. Some would say we’ve already practiced the art of marriage successfully. Does a marriage certificate change any of that? Nope.

Once we do finally get married, a honeymoon in The Great Barrier Reef is unlikely. So we’re going to celebrate anyway. We’re going to do a local honeymoon about an hour from where we live. The location of a honeymoon doesn’t make us happy.

Being banished from interstate or overseas travel doesn’t place a limiter on life. No. Having our honeymoon canceled left me with one big idea.

It’s the people we’ve endured the pandemic with that count.

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You Get One Life. Don’t Screw It up by Being Normal.

Self improvement advice

Photo by Daria Magazzu on Unsplash


Anthony Bourdain died trying to be normal.

I love him as a chef and tv host. His show “Parts Unknown” helped me travel to countries I can never visit. Not all “parts” of Tony are worth liking. He has a dark side. Recently, I watched a documentary of his final days.

One thing stood out: he tried so hard to be normal.

He got married several times, looking for normal. He even had a daughter to try and be a dad. Watching Tony in his backyard attempting to cook a BBQ and be a sitcom tv dad made my stomach twist. Tony just couldn’t do it. He couldn’t be normal no matter how hard he tried.

It became apparent from his last romantic relationship that Tony wanted a life partner so he could feel normal. But Tony is anything but normal. He spent his early years working in odd restaurants and doing harsh drugs. Then he wrote a strange book that saw unusual success and made him famous. The fame led to a tv show. The tv show allowed him to be like his childhood cartoon hero Tintin and travel the world.

By exploring the world, Tony discovered an unknown part of himself. The quest to find what makes different societies thrive steered his entire life. I watched him uncover the uncomfortable truths of Libya and their dictator leader Gaddafi. Tony bizarrely found inspiration amongst all the bloodshed.

His tv stories seemed to inspire the audience to believe in country comebacks. They focused heavily on the culture of people that transcended the CNN headlines of his tv show employer.

When Tony’s life partner left him for another man, the quest for normal ended, and Tony took his life.

Like Tony, my whole life I’ve tried to be normal and failed spectacularly. A random quote from Isaiah McCall led to the title of this story. Then this quote below helped me understand the lie of normalcy.

The older I get, the more I realize it’s okay to live a life others don’t understand — Aaron Will


What is normal anyway?

Who defines normal? So many people online want to tell us how to think. They try to tell us what is normal and what isn’t. They try to shape our thoughts in the comments section, hoping we’ll fall into line with their version of normal.

Screw being normal, it doesn’t exist. The solution is to be yourself.

Normal is how you become a slave. When you fall for other people’s view of the world you give up on your own. That’s the real tragedy. What you believe is freaking fantastic. It has been shaped by your own experience, not some puppet on the end of a stick controlled by a government. The description of normal has been debated for thousands of years and nobody is yet to agree.

Defining normal is the definition of insanity.

So you’re weird. Hooray!

I’m the weirdest dude you’ve ever met. My life is anything but cookie-cutter. I am obsessed with time. I eat a whole-food plant-based diet, and can’t stand to watch an animal die so it can be my meal.

I think of every animal as a puppy dog — and those who know me well, know that I loooove dogs. But I also can’t own a dog because I can’t stand to have them as my prisoner in an apartment with no backyard. And 60-minute trips to an enclosed park feels like torture to my dog-loving brain, too.

My day isn’t normal either. I spend a lot of time reading about finance and other weird topics most people couldn’t give a damn about. I work in a home office with zero artwork. In fact, my entire house has not one thing attached to the wall. Because I can’t own a dog I have indoor plants all around me. They don’t smile back — yet — but their green colors do produce some kind of strange happiness inside my mushy brain.

Maybe you can relate. There are parts of your life that are probably whacko Jacko too, yeah?

Weird should be the goal in life.

If you’re weird then you should celebrate with a party, and get U2 to sing the celebratory song. When you identify as weird, you unconsciously give up the lame dream of being normal. Weird is normal — that’s the paradox of life.

Know you’re weird, embrace it, and you can finally live a life without regrets. You can be a carefree badass who gets spat on in the street, keeps walking, and licks the gooey saliva up and calls it lunch.

There simply isn’t time to care about every little thing

I’m 35 already. God damn time flew, and I haven’t even had any fun yet. That’s why I quit my pain-in-the-ass job. That’s why I’m getting married. I’ve wasted so much time trying to get a good job, please the parents with a house and white picket fence, get an education, and keep the haters happy.

