There’s no hiding behind academia, no letting the “path” we’re on be a place of cover, because at some point now we’re starting to reach “destinations.” Marriage, kids, employment, moving… Life has begun to happen to us, and some are left feeling unprepared and maybe others haven’t hit their crisis yet, but it’s coming.

Like leaving high school, it’s a space in between one phase of life and another.

So there’s a distinction between the two camps.

Some friends are still feeling like it’s a whirlwind. They haven’t landed just yet. Yeah, they’re checking off the milestones, but do they feel ready for the full responsibility?

Then there’s those who took it a bit slower, who’ve gone through major changes internally; they don’t even feel like they’re the same person they were 4 years ago, and so it’s harder to relate to their peers.

Who thought that you could change more out of school that during your tenure?

Turns out life is a harsher force for change than peer groups. In college, it’s about conforming, but after… you’re on your own. And so you’re forged more through experience based in reality, which is not the sorority or group project.

But others thrive here. Finally, they live sans doctrine. Finally not playing by someone else’s rules. Sure, you play the game at work, but then you get a check and you make your own choices, like where to live, who to be with and how to spend your free time.

Maybe you even escape family or friends who knew you like someone else, identifying more with the new than the old.

And the spectrum is wide. Some spending money on BMW’s and others still crushed in student debt with an arts degree wondering just how they ended up here. It started out as a clear path but now it’s feeling blurry every which way.

So it’s likely that 28 is less talking about babies and more talking about therapy, buying a house, getting into yoga, or what’s next for your career.

It’s a little more serious.

In fact, that’s the way you tell who’s slowly being beaten down and who’s enjoying life more than ever. Not that they’re immature, but they’re still light-hearted. There are those who haven’t lost the spark. Whereas others, in swimming upstream to pay down rents or figure out what to do with their life is kept too much in their minds to loosen their grip.

They’ll let loose on weekends, but that’s a release, not a part of life’s engagement.

Is this why politics dominate our attention?

The only other thing you keep your eye on is the system that believe got you here, and where it’s heading. You feel if you’re just informed, that you’ll have some perspective and context for where you fit. But the truth is it’s so complex that all of the experts are getting it wrong constantly…

And is this why comedians are the new rockstars?

That everyone is too serious on their own that they need others to provide some comic relief for them?

You don’t get calls anymore, aside from Robo-calls for donations or as scams.

You leave high school or college and you say you’ll stay in touch…

If you’re in a relationship, you do some travel or even just exploring around locally, getting involved in some events and post the photos online.

Your problem is one more of expected monotony; isn’t there more here?
That is if you haven’t decided that it’s the next life-step, house, marriage or kids.

And If you’re single, a bigger divide between the time at work and time spent socializing, even if it’s making the rounds on dating apps wondering just if you’re serious about this or not and if anyone else feels like you do.

That problem is more, “where is this all leading to?”

Is this why we’ve got podcasts? Instagram stories?

Halfway between full-on social interaction and but still just enough removed to not take on any perceived risk of physical presence? We’re scared to commit, so instead, we dip our toes..

And there are those that are posting that they’ve “Finally figured out how to be comfortable alone” – but miss the irony that in posting the missive to the open web hoping they are for some type of feedback or response…

So at 28, you keep in touch by “likes” or emails or views.

Maybe you’re still in the hometown and so not too much has changed, except for the upgrades to the local strip mall or bars, some new restaurants. You’re just a bit older, a bit more settled.

You double tap photos to remind others that you’re still alive and still a part of your life in some way.

You coordinate a bachelor party in a thread with people you’ve barely kept in touch with.

You share a few laughs about the past but you’re unsure what else to talk about.

And for a few who are highly engaged, they’re firing on all cylinders taking on new demands and equally new freedoms.

People are getting married, but some are already splitting up.

It’s another point of change.

This isn’t the first, and I know it won’t be the last

Jet lag


I’m in LA but my body is still in Bangkok.

My head is at currently my favorite coffee shop, which is a wine bar but is for laptops and mugs during the day. It’s mostly filled with locals, the same ones.

Did they miss me?

And does Jet lag make you feel this sick?

I know I know, stay hydrated, get sunlight etc.

Turns out the Barista lived in Hanoi, so he knew how I was feeling, said it took him weeks to get back on PST…

Then again, I was only gone 10 days.

