Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken

Paper straws suck. So do paper grocery sacks. I’ll take plastic any day.

Low flow toilets, faucets, and shower heads don’t work – give me the full-blown water pressure.

I also find the protective plastic outlets to be a real pain in the ass.

Recycling is stupid and exhausts more energy than it conserves. Not to mention the self-righteous moral high ground people pretend it endows them with also harms the environment even more.

Your rescue dog is an ugly mutt – and no I don’t want to donate to save homeless pets when I buy dog food for my purebred Bernese Mountain Dog.

Cows are for eating. If you want a properly cooked steak, tell the waiter to knock it’s horns off, wipe it’s ass and send it in here. Or better yet, get a propane grill and do it yourself.

Most things don’t need fixed. We don’t need more bans. People do stupid shit to feel good about themselves.

Everyday Superpowers

A friend of mine once slept in his car for three months.

He moved across the country for a girl. A few months later, they broke up.

So he needed a new plan, fast.

He had just accepted a job that was a bit out of his league, and the thought of declining because he couldn’t afford the cost of living in the city embarrassed him.

Student loans and credit card debt had piled up – he didn’t have free cashflow to afford an apartment.

So he found a parking garage.

His first night, he woke up at 3:30 am in a cold sweat. He peeked out the window from his reclined seat to find a cop parked in the spot next to him. He knew if his cover was blown, he could be arrested. So he laid there – frozen.

In time, he planned his day to a tee. He set his alarm to avoid security guards. He got a gym membership so he could bathe. It forced him to show up to the office early and leave late.

Over the three months, he paid off over $15k of debt and developed a remarkable reputation among his co-workers. Not to mention he earned a great story.

When I think about his story, I’m inspired by the lengths he went to make his situation work. He drew a bad hand – and bluffed it into winning the pot.

He didn’t win the lottery or have a miracle fall out of the sky. But he leveraged his will as a superpower.

His story makes me wonder, maybe superpowers don’t have to be the stuff of myth. What if tough situations are opportunities to develop them.

 

*This post originally appeared in my weekly Crash Newsletter earlier today – where I share inspiration, and the week’s best content on careers, personal growth, and how to get ahead. If you’re interest in learning more, sign up here!

They’re All Super Markets

There is no better argument for deregulation than marketplaces.

If you haven’t experienced one, I recommend it.

Ebay, Uber, Lyft, Amazon, Rover, Facebook Marketplace, the list goes on.

Anytime buyers and a sellers congregate together something beautiful happens. There is a special kind of harmony when the friction of regulation is removed from transactions, and people are set free to deal with each other peacefully.

Even the negotiation process is a form of art. Both buyer and seller have a price point that makes sense to them for a particular good. Neither has to participate if the price doesn’t fit their model. But when both parties finding that happy medium – magic happens.

Markets free people people to signal their preferences with the world: “I have X good at Y price, who wants it?” and “I have X budget, and am looking for Y good, who’s willing to sell?” Both parties participate of their own accord. Peacefully.

People often give markets a bad wrap. Protesting low wages for ride share drivers, or Amazon and Ebay as disrupters of the retail industry. But they’re missing the point.

In free marketplaces, no one forces others to participate in exchange. It happens voluntarily. Spontaneously. Beautifully.

This kind of mutually-beneficial exchange forms the bedrock of a free, prosperous, peaceful society.

Markets are an amazing innovation. They’re something to marvel at. Not condemn.

 

Anything That’s Peaceful

I think it’s entirely bullshit I should have to interact with anyone against my will.

It takes a conscious effort to limit my exposure to people and institutions that steal my freedom. But it’s worth it to me to avoid people who tax my time, my energy, or my emotional bandwidth. Why? Because being around people impairs my quality of life.

Like Dementors, they suck away the best parts of my capacity to create. So I avoid these kinds of people at all costs.

Similarly, when I have a terrible experience at a business, I either provide feedback or I choose not to patronize it.

Anytime an interaction becomes too costly – when it regresses from the threshold of mutual benefit – I can declare my freedom by exercising a choice to avoid these kinds of transactions.

This kind of peaceful interactions allows people to self-select a better standard of living. It provides a basis for humans to participate with one another harmoniously.

Just imagine a world governed by a standard of mutual-benefit. Now contrast that to our world.

We live in a dubious time – a time where freedom of association takes a back seat to political agendas.

Under the guise of law enforcement, governmental invasion spans a significant share of our lives. And to what recourse?

Consider the baker – forced to bake a cake for a customer he doesn’t want to serve, else the government condemns his property. Would you want to do work for someone hostile to you?

Or the corner store – forced to accept cash as a form of payment, or face hefty fines from government cronies. Would you want to work the register at night in a seedy part of town?

You cannot breed peace through force. You cannot breed morality through mandate.

You cannot make people better through bureaucracy. And why would you want to?

 

The Enemy of Progress

Someone reminded me this morning of a Harriet Tubman quote:

“I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”

It made me think.

What if the greatest barrier to our own personal freedom is the belief we’re already free?

It’s almost as if once the idea of freedom is acquired, we stop yearning for it. We accept the status quo as the trappings of a free world.

