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The best thing you can learn from Inception of 'Alphabet' by Larry Page
This is something best I've read in long time, so just wants to keep this piece in my collection.
Written by: James Altucher
========================I visited Google a few weeks ago and, after almost getting arrested, my mind was blown.
First, Claudia wandered into the garage where they were actually making or fixing the driverless cars. When they finally realized she was wandering around, security had to escort her out.
We got scared and we thought we were going to get in trouble or thrown out.
Then we met with a friend high up at Google and learned some of the things Google was working on.
Nothing was related to search. Everything was related to curing cancer (a bracelet that can make all the cancer cells in your body move towards the bracelet), automating everything (cars just one of those things), Wi-Fi everywhere (Project Loon) and solving other “billion person problems”.
A problem wasn’t considered worthy unless it could solve a problem for a billion people.
So now Alphabet is aligning itself towards this strategy: a holding company that owns and invests in other companies that can solve billion person problems.
It’s not divided up by money. It’s divided up by mission.
I want to do this in my personal life also.
Just analyzing Larry Page’s quotes from the past ten years is a guidebook for “billion person success” and for personal success.
Here Are Some Of His Quotes:
"If you’re changing the world, you’re working on important things. You’re excited to get up in the morning."
To have well-being in life you need three things:
A) a feeling of competence or growth.
B) good emotional relationships.
C) freedom of choice.
Being able to wake up excited in the morning is an outcome of well-being.
Feeling like every day you are working on a billion-person problem will give you those three aspects of well-being.
At the very least, when I wake up I try to remember to ask: Who can I help today?
Because I’m a superhero and this is my secret identity.
"Especially in technology, we need revolutionary change, not incremental change."
Too often we get stuck in “good enough”. If you build a business that supports your family and maybe provides for retirement then that is “good enough”.If you write a book that sells 1000 copies then that is “good enough.”You ever wonder why planes have gotten slower since 1965? The Dreamliner 787 is actually slower than the 747. That’s ok. It’s good enough to get people across the world and save on fuel costs.It’s only the people who push past the “good enough syndrome” that we hear about: Elon Musk building a space ship. Larry Page indexing all knowledge. Elizabeth Holmes potentially diagnosing all diseases with a pin prick.
Isaac Asimov wrote classic science fiction like “The Foundation Series” but it wasn’t good enough for him. He ended up writing 500 more books, writing more books than anyone in history.
Larry Page keeps pushing so that every day he wakes up knowing he’s going to go past “good enough” that day.
What does your “good enough” day look like. What’s one thing that moves you past that?
"My job as a leader is to make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, and that they feel they’re having a meaningful impact and are contributing to the good of society."
Whenever I’ve managed companies and have had the small opportunity to be a leader I’ve judged my success on only one thing:
Does the employee at night go home and call his or her parents and say, “guess what I did today!”
I’m not sure this always worked. But I do think Larry Page lifts all his employees to try to be better versions of themselves, to try to surpass him, to try and change the world.
If each employee can say, “who did I help today” and have an answer, then that is a good leader.
Empowering others, empowers you.
"Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future."
The stock market is near all time highs. And yet every company in the original Dow Jones market index (except for GE) has gone out of business.
Even US Steel, which built every building in the country for an entire century, has gone bankrupt.
Never let the practical get in the way of the possible.
It’s practical to focus on what you can do right now.
But give yourself time in your life to wonder what is possible and to make even the slightest moves in that direction.
We’re at maybe 1% of what is possible. Despite the faster change, we’re still moving slow relative to the opportunities we have. I think a lot of that is because of the negativity… Every story I read is Google vs someone else. That’s boring. We should be focusing on building the things that don’t exist.
Sometimes I want to give up on whatever I’m working on. I’m not working on major billion person problems.
And sometimes I think I write too much about the same thing. Every day I try to think, “What new thing can I write today” and I actually get depressed when I can’t think of something totally new.
But I am working on things that I think can help people. And if you are out side of people’s comfort zones, if you are breaking the normal rules of society, people will try to pull you down.
Larry Page didn’t want to be defined by Google for his entire life. He wants to be defined by what he hasn’t yet done. What he might even be afraid to do.
I wonder what my life would be like if I started doing all the things I was afraid to do. If I started defining my life by all the things I have yet to do.
"Many leaders of big organizations, I think, don’t believe that change is possible. But if you look at history, things do change, and if your business is static, you’re likely to have issues."
Guess which company had the original patent that ultimately Larry Page derived his own patent (that created google) from?
Go ahead. Think a second. Guess.
An employee of this company created the patent and tried to get them to use it to catalog information on the web.
So Robin Li, an employee of The Wall Street Journal, quit the newspaper of capitalism (who owned his patent), moved to China (a communist country), and created Baidu.
And Larry Page modified the patent, filed his own, and created Google.
And the Wall Street Journal got swallowed up by Rupert Murdoch and is dying a slow death.
"I think as technologists we should have some safe places where we can try out new things and figure out the effect on society."
A friend of mine is writing a novel but is afraid to publish it. “Maybe it will be bad,” he told me.
Fortunately we live in a world where experimentation is easy. You can make a 30 page novel, publish it on Amazon for nothing, use an assumed name, and test to see if people like it.
Heck, I’ve done it. And it was fun.
Mac Lethal is a rapper who has gotten over 200 million views on his YouTube videos. Even Ellen had him on her show to demonstrate his skills.
I asked him, “do you get nervous if one of your videos gets less views than others?”
He told me valuable advice: “Nobody remembers your bad stuff. They only remember your good stuff.”
I live by that.
"If we were motivated by money, we would have sold the company a long time ago and ended up on a beach."
Larry Page and Sergey Brin wanted to be academics. When they first patented Google, they tried to sell to Yahoo for $1 million (ONE MILLION DOLLARS).
When Yahoo laughed them out the door, they tried to sell to Excite for $750,000.
Excite laughed them out the door. Now an ex-employee of Google is the CEO of Yahoo. And the founder of Excite works at Google. Google dominates.
Money is a side effect of trying to help others. Trying to solve problems. Trying to move beyond the “good enough”.
So many people ask: “how do I get traffic?” That’s the wrong question.
If you ask every day, “How did I help people today?” then you will have more traffic and money than you could have imagined.
"Invention is not enough. Tesla invented the electric power we use, but he struggled to get it out to people. You have to combine both things: invention and innovation focus, plus the company that can commercialize things and get them to people."
Everyone quotes the iconic story of Thomas Edison “failing” 10,000 times to get the electric lightbulb working.
I put failing in quotes because he was doing what any scientist does. He does many experiments until one works.
But what he did that was truly remarkable was convince New York City a few weeks later to light up their downtown using his lights.
The first time ever a city was lit up at night with electricity.
That’s innovation. That’s how the entire world got lit up.
"If you say you want to automate cars and save people’s lives, the skills you need for that aren’t taught in any particular discipline. I know – I was interested in working on automating cars when I was a Ph.D. student in 1995."
Too often we get labeled by our degree and our job titles. Larry Page and Elon Musk were computer science majors. Now they build cars and space ships.
David Chang was a competitive golfer as a kid, majored in religious studies in college, and then had random gopher jobs in his 20s.
The gopher jobs all happened to be in restaurants so he became familiar with how the business was run.
Then he started probably the most popular restaurant in NYC, momofoku. A dozen or so restaurants later, he is one of the most successful restauranteurs in history.
Peter Thiel worked as a lawyer in one of the top law firms in NY. When he quit in order to become an entrepreneur, he told me that many of his colleagues came up to him and said, “I can’t believe you are escaping”.
Escaping the labels and titles and hopes that everyone else has for us is one of the first steps in Choosing Ourselves for the success we are meant to have.
We define our lives from our imagination and the things we create with our hands.
"It really matters whether people are working on generating clean energy or improving transportation or making the Internet work better and all those things. And small groups of people can have a really huge impact."
What I love about this quote is that he combines big problems with small groups.
A small group of people created Google. Not Procter & Gamble. Or AT&T.
