Decision Cost

A good decision plus the stress of making it sometimes comes out to more cost than a bad decision. Decisions usually impact you in percentage proportion to their size, but stress tends to be a fixed cost.

So what I’m saying is, if your day is really crazy and you’ll be more present for your family by not worrying too much about it, go ahead and order pizza.

Eat What You Cook

When you build something, you should use it. If you make shoes, you should wear them. If you sell a product, you should also use it – including going through the buying process.

It seems like simple advice, but when you’re a creator of anything it’s so easy to forget how different that thing looks from the consumer side. You make improvements to your process based on what you see, what you want. What makes your life easier, and what you think makes the lives of your consumers better.

But you have to just eat what you cook, too. And not just a taste – the full meal. You need the whole experience. There’s truly no substitute.

There Is Always A Thing

You can’t limit yourself to what’s possible. This isn’t some hippy nonsense about dreaming things into existence, either. This is extremely practical advice, and I’ll tell you why:

You have no freaking idea what’s possible. In fact, forget about “possible“. You have absolutely no freaking clue, not even the slightest idea, what’s already happening right now.

So if you limit yourself to what you THINK is possible, you will be limiting yourself to only interacting with about 0.001% of the stuff in the world.

“Wouldn’t it be cool if…” It is. It is right now. However you’re about to end that sentence, go Google it, and it’s already happening. It started six years ago, someone is already making money from it, and it’s gone through three permutations.

There Is Always A Thing. Today I read a story about an organization that has saved thousands of lives by getting hotels to donate their old soap (you know, the bars you open while you’re there, use once, and then leave 90% of the remaining volume on the sink for housekeeping to – usually – throw away), which they then melt down into new bars of soap and give to kids in developing countries so that they can cut down on hygiene-related diseases that kill thousands of people a year. Hahahaha, what a ridiculous thing! Someone thought, “Wow, look at that gross bar of used soap on the hotel sink, what a waste, what should I do with that?” And then they saved thousands of lives.

There are billions of people in the world. You don’t know what that number means. When you read it, in your head, you pictured a crowded subway station or something like it, which means you pictured a few hundred people. You can’t even conceptualize what billions of anything looks like, let alone how billions of thinking minds, each existing for decades, will think and act and invent every single day of their lives.

So of course, what you think of as “possible” is vastly, vastly less than what is true.

So don’t limit yourself to “possible.” Just start with the assumption that absolutely every single thing you could ever think of is not only “possible,” but is already happening right now and the people doing it have a seat for you if you want to do it, too. If you think that about everything, you will be right a thousand times for every time you’re wrong.


If you are unwilling to take a step on the path, you will never reach the destination. This seems elementary, but a shocking number of people struggle with this.

I meet people who are willing to invest absolutely staggering amounts of work, time, money – juice – into something, as long as that thing can be accomplished in one step. They’re not lazy; it doesn’t matter how big the step is, just that there’s only one.

What do I mean? I mean that there are people who would be willing to go to school for twenty years at $100,000/year to be an astronaut, but they wouldn’t be willing to be a janitor at NASA for six months, even if that meant they could go into space immediately after.

Some of it might be ego. “I’m an astronaut” and “I’m training to be an astronaut” both sound about the same in terms of pride and status, but “I’m a janitor at NASA” doesn’t. It takes confidence and a little humility to live your plan, and good plans have more than one step.

Some of it might be fear of getting lost. If a plan has six steps, then any one might be a misstep, and then you won’t get to the thing you want at all. Sure – but you definitely won’t get to it in one step. You’ve got to risk it.

So these people waste years – sometimes their entire lives – in search of a single step, no matter how difficult, that leads directly to what they want. It doesn’t exist. No one is born an astronaut. No matter what you want to do, sometimes moving closer will feel like moving farther away, but that’s a mental trap. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – but then it takes a few more, too.

More With Less

There is a very valuable skill that I’m working on sharpening: being able to do more with less.