Screw it. If 35 years can go this fast, then the next 35 can go even faster. According to research, as we age and follow routines, our perception of time speeds up. So if you think there is time to be normal, think again. Normal wastes a large chunk of your life and it can never be achieved.

Worship the time you have. Spend time on being weird because that means you’re being yourself. Be kind to those who disagree with your weirdness.

Nobody can understand your life

Most people don’t get my life. They wonder why I don’t put on a political t-shirt and point out every problem in the world. They wonder how I make money online and not feel bad.

The thing is, nobody else lives in your head. There isn’t a transcript you can extract from your brain and email to people who don’t understand your life. You can’t go “here, this is all of my life experiences that will help you understand me.”

Perception comes from living the experience, anyway. Even if someone could get a read-out of your brain, your life still wouldn’t make sense because they didn’t physically use your eyes, ears, tongue, and mind to navigate each experience. You did that. The information your senses gave you formed your understanding of the world. Now you’re doing the best you can to understand all the noise before you die.

To understand a person is impossible.

The solution is to be compassionate towards other people, to make up for what you can never understand about them, because you don’t have the ignition keys to their brain.


One life has been issued to you. Don’t waste it begging for understanding. Screw being normal. The consequences are far too great as we learned from the death of Anthony Bourdain.

To seek normalcy is a path to insanity.

Instead, be yourself and embrace all the weird quirks you’ve created. Oscar Wilde’s advice is to “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” That’s the best way to exterminate normalcy.

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Seven Fascinating Ways to Rejuvenate Your Curiosity so You Can Be Happier

Happier life

Photo by Braxton Apana on Unsplash


I’m about to marry childlike curiosity. It’s wonderful.

At first, when I met my fiancé her curiosity drove me insane. She’d literally ask me over coffee dates what the table is made of. I’d say “wood.” She’d say “where from?” I’d say “a forest.” She’d say “which forest?” I’d say the only forest name I know from memory: “Amazon.”

This game would continue. By nightfall we’d be discussing what bugs might eat the wood our humble cafe table is made from.

Over time, I realized the issue wasn’t her curiosity. The issue was my curiosity had been almost entirely vaporized. I used to have that childlike curiosity. We all used to have higher levels of curiosity as children.

So what changed? Well, life silenced our curiosity. Curiosity helps us go outside the rules, but society wants us to play within the rules.

Corporations tell us to stop thinking and focus on revenue. Netflix has numbed our brains with endless tv shows so we don’t have time to be curious after work. Global travel is still mostly shut down (unless you’re a billionaire), so curiosity can’t be discovered in new places and by immersing ourselves in new culture.

It’s not that our curiosity has been shut down. It’s that our curiosity muscle hasn’t done a lot of reps for a long time. Curiosity is extremely healthy and helps you solve problems differently.

“If you take the fundamental things that people tend to want out of life — strong social relationships and happiness and accomplishing things — all of these are highly linked to curiosity.”

— Todd Kashdan, author of the book Curious

Here’s how to rejuvenate your curiosity.

Get a new stupidly crazy hobby

I am about to get married. One of my biggest fears is a stale marriage. My partner and I decided to get ahead of this grim reality many couples fall into when they let curiosity die.

We made a list of crazy hobbies we could take up, then immediately tried them. Next weekend we go rollerblading at a roller rink. As a teenager, I was a master rollerblader. I started blading down footpaths, then roller rinks. Eventually I ended up skating halfpipes. It’s a crazy hobby for a discombobulated skinny guy. But I got good at it.

My partner and I also tried salsa dancing. Getting my Latino freak on has been a blast. We’ve been taking salsa classes with the help of Youtube videos. I started out terrible. Now I can do whole dances. Dancing has helped make me feel happy while figuring out my life after quitting my job.

Weird fact: Podcaster and author Tim Ferriss first became well-known when he broke world records in Tango (similar to Salsa dancing) back in 2005, by exploring his own curiosity. This strange new hobby led him into the mysterious world of becoming, and later, studying high-performers.

Image Credit: Alicia Monti and Tim Ferriss in 2005 via Instagram

Send ten ideas to a stranger

Writer James Altucher taught me this curiosity trick. Write down ideas for other people and then email the list to them. Remove any expectation of a response or action stemming from the ideas.