Even at Apple, when Steve Jobs wanted to create the Macintosh, he moved his small group to a separate building so they wouldn’t get bogged down in the big corporate bureaucracy that Apple was becoming.
Ultimately, they fired him for being too far from the corporate message.
Years later, when Apple was failing, they brought him back. What did he do? He cut most of the products and put people into small groups to solve big problems.
Before his death he revolutionized the movie industry, the computer industry, the music industry, TVs, and now even watches (watch sales have plummeted after the release of the Apple Watch).
All of this from a guy who finished one semester of studying calligraphy in college before dropping out.
Studying the history of Apple is like studying a microcosm of the history of how to create big ideas. Larry Page is recreating this with his new corporate structure.
We don’t have as many managers as we should, but we would rather have too few than too many.
The 20th century was the century of middle-class corporatism. It even became a “law” called “The Peter Principle” – everyone rises to their level of incompetence.
One of the problems society is having now is that the entire middle layer of management is being demoted, outsourced, replaced by technology, and fired.
This is not a bad or a good thing (although it’s scary). But it’s a return to the role of masters and apprentices without bureaucracy and paperwork in the middle.
It’s how things get done. When ideas go from the head into action with few barriers in the middle.
To be a successful employee, you have to align your interests with those of the company, come up with ideas that further help the customers, and have the mandate to act on those ideas, whether they work or not.
That’s why the employee who wrote much of the code inside the Google search engine, Craig Silverstein, is now a billionaire.
Where is he now? He’s an employee at online education company, The Khan Academy.
If you ask an economist what’s driven economic growth, it’s been major advances in things that mattered – the mechanization of farming, mass manufacturing, things like that. The problem is, our society is not organized around doing that.
Google is now making advances in driverless cars, delivery drones, and other methods of automation.
Everyone gets worried that this will cost jobs. But just look at history. Cars didn’t ruin the horse industry. Everyone simply adjusted.
TV didn’t replace books. Everything adjusted. The VCR didn’t shut down movies.
The Internet didn’t replace face to face communication (well, the jury is still out).
"What is the one sentence summary of how you change the world? Always work hard on something uncomfortably exciting!"
Not everyone wants to create a driverless car. Or clean energy. Or solve a billion person problem.
But I have a list of things that are uncomfortably exciting to me.
They are small, stupid things. Like I’d like to write a novel. Or perform standup comedy. Or maybe start another business based on my ideas for helping people.
Every day I wake up a tiny bit afraid. But I also try to push myself a little closer in those directions. I know then that’s how I learn and grow.
Sometimes I push forward. Sometimes I don’t. I want to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable.
I do think there is an important artistic component in what we do. As a technology company I’ve tried to really stress that.
Nobody knows what the definition of Art is.
How about: something that doesn’t exist except in the imagination, that you then bring out into the real world that has some mix of entertainment, enlightenment, and betterment.
I don’t know. Something like that.
Certainly the iPad is a work of art. And the iPad has created works of art. And when I first saw a driverless car I thought, “that’s beautiful”.
I’m going to try and put my fingerprint on something today. And maybe it will be art.
The idea that everyone should slavishly work so they do something inefficiently so they keep their job – that just doesn’t make any sense to me. That can’t be the right answer.
We’ve been hypnotized into thinking that the “normal life” is a “working life”.
If you don’t “go to work” then you must be sick or on the tiny bit of vacation allotted to you each year.
What if everything you did you can inject a little bit of leisure, a little bit of fun into it.
I have fun writing, except when I think I have to meet a deadline (work). I have fun making a business that people actually use except when I think about money too much (work).
When you are at the crossroads and your heart loves one path and doesn’t love the other, forget about which path has the money and the work, take the path you love.
We want to build technology that everybody loves using, and that affects everyone. We want to create beautiful, intuitive services and technologies that are so incredibly useful that people use them twice a day. Like they use a toothbrush. There aren’t that many things people use twice a day.
What a great idea for a list of the day!
What are ten things that can be invented that people would use twice a day?
You need to invent things and you need to get them to people. You need to commercialize those inventions. Obviously, the best way we’ve come up with doing that is through companies.
I was speaking to Naveen Jain, who made his billions on an early search engine, InfoSpace.
He just started a company to mine rare earth minerals on the Moon.
But his real goal is extra-planetary colonization.
Somehow we got around to the question of why have a company in the middle of that. He has billions. He can just go straight for the colonization part.
He said, “Every idea has to be sustainable. Profitability is proof that an idea is sustainable.”
You may think using Google’s great, but I still think it’s terrible.
K. Anders Ericsson made famous the “10,000 hour rule” popularized later by Malcom Gladwell.
The rule is: if you practice WITH INTENT for 10,000 hours then you will be world-class.
He then wondered why typists would often reach a certain speed level and then never improve no matter how many hours.
After doing research, its because they forgot the “With intent” part. They were satisfied with “good enough”.
You have to constantly come up with new metrics to measure yourself, to compete against yourself, to better the last plateau you reached.
Google is great. But it can be better. Having this mindset always forces you to push beyond the comfort zone.
Once they changed the way typists viewed their skills (by recreating the feeling of “beginner’s mind”) the typists continued to get faster.
We have a mantra: don’t be evil, which is to do the best things we know how for our users, for our customers, for everyone. So I think if we were known for that, it would be a wonderful thing.
Many people argue whether or not Google has succeeded at this. That’s not the point.
The point is: Values before Money.
A business is a group of people with a goal to solve a problem. Values might be: we want to solve a problem, we want the customer to be happy, we want employees to feel like they have upward mobility, etc.
Once you lose your values, you’ll lost the money as well. This why family-run businesses often die by the third generation (“Shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations).
The values of the founder got diluted through his descendants until the company failed.
I think it is often easier to make progress on mega-ambitious dreams. Since no one else is crazy enough to do it, you have little competition. In fact, there are so few people this crazy that I feel like I know them all by first name.
Our parents have our best interests at heart and tell us how to be good adults.
Our schools have our best interests.
Our friends, colleagues, sometimes our bosses, sometimes government, think they have our best interests.
But it’s only when everyone thinks you are crazy that you know you are going to create something that surprises everyone and really makes your own unique handprint on the world.
And because you went out of the comfort zone, you’re only competing against the few other people as crazy as you are.
You know what it’s like to wake up in the middle of the night with a vivid dream? And you know that if you don’t have a pencil and pad by the bed, it will be completely gone by the next morning. Sometimes it’s important to wake up and stop dreaming. When a really great dream shows up, grab it.
For every article I’ve ever written, there’s at least ten more I left behind in the middle of the night thinking I would remember in the morning.
I have to beat myself in the head. I . Will. Not. Remember….Must. Write. Down.
It’s hard to wake up. And that’s the only thing worth remembering. It’s hard to wake up.
I have always believed that technology should do the hard work – discovery, organization, communication – so users can do what makes them happiest: living and loving, not messing with annoying computers! That means making our products work together seamlessly.
This is a deep question – who are you? If you have a mechanical hand, is that “you”?
Conversely, if you lose a hand, did you lose a part of you. Are you no longer a complete person? The complete you?
If an implant is put into your brain to access Google, does that effect who you view your self to be?
When books were invented, memory suffered. We no longer had to remember as much, because we can look things up.
Does that make our brains less human?
I bet memory has suffered with the rise of Google. Does this mean our consciousness has suffered?
When we created fire, we outsourced part of our digestion to this new invention. Did this make our stomachs less human?
With technology taking care of the basic tasks of our brain and body, it allows us to achieve things we couldn’t previously dream possible.
It allows us to learn and explore and to create past the current comfort zone. It allows us to find the happiness, freedom, and well-being we deserve.
Over time, our emerging high-usage products will likely generate significant new revenue streams for Google as well as for our partners, just as search does today.
This is it. This is why Larry Page has re-oriented Google into Alphabet.
Don’t waste your most productive energies solving a problem that now only has incremental improvements.
Re-focus the best energies on solving harder and harder problems.
