Impostor Syndrome

A few months ago I learned about a psychological term that explained a lot about the way I think and when talking with the people around me, I found I wasn’t in the minority.

The term I found is Impostor Syndrome which is "a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts his or her accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a 'fraud’. Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be."

Sound familiar? No? Ok, there are some other posts here. Oh, it does? Then keep reading.

In doing research on this I found multiple Ted Talks on the topic, but the one that stuck out to me the most was one given at TEDxSydney by Mike Cannon-Brookes, an Australian billionaire and the co-founder and co-CEO of the software company Atlassian. 


He talks about how despite his tremendous success he still feels like he’s in way over his head. He even states how he feels like an impostor in his own marriage. He tells the hilarious story about when he met his wife she mistook him for someone else and how, in this case, he actually was an impostor.

However, the part that stuck out to me most was when he gives the story about him winning multiple entrepreneur awards (some he was so sure he wouldn’t win that he didn’t even show up for, but did, in fact, end up winning), all the way up to representing Australia in the World Entrepreneur of the Year. 

He goes on to talk about how he was sitting next to the winner from Portugal, a 65-year-old man who had been running his business for 40 years. Brookes admitted to him that he felt like he didn’t deserve to be there and at some point, someone would find out and send him home. The man looked at him and admitted that he felt the very same thing and he suspected all the winners here were feeling that way as well. He encouraged Brookes, telling them they’re obviously doing something right, so keep going.


Why is it that even the people we would deem successful still feel this way sometimes? One reason impostor syndrome is so pervasive is that we know ourselves better than anyone else. We know our weaknesses, shortcomings and not-so-great tendencies. We wonder how we could ever deserve to be in any position of importance with so many imperfections under our belt. 

This is a dangerous thought pattern because it causes us to not want to take on reasonability of any kind due to the possibility of screwing up and the thought that we shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place will become true. We tell ourselves we don’t deserve a certain promotion so why even ask when we barely deserve the spot we’re in now?

So what can be done about this? It’s clear that a lot of people struggle with this and it’s also clear how much this thinking can stunt your growth as a person. There are two questions that I find that help to combat Impostor Syndrome. 

The first is “did I do anything wrong to get to where I am?”. Did I cheat my way to the top? Did I lie in any way to make it seem like I was a better fit for the position than I actually am?

If so, then you might actually not belong. I’m not saying all is lost. I’m just saying you may actually have cause for worry and you’ll need to right some wrongs, whether it be coming clean or working twice as hard as everyone else on your team. 

This is why a lot of companies are starting to look past certifications. One is because they’re gonna have to train you despite what your degree is, but the other is that the kids who cheated their way through school or took another easy route are actually terrible employees. Who would’ve thought?

The second question is “Do I have the ability to do what’s required of me?”. Can you actually do the day-to-day tasks? If you can answer both of these questions, then who cares how old you are or what certifications you have. You might actually have lucked into the position, but who cares if you didn’t do anything wrong and can complete the tasks given to you?

I think there are a lot more people struggling with this than we think. Bosses, professors, CEOs aren’t born with their titles. At one point or another, they woke up to the first day of their position and thought to themselves “How did I get here? Do I actually have what it takes to maintain this position?”

One last point I would add is that sometimes you don’t know that answer to that second question until you actually try. That’s where taking risks, failing/succeeding, and growing comes into play. More on that here.

Do Time and Money Get Less Valuable the Older You Get?

*This assumes we all live to the average life expectancy age of 79 yrs old (in the US)*



I came across this exercise that Jordan Peterson does with his students (You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/w84uRYq0Uc8?t=5631), but if you don’t want to or don’t have headphones at the moment, I’ll give a brief summary. 


He asked his undergraduate students how much time they waste every day. Most of them say roughly 4-6 hours a day. Watching videos, scrolling through social media, procrastinating, and other things. 4-6 hours a day is roughly 25 hours a week, 25 hours a week is roughly 100 hours a month (2.5 full work weeks), which is half a year of work weeks per year


He then asks what your time is worth. Most student say it’s worth $20/hr, but this is an underestimate if you’re young. It’s more like $50/hr given deferred wages which is about $50,000 per year.


But what stuck out to me is what he said next. “Because you’re young, wasting $50,000 a year is a way bigger catastrophe than it is for me because I’m not going to live as long.”

Think about that. It assumes that time and money get less valuable the longer you live. Is this true?

Objectively? No. A dollar in an elderly man’s hand isn’t less valuable than a dollar in mine. Neither is my time waiting in a lunch line more valuable than his. 

Objectively? No. Personally? Yes. 

When I compare my time and money at this moment to someone else’s, they are equal in value. However, when I compare my time and money to myself in the future, they are not equal in value.

Let’s take money as an example. If I take $100 and bury it and check it in 50 years it will have lost value. We call it inflation. 

