Category : LIfe


Throw Away the Rules and Live Life on Your Terms for the Rest of 2021

The rest of 2021

Photo by Jake Stone on Unsplash

2021 and 2020 feel like the same year.

2021 was supposed to be a year of new hope. Where I live, we’re still in back-to-back lockdowns, likely for the rest of the year. Dealing with a health crisis is harder than we thought. It’s okay. Humans make mistakes. It’s not exactly easy to fight an invisible enemy.

The changes in the pandemic reported by Yale University mean offices are likely to remain optional.

Working from home will still be as cool as it was last year. Clothes are still optional. PJs are kickass. Coffee still raises energy levels when the boredom of being surrounded by the same four walls at home takes its toll. There’s a huge upside to all of this: you can throw away the rules.

Getting married in style

I’m supposed to be getting married soon. There are a lot of rules about marriage. Oh, and a contract to sign.

Any sort of social gathering is still increasingly difficult. There are those who refuse to wear masks and obey science (I quietly chucked away their invites). There are those who qualify for a vaccine but protest and refuse to get it.

There are those who qualify but are shady about whether they did or didn’t get the jab. Then there are those cheeky buggers who sit in limbo between “I’ve had my first dose but not my second.” Their half-pregnant rationale™ is odd and hard to decipher. Why would you do one and not the other? I can’t work them out, so I cancel them too. Cancel culture is mainstream. Sorry.

Then there are daily rule changes in how many people can be indoors, how many meters apart one must stand, what is deemed a lawful business and what isn’t… The list of considerations is long and I’m a good little utopian citizen. But reading the guidelines is more confusing than reading parking signs.

The good ol’ honeymoon has to be organized too. Try planing any kind of travel, even if you’re staying in your home country like I am. God help us all.

“You can go here on these dates and not on these dates. These places have border restrictions. Now, if a lockdown occurs then here’s the 5-page cancellation policy that basically says we’ll take your money and run.”

Scammers must be having a field day. Collect money. Blame a virus. Run.

So I suggest we throw out the rules and expectations for weddings. If you even get a sniff of a wedding shrimp cocktail then you’re a bloody legend. Otherwise, Twitter doesn’t want to hear your feelings.

I’m going to go even more drastic. What would happen if wedding ceremonies became extinct? What would happen to the global debt bubble? Just joking. I only planned on doing the government marriage office anyway. $100k for a tent and cocktails seems like a bad investment. Especially when you can switch out the label ‘wedding’ for ‘dinner’ and get an 86.7% discount.

Dinner dates with people you don’t like

You know the ones. Some aunty you haven’t seen in years. Ya mother wants you to have a dinner at a restaurant with her. It’s going to require driving over an hour in sh*tty traffic.

The dinner should last about one hour given that’s how long it takes for the kitchen to cook the food and shove the food in thy mouth. But it takes longer. Before you know it, three hours from your Saturday night are goneski.

Oh, and you probably have to pay the bill… and drive them home.

Well, the rule for now is you don’t need to be nice and attend events just to keep others happy. You have a great excuse. You want to keep everybody safe. It has been a tough few years.

You feel my vibe? The best part is, maybe after things start to return to normal those people we don’t like having dinner with will simply stop asking. They’ll have a two-year habit of no dinners with us and that will be the new normal. We can only hope.

Life is too short to have an extended network of people you don’t like.

Meetings that have no outcome

Zoom changed my life. In 2019, I had to get dressed up like an ugly penguin in a suit and have my throat occasionally choked by a tie. Suits equal discomfort. Suits are done for show. And who the heck wants to be showy at work?

Not me.

Meetings are a real problem that require disruption. Corporates love startup disruption but they haven’t disrupted themselves yet and the need for back-to back-meetings. One day, perhaps.

Zoom is hope. Zoom gave me my life back.

Many meetings I used to have to attend had zero outcome. The invite was simply a blank email with a bunch of names cc’d and a loose subject line like “meeting about business.” I protested about all the meetings and nobody seemed to care about time as much as me. I desperately wanted time to, you know, talk to customers and see if they’d buy stuff.

Zoom freed the shackles on my time. I learned to attend the meeting, say hi, and go on mute. Nobody had any clue. I then trained my colleagues like dogs to use eloquently placed excuses throughout the meeting about what I’m probably doing.

“He’s probably stuck with a customer.”

“Oh, he had that thing. That really important thing.”

“I know — there’s a meeting conflict with another just-as-important meeting.”

I acted nicely about meetings for a while. Eventually, I just stopped making excuses and threw away meeting rules. If the meeting is useless then let your attendance make a statement. The worst-case scenario is someone thinks you’re in another meeting.

Remember: if they can’t see your face then it didn’t happen. Reminder also: most people don’t check the attendee list while in a meeting. They simply assume everybody is there. Now you got time back. You’re welcome.

Ditch the need to progress your career

Career progression in the corporate world is used as motivation. It’s made out to be a built-in feature that should stop you from starting your own business. Nobody explains you’ve got to progress your career on your own.

KPIs are about revenue, revenue, revenue. KPIs don’t include helping people progress their careers.

How do you progress your career on Zoom? It’s pretty hard. Career progression comes from relationships. Relationships built on Zoom just aren’t as strong. You need to have a coffee with someone to lubricate the relationship with your liquid confidence. Or even better, you need to have a meal with someone to see how they eat.