We were in Xiamen, China for 24 hours starting Saturday, leaving the Hotel only for a long walk around the waterfront. Everything there is pristine and proper, but felt lacking a certain vitality. Maybe I was just grumpy because even though I was technically online, there was no access to Gmail/Twitter/News.

What you quickly realize is that your internet connection is mostly about connecting to the same 5-10 websites plus your inbox, looping ad infinitum.

At the Embassy of the West, Starbucks, we used Google Translate to help us order. But then, how do you pay?

Some places had touchscreens where they accepted WeChat, a few other apps and even Facial Recognition for payments. This is the tech they talk about which “leapfrogs” the U.S. and a whole generation skips the early iterations and goes right into the future.

It still helps to go low-tech, too. Always print out your itinerary when you travel like this, helping with cabs, customs, and even our hotel check-in…

And what you forget about travel is it’s a lot of waiting in lines. Waiting to depart. Waiting for luggage at the carrier. In this portion of travel, you are simply a passenger. Your job is to sit, or stand, and sometimes something else hurtles you toward a new destination.

These aren’t the photos you show people.

A good book helps.

I ripped through “The Beach” while there, and picked up Ray Dalio’s new book “Big Debt Crises” https://www.principles.com/big-debt-crises/, which you should read if you want to see a preview of what’s to come. It’s free on his site. Not to be doom and gloom, but it is rather it’s fascinating to see the cycles, the big picture of how markets play out over time. And Dalio is the pro.

The plane back took us north out of China towards the pole, right near Pyongyang, not that you could see anything below from the sky. Although at that altitude, you could see the rim of the earth, the curvature, a subdued red line of the sunset, and I slept as we flew back stateside.

And then I woke up and it was night again.

But I was still high off of the energy of Bangkok. It’s vibrancy, it’s hospitality, it’s life on every corner, every nook, and cranny filled with sites and smells. So I went to sleep feeling good, only to wake up at 3 A.M. in a daze and had to rough it until about 6 this morning.

And I’m thinking that the only cure is to head back to the “Santiphap” room, which means “peace” with the big curtains and stone floors with pillows and tiny metal fans on the dresser.

Maybe have a drink, some bright orange Thai Tea with condensed milk.

And some noodle soup, preferably spicy…

What Great Artists Know…


How is it that a great painter or sculpture or poet can create every day?

How is it that they can show up day after day to build their body of work and art?

How is it that an improv actor can go on stage night after night with new material? Or a comic can make a new strip each morning?

Because to do this does not take effort.

At least not in the way we traditionally understand effort.

What I mean is that it is not tiresome.

Because when it occurs, it is fulfilling, not exhausting.

It is dipping into the well and getting something out of it.

It is this fundamental change which creates an output of art that would approach infinity, given the time.

What professional artists and creators understand is one simple thing; they understand how to get themselves to the well.

There may be great effort to get there. And this effort may even play out over years, taking great mental bending to get one to a place which they can reliably arrive.

But upon reaching the well, their “effort” is no longer required.

This well is beyond their line of sight, and so “thinking” harder has no effect (if not counter-productive).
This well is beyond their line of sight, and so guessing at what may come today, is futile.

An artist may paint for 6 hours a day without a break.

This is because it is not time spent, it is because time disappeared.

And time disappeared is most satisfying…

You see a piece of art is, in a way a Polaroid, which becomes exposed.

It is an existing negative being processed and revealed in real time.

It is an image of that timeless place, filtered through the artist and transmitted onto the page, the song or the computer.

And so all art is the same.

And yet all art is different, why?

Because each human is unique, and so their filter provides a unique image which comes through onto the page.

Each artist produces his or her own Rorshach of the world.

Great art cannot be explained.

For some, we understand it purely by its contents.

For others, understanding the context behind the artist, understanding the artist-as-filter, which helps us enjoy the art.

But the thing that connects all art is its purity.

Its nature is primarily of non-self.

It is the artist, and yet it is not the artist.

It is the artist, and it is us…

And this duality is what is most attractive…


Because what humans want most is to disappear into that natural purity, a space below the surface of their being, where time disappears, where the well is infinite…

And where no effort is required.


Is this all just serendipity or are we being set up?

We woke up early, pulling the blackout curtains to find a dusty sky and having a hot breakfast on the second floor.

Breakfast was a spread of soup, curry, rice, and mango. Which makes me feel sick thinking about the typical American day-starter of processed corn and sugar.

