There’s no hiding behind academia. No letting the “path” we’re on be a place to hide. Because at some point now we’re reaching destinations. Marriage, kids, employment etc. We’re no longer pursuing, instead we’re just doing. Life has begun to happen to us, and some are left feeling unprepared and others maybe haven’t hit their crisis yet, but it’s coming.

Like leaving high school, the space in between one phase of life and another.

So there’s a distinction between the two camps. Some friends, still feeling a bit like they’re in a whirlwind. Yeah, they’re checking off the milestones, but they still don’t feel adult enough and aren’t ready for the full responsibility.

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

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 of how the world really is, which is not the sorority or group project.

But others thrive here. Finally no doctrine. Finally no playing by someone else’s rules. You make your money and you make your life 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 as someone else.

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 28 is less talking about babies and more talking about therapy, buying a house, 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. 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.

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’ve likely found your groove. Some travel or exploring around locally, getting involved in some events and posting the photos online.

Your problem is one more of expected monotony; isn’t there more here?

And If you’re single, a bigger divide between 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.

Your 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 they miss the irony in posting the missive to the open web hoping for some type of feedback or response.

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

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.

And I realize now that 28 is another point of change.

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


I’ve shied away from politics, not from lack of interest, but rather to accurately asses and provide a perspective I’d have to spend a lot more of my time reading political news, and that is something I don’t want to do.

That said, I do see others who provide perspectives that turn the gears for me.

This one comes from market analyst Josh Brown:

“The constant lying has been a boon to the President, during his campaign and pretty much throughout his entire life. Supporters of his policies see it as a means to an end, so they’re certainly not going to turn on him. He promised to run the country for the benefit of the one third of America that loves what he’s doing and he keeps that promise every day. There’s never been a betrayal or a compromise or an apology for anything, they feel that they are getting exactly what he said he would give them – if not now, then soon enough.

In the meantime, the bloodless verdict of the market is beginning to call bullsh*t on his economic claims. The economic expansion is good, not great, and starting to slow down thanks to the rising cost of money (spurred on by tax cut stimulus) and the cyclical slowdown around the world. It turns out that tariffs are an impediment to everyone’s economy, not just Mexico’s, China’s or the European Union’s.”

And now…a reality check

Didn’t we learn this in grade school?

The thing about lying is… you have to keep lying to cover it up.

That suddenly you get caught in such a web you don’t even remember for yourself just what is true or what is false?

To me, the Trump tactic comes from the Scott Adams school of thought, but with a more directionally negative view of the use of this method.

Trump is a manipulator. His manipulation is working and has worked since he started in 2016.

He’s been manipulating you, too, by the way. Funny how everyone thinks that they alone see the world right…

But the problem with manipulation and lying is that even if they do provide short-term results, they are unsustainable on a longer timescale. Which is why his previous businesses tended to go bankrupt, why he tended to simply just not pay for contract work, and why he’s been sued hundreds of times.

There’s countless analysis going on about every single move that Trump is making politically.

But sadly I think it can be summed up fairly simply.

Trump lies, and these lies invoke a feeling of confidence which is appreciated by his following, regardless of they believe it is true or not, that’s not the point.

What matters to them is to *feel* a confidence that lulls them away from their problems and daily anxieties and *aligns* them with this trumped up dissipation into a larger movement beyond their lonely selves.

We’re lonely in America, and so we go from being lone wolves to seeking group affiliation not to participate in, but rather to lose ourselves in.

It’s group affiliation as a type of individual-identity-death in lieu of group-identity-acceptance.

And this is happening on both sides.

The thing is, these lies and manipulations lose their effect over time. And as the effect wanes, you do the only thing you can do: double down on the lies and manipulation, which exacerbates the problem of fading significance.

Trump is better at lying and manipulating than just about anyone. The media is fighting this by playing a different game, which is mostly irrelevant to this hypnosis that is going on because they’re working in a completely different world, one which simply does not care.

At some point, people wake up. Not in a rage, not in a reactionary rejection (not at first) but they simply sort of get sick of it and the manipulation dust that is droning on and on via Twitter runs out.

