November 2018

How To Read 100 Books In 242 Days

34 Practical Tips To Read More Books

In December last year I was reading Nassim Taleb when I discovered he reads 30 hours per week. Not long after I discovered Ryan Holiday reads over 150 books a year.


These are the writers I admire most. I want to write like them. But what was I doing?


I was reading at a rate of 50 books a year. That’s 100 fewer. Something had to change. So I set the goal of reading 150 books in 2018. As of the end of August, I’m on track. I’ve read 100 booksalready 100% more than I read last year.


Do I spend all my time reading? Anything but. I’ve been living in South America where I’ve visited the Amazon and swum with pink dolphins, surfed the longest left-hand wave in the world, and hiked the Andes.


You’re probably thinking I’m traveling so I have all the time in the world. Not quite. I’m working 40+ hours a week remotely, as well as writing for 15+ hours a week.


So how do I fit in all the reading? It hasn’t been easy. But the practical tips below are what have made it possible:


  1. Follow The ABR Rule

Always Be Reading. Eating lunch? Read. Sitting in a taxi? Read. Waiting for your kindle book to download? Read a physical book.


  1. Have A Goal

Goals give us motivation. It’s my goal to read 150 books this year. So I read every day to accomplish that goal.


  1. Read For 5 Hours Every Day

I have a daily goal: read for 5 hours every day. (I started with this number as I wanted to match Nassim Taleb reading 30 hours a week).


  1. Read Two Books At The Same Time

I could read Adam Smith for 3 hours a day. But not 5. Complimenting Adam Smith with an easier to read book, such as an autobiography, kept reading fun and allowed me to hit 5 hours each day.


  1. Live In A Developing Country

Reading lots of books isn’t expensive because you’re buying a new book every second day. It’s expensive because that time reading is time you aren’t making money. So what can you do? Live cheap. I lived in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Mexico. Accommodation and four course meals cost practically nothing.


  1. Get Lunch Made, Laundry Done, And Room Cleaned

Time spent doing chores is time you could be reading. Paying someone to do them is an investment in your reading.


  1. Avoid Meetings

Where possible, I avoid pointless work meetings. Unless I can contribute something that will make a real difference, I don’t attend. Being across an ocean from Australia helps.


  1. Stop Listening To Podcasts

Every second podcast is an author talking about the book they wrote. The book is always

better. Skip the podcast and read the book.


  1. Be Lazy Efficiently

Forget TV series. They take up too much time. My lazy entertainment time is watching Youtuber David Dobrik. He puts out three videos per week all 4 minutes 20 seconds long. 13 minutes of mindless entertainment a week. That’s efficient laziness.


  1. Meditate

Ever had to read over a paragraph because you read it, but didn’t really read it? It’s easy to daydream when you’re supposed to be reading. Meditation is the cure. Meditation is practising focusing your attentionexactly what you’re doing when reading. Meditation is the difference between daydreaming and living your dreams.


  1. Read While The Pope Is Speaking

When I was in a small town in Peru, the Pope came to visit. I went to see him speak in person, but I took my Kindle with me and read most of the time. Spend time doing what’s important to you, not what’s important to others.


  1. Lift Heavy

When you lift heavy, you get a great workout done in 45 minutes rather than 90 minutes. Instead of doing beach curls, deadlift. That gives you 45 extra minutes to read. But you don’t have to lift weights, you just need to workout with intensity. Instead of jogging; do sprints.


  1. Find A Hideout

Having a spot where no one can distract you is invaluable. I’ve read at lakes in the Andes, a cemetery in Sucre, and on a rooftop in Chile.


  1. Eat To Read

For breakfast I eat 10 eggs and a bowl of oats. Fat and protein give you sustained energy through your whole day.


  1. Take The Battery Out Of Your Phone

Phones are the kryptonite of reading. Our lazy side would rather waste time on the web. So use your laziness to your advantage. The more difficult you make it to use our phone, the easier it is to resist the temptation. Take the battery out of your phone.


  1. Share Your Goal

My Dad was an English teacher. He knows I want to read 150 books this year. He asks me how it’s going. Wanting to be able to tell him I’m on track gives me another reason to read.


  1. Don’t Make Friends

In 2018 I’ve been living in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. It’s impossible not to make friends. But as awesome as they can be, they can also be a distraction. So my rule is to let friendships happen naturally, but don’t go out of my way to make them. I still make lots of friends, but not so many that I don’t have time to read.


  1. Keep A List Of Books You’ve Read

Reading over the list of books I’ve already read, gives me motivation to read more. If you have a library of physical books you can admire, even better.


  1. Keep A Commonplace Book

As Ryan Holiday wrote, a commonplace book is “A central resource or depository for ideas, quotes, anecdotes, observations and information you come across during your life and didactic pursuits. The purpose of the book is to record and organize these gems for later use in your life, in your business, in your writing, speaking or whatever it is that you do.

Gives purpose, more find it useful, more want to add to it.” Why is it so important? A commonplace book gives you another reason to read.


  1. Take A Break, Don’t Quit

Sometimes I’m over it. I don’t want to read another word. Instead of stopping for the day, I’ll take a break. I’ll do some work or go for a walk. After a break I’m ready to read again.


  1. Read To Solve A Problem

I had just started reading a book about negotiating written by a former FBI hostage negotiator. I’d just read the first chapter when I was crossing the border from Bolivia to Chile. The border agents were hustling me. I lost my cool and lost at least 150 bolivianos more than I needed too. Losing the money wasn’t a big deal, but the feeling of having been played made me angry. I never wanted that to happen again. When I got back on the bus, I read that book for 6 hours straight until it was finished.


  1. Accept Some Books take FOREVER To Finish

Atlas Shrugged. Wealth Of Nations. Anything by Ron Chernow. They’re going to take a looooong time to finish. Accept it and start reading.


  1. Test Ideas In The Real World

Testing the ideas you get from books in the real world makes them come alive. It makes reading 10 times more fun. For example, I’d sent a proposal to a bank in New York but hadn’t heard back from them. I took some advice from Never Split the Difference to email “Have you given up on this project?”. I heard back the next day.


  1. Hell Yeah Or No

Derek Sivers wrote, “If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, say “no”. When deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” — then say “no.”

Got an invite to dinner? Thinking about a weekend away? Unless it’s a hell yeah, say no and spend your time reading. While traveling I skip 90% of what others do. I skip the ghost town, the walking tours, and Churches. But I say hell yeah to Machu Picchu, double-overhead surf, and the salt plains in Bolivia. I have time to read.


  1. Don’t Drink

Maybe you like reading with a glass of wine, but don’t get drunk. You won’t read hungover.


  1. Wear A Chronograph

I set the goal of reading 5 hours per day. If you use your phone to measure how much you’re reading, you’re going to get distracted. That’s why I bought a watch with a chronograph so I can ensure I get my 5 hours of reading done.