Always keeping the value of “how can I help a billion people” will keep Google from becoming a Borders bookstore (which went out of business after outsourcing all of their sales to Amazon).
How does this apply to the personal?
Instead of being a cog in the machine for some corporation, come up with ways to automate greater abundance.
Always understand that coming up with multiple ways to help people is ultimately the way to create the biggest impact.
Impact then creates health, friendship, competence, abundance, and freedom.
But this is also why he created Alphabet and put Google underneath it.
To save the world. To save me.
Original article appeared here: http://inc42.com/buzz/20-things-ive-learned-from-l..
The only technique to learn something new
By James Altucher
I had a friend who wanted to get better at painting. But she thought she had to be in Paris, with all the conditions right. She never made it to Paris. Now she sits in a cubicle under fluorescent lights, filling out paperwork all day.
Someone stole $90 million from a company I was involved in. I'm a poor judge of people. The company collapsed.
Some things I can't learn. I tend to like people too much.
So it's hard for me to be a good judge of people, no matter how much I try. So I find other people who are good at judging people and I ask them to help me.
Don't force yourself to learn something if you don't want to or it's not a natural talent.
What's the role of talent? Very small. But you have to start with it. Talent is the seed of skill.
How do you know if you are talented? If you loved it when you were ten years old. If you dream about it. If you like to read about it. Read the below and you'll know what you are talented at.
Trust me when I say: everyone is talented at many things.
￼ This story is from James Altucher's website. He let us it after we asked nicely.In the past 20 years I've wanted to learn how to do some things really well. Writing, programming, business skills (leadership, sales, negotiating, decision-making), comedy, games.
So I developed a ten step technique for learning.
1. LOVE IT.
If you can't start with "love" then everyone who does love will beat everyone who "likes" or "hates".
This is a rule of the universe. The first humans who crossed the arctic tundra from Siberia to Alaska in -60 degree temperatures had to love it. The rest stayed in the East Africa Savannah.
The very first day I wrote a "Hello, World" computer program I dreamed about computers. I woke up at 4am to get back to the "computer lab" and make even bigger programs.
When I first started to write every day, I would write all day. I couldn't stop. And all I wanted to talk about with people were different authors.
When I was 10 years old I wrote a gossip column about all my fellow 5th graders. I read every Judy Blume book. I read everything I could. I loved it.
Most of my friends got bored with me and soon I was very lonely. Except when I was writing.
2. READ IT.
Bobby Fischer wasn't that good at chess. He had talent but nobody thought much of him.
So around the age of 12-13 he disappeared for a year. He did this later in his 20s.
But at 13 when he came back on the scene he was suddenly the best chessplayer in the US, won the US championship, and became the youngest grandmaster in the world.
How did he do it? He barely played at all during his year of wandering.
Instead he did two things:
a) he studied every game played in the prior century. In the 1800s.
When he came back on the scene he was known for playing all of these antiquated openings but he had improvements in each one. Nobody can figure out how to defeat these improvements.
In fact, the final game of the World Championship many years later, in 1972 when he was playing Spassky, he brought out his 1800s arsenal to become World Champion.
Spassky desperately needed to win to keep the match going. Fischer needed to draw to win the title.
Spassky started with a very modern attacking opening ("The Sicilian") But then around 13 moves in, all of the commentators watching gasped.
Fischer had subtly changed the opening into an old-fashioned very drawish 1800s opening called "The Scotch Game." Spassky didn't have a chance after that.
b) He learned enough Russian to read the Russian chess magazines. At the time, the top 20 players in the world were all Russian. The Americans didn't really have a chance.
So Fischer would study the Russian games while all of the Americans were sitting around with openings and styles the Russians already knew how to defeat.
Consequently, when Fischer competed in the US championship in the early 60s it was the first complete shutout, all wins and not a single draw.
Studying the history, studying the best players, is the key to being the best player. Even if you started off with average talent.
3. TRY IT. BUT NOT TOO HARD.
If you want to be a writer, or a businessman, or a programmer, you have to write a lot, start a lot of businesses, and program a lot of programs.
Things go wrong. This is why quantity is more important than quality at first.
The learning curve that we all travel is not built by accomplishments. It's only built by quantity.
If you see something 1000 times, you'll see more than the person who sees the same thing only ten times.
Don't forget the important rule: the secret of happiness is not "being great" - the secret is "growth".
If you only "try" you'll get to your level that is natural for you. But growth will stop and you won't be happy.
4. GET A TEACHER (PLUS THE 10X RULE).
If I try to learn Spanish on my own, I get nowhere. But when I go out (and now marry) someone who is from Argentina, I learn more Spanish.
With chess, writing, programming, business, I always find someone better than me, and I set a time each week to ask them tons of questions, have them give me assignments, look over my mistakes and tell me where I am wrong.
For everything you love, find a teacher and that makes you learn 10x faster.
In fact, everything I put on this list, makes you learn 10x faster. So if you do everything on this list you will learn 10 to the 10th power faster than anyone else.
That's how you become great at something.
5. STUDY THE HISTORY. STUDY THE PRESENT.
If you want to learn how to be a GREAT programmer (not just good enough to program an app but good enough to be GREAT, study machine language.
Study 1s and 0s. Study the history of the computer, learn how to make an operating system, and Fortran, Cobol, Pascal, Lisp, C, C , all the way through the modern languages of Python, etc.
If you want to write better, read great books from the 1800s. Read Hemingway and Virginia Woolf and the Beats, and the works that have withstood the test of time.
They have withstood the test of time. versus millions of other books, for a reason. They are the best in the world.
Then study the current criticism of those books to see what you have missed. This is just as important as the initial reading.
If you want to study business, read biographies of Rockefeller, Carnegie, the first exchange in Amsterdam, the junk-bond boom, the 90s, the financial bust. Every Depression. All the businesses that flourished in every depression.
Read "Zero to One" by Peter Thiel. Watch "The Profit" on CNBC. Read about Steve Jobs. Read about the downfall of Kodak in "The End of Power".
Don't read self-help business books. They are nothing. You are about to enter a great field, the field of innovation that has created modern society. Don't read the average books that came out last year.
Step up your game and read about the people and inventions that changed the world into what it is today.
Read how Henry Ford had to start three car companies to get it right and why "three" was the important number for him.
Read about why Ray Kroc's technique for franchising created the world's largest restaurant chain. Read how the Coca-Cola makes absolutely nothing but is the largest drink company in the world.
Write down the things you learn from each reading.
6. DO EASY PROJECTS FIRST.
Tony Robbins told me about when he was scared to death on his first major teaching job.
He had to teach a bunch of Marines how to improve their sharpshooting. "I had never shot a gun in my life," he said.
He studied quite a bit from professionals but then he came up with a technique that resulted in the best scores of any sharpshooting class before then.
He brought the target closer.
He put it just five feet from them. They all shot bullseyes. Then he moved it back bit by bit until it was the standard distance.
They were still shooting bullseyes.
Richard Branson started a magazine before he started an airline. Bill Gates wrote BASIC before his team wrote Windows.
E.L. James (and yes, I'm including her) wrote Twilight fan fiction, before she wrote "50 Shades of Grey".
Ernest Hemingway never thought he could write a novel. So he wrote dozens of short stories.
Programmers write "Hello, World" programs before they make their search engines.
Many chess grandmasters recommend you study the endgame first in chess (when there are few pieces left on the board) before you study the other parts of the game.
This gets you confidence, it teaches subtleties, it gives you greater feelings of growth and improvement - all steps on the path to success.
7. STUDY WHAT YOU DID.
The other day I threw everything out. Everything. I threw out all my books (donated). I threw out all my clothes.
I threw out old computers. I threw out plates I never used. I threw out sheets I would never have guests for. I threw out furniture (four book cases) and my TV and old papers and everything.
I wanted to clean up. And I did.
I found a novel I wrote in 1991. 24 years ago. It was horrible.
For the first time in those 24 years, I re-read it. I studied what I did wrong (character unrelatable. Plot too obvious. Deus ex machina all over the place).
