I feel like writing one of these is a right of passage for every 30-year-old blogger. I forgot to do one during my actual 30th birthday, but better late than never, right?
People tell me I have an old soul. They call me wise, which is weird. If anything, I’ve done one thing really well in the recent years of my life. I listened and followed directions. People told me they had the answers about life and I just believed them.
Then, I believed in myself. I figured if I got smarter and learned to execute just a little bit, I’d get what I want, and that’s exactly what happened.
I’ve collected some useful information along the way. Here are some of the best ideas, insights, concepts, and strategies I’ve learned in my life to date.
- Do the opposite of others – 9 times out of 10, you’ll win in life by betting against the crowd. If most people don’t live the life you want to live, why follow in their footsteps? This seems simple, yet few follow this piece of advice.
- Watch what people do, don’t listen to what they say – Words are cheap. Sounds weird coming from a writer. But in real life, words are often empty. People will say one thing and do another while meaning what they said. The mouth speaks good intentions while behavior always shows the truth.
- Human beings are irrational – Try to become less irrational, while understanding irrationality is your default state. Begin by understanding the extent of your own ignorance before trying to become smart. Most people think they’re objective. This gets them into trouble because they take their subjective view of reality at face value, which leads to outcomes they don’t want.
- Learning is the cheat code to life – ‘Read books‘ is such an overused cliche, but it’s crucial to wisdom. Everything you need to know about life, human nature, success, etc, has already been figured out by someone else. If you crack open some books, implement the information in them, and synthesize that information with your personality, you can get pretty much anything you want.
- The mainstream media is the enemy of society – My trust for the news, left, right, center, up, down, sideways, is precisely zero. The media is incentivized to attract attention, that’s it. I lay the blame for many of the problems and injustices in society at the feet of the mainstream media. Avoid.
- If you know the incentive, you know the outcome – When it comes to an institution like the media, I don’t ethically blame them for what they do because their behavior is an inevitable consequence of a perverse incentive structure. Many people don’t understand how tweaking the incentives can totally change your behavior. If you can understand incentive structures, you can predict what people are going to do.
- Don’t argue with people – Arguing is a net negative every single time. You won’t change someone’s mind by arguing with them and even if you somehow ‘win’ you’ll hurt their feelings in the process. 99 percent of ‘debates’ involves two people talking past each other with their heels more dug in by the end.
- Think as you like, behave like others – This doesn’t mean pretending to be something you’re not, but you have to realize how much ‘you’ other people can handle. I don’t try to persuade everyone I meet in real life because that’s the wrong forum to do it. I understate my profession and keep mostly to ‘small talk’ in my daily life.
- The 5-year rule – If you work at something for five years and you have a talent for it, odds are, it’ll work out. A half-decade trade for the rest of your life to have freedom and flexibility is a drop in the bucket compared to a life of quiet desperation.
- Accept people for who they are – There’s this quote from Marcus Aurelius, “If someone believes x and y and behaves in x and y manner, why be surprised?” Once you understand that, sometimes, people just can’t help themselves, you’ll let go of your need to control others. Accepting all aspects of human nature will help you see what’s coming next and deal with it accordingly.
- Two things can be true at the same time – I’ve noticed the public having a huge problem understanding this lately. Binary thinking causes mental errors. The answer is usually grey. If you can hold multiple thoughts in your mind while others can’t, they won’t be able to compete with you.
- Ideological cherry-picking – I hold some liberal views, some conservative views, some libertarian views. And I do my best to see both sides to every debate. Why? Because I care more about results than my ideology. Most people these days aren’t even ideologues with firm principles, they’re tribal team members. They believe what the tribe believes because the tribe believes it. This is a fatal error, yet most make it. Simply don’t make this error yourself.
- Inversion, Via Negativa, Addition by Subtraction – Speaking of avoiding errors, it’s much easier to avoid being dumb than it is trying to be smart. If you want to be successful, figure out what surely causes failure, and avoid it.
- Work to learn, not for money – Most people who say they don’t care about money are slaves to it. They spend their life working for money and being in debt. Instead, if you focus on building profitable skills upfront, you can earn multiples of money later and have your freedom. These skills pay more on the back-end, e.g., learning online business. But people are so addicted to salary they can’t delay gratification to build something.
- Compounding is the key to success – Set up your life like an investment account that earns compound interest. Of course, earn interest with your money, but also earn interest with your skills, earn interest with your network, earn interest with your platform.