If I take $100 and put it in a savings account (of 2%, compounded annually, for 50 years) it turns into about $269. We call that compounding interest. 

Even crazier, If I use $10 to buy a book in 2019 compared to if I use $10 to buy the same book in 2029. The $10 I spent in 2019 was more valuable because it gave me 10 more years to practice the knowledge that I gained from that book. Now we’re getting into the value of time.


Are you still tracking? Ok cool, me neither. I’m just putting this all on paper so I don’t have to have it in my head anymore 🙂


Ok. Time. 


The things you learn and the habits you start are more valuable when you are young because they affect more of your life.


If I start a habit of working out 90 days before I die, that habit is not nearly as valuable as if I started the same habit in my 20s. Both take 90 days, but the second one is more valuable because it affects more of my life. 


If I learn something in my 20s, like how to cook, sewing, budgeting, how to play chess, or anything else, I'll know how to do those things for the rest of my life. Compared to if I wait until I’m forced to learn them. Therefore, those habits are more valuable in my early years.

If you want to be even more confused, think about the opposite. If the above is true then that means that the bad habits you start in your younger years are way worse than the ones in your later years.

It’s all about perspective and having the right perspective will change your life. Longterm thinking is crucial the younger you are. Does that mean your thoughts are more valuable the younger you are? Probably not, but I do think learning to think and how to view things correctly can be. 



Ok, why did I just type all this out? Because I’d like for everyone to donate to my new cause…It’s because I’m lazy. One of my strongest tendencies is towards passivity.


 I would want nothing more than to have zero responsibility in life and just be a golden retriever in a wealthy family’s home. I know deep down that’s not actually what I want, but I still lean towards that mentality on a daily basis and I think I’m not the only one who feels like that.


The other reason is that the people who this matters to most, understand it the least. Your later years can be exponentially better if you stop doing the things that hurt and start doing the things that help, now. 

I totally believe your early years are designed for you to gain as much knowledge and as many skill as possible so that your later years are even more impactful.


So I wanted this to be a reminder, no matter your age, that time is only decreasing in value for you. Don’t waste it. 

Freedom Is Characterized By Limitation

I’ve been thinking a lot about the best ways to maximize my days and my weeks. What's the best way to spend my day so that if it all ended tomorrow I’d be happy with how I spent the last 24 hours? It can be a morbid thought, but I’d say it’s more irresponsible to not think that way with life being as fragile as it is.

I’ve talked before about making an ideal day for yourself. As I’m going through mine, I realized it’s soaked in this one common theme. Limitation.


My ideal day isn’t where I’m free to do whatever I want. For some, an ideal day is having nothing planned. That sounds nice and can be for a day or two, but I’ve lived a couple of those days in a row and actually, it’s miserable. You have no direction, no discipline, and your days feel meaningless. You go from Netflix episode to Netflix episode. Why is that? Isn’t that what the American Dream is about? Getting to a point where you're so financially secure (retirement) that you're “free” to do whatever you want.


I’ve found this not to be the case and I think it’s linked to the Law of Diminishing Returns. Which states that there’s an inverse relationship between returns of input and the cost of production. Basically, the more you put in the less you get out. This is first-day-of-Econ stuff, but it actually applies to everything in life. When you eat ice cream most of the enjoyment you get is in the first few bites. It’s why we have buy one get one half off deals. 

So let’s apply this to a daily routine. When you wake up in the morning, do you feel freer when you over sleep or when you discipline yourself to wake up on time? When you eat breakfast do you feel freer when you can eat whatever is in sight or when you discipline yourself to eat a meal that will give you energy for the day? 

Even at work I’ve started limited myself to work for a certain amount of time and the break for a certain amount of time. So no phone checking, no article reading, no distractions. Then, nothing work related.

I learned this from my friend’s company. They do coding “sprints” for all their software developers where for an hour at a time they do all their coding and then everyone breaks and they’re not allowed to do anything work related. So they play ping pong, go outside, eat something, or take a walk. I found this to be way more productive than just having an 8-hour block every day to “work”. 

There’s the saying “everything in moderation” and I think that would apply here as well. The drunkard isn’t free because he has no restraint. In fact he’s restrained because he thinks he’s living in free. He’s restrained by his addiction. 

This goes for most thing. You aren’t free when you can’t control your desires, so you mask it in the belief that “I’m free to live my life and no one has authority to tell me otherwise”. That thinking leaves many people chained to addiction. I’m not even necessarily talking about addictive substances. I’m talking about everything. You’re free when you can look at something like food, sleep, entertainment, and think “ok this is the healthy amount that I’ll enjoy this and no further”. 

It’s not easy to live like this, most worthwhile things aren’t easy. You might take all this into account and actually put it into practice. You’ll look back on your week and think “Wow, I only woke up on time twice this week and went to the gym once, I’m terrible at this.”, yes you are, but you’re doing better than you were a week ago and that’s all you should compare yourself to. 