Our host is delightful, and I already can’t help but smile as I see people here because they’re so FRIENDLY.

“Kap Kun Krup!” we bow a few times.

The plan is to go see a few temples, maybe a market and then stop back before our nighttime food tour.

We left through China Town on foot, all in all maybe putting in about two miles. The first winding through the streets of stalls already setting up shop in the morning, the second by the river, which makes a “C” shape around the city.

We arrived at the temples early, and me being the typical American, avoided the first person who approached us, thinking he was me selling something.

He pointed at my feet, or what I thought was my feet and I said “no thank you” with a smile and we continue on.

Then, another block ahead along the wall of the temple and we’re stopped again, this time by a man with a broom sweeping out front and smiling.

“Going to the temple?” He asks.

Suddenly we’re in a long conversation and he’s telling us that we’ll need pants if we want to enter. Then he’s telling us about all of these great places to go see and he suddenly he snaps a big leaf off of a tree and smiles and says “Just one moment, this make good map.”

Whipping out a pen, he draws a series of streets and circles right on the leaf listing out the different sites we should go see.

He tells the nearest Tuk Tuk driver to take us on a tour of the city for the day and being his friends to do it for about 100 Bhat (that’s $3 US).

We zip off to a nearby temple and as we take off our shoes and walk in, there’s only one other person sitting in there.

We strike up a conversation; turns out he’s here from Chiang Mai here with his family, there’s a festival tonight at the temple and he’s waiting there for sundown.

He’s a teacher for multiple grades and subjects (hence his English skills). He tells us that while in Bangkok he went to a custom tailored suit shop that’s only open to the public once every 3 years, for 7 Days and it’s open right now, so he went and got 3 suits.

He teaches us to bow for luck at the altar and…

We’re off again in the Tuk Tuk, this time we’re headed to…

A suit shop.


The Tuk Tuk driver said it was on the list from the friend back at the temple and suddenly everything is not adding up. They call it the “factory” but it’s basically just a storefront, and now we’re being sold to…

So was the guy at the temple a plant for the idea of suits, like subliminal advertising? Did the leaf guy get a commission or something?

And now I’m uncomfortable, but I’m also warming to the idea of a suit for some upcoming weddings and I’m caving as the fabrics are being rubbed on my skin to show me the quality and…

Everything’s been serendipitous and everyone has been so friendly.

So, OK, I’m in Thailand, I’ve never done this and will never do this again so I’m getting a suit.

Am I sucker?

But then I realize I didn’t bring enough Bhat out with me to cover the purchase, and I left my wallet at home and…

We’re whisking back to the Airbnb with the female host from the suit shop who’s riding shotgun on the side of the vehicle to go to where we’re staying with a credit card machine in her hand so I can go upstairs and come down with a card to complete the purchase.

She’s sweet, turns out she’s half Chinese, half Thai, and has barely left the city EVER. You take travel for granted. Most people barely leave their town! At least not by air. But this is why you travel, to learn and gain perspective.

And I HATE to be the one talking when I’m with people from another country. I want to ask the questions, I want to learn about them. So often it’s the opposite, and maybe it’s manners or hospitality but they hear from tourists all the time and I want to shut up whenever possible so I can hear more about what life is like.

Anyways, now that the trip back was a success we’re back on track for the tour again.

We hop in and Ali, our driver says that after this temple, the next stop is… A jewelry store.

Ok, now I’m skeptical. The jig is up, not buying and don’t want to go in. But everyone is so nice and smiling that we do a lap through the shop and get right back in the ride and say let’s go.

“Want to see the floating market?”


Now we’re at the river with about 6 other tuk-tuks arriving at the same time, full of mostly Europeans.

More suckers?

We decided to decline the boat ride, even after haggling the trip from 1500 Bhat to 750.

Is it right to haggle in a foreign country? I’m not sure, on one hand, it’s part of the culture. On the other, I feel like I should pay full price and help support the growth of this economy.

On the other hand, sometimes it’s fun to see what you can get away with, and after even a few hours here your mindset around Bhat totally adjusts. Suddenly small amounts seem like a lot and you want to stretch your dollar and…

Here’s where I am really getting confused.

Does the driver get a commission from these shops? Or, are these just the places where tourists like to go so he’s just trying to help? Did the man, in the beginning, know that this route, the nice little drawing on a plucked leaf was really a highly crafted plan of subtle human-advertisements and in-shop purchases?