A historic weakness of mine is that my ideas for how to improve something tend to be grand in scope. They often involve lots of time, effort, juice – and while they’re often good plans, they require so much up-front commitment as a result that they’re non-starters.

I’m terribly good, usually, at finding low-juice ways to make impacts. My biggest mental barrier is that I fall into the trap of measuring impact only by the potential results. “Plan A would only make X impact, but Plan B would make 3X impact! We should do Plan B!” But Plan B requires ten times the Juice – more effort, more time before the impact is realized, etc.

The good news: I’m getting better at it! Lately, I’ve initiated several low-juice projects with the potential for huge impacts. Some of those impacts are already starting to show! And those, in turn, make more juice. It’s a scale.

So, lesson learned (or at least, learning): don’t always look for the best thing you can do. Sometimes (often!), look for the thing that can make the most impact while costing as little as possible.

Fuel Up

When your gas light comes on, you don’t floor it. You stop for gas.

Before you get completely burnt out, there are signs. Indicators that you need to refuel. Most of the time, those indicators come in the form of decreased productivity or efficiency. So what do a lot of us do half the time? We work harder to compensate!

That makes as much sense as flooring it when the gas light comes on.

One of the problems I see is that for a lot of people, they don’t actually know what refuels them. They default to “not working,” but for a lot of people (myself included!) that makes us feel worse. Lazing around my house doesn’t refuel me at all.

What refuels me, specifically, is productive time spent on something totally self-indulgent – but productive nonetheless. Tinkering with my camping loadout. Organizing my board game shelf. Building a piece of furniture that I want. Stuff like that. When I come away from that, I feel totally refreshed and ready to floor it again.

It took a while to figure that out, though. Like lots of people, I assumed that if I was feeling burnt out, what I needed was just rest. So I would set aside a day to do nothing… and feel like garbage.

Some people need “R&R.” Other people recharge with social activity. Still others renew themselves with a physical reward of some kind. There are plenty of different ways to fuel up. But the one thing that never works is putting the pedal to the metal and trying to make it on fumes. The fumes run out. Fuel up.


Here is an undervalued but incredibly effective tool for rapport- and relationship-building: learn to summarize.

Whenever you meet and interact with someone for more than a few moments, the information transfer is dense. Many words are spoken, and not all of them are retained. If at the end of the meeting, you can summarize what happened in one or two sentences, you add tremendous value.

You add value because you show that you listened. You show that you paid attention and cared. Because the last moment of an experience is often the one most saliently remembered, a final summary can really help the meeting live in the other person’s mind.

You can summarize easily while also expressing gratitude, and also building a bridge to the next interaction: “Hey, thanks again for meeting today! I’m really glad we got to finalize what we want to do about the book launch and initial print run. I’m really looking forward to the art team meeting with you next week!” It doesn’t have to be awkward – in fact, it can be downright smile-inducing.

And if you make it a habit, it really will make you pay better attention. Your memory will sharpen. You’ll listen better. All valuable things, while building better relationships – business or personal.

So, to summarize: summarize!

Waste Forward

“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” This is some true stuff! But combine it with something else that’s true: in many cases, great opportunities require lots of time but little else. We don’t take those opportunities because the opportunity cost in time is so high.

But if the opportunity cost were reduced, not because the project takes less time overall but because you enjoy that time on its own, then you’ve built a real opportunity machine.

What are things you spend time on now – and what real opportunities might be hidden inside those hours?

Push Yourself, Pull Yourself

There’s nothing wrong with pushing yourself. But you have to pull yourself back as well!

Your natural cadence is probably good for most days, but days aren’t all the same. Some days require more from you, and that’s okay. But some days require less – and it can be just as challenging to pull yourself back from the ledge, to make yourself slow.

If you only push something, you knock it over. If you push a little here, pull a little there – you balance it. You get it just right.

Any Way You Want It

You really do get to choose the journey, even if you don’t always get to pick the destination. But your travel arrangements are always up to you. You can crawl or you can fly. You can skip or you can trudge. You can meander or you can drive.

Remember, every destination is just the starting point for the next leg of the journey.