I did this recently with an employee of a company I respect. Every day I’ve been writing down ideas for how they could improve their social media platform. Each idea always starts like this: “What if…”

An email came back today. They’ve been reading my ideas and found one they like. Now they’re going to take action on it. Guess what? When they work on the idea they will think of me. And when they do, the relationship with them will grow stronger. Strong relationships produce happiness.

Become a hostage negotiator

Curious people like my fiancé ask a lot of questions. So do hostage negotiators. Practice asking more questions. Don’t just ask someone how they are. Ask them what bizarre things they’ve seen. Get them to tell you about wild experiences from their line of work.

Every question takes you into a mini Alice in Wonderland.

Questions are how you learn about other people. And when you do, you tap into their individual wisdom based on their life experience. This wisdom can help you solve problems that remove roadblocks to happiness.

If your brain has to do all the thinking, it’s exhausting. Why not use questions to tap into someone else’s brain and vacuum out the answers from their head?

Start and finish books without giving a damn

I never read fiction books.

Part of the reason is that I’m a writer. I’m always looking for things to write about and made-up stories are not ones I can quote or reference. When my curiosity is dying, I’ve found fiction helps open my mind back up. While fiction books are made-up, they help to kickstart your imagination. My favorite is Harry Potter books. In Harry Potter, nothing is too far-fetched. There are no rules.

The crazier, the better. Imagine we lived life like this. We can.

Books help us be more curious but the number we can read before we die is limited. Books are mini-marathons. I discovered by following advice from Naval Ravikant, that when I remove the requirement to finish a book, my curiosity opens right up.

I start and finish books like a madman. I take an insight from one chapter, a sentence from another, and sometimes I just read the title, subtitle, and blurb and then quit the book.

When books become disposable you can read more of them. When you do, your ability to let curiosity guide you takes over. Having curiosity be in control is wonderfully unpredictable and brings joy.

Do what the stoics did

Stoic philosophers are famous for their obsession with walking. Walking is a form of meditation that brings your curious mind back to the present.

I decided to walk more a year ago. The biggest mistake I made was walking with podcasts blaring in my ears. After reading about the power of walking from philosophy, I ditched the earbuds and walked in silence.

I try not to walk the same route. I let curiosity guide my walk. I riff on thoughts and do tonnes of mental improv. My best ideas have come from these walks. Walks stimulate curiosity and the movement of your legs acts as an anchor to awaken your imagination.

If you really want to unleash your curiosity then practice this exercise:

Consider who might have walked this same path in the centuries before you. Consider the person who paved the asphalt you are standing on. Where are they now? What did they believe? What problems did they have? — Ryan Holiday

Once you return from a walk you feel quiet joy.

Take a time machine back to childhood

As a child, I loved the game Mariokart. Traveling around a fantasy world on a go-kart took me away from the torture of anxiety that I faced.

Recently, I allowed my curiosity to let me download Mariokart for iPhone. I sat down and played a few rounds. It took me straight back to childhood. Gliding down rainbows, venturing into haunted houses, and cruising the streets of a highly glamorized version of Los Angeles was wonderful. The only regret is I didn’t do this sooner. When we time travel back to childhood, we are reminded of where we came from. And when you know where you came from, it helps to guide you in the present.

An odd experience happened after playing Mariokart. My brain quietly said, “You’ll be playing this game with your own children in a few years.”

All of a sudden the present made sense. The fear of my upcoming marriage subsided. That’s the subtle power of childlike curiosity to help the present make sense, and add joy.

Hire for curiosity

Being around a curious person at work is a great way to spark it in yourself. Maybe you own a business. Or maybe you are a leader who manages a team. Or perhaps you simply get to be on the panel that helps hire people.

Traditionally when hiring, companies look for experience and skills. I say screw that. I’d rather a curious employee with an open mind, than a person who says they have five years’ experience, when it’s simply one year’s experience repeated five times.

As a hiring manager, I’ve loved hiring curious people and saying no to the candidates who think they know it all. Curious employees always seem to find better solutions to business problems.

Doing the unexpected because of curiosity is a hugely profitable business.