  1. Listen To Audiobooks

Unfortunately, I don’t have the talent to read my Kindle whilst walking down a busy street. I’ve tried. But I can listen to audiobooks. No doubt, reading text is better. It’s easier to take notes and forces you to give your undivided attention. But when you can’t read a physical book, you can keep reading by listening to an audiobook.


  1. Buy A Kindle If You’re On The Move

If you can’t get physical books sent easily, a Kindle is perfect. I’ve downloaded new books everywhere from airports to beaches.


  1. Use Background Noise

When you’re somewhere with distracting noise, drown it out with background noise. My favourite is listening to rain.


  1. Read Nassim Taleb

Taleb’s books are so interesting to read that I don’t have trouble reading for 5 hours. I have trouble finding time to brush my teeth because I don’t stop reading. Similar books are Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography and Conspiracy by Ryan Holiday.


  1. Buy A New Jacket

I bought a jacket with a pocket big enough for my Kindle so I’d ALWAYS have it with me. It’s my best purchase ever.


  1. Prioritise Your Reading

My day looks like this. First I write. Then I read. Then I work. I need to work. I need the money. My reading gets done so I can start working.


  1. Have Heroes

Thinking of people I admire who read all the time motivates me. Ben Franklin, Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett, Cal Newport, Nassim Taleb, Ryan Holiday, Tim Ferriss.  


  1. Follow Your Superpower

Curiosity is your reading superpower. When you want to know something, and a book might illuminate you, you’ll devour that book.


These are my practical tips that have helped me read 100 books in 8 months so far. Do you have any weird tips that help you to read more? If so, share them below and help us all read more.


P.S. You Don’t Have Time To Speed Read

You’ll notice not one of my suggestions has been to speed read. Speed reading is a bad idea. Sure, it’ll help you read more books, but you’ll be getting less out of them. Plus it kills the pleasure of readinglife’s too short to speed read.


P.P.S. Stare At Things Far Away

This doesn’t help you read more, but it helps protect your eyes so you can still be reading 150 books a year in ten years time. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away from your book and look at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

Apollo Vs Dionysus? The Secret Power Artists & Engineers Are Ignoring

How To Empower Yourself With Emotion & Rationality


You’ve heard of the Greek god Apollo. You know he’s the son of Zeus. But you’re probably not as familiar with Zeus’s forgotten son – Dionysus. Apollo’s brother.


Apollo is the god of music, truth, prophecy, and light. He is associated with order, control and rationality. Dionysus is the god of wine, ritual madness, and ecstasy. He is associated with chaos, emotions, and spontaneity. As gods we know them as Apollo and Dionysus. As abstract ideas we know them as Apollonian and Dionysian. They’re simplified as reason vs emotion.


To explore the relationship between the Apollonian and Dionysian let’s venture back in time to the summer of 1969. The moon landing, coincidently but appropriately named Apollo 11, is a celebration of the rational, the apollonian. Woodstock is celebrated as hippies revolt against the establishment, a drug fuelled party, the dionysian. As Ayn Rand wrote, “The issue in this case is the alleged dichotomy of reason versus emotion.”


The Apollo moon landing is indeed an incredible feat of humanity. The best rational minds worked together to conquer nature. But to view this event as only apollonian is a mistake. Why? You know what fuelled the space race. A cold war. An existential threat. The dionysian.


Woodstock has a parallel side. It was a festival of drug-fueled, sex-crazed hippies. They claimed individuality while wearing the same ugly garments as the other 299,999 attendees. They claimed they reached higher state of reality, but in really they were just high. Yet Woodstock is embedded in America’s folklore. It’s revered. Even respected. Why? Remember how Apollo is the god of music? Music may evoke emotion, but it is built on rational effort and understanding. And Woodstock was the greatest gathering of musicians. Janis Joplin. Jefferson Airplane. Jimi Hendrix.


Many people identify as rational or emotional and forget the other. They focus on what they’re good at and ignore the other. Computer programmers dress in jeans, a hoodie, and Cheeto stained T-shirt. Artists in Gucci jackets gleefully brag that they don’t know how to send an invoice. We think we’re one or the other.


Elon Musk is the Founder and CEO of SpaceX whose mission is to populate Mars. Why isn’t NASA populating Mars? Well, since the cold war ended, funding nosedived like a failed rocket launch. Once the emotional fuel of the nuclear threat cooled, so did the Space Race.


Musk is an engineer’s engineer. He is hyper-rational. Apollo’s apollonian. Yet he didn’t start SpaceX out for the thrill of solving technical challenges or making billions (you start rocket companies to lose billions not make them). Sure, his rationalist side wanted to populate Mars to ensure humanity’s survival. But he also thought venturing to Mars would make life more exciting – a dionysian motivation.


Now consider Jimmi Hendrix. At Woodstock he did a now infamous improvised version of the Star Spangled Banner. It was beautiful. Pure emotion. Dionysian. But the dionysian view ignores the decade he spend practicing 9 hours a day – the apollonian.


Whether at a society level or individually, it is not only our emotional or rational self we must use to succeed, but both. Our emotional desires fuel our rational goals. And inversely, our intellect gives direction to our passion.


It is not the Apollo versus his brother Dionysus. It is the brothers working together.

31 Pieces Of Life Advice I Stole From People More Successful Than Me


Below are some great pieces of life advice that have helped me live better. The more I steal, the better I live.


Some of the people below are from the same suburb as me, some have been dead for thousands of years and some of them are top influencers here on Medium.


To everyone on the list, thanks for helping me live better.


1. Eric Weinstein – Be A High-Agency Individual

I found this piece of advice through Ryan Holiday’s book Conspiracy:

“It is always revealing to see how a person responds to those situations where he’s told: “There’s nothing you can do about it. This is the way of the world.” Peter Thiel’s friend, the mathematician and economist Eric Weinstein, has a category of individual he defines as a “high-agency person.” How do you respond when told something is impossible? Is that the end of the conversation or the start of one? What’s the reaction to being told you can’t—that no one can? One type accepts it, wallows in it even. The other questions it, fights it, rejects it.”

Now when I hear myself saying I can’t do something, I assume that’s not true, then figure out how I can do it.  


Here’s where I read this advice: Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue


2. Thomas Oppong – Give 60 Minutes More Effort

Feeling exhausted at the end of a long day isn’t an excuse to avoid my goals; writing, growing a business, learning Spanish. At the end of my day, I started giving one final 60 minute effort. It’s an extra hour I would otherwise not get. I get more done. As Thomas Oppong said, “Invest in yourself, it’s the best investment you can ever make.”