I’ll leave you with this lecture from Jordan Peterson: (Ignore the clickbait title ;)

What Did You Do Last Year That Will Last?

A lot of people have problems with New Year’s resolutions. I always hear from them that time is relative and nothing is different between December 31st and January 1st. Most people have a problem with them because they know that 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail and they think that everyone is just lying to themselves.

The other group doesn’t like them because they don’t like that people around them are improving while they themselves stay the same. Whatever the reason, I still enjoy them and still keep up with some resolutions as far back as 2015.

Today is the first Monday of the New Year so I’m taking some time to audit my goals for this year and make sure that how I’m spending my days is in line with my goals. Something I heard during a sermon this evening was, “What did you do last year that will last?”. In other words, what did you do that will actually matter in the long run? Take note of those things and then double down on them. Drop the things that get in the way.

I have a note written down in my Evernote titled “The Ideal Day”. This is a list of things where if I did all of those things that day I could look back on that day and say, "That was a day that will last. That was a day where if I died the next day I wouldn’t regret how I spent it.”

It includes what time I wake up, the first thing I do when I wake up, what I do during my commute, how I spend my first hours at work, what I do during the work day, what I do after I get home, what I do before bed, what time I go to bed, and more. 

I’m not sure who’s credited with the quote, but "how your spend your days is how you spend your life". So I’d say it’s pretty important to get your days under control because after all, this is your life we’re talking about and you only get one. 

That’s how you become the 20%. How you spend your day is how you will spend your year and if you want something accomplished by the end of the year, you gotta figure out how you want to structure your day to match that.

So how will you spend today?

2018 Sucked. I Wouldn't Have it Any Other Way

Every year I make a journal entry on December 31st. I reflect on where I was 365 days ago and walk through the year up until today. I write to my future self, 365 days from now, asking for things I hope he has (or will, or has already done…I don’t know) in the coming year. 

365 days ago I was in the most comfortable, safe season of life I have ever and most likely will ever be in. I was surround by friends, family, peers, and mentors. I had everything I needed to be happy and content, except for one thing...I wasn’t growing. I might have been in knowledge, but I wasn’t in experience. I wasn’t doing anything. I was coasting and I knew it. I knew I wasn’t meant to live a life of just “getting by”. I was meant to try and fail and boy did I fail this past year. It’s in the trying and failing that things are accomplished, but you can’t have one without the other.

So I did the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. I moved.

I moved to a completely different state, halfway across the country. I even moved without knowing where I was going to live. I essentially gave the middle finger to comfort and safety. I had a job lined up and that was about the only sure thing I knew, but even that wasn’t so sure. 

It can be fun to romanticize big moments in your life, but here’s the reality of this past year:

  • This past year I moved to Austin without a place to live and almost started living in a hostel.

  • This past year I struggled to go from my hometown where I knew everyone, to a city where I only knew one person. Like really struggled.

  • I got fired from the job I moved out here for. I failed.

  • I spent 3 months unemployed.

  • I applied and interviewed countless times only to hear they "decided to go a different route".

  • I was starting to run out of money and feared not being able to pay rent.

Sometimes you give the middle finger to comfort and safety and it gives it back. So yea the whole “trying and failing” things sucks. Like a lot.

Mainly when you fail, but no one ever talks about when they fail so you just assume you're the idiot.

I questioned myself a lot.

I wondering why I was cursed such a high risk tolerance and why didn't I just take the safe job in my home state I was offered. Why did I always have to be so extreme...I think I finally learned why.

I’m not content in my comfort zone and I have a suspicion that you aren’t either.

Of course I’m content on the outside. Who doesn’t like comfort and safety, but there will always be this nagging feeling that I don’t belong here. I’m content when everything is up in the air and you have to figure it out before it and you hit the ground. It’s in those moments of being terrified that I know that’s where I belong. 

Now I’d probably scare some of you if I didn’t talk about the joy of jumping out of your comfort zone with both feet. Here’s the other side of this year:

  • I’ve learned more about myself this year than I ever have in all the years combined.

  • I’ve learned my limits and have become more sure of myself than ever before. 

  • I got a job that I didn’t think was possible to get at my age, a work environment that most people dream of, and a boss who actually cares about mentoring young entrepreneurs. 

  • I’ve met some amazing people who I would never have had the pleasure of knowing, including my roommates, some great guys who have become dear friends of mine.

  • I learned how to cook, how to budget, and what it means to be an adult.

  • I learned how to start an e-commerce business

  • How to be financially independent

  • How to make friends (sounds dumb, but it's actually really hard when they aren’t just handed to you)

  • I’ve learned more about this world and my place in it than I ever have before.

  • I experience some amazing moments this past year. 

