Category Archives: Quotes

Things other people that said that are worth repeating.

Bitcoin based Remembrance Agent, My Knowledge Palace

There was a time when, as I read Paul Graham’s essay tonight, I also used to wonder how I knew something, then wonder, why I knew it or if it was important. I’ve re-read the Wheel of Time series many, many times. Each time, I think I got a whole lot more out of the story. I felt infinitely better, because I love that story.

Also, I’ve re-read the Tao Te Ching, and the book, “What Would Machiavelli Do?” What re-reading has taught me is that the clues you see always have a point, then counter-point. Some emotional anchor to the hard-won binary logic. A cliche, if you will. The icon and the text, one re-enforcing the idea of the other, enabling our simple minds to expand.

Emotion, action, image.

Einstein moon-walking next to me wearing a slick tuxedo; me, doing the salsa, shaking my bum in blue jeans with a silly grin. It matches that worn by the Cosmic Magician himself, right before I dip my head, spin away and seek my partner.

My angel, my inspiration. Being in a relationship teaches you things about yourself, like books do. A good book enables you to see good things, teach you lessons about healthy growth, emotional maturity. Relationships, perhaps good ones, do the same. Like good books.

A bad one can be a soul sucking vicious cycle, as I’ve seen a few times. I’m no stranger to scars. The important thing that happens isn’t that we analyze why we fell down. We’re all human.

It’s only important to get back up. Ever seen this motivational speaker before (youtube video)? Nick Vujicic, he’s amazing.

If I can fail twice as fast, I’ll achieve my dreams at double the speed of today

Sometimes people chalk up their experience to chance. Fate. Destiny. The other day, I was on a plane back from the Adobe Summit and ended up sitting next to an undergrad and a future optometrist. There must be a punchline in there somewhere, but I haven’t found it yet. Turns out, the future optometrist had the best luck of her young life. Do you know why? She was sitting next to two savages. Kayvon, seated in the middle, is a gregarious twenty-one year old entrepreneur who’s about to change the world. If you’d like to see what he’s up to, check out Youfolio. Sure, we can debate until the cows come home if that’s the business which skyrockets him to fame, fortune and the kind of wealth the optometrist can’t even fathom. That’s cool. Debating reality doesn’t change the fundamental nature of things, however. It’s an important concept to keep in mind.

When I sat down, I fully intended to stick my headphones on and check out. Read my book. Ignore the other passengers seated next to me because, after a week of networking, I was determined to get some alone time as fast as possible. My receptors are burnt, I’m drained and emotionally spent. However, once he started chatting up the optometrist, I couldn’t help but listen in to him. Then he mentioned, “Snapchat,” and I knew he was a college kid. I try and often fail to check my ageism at the door in my personal life. Expecting he was young and potentially ignorant, I chimed in, “That’s huge among college kids.” He affirmed, and then proceeded to thoroughly school me. By the end of our conversation, my mind was blown and the optometrist was making gestures, saying, “I can’t even begin to understand you guys.” Both of us, she was mentioning in the same breath. I was stoked that an outsider lumped me into the same category as him.

Why on Earth would anybody want to double their rate of failure?

Simple. Success doesn’t teach us anything significant, other than, “I won.” Failure teaches tons. If you want to learn some epic lessons in the school of life, make a bet, play it out and see what happens. If the cards don’t fall where you want, study. Learn. By the end of our conversation, I realized the universe was trying to tell me something at the conference. The plane ride drove it home in a way that nothing else could. Yep, I’m thickheaded sometimes. It took a twenty-one year old savage to remind me that I can bluster, boast and brag about doing crazy stuff. However, if it’s all talk, not a single one of those dreams will come true. Sure, I’ve been burnt before. The networking event drained me like nothing else.

“This is ten percent luck…fifteen percent power of will…fifty percent pain.” I’m listening to one of my favorite tracks on Pandora by a group called, “Fort Minor.” Or maybe that’s the song. Either way, they have the ratios down. Life hurts sometimes, but it’s those failures, it’s that pain that shows you’re alive.

According to Jack Dorsey, Sundays are for strategy: I agree, do you?

For a while now, I’ve been spending my weekend having fun, disconnecting from work and trying to live life. If you haven’t tried it, you should. The act of entertaining yourself has more health and mental benefits than any other activity. Last year, a vendor, BrightEdge, we use at work was kind enough to invite me and some of their other clients to an event where Jack Dorsey, co-founder of both Twitter and Squareup, gave a fireside chat at Stanford University. Shout out to Ken Y from Gap, he’s an awesome guy and I only met him through that event. During the event, Jack said that he planned his week very deliberately. Saturday was for fun, Monday through Friday were work, and Sunday was for strategy for the upcoming week. What’s odd to me is I only realized this morning, he meant that he planned out his fun and his work for the week on Sunday.

Mind bending. Here I was thinking for almost a year after hearing Jack that he meant on Sunday, you should plan out your work week only. (Same age as me, btw – I’ve sold & started more companies, but he’s created far more value.) It clicked today, after spending the last month finally ignoring work on weekends, disconnecting from my inbox and just trying to breath. To have some fun, smile, laugh and enjoy life. It clicked today that Sundays, in his context, are for planning your next week of life. Sure, work compromises a large chunk for most of us but you have to feed your soul. I work to live, I don’t live to work. My identity should never be all about my job, because then I miss the bigger picture.