Here’s where I read this advice: Do These Things After 6 P.M. And Your Life Will Never Be The Same


3. Cal Newport – Deep Work

I used to party a lot. I stopped so I could read more, write more, and grow my business. I’m on track to read 150 books this year. Although at times I miss the nights out, my life is way better now. One person I credit to this change is Cal Newport and his writings on Deep Work. Here’s what he wrote;

“If you give your mind something meaningful to do throughout all your waking hours, you’ll end the day more fulfilled, and begin the next one more relaxed, than if you instead allow your mind to bathe for hours in semiconscious and unstructured web surfing.”


Here’s where I read this advice: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World


4. Nat Eliason – Delete Facebook

Productivity writers like Cal Newport long ago convinced me to stop using Facebook. But Nat Eliason makes it clear I needed to go a step further and delete it. He makes it clear by looking at it from Facebook’s perspective; “it’s fine to play fast and loose with customer data in the name of growth, to optimize your product around addictiveness, and to sell information on your users.”


Here’s where I read this advice: Yes, You Should Delete Facebook


5. Josh Waitzkin – Embrace Discomfort

Growth is painful. Josh Waitzkin wrote, “Growth comes at the point of resistance. We learn by pushing ourselves and finding what really lies at the outer reaches of our abilities.” Instead of fighting the discomfort, I practice leaning into it and growing from it.


Here’s where I read this advice: The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance


6. Dr. Stephanie Estima – Give Girls More Love

Men have 50% more serotonin receptors than women. So men can feel twice as good as women with the same amount of serotonin – which comes from our relationships. If I’m getting enough love from my relationship, my girlfriend may still need more attention.


Here’s where I read this advice: Why Women Need Twice As Much Sex As Men


7. John Mashni – Don’t Celebrate Success

Don’t celebrate success. When you celebrate early you relax and lose your momentum. Wait until you’ve completed your goals before celebrating success.
But John Mashni also shared a deeper truth in the following story. When a Spartan won the equivalent of the Olympics, he was given an expensive trophy covered in jewels. The next day he sold it and went right back to training. It’s the process, the love of hard work that sustains us; not the shiny cars, watches or trophies.


Here’s where I read this advice: If You Don’t Eliminate This Habit, You Will Never Grow


8. Oprah Winfrey – Empathy Trumps Hyperbole

Here’s my theory. Both Oprah and Trump are master persuaders. That has allowed them to become wildly successful. However, I see their persuasion differ in one key way. Oprah uses her skills to empower others, Trump uses it to make himself appear more powerful. While they are both effective, Oprah’s way is the better way to live.


9. Albert Camus – The Question Is The Answer

When I find myself questioning the meaning of life; it tells me I’m living without meaning. When I’m searching for happiness; it tells me I’m unhappy. Albert Camus showed me I don’t need to keep asking questions or thinking about it, I need to live differently. Here’s his quote that helped me come to this realisation: “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”


10. Benjamin P. Hardy – The Start Determines The End

‘Inspiration, Discipline, Risk, Humility’ poster by Joey Roth


I love this line he wrote, “If you lose an hour in your morning, you’ll spend your whole day looking for it.” Starting well sets me up for my whole day. I know the opposite is true. A bad morning always leads to a rushed day where I feel I haven’t accomplished half of what I needed to.


Here’s where I read this advice: You Make Or Break Your Life Between 5-7 AM


11. Tim Ferriss –  Question Yourself

Question what you are doing. Could it be done faster? What is the lead domino? Does it need to be done at all? Thanks to Tim Ferriss I’ve found myself working in four countries, keeping fit and having fun doing it.


12. John Gorman – How To Live

John Gorman gave a two-step guide on how to overcome fear. But I take it as advice for how to live:

  1. Do scary (but potentially rewarding) shit.
  2. Repeat.


Here’s where I read this advice: You’re Not Lazy


13. My Parents – Invest First, Spend Second

My parents have always been smart financially. They taught me the value of investing when I was young by operating as my banker and offering my an outrageously high interest-rate on the money I invested instead of spending. What I would give for those interest rates today! Now I always invest before I spend.


14. Nicolas Cole – Never Lie

Never lie is the simple advice that makes life so much easier when you practice it. I find the hardest part of this is never lying to myself. But that’s where a journal helps so much. When I force myself to reflect on my day, it’s easy to spot my bullshit.


Here’s where I read this advice: 19 Tiny Habits That Lead to Huge Results


15. George Horace Lorimer – Dress Well

I wear a black t-shirt and jeans most days. I waste no time. But the following two quotes by George Horace Lorimer made me rethink that. Now, I will wear a nice shirt and jacket on occasion:

  1. “…it isn’t enough to be all right in this world; you’ve got to look all right as well, because two-thirds of success is making people think you are all right.”
  2. “A dirty shirt may hide a pure heart, but it seldom covers a clean skin.”


Here’s where I read this advice: Letters From A Self-Made Merchant To His Son


16. Tim Denning – Suffer Better

Suffering is not optional. What we do with it is. That’s why I love Tim Denning’s advice; “When you see suffering as a necessity and you learn to use it to your advantage, that same suffering becomes fuel for your goals and dreams.”


Here’s where I read this advice: 19 Harsh Truths You Don’t Want To Hear But Must (You’ll Be 10 Times Better For It)


17. Joe Rogan – Remember We’re Talking Monkeys

When I can’t stop thinking about a problem, I think of what Joe Rogan said; “If you ever start taking things too seriously, just remember that we are talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe.” Life is crazy, the little things don’t matter. And they’re all little things.


18. William N. Thorndike – Allocation Is Everything

William N. Thorndike wrote a book that showed the most successful CEOs focused on capital allocation above all else. That is the most important task. I’ve taken this lesson and applied it to my daily living. As part of my journaling I reflect on where I spent my time, what it produced, and how I can allocate my time better.


Here’s where I read this advice: The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success


19. Zdravko Cvijetic – Skip The Unimportant Tasks

He taught me to spend my time doing the things that will have the most impact – to “Focus on high leverage activities.” I think of this advice when I’m answering an unimportant email. It won’t produce any results. Writing another article will.


Here’s where I read this advice: 10 Daily Habits That Will Improve Your Life


20. Malcolm X – What Don’t You Know?

Malcolm X tells this great story. He’s invited to go hunting for rabbits, or maybe he invited himself. Anyway, the fellow hunters teach him a trick. When a rabbit escapes down a path, the rabbit will later have to return past the same spot to get back to its home. The hunters would wait for it to return and shoot it. Malcolm X realised he could predict that since the rabbit was returning to that point, it would also have to pass a point further on. Instead of waiting with the hunters, he would go down the track where the rabbit would run past first. He would get four rabbits himself while the entire hunting group would only have one. They all thought he was a brilliant shot. But Malcolm X knew the deeper lesson. If someone else is getting something you’re not getting, they know something you don’t know.