So it’s hard to reinvent your message without results for a long enough time period. At some point, true results and movement are necessary, whether he achieves that, remains to be seen. I’m not even saying that’s impossible.

But Theranos was the darling of the tech industry until it was not.

If you’re outraged at the latest lie, realize that this has been happening for 2 years now and will happen into the future. This is his manipulation on you. The hypnotic focus on it is futile when instead you could be spending your time building a compelling future based on impact, factual impact – that touches people’s lives.

Nobody can argue with true change.

GM complains for 5 years about how stupid electric cars are and about how Oil is no problem on the climate, attempting to keep us in the stone age while Elon Musk built the best cars ever and PEOPLE ARE BUYING THEM which cannot be made up.

We buy the better product that is forward thinking and delivering on promises. We need better alternative options for results, not defensive fights in the mud.

How long can someone run with this method of persuasion and keep aloft?

I’m not sure.

But the public always moves on, so don’t be surprised if the tide turns.

Just not in the way you imagine…

Art is Rebellion

We might take weeks, months, or years talking about making a film.

Or thinking of picking up a camera and doing our first shoot.

Or making our first song and hitting “publish.”

And then there’s those who have put themselves on the line so consistently, in such raw form that we marvel at what they show is possible.

Like Jerry Seinfeld. Like Dallas Clayton. Like J.R. (https://www.jr-art.net/) Like Casey Neistat.

To be an Artist is to be a Rebel.

To consistently create art, from deep within your core on a regular basis and share it with the world is, in a way, a middle finger.

It is a challenge with yourself.

It’s not how the system wants you to act.

Do you have something to say, and will you put yourself on the line to say it?

And can I really write, every single day?

Can I really make a video, every single day?

Can I shoot a documentary across 7 countries, dozens of interviews and all in 6 months?

Most days we don’t allow ourselves to think about what our ultimate possibility is.

We shy away from accepting the possibility that somewhere deep inside is a strength, a vision, a creative engine which is clamped down and kept quiet, lest we really figure out what our true power is.

The ultimate fear is the fear of yourself.

The fear of your possibility.

The fear of how far you might be able to go.

How much can you truly poke the world and see what happens?

How much change can you make if you empty your tank without abandon proving to no one but yourself that the potential that you have inside was accurate and then some.

And in this act of rebellion, the artist is the one most surprised.

The artist is shocked by the response.

Humbled by the nature of the praise.

They never imagined themselves to be here.

And yet they made a deal with themselves long ago to chase this muse to its ultimate end.

An artist walks the tightrope.

We can’t help but look up.

An Artist is a Hydra.

Their expressions cannot be kept at bay.

An artist is dangerous.

They show us what is possible within ourselves.

If we dare to find out…


A mirror for your growth


The dirty secret of the startup industry is…

It’s an emotional roller coaster, with yourself.

Starting and running a company, launching a creative project, changing careers… these take a massive emotional toll.

I’ve been there.

I bootstrapped a company at 23, hitting $1M in revenue… and then got shingles at 26 from stress.

Which was the best thing that could have happened.

I’ve spent the last few years dedicated to completely changing my relationship with my work. And it’s something I’ve been profoundly grateful for.

What if instead of settling for incremental improvements, slight upgrades or changes…

You can leap forward by developing yourself through the process of subtracting stories, ideas, stresses all of which limit you?

There are the ceilings you run into again and again, and on the other side is an entirely new height to reach.

What if you have an incredible opportunity, but you limit it greatly?

Not because of competition, not because of cash flow, not because of anything outside of yourself. Not even because you don’t know “how” to do any technique?

There is no greater opportunity, no greater reward that can come from discovering more about yourself, it’s the most important and underrated method for growth.

There is no greater productivity hack, creativity upgrade, energy unlock than working through misperceptions about who you are which keep you stuck.

Anxiety, stress, difficulty in relationships or work…all can be overcome and outgrown. But to do so, you need to reach the roots, rather than reaching for the superficial fixes…

I am offering to be a mirror.

My job is to help you reflect, help you see, help you become more of what you know inside you can be in the world.