Humans like to eat together to see how we eat. Must be a caveman thing.

Throw away the need to progress your career for now. Use the time you’d use to advance your career to work on an after hours side hustle.

Here’s your permission slip

The pandemic is a two-year gap year. Now you’ve got permission to take it easy on yourself and throw away the rules. Life will be great again. For the time being, disorganized is the new normal.

No need to apologize to the rule-makers. Explain the new rules. We’re living life on our own terms now. But let’s not tell them that extends beyond 2021. It’ll be our little secret.

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If You Want to Achieve Big Things, Sit in Silence and Embrace Quiet Time

Embrace Quiet Times

Photo by Brandon Atchison on Unsplash

Inputs drown our brains.

I’m overwhelmed by inputs right now. I have some big things I want to do like get married, write a book, launch a course, go on a holiday after 18 months of sitting at home, etc.

It’s hard to do any of that when your life revolves around the internet. The internet can feel like a bar full of drunks speaking gibberish, who have no idea what they’re saying. Being online is living with the volume turned up to deafening. The noise makes you think differently.

I’m reading a finance book at the moment about the best investors in the world. One insight shocked me: every single one of them spends a large amount of time sitting in silence. They prioritize silence over the noise of what stocks to invest in or how the stock market is doing.

Maybe you should turn down the noise to turn up the joy. From a state of joy, it’s much easier to achieve big things.

The Hollywood Actor Turned Gardener

Audrey Hepburn is best known as a Hollywood actress. Actors have to deal with a lot of critics and are expected to look amazing everywhere they go, even when grabbing a bite from In-N-Out Burger at 3 am in the morning.

Many people don’t know that Audrey was a big believer in quiet time. She chose gardening as her zen habit. The habit came from her days growing up with threats of violence, wildly contagious illnesses with no cure, and ration cards (before the days of calorie surplus we have now).

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow was her motto. The quietness of her garden taught her to be an optimist. “Anyone who does not believe in miracles is not a realist,” according to Audrey. It’s amazing what time in the garden can do to your outlook on life when things get noisy.

As the quietness took over Audrey’s life, she began to spend more and more time with her children. The Hollywood critics slammed her for the move. They spewed their opinions in the form of salacious headlines. Audrey didn’t understand. Throughout childhood all she wanted was the solitude of a garden. She now had a garden so she didn’t need noisy Hollywood anymore.

The Forgotten Genius of Apple

People are quick to hero-worship Steve Jobs. I’m not a fan. I’ve heard many firsthand stories of how he treated his employees.

The real genius of Apple is Steve Wozniak — and the leader of the Quiet Revolution and the author of “Quiet: The Power of Introvert” agrees. Early in the morning and late at night, he’d sit in his cubicle at Hewlett Packard and work on what would become the Apple computer.

Working alone helped him cut out the noise and focus deeply on the idea of computers that would become iconic furniture in our homes. Quiet time helped Woz escape the office politics of his day job.

A friend of mine was lucky enough to spend time with him when he helped bring Woz to Australia. Woz came across as deathly quiet in between the events he traveled to the Aussie beaches for. He’s a huge advocate for spending time thinking alone, especially if you want to be truly innovative.

Some of our greatest ideas, art, and inventions came from quiet and cerebral people who knew how to tune in to their inner worlds and the treasures to be found there – Susan Cain

The Quietness That Sparked an Accidental Revolution and Changed History

Most of you will have heard of the Rosa Parks story. Rosa was an African American Woman living through the times of segregation. One day on a bus a white man asked her to give up her seat.

Rosa said one word that changed history: no!

This refusal to obey orders sparked a civil rights movement that changed society forever. It’s a great scene. It’s easy to imagine Rosa as some bold woman who’d kick anybody in the genitalia who questioned her. That’s not actually the case. Rosa had a lot of noise in her life. But she wasn’t much of a noise-maker.

Elaine Steele, a close friend of Rosa, said “Mrs. Parks was a soft-spoken person, but it didn’t mean she wasn’t brilliant.”

Elaine goes on to explain that Rosa liked to sit in silence and was a deep thinker. All that deep thinking is what eventually led to the day where she changed history by refusing to give up her simple seat on the bus.

After the bus event, handwritten documents written by Rosa further showed she was a deep thinker. She didn’t suddenly just wake up one day and decide to achieve big things. She’d been using quiet writing as a form of thinking long before.

There are a few things I’ve been experimenting with to turn down the noise and experience some of the quiet magic Woz, Audrey and Rosa have embraced. Use the advice if you want to do big things too.

The mostly unknown type of snooze button

I’m not talking about the alarm clock. Email has a snooze button. When you start your day and open up your email inbox to a rush of anxiety, snooze some of the messages until later.

On days where I do nothing but write non-stop, I snooze all emails except the ones with writing ideas. The key is to know you don’t need to be guilty for not replying instantly. Always-ON is how you snooze your life away.

The ‘no reply is the best reply’ motto

With all the inputs you get across a vast array of messaging apps — WhatsApp, Messenger, LinkedIn, Slack, Telegram, Signal, Twitter — there is a way to escape all the noise.

My mantra is “the best reply is no reply” when the message is entirely selfish or seeks to hurl a boulder at your face. You can simply not respond. The world gets quieter when you do. The loud ones calm down and stop screaming at you when you simply mute them with no response.