Someone told me a story about Amy Schumer, one of my favorite comedians. She videotapes all her performances.
Then she goes back to her room and studies the performance second by second. "I should have paused another quarter-second here," she might say.
She wants to be the best at comedy. She studies her every performance.
When I play chess, if I lose, I run the game into the computer. I look at every move, what the computer suggests as better, I think about what I was thinking when I made the bad move, and so on.
A business I was recently invested in fell apart. It was painful for me. But I had to look at it and see what was wrong. Where did I make a mistake. At every level I went back and wrote what happened and where I might have helped better and what I missed.
If you aren't obsessed with your mistakes then you don't love the field enough to get better.
You ask lousy questions: "Why am I no good?" Instead of good questions: "What did I do wrong and how can I improve?"
When you consistently ask good questions about your own work, you become better than the people who freeze themselves with lousy questions.
Example: I hate watching myself after a TV appearance. I have never done it. So I will never get better at that.
8. YOU ARE THE AVERAGE OF THE FIVE PEOPLE AROUND YOU.
Look at every literary, art, and business scene. People seldom get better as individuals. They get better as groups.
The Beats: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and a dozen others.
The programmers: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Ted Leonsis, Paul Allen, Steve Wozniak and a dozen others all came out of the Homebrew Club
The art scene in the 50s: Jasper Johns, De Kooning, Pollack, etc all lived on the SAME STREET in downtown NYC.
YouTube, LinkedIn, Tesla, Palantir, and to some extent Facebook, and a dozen other companies came out of the so-called "PayPal mafia".
All of these people could've tinkered by themselves. But humans are tribal mammals. We need to work with groups to improve.
Find the best group, spend as much time with them, and as a "scene" you become THE scene.
You each challenge each other, compete with each other, love each other's work, become envious of each other, and ultimately take turns surpassing each other.
9. DO IT A LOT.
What you do every day matters much more than what you do once in awhile.
I had a friend who wanted to get better at painting. But she thought she had to be in Paris, with all the conditions right.
She never made it to Paris. Now she sits in a cubicle under fluorescent lights, filling out paperwork all day.
Write every day, network every day, play every day, live healthy every day.
Measure your life in the number of times you do things. When you die: are you 2 writing sessions old? Or are you 50,0000?
10. FIND YOUR EVIL PLAN.
Eventually the student passes the master.
The first hedge fund manager I worked for now hates me. I started my own fund and his fund went out of business. My evil plan was ultimately to be better than him.
After all of the above, you find your unique voice. And when you speak in that voice, the world hears something it has never heard before.
Your old teachers and friends might not want to hear that voice. But if you continue to be around people who love and respect you, then they will encourage that new voice.
There's that saying, "there are no new ideas." But there are.
There are all the ideas in the past combined with the new beautiful you. You're the butterfly.
Now it's your turn to teach, to mentor, to create, to innovate, to change the world. To make something nobody has ever seen before and perhaps will never see again.
The 30 Cheapest Places To Travel In 2017, if your new year resolution is to Travel
Time to start packing your bags: 2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for budget travel. The dollar is enjoying historic highs — meaning your money goes much further in many destinations around the globe — and according to an American Express Global Business Travel report, airfares are expected to fall in 2017.
1. Mazatlan, Mexico
Why: The current exchange rate ($1 = 20.69 Mexican pesos) makes Mexico one of the most affordable destinations.
For the frugal traveler who wants to enjoy more culture than they might in the Riviera Maya, my top pick is Mazatlan. As the shrimp capital of Mexico and a foodie paradise, Mazatlan is teeming with awesome eateries and fresh, interesting dishes. Hotels (including all-inclusive properties) are extremely inexpensive and authentic since most aren't part of the huge chains. El Cid Marina has awesome pools that are perfect for families, great food and huge rooms. (Rates are as low as $100 for a family of four.)
You can also enjoy superb dining at a top-notch restaurant like Casa 46 for less than half what you'd pay in the United States.
Side note: Sinaloa (the state where Mazatlan resides) grows the bulk of produce in Mexico, so Mazatlan produce is unbelievably cheap as a result. You see this reflected in top restaurants all the way down to street markets.
2. South Africa
Why: In South Africa, the exchange rate is in our favor, but so is the fact that it's a developed tourist destination with a solid infrastructure. In spending a month in Cape Town earlier this year and relying on Uber to get me to and from meetings, activities and lunches, I averaged under $20 in transportation per day — a major win.
Hotels are cheaper, too: Take a standard room at Taj Hotels & Resorts in New York, and you are out about $786 a night, whereas in Cape Town, a room at a similar luxury property costs $266. Remember, South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, so seasons are the opposite: Consider going in low season (our summer) when hotels and safari lodges are even less expensive.
Airbnb and private villa rentals are also reliable and cheap options in the major cities. Travelers should also consider booking domestic airfare in advance for the greatest cost savings, since flights on South African Airways can sell out quickly.
The best value of all is the wine: Travelers can order a glass of one of the best locally produced varietals for less than the cost of a can of soda. For more information on travel in South Africa, watch "Michaela's Map: First Timers' Guide to Southern Africa."
3. San Juan, Puerto Rico
Why: The best way to get a deal in the Caribbean is to travel during the low season (end of April through mid-December) to destinations that have direct and frequent fights from your gateway; plenty of hotel inventory; and economies that aren't euro-based.
Puerto Rico fits the bill, and I'm a big fan of San Juan, which I think is seriously underrated as an easy and affordable getaway, especially for visitors from the East Coast of the U.S. Old San Juan oozes charm, and if you stay within the old city's two-square-mile radius you won't need a car rental to access great restaurants, sightseeing and shopping.
U.S. citizens can save themselves the cost of a passport since it's not required to visit, and since the U.S. dollar is the legal tender, there's no money lost on currency exchange. Hotel Casa Blanca and Villa Herencia are two of my favorite high-style/low-cost boutique hotels.
Why: Europe is on everyone's list of value-added trips this year and for good reason — the exchange rate is more favorable for American travelers than it has been in years. But the destinations I most dream about and long to return to are in South America, a destination that has long given travelers great value for money.
In Chile, I love Santiago for its vibrant food and wine scene — think tucked-away wine bars, delicious tapas and hip hotels in a beautifully chaotic city. For a lesser-known and truly special corner of the world, I love the small lakeside town of Puerto Varas. It is part of the lakes district in Chile and the northern start of Patagonia.
It is easy (and cheap!) to rent a car and explore this area. There is a surprising German heritage, so you'll see signs for "kuchen" (cake). With Puerto Varas as a hub, you can explore great places within a two-hour drive from the city: going to the top of a volcano, exploring waterfalls, finding the best cakes and food.
This area sees very few American visitors and everything is CHEAP. It's one of those places I almost want to keep to myself, but it's so special that I can't.
Why: With the U.S. dollar strong against the euro right now and the economic crisis in Greece keeping prices lower than other parts of Europe, it’s the perfect time to visit the beautiful island of Crete. Crete is a foodie dream come true.
A place where farm-to-table isn’t a new fad, it’s a way of life. The people here often live to be well over 100 years old so they must be doing something right! With truly stunning natural beauty (like Balos beach) and locals that welcome tourists with open arms, you are bound to have the trip of a lifetime and save a few dollars at the same time.
Why: For many, Morocco is the ultimate dream trip, and yet cost tends to keep most from visiting. But what you might not know is that it's one of the most affordable African countries, particularly when comparing flight costs. R
eaching Marrakech from cities such as Lisbon, Madrid and Paris may only set you back $40 to $100 roundtrip with many budget airlines. And this past Black Friday, flights from New York were a mere $400 roundtrip.
Food is by far my main reason for visiting as often as I do, and typical meals can range from $2.50 to $15 for two, which includes appetizers, entree and unlimited mint tea. For vegetarians and vegans, the country is especially great, as veggies are cheaper than meat and fresh fruit smoothies are barely $1.
Souvenir shopping can get a bit intense when you realize leather goods such as wallets, handbags and weekenders run from $5 to $60. (A shopaholics dream!) When it comes to accommodations there's something to fit everyone's budget, my favorite being Riad Yasmine (only $80-$160 per night).