Am I being realistic about human nature or am I a jaded American?

But some things aren’t adding up to that either.

We could spend AS long as we’d like in each location, so timing didn’t make much sense to me, so the floating market with all the Europeans had to be a coincidence. And our Tuk Tuk could have been 1,000 baht instead of 100 and we wouldn’t have known it was overpriced.

As for the guy in the Lucky temple, it seems unlikely that his job was to wait in that temple for hours while tourists like me show up one by one so he can work a story about a suit purchase to prime us for the next stop.

Everything here feels like a beautiful serendipity of moments that accelerate us through time and space, each one pulling us quickly into new places.

This is travel at it’s finest. We are LOCKED IN.

I feel like I’m driving but also being pulled.

I’m both shocked as things are working out and expectant that these characters we keep meeting are meant to be there and I’m just sort of open.

Unique personalities are appearing at every turn, sharing only bits of their stories with us before we’re in a blur and engaged with the next one.

In all directions, there are senses to be stimulated. You can’t possibly soak it all in.

We walked into the streets this morning and though we were in control…but are we?

It’s kinda like this city has you in its palm.

It’s kinda like… Life.

The Secret That Only You Know

There is an idea which you’ve kept cocooned from the world.

Often you yourself have even forgotten about it, as it may be long durations of time before it bubbles up again.

It comes out only late at night, or during a long walk in the woods.

Or a solo-drive.

It is an image that appears in the stillness of your mind.

It is an image of who we wish to be.

A vision of possibility.

A feeling that comes in silence which points to a life of reward, outside the pleasures of society and the world.

It is something separate.

You have stepped outside the bubble of life and seen a glimpse of something more.

It is a cause, an expression which necessitates no other feedback or appreciation from anyone but yourself.

And when this arises you have immediate energy.

You are temporarily unshackled from cultural constraint.

Temporarily relieved from your duty to stay in the self-imposed prison of the roles of your own identity.

No longer playing for societal reward but acting untethered from consequence.

Here is a permanent well-spring.

Here is a way of being that rewards any expression.

Here is a secret that only you know.

That outside the world there is a place you can find within yourself that with an ounce of effort comes a wave of progress.

That with even an inkling of this feeling in your cup, the worlds rewards you.

Opening the doors, parting the sea on either side, giving ease of passage, as it always has…

To the Genuine.

Marketing Today is Personal


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20 years of shouting answers and everyone is finally sick and tired of being told what to do and “how to” do it.

The next decade is for brands that draw you in.

No more “Content Marketing.”

No more telling customers and community the answers, giving them the templates, tell them the technique they’ve missed…

But the thing is, we’re just not listening anymore.

We put in the effort to enact a strategy; funnels, social, webinars…

But without truly understanding why this strategy is needed and how to uniquely adapt it to the world we’re playing in, we realize this simply won’t work in the long run, if at all.

See the thing people are missing is not a method or a hack or a trick.

They’re missing the context, the desire, and the genuine understanding of the nuance.

But just HOW do you sell nuance?

You Don’t!

Brands today need to be gardens.

You lay the bed, get the conditions right, make sure the soil is perfect for the right type of people to choose to come by and grow with you.

Like the Apple store, which is now becoming a community learning ground and hot spot.

“Need some help? Come to us, we’ll talk you through it in person.”

“Interested in photography? We’ve got a whole group of people heading out at 4pm to walk around the city taking photos. ”

This is tough because you have to be about it, rather than talking about it.

And so watch for a push towards groups…

Group courses. Group Cohorts. Group learning modules etc…

And this is a step up but…

But it’s still missing the point here!

Many will blindly copy.

They don’t see that individuals learn by giving information mixed with inspiration and support; people will come to their own conclusions.

Come to their own conclusions? What a concept!

That’s right. I have no hill to die on. I am not intending to convince anyone of something. What I am trying to do is turn on a light and say here is some information that might cast opportunity on a new pathway you didn’t think possible.

Here is something you may not have considered…here is a place to talk about why you’re stuck, not about what the answer is.

Because true changes go to the very core of who we are.

Brands have to go deep. That will be difficult, so watch for many misfires here.

The word of 2019 for brands is Personal.

And by personal I mean HUMAN.

Understanding Humans!