Here’s where I read this advice: The Autobiography of Malcolm X


21. Mark Manson – “This Is Enough.”

While you’ll have to excuse his Latin, here’s how Mark Manson phrased it; “We now reserve our ever-dwindling fucks for the most truly fuck-worthy parts of our lives: our families, our best friends, our golf swing. And, to our astonishment, this is enough.”

I’ve found adopting Manson’s advice shows that most things don’t matter. But some matter more than anything. Focus on what and who matters. Ignoring the rest reduces stress and improves relationships.


Here’s where I read this advice: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck


22. Serge Faguet – Finding Flow

This guy is fascinating. By working in flow he’s pushing boundaries everywhere from business to biohacking. Working in flow makes me more productive, creative and having more fun. I learn faster. Serge has a number of specific tips I follow to help get into flow: practice every day, meditate, eliminate distractions, have high-quality downtime.


Here’s where I read this advice: How to biohack your intelligence — with everything from sex to modafinil to MDMA


23. Seneca – Religion Has A Use

Growing up I never gave religion a second thought. At the age of seven, God was in the same mental category as Santa and the Easter Bunny.

Seneca made me rethink religion with this quote; “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.”

Now whether Seneca meant the rulers use it as a tool for power, I don’t know. But I now can see that religions are mental frameworks to help people deal with life. The myths and rules help them live.

What made me realise this more than anything was adopting stoicism. While the philosophy is not a religion, there are enough similarities that the benefits stoicism has brought me has allowed me to appreciate religion.


24. Nicolas Cole – Laughing

Yes, this is is his second appearance in this list. But this time it’s for a different piece of advice.

When I’m chasing a goal it feels so serious. I’m not thinking about having fun. Nicolas Cole reminds us we can do both: “The best ideas come through ease.” & “The best flow happens in moments of joy.”


Here’s where I read this advice: 7 Crucial Lessons People Often Learn Too Late in Life


25. Ron Paul – Don’t Forget The Golden Rule

My first instinct now isn’t to help someone, it’s to make sure I don’t hurt anyone. Harm can be done to ten people when you help one. It’s made me realise if you want to do good in this world, you must make sure you’re not doing any harm. When Ron Paul imagined applying the Golden rule to nations, I realised it is as applicable to my own life. Here’s what he said:

“Maybe we ought to consider a Golden Rule in foreign policy: Don’t do to other nations what we don’t want happening to us.”


26. Darius Foroux – Exercise Daily

I lift weights. But I only need to do that 4 days a week. I used to rest the other three days. I had a strong body. But exercising everyday makes it far healthier. Why? When I’m not lifting weights, I’m stretching, walking or doing yoga. Now my body is much healthier.


Here’s where I read this advice: 25 Things About Life I Wish I Had Known 10 Years Ago


27. Zat Rana – Don’t Do One Thing

Zat Rana taught me how learning multiple things at a high-level makes you learn faster. So instead of having casual hobbies, I take them seriously. I learn from them, and they enforce my other skills. Bodybuilding helps me write, and writing helps me lift. Weird but true.


Here’s where I read this advice: The Expert Generalist: Why the Future Belongs to Polymaths


28. Nassim Taleb – Follow Your Excitement

Reading Nassim Taleb is one of the most fun things I do. Even when he’s talking about traditionally dry subjects; finance and statistics, his writing is exciting. His life is exciting. Here’s what Taleb wrote:


“My knowledge of technical matters, such as risk and probability, did not initially come from books. It did not come from lofty philosophizing and scientific hunger. It did not even come from curiosity. It came from the thrills and hormonal flush one gets while taking risks in the markets. I never thought mathematics was something interesting to me until, when I was at Wharton, a friend told me about the financial options I described earlier (and their generalization, complex derivatives). I immediately decided to make a career in them.”


Doesn’t that sound awesome? A career that gives you thrills? Following his excitement wasn’t a distraction, it became a learning superpower. For me, writing is like this. You write successful articles, ones that are ignored, and pieces you’re nervous to publish. That’s a thrill, and a good way to live.


Here’s where I read this advice: Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life


29. Aaron Curtis – You Don’t Need To Cheat

Aaron Curtis is a natural bodybuilder (doesn’t use steroids or performance enhancing drugs), yet looks better than most steroid users. He’s a powerful reminder you don’t need to cheat to reach your goals. Sure, you need to work harder and be more disciplined: but that makes your success even sweeter. He’s also hilarious.

(And please note; while I’m using the word cheating to describe steroid users – Aaron Curtis is always humble and shows admiration towards the professionalism of many enhanced bodybuilders).

Here’s what he said on the subject: “I just like eating lots of foods and trying to lift more weights than I lifted the week before, I don’t need steroids to do those things.”


30. Ryan Holiday – Stoicism, Reading, & A Commonplace Book

I have stolen so much advice from Ryan Holiday. More than anything his introduction to stoicism has had the biggest effect on my life. His books are awesome.

In contrast to the deep advice of stoic philosophy, here’re three practical pieces of advice I’ve stolen:

  1. Reading 150+ books per year (I’ve read 100 in 242 so far)
  2. Keeping a commonplace book (Although I use Evernote)
  3. Listening to one song on repeat when writing

Also, I literally stole the idea and headline for this article from Holiday. Here’s what he wrote: 28 Pieces of Productivity Advice I Stole From People Smarter Than Me.


31. Blake Powell – Focus On The Process

“Instead of wanting to be successful, you need to learn to enjoy the process itself. Revel in the act of creation, accept good things will come if you do good work, and just breathe,” advises Blake Powell.

Powell’s advice is similar to the story of the king and the original mood ring. The king asks wise men to create a ring that makes him feel happy when he is sad. The wisest of creates a gold ring with the following inscription, “This too shall pass.”

That phrase brings us back to reality when our ego inflates after some success, and lifts our mood when we’ve failed. But Blake Powell’s advice to focus on the process does the same thing. We focus on what we can control, so we keep producing good work.

Btw, here’re 9 more things I’ve learnt from Blake Powell.


Here’s where I read this advice: The Simple Truth Behind Being Successful at All You Accomplish






Image Sources:*ieFE-OttOL_h7F_R4GgOAg.jpeg


Write To Rise

Nations. God. Capitalism. These ideas rule the world, yet they have no concrete existence. The ideas exist, only, when they exist in our minds. They’re abstract. Sure, we see the Stars & Stripes, a painting of Christ and Elon Musk launching a car into space. But they are only symbols. Yuval Noah Harari writes, “You can never convince a chimpanzee to give you a banana by promising him that after he dies, he will get limitless bananas in chimpanzee Heaven. Only Sapiens can believe such stories. This is why we rule the world.”