For those looking for Moroccan luxury while still on a budget, my go-to is Riad Kheirredine, which will have you living like a queen without breaking the bank and even provides a cell phone during your stay to ensure guest safety.
Why: Modern conveniences and history collide in Belize. It's a perfect place to take a budget romantic vacation. Many of the four-star hotels offer extras, like bicycle rentals, included in their low rates, as well as Belize's excellent local wines.
Some affordable resorts to check out are George Hardie's Las Vegas Hotel in Corozal (Northern Belize) and the oceanside Royal Caribbean Resort in San Pedro along Ambergris Caye. Both can be booked for under $100 per night.
Meals are also crazy cheap, but delicious. Two can eat at an upscale restaurant for less than $30, and much less at an everyday venue.
Why: Affordable upscale accommodations, cheap and remarkably healthy food and beautiful sights make Vietnam a standout among budget-friendly South Asian destinations.
Eat your way through historic Hanoi, kayak in the emerald waters of Halong Bay or relax in ancient Hoi An and the nearby beaches. There are clean, safe accommodations to fit everyone's wallet. In Hanoi, my favorite is the Tirant Hotel, near the old town, where you can bag a room for less than $70 a night.
Don't miss the Hanoi street food tour: For just $20 per person, a guide will lead you on foot or by scooter through backstreets, markets and footpaths.
You will eat like the locals and learn the names and ingredients in the dishes so you can order them again. And be sure to take the time to sip a bowl of steaming "pho" noodle soup in restaurants, push carts and food stalls, where a street meal and a beer can cost the same as a caramel macchiato at Starbucks.
9. Costa Rica
Why: Costa Rica is the one of the most biodiverse places on the planet and to be able to see this on a shoestring is an incredible opportunity.
There's a ton of national parks to explore, for instance, that only cost a few dollars to enter. Once there, you can then enjoy free self-guided walks that won't cost you a cent, but will deliver some great encounters with amazing wildlife like tapirs, monkeys, sloths and macaws.
Manuel Antonio and Corcovado National Parks are two of the best. Public transport is also super cheap in Costa Rica, with buses generally less than $10, even for an eight-hour ride. This makes traveling between destinations in this compact country very affordable and means you can see a lot in a short amount of time.
In addition, budget accommodation in Costa Rica — even at some of the best surf beaches — can be as little as $6 per person. And a "plato tipico" (local dish) can be enjoyed anywhere for as little as $2-3.
Why: Portugal is a pocket of affordable travel in contrast to the rest of Western Europe, especially if you get off the highways and take the back roads (where you can also avoid tolls).
A bottle of delicious port and a plate of the day with a glass of wine can be found for around €5 each. Nowhere else in the world can its "California Highway 1 meets Tuscany" landscapes be enjoyed on such a budget, especially now that the dollar is strong against the euro.
Why: Although Ecuador is not quite as inexpensive as Peru to the south, it’s an easy and affordable destination to travel to, especially if you stay a bit off the beaten path. It’s a short cheap flight from Florida with budget airlines like jetBlue and TAME, and accommodation is pretty cheap.
Shop at your local market and you can get a week’s worth of groceries for $10. And Ecuador has lots of variety; from surf beach towns like Montanita, to the volcanic Banos with famed hot springs at the gateway to the Amazon basin, to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cuenca in the high Andes, there’s a lot to see. The bus systems are good and domestic flights cheap and plentiful. F
ind a free accommodation option like house-sitting or volunteering, and your trip can be even cheaper.
Why: Barcelona is ranked right up there with cities like Paris and London as one of the most popular European cities, but it is by far the most affordable. This is thanks to low-cost tapas restaurants, endless free attractions and affordable things to do.
Have a meal of tapas and wine at El Xampanyet for around €10-15. Soak up the rays on the beach at Barceloneta. Get lost in the La Boqueria Market.
And take the tram up to Tibidabo (only €5) for sweeping panoramic views of the city; it's also where you can experience a vintage amusement park and a gorgeous cathedral.
13. Where: Guatemala
Why: Often bypassed in favor of nearby Costa Rica, Guatemala is unique unto itself in Central America. And because it's a bit more "off the path" in the region, it's also easy on the budget and a nice place to splurge.
The villas and hotels rimming Lake Atitlán have all the beauty you could want for a small fraction of the price you'd pay in Europe or elsewhere. From the lake, you can then delve into the country's unique culture by visiting the indigenous markets and villages in the Guatemalan highlands.
Lush Atitlan is a gorgeous, affordable place to stay in San Marcos La Laguna, the prettiest and most culturally interesting of Lake Atitlan's villages.
14. Bonaire & Curaçao
Why: In the deep Southern Caribbean, Bonaire and Curaçao are always out there on the edge of everyone's Caribbean consciousness. Both are known for scuba diving, but also for other water sports, hiking and amazing secluded beaches.
Vacation villas that let you live like a local are plentiful and affordable on both islands, but chain hotels like the Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino are an option on Curaçao (great if you're using points).
Bonaire gets its very first chain hotel at the end of 2016 when a Marriott Courtyard opens.
15. Las Vegas
Why: If you can avoid the slots, there are lots of free things to do in Vegas: The Flamingo's flamingo habitat, the fountains and conservatory at the Bellagio and the outdoor movies at the Container Park are just a few.
You can also find many places for cheap eats if you are willing to get off The Strip to do so. Check out the nearby Crown and Anchor, which serves up delicious British favorites, and Ninja Teriyaki Sushi 2 Go for fresh-made amazing sushi rolls in a no-frills setting.
Why: Sadly, the average income in Cambodia is about $950 per year. What does this mean for international travelers? Your international airfare might be expensive, but once you are in Cambodia, you can live well. Tuks tuks (a combo bike/taxi) and food cost just pennies. Even international hotel chains and luxury river boats down the Mekong are more affordable than other Asian destinations.
Before visiting, I suggest doing your homework to support luxury companies like the Shinta Mani Resort, whose foundation plays a large role in its community, building water wells, schools and farms and providing the best healthcare in the country to its employees. Culturally conscious companies like Aqua Expeditions sustainably introduce their guests to the communities along the Mekong River, including the floating markets and the farmers in the rice fields; the company can even arrange a conversation with a local Buddhist monk to discuss the significance of his journey from childhood to monkhood.
Why: If you're looking into an exotic long-haul trip, Bali offers a ton of high quality experiences for a great value. You can easily stay in a private villa overlooking stunning rice paddies with a private pool for around $50 per night. (Airbnb is a great way to go).
However, if you want to splurge a bit but not go overboard, a stay at a high-end luxury resort will still cost you less than a stay at a luxury resort, for example, in Maui. Not to mention, spa and transportation costs are quite low relative to other exotic locales, as well as the amazing and healthy food options that end up being a fraction of the cost elsewhere in the world.
Why: The weakened euro has made any trip to Europe more affordable, but this is especially true in Greece. The struggling economy craves tourist dollars and makes it known with affordable pricing on everything from hotels to food.
In Athens, you can book a three- or four-star hotel for well under $100, like 360 Degrees, a nice and modern hotel with a huge breakfast buffet included and an awesome location directly on Monastiraki Square.
Throughout the countryside, prices may be even better. Best of all, you can sit down to an amazing Greek meal with drinks (Mythos or Ouzo?), appetizers (Saganaki, anyone?) and entrees of your choosing for less than half what you'd pay in the States. Heck, you can pick up Souvlaki or a gyro for $1-$2. Souvenirs are insanely cheap, too.
Why: This forgotten corner of Europe is a wonderfully off-the-beaten-track budget destination in an otherwise very touristy and expensive continent.
With fantastic beaches along its coastline, including the fishing port of Saranda, Albania gives visitors the chance to enjoy the Mediterranean waters for a fraction of the usual price. Accommodation starts from as little as $5 per person and fishing trips or boat rides to the nearby islands are similarly well priced.