Reactivity to noise is an option, not a command.

The rules-based approach from Tim Ferriss

Making too many decisions increases the noise in your head.

Tim Ferriss taught me that you can simply use rules to make decisions for you. All you have to do is post a set of rules online and then refer to them. The person wanting to make noise in your calendar can’t argue then. Ferriss has a rule that he doesn’t do book reviews. So when a request comes through asking him to do a book review, his assistant simply replies with a link to the rule.

Rules automate noisy decisions. Make your list.

Make energy-based decisions like a badass

The point of all of this is lost on many. When the world gets too noisy, your energy levels suffer. You can have great time management skills, but if you forget about energy management, then the time you spend before your life expires can easily be spent in soul-crushing low energy states.

Achieving big things requires enormous energy. So the energy thieves in life require you to have a strategy for dealing with them.

What works for me is this question: “Does this give me energy?”

If not, most times, I switch off, go back to my cement hideaway, sit in silence, and try to embrace quiet time. Quietness is where the ideas that make up dreams come from.

All the noise makes the fictitious glasses we use to view the world foggy.

Sitting in silence and embracing quiet time is like changing the glasses you use to see the world. All of a sudden, every breath spent alive seems like an opportunity not worth wasting for noise that makes you feel deaf.

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Semi-Controversial Things I Believe to Expand Your Thinking

Life Lessons from Tim Denning

Photo by Sonny Mauricio on Unsplash

Unconventional views of the world help challenge the status quo.

If you don’t push the boundaries sometimes of what is politically correct, you risk becoming a sheep that blindly follows the pack. Sheep can accidentally walk off a cliff when they can’t see far enough in front of all the other sheep.

Sheep life feels like a nightmare to me.

I spend a lot of time consuming content I completely disagree with. My biggest fear is that life becomes an echo chamber run by Instagram influencers selling diet shakes and skinny teas.

Here are a few of my semi-controversial ideas. No conspiracy theories, just ideas that are slightly warped, that you can riff on and play with.

The billionaire space race is a good thing

Billionaires like Yolo Elon, Branson, and Bezos going into space could be viewed as the ultimate badge of “made it” status. The fact they all seem to be making the space trip so close to each other wreaks of an ego marathon to see whose rocket ship is bigger.

I get the backlash reported by Forbes. Earth is pretty screwed thanks to climate change. Bezos’s Amazon is not exactly the shining light of corporate holy land. There are plenty of skeletons in Bezos’s wardrobe, I’m sure of it. There’s something that is missed though.

Privilege shouldn’t stop progress.

Going into space advances humanity’s race to explore worlds outside of our own. Every trip into space advances the technology that takes humans there. Every trip makes it seem more and more possible commercial space flight can take larger numbers of humans to see what exists beyond our atmosphere. I’d like my future children to be able to go on a school excursion to Saturn or Pluto or another galaxy.

We can’t live in the Earth baby bubble forever. We may need a second planet given how well we’ve managed to pollute this one.

Most of all, space travel reminds us that anything is possible. In an era where hope is scarce, that’s a powerful message we need to hear more often.

Space travel keeps the dreamers breathing. As long as we have dreamers, we have hope for a world where humans can stick around. Nature might get a second chance too. Or alternate life forms could be found in places we’re yet to explore.

I believe the opposite to conventional commentary about the billionaire space race. Staying on Earth gives humanity an expiry date.

Staying on Earth is naive.

Venturing out into space is what we’re destined to do. If a privileged few get to take joy flights and it advances that cause, then I’m fine with it. As long as Musk doesn’t throw another Tesla out the window of his shuttle as subliminal advertising. (Space littering should be a crime.)

The US dollar probably has an expiry date

A quarter of all US dollars in existence were created since the start of 2020. Many financial commentators like Raoul Pal and Dan Held even say the number is closer to 35%.

Either way, what’s the point of money if it can simply be created out of thin air? Money is losing its value fast. The crazy thing?

Currencies like the US dollar are how we get paid for the work we do and the time we spend away from our families. History shows that the average lifespan of a government-issued currency is 27 years.

What causes a currency to disappear?

It happens when governments create too much money out of thin air to pay for things like wars. Eventually, people no longer trust the currency and neither do the other countries they trade with.

The US government, for example, is working on creating a digital currency, according to the chair of The Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell. The big advantage for governments to have a digital cryptocurrency is they can use behavioral economics on their citizens. Let me explain what that means without my banker hat on.

A digital US dollar would allow the government to see how you earn money, spend money, and invest money.

They could then implement customized monetary policy. So, the interest you earn on digital dollars if you’re middle-class, could be higher than the interest a stinking rich person earns. When stimulus money is issued, the government could set an expiry date.

They could say, “Here’s $1000, mate. Go spend it now like a good citizen.” If you don’t spend the digital dollars they give you, they could simply set an electronic expiry. This has huge ramifications, both good and bad.

During the switch from regular dollars to digital dollars, that’s when some form of reset on our money could likely occur. You trade in your ice cube melting currency for the Federal Reserve’s Version 2.0 of a better life.

Money has to go digital so it can move faster and become borderless. The real question is, what will money be worth when this change happens?

Dogecoin will fail

I love crypto. I just don’t invest in anything that’s designed to be a joke and has no real-world application. That’s what Dogecoin is to me. Elon is simply pumping up Doge on Twitter to remain cool with Gen Z and millennials. Bloomberg finance agrees.