To help pinpoint areas that have been a cycle of confusion, pain, stress or lack of momentum.

And help you remove them entirely.

I hesitate to call it coaching, because I’m more like a creative partner. It’s more of a process you can apply to examine areas in your life which need change.

I am opening this individually at first, and in groups later.

We will have conversations weekly, in 6-week blocks of time.

From my estimation, even 1 or 2 of these cycles would drastically improve your ability and reduce stress, change your relationship to your work, and free up creativity.

I’m not offering to help you with your business or brand, but don’t be surprised if we solve problems there.

I am offering to help with the anxieties, the fears that come up and keep you playing small.

My job is to raise your bar for what life can be.

As your mirror, we will work to ask new questions.

To look into why you can’t stay motivated, why you stop projects part way through, why you are unsure of what to do next, why you’re stuck in a pattern…

We’re after fundamental changes in experience.

And a step up for growth that will last and serve you as a foundation for the future.

Hit reply or click to set up (https://calendly.com/davidsherry/creative-therapy) a call.

xx David

P.S. First meeting is on me, and I have no expectations for where we start, only for where we go.

P.P.S. It takes courage to raise your hand, to actively try and change things, which is why I’m making call 1 open, without expectation.

Action vs. Reaction


The way to get more done isn’t to add more hours.

Or insert “x” new productivity hack into your life.

It is to stay free from the time commitments and interests of others. To avoid being swept up into the sea of expectations and interests.

Each day, we function from one or two places.

We act on our own accord, setting in motion an activity which changes the fabric of our world.

Or we react, we respond to the web of life around us as it shifts from someone else’s doing.

We react to the ripples of someone else’s stone cast, as they arrive on our shore.

Those whose ripples flow strongest and captures the most people wield the biggest influence.

Even at the highest level; the news is one giant reaction to the casual thought, the cast aside tweet of a president or celebrity.

Thousands reacting from a distant ripple, often inconsequential…

Even at the highest level; to use social media is to play a small role, a small piece of the act for the play of a small few who reap such large benefits.

A new feature that you use has been added based on a small few, who now impact millions.

This feature which has captured more of your time has been introduced by their agenda, not yours.

This isn’t a discussion about what’s right or wrong.

Rather, what is effective and what is ineffective.

We react because it is easier to react.

It is easier to follow an agenda than to set one.

It is easier to say yes than to say no.

Because a yes requires only accepting the terms given.

Whereas a “No” often means defining your own terms.

We cannot wait for the ripples of others to shift our life into place.

The truth about how progress is made is that it can only be made by taking action of your own accord.

This is why ONE person can change an entire industry, not just once but multiple times.

This is why THOUSANDS, MILLIONS, react to this one.

Why this one sets the agenda, and the others follow.

Why this ONE points to the moon.

And millions debate their finger.

“Live Blogging”


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“Podcast” was a term adopted thanks to the iPod, newly able to broadcast our voices without any gatekeeper who owned the airwaves of radio.

The word has always felt a bit clunky to me, maybe a bit too formal?

With my show no agenda, I feel more like I’m “Live-blogging.”
(H/t. Tyler Cowen (https://marginalrevolution.com/) )

When the episodes are just me, I’m riffing much like I do when I write. Think of those episodes as the vocal complement to my written posts.

When the episodes are with me and a guest, my attempt is to remove the stuffiness and formality of interviews and structure that are typical of most shows.

Not only do I intentionally create a more loose outline for my discussion, I welcome serendipity as I find it brings out the most unique and interesting points of discussion. I feel more engaged with a guest when I’m not trying to stick to a script or get to a certain point.

And, I feel freer to ask dumb, or very nuanced questions.

To date, only 40% of people in the US have listened to a podcast. The brand of “podcasts” to me, feels like a lot to commit to…sort of like reading a book.

Maybe they’ll instead be interested to check out somebody’s liveblog?

Speaking of liveblogs, you can check out the no agenda show here. (http://noagenda.tv)

My most recent interview is meta, as it’s about how my friend Jay (https://twitter.com/jayclouse) started and grew his podcast.