There's also some fascinating historical sites across Albania that are either free to enter or cost only $2-$5. From the moutainous medieval town of Gjirokastër to the Roman ruins at Butrint, this is a diverse and very different side of Europe, which is definitely worth visiting before the crowds do.
20. San Luis Potosí, México
Picture a perfect class III white water rafting experience through a limestone canyon of turquoise waters, a visit to a living garden of eden, complete with art sculptures, hidden pools, butterflies and waterfalls, a hike to the largest known cave shaft in the world, which you can rappel into, and a series of waterfalls for cliff jumping.
Top this all off with a plate of homemade tacos and a local beer for $2, and you've got yourself a piece of adventure paradise on a budget.
Still very much under the radar to anyone outside of Mexico, San Luis Potosí could be compared to Costa Rica in terms of adventure and Cambodia in terms of affordability. Since Election Day, the dollar has been especially strong in Mexico, offering an even better excuse to travel south of the border.
21. Quebec City, Canada
Why: Take advantage of the weak Canadian dollar and travel north for a 25% discount on prices.
Enjoy a slice of Old Europe without the jet lag or the cost of a transatlantic flight. Indulge in some of the best French food outside France — steak-frites, oysters and pastries at a bargain price. Stroll and shop in the narrow cobblestone streets of the picturesque Old Town and enjoy night parades and ice canoe races during the colorful Winter Festival in January and February.
22. Buenos Aires
Why: One of the world's most intoxicating cities, Buenos Aires has only grown in popularity, but it's still relatively cheap compared to European and Asian capital cities. There are many green parks, French-inspired architecture, late-night dancing, custom leather shops and fantastic food.
Taxis are relatively cheap (around $5-8 a ride), but you should also walk for miles in all of the distinct neighborhoods, like Palermo (try Salon Canning, a super casual milonga, or dance hall, after midnight). Must-try cheap eat in Buenos Aires: anything dulce de leche. It is everywhere — inside crepes, drizzled over grilled bananas and in gelato.
Tip: Bring a ton of American cash and you'll get better deals in many places. For example, I bought my custom leather jacket at a shop called Uru Recoleta (close to the famous Recoleta Cemetery) and was able to buy it for much less than using my credit card because I brought American dollars.
On Sundays, the place to be is the San Telmo market for browsing leather, antiques, watches, jewelry and more.
Why: While Haiti still remains under the radar as a travel destination, many people have been flocking to the vibrant country, and I can see why: The island provides all the stunning Caribbean characteristics without the high costs. Outside of holiday seasons and the later part of the summer, flights from New York range from $300 to $500, and even cheaper when flying from cities in Florida.
The real gem is how cheap the hotels are, with many starting at $50 to $150 per night including airport transfers. Even the newest Marriott Port-au-Prince will only set you back $130 to under $200 a night for larger rooms.
One of my favorites is Wahoo Bay Beach, which has epic mountain and ocean views from its stunning pool and rooms. You can take small boat tours around the area for a couple of dollars per person. Lobster, conch and crab can be caught right from the water and prepared for you without costing more than $10.
24. Santa Catalina Island, California
Why: Santa Catalina Island is one of my new favorite places. It is way more than a weekend SoCal jaunt. Hotels are quaint and average under the $200 per night mark. The Avalon Hotel is a charming choice. It’s right in the center of town, making it an easy walk to almost any activity. There is plenty to do, like kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, ziplining, hiking or just beach sitting.
The Catalina Island Museum is a must-visit stop to get the full story of the island's fascinating history, including its Hollywood connection. Food and shopping choices are extensive.
And you don’t need a rental car. Getting to the island is easy: Catalina Express Ferry whisks you to there from three different ports, Long Beach, Dana Point and San Pedro. I prefer Long Beach because flights there are often lower priced than neighboring LAX.
Why: With 17,000 islands, you are bound to find the ideal paradise to suit your travel and budget in Indonesia.
There are stunning untouched beaches that offer world-class snorkelling and scuba diving in Raja Ampat, fascinating Unesco World Heritage Sites dating back to the 9th century in Yogyakarta and — everywhere you turn — the friendliest locals. In Raja Ampat, we found a homestay that included breakfast, lunch and dinner — plus it was right on the beach for around $29 USD per person per night. For more, see Food Fun Travel's "Bali Food Guide."
Why: The entire Balkans region is an excellent option for budget travel, and if you haven't been before, I recommend starting with Bulgaria.
From wine country to snowy peaks to the Black Sea coast, it's an adventure playground that every budget can afford. In Bulgaria's wine country you can get a full winery tour with multiple tastings plus bread and cheese for about $5 (check out Villa Melnik winery), take a hike through Bulgaria's famous sandstone pyramids and then sleep in a beautiful authentic style hotel like Zlaten Rozhen with breakfast included for about $30.
27. Cusco, Peru
Why: Most people who pass through Cusco are en route to the very popular Machu Picchu, but you should make sure to spend a few days, maybe even a few weeks in this colorful city. Not only is the city absolutely stunning and oozing with culture, most accommodations range from $20 to $100 a night. Peruvian textiles are extremely affordable and the vibrant colors are stunning.
Eating out in Cusco can be extremely cheap, if you know where to eat. Restaurants are quite affordable compared to most American and European restaurants, but street food here is the real winner. I'm personally addicted to ceviche and can't find it cheaper than $15 for a small portion in the states, but in Cusco's San Pedro Market you can find ceviche plus Peruvian fried rice for only $3.
On my last trip, I had steak and ceviche nearly every day and never spent more than $15 for two including a drink and soup.
Why: Meagen Collins: This ancient European country is starting to grab the attention of travelers from all over the world. Georgia has so much to offer — beautiful scenery, unique culture and tradition everywhere you look, and the food will leave you drooling for more.
Add to that the fact this country lays claim to being the birthplace of wine (winemaking here goes back 8,000 years) and you have the ultimate new travel destination.
In Georgia, you can get a full meal plus copious amounts of wine for two people in a higher end restaurant, with live entertainment and still spend less than $30 — total. But get there fast: Word is getting around about this little gem and it won’t be tourist-free for long.
Why: This country is one of Africa's best budget travel destinations, with some extremely affordable accommodation situated along white sand beaches and next to an azure ocean. (Check out Villa Sands or Terraço das Quitandas.)
There's great scuba diving, too, and you can easily feel like a millionaire here for nothing! For more ideas, see Big World Small Pocket's "17 Incredible Budget Travel Destinations Still On My List (That Should Be On Yours Too!)."
30. Dallas, Texas
Why: Dallas is often overlooked, but packed with fun, food and great places to stay at prices far below the national average. (The city was voted the most affordable destination in the U.S. last year by Priceline and continues to remain a great value.) Downtown buzzes with excitement and culture, and the nearby Design District is exploding with eclectic shopping for home décor.
The high-rise Omni Dallas has rooms with stunning floor-to-ceiling views of the city starting at just under $200, putting you in the center of the action. With a rental car, you can fully explore everything the city has to offer. Look at fringe cities like Grapevine and Plano for the charm of small towns of yesteryear with main street shops and eateries.
The Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine is convenient to DFW airport and offers full-out luxury at rates around the $200 mark.
Our struggles determine our successes
Everybody wants what feels good. Everyone wants to live a carefree, happy and easy life, to fall in love and have amazing sex and relationships, to look perfect and make money and be popular and well-respected and admired and a total baller to the point that people part like the Red Sea when you walk into the room.Everyone would like that—it’s easy to like that.If I ask you, “What do you want out of life?” and you say something like, “I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,” it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is what pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.Everybody wants to have an amazing job and financial independence—but not everyone wants to suffer through 60-hour work weeks, long commutes, obnoxious paperwork, to navigate arbitrary corporate hierarchies and the blasé confines of an infinite cubicle hell. People want to be rich without the risk, without the sacrifice, without the delayed gratification necessary to accumulate wealth.Everybody wants to have great sex and an awesome relationship—but not everyone is willing to go through the tough conversations, the awkward silences, the hurt feelings and the emotional psychodrama to get there. And so they settle. They settle and wonder “What if?” for years and years and until the question morphs from “What if?” into “Was that it?” And when the lawyers go home and the alimony check is in the mail they say, “What was that for?” if not for their lowered standards and expectations 20 years prior, then what for?Because happiness requires struggle. The positive is the side effect of handling the negative. You can only avoid negative experiences for so long before they come roaring back to life.