Here’s something I journaled yesterday morning: "Life isn’t something clique like a journey or a rollercoaster, it’s a maze. It’s a maze where you go down a path for days, months, sometimes years only to find out it was a dead end and you have to back track. It’s a place of discovery, a place of fellowship, and hardship. It’s exciting, difficult, painful, but above all it’s worth walking”

Life wasn’t meant to be played safe. You weren’t meant to stand still. Leaving your comfort zone might look different from person to person, because some people’s comfort zone is bigger than others, but it’s still meant to be left. It doesn’t have be some big thing like uprooting your life (although maybe it is), it can be something as small as going to a social gathering with social anxiety. It can be something like canceling your meal plan and learning how to cook. Maybe it’s just learning how to budget, workout, or leaving a toxic friend group.

The size of what you do to push yourself doesn’t matter, what matters is that you’re pushing yourself. That you’re doing things that scare you and make you uncomfortable. Because you’re capable of more than you know, but you won't ever realize it in your comfort zone. 

I’ve now developed a comfort zone here in Austin, which means I have to watch myself of becoming stagnant. Because you're never done growing, not until you're dead. 


So use 2019 to do a big thing or maybe just a lot of small things that push you further and further to all that you’re capable of. I’d highly recommend taking an hour or two today to figure out what that looks like in 2019. Don’t waste this year coasting.

3 Things I've Learned From My First Office Job

Your first real job is always intimidating. You’ve been learning your whole life in formal education and now you go from learning to actually doing. I want to share the 3 biggest things I've learned from doing.

 

1. Communication is key

 

This is true in any environment of two or more humans. If you’re setting out to achieve a goal, communication can make or break that goal. Expectations should be set up and you should repeat back those expectations to be 100% clear. 

 

When looking for a job, one of the biggest things I look for in the culture of a company is: are asking questions frowned upon? If they are then the culture will be made up of assumptions and that’s a breeding ground for chaos. 

 

Make sure you’re clear on everything. Remember that asking a seemingly dumb question now might save you from a costly mistake later. 

 

2. Know Thyself - Socrates

 

The second thing I learned is that the better you know yourself the more likely you are to succeed. Know how you operate best. Do you perform better working at home or in the office, with or without a team, standing up or sitting down, between the hours of 9-5 or 5-12? Obviously you might not be able to control some of this, but in your given situation what are some things you can tweak to perform at your best. 

 

If you don’t know yet, experiment with different environments until you do. Optimize everything around you so you can perform at your best for the benefit of yourself and your company. 

 

3. Just Do it

 

The last thing I would say is there will be a ton of things you don’t enjoy doing, at your job and just in life. The thing that separates the successful from the mediocre is the successful recognize they don’t want to do the hard thing in front of them, but they do anyway. 

 

Both don’t want to go to work that day. The successful know that showing up is half the battle. The mediocre call in sick. 

 

Both don’t want to go to the gym that day. The successful show-up, the mediocre make excuses. 

 

Both don’t want to take on the company project. The successful speak up and take charge because they know this could push them forward in their career. The mediocre are content with doing the minimum to keep their job, they remain silent. 

 

 

Some parting thoughts I would add are if you’re in your 20s realize that you probably won’t be at your current job in 5-10 years. The way the market is going is leading more and more people to job hopping (which actually leads to on average 30% higher pay). You might not enjoy your first job, but just make sure that when you move on you left the company better than you found it. Be proud of your time there and make the most of it. You just started some of the most exciting times of your life.

Have perspective. 

A Quick Look at MongoDB

Big data is not a fad. It's not going away, it's here to stay and is increasing exponentially. It's projected that by 2020 1.7 megabytes of new information will be generated every second. This information includes everything from tweets, text messages, the photos taken on your phone, Youtube videos uploaded, credit cards scanned, websites created, basically everything you can think of in this digital age. There is obviously a ton of financial opportunity with this amount of data and many businesses are already taking advantage of this. Even if your business model isn't centered around data, it's estimated that bad or poor data costs US businesses $600 billion every year (http://www.fathomdelivers.com/blog/analytics-and-big-data/big-data-facts-and-statistics-that-will-shock-you/).

 

How does a business organize and store that much data so they're not losing money and running more efficiently? Sure a local coffee shop might only have to manage inventory, credit card transactions, payroll, and a few other things, but what about companies like eBay, Cisco, Expedia, or even entire city governments?

 

Well, that's where I recently learned about a company called MongoDB. MongoDB has created a way to store data in an easy to read, easy to change, and in an overall flexible way. They created a free, open-sourced software that those companies I listed and even a few city governments are using right now. 

 

Here's a quick explanation of how they store and utilize that much data: 

 

Big data isn't going anywhere and neither is MongoDB. They're cheap, easier to use, and in my opinion, they're designed better than their competition. They recently went public last August and I'm excited to see them continue to grow in the years to come.

