Success in Life

In watching the recent U.S. presidential inauguration, I couldn’t help but notice 22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman. I think her poem recitation and public speaking performance serves as an example of many concepts I’ve taught in my writing over the years. I had never heard of Amanda Gorman before hearing her speak, so I had zero [...]

I first heard of the phrase “cascade of errors” from a friend of mine who was a private pilot. As part of his desire to be a competent and safe pilot of private planes, he regularly read after-action reports of every airplane crash in the United States. His thinking was that crashing an airplane had [...]

I was brushing my teeth this morning while doing hamstring stretches with one of my feet propped up on the bathroom counter. I do this every time I brush my teeth. I do this because it’s part of my physical therapy back pain prevention routine. I do it to offset the impact of sitting at [...]

Over the last 15 years or so, I have struggled at times with depression and suicidal thoughts. In those moments, I felt an overwhelming sense of pain and hopelessness about the future.  I’ve contemplated taking my own life on more occasions than I care to admit, think about, or remember. This is the first time [...]

Over the last two years, I’ve been active in my local emergency response volunteer community. I’ve participated in several mass casualty training exercises (e.g., earthquakes, plane crashes, collapsed building structures). In several of those exercises, I had the opportunity to train in the role of incident commander (IC) and other leadership roles. It was a [...]

As I’m writing this email from just outside Seattle, there’s a ton of smoke from the forest fires that are all over the western United States. It looks like the end of the world. Between the pandemic and terrible air quality, it’s not safe to be indoors with others and now it’s not safe to [...]

Today, I want to introduce you to (or perhaps remind you of) the concept of the minimum efficient scale. Let’s take a look at what this phrase means. First, the word “scale” refers to size. In the software startup world, “to scale up” means to “get big fast.” In economics, economists talk about “economies of [...]

When you’re an interesting person, people want to connect with you. They want to work with you, hang out with you, or work for you. Candidly, being interesting is a major advantage in both your personal and professional lives. An interesting person can’t easily be categorized, stereotyped… or ignored. When you meet an interesting person, [...]

Most people see the world through the lens of success vs. failures, or winners vs. losers. While our world certainly has competitive aspects to it, it’s worthwhile to ask the following: Is it useful? Is it useful to think in terms of success versus failure? Is it useful to think of winning versus losing? Regardless [...]

The other day, someone asked me about how to be more emotionally resilient in the face of obstacles and failures. While being completely immune to disappointment isn’t realistic, I do think it’s possible to reduce its impact on your life by 80% to 90%. My working process is that all disappointment comes from… expectations. If [...]

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