Bottom Line

“Learning is by nature, curiosity” — Plato

If you want to dumb this whole curiosity experiment down then commit to learning. Take what you think you know and relearn it. In the process, you’ll discover some of what you know is faulty thinking. Curiosity will help you replace this bad programming with new improved learnings from your creative experiments.

Dabble. Experiment. Learn. Relearn. Read. Go back to childhood. Find a new hobby. Walk to enhance your curiosity.

Curiosity is happiness because it rewires your brain.

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The Non-Idiot’s Guide to Life, According to Iconic Investor Charlie Munger

Don't be an idiot

Image Credit: Wikimedia creative commons


Warren Buffet gets a lot of the attention in the investing world. Most people don’t know his badass 91-year-old partner Charlie Munger.

Charlie is a strange chappy. A famous investor named Bill Miller once approached Charlie on a street in New York expecting a warm embrace, as they’d met before. The response from Charlie demonstrated what kind of no BS character he is.

“Who the hell are you?”

Charlie doesn’t have time for idiots. He’s direct and to the point. But he’s not an a**hole. In fact, he is known to be extremely generous to his fans. At conferences he’s often seen to hang out for two hours afterwards and talk to people as though he’s a nobody. He shares whatever food he has with them and allows them to ask hundreds of questions. Not bad for a 91-year-old.

Writer William Green wrote about his experience with Charlie Munger. The title of the chapter inspired by Charlie’s obsession for anti-idiocy is called “The Non-Idiot’s Guide to Life.”

Charlie shows us how he avoids becoming an idiot as an investor. His lessons can be applied to life and will surprise you.

Fall in love with disasters

Most people think about change like this: “Is this going to be wonderful?” Charlie does the opposite. If he had to get married again, for example, he’d ask himself “is this going to be a disaster?”

If you’re asked “how do you save starving children in Africa?” then with Charlie’s technique you would ask the question like this: “How do I ruin the lives of starving children in Africa?” (Drastic, I know.)

Then you list down all of those things. Now you simply don’t do any of them. It’s a do-not-to-do list. Once you know what to avoid, it’s easier to know where to focus. It’s subtraction before addition.

One reason I write about many of my own disasters online is because I want to learn from them, so I never indulge in the stupidity that caused them in the first place. Writing becomes a reminder of what not to do. These reminders silently whisper to me during tempting moments to be an ass and act unkind for no good reason.

Reverse the issue by starting with the disasters, and then come up with the solutions. You’ll get a more accurate picture when you do.

Learn to recognize twaddle

Charlie is known for the satellite dish on top of his head that can spot lies from ten feet away. He doesn’t think he’s smart. He simply thinks he can spot twaddle (foolish behavior). Once twaddle is identified, Charlie takes his investor’s money and sprints in the other direction.

I have a high bullsh*t detector similar to Charlie. Instead of striking good looks, my grandpa, who was a potato farmer, gave me the good genes of smelling horse manure disguised as lies.

Recently, a guy on LinkedIn asked me about my investing strategy out of nowhere. The question was framed as rhetorical. Along the lines of “do you like making money with not a lot of work?”

Like, dah.

He was two years out of university. Straight away I said, “Thanks for the question, mate. I don’t do network marketing.” Then he tried to deny it. He said “Nah, I don’t do network marketing man. You’ve got it all wrong. Simply curious about you.”

Ahhh schucks. What a sweetie pie, huh? The kind you bring home to momma. Two minutes later I googled him. I went to his Instagram. About ten pictures down I saw a photo of a conference.

The background of the image featured the logo of network marketing giant Amway. The logo represented one of their sales teams. As it turned out, I happened to know the founder of the network marketing team he worked for. I threw in a “Say hello to Dom (his idol) for me.” The subliminal sales pitch that preyed on my fears and assumed I was an idiot, didn’t work.

At least if you’re not going to be smart, be honest.

Spotting dishonesty helps you avoid idiots.

Collect other people’s foolish behavior

Charlie is a documentarian. Not in investing, though, in bonehead actions he witnesses. He has a whole library of them. It’s an extension of his philosophy in knowing what not to do, as it’s half the battle.

Foolish behavior gets me off too. It’s one reason I love bad bosses. They spend their days turning innocent people into roadkill. Eventually they get fired. All of their actions act as a guidebook to people leadership. My former bad boss taught me all you need to do is care about people you lead and they’ll fearlessly work to exceed your expectations.