Reflections On My Time In Athens, GA

I have spent the past week trying to communicate some of the stuff I wrote below because today I’ll pack everything I own into a Honda Civic and drive to Austin, TX. So I took a second (or rather a week) to reflect on my time in one of the greatest cities in the country. 

I moved to Athens when I was 9 years old. So I’ve spent a little over a decade here. My most pivotal years were spent in this city. I am a product of the people I’ve met here and therefore a product of this city. 

I’ve lived through thousands of “Saturday’s in Athens”, chugged gallons of Jittery Joe's coffee, and I’ve spent months in Two Story (rip) and Jittery Joe's coffee shops. I’ve logged a little under 80,000 miles on the roads of Athens and could probably get anywhere with my eyes closed at this point. I bought my first concert ticket at the Georgia Theater, my first college football game was at UGA, and my first bar experience was in downtown Athens. 

I've made lifelong friends in Athens. Friends who piss you off and make you laugh till you cry. Athens became a place where I regularly saw people I knew. Whether running down Milledge or just buying groceries. I always said no place really feels like home until you run into someone you know. That was Athens for me. A place of safety and comfort. A place where the stakes weren’t so high if you failed. A place of community.

Just outside of Athens, I was apart of one of the greatest groups of human beings on the planet. I regularly attended Watkinsville First Baptist where I chose to follow Jesus, where I was baptized, and where I decided what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I learned what community was there. I learned that any group of people sharing life together are going to cause a lot of friction/drama. I learned not to give up or run away because of that, but love more because of those differences. 

I learned what it meant to study the bible and dive deep into it like it’s a bottomless pool, and everything and everyone your soul could ever need is at the bottom of it. I learned how to teach the things I learned from studying the Bible and that they should probably have tighter qualifications for who they let teach it.

 

Here we go...

I was shaped and molded by some of the wisest, loving men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Men who would take time out of literally providing for their families just to talk through my little high school problems. Men who wouldn’t sugar coat what life would be like 10, 20 years down the road. Men who would wake up at 6am to walk you through a book, help you through a struggle, and most of all just be vulnerable. Something I have never seen outside of the church. 

Men who would not only do that but who would invite you to watch their own life too. Watch them screw up and see how they apologize. Watch how they parent, how they love their wives, how to correctly handle anger, show mercy, and protect those who can't protect themselves. I am forever in debt to the guys I met at that church. I am forever in debt to that church in general. You couldn’t find something I would trade for the relationships I made at Watkinsville First Baptist.

 

You see I’ve learned a few things about community from my time in Athens. The first is that everyone needs it. Trust me I’ve tried going at this life alone and it sucks. 0/10 would not recommend. There is no excuse to not seeking out community. No amount of friction or differences should push you away from finding community. 

The second thing I've learned is that the people I’m blessed with are what makes life bearable. You’re a complete idiot if you put the things of this world or your ego before the people in your life. 

 

The third thing I’ve learned, and basically what I’ve been reminded of every day is that these things aren’t forever. Your friends aren’t forever. Your family isn’t forever. Most everything in your life has an appointed date and time to end. Well, aren’t we all happy now. But if you constantly find yourself longing for something this world can’t fulfill (which I have been a lot recently), maybe you were made for more than this world (wink to CS Lewis). Maybe you were made for a type of community that never ends. No matter where you are, that place has an expiration date. That’s not always a bad thing though because growth is synonymous with change. Also typically when a really great thing ends, another one begins.

I say all of this not to make Athens seem amazing (because it already is), but in hope that you slow down. You see, ever since I've had a date circled on my calendar of when my time here would end a feeling of helplessness came over me. There was nothing I could do but watch as the days slipped through my fingers. There's nothing any of us can do. So what I started to do was pause and take it all in. I started to take a second when I was hanging out with friends or just driving in Athens I would look around and just sit and exist in gratitude. A practice I will continue to do, or at least try to do, for the rest of my life.

Life is something most of us take for granted. I mean have you ever thought of the odds of you being geographically where you are on earth, when you are in history, and among who you're with now? Have you ever stopped to think about how limited your time is where you are now?My guess is if we did stop and think about that, we would start living more intentionally. My guess is we wouldn’t just watch as our time passes by, but we would squeeze every last minute out of it.

*Cue "Open Your Eyes" by Snow Patrol or "Rivers and Roads" by The Head and the Heart

Day 21 - Most Requirements in Life Are Negotiable

There’s a running joke I have with my friends whenever we play Xbox together and it’s to always ignore any warning or error messages and just keep mashing A. Microsoft is really dumb when it comes to the older Xbox 360 consoles. When trying to do anything that requires you to sign into an account like any online, system link, or local multiplayer stuff, it freaks out and starts telling you you can’t do it.

 

So I started thinking maybe there’s something to learn from this. Maybe most “requirements” aren’t actually requirements at all, but are there to weed out the people who don’t want to put forth effort to get around them. Now playing video games is a pretty poor example of this, so here's a few more.