Indeed, we rule the world. We rule fire, we rule lions, we rule the sky. We rule each other. A toddler has a mother. A student a teacher. An employee a boss. Those above, rule those below. We live in dominance hierarchies. Dominance hierarchies are not abstract. They are real, like the law of motion – they exist with or without our belief or conscious realisation.


Dominance hierarchies are our reality. Where do you want to sit in it? At the bottom? Where your shelter, if you have one, is dirty. Where your desire for education is suppressed by your need to eat. Where your daily stress breeds ulcers and disease. Will you be satisfied in the middle class? You can have a white picket fence, roast chicken on Sunday and a degree on your cubicle wall. Do you need to be in the top 1%? Probably not, but if a flood or bushfire is descending on your home you’ll be wishing there’s a helicopter on your roof for your three kids. The higher in life’s dominance hierarchy you sit, the more problems you escape.


Humanity’s dominance hierarchies exist within humanity’s abstract ideas. Our nation has a head of state at the top, you the tax paying citizen in the middle and a welfare recipient on the bottom. A Christian God has themself at the top, you & I in the middle and Satan at the bottom. Capitalism has a billionaire at the top, a worker paying off his mortgage in the middle and a beggar at the bottom.


There are no stupid doctors. The better you mentally understand abstract ideas, the higher you will rise in your distinct dominance hierarchy, from medicine, to law, to business, to art. George Soros is an investor who has accumulated over $25 billion. That’s more than the GDP of Afghanistan and a hundred other countries. Soros credits part of his success to his understanding of Karl Popper’s General Theory of Reflexivity and applying it to capital markets (applying a complex abstract idea to another complex abstract idea).


Writing is a superpower for understanding and organising abstract ideas. Seeing ideas written on a screen lets us tinker with then. We analyse them. Order them. Question them. Invert them. Writing helps us identify ideas that will help us rise within dominance hierarchies and those that will hurt us. Democracy from dictatorship, diplomacy before destruction.


The more minds an abstract idea exists in, the more powerful it is. If Catholicism had only 700 followers the Pope would be a cult leader. If Seal Team 6 weren’t American they’d be the world’s most elite group of terrorists. Hell hath no fury for an atheist. Believing in abstract ideas gives those ideas power, and in turn, those abstract ideas gives their promoters power.


Presidents don’t stutter. Clearly communicating abstract ideas helps us convince others of their value. Richard Branson has made more than $5 billion. While that’s only more than the GDP of Sierra Leone and 50 other countries, he’s also at the top of the business hierarchy. Branson says, “[Communication] is the most important skill any entrepreneur can possess.” It has seen him convince investors and the public of new ideas, from a gay nightclub to a hyperloop.


Writing then helps us communicate those superior abstract ideas so other people believe in the same abstract ideas as us – giving the idea and us power. We write a constitution. We tell stories about Jesus. We write annual reports. We write, and those who do it best – dominate.

On Aesthetics

What are aesthetics? Can you articulate exactly what aesthetics are? If you can’t describe aesthetics, I bet you feel them when you read Hemingway, drive a Tesla or admire supermodel Miranda Kerr.


A supermodel? Beauty and elegance are the first foundation of aesthetics. Yet beauty is superficial. Can we ignore it? Sure, at your peril. As George Horace Lorimer wrote, “A dirty shirt may hide a pure heart, but it seldom covers a clean skin.” He insists that two thirds of success is making people think you’re alright. Google’s homepage,, is the most valuable web page in the world. It could earn the GDP of a small country if they placed ads on it. That’s what other search engines did in the early 2000’s – they plastered ads all over their homepage. But where are they now? Google kept their homepage ad free, clean, simple. Beautiful and elegant. Aesthetic. And today they’re the most popular search engine in the world. Google, as Lormer would say, made people think they were alright.


What makes something elegant? Simplicity leads to elegance. Simplicity is the second foundation of aesthetics. Simplicity isn’t finding important ideas. When you say three things, you say none. Simplicity is finding the core idea. When you say one thing, you’ve won. For example, the core idea of Christianity is as useful as the entire bible: don’t do to others, what you don’t want them to do to you. Simplicity is the secret of designers; a profession dedicated to aesthetics. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”


So what are aesthetics? Aesthetics are elegance, beauty, and simplicity.


From Words To Culture: The Levels Of Resolution In Writing

When we want to master a specific domainwe need to understand every level of resolution. A mechanic needs to know far more than how to drive. It is the same for writing. A writer should know more than the mechanics of writing. So let’s embrace the nuancethe multiple levels of resolution that writing exists in. We’ll begin at the most literal level and rise in levels of abstraction.


Level 1: Words

Professor Jordan Peterson said wrote, “Each word should be precisely the right word.” What’s the right word? It’s concise. It’s never two when one will do. It keeps the beat. It’s never the 17-letter synonym that you think makes you sound intelligent. The right word is like a star in the night sky. Alone, it seems insignificant. But when it’s surrounded by hundreds of other right words, your writing shines bright. Lao Tzu said, “Great acts are made up of small deeds.” Similarly, great writing is made of the right words. Every word matters. Just as every pebble mattered to the crow in Aesop’s fable…


The Crow and the Pitcher

A Crow, half-dead with thirst, came upon a Pitcher which had once been full of water; but when the Crow put its beak into the mouth of the Pitcher he found that only very little water was left in it, and that he could not reach far enough down to get at it. He tried, and he tried, but at last had to give up in despair. Then a thought came to him, and he took a pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher.  


Then he took another pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher.  

Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher.  

Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher.  

Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher.  

Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher.  


At last, at last, he saw the water mount up near him, and after casting in a few more pebbles he was able to quench his thirst and save his life. Little by little does the trick.


Level 2: Sentences

Write good sentences by obeying these 3 laws:


  1. Put the words in the right order so the sentence is grammatically correct.


  1. Make them clear and easy to read.


  1. Express only one thought per sentence.


Level 3: Paragraphs

Like a sentence should express one thought, a paragraph should express one idea. Those sentences, or thoughts, should be ordered logically to communicate the overarching idea. Here’s a rule to follow when writing a paragraph: Each paragraph must be at least 10 sentences or 100 words. If you can’t write 100 words on an idea, you don’t need a thesaurus, you need a better idea. Regardless of any reasoning, the 10 sentence/ 100 word rule exists because it works. Nassim Taleb wrote, “Not everything that happens happens for a reason, but everything that survives survives for a reason.” You don’t need to know why the rule works, but you need to follow it.


Level 4: Structure / Sequence Of Paragraphs

“You must map out the path if you ever plan to make it to your destination alive.”Ryan Holiday

Your paragraphs should follow a logical progression. Each paragraph builds upon the previous paragraph. Paragraph by paragraph, you build towards your ultimate conclusion.  

You lead, they read.