In other words, we don’t go looking for things that aren’t lost. Just like we don’t try to learn things you think you’ve already mastered.

I’m reminded of an alleged quote from Socrates:

“All I know is I know nothing.”

Perhaps it was the intellectual humility with which he approached knowledge that led him to develop such profound ideas during his lifetime.

By refusing to coronate himself king of any particular subject, his admission of still being a learner allowed him to continue yearning for more.

I wonder how radically different our lives could be if we approached everything with the same brazen awareness.

No matter how much progress we make, there will always be mountains left to climb.

Help People Get Closer to What They Want

Ask people what they think about sales.

They usually conjure up some image of a greasy used car salesman or insurance broker shilling crap.

This image paints sales as the act of persuading someone to buy shit they don’t need. Of a self-serving shark slinging stuff for his own benefit.

I don’t see that as real sales. Predatory sales, maybe. But it misses the mark.

Real sales involves helping people get closer to what they want.

It’s consultative. Like a doctor prescribing a solution to make your pain go away. Or like a librarian recommending a good book.

One of my favorite economists once wrote a great tome called Human Action. In it he describes the necessary conditions for someone to take action. These apply directly to buying decisions:

  1. Unease or Dissatisfaction with their present state of affairs
  2. Vision of a better state
  3. Belief they can reach the better state

Sales isn’t about lubricating the process to move someone to a different state. Sales is about understanding the nature of someone’s unease or dissatisfaction. It’s quantifying their vision of a better state – not your vision of a better state. And it’s helping them reach the conclusion that they have what it takes to reach the better state.

Great salespeople know a secret. Sales is not about the sales person.

It’s about another human being. It’s about that human being’s current state of affairs. It’s about that human being’s vision for a better state. It’s about that human being believing him or herself capable of reaching that better state.

The best sales experiences aren’t transactional or one-sided. They’re relational and mutually beneficial.

Sales enables the transformation of lives.

Sales works best when one human being helps another human being remove friction, unease and dissatisfaction from his or her life.

Sales is about making people more free. Not burdening them with more shit they don’t want.

That’s what I imagine when I think about sales. Sales enables other people to live fuller, richer, more meaningful lives.

How Did You Set People Free Today?

How did you set people free today?

It’s a small, but powerful daily challenge.

I spend a ton of time thinking about careers. How people discover their careers. How they launch them. The pain points and struggles they face as part of them.

Sometimes it’s easy to get sucked into the fray. It’s easy to get mad about “the system.” But it’s all just a distraction.

When I find myself losing focus, getting outraged by the things outside of my control, or bothered by what other people are doing, I go back to this question.

How did you set people free today?

It centers me. It reminds me of a higher calling. Of the purpose I’m striving for with what we’re building at Crash. It reminds me that this is about people. It refocuses me.

And it sets me free.

Stay Hungry.

In the short months that followed I learned just how capable I was. Capable of working hard. Capable of learning. Capable of observing. Capable of improving at least 1% or more each day. Capable of waking up early and working ‘til late. Capable of dedicating myself to labor I believed in and capable of being mentored. I was as capable as I was willing to be.

Six months ago I sat salivating over South Carolina’s tastiest chicken biscuit and an irresistible business opportunity.

I had flown to Charleston to pitch a pretty aggressive business development proposal to my then-boss. My presentation projected 200% growth for his company in 12 months, led entirely by yours truly. It was ballsy. It was unlikely to be accepted. But I believed I could do it and I had to try.

I didn’t know what was going to happen when I took that 1,200-mile flight to a city I’d never visited before to pitch the most aggressive presentation I’d ever crafted to a man I’d never met. But I wasn’t scared. Quite the opposite. I was as alive as I’d ever been.

So when my proposal was rejected I didn’t lose an inch. I gained miles. What I did that day made me proud. It gave me confidence and resolve. It gave me closure. It made what happened next seem natural, providential even.

My experience has given me an acute awareness that failure is part of life. I’ve learned failing usually signals an opportunity to succeed at something else, perhaps even greater. What happened in South Carolina that week did not shock me. It came as no surprise. Not to me. I’ve been working my entire life to position myself for the exact type of situation that unfolded.

What I didn’t know when I got on the plane to leave Oklahoma was that I wasn’t going to South Carolina for this proposal I worked so hard to create. I was following a path years of diligence had carved for me.


It was 24 hours before my proposal and I had taken maybe a bite out of my biscuit. I lost my appetite for food. A new hunger had taken hold of me.

Sitting before me on that table was more than South Carolina’s best breakfast food. There was also opportunity served. The type of opportunity so one-of-a-kind you can’t even dream it up. But for me it was also the kind of opportunity that made me hesitate and ask myself, “Am I capable of this?”

The shellshock wore off with the rejected proposal, and I knew what I had to do. Nothing would stop me. No one would stop me. I knew the only way I could answer that question was to meet it with my best effort. So I did. And everything fell into place.

In the following weeks I uprooted and moved 1,200 miles away. I had no second thoughts. I hadn’t even figured out how I would make it all work when I left. But I found solidarity in the drive. I knew I would make it. I believed I would.