Growing a Podcast, Episode with Jay Clouse, Upside FM (https://share.transistor.fm/s/d8202f43)

Past Episodes
Building Habits/Lifestyle Design, James Clear (https://share.transistor.fm/s/d55f359d)
Manage Your Focus, Not Your Time. (https://share.transistor.fm/s/079d1d48)
How do I Write Consistently? (https://share.transistor.fm/s/32f8e58c)
If you’re just joining us, I’m David Sherry (https://davidthebrand.com/About-PAGE) , and you signed up to Creative Caffeine, or found me through Death to Stock (http://deathtothestockphoto.com/) .

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

no agenda. (http://noagenda.tv) is a regular interview series and podcast that asks simple questions about how artists and creators bring their projects to life.


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Turn of the Tide…

I’ve shied away from politics, not from lack of interest, but rather to accurately asses and provide a perspective I’d have to spend a lot more of my time reading political news, and that is something I don’t want to do.

That said, I do see others who provide perspectives that turn the gears for me.

Read more

Change Happens

As water is pulled up into the atmosphere and cooled, upon reaching the right conditions, the cloud begins to rain…

In heating a pot on the stove, at a certain point, the conditions create boiling.

If dust is inhaled and you look at a bright light your body triggers a sneeze.

Conditions which find the perfect point of balance morph an existing system into a new one, triggering a change which produces a new result.

Why am I telling you this?

I don’t have any goals.

Rather I focus on creating the conditions necessary to produce a result.

You lead others to the well, but you don’t do the drinking for them.

You create the kindling necessary and give it a spark.

When the conditions are right…

Change happens.


Re: Escondido, Genius


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Re: Escondido

Dear David,

I actually have just been calling myself a utilitarian. Not quite minimalist in the sense that I can take out everything that gives me joy, but I’ve learned to identify the ones that don’t give me any joy or purpose. It’s led to working towards choosing clothes based on quality and their ability to fit with everything else in my closet, not trends. I honestly buy less stuff because I spend time asking, “Is this something I can actually use? Is this something I can see myself using in my day to day?” The answer is usually no.

And the access economy is interesting, in the sense that I don’t really own something so there’s less of that friction, but it’s also easy to forget that it’s still an economy. These are still businesses trying to get me to want to things that I don’t really need. Do I *need* to board a plane to create good memories with friends? Do I *need* to go visit that famous landmark if I have a track record of not being interested (AKA observatories or viewing towers)?

Maybe that’s just me and my own doubts about traveling, as I come from a tourism-dependent country in Southeast Asia. But my answers have been no, and I’m personally trying to see the magic in my everyday. And that answer might change! What matters is I asked myself.

Yours truly,
Shannelle C
Re: Escondido

It’s funny when you detach for a moment or two and see how the world actually works. To see everyone scrambling for something they didn’t need yesterday. However, even though I see this I still get sucked into the trap. The hardest part of detachment is actually staying detached. I believe most people want the freedom you are talking about, yet they are hanging on by a thread (as am I). It would be interesting to see the world if everyone cut that last thread holding them to a world of consumerism. How would an ordinary day look? I am not sure, but I don’t know if the world would be recognizable.

Anyway, I appreciate this post. It is always nice to get a reminder of the bigger picture. I just had a company party last night and as I sit at my desk hungover I question why I indulge like I did last night. Is it out of habit? Or because I am still at a point where I partake out of fear of being judged?

Have a good rest of your trip. Thank you for the newsletters. And remember to look up!

Nick B
Re: Escondido

This is one of your best pieces. Probably because I think about these types of things a lot.

My whole thing coming out of college with an Industrial Design degree was, “I’m designing things people don’t need and can’t afford.” Beautiful design was priced out of reach for most Americans, and the stuff they could afford would show up on a shelf and end up in a landfill a year later, designed to fall apart so that they had to buy another one later (planned obsolescence).

Today I think a lot about, “If we have everything we need, and we can access it pretty much whenever we want – what’s next?” If ownership – previously the thing to strive for – isn’t a requirement to experiencing a quality life, why is everyone so damn busy? Why is conspicuous consumption still a thing? Are people really that self-absorbed? And if so, is there any hope we’ll be able to change our habits before our egos destroy the everything we’ve built to this point?