Level 5: Your Piece Of Writing As A Whole

All the previous levels of resolution can be correct, yet the writing can suck. It’s not what’s written that makes it weak, it’s what’s lacking; originality, creativity, insight. Consider the inverse: writing filled with originality, creativity, and insight. But it’s also filled with grammatical errors, a disorganised structure, and uses the wrong words. It can still be brilliant. The previous steps are more technical. This step is not. It’s a poorly translated Dostoevsky; the grammar is wrong, yet it is still brilliant.


Level 6: Reader’s Interpretation

Before America dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima they gave a warning: The Potsdam Declaration. It demanded complete surrender, or promised complete destruction. The Japanese Premier, Kantaro Suzuki, responded via a news conference saying “No comment. We’re still thinking about it.” However, the Japanese word for ‘no comment’ is ‘mokusatsu’, which also means “We’re ignoring in contempt.” It’s not what you say that matters, it’s what your reader hears.


Level 7: Our Culture

People are not blank slates with completely open minds. They have developed a way of looking at the world. Their perception is a product of their culture, and biology. You may mean one thing, but a reader can interpret it as something else. 7 billion people view the world 7 billion different ways. Different people can read the same work differently. There have been more than a few disagreements over the interpretation of the bible.


It is not enough to simply want to write well. We must also understand how—and follow that process. Otherwise we will never reach our potential. However, as we are analysing our own writing, we must not overanalyze. We must keep writing, not writing a piece that’s perfect at each level of resolution, but is moving towards perfection. We learn to write by putting these ideas in practice. As Amelia Earhart said, “Always think with your stick forward.”

Why Warren Buffett Is Fundamentally Wrong About Bitcoin

I follow Warren Buffett’s investment advice. I admire him. I avidly watch his interviews. It was in an interview that I heard him talk about Bitcoin. Warren Buffett is right about nearly everything, but he’s fundamentally wrong about Bitcoin.


Here’s four things he said and why he’s wrong:


1. “When you buy non-productive assets, all you’re counting on is whether the next person is going to pay you more because they’re even more excited about another next person coming along, but the asset itself is creating nothing.”


Buffet is right. Bitcoin is a non-productive asset. But it’s not supposed to be a productive asset. Bitcoin is a new form of money. Ultimately, as money, Bitcoin will be judged by how it holds its value, but for the moment speculation also plays an important role (as we will see later).

So Buffet infers we should be holding productive assets. He’s right. Our portfolio should be mostly productive assets such as stocks. But does that mean he doesn’t hold any money at all? As Business Insider reported in August, Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway holds $111 billion in cash.

Are Buffett’s words or actions wrong?



2. “It’s buying something because you expect the pool of people who want to buy it, because they want to sell it to somebody else, will grow.”


This statement reflects Buffett’s greatness as an investor. How? Buffett never bought a company because he thought others would buy it later. Instead, he analyses a company’s intrinsic value and holds the stock. As his returns have shown, Buffett’s strategy works.

But his inference is wrong. He infers that people are fools because they’re buying Bitcoins only because they believe they can sell it to other (foolish) people later. There’s a lot more going on than a greater fools theory.

Buffett succeeds because he focuses on intrinsic value. This is exactly what Bitcoin investors are doing, but with a cryptocurrency instead of companies. They buy Bitcoin because they see it as a better store of value than fiat currencies, and even gold. They believe because it is an intrinsically better form of money, the world will adopt it as their new form of money.

That means the trillions of dollars worth of fiat currencies today could, at least in part, be replaced by Bitcoin. Bitcoin is absolutely scarce, unlike gold which can be mined and fiat currency which can be printed. The number of Bitcoins is fixed. That means as demand increases, each Bitcoin will be worth more. That’s the speculation Bitcoin investors are making.

Is that a crazy theory?

Jamie Dimon is CEO of JP Morgan Chase and a favourite CEO of Warren Buffett. He’s also been one of Bitcoin’s biggest critics. In 2017 he called Bitcoin a fraud.

Yet, as CNBC reported, “J.P. Morgan Chase announced in October the launch of a blockchain-based system that will “significantly reduce” the number of parties needed to verify global payments, reducing transaction times “from weeks to hours.” Royal Bank of Canada and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group are the bank’s partners in the project, called the Interbank Information Network.”

That “blockchain-based system” that Jamie Dimon launched – that’s Bitcoin’s underlying technology.

His system is trying to replicate Bitcoin by using Bitcoin’s technology. Except unlike Bitcoin, his company will have complete control.

J.P. Morgan’s move shows institutional faith in the underlying technology of Bitcoin. This indicates the Bitcoins speculators were correct in recognising the Bitcoin blockchain as a better form of money.

So, while Jamie Dimon says Bitcoin is a bad investment, his company is creating a competing tool that uses the same technology.

Shall we trust the CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase’s words or actions?



3. “You can have anything you want to imagine if you just look at something and say ‘That’s magic’. You can do it with sharks teeth or sea shells or anything. You know, they did it with tulips in the 17th century in Amsterdam.”

What does Buffett think the U.S. dollar is? You know, the thing he has 111 billion of. Money is valuable because other people value it. The U.S. dollar has no intrinsic value. You can’t eat it. It won’t make your car run. It’s valuable only as a medium of exchange and store of value. You know, just like Bitcoin.

And sure, the tulip bubble burst, but shells were useful money for thousands of years. Of course, some forms of money are better than other forms. But as J.P. Morgan Chase indicates, money based on blockchain technology may be better than the U.S. dollar.



4. “If you had bought gold in 1942 and you said we might lose the war and we might have to run off to some other country, let’s put our assets in gold, you would have less than a penny for every dollar you got from owning stocks. Now if someone calls that a store of value I think they’re delusionary.”


Again, Buffet is right. Over long time periods gold has been a terrible investment in comparison to stocks. However, the expected return of Bitcoin is not comparable to the return of gold from 1942. There’s a huge difference.

The difference is that in 1942, gold had been traded, mined, and used for thousands of years. The demand was slowly linearly increasing because people already owned it as jewelry, for industrial use, and as money.

But imagine if gold was first discovered in 1942? Demand would have grown exponentially and chances are that gold would have outperformed stocks.

Bitcoin was invented in 2009, not thousands of years ago. If people, organisations, and institutions continue to adopt Bitcoin as a store of value, or major banks use it as a daily settlement tool, Bitcoin’s value will grow faster than the market index.


Most speculators, critics, and traders don’t understand Bitcoin very well. Admittedly, I’m one of those people. But it’s clear, so is Warren Buffett.


Are You Feeding Your Readers Adderall Or Ambien?

Millions of people read books to help them fall asleep at night. This is unacceptable. Authors write to stimulate the reader. They want to be an Adderall tablet, but they’re an Ambien tablet. Something is wrong. But what?