Collecting foolish behavior is entertaining, too, according to Charlie. I can attest to the late-night fun it offers.

Write down all the bonehead actions you witness. Don’t repeat them.

Get up on stage in front of thousands of people and admit you’re a stupid horses’ ass

Wait, what?

Charlie says, “I like people admitting they were complete stupid horses’ asses. I know I’ll perform better if I rub my nose in my mistakes.”

When I make a mistake I sometimes try to hide it. On stage in front of 40,000 people, Charlie admitted to his loyal investors who gave up their hard-earned money to place into his company Berkshire Hathaway, “We failed you by not buying Google.” “We blew Wallmart, too, when it was a total cinch.”

Admitting your mistakes creates accountability. It leaves an imaginary bookmark in your brain that says don’t do that again or you’ll become an idiot.

Admit your mistakes. Forget about regrets. Move on.

Focus on avoiding stupidity

Other people are trying to be smart. All I’m trying to be is non-idiotic. I find that all you have to do to get ahead in life is to be non-idiotic … It’s harder to be non-idiotic than most people think — Charlie Munger

One stupid behavior that springs to mind is trolls. If a troll throws horse manure at you on Twitter, then don’t engage them. Their point is to get your attention and abuse it, not improve your life. They don’t pay your bills either.

Another example is following the crowd. Dogecoin continues to be promoted on social media as the savior of the financial system. All you have to do is google it to see it’s a meme. Doge was created as a joke. Nobody is denying it, not even the original founder.

I get asked from time to time if I got in early on Doge. Putting my life savings into a coin with a dog’s face on it, that’s designed as a joke, is clearly stupid behavior. That’s not investing. That’s idiocy. Even Elon laughs about Doge.

Ask yourself “is this a stupid idea?” Then ask google “is this a stupid idea?” Chances are if you’re about to invest tonnes of money on a joke, google will flash a large neon sign in your direction that gives all the warnings you need.

A google search can break the pattern of stupid behavior.

Charlie’s Anti-Stupidity Techniques

In a speech Charlie gave during the 80s titled “Prescriptions for guaranteed misery in life,” he gave a few pearls of wisdom. They have helped him avoid becoming another ‘stupid’ Wall Street gambler, using other peoples’ money to win at the stock market casino. Here they are.

  • Be reliable.
  • Don’t hold onto resentments.
  • Forget about the temptation of revenge.
  • Be willing to compromise.
  • Stay away from the addiction of envy.
  • Don’t drink alcohol.
  • Learn from good and bad experiences in life.
  • Get comfortable with letting go of beliefs.
  • When you get struck down, don’t stay down. Life will have at least three severe reversals. Get back up.
  • Don’t invest with crooks and idiots.

Bottom Line

The best investors in the world like Charlie know what not to do.

Charlie takes it a step further and encourages us to avoid idiot behavior by writing down foolish acts we witness, subtracting what not to do before adding good ideas, becoming a human lie detector, staying away from obvious signs of stupidity that even google knows, admitting when you make a mistake in public, and reverse engineering problems to start with disasters.

Biggest lesson: Start with ‘how is this going to be a disaster?’ Then apply the lens of optimism to get better answers in life.


This article is for informational purposes only, it should not be considered financial, tax, or legal advice. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.

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Mental Health Issues at Work Are Incredibly Embarrassing (I Hid Mine for Decades)

Workplace mindfulness

Image of me

This moment makes me extremely emotional. Most of my career was spent fighting an invisible battle in my head every single day. Things got so dark that I contemplated leaving the workforce forever and living with an elderly relative who survived on government benefits. Thinking about what could have happened if I kept going down that path scares me.

I shared this story on LinkedIn about battling mental illness at work. I didn’t expect hundreds of thousands of people to react to the post and tell their own stories. My inbox lit up. Two words featured in almost every message I got.

“Nobody knows.”

Here’s my story. It will help if you’ve ever faced mental illness at work.

Coming out of the Closet

Walt Disney ran our team. We were a group of misfits that the business had dumped into a team, hoping for a miracle. He moved from the sunny state of Tasmania to be our leader.

I liked Disney. He was a lot like the real Disney I idolized as a kid.

The guy had a weird way of running a business. He replaced many of our sales meetings with Ted Talks. One afternoon he made us all watch the “This Is Water Speech.” The idea we are all goldfish swimming around in a tank full of invisible water known as life really turned my worldview upside down. All the frustrations at work and at home were normal. They were moments to lean into, not write over the top of.