 

I was reading on Medium the other day about a guy who applied for a business development role that required 3-5 years of experience. The only problem was he was still in school. You know, the ole can’t-get-hired-because-you-don’t-have-experience-and-you-can’t-get-experience-because-you-can’t-get-hired we all know and love. 

 

So he decided to prove that he was qualified for the job. Instead of submitting his resume and sitting back, he went on the offense. He decided to pitch some companies on forming partnerships with them and would then introduced those companies to the hiring manager. He got the offer. And think about it, he just saved 3-5 years. 

 

He did this same thing when applying for a product design job. Instead of being passive, he mocked up some design suggestions and got an interview the same day. 

 

Aside from jobs like medicine or law, job “requirements” are pretty negotiable. You just have to prove you can bring the company value. Don’t let them feel like they’re taking a gamble on hiring you, make them feel like they're missing out if they don’t.

 

People who aren’t willing to “break the rules” a little bit usually end up wasting years of time and money trying to achieve a goal they could’ve achieved with a lot less. -Raghav Haran

 

Basically, if you can just put forth effort in the right places and at the right time, you can achieve a lot more with a lot less.

 

Here’s a call to action. I usually do this at coffee shops or fast food places. Try and negotiate at the register. You don’t have to be one of those weird entitled customers, just ask for a discount. I usually say something like, “You guys don’t have any discounts for broke college kids, do you?”. Sometimes they do, sometimes they feel sorry and give you one anyway, or sometimes they just laugh it off. 

 

Ok last example. I was eating at some trendy burger place in Boston and did this. I was paying for someone else and the total was a little over $18. I asked my usual question and the guy winked and responded: “you go to the school around the corner don’t you?”. He took 50% off right there. I just saved $9 by basically making a joke. I got paid $9 to make a joke. Now why that school gets such a huge discount is beyond me.

 

These examples just go to show that most things in life are negotiable and there’s a way around most of the "requirements" people make.

Day 20 - Advice To High School Me

If I could tell freshman me one thing it would be this: Change your perspective. 

 

 

 

The biggest trend I see among high school culture is a focus on only those four years and nothing else. It seems like everyone had their heads down in high school. Every bit of drama feels like it affects the entire planet, every social event is make or break for your identity, and you think everyone around will be with you for life. 

 

I wish freshman me realized that the entire world was not just my county and that there’s so much more to life than what’s currently happening and what will happen in the next 4 years. 

 

I was talking to a friend the other day who actually went to a public school for high school, so obviously I took notes, and he started laughing at how scared he was at getting in trouble in high school. Like he thought his life would be over if he skipped class and got caught. As if it would affect his entire career from that point on. 

 

If you’ve already graduated high school something happens in your mind that happens with each season of life. You tuck that season away in your mind as “high school” and it all blurs together. However, when you’re in it, it feels like life or death. Maybe there’s something to learn here about life in general. I don’t know.

 

So to those that are currently in high school, just remember these 4 years are gonna be mushed together in your mind just a few years after you graduate. Maybe don’t take them so seriously. Work hard so you're set up for success when you do graduate. Learn as much as you can, and not just about math and English, but real-world things.

You know like the stuff that actually matters like finance, investing, how to buy or lease a car, insurance, budgeting, how credit cards work, how to change a flat, how the airport works, how credit scores work, the process of buying a house, how to cook and clean.

 

You know like the stuff that actually is life or death. The stuff not taught in our mandatory educations. Thanks Obama

 

The truth is I’m jealous of high school me or any high schooler really. They have so much time and they don’t even realize it. And the time you had in high school isn’t more or less valuable than the time you have now. In fact, it may even be more valuable because you can invest it now and reap the benefits longer than I currently can. 

 

So focus on the macro, on the next 50 years of your life. Learn a ton now, read. Focus on the stuff that will help you in the next twenty years and not on whether or not you’ll have a date to prom. 

 

 

And wear your retainer! And sunscreen too! Now get off my lawn!

Day 19 - Everything Has an Expiration Date

You guys ready to get depressed?? I came to this realization the other day and it’s pretty morbid and a bit sad. Everything that is affected by time has an appointed date and time to end. Like everything. Every housing situation, every day, every year, every up and every down, every stage of life, every social event, and music festival.

Even the small stuff like your favorite piece of clothing, the car you currently drive, the apartment you live in, your favorite pair of headphones. This includes the big stuff too. Like every relationship you currently have, the age your kids are currently at, and your circle of friends. Now we’re really diving deep into depression aren’t we? Here’s how Professor Slughorn explained it:

Most people think there are two options given this truth. They either never get attached to anything or they get bitter when it ends. This reminds me of a quote from C.S Lewis

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

I also think there’s a third wrong option. Holding on to it for too long. We all have that friend whose a lo-key hoarder because “I can’t throw that away, I might use it if a ridiculously improbable event occurs!” or that friend who “just knows we’ll get back together eventually”.