How do you tackle your week: Do you plan it out or simply go with the flow?

There’s a famous quote, “You can fail to plan, but nobody plans to fail.” Absolutely true and let’s be real; even if you plan nothing will go exactly as forecast. Any given black and white model fails once it hits the grimy, nuanced and fragmented existence we call reality. That’s fine and should never be used as an excuse to avoid planning.

Are you curious what my plan is this week? I’ll tell you, but first, I have to lower my voice. “They,” might be listening and I can’t afford to let my competitors in on my plans. Can you still hear me? Good. Leaning next to you, I whisper my plan for the week. “I’m going to kick ass.”

It’s better to burn out than fade away – Highlander

Growing up, I saw this Sci-Fi movie with Sean Connery and some other guy about immortals who could only be killed if their heads were chopped off. At one point in the movie (there were sequels too, but I vividly remember the first) the villain says, “It’s better to burn out than fade away.” We remember Machiavelli not because he followed norms, stayed in his place and held his piece. The reason we remember, “The Master,” is that he was willing to call a spade a spade. At one point, he was even tortured for his beliefs. After the fact, he wrote to his friends that despite the torture, he was elated, having survived and not yielded to the gentry which strove to silence him.

I’m a growth hacker. That’s the latest tech meme I’ve seen that most closely aligns with my experience, skill set and resume. Growing up, I was programming in BASIC before the age of ten. Most people I know can’t identify with, “Goto 10,” as a command, nor do they fully grok the elation you experience when you go from no memory to floppy disk storage. At work, in life, with people, I don’t walk around talking floppy disks. These days, it’s all about the cloud, the distributed system, hyperdex and ever decreasing latencies in your application, because speed might be the only thing that matters.

If you aren’t Sean Connery, how do you apply this principle?

Simple. Take a stand. Machiavelli wouldn’t be remembered five hundred years later if he had simply gone with the flow. Yep, he got tortured for his perspective, but isn’t the vision worth fighting for? More than three hundred years ago, my great+ grandfather fought in the revolutionary war. They struggled, they persevered because they saw, they understood: sometimes, regardless of how things are, you need to fight for what’s right. I’ve always likened myself closer to a predator than prey. Sure, the Ostrich move makes sense sometimes but I can’t imagine anybody looking smart with their head in the sand and their butt sticking out.

Leadership lessons from Yoda: “Do, or do not. There is not try.”

Friends and co-workers know I had a very surreal experience in December. When applying for my apartment, they phoned and said somebody had reported me dead on my credit file. Weird. I felt like Bruce Willis in Six Senses. Luckily, the two people with me from work confirmed, nope, I’m still alive. Besides, I have a lot more hair than Bruce Willis (at least, so far – we’ll see if I end up like my brother or dad in a few years). The experience was odd, to say the least. Immediately, I started re-evaluating my priorities.

One of my top priorities has been, on and off, exercise. However, at the time of this surreal experience, I wasn’t exercising on a regular basis and at my age, feeling like I expected to at my dad’s age. Ugh, not good. So I started running a few days a week, then after I moved, I’ve been in the gym every other day for the past few weeks. Somehow, the realization that what I was doing didn’t match what I wanted to do really struck a nerve when I got this odd message.

What’s all this got to do with the mightiest sage of them all, the light saber wielding Yoda?

Either you are exercising, or you aren’t. There is no, “I’m trying to get in better shape,” because let’s face it. Push-ups don’t happen like magic, and running, which sucks, is not something that you just blink & it happens. It’s not like online banking, signing a check or smiling. It takes persistent effort, conscious choice and the mental fortitude to follow through on a schedule. “Do, or do not. There is not try to get in better shape.”

PS: This isn’t just about exercise, you know 😉

No matter how high you think you are, start higher ;)

One of many adjustments that anybody needs to make in their thinking as they transition from individual contributor, to manager and then to a manager with a larger team is high level thinking. A basket of tactics and a to do list is fine for an individual contributor, and I think most appropriate. Sometimes, I still think about skipping out on my job and then cranking out a bunch of tactical to do’s. Sure, I can get them done fast, well and potentially better than most. However, in my current role, that’s not going to help the team elevate their game.

In management, a colleague said a few months ago with presentations to senior leadership, “However high you think you are, start higher.” He grinned and the whole room laughed uproariously, but it’s true. Suppose an astrophysicist walked into your office and started giving you and your team a detailed description of some of the most fascinating minutia of her craft. Other astrophysicists might be glued to their seats, listening in enraptured. But for the people in the room like me, who have expertise in a list of areas but not the foggiest idea of what matters in astrophysics, I’m going to check out. Start dreaming about a sandwich.

How do you know if you’re high, or you just think you’re high?

Start with a team member outside of your immediate group, who doesn’t have the expertise that you, or the team, can bring to bear on the topic. If their eyes roll back and they start asking you what they should have for lunch, “Houston, we have a problem.” Otherwise, if they get engaged, understand the metaphor, the allegory or parable, and the big picture they seem interested in…you can give them some details, to back up that big picture. But if you don’t start high, build the foundation of truth, you lose the opportunity to really communicate.

If we can’t communicate with each other effectively, then the experts among us will just sound like the teacher in Charlie Brown. Potentially full of knowledge, but useless at transmission.