At the core of all human behaviour, our needs are more or less similar. Positive experience is easy to handle. It’s negative experience that we all, by definition, struggle with. Therefore, what we get out of life is not determined by the good feelings we desire but by what bad feelings we’re willing and able to sustain to get us to those good feelings.
People want an amazing physique. But you don’t end up with one unless you legitimately appreciate the pain and physical stress that comes with living inside a gym for hour upon hour, unless you love calculating and calibrating the food you eat, planning your life out in tiny plate-sized portions.People want to start their own business or become financially independent. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to appreciate the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, and working insane hours on something you have no idea whether will be successful or not.People want a partner, a spouse. But you don’t end up attracting someone amazing without appreciating the emotional turbulence that comes with weathering rejections, building the sexual tension that never gets released, and staring blankly at a phone that never rings. It’s part of the game of love. You can’t win if you don’t play.What determines your success isn’t “What do you want to enjoy?” The question is, “What pain do you want to sustain?” The quality of your life is not determined by the quality of your positive experiences but the quality of your negative experiences. And to get good at dealing with negative experiences is to get good at dealing with life.
There’s a lot of crappy advice out there that says, “You’ve just got to want it enough!”Everybody wants something. And everybody wants something enough. They just aren’t aware of what it is they want, or rather, what they want “enough.”Because if you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs. If you want the beach body, you have to want the sweat, the soreness, the early mornings, and the hunger pangs. If you want the yacht, you have to also want the late nights, the risky business moves, and the possibility of pissing off a person or ten thousand.If you find yourself wanting something month after month, year after year, yet nothing happens and you never come any closer to it, then maybe what you actually want is a fantasy, an idealization, an image and a false promise. Maybe what you want isn’t what you want, you just enjoy wanting. Maybe you don’t actually want it at all.Sometimes I ask people, “How do you choose to suffer?” These people tilt their heads and look at me like I have twelve noses. But I ask because that tells me far more about you than your desires and fantasies. Because you have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns. And ultimately that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question. And pretty much all of us have similar answers. The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain?That answer will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change your life. It’s what makes me me and you you. It’s what defines us and separates us and ultimately brings us together.For most of my adolescence and young adulthood, I fantasized about being a musician — a rock star, in particular. Any badass guitar song I heard, I would always close my eyes and envision myself up on stage playing it to the screams of the crowd, people absolutely losing their minds to my sweet finger-noodling. This fantasy could keep me occupied for hours on end. The fantasizing continued up through college, even after I dropped out of music school and stopped playing seriously. But even then it was never a question of if I’d ever be up playing in front of screaming crowds, but when. I was biding my time before I could invest the proper amount of time and effort into getting out there and making it work. First, I needed to finish school. Then, I needed to make money. Then, I needed to find the time. Then … and then nothing.Despite fantasizing about this for over half of my life, the reality never came. And it took me a long time and a lot of negative experiences to finally figure out why: I didn’t actually want it.I was in love with the result—the image of me on stage, people cheering, me rocking out, pouring my heart into what I’m playing—but I wasn’t in love with the process. And because of that, I failed at it. Repeatedly. Hell, I didn’t even try hard enough to fail at it. I hardly tried at all.The daily drudgery of practicing, the logistics of finding a group and rehearsing, the pain of finding gigs and actually getting people to show up and give a shit. The broken strings, the blown tube amp, hauling 40 pounds of gear to and from rehearsals with no car. It’s a mountain of a dream and a mile-high climb to the top. And what it took me a long time to discover is that I didn’t like to climb much. I just liked to imagine the top.Our culture would tell me that I’ve somehow failed myself, that I’m a quitter or a loser. Self-help would say that I either wasn’t courageous enough, determined enough or I didn’t believe in myself enough. The entrepreneurial/start-up crowd would tell me that I chickened out on my dream and gave in to my conventional social conditioning. I’d be told to do affirmations or join a mastermind group or manifest or something.But the truth is far less interesting than that: I thought I wanted something, but it turns out I didn’t. End of story.I wanted the reward and not the struggle. I wanted the result and not the process. I was in love not with the fight but only the victory. And life doesn’t work that way.
Who you are is defined by the values you are willing to struggle for. People who enjoy the struggles of a gym are the ones who get in good shape. People who enjoy long workweeks and the politics of the corporate ladder are the ones who move up it. People who enjoy the stresses and uncertainty of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it.This is not a call for willpower or “grit.” This is not another admonishment of “no pain, no gain.”This is the most simple and basic component of life: Our struggles determine our successes.
So choose your struggles wisely, my friend.
This post originally appeared on MarkManson.net. Follow @iammarkmanson on Twitter
FLAT OUT CURSED
A GAME/BOOK HYBRID.
7:00AM. Nothing can be heard except the ticking of the town’s clock. While you could admire the beauty of the morning sun or the amazing and calm view of Fighter’s Street, the one thing that stands out is the silence.
We should enjoy it while it lasts…
Ah yes, truly beautiful, but our story here, is far from silent and calm; it’s a mouthful actually.
You could even say that this story is flat out cursed…
7:13 AM. Still silence, but at 7:15 the first few people are waking up.
When the town clock reached 7:15AM the clock began to ring.
Let’s pay attention to this one person, mumbling something upon hearing the loud ringing.
The clock rings louder.
The person is mumbling louder and pulls on their bedsheets.
The clock rings one final time, the loudest way possible.
DRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING! WAKE UP YOU BUNDLE OF INCAPABLES!
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” the person in the bed, pulls out his bedsheets completely and throws them onto the wall.
“GOD DAMN IT!”
Another sleepless night for this person. Having the same nightmare again and again, day and night. This person is 16-year-old John Katherin, emerging from the pits of insomnia.
“Happy Birthday to me… Let’s try to make this day as… acceptable as possible.”
TASK: FIND YOUR CLOTHES.
TIP: SEARCH IN YOUR CLOSET.
John walks up to the window. You can see a giant wall blocking the view from the window. The wall has a giant campaign poster glued onto it. Some glue still drips from it.
John walks up to his bedside cabinet. He checks inside.
You found the dusty toothbrush.
John walks up to his closet. He checks inside.
You found the Shabby Outfit.
TASK: PUT ON YOUR CLOTHES.
TIP: GO INTO YOUR STATUS MENU AND SELECT THE ARMOR TAB.
You check the Shabby Shirt.
Shabby Shirt: DEF -1
This shirt, like many things, used to be better.
You check the Shabby Pants
Shabby Pants: DEF 0
These pants aren’t actually that shabby. At least they don’t sink your defense.
You check the Shabby Socks
Shabby Socks: DEF 1
John’s stomach rumbles.
“Ugh…Should probably go get something to eat. Am i still broke?”
TASK: CHECK YOUR WALLET.
John checks his wallet.
“5G?! Wow, I’m not broke anymore.
Let’s go to the bakery then!”
TASK: GO OUTSIDE.
TIP: THERE’S A DOOR IN YOUR ROOM, YOU KNOW?
John leaves his apartment.
You can see the mildly beautiful view of Fighter’s Street.
It seems like an adventure is going to unfold.
An adventure about a croissant, entering your mouth, being chewed into little bits and being swallowed to finally reach your stomach.
This adventure begins now.
TASK: GO INTO THE BAKERY.
TIP: LOOK IN FRONT OF YOU.
Nobody’s in sight, strange since the chiming of the clock was as loud as the honking of cars on a highway.
John enters the bakery, and goes to the cashier.
“Hello Ms. Boulang.”
“Hey, John. What do you wanna buy?”
“A croissant, please.”
“Hot or cold?”
She pulls out a croissant from a refrigerator and uses a hair dryer to heat it.