Disney and I got closer. He saw something in me. All I saw was what mental illness told me every morning: you’re a huge failure that screwed up a business full of innocent people who now can’t pay their mortgage.

Or this classic: “Why even try? You know you’ll screw it up and get sick.”

After a while I simply got pissed off with mental illness. All it ever did was screw up every opportunity. When I got a chance to do a job interview, it came out to play halfway through the interview and made me so nervous I got sick.

When Disney asked me to present at a meeting, it screwed that up too and made me forget what the hell I was supposed to say. And when I went on dates with women after work looking for love, it again made me sick so nobody would ever stick around to figure out what was wrong.

One morning I’d had enough.

I had my 1–1 meeting with Disney. The topic was our upcoming team day. It involved a days’ worth of activities, lunch, and a dinner.

“Are you excited for next week? This day is going to be so great.”

I then delivered the bad news.

“Sorry, I won’t be attending for personal reasons.”

His jaw dropped to the flaw. The look of disappointment still haunts me to this day. I was his work-in-progress and not showing up to the big day he spent his entire career planning was a huge F-You.

Disney didn’t give up. He wanted to know what was wrong. Years of regrets built up inside my body and suddenly reached boiling point.

“Alright! You wanna know what’s wrong? I feel sick every day. I have sudden panic attacks I can’t explain. I can’t go on dates with women. I feel sick when I try to eat socially with other people. I vomited at my 21st birthday in front of my closest friends and family. Happy now?”

Disney saw the other side of me. He got a peek into the day-to-day battle I faced. I’d never told anybody before.

The Surprising Aftermath

The best way I can describe admitting you’re facing mental illness is like this: you feel as though you’ve shared a taboo secret. It’s like admitting your sexual fantasies to your straight down the line boss and having them think you’re dirty.

I walked into the office the next day. Disney went out of his way to unleash a huge smile. The team said hello, loudly. Disney had an evil plan, and he wasn’t telling me. We ended up agreeing that I’d attend the team day and simply see what happened. If at any stage it became all too much, I could leave and Disney would eloquently cover my tracks.

Two things changed:

  1. He normalized my mental illness. We talked about it in future conversations as a normal phenomenon. “Normal” is easier to face than “never happened to anybody before.”
  2. He gave me confidence. This undying belief that I could turn things around helped a lot. We set challenges together to find ways to prove my mental illness wrong. One of those was writing on LinkedIn and facing harsh judgment. That experiment completely changed my life and is why I’m writing these words.

The “Me Too” Effect

Going up twenty-six floors in an elevator every day is difficult when mental illness is poking holes in your view of the world. Elevators at work made me anxious. So one experiment I tried was riding back-to-back elevators.

I went to a hotel close to work. I decided to hop in the elevator and see if I could survive the climb up Mount Everest in my jocks. The first elevator I hopped in had a couple in it. As the elevator started to go up, I looked visually sick. The man started to stare at me like something was wrong.

I suddenly burst out and said, “Elevators make me anxious.”

His response was unexpected.

“Me too.”

Those two words transformed my thinking. For the first time ever my embarrassing mental illness was shared by another human being. “Maybe I’m not alone. He seems to deal with it okay.”

Admitting mental illness to a stranger is powerful. There’s no risk of being exposed. You might just find there are others who see the world as dark like you do, but have found ways to cope.

You’re not broken. You’re imperfect.

Mental illness told me I had to be perfect, or the day was a fail, and it had won. This form of perfection caused me to torture myself when one small thing went wrong.

We’re imperfect creatures. Mental illness doesn’t make you broken. It makes you imperfect and there is so much beauty in that. Accepting imperfection allows the healing process to begin.

The Quiet Realization That Changed My Entire Career

What helped me overcome mental illness at work isn’t obvious. I want to spell it out in simple terms. If you struggle with mental illness, admit to one person at work what you’re going through. Why?

Mental illness can be defeated when it goes from being invisible to visible.

Mental illness lies to you. Having one person you can chat to about it helps the lies become exposed. You explain what you’re going through and then the other person will present evidence that puts mental illness on the spot. I regret not telling someone sooner about my mental struggles.

Mental illness isn’t taboo. Tell one person at work. Speak up. It’s normal.

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