I hope so.

Matt R
Re: Genius


Please review our website. We have been helping people discover their talents for over 30 years. Success from developing one’s natural talents. No more physics club when it does not fit.

www.careervision.org (http://www.careervision.org/)

Accentuate the positive,

Re: Genius

Hi David,

Who was it who said that genius is finding out what you’re good at and doing that for 95% percent of your life? I vaguely remember it from a Tim Ferriss episode with Adam Robinson talking about Bobby Fisher.
Anyway, my husband once told me that his professors who took a class with Richard Feynman said he was terrible at teaching Physics. Absolutely terrible. You can only appreciate his awesomeness if you were already a physicist because he had a unique perspective. But he was not gifted in the actual teaching of the field to a new student, like entering freshman.

So the elephant in this room question: how do you find the intersection of what you’re good at? Today, it’s not enough to be good at cooking or food or a chef. You’ve got to be the master at Argentinian open-fire grilling (Francis Mallmann). Or blending ice cream and architecture (Coolhaus). Niches! Or talent stacking as Scott Adams calls it.

So how do you have to be to find that genius inside you?

If you’re just joining us, I’m David Sherry (https://davidthebrand.com/About-PAGE) , and you signed up to Creative Caffeine, or found me through Death to Stock (http://deathtothestockphoto.com/) .

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

no agenda. (http://noagenda.tv) is a regular interview series and podcast that asks simple questions about how artists and creators bring their projects to life.


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Do we need more stuff?

I just got back from a long weekend in Escondido, staying in the above-pictured mansion. When you split a place with 11 people in an Airbnb you can live like a king for the price of a hotel.

I woke up standing on a balcony overlooking a lake, mountains and the house pool and hot tub.

And I didn’t feel any different.

This was someone’s second home, judging by how empty the fridge and other amenities were. Although the library shelf was stocked with family photo albums, of which we browsed a few.

That’s the funny thing about Airbnb, you really make yourself at home…

So what is this, privilege talking?

They say you can’t truly be rich spiritually until you’ve gotten rich enough monetarily and then recognize for yourself that you feel no different.

But in the access economy, you can test this out this lifestyle without ever actually having the funds. Like those renting Ferrari’s in Vegas for $250.

So I’m at this mansion in Escondido and I’m feeling the exact same as I do in my room back home. Maybe a little worse, I don’t know where the shampoo is and my clothes don’t come stocked in the closet. Then again I’m enjoying the company of friends, and yeah, it is nice to have space to spread out and the view is wonderful.

Used to be you’d have to work for 30 years to finally buy that house, finally buy that boat or that car. These purchases were your crowning achievement that proved it was worth it.

Now you can rent for a fraction of the cost and you’re left seeing that the only thing that mattered was the time spent with others.

Like how we played charades late at night, or “Punderdome.”

So are we at peak consumerism or is it only going to get worse?

And how will the access economy affect our inclinations to pour our wealth into trophies and status signals?

Millennials are crushed by debt, so they rent. And in the process of renting, and over-selfie-ing, they land somewhere in between understanding they really don’t need much, and that the stuff they do own has to be great.

It’s like some type of Quality-Minimalist.

At least that’s what I aspire to be…

So if you think I’m against wealth or against spending, you’ve got me all wrong. In fact, there’s a reason to spend large sums for craftsmanship. Sure, this can go overboard and fall into the status-signaling territory, but handcrafted, perfection built from the human spirit deserves high value in return.

If you care about the niche, the details, the craftsmanship and go all in on a product I understand.

But most often people just want the status without the extra effort.

Hence you buy.

Because what is a brand after all if not a way to purchase affiliation?
To pay to feel as if you’re part of a lived ideal, built from someone else’s vision?

So we’re all kings and Queens now – if you’re reading this you’re connected to the internet and everything is at your fingertips.

I’m sitting on a balcony with a beautiful view, and yet as I look into my phone and see the same screen I always do; my pocket reading list and a tab open, of which I’m using to write this to you…