Looking cool and solid investments generally don’t go together. When the dog currency is eventually pumped and dumped as far as it can go, I suspect it will cause a slight earthquake in crypto markets. Good cryptos like Ethereum will be wrapped up with the dog money.

Thankfully, there are thousands of worthless cryptos that go are created and go bust every year. Crypto has become the new form of tech stocks. One bad tech startup isn’t going to bankrupt the public stock exchange. And one dog coin won’t destroy the crypto revolution.

Developers are better off working for DAOs instead of big tech

The typical business is an LLC (Limited Liability Company). The invention of the LLC meant you could create a business and not be personally liable.

The problem with an LLC in the modern era is that it serves profit and shareholders first. It becomes difficult to make decisions as a company gets bigger. So, large corporations waste billions of dollars having meetings that could have been emails.

First we had decentralized digital currencies. Then decentralized finance. Then decentralized apps.

A few years ago, the DAO came along. A DAO is a Decentralized Autonomous Organization. A DAO is a decentralized company structure. The sole purpose of a DAO is to help automate decisions, therefore speeding up innovation. Processes are crowdsourced. The use of investor funds is more transparent.

Developers right now have the opportunity to work for a big tech company and have some of their lines of code be used to breach privacy, make the internet worse, and be sold for a large profit they barely get any money from. Or developers can migrate to projects that are decentralized and run on the new DAO structure of a company.

It’s early days. But the days of developers being taken advantage of for profit could be coming to an end. When your code is deployed on a blockchain-first technology, it changes the transparency of your work.

The remuneration is different too. DAOs compensate developers in new ways. There are options to have a DAO stream money to your digital wallet as you write code. And developers can have skin in the game by getting tokens in the project they’re working on.

Tech business models need to change. The change starts with a new type of company structure.

Corporations will become our landlords

Housing is a great business. Mom and dad investors have been riding the investment property wave for years. Then in 2020 everything changed. Trillions of dollars were created out of thin air. The devaluing of money and zero interest rates meant that cash became trash if left in a savings account.

So we were all forced to invest money in financial assets. It created a problem for businesses too. If you’re a booming business making lots of money, and the CEO stores that money in a bank account, he/she faces the same problem.

BlackRock found another way. Owning property people pay rent to live in is far better than cash that pays you virtually zero interest. Blackrock discovered they could become a giant landlord. They could bid up prices of homes to get rid of the mom and dad investors, and then place a nice fat cat margin on any money the property generates.

I predict corporate landlords are going to become more popular. It’s a great business. And a home is a product we all need. The downside is it can drive up prices and fast-track growing inequality. I’d prefer not to bidding at an auction for a residential property with BlackRock. But call me crazy, hey?

We can stop corporate landlords by refusing to let them enter the market.

Trying to be right on the internet is a waste of time

If you dare publish any form of content on the internet, you’re going to find crazies who hurl rocks at you simply for breathing. I believe you can’t win arguments on the internet — and it’s not worth trying.

Make people think. That’s the best you can hope for.

Remember that before you post anything and you’ll be fine. You’ll feel free. If you’ve got nothing nice to say you should probably be quiet for a while.

There’s enough hate.

There’s plenty of misinformation. What we need is more understanding. If you have a problem with someone then pick up the phone. You’ll avoid destroying your reputation by posting assumptions on Twitter and thinking everything you do is brilliantly flawless.

Social media will become fully decentralized in the next two years

Social media has become a nightmare. Youtube censors crypto and coroni-rona content. Zuckerberg jokes about our privacy. Facebook employees use our data to follow their babe crushes. A change is happening. Social media is being decentralized. Jack Dorsey announced he is going to work to decentralize Twitter.

Bitclout has emerged as a decentralized social media that seeks to be the base layer for what comes next. They have a decentralized Twitter already. Mirror.xyz has emerged as a potential blogging platform for writers who want to earn money from their work.

What’s misunderstood is how quick this change will occur.

I believe social media will be fully decentralized within two years. There are loads of entrepreneurs and developers already working on this huge problem. Gatekeepers, rent-seekers, and censorship-pro platforms will be replaced with social media apps that allow you to own your data and publish according to a crowdsourced governance model decided by the users who own the platform.

The sooner the internet is owned again by us, the users, the better.

Those are a few of my semi-controversial thoughts fresh from the Australian outback. They’re designed to be ideas you can riff on.

Take one idea and go down the rabbit hole. See what you can learn. Prove me right or prove me wrong. In the process, you’ll expand your thinking and that’s what I care about.

When we go beyond political correctness, we discover possibilities that advance important ideas.

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Introverts Are Going to Quietly Rule the World

Introverts Rule

Photo by Vladimir Fedotov on Unsplash

I’m a conflicted demi-introvert.

In the post-lockdown era, I’m thriving. Sitting at home in my underwear with a hot water bottle to save on heating bills, in front of a Steve Jobs machine, is glorious. There’s nothing better. No eyes watching over me. No death-eater stares from Karen in operations.

But I’m not always an introvert. I like a sugar rush of extrovertism too. PhD genius and psychologist Benjamin Hardy says your personality isn’t permanent. I agree.

Regardless of whether you think you’re introverted, extroverted, or a conflicted extrovert like me, the world is slowly transitioning to introvert domination. I’m clapping silently. Here’s what it means for you.