 

The first step in dealing with this part of life is realizing that everything has an expiration date and that’s what makes it special. When you realize that you’re graduating in 3 months you start to appreciate every walk to class, every minute stuck in traffic on campus and every late night. You don’t complain. That’s the main thing. When your perspective changes, suddenly the small things that used to irritate you don’t anymore.

 

I lived at home for 21 years of my life. The only way I didn’t lose my sanity was reminding myself when I would get irritated with my parents, that one day my relationship with them would mainly consist of just phone calls.

99% of the interaction you have with your parents happens before the age of 18. I realized this and learned to love my parents more because of it. That’s what I’m trying to say, loving something or someone more because of the fact that you won’t always have them. It’s all about perspective.

 

However, the main thing I came here to talk about was holding on to something for too long. I saw this quote by Jason Fried on LinkedIn today.

You typically compete more against habits than you do against competitors. In most cases, comfort and familiarity are stronger forces than new, better, and different.

 

Why do we hold on to things for too long? Because they’re comfortable, because they’re familiar. It’s much easier to stick with the current job you have than go into the unknown world of job hunting. Even if your current job is dead end and you know you’re capable of more. 

It’s easier to stay in a relationship that you're familiar with even if you know it won’t last and both of you are just coasting. 

It’s easier to stay in the town you grew up in because it’s familiar and safe.

Familiar and safe aren’t always best. When you hold on to something for longer than it’s intended purpose you aren’t doing yourself or that thing a favor. 

This is what I hope we realize, I hope we begin to enjoy every bit of everything we currently have and when the time is up we let it go. I hope we don’t try and hold on to something that was only meant for a period of time. I hope we start being more grateful for the seasons of life we’re already in. 

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from the Office:

Day 18 - If You Believe It About Yourself, It Will Come

There is something powerful about how you view yourself. I don't think anyone would argue that. In most cases what you believe about yourself usually comes true. I think the brain is more powerful than we realize and that self-fulfilling prophesies are underrated. 

 

After reading this study from the NY Times you find that the cultural groups with the highest success rates have three things in common. A superiority complex, some feeling of inadequacy that they will never be good enough, and impulse control. I’ll share my personal experiences with these three things. 

 

    Superiority Complex

     

    I have a superiority complex. I hope it never actually shows in any type of demeaning way, but I’m sure it does at times. However, this helps me in a lot of ways. It helps me not to be intimidated when I’m in the room with people twice my age who eat people like me for breakfast. It helps me hold a regular conversation with them without feeling like I shouldn’t even be in the room. It gives me confidence in general and confidence is hard to find in young people.

    I have a superiority complex. I know deep down that I have no idea what the heck I'm doing, but I'll never admit to that outside of this post. I balance this complex by knowing that everything I have has been given to me and I deserve nothing. This is something I try and remind myself every day. I also remind myself how it took me three tries to pass elementary Spanish, so that always helps.

     

    Some Feeling of Inadequacy That They Will Never Be Good Enough

     

    This should make sense after that last part. I’m not a brilliant person. Compared to some of the friends I hang around, I could be on the level of a caveman when it comes to what they know. But honestly, I want that. Because I know that having the feeling of never being good enough will actually help me in the long run.

    I’ll never have “made it” so I’ll never stop to take in the view. I’ll keep pressing forward because I’m just not there yet. In fact, I don’t ever want to be there. If the bar could just keep getting raised every time I reached it, that would be ideal.

     

    Impulse Control

     

    This has to do with a lot of things. One of which is long-term thinking. I can do an entire post on long-term thinking and how Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are some of the greatest examples of long-term thinkers of this century. And look at what they’ve built.

    Basically, it’s just having the ability to step out of the current situation and think, “based on the best information available to me, what are the most probable long-term effects of this decision?”. This is easier said than done especially when these decisions are made in a fraction of a second. This can be a quick response you wish you could take back or it could be a purchase decision. It's delayed gratification.

     

    These three things are more often than not, characteristics of successful people. All three of them can be taken to the extreme and actually hurt you and those around you more than they help. So each of these needs balance, but if you can find that balance, that ideal person you view yourself as may actually become real.

    Day 17 - So You Don't Know What You Want To Do With Your Life?

    It’s the question every 16-22-year-old is asked. Every holiday, every time you grab coffee with a friend, every time you run into someone you haven’t seen in awhile. It’s probably at the top of your mind way more than you’d care to admit. It’s the dreadful darkness we all know and love while lying awake at night. “Why am I even taking this class?” “What does this have to do with my life?” ”Did I say ‘here’ right during attendance?" 

     

    When you think about it, 16-22 is a ridiculous stage of life to know what you want to do with the rest of the 80 years. What have you been exposed to over that past 20 years that makes you positive you only want to do that one thing and nothing else? 