- 10,000 Kicks – Bruce Lee once said, “I fear not the man who knows 10,000 kick, but the man who has practiced the same kick 10,000 times.” People get shiny object syndrome. Me? I haven’t changed the foundation of my routine in five years. I got good at writing by writing every day.
- You can always reinvent yourself – The past doesn’t dictate your future at all. Things might not ‘click’ for years, but then one day they do. Don’t give up hope, but also, be active in your attempts to reinvent yourself. You’re not going to manifest anything from thin air, but if you focus on self-improvement and break that mental barrier from thought to action, you can transform your life in ways unimaginable.
- Know a little bit about a lot – Charlie Munger calls this a ‘latticework of mental models.’ Again, this is why some people think I’m ‘wise’ even though I’m not. I have a basic understanding, say a high school senior or college freshman level, about many subjects. I combine that knowledge and use it in unique ways, that’s it.
- Invest in yourself – I get a positive ROI every time I buy a book, a course, or hire a coach. Maybe I’m lucky, but it seems that financially investing in yourself gives you an extra level of motivation. It sends a signal to your brain saying you’re serious. Also, while you can find information for free online, buying education streamlines the process and shortens your learning curve.
- Adopt a ‘f*** it’ attitude – I remember when I bought my first course for $750. I thought to myself, “I could lose the money,” but I didn’t want to live my life in a way that $750 would always be a lot of money to me. I rolled the dice and it worked. Learn to roll the dice, within reason. If the downside is known, and you can handle it, swing for the fences.
- The life-changing magic of convexity – Speaking of risk, if you want to live a successful life, look for opportunities with high upside and low downside. When I write a book, I can’t sell negative books, but I could potentially sell millions. My business runs me about $1,000 per month, downside known, and let’s just say it’s profitable.
- Harness the power of regret – You’ll never regret trying and failing, but you’ll always regret inaction. Rejection, embarrassment, and ego-bruises fade. The thought of ‘what could’ve been‘ sticks with you until you die.
- Find loopholes in the system – Use every legal resource to your advantage and feel no guilt over it. I registered an LLC for my writing business and found every loophole possible to save and make more money at the same time. It multinational corporations look out for number one, why shouldn’t you?
- Fix your relationship with money – Money is a means to an end. That’s it. It isn’t evil. You decide the context money has in your life. Again, most people create this weird martyr complex around money only to become a slave to it. Focus on fixing your money problems so you don’t have money problems. Make money so you don’t have to think about money.
- Fix your relationship with your own success – Success eludes people who don’t think they deserve it. Deep down, people feel this insecurity about themselves, this unworthiness. Why shouldn’t you get to live a good life? Why does it have to be someone else? You need to build confidence to have success. You build confidence gradually through little mini wins, feedback loops, and building momentum.
- Once you get the success you want, apologize for nothing – 2020 has been the most successful year of my life and I feel no guilt about it. Why should I? I’d been preparing for the unknown for years — building out projects, living under my means, searching for opportunities. Society will try to make you feel guilty because you didn’t play their game. We all have access to this game. If you play it well, own it.
- Be humble – Own it, internally. Don’t go around bragging about your life. Again, I talk to you this way because I’m trying to give you the straightforward truth and this is the right forum for that. In my real life, I drive a beat-up car, live in a modest apartment, and live a normal life. An identity built on the opinions of others crumbles when those opinions change. Don’t become successful so you can show off, become successful as a byproduct of doing something you love. And then, in your day to day, keep your lips zipped and go about your business.
- Keep your mouth shut – Again, weird for a writer to say, but in your day to day, silence is often the better option. Don’t tell people about your big goals, just reach the goals. Don’t brag about yourself, people can get a read on your confidence without you having to speak at all. Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply. Let other people spill their guts — you’ll get the need to know information and they’ll feel like you’re a good conversationalist because you let them do what they love to do most.
- Focus on getting a few things right – You need a few major wins to move the needle in your life — the right career, the right partner, the right network, that’s about it. We all get a few chance opportunities in life and taking them or not decides our fate. Keep your eyes trained for an opportunity, always, and when you see a fastball headed straight down the middle, swing hard.
- Your life means everything and nothing at the same time – Success is meaningless. So is your career, your status, your bank account, and all the other accouterment. You’re floating on a rock in the middle of nowhere and you’re going to die in the next millisecond on the time-scale of the universe. Why so serious? I actually work harder because I take my life less seriously than others. Take the gamified approach. As long as you’re not putting yourself or your family at any real risk, you can push the chips in over and over because why the hell not? Your life is literally a mathematical miracle. Live like it.