Extroverted confidence is fake

Ya’ll know that smooth-talking sales guy or gal that works in your company? They’re mostly fake. I have spent an entire career around them. I’ve befriended them. The truth is, after hours they’re not so confident at all.

I worked with one fellow. Every business deal he touched turned to one-hundred-dollar bills. The beautiful speeches he gave with Powerpoint decks were incredible. Oscar award-winning, even. Senior leaders voted for him favorably at performance review time. I looked up to him. I dreamt of having confidence like that. Imagine the places I could go, or the people I could meet.

One day I came to work. He wasn’t there. He didn’t return for months. Mr Confidence got a divorce. It nearly ruined him. He hit rock bottom. Turns out he was a terrible husband at home. He treated his wife like trash and blamed her for what he deemed to be a terribly boring career.

The confidence you look up to is probably fake. Most confident people are making stuff up as they go like the rest of us. You just can’t see what that does to them after hours when they’re home with family.

The Creator Economy favors introverts

Us creators are typically introverts. My favorite writers such as Zulie Rane, Sean Kernan, Michael Thompson, and Sinem Gunel are all introverts. You get on a call with them and the last thing they talk about is how many followers they have. That’s what an extrovert does. Creators are less about the metrics and more about the reason they’re putting their art into the world.

The Creator Economy is a term used for those of us who write words, take photos, make videos, sell artwork, play computer games, and record podcasts. Big business has successfully muffled the creator economy for years.

Not anymore.

Now with so many platforms for creators — Teachable, Substack, WordPress, LinkedIn, Twitter, Ghost — our voices have returned, although they’re not fully unleashed yet until Web 3.0. gives us full ownership of our content.

These creator tools allow us to work from home. We don’t need to go to an office and smile for the extroverts. We don’t need to turn on our Zoom camera when we’re in a meeting with a client. We can simply be our quiet selves and get paid for it.

The tidal wave of change hasn’t quite been realized yet. Businesses still haven’t figured out that real content is the foundation of every dollar they make. Business is still buying fake content known as ads, and hoping they can sublimely convince normal people to take a chance on them. We all know where that leads: broken promises.

Introvert demand is rising. This is how we’ll slowly take over the world without anybody knowing.

If you can sit at home in your underwear then join our introvert army.

There’s not much to be learned from extrovertism

I used to do coffee like a caffeine junkie. Not so much anymore. I’d roll up to the coffee, hoping to learn one new thing.

Most of the time, I’d be bombarded with the other person listing their achievements, trying to look good. It did nothing for my life education. Or the opposite would happen–an extrovert complaint session.

This is where they’d tell me how unfair life is and how they can’t get more of the success metrics that actually ruin our lives — luxury cars, designer clothes, big mansions with rooms that never get used, pools that are no better than the local ocean, etc.

I gave up on extrovert learning.

Instead, since lockdown, I’ve gone right back to books again. I can lie down in my bed with an iPad, the Kindle app, and a good book recommended to me by a fellow introvert. I can sit there in complete silence and let the words bounce off the page and make the world quieter.

Then after a peaceful reading session, I can write what I learned down in my notepad and be better for it. In the last few weeks, I’ve met magicians who turned honest, writers who went from commentating finance markets to writing the most vulnerable stuff you’ve ever read, to those who have suffered through war and come out the other side wanting to stop the violence.

Silent learning is better than loud talking.

Over-talkers lose. Listeners win.

The trouble with talking is it’s easy to overdo. I’m guilty of that. Working in consulting taught me this lesson. Football teams of consultants would line up in meetings to get in front of clients.

They wanted to talk “at” the client.

They’d lob boulders of useless information at them. The client would duck for cover by politely saying, “let me think about it.” They’d never return our calls. But blocking the noise-makers from future meetings was impossible. So we kept losing simple opportunities to consult. Revenue fell off a cliff. The loud ones scratched their head. “Morrrre solutions?”

What the client wanted when I dug deeper was for us to come and listen — not talk. They wanted us to hear deeply about where they were at. They didn’t want a solution. In fact, they told me they were drowning in solutions. The internet can tell you a million solutions. What the internet can’t do is let you sit on its lap like a child and hear your problems.

This is a huge opportunity for introverts.

I learned during my consulting days to attend a meeting and simply listen. For some reason I got all the business opportunities. Yet, I did almost zero selling. The customers found all the listening so refreshing that I became their go-to person. I did one other thing differently: remembered the names of their family and what their number one hobby was.

Would you prefer to deal with a quiet person who listened, knew your name, and was genuinely interested in your hobby, or a loud buffoon who can’t stop talking? The answer is obvious. See, this is why introverts will dominate.

Introverts seem weird because loudness has dominated the world. We’re biased towards outspoken noise. Look where all the noise got us: a broken financial system with trillions of dollars of free money being metaphorically dropped from helicopters, and climate issues that need urgent attention.

Change is coming. Lockdown has transformed me into an introvert. Former extroverts like me are morphing into quiet beings. Maybe the same has happened to you. Lean into the subtle shift.

Listening enables solutions that create change and lead to action. That’s why introverts are going to rule the world.

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Your Life Is a Series of Games. Know When to Quit Each Game.