     

    The problem is that college directly follows high school and we’re rushed into it without a clue of all that is available to us or how the rest of the world operates. Then we’re told to pick a major after only doing basic school subjects for the past 12 years. Then we’re expected to follow through with that major and get a job in that area and do it for the rest of our life, all without ever leaving the country, let alone the state for some. How could you possibly make such a big decision with such little exposure to the rest of the world and experience available?

     

    So you don’t know what you want to do with your life? Here’s something I wish was said more: “That’s completely acceptable!” 

     

    But how do you find your passion? Here’s how:

     

    1. Don’t follow your passion

     

    The first step is to not follow your current passion. It’s not that your current passion isn’t amazing, It’s just that choosing it now so early in life will limit you from everything else. Most lawyers and accountants aren’t passionate about what they do. They didn’t pick their first passion. They’re passionate about being the best at what they do and I’m sure the money doesn’t hurt either.

     

    2. Try different things

     

    The best thing I believe you can do with your twenties is to take risks on different things. Think about this…you could completely screw up your twenties, from age 20-29 you could just make wrong decision after wrong decision and you would still recover just fine. These are the ideal years to take risks, big risks. You have almost no liabilities, no family to provide for, and no one needing you to succeed at this point in your life. The consequences are as small as possible and the potential for success are as big as possible.

     

    Because think about it, if after failure after failure you come back to the thing you were already passionate about you will have that much more assurance of it. You won’t spend time thinking “what if?” therefore, you’ll have even more time and energy to pour into that one thing. You’ll be unstoppable.

     

    3. Be a sponge 

     

    I hope to look back on my twenties and see that I was a sponge. I’m not trying to be a Zuckerberg or Jobs, I’m trying to be a sponge. I’m trying to soak up everything I can while I’m young so that when I do finally launch my career I’ll be a force to be reckoned with. 

     

    This includes not just learning, but experiences as well. And hey, if I can get paid to follow an executive around and watch what he does, all the better. That’s why it’s not always bad to take a pay cut if the value of what you can learn is greater. The younger you are the more valuable knowledge and experience are, becuase you have more opportunity to use them. 

     

    The problem most people have is they don’t think this longterm. They want the dream job now, they want to be on the front of Time Magazine by the age of 25. They say no to perfectly good opportunities that would put them in an incredible position at the age of 30, all because they want to be in that position at the age of 22. 

     

    4. So you found your passion

     

    You're 29, Trump is no longer president, bitcoin crashed and you’re now rereading the article that changed your life, this article.  You’re vastly different than you were at 20 and you're certain you've found your passion. Now ask, “Can I generate money doing this?”. You obviously have to pay bills and/or provide for other people. Luckily, most passions can be marketed, some better than others. For the uncommon ones, usually it just takes being really really good at it. Can you do that? Well then let’s do it.

     

    Day 16 - If You Don't Ask You Don't Get

    “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” simple right? It’s something my dad would say when he would try and get some type of discount or better seat than he paid for. I’ve found it to be true throughout my entire life, however.

     

    An example of this would be yesterday evening I had a flight from Austin to Atlanta with Southwest. When you fly Southwest there are no assigned seats you just take one that's open. So I was boarding and saw that an entire row at the very front, what would be first class on other airlines, was still available. Twice as much leg room and a window seat. A good 60 people had already walked by it assuming you had to pay more to sit there. I saw it, asked the attendant if it was open, and took it. The guy behind said he heard me asking and snagged the aisle seat as well.

     

    That’s a small example, but this has played out in just asking cashiers if they have student discounts or just want to give one to me anyway. Usually, if you aren’t a jerk they’ll give one to you just because. Sometimes they don’t, but what did you lose? The respect of the cashier and everyone around you? Chump change. 

     

    The key is to just ask. Just get the words out instead of living in wonder and what if. My friend was buying an iMac for his job and it was about to be a few thousand dollars. His co-worker was ready to buy it when my friend asked if they could get that price down a bit. The guy took off $500. $500 they were literally about to pay out of pocket is now back in their pocket. All it took was a question.

     

    Just ask for that date, promotion, or upgrade. What do you have to lose? Your life will stay exactly the same if you are told no. So it can only get better if you are told yes.

    Day 15 - Two Things I'll Never Tire Of

    Currently sitting in the Austin airport and I’m reminded of two things I will never tire of: planes taking off and airports. There's something about a 730,000-pound piece of metal lift off the ground and coast into the cloud that I’ll never not be amazed at. Why would I? That sounds incredible!

    This is also why I never take an aisle seat if I can help it. How often do you have the chance to be 10,000ft in the air and not die?

    “Every day” -Clark Kent. No one asked you, Clark.

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    The other thing I’ll never get tired of is just being in an airport. There’s no other place where so many