Some that see this “strategy” and copy it rather than understanding it; Many brands will attempt it vulnerability (except they look needy), or feign wise insights and answers into life’s greatest problems. This won’t work. People are astute and have better BS meters than ever.

We’re in a splintered society. People are digging deeper into their own holes. Yet the media, the politicians are still trying to convince people to come back to the other side. That they are up on the hill with all of the wisdom, and if only these people would just understand…

This approach is ridiculous on all fronts. Because no one convinces anyone of anything. They convince themselves, and then they reinforce their decision, with confirmation bias which has been amplified 10x thanks to Facebook’s filter bubbles and the choose-your-own-adventure media.

And an obvious question to ask here would be how, in a time with so much information, do people agree less on the facts than ever before?

No person fits perfectly with the monolith.

Which is why answers don’t work, but opportunities do…

We’ve evolved into ever more niches. We all have our own unique narrative of our life, shaped by the culture around us to fit our preferences.

So why does this matter for you?

Well if you’re “trying” to do content marketing you’ve already lost, and if you replicate the next wave of success without understanding it, you will only get small traction and miss the big opportunities.

Does your work speak to people’s heart?

Does it invite them to participate? Does it pair people up and let them discuss?

Or are you trying to tell them from the mountain just how they should be operating?

Next, are your actions reflecting your words?

We love Patagonia because they take a stand, we can tell they’ve got their own compass.

Do you have a compass?

And don’t expect people to love everything you do. We find entities to align with because we know that the information they provide a help to our cause, either because it’s inspirational, or it helps us work through our own complexities. But that doesn’t mean we buy in 100%.

So don’t be afraid to offend people and don’t be afraid to have flaws.

Quality is a metric, a metric of just how much I need to filter through to get the good stuff.

What’s your “hit” rate for quality?

Not for everyone, for someone.

Do you deliver? And how frequently?

And I’ll break the wall here. This is what I’m thinking about right now, as I’m writing to you. Can I deliver 9 times out of 10 in what I write?

Can I, in 12 phone calls, cure people’s problems so entirely that they are ready to move on? That’s right, I straight up tell people If I don’t make such a major impact and change for the better in your life, then stop!

My goal is to have you book fewer calls, not more. Because that means we’re making PROGRESS!

And if you don’t have the hit rate you want now, that’s OK. So you put out a stiff album. You put out a book that doesn’t evoke deep feelings with even just a small group of people. You’re forgiven. It’s OK.

Just learn and keep putting out work until you find something that people react to.

You’re waiting for even just that one email that says that someone was changed by what you made. Keep making until this happens and then replicate THAT.

Marketing today is replicating impact, at scale while building infrastructure to support your community. You feed it with the necessary sun and rain and let it grow.

Ask, can I set an example here, instead of teaching?

Can I invite discussion instead of giving answers?

Can I provide information which inspires, draws people in and changes the way we think?

And so the latest chatter in my slack groups is that people are left just wondering how to actually engage with people instead of interrupting them more… not only that, the creatives themselves are feeling removed from their fans!

They don’t even know their own people!

So the future is more personal, not less.

It’s more focused on quality and impact over quantity. It’s about making the difference…removing problems, instead of adding more stuff to try and memorize.

If you want to build a community that receives what you create with gratitude…

If you want to build a community that feels honored to be welcome, instead of feeling yelled and ignored…

This is the right moment to consider an alternative approach!
If you’re just joining us, I’m David Sherry (https://davidthebrand.com) , and you signed up to Creative Caffeine, or found me through Death to Stock (http://deathtothestockphoto.com/) . I also host the no agenda. (http://noagenda.tv) podcast and livestream.

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Media Bag, November


I don’t usually watch shows outside of Survivor or the occasional cooking show like “The Great British Bake-off”, but after my friend Patrick recommended it I had to as he’s the go-to film buff, keeping his own records of what he watches with ratings next to them. And being that it was British TV, I actually assumed it would be pretty great, British TV doesn’t get the credit they deserve.