Tim Denning Writing

Photo by Louie Castro-Garcia on Unsplash

Look at each aspect of your life as a game. It changes how you view everything you do in life, according to Twitter personality Naval.

In my case, treating life like a game involves going back to being a teenage gamer and playing Warcraft at “Lan Parties.’

Naval loves to riff on life being a game. It certainly is when you view your life like this.

Birth game

This game is one you play in free mode. It’s decided for you. If you’re born, you’ve already won the game, although most people don’t see it that way.

School game

You go to school. You make friends. You get good grades to make your parents proud. You play the school game that was invented for factory workers who needed to memorize knowledge and didn’t have the power of the internet.

University game

Everyone is doing it. You’re told this game will lead to a high-paying job. For the most part, this is bullshit. Universities are businesses that need revenue. The game of needing to go to university is an elaborate marketing plan created by schools and corporations.

Needing to go to uni is an ad. You don’t believe all ads you see, do you?

The rules of the game are simple: get good grades and don’t cheat.

Then you meet a genius later in life who has a Ph.D. and a low-paying job and realize you can end up becoming way too smart, therefore getting trapped in the game. Think of it this way: are professors the most successful people in life? Nope. Yet they smashed the university game for six.

First job game

Now the real games begin. This is adulthood. You don’t have nine lives anymore, because each death in the game destroys your ego and has the potential to leave your mind a mess.

You dress up as a character for the game. You go to an interview and overstate your player attributes for the game in the hope you gain access to the game they’re offering with a logo as part of the avatar.

They’re impressed with your acting skills. You pass level one of the game. But the game has changed. You need to do a code test. Or if you’re in sales you need to come back and do a mock presentation to a fake customer. The hiring game has many rounds.

You’re competing against other players who want to enter the same game as you and reap the rewards (a salary with the promise of a bonus). You keep trying. You get rejected from the game. You get told you don’t have enough experience to play the game.

Your game playing experience shown on a resume is put to the test. Your experience is scrutinized heavily by well-dressed folks that could be your parents. They tell you you’re not good enough for the game or you’re not ready for the game. They don’t know they’re playing the same game half the time. The game is invisible to them.

Despite the challenges of the game you get the job. You crack another level in the game. You do a victory lap. You think you’ve won. Then you start playing the job game and realize it’s ten times harder.

But playing a game you’re not ready for forces you to 10X your skills. You become a competent player as a result.

Career game

Once you’re in the career game it’s like being in an open world. There are so many other job titles you can get. The leader titles have the highest reward. The quicker you cycle through the job titles the higher you can get in the career game.

The purpose of the career game is to make money. Money buys you a ticket to the other games. The career game is long. It’s a game that takes most of your game-playing time. It comes with many setbacks. Just when you think you’re winning the career game, a recession hits, you get a redundancy, and it’s game over. You feel like a beginner all over again.

Or you get too confident and think you’re playing on invincible mode. You walk over other people you call ‘dead bodies’ in order to take their place in the game and bag their rewards. After a while, the career game is rough. You want control of your career game. The game is controlled by your boss and the logo they serve.

Freedom game

The career game leads you to the idea of the freedom game. Freedom is sold as the expansion pack to your career game.

You can play as a single player. You can build your side hustle. There’s nobody in control but you. You look at people with laptops sitting on beaches and think that could be you. You give it a go. You realize it’s a lonely game with no other players. You realize if you’re lazy with this game, the game takes away all the trophies and you can’t survive and pay rent.

The second part of the freedom game is startups. This is where it’s your turn to make the game and set the rules. You recruit the other places who sit below you in the game. Bossing people around in the game and getting a much larger piece of the rewards is supposed to be straightforward.

It turns out it’s hard. Getting players to work together isn’t easy. So you quit the game and go back to career games, or you stay in the startup game too long and lose all your poker chips. Or you win the startup game and realize it wasn’t the game you thought it was.

Money game

The games you play earn you money. This money can then be deployed in yet another game. This is the game of investing.

This is where you attempt to make money while you sleep. If you understand what you’re doing and educate yourself about the game, you do well. If you don’t, well this game carries huge downsides.

The game has a hidden enemy: the tax of inflation which takes away your purchasing power to buy items in all the games you play in life.

Car game

To get to the career game you play the game of cars. You’ve got to own four rubber wheels with a piece of metal on top of it for a cabin. The wheels and metal are mostly the same. But the dude selling you the vehicle for the game makes you think the brand matters.

In return, you get into debt to play the game. It sounds like a weekly payment of only $49. Later, you do the math of the game and realize that’s only the beginning. Exiting the car game is where things get expensive. It costs you points in the game that you could use to gain a higher score in another aspect of the overall game.

Finding love game

The rules of the biggest game of all — life — imply you need a partner to hold hands with in the game. You take out the slot machine full of notifications in your pocket. You install a new game called Tinder.

The game shows you faces with text below it. You mostly swipe life or right on the faces and ignore the text. The game is you swipe, they swipe back, and you chat. It’s not easy. Getting a reply to a message is hard. Other game players in the game are also bombarding the same players with messages. Some are even stupid enough to send a photo of their private parts.

The next level of the love game is the date. You dress up, make your avatar look pretty, and find a location to play the game with a series of challenges.

Challenge 1: Find a car park not too far away.
Challenge 2: Look attractive.
Challenge 3: Show up on time.
Challenge 4: Be interesting, funny, cute, etc.
Challenge 5: Ask about them.
Challenge 6: Don’t talk about an ex and die.
Challenge 7: Get a second date (the next level).