1. Your kids are boring

There was a kid who was so obsessed with bodybuilders that he put pictures of them on his walls. That’s not that weird for an American kid in 2018, but this kid was in Europe in the 1960s. His mother called the doctor to the house, fearing her son was a homosexual. Admittedly, that’s kind of an interesting anecdote. But it becomes much more interesting when we learn that kid was Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Children only become interesting after they’ve achieved great successes as an adult. Just because you find your kid the most fascinating creature, doesn’t mean anyone else will.

Just because a topic is interesting to you, doesn’t mean it’s interesting to your reader.


2. Goliath was a sucker

If I were to retell the cliche story of David and Goliath you’d be bored. But if I added some details not everyone knows, it’s a thrill.

Goliath was indeed a giant, probably due to a hormonal issue. He was big, but that hormonal issue had affected his sight. Not that it would matter, David would have won even if Goliath had the eyes of a hawk.

In ancient warfare there were three types of soldiers. Cavalry, infantry, and slingers. Slingers were similar to archers, but instead of bows and arrows, they used a sling to fire rocks. Slingers weren’t expected to beat cavalry because the horses move too quickly, but they were always expected to beat infantry.

David was a slinger and Goliath was an infantryman. David should beat Goliath every time. Indeed, while Goliath was waiting with his sword, David slung a rock at him, knocked him out, ran over, picked up Goliath’s sword and killed him. That was to be expected.

Then why was it a surprise that David beat Goliath?

It was a surprise because David and Goliath were fighting one versus one, so their corresponding armies would not have to fight. In this situation, it was custom that an infantry member would fight another infantry member. It was a matter of honour. So why would David, the slinger, fight?

David had no concern for honour. He was a shepherd and they were considered the lowest of professions. He had no reputation to lose. So he felt free to break the tradition. And as a slinger he fought an infantryman.

It was not a surprise that David beat Goliath. It was a surprise he chose to fight him.

Details transform a boring cliche into an interesting anecdote.


3. Gangster Warfare better deliver

I recently read a book called Gangster Warfare. It didn’t disappoint. It was filled with bodies dissolved in acid, kingpins more powerful than their state, and a civilian uprising. The title delivered.

In comparison, there’s a best-selling book that was almost named Drug Dealing For Fun & Profit. From the title I would have expected a similar narco story to Gangster Warfare, if a little less dramatic. But the book wasn’t about drug dealing at all. It was about someone who built a business selling pre-workout stimulants (the drug dealing and profit part), and then outsourced his tasks so he had more free time to surf, dance, and travel (the fun part).

Luckily, Drug Dealing For Fun & Profit wasn’t the title that was used. Instead it became the uber-successful 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, which in fact, did go into minute detail about constructing a business where you only work four hours a week. It delivered on the title.

If people go in expecting a rollercoaster and get a train ride, they’ll fall asleep. Don’t oversell with the title.


4. Jesus was a badass

Jesus Christ was a badass. No wonder the Romans had such a problem with him. By saying he was the son of God, that he was God’s mouthpiece, he bought the authority of the Roman state into question. He looked up and said he followed a higher authority. He rebelled against the state. He gained followers, he turned water into wine, and was crucified. What an adventure.

If he had simply been a scholar who told us what to do, who would’ve cared? It’s because he took risks and had an enemy that he was interesting. He was a rebel, not a religious scholar. That’s why the Bible became the world’s bestseller. It’s a book filled with wild stories of seas parting and hellfire. Steven Spielberg couldn’t have done a better job.

If it’s boring to write, it’ll be boring to read. There’s a reason students skip their lecture to watch Game Of Thrones. Don’t lecture. Take us on an adventure.


If authors want their readers to stay awake until the early morning, they have two options. The first is for every new book to come with a free bottle of Adderall. The second is to cut out everything boring and take the reader on an adventure.

Why I Was Wrong About The Palestine-Israel Conflict

Like so many people, I’m outraged by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s shameful.


And like so many others, I know my views are correct. The other side is wrong, not me. My feelings are shared by hundreds of millions of people. The weird thing is, they’re shared by both the pro-Israel and pro-Palestine supporters.


Yet, most of these people are like me. They aren’t Israeli. And they aren’t Palestinian. They have no family involved in the conflict. Yet, we share a moral outrage.


Are we angry because we’re reasonable and rational moral individuals? Or is something deeper going on?


Underneath our outrage

Maybe we’re not as moral as we think. In the Moral Animal, Robert Wright explores the science of evolutionary psychology. Here are four revealing quotes:


  1. Our emotions evolved because they helped our genes survive

“Sympathy, empathy, compassion, conscience, guilt, remorse, even the very sense of justice, the sense that doers of good deserve reward and doers of bad deserve punishment—all these can now be viewed as vestiges of organic history on a particular planet.”


  1. Morals are an excuse for political action

“…a moral code is a political compromise. It is molded by competing interest groups, each bringing all its clout to bear. This is the only discernible sense in which moral values are sent down from on high—they are shaped disproportionately by the various parts of society where power resides.”


  1. What seems morally right to us, is actually only right for our genes survival

“What is in our genes’ interests is what seems “right”—morally right, objectively right, whatever sort of rightness is in order.”  


  1. In essence; people use morals to gain and retain power

“…moral discourse, political discourse, even, sometimes, academic discourse—are by Darwinian lights, raw power struggles.”  


Our moral sense stems from what is best for our genes survival and replication. So, our moral outrage in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may not be based on what’s objectively right, but on what supports our tribe.


Can this really be true? Are our morals nothing more than subconscious tools of our genes?


What’s this got to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Why would our genes care about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? We’re not a risk from the bombs and bullets. And we have nothing to gain.


So what’s going on?


In part, our brains of today were developed when all social interactions within our tribe determined our level of food, sex, and protection. If our tribe liked us, we (and our genes) survived. Today, our empathetic brain is being hijacked by images of wounded children and crying mothers. These images won’t determine the food or sex we get, but our ancient brains don’t know that.


But there’s more going on, and it’s linked to virtue signaling. Robert Wright helps explain the term “introjection”:


“Absorbing the values and traits of others, including powerful others—may be a way of cozying up to a high-status person who “distributes status and rewards to those who support his beliefs.”


But we don’t only use our morals for inducing good-will from high-status people. We use them to build friendships. And what’s that got to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?


Wright explains, “One of the strongest bonds two friends can have—the great starter and sustainer of friendships—is a common enemy.”  


While we have no direct interest in the conflict, we use it to score points with our friends and political compatriots. It’s a way for us to bond. But while the bombs and bullets land on our TV screens, they explode on their homes. We bond, they’re bombed.


What should we do?