“So how’s your day so far?”
“Pretty bad. Didn’t really sleep last night. Having the nightmare about you know what.”
“Ugh…This was 5 years ago, John. Forget about it.”
“Did you get a job?”
“No… I’m pretty sure you knew that already.”
“John, you can’t keep living like that. If you don’t get a job soon, you’ll probably be evicted from your apartment. How did you even still not get evicted?”
“I threw an egg on the landlord’s house and told him that it was a winged bear with throwing egg super powers. He’s scared of three things: Wings, Bears and Eggs. I told him that i’ll keep it away from him, if i can stay in the apartment without paying for at least one year.”
“You know the year is almost over, right?”
“…Yeah. Well, if i’m lucky i can find a flying bear with egg throwing abilities and keep it as a pet.”
“You can’t keep living like that, you know?”
“Yes, i can.”
She finished heating up the croissant.
“Here you go. 2,50G please.”
“Here you go.”
John puts 2,50 G on the counter.
“Wait, isn’t it your birthday today?”
“Alright. Bye John!”
“Bye Ms. Boulang.”
As John was about to leave he saw a man, or more of a shady figure. He ignored him at first but noticed that he had a weapon on him. A gun to be precise. He wanted to sneak up behind him and maybe hit him with one of his shoes, but he knew this was too risky. What if this guy is part of this town’s mob? Turf wars have been happening left and right here on Fighter’s Street. You wouldn’t want to get mixed up in all of that.
John left the bakery and went back to his house.
The man in the bakery pulls out the gun on Ms. Boulang, he also pulls out a bag.
“I want the money in here, please.”
As he said that you can hear the sound of a window breaking.
“What was that?”
You can hear a splotch on the ground.
Finally, a creature with a head floating above its body jumps through the window of the bakery.
“I’m not paying the repair bills.”
“HUH?!” reacted the shady one and Ms. Boulang.
“Yes, i know. My pants are pretty shabby, but hey, at least it gives them a unique look right?
Anyway, i heard from Santa that a naughty boy with a pew pew machine was going into a bakery to rob someone. Wow, what kind of idiot robs a bakery for money? You rob one for the food, ya idiot!”
“WHO ARE YOU?!” asked the shady one.
“I’m called by a lot of names, but i won’t waste time like that Spider hero in this one movie.
I’ll just have you know my name through violence.”
The creature pulls out a stick from his bulky hat and slaps the shady figure with it.
“SLAPSTICK! GET IT?! IT’S FUNNY! HAHAHAHAHAHA!”
His laugh becomes physical and starts to hit the shady person.
“ENOUGH FROM THIS CLOWN!”
The shady figure shoots with his gun at Slapstick, but the bullet just bounces off and hits the shady figure’s shoe.
“Get a HOLE of this.”
Slapstick pulls out a hole from his hat and places it under the shady robber.
The shady robber falls into the hole and it seems that he can’t escape the hole.
“Oh, did you look into a mirror?”
“YOU FOOL! I KNEW YOU WOULD COME!”
“It’s my job after all!”
The shady figure transforms himself into an alien.
“Wow, this is pretty random.”
The Alien rises from the hole using a jetpack.
“MUAHAHAHA! I am Count Dred Blek! Conqueror of planets, master strategist and-”
“Wait, let me guess. Cliché villain with a giant army of incompetents backing him up?”
“……QUIET! I have been searching for this mask for years and you clown are wearing it right now! GIVE IT TO ME AND I MAY MAKE YOU MY RIGHT-HAND MAN!”
(You could choose now, but since this is the good boy route, we’ll just do that you won’t accept the offer.)
“This is the most cliché thing to say, ar- are you sure you’re not a cliché super villain.”
“SHUT UP! BLEK MINIONS, ATTACK HIM!”
“You literally called them Blek Minions?
Well, time for a real wallop.
FIGHT BEGINS! *DRING DRING*
*Press Z on the blocks to do stuff.
(Now i’m just assuming what you would do)
*Attack -> Special -> Headball.
*Press Z repeatedly to dribble.
*Your head bounces of the walls it hurts the enemies but will hurt you too, dodge it!
Enemies: LONG LIVE THE GUY WHO PAYS US!
The enemies form a pyramid and throw their lances at you.
Attack -> Normal -> Hammer
*Keep your finger pressed on Normal -> Punch
You approach the enemies to punch them. Press Z repeatedly to fill up the Punch Gauge.
You got 10 Star Points and a Lance.
“Wow, your troops are useless.”
“SILENCE! You will give me this mask at once!!!!!1111!!!”
“Then I’m gonna force you to give it to me. Uhm… If you don’t give it to me, i’ll uhm… DESTROY an… uhm… I’M GONNA DESTROY A BAKERY!
“You wouldn’t dare!”
“Oh yes i would.”
“I’ll make you eat those words!”
Slapstick throws a hammer at Dred Blek.
Dred Blek catches the hammer and throws it at Slapstick.
This causes the mask to break off Slapstick’s face.
Slapstick transforms into a human.
The human covers his face with a shabby piece of cloth.
“You-YOU-YOOUUUUUU! YOU IDIOT! YOU BROKE THE MASK!
DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS?!”
“Heheh, that you won’t be able to have superpowers anymore?”
“NO! I HAVE TO COLLECT THE POWERS OF THIS MASK ACROSS MULTIPLE UNIVERSES YOU LITTLE PIECE OF SHI-”
“Hey, why not tell me about your evil plan if I’m going to die anyway?”
“Oh, uhm… OF COURSE.
As Dred Blek explains his evil plan which is as cliché as himself, the human, still covering his face with cloth escapes with a piece of his mask.
Dred Blek notices and goes away using some sort of teleportation device.
The human goes back to his apartment, and lays himself on his bed, throwing the piece of cloth away, since he doesn’t have to hide his identity anymore, even if going into your apartment kinda reveals your identity, but every story has a plot hole, right?
“Ugh…my days as Slapstick are gone, now. Well, it was fun while it lasted.”
This human reveals himself to be John Katherin.
Yes, big plot twist, I know.
“Welp, seems like i’ve got no more friends… I can die a normal person knowing i did something good once. Time to get a job, go back to studying and-”
Suddenly, his eyes go from brown to green.
John hears a voice inside his head.
“YOU IDIOT! Haven’t you heard what cliché supervillain Number 89 said? We could go across different universes to get the powers back!”
“Ugh…Are YOU an idiot? What did you say? “ACROSS UNIVERSES” ARE YOU BRAINDEAD?! I’M A HUMAN WITH NO POWERS! I’m weak!”
“Ugh… Listen, i don’t want to say emotional shit, but in the 5 years i knew you, I know one thing, you’re hopeful. So why lose hope now? Universes? That’s no big deal, y’know? You captured the baddest baddies in Fighter’s Street, getting pieces of a mask won’t be a big deal.”
“Me? Doing that? That was you. I didn’t do anything.”
“You know that you had most of the control, right? I only say the one-liners, cause you’re bad at it.”
“Now tell me, what do we do go across universes? Should i go find a portal in Fighter’s Street and jump into it without knowing where to go? Should i do that?”
“…Ok, i’ll do it. But not for me, for you. Promise that if i find the powers again, you’ll leave me alone completely, ok? I’m gonna throw you back into the sea of nightmares I found you and i’ll never have to think about you again, ok?”
“Let’s do this.”
END OF CHAPTER 1-
“You just broke the fourth wall, that’s my job.”
“Yes, but what happened to Ms. Boulang?”
“What about her?”
“You know that the fight we had happened in the bakery, right? What happened to her?”
“Let’s say she died and that’s one of your motivations too.”
“…No. Let’s just say that the writer was lazy.”
“Mm…I would love to, but I’m not allowed to annoy the writer until Chapter 2.”
“Let’s say that you saved her and put her somewhere where she’s safe.”
“Let’s do that.”
“You know this sounds simillar to the thing you said at the first end of Chapter 1, right?”
“Oh, shut up.”
REAL END OF CHAPTER 1