The game is fun. You find another player. You can’t work out if you’re supposed to be with this player for the rest of your life in the game. Nobody tells you. You have to find out for yourself. Or else, face separation, divorce or a breakup and start all over again like a newb.

The fame game

You spend time on social media. You wonder whether attention might make you feel better. You start trying to be famous. You create a podcast. You post daily on Instagram. You get likes in the game. You get attention. Your posts go viral. Then the game takes a wrong term. The game doesn’t pay you.

The game gives you attention and then the algorithms eventually take it away from you so they can spread the attention amongst more players and make everybody think they can win this fame game. The point of the game starts to make no sense.

House game

You’re together with another player. Congrats! How cute.

This is the game where you buy a house. The problem is the house takes most of what you’ve earned so far in the game. You need to get into debt because all the other players who came before you have bid up the house prices. It’s a little annoying.

You find a house. It’s not what you really want but it’s what you can afford. The home improvement game is always an option, but the thought of it drains your life bar in the house game. Debt makes all the other games so much more real. The stakes in this game are much higher.

Kids game

This game is serious. This is where you hand over the keys to your game to a screaming toddler who doesn’t want you to sleep.

They have a cute avatar, but they require a lot of work. This is a game that has no rules. The only rule is don’t let the kid die. Protect the kid with everything you’ve got. Love the kid. Make the kid happy.

When you exit your final game, make sure the kid takes over what was leftover from your game. Hope the kid is a better player in the game than you were. Make your game dependant on their game until you can’t anymore.

Retirement game

A pre-cursor to the final end of the game.

A place where you escape to the beach, finish the career game, enjoy the rewards you racked up in the money game, and where you prepare for the end of the overall game and to leave something behind.

Except as soon as you start the retirement game, you realize you like the game of work. You don’t want to sit in a caravan and drink soda pop. You want to work because work gives the game meaning. Work is where you secretly serve the players of all the other games.

The end game

Nobody tells you when all the games end. The end of all the games can come at any time. The point of all the games is to enjoy playing them while you can.

You’ve got to play some games. You’re on this planet. You’re alive. You may as well play something, says Naval.

Some Games Are Optional

You can just say no to games, because you can’t play all the games. Otherwise, you’ll have no time to play any of them well enough.

Society makes you think the fame game, or the car game, or the owning a home game are ones you have to opt in to. The truth is, you don’t. You pick the game you play, so choose wisely.

Set the Definition of the Game Early On

If you don’t know why you’re playing a particular game, you’ll lose the game. Every game has a point.

The question of ‘why’ makes the game have a purpose.

With a definition, you give the game boundaries. You work out an exit plan in case you need to escape the game or quit gaming for a while.

All These Games Have Downsides

There’s no perfect game, although the birth game and the opportunity at humanity comes pretty close.

Games require skills, other players, resources, time, and sometimes, money. Know the downsides of the game so you don’t fool yourself.

You may be able to fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but the easiest person to fool is yourself.

As long as you continue to fool yourself, about where you are or what you are (or are not) doing, the more you will struggle to gain your balance — Kathryn Lang

Don’t Compare Your Level in the Game to Somebody Else’s

This is the trap with games: thinking about what level someone else is at.

Who cares what level another player has reached. If they’re at a very high level in the career game, then maybe their love game is at a zero.

When I see someone at a high level in one game of life, I think to myself “what other games that they play have had to suffer?”

Realize When You’ve Won the Game

Most games don’t have an ending. You can keep playing them. You can keep climbing through the levels and have more levels to follow.

With the money game, as an example, even if you become the richest person on earth, your victory in the game will be short-lived. There always another player ready to come and take the number one position from you.

When you’ve met the definition you’ve set for the game, you’ve won.

How Do You Get out of the Game so You’re Not Just Trapped Playing That Game Forever?

The reason to win the game is so that you can be free of it — Naval

The games in your life never end.

Infinity playing any game means you never get to win.

‘The win’ is where you decide you’ve had enough of a game or you’ve met your objective of that game. Not ever completing a game is a trap. Completing games is a superpower.

Find a game. Set the objective. Play it. Then exit the game knowing you’ve achieved enough.

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Life Lessons from a 50-Something Quirky Genius Living an Odd Life

Tim Denning Life Lessons

Photo by Christian Buehner on Unsplash

Life lessons can be really boring to read.

If joining the circus, becoming a musician, and starting a website that sells for millions of dollars — while giving most of the money away — isn’t an interesting life, I don’t know what it is.

Derek Sivers is a 50-something quirky genius who featured on one of the most popular podcasts of all time and wowed everybody. I read through the podcast comments and it appears that people loved how candid Derek can be, and how he is able to take complex ideas and make them simple.

Derek wrote another book recently called “Your Music And People.”

You’d think it was a book about being a musician. As usual, it’s not. His book, dedicated to musicians, is actually disguised as a book of life lessons. Here they are for you to choose from and level-up your life.

Reply to every email. It’s the greatest habit.

This life lesson doesn’t come from Derek’s book. It comes from my experience of emailing Derek for the last few years.

Derek proudly responds to every email.

He loves productivity and self improvement, yet throws all the advice out the window and responds to every email.