The answer to what we should do became obvious to me when I was visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art in Mexico City. You’re probably aware that state-sponsored art, like this museum, becomes a tool for state propaganda. That’s why the CIA supported Jackson Pollock’s modern art during the cold war – so on all fronts the U.S. appeared superior to the Soviets (clearly another CIA action with disastrous unintended consequences – the rise of modern ‘art’).


While the first half of Mexico City’s modern art museum was filled with dangling ropes and other nihilistic modern art, the second half was filled with exhibits focusing on the evil three-lettered American spy agencies; the NSA, CIA, and FBI. Ruthless as America’s secret agencies may be, this moral outrage towards America is blinding visitors from a far more subversive problem in Mexico.


There’s a museum in Mexico City that is banned to the public, including Mexican citizens. The Narco Museum. It’s filled with everything from gold-plated automatic weapons to mountains of methamphetamine.


The Mexican government’s moral outrage is directed towards America, rather than the drug war in their own country. Over 20,000 people are murdered every year. Kids are dissolved in acid. Politicians are either corrupted or murdered. The police work for the cartels. That’s their real problem. Yet, they focus their outrage on the FBI, CIA, and NSA.


Their outrage is similar to millions of people who express their outrage at the Israeli-Palestinian war. They focus on the actions of people they can’t influence, while simultaneously neglecting their own problems within their control.


We should not interfere with the injustices in the Middle East. We should address the injustices in our own life. There are kids in their twenties worrying that the Palestinian refugees don’t own a real home, yet they don’t own one either. They should redirect their efforts towards the economic challenges in their own countries. Or even better, study engineering and earn a home themselves.


It’s not heroic to be outraged at something far away (no matter how many retweets or likes you receive). There is no cost for you, you sacrifice and risk nothing.


It’s easier to condemn a dictator in a distant land than stand up to our own tyrannical boss. It’s far less painful to condemn a soldier for shooting a child, than to condemn ourselves for that third bowl of ice-cream. We appear as angels compared to the devils of war.

What if I’m wrong?

Maybe I’m wrong. But that doesn’t change what we should do. We should still focus on our own life. If you actually want to influence the Israeli-Palestinian conflict beyond a retweet,  you first need real power of your own.


Consider the story of Sam Zemurray, the banana man. He was a poor Jewish immigrant in America. He didn’t spend his time focused on his moral outrage, he focused on building a banana business. His focus was so intense he became more successful than the monolith that was United Fruit. And having focused on himself and his company his entire life, when the time came, he was in a position to influence the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


In 1948, the UN would vote to decide whether to recognise Israel as a country. The Arab states didn’t want to recognize the Jewish state. The western countries did. As a result,the South American countries held the balance of power.


It was at this moment that Sam Zemurray influenced history. Using his contacts and money, he phoned presidents across South America. Through persuasion and bribery, he convinced many to either swing their vote in favour of Israel or to abstain. His phone calls gave his Jewish people an internationally recognised state.


Perhaps the modern millennial feels they have as much control over their own lives as they have control over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. House prices are high. Jobs are low. Millenials have no hope. This is bullshit. And self-defeating. Sam Zemurray had no education and got his start selling the bananas others would throw away. If he can turn trash into one of the most powerful companies in the world, surely a millennial can overcome a tough job market and a pricey housing market.


You may stay out of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because you recognise your moral outrage may be misplaced. Or you may stay out of the conflict because, like Zemurray, you want to focus on building the power that can truly influence the conflict. Either way, your actions will be the same; you’ll focus on your own life.


We can apply this tribal moral outrage to many modern phenomena. Trump, Hillary, radical feminism, toxic masculinity, gangsters, banksters, and other trend-worthy topics. But imagine if people diverted their energies to correct their own problems, before focusing on the apparent wrongness of others. Wouldn’t that be more moral?

How To Earn Fuck You Money (Yet Why You Don’t Need It)

The Power Mrs Nader & Peter Thiel Share

We think financial independence protects us from the big-bad-world. But it’s the same illusion a 3-year-old has thinking their security-blanket protects them from the big-bad-wolf. Even when your financial independence protects you from an evil corporation’s long line of litigation-loving lawyers, they find other ways to attack you. They will slander you in the press.


“Bring it on,” you say? They were warming up. They’ll go after your family. As Nassim Taleb explained; “General Motors, in the campaign against Ralph Nader (who uncovered flaws in their products), desperate to stop him, resorted to harassing Rose Nader, his mother, calling her at three in the morning–in the days when it was hard to trace a telephone call. Clearly it was meant to make Ralph Nader feel he was guilty of harming his own mother.”


We’ve been talking about financial independence. But there’s another kind of financial status you dream of: fuck you money. If financial independence is the bodybuilder who feels tough, fuck you money is the martial artist who is tough. Peter Thiel is an entrepreneur and investor who was a founder of PayPal and the first major investor in Facebook. I don’t know if Thiel practices martial arts, but his money has a black belt in judo, jiu-jitsu and kickboxing. His fuck you money is earning fuck you money in interest.


As Ryan Holiday described in his book Conspiracy, Thiel’s wealth helped him destroy a media empire. Thiel took offence when a scandalous blog, part of the appropriately named Gawker empire, outed him as gay. True as it was, Thiel felt they invaded his privacy. But he didn’t act like the financially independent and start a war of words. His real fuck you money would speak louder than any Twitter fingers ever could. Thiel waited, with his lawyers in the wings, until Gawker slipped. Gawker published a private sex tape of wrestler and American icon Hulk Hogan. Thiel secretly funded Hogan’s lawsuit. The lawsuit won, Thiel bankrupted the Gawker empire. Gawker slipped. Thiel made sure they fell.


We think it’s only the elite Peter Thiel’s of the world that can stand up to corporate bullies. Mrs Nader shows us we’re wrong. Her story continues, “It turned out that Rose Nader was herself an activist and felt flattered by the calls (at least she was not left out of the battle).” Rose Nader didn’t have fuck you money. She had a fuck you attitude. Fuck you money promises comfort when adversity arises, while a fuck you attitude promises the ability to handle the discomfort of adversity, even relish it. Everything you think fuck you money promises you in the future, a fuck you attitude gives you right now.


The empire destroying fuck you that Thiel delivered, rested upon a foundation of decades of living with a fuck you attitude. When Thiel began working at a prestigious law firm, he said fuck you to the typical career path of an ivy-league graduate. He quit. His attitude continued. This time he quit managing a successful hedge-fund to to say fuck you to the very financial system he was part of. He founded PayPal. If he never said the early fuck you’s and took the risks of leaving his law firm and hedge-fund positions, while we can assume he would have made many millions and achieved financial independence, he wouldn’t have earned the billions that helped him destroy Gawker. Those who get real fuck you money, take the risks with a fuck you attitude long before getting the money. The attitude comes first, the money follows. With a fuck you attitude, you’ll find you don’t need the fuck you money. But you’ll be more likely to get it.