In the short months that followed I learned just how capable I was. Capable of working hard. Capable of learning. Capable of observing. Capable of improving at least 1% or more each day. Capable of waking up early and working ‘til late. Capable of dedicating myself to labor I believed in and capable of being mentored. I was as capable as I was willing to be.

Now I no longer worry if I’m capable. Instead I believe with enough resolve, effort, and willingness to get in the trenches and deliver, I am capable of anything. Anything. And I intend to prove it. Every. Single. Day.

I’ve come a long way since that chicken biscuit, but I’m still as hungry as ever.


Present day, I report directly to the Founder & CEO of a VC-funded startup. No two days have been the same since I started. I’m intellectually stimulated and challenged daily. I get to dive in and solve problems all the time. I get to learn new softwares and help design and implement new processes. I have 360 degrees of exposure to a rapid-growth business that’s taking an $81 billion industry by storm. And I’m only 24 years old.

I could be in law school or working toward an MBA. Instead I experiment daily with actual business operations and with actual entrepreneurs. I could be married and working on a family. Instead, I’m single and creating a fulfilling life. I could have taken a high-paying corporate job, grown roots, and bought a house. Instead, I‘m mortgaging myself so I can be an asset wherever I choose to go, with no cap on income potential. I could be living out any number of prefabricated lifestyle templates. Instead, I’m not. Instead, I’m blazing my own trail and I’m creating a life governed by my own terms.

It all happened because I bet on myself. Not on a credential. Not on conventional wisdom. Not on the status quo. It happened because I refused to follow the beat of someone else’s drum. It happened because I needed to prove to myself what I could do given the chance to thrive. It happened for me and it can happen for anyone who wants to go out and discover the life they’ve always wanted.

Your story to the life you’ve always wanted can begin anywhere, too. Mine started with a chicken biscuit. And that’s why I believe it when people say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Stay hungry, my friends.

 

Break Free From Your Nest.

“Step away from that edge, young bird!” The teacher’s stark, reprimanding voice sent me catapulting from my day dream. “You’ll fall to your death.”

“Step away from that edge, young bird!” The teacher’s stark, reprimanding voice sent me catapulting from my  day dream. “You’ll fall to your death.”

“Oh! But what if I fly?” I boldly replied.

“That’s nonsense. Get your head out of the clouds,” she said. “No one’s ever done it before. You weren’t made to fly. Now sit down, you’re disturbing the class.”

I challenged her. I was not about to give up so easily. “How do you know I won’t soar?”

“Sit down and shut up,” the teacher, not in the mood for a debate, exclaimed. “You’re putting ideas in the other students’ heads. Do you want them growing up believing myths?”

“What if staying nested is a myth?” I asked. Her lectures could not stifle my inspiration.

“Class, listen up,” she started in–the teacher did love an audience, “Let me make this explicity clear once and for all. You were not made to fly. The stories you’ve heard are simply tall tales passed down for ages. Make believe fables. There is no flying. If you leave the nest, there is only dying. Nest life is the best life. What lies beyond the edge of this kingdom is not suited for birds. One foot over the nest’s wall and you will plummet to the earth, meeting a most dissatisfying doom. You must stay here and learn. That is your only hope for survival.”

I could not take it anymore. No teacher would stifle my dreams.

“But I don’t want to survive! I want to glide! I want to feel the wind rushing beneath my wings, to sit atop clouds, to chase lightning bugs on the breeze, and to greet the morning sun with a song from the heights! I must fly! I just must!”

I ran to the edge and threw myself over, hearing gasps followed by an uproar. Then, only the violent rush of wind filling my sinuses and ears.

I hurtled downward picking up speed. Everything around me, a blur. “I might not make it!” The thought rushed to the forefront of my mind. “What if the teacher was right? What if I die?”

“NO!” A roar unlike anything ever produced from my lungs erupted. I don’t even know where it came from. The startling noise ushered from my beak caused me to flinch and toss my arms out beside me.

Everything slowed. I could see. Was I not to die after all?

“Wait a second…I’m flying!” I chirped as loudly as a young bird could chirp. Today was not my day to die. Today surely was my day to fly!

 


When a bird flees its nest for the first time, it has no backup plan. It doesn’t slink to the edge and assess how far away the ground might be. It doesn’t fall from the nest.

It jumps. It spreads its wings. It becomes what it was meant to be.

It flies.

You were meant for more than the safety of your nest.

Take flight today.

 

 

How Long Has It Been?

Your spirit longs to break free. Let it roam wild.

When was the last time you laid in the grass gazing stars,

built a fortress of solitude with furniture and blankets,

slayed an imaginary dragon to save the day,

stayed up too late laughing with friends,

snagged your shirt jumping a fence,

dove into a pond to test the depth,

took a walk out in the rain,

ran barefoot outside,

skinned your knee,

played in the mud,

got lost outside.

How long has it been since you let your inner-child out to play?

It’s been too long.

Your spirit longs to break free.

Let it roam wild.


“We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.” –G.K. Chesterton