When he’s on podcasts that attract millions of monthly downloads, he hands out his email address. On one podcast episode the interviewer says “Are you sure you want to do that?” when Derek blindly promotes his email address and mentions how easy he is to contact.

Derek has no issues. He likes email. You can take the opposite advice to most people and do what you wish.

Every bad habit can be someone else’s good habit.

Rub your work of art in the dirt.

Derek wanted to help his friend Captain T get his music played on radio stations. He decided to deploy the power of weird.

We took each letter out to the backyard and rubbed it in dirt, then crumpled it up. Then we put the crumpled letter and CD into each black envelope, sealed it with an alien head sticker, and finally covered it with the huge label that said “Confidential! Do not open for any reason.” And that’s what we mailed to each radio station.

When the radio station employee opened the package, the letter would start with “You don’t know me, but I live in the bushes behind your station.” Derek says 375 out of the 500 radio stations played the CD on air and those who received the package still recall it today.

Make your work a little rough. Make the way you influence people even rougher. Embrace your weird.

Thinking of everything from the other person’s point of view is one of the best things you can do in life.

I emailed Derek and told him this was my favorite line from his book. He replied back and said “it’s really the key point of the whole book.”

You can be the biggest problem in your life. You will act very differently when you spend your day teleporting yourself into the imaginary shoes of others.

It’s actually impossible to fail if your only mission was to see what happens!

Failure is a mindset.

When your life is set up like a series of experiments, the meaning of what you do changes. You’re less worried about the outcome, and more focused on what could happen if you gave it a shot.

You can never predict the wild things that can happen in your life. So embrace mini-experiments and see if you can discover something special in your life.

Be generous. You’re going to see the same faces for years to come.

Grudges and revenge are deadly for a happy life.

The faces you encounter are going to keep showing up in different areas of your life. Those same faces are going to be having conversations about you when you’re not there. It’s a smart idea to be generous. People remember generosity. It leaves a lasting positive impression.

Revenge and hate do the opposite — they destroy who you could be in people’s minds who have the power to help you, or subtly change your life.

Saying you need a certain tool is just another excuse to avoid the real work.

“If only I had…” is an excuse.

Popular music group, Daft Punk, made awesome music with very little use of computers, in the early days. Everybody else was obsessed with computer software. They bucked the trend and mastered a few synthesizers and one drum machine. Simplicity made them one of the most popular electronic groups of all time.

The only tool you need is your creativity.

Get specific if you want to take action.

Derek has a friend who is a life coach. His friend said most of his job is spent helping people get specific, not giving them answers to life’s problems.

Being specific is the key to getting results.

You can’t take action on a vague goal. You CAN take action on a specific goal that is focused and has a written plan that is incredibly descriptive and goes into a lot of detail.

The tiny details make your goals a reality.

Being able to fend for yourself is real security.

Derek’s career choice of music was one many people didn’t understand. They told him a 9–5 job was more secure.

Real security is having a mindset that can get you out of anything.

As a musician Derek learned to embrace new scenarios, learn new things, live without a safety net, experiment with asking for different rates of pay, and work for many different companies (and have lots of customers instead of one that pays his salary),

A perceived lack of security helped Derek build the skills to ensure he was always secure in his own abilities, which could help him earn a decent living no matter what.

A safety net is overrated — it leads to a lack of freedom. It’s like living your life with cushions strapped to your body to protect you from the bumps and bruises — that will teach you everything you need to know about life.

Out of touch, out of mind.

The people you meet have the potential to give you opportunities you may not find on your own. Keeping in touch with people is an art worth practicing.

Call the destination and ask for directions.

Figuring out the next step to your goal can be challenging. Especially if you’ve hit a brick wall, or are ready to give up.

Derek says “Just contact someone who’s there, and ask how to get there.”

When I started out as a writer, I contacted Benjamin Hardy and asked him for directions to my writing goal. Surprisingly, with zero credibility or results, he showed me. His directions cut years off my destination. All it takes is the courage to ask someone — who has done what you want to do — for directions.

People actually love helping people.

It’s worth trying to get somebody else’s map that leads to your goal.

Powerful career lessons from a 50-something quirky genius:

  1. Talk about anything else (other than business) and just click as friends. People send business to people they like.
  2. In business it’s the opposite… if you don’t keep trying, you’re a loser!
  3. Real business is done in the follow-up, not the conference itself.
  4. Find creative ways to be considerate. That’s the best marketing.
  5. You can do things any way you want. There’s no need to adhere to norms. Norms are for businesses without personality.

Whatever excites you, go do it. Whatever drains you, stop doing it.

This is how you make decisions 10X faster in your life.

Does it excite you or drain you? Say no to what drains you. If you have to do it, outsource what drains you.

Doing all the unrelated tasks associated with your life goals sucks away your precious energy that is finite. You can love making music and have somebody else sell the concert tickets. You can love recording your music and have somebody else handle the copyright law. All the parts of your life goals that drain you can force you to give up the whole game plan.

You retain your enthusiasm for life by deciding what drains you and staying the heck away from it at all costs.

Choose what excites you to have high levels of energy that translate to a passion for life. Passion can take you far in life.

That’s what a 50-something quirky genius named Derek Sivers can teach you about life. Pick and choose from his life lessons, and experiment with them in your own life. 

Anything is possible when you take the experiences of others and implement them like they’re already your own.

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