So The Bodyguard is a thriller, twisting and turning like you’re in a toboggan racing downhill and it’s really fun but you don’t know if you’re going to get smashed to pieces at the end. Which you sort of are, but not the way you’d expect. And it’s about the tough topics, PTSD, and terrorism, race relations, and relationships, corruption…

“The Bodyguard” on Netflix

I hadn’t heard of her until I saw this video (https://hypebae.com/2018/11/billie-eilish-reflects-on-the-past-year-of-her-rise-to-fame-career-and-style) get passed around (I think from Jake Udell?) and I realize I didn’t know half the people she mentioned. But I started with “When the Party’s Over,” and found I really enjoyed “Bellyache” and “Wait till you see me in a Crown”. Billie is only 16, but her lyrics and attitude are SO REAL. It feels like she’s leading some type of movement, not quite punk, not quite a skater, part nerd culture but also with talent. Which is what many feel like… they don’t quite fit in anywhere! Currently on repeat.

Billie Eilish, Spotify

I watched the Zuckerberg hearings, and have had a hard time with Facebook since 2012, even though Instagram stuck with me, at least for a while. But after hearing Jack Dorsey speak on the subject of Social media and it’s downsides, and now Eric Schmidt, what you realize is that the problems that social media creates are incredibly complex and that Zuckerberg appears unable to fully grasp them. Even though Eric Schmidt is no longer googles CEO I found his perspective fascinating. I felt almost relieved to have people like Eric thinking about these big ideas. Zuckerberg seems stuck in a tunnel he can’t see outside of and it is warped…

Oh, and you realize that things don’t happen by chance. Eric paid his dues, and was early to the world of the greats, like interning at Xerox park. Plus, his systematic thinking paired with Tyler’s line of questioning is fascinating…

Eric Schmidt on Tyler Cowens podcast

I know I know, another writing app. But this one blocks everything else out, so as I’m traveling 15 hours on a flight soon it seems appealing. And I appreciate the blank canvas and the sounds options you have for a “click” noise to hear the keys as you type. Sorta makes you think you’re writing on an old typewriter, with more connection from your thoughts to being ink on a page rather than this digital haptic iPhone keyboard.

Omniwriter App


Is Vine coming back? Why did it die, because it sold to Twitter? And how did a 6-second constraint build such a huge community? Then again the whole platform became one giant meme. I guess it starts as a useful constraint and then suddenly it’s all sameness. Which is why Instagram continues to adapt, and how twitter added 140 more characters to 280.

And the silent sleeper is YouTube as a Social Network! Google failed at G+, and maybe they’re forever doomed in the social world, and maybe that’s for the better. But now you can share videos with a friend internally within YouTube like you can with Instagram posts, and this is where the eyeballs are…

Anyways, the founder of Vine has a new app launching soon, if you want to see what it’s about here’s the landing page. I’m somewhat skeptical.

Byte App, coming soon

Xx David

P.S. have you seen Islands making the rounds? Probably not, as it’s only on college campuses. Islands is Slack, but for your friends, and for fun chat, not getting work done. It’s restricted to colleges, let’s see if it crosses over….

Islands App
If you’re just joining us, I’m David Sherry (https://davidthebrand.com) , and you signed up to Creative Caffeine, or found me through Death to Stock (http://deathtothestockphoto.com/) . I also host the no agenda. (http://noagenda.tv) podcast and livestream.

Join in on the discussion by hitting reply to this email. I occasionally share a roundup of community responses –

A Quick and Incomplete Work History


Try and create a custom, pocket bike-lock, attempt to raise funding, fail

Work in catering, determined to not do this forever, succeed.

Try and start an internship website, not that serious about it, fail.

Start working with PR/Branding studio, think I can do freelance on my own, do that for a year. mostly fail.

Pitch businesses to be their photographer/content creator, fail.

Pitch people on subscribing to get photography free by email, succeed.

Have those people switch from subscribing for free to paying, succeed.

Grow it global, and into a sustainable business, succeed.

Try and bring on a new co-founder, fail.

Run two crowdfunding campaigns, succeed.

Hire a friend, fire friend, fail.

Try and run a third crowdfunding campaign, fail.

Get Shingles from stress, fail.

Move to LA, change everything about how I work and my relationship with myself and others, reading books and meeting with mentors, drastically reducing my stress and improving creativity in the process, succeed.

Start writing a newsletter about it…(?)

Good Travel, Bad Travel

Hey out there,

I’m prepping for a trip to Bangkok in almost a week’s time. I’ll continue my writing while abroad, I hope, but should the Jet Lag get to me and it gets quite over here don’t hesitate to send a note to check up on me. I’m laying out the details and thinking about what I can get done on the flight, aside from binging movies from an old hard drive…

There are two types of ways to travel, either you go along with it, you see the sites, you let others dictate the where-to’s and you follow.

