Writings by a younger, less handsome man who shares my name

Most of the time, it’s noisy inside my head.

Noisy with things I need to do and things I don’t want to forget. With emails I wish I had worded differently. With new ideas I want to follow to maturity. With interruptions I invite by leaving email and Facebook open. With phone and text message interruptions I don’t invite at all.

My guess is that it’s noisy inside your head too. Especially if you’re successful. A lot of people depend on you, and you probably have the bloated inbox to prove it.

The problem with all this noise is that it makes it hard to hear anything.

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Olympians do super human things, but they aren’t super human.

Sure, they can push themselves harder and longer than the rest of us. Lance Armstrong’s heart is about twice as strong as mine. At rest, his beats 32 times per minute while mine is in the high 50s.

This means that during a sprint in the Tour de France, when his heart is exploding at 200 beats per minute, he’s pushing blood and oxygen through his legs with twice the force of my heart when I’m maxed out on a soccer field.

He could make a fool out of me in any test of physical endurance. And he’s 38 years old.

But here’s what he can’t do. He can’t train his body not to scream in pain when it gets tired. He can’t train his mind not to consider quitting when his body is broken and hurting like hell weeks into a race.

His body obeys the same rules mine does. It breaks and hurts and gets so tired that it tells him to stop. So does his mind. It tries to rationalize the easy way out. It tells him that it’s okay to slow down. Everything will be fine.

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Imagine that you are stuck on an island with only a handful of other people. [image of guy alone on an island]

These people are very different from you. And you don’t like some of them.

Maybe their names are Gilligan, Mary Ann and the Skipper. Or maybe they are your boss, your competitor, the loudmouth who hogs all the credit and your ex-friend who gossips about you behind your back.

Sure, you don’t have to get along with them. You can choose to avoid one, not talk to another and form an alliance with whoever feels the same way.

But it’s going to make life on that little island lonely and complicated. More importantly, it’s going to be hard to get the things you need.

Because the loudmouth knows how to waterproof your hut. The competitor knows how to find water when it hasn’t rained in weeks. And your ex-friend has the savvy to rally the other two to help.

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Saying no imageWhat would happen if you gave up the one thing in your life that’s most important to you?

Think about it for a minute. Imagine ending your marriage. Leaving your job. Closing your business. Abandoning your labor of love.

Would the next chapter in your life be better or worse than this one?

It’s a terrifying question. So terrifying that most of the time, we’ll do anything to avoid it.

It’s also one of the most powerful predictors of our future.

Because when we believe that whatever we have now is as good as it gets, we draw the boundaries of our future. Nothing better can happen to us when we don’t believe there’s anything better out there – when we accept what we have and tell ourselves to be grateful for it.

Great negotiators understand this. They know that what makes for strength at the negotiating table has nothing to do with the money in our wallets, the strength of our resume, our influence over others or our family name. Read more…

Entrepreneurship is too big for the box we’ve trapped it in. [Image of suit trapped in a box - Click 'show images' to view]

What is an entrepreneur today? Someone who starts businesses. If you are really progressive, it’s someone who starts socially conscious businesses.

I hope this is simply a historical accident. Because there is nothing about innovating, finding unmet needs, building teams, bootstrapping, taking risks, competing, creating value and scaling a model that’s specific to business.

Imagine a world in which business had a monopoly on these practices. We would not have many of our most successful communities, social causes, political movements, service organizations, universities and religions.

Entrepreneurship has nothing to do with business or commerce. It’s a methodology for solving problems – perhaps one of the most versatile ever made. It is a way for a few small people to bring about massive, scalable change with little or no resources.

The problem is that business has seized the entrepreneurial brand and most of the entrepreneurial-minded talent. Read more…

We are obsessed with seeing our world in the highest resolution possible.

We want our television in high definition and our movies in Blu-ray. We want our news from all corners of the world at all hours of the day. We want to measure every detail and every dollar in our businesses. We want to know each other’s every thought on Twitter and Facebook. We want our emails, photos and digital souvenirs at our fingertips so we can recreate any moment from our past.
[Image of TV static - Turn on images to view]
We want all this detail right now. On our computers, on our phones, at the gym, in the bathroom, next to our beds when we wake up in the morning. No matter where we are, no matter what we are doing, we need our detail stream and we need it now.

Details soothe us. They make us feel connected to our world and in control of our lives. They make us feel safe from illusion and deception and surprise.

It’s soothing to believe that if only we had more details, we could begin to see the whole picture. And if we could see the whole picture, then there’s nothing that could surprise us, nothing we wouldn’t know and maybe even nothing that could hurt us.

But what if the whole picture isn’t the sum of the details? In fact, what if the whole picture has nothing at all to do with the details? Read more…

In your most important relationships, what happens when things go wrong?

Do they spiral out of control? Or do they whirl and spin and shake, only to settle firmly where they belong?

Physicists talk of stable and unstable equilibriums, and relationships obey a similar physics.[Image of bowl]

A stable equilibrium is like placing a marble in the bottom of a deep bowl. You can jostle the marble and shake the bowl, but no matter what, the marble will eventually return to where it started, as stable as ever.

An unstable equilibrium is what happens when you turn that bowl upside down and place the marble on top. As soon as you touch the marble or nudge the bowl, the marble careens off the side, onto the table and eventually drops onto the floor.

You can put the marble back on top of the bowl, but it’s precarious. The smallest disruption and it’s on the floor again. The equilibrium is always at risk. Read more…

As I announced earlier this week, I quit a great job at TicketLeap, one of Philadelphia’s most promising young companies, without any idea of what I would do next. I hadn’t even started the search.
Jumping without a parachute
It’s either brave or foolish
, depending on who you ask. It’s also hard to understand, especially for my mother. I think she worries that I’m too proud to move in with her — that she will see me on the news one day holding a sign that says, “Will bring you customers for food.”

So I want to share the story of why I left and why I did it without a parachute. I also want to give you some ammunition in case you find yourself in a similar situation. After all, it’s hard to explain your apparent insanity to everyone you know. It’s also hard to ignore that voice inside your head that will say anything to talk you out of it.

The million dollar question

Before we go any further, let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room: it seems insane to jump without a parachute, especially in a recession. It seems insane for one simple reason. Read more…

The Internet makes it easy to matter a little bit to a lot of people.

Hundreds, maybe thousands of people will send you an e-mail, read your tweets, look at your photos and think of you over the course of a month.

But how many of those people really matter to you? And how much time do you invest in those relationships?

Something I read today stopped me in my tracks because of how it answers those questions. It’s a quote from an entrepreneur named Rajesh Setty in a new ebook called What Matters Now:

If you are truly enriching someone’s life, they will typically miss you in their past. They think their lives would have been even better if they had met you earlier.

You can tell who really matters to you by looking back and asking yourself, who do I wish had been there sooner? Read more…