Or you engage in the trip. You excavate it for gold.

The latter is a completely different experience. What I mean is that there have been trips in the past wherein allowing everyone else to do the planning, in saying yes to whatever goes along I felt like I was just still me, doing me, but in a new location. It was fairly boring if I’m honest. Because if you just want to continue with your life but in another location, it’s going to be worse.

All of your comforts are gone and it’s much harder to fire up Netflix or get a good wifi signal.

So what’s the difference between a trip rich with adventure and one that makes you feel like a stranger who’s just floating along?

The depth in which you actively are on a pursuit of some kind.

So for me, it’s all about the details. It’s all about finding the spark of what you’re trying to glean from this trip. Do you want to set it up to immerse yourself in the history, drafting a list of books, blogs, and papers to use as a researcher on your journey?

Do you want to use the trip for a culinary experience, not only taking cooking classes while abroad but also keeping a list of all of the meals and ranking them in order?

From my purview, there are two ways to travel, good and bad. And bad is to hit the sites for the picture and check a box. Good is to use it for growth, personal, spiritual, or what have you.

You want it defined, even if that definition is to have everything unplanned, which is to say the purpose is to get lost and see what happens.

This is how adventure starts. Remember all the great adventurers had a purpose…

So it turns out you get out of travel what you put in.

These locations are full of rich history, culture and gems that do not simply boil down to the few common landmarks. You need to excavate them in your own way to pick up the gold.

I’d rather travel like Anthony Bourdain.

No, actually like Anthony Bourdain, with a film crew and TV show gathering stories sharing them with the world.


Decision Heuristics

The truth is most decisions are made in the past, and we’re just continuing to follow through with them. Some of which are unconscious, set like guard rails that never allow us to go too fast, or never too far. These are our fears, our beliefs about who we are and what we’re capable of.

Is this why people get so much out of the Army? You just need someone to reduce your ego’s protection enough and scream at you to jump higher, dig faster and do more pushups to show you that these boundaries are all created, and are self-limiting?

Then again…

It’s also the opposite. That each time a decision comes up, we’re on the fence. We don’t truly know who we are. Or we haven’t accepted ourselves as such. So, we deliberate – we have to spend time thinking through whether or not we’ll agree to a commitment or not, or if we’ll partake.

Like alcohol, or our diet, or working out.

Some people have just made decisions here. Like that they never drink alcohol, or that they eat Gluten Free or Vegan, or that they work out every single day.

These decisions make life easier.

Because they don’t get the after-the-event guilt of having made a choice that they aren’t sure they wanted. They don’t have to deliberate ever again about it. They know who they are, or at least who they’ve agreed to be.

Then again…

Some people love the indecision. They love taking the time weighing out the options. Like someone who’s booking a vacation, but never really attends because the excitement is better than the real thing. Or, someone who likes to pine through the menu at a restaurant, because the thought of the variety of options is just as fun as the selection. Which is OK, just don’t be surprised if you’re slow to make progress or movement.

So in our lives, there are decisions conscious and unconscious that we make continuously. To recognize these areas within yourself is to free up your life in advance.

First, recognize your limitations, and ask yourself if these guard rails are artificial? Let me answer that for you. They are. You can probably multiply whatever they are by 10x.

Like David Goggins, who ran a 100k race without training. I’m not saying we could all make it that far or we wouldn’t collapse on the way, but ask someone who doesn’t run regularly how many miles they could do, and the likely thing is they could do a bit more than they think.

Next, recognize that some decisions; when made in advance and made based on who you truly are; free up your life immensely.

Rather than deliberating every single night, there’s alcohol around you if you’ll give in or not, just make a decision. Or like Clay Christensen; “I don’t work on Sunday’s,” or “I’m at work by 8.” etc…

The point is you make one decision and the rest of your life you’re free from making it again. You’ve removed the guilt, worry, deliberation, and mostly time feeling conflicted.

Last, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the options. But be self-aware to realize that this is the slow route. That this is a bit like keeping life around you behind the glass. That you never really touch it but rather prefer to view it from the outside.

I suppose these are just mental heuristics. Frameworks of how we navigate the world; given that we’re surrounded by opportunities and choice. Some people need to just decide once and for all. All of us can go farther. And indecision is nice when it feels good, but if you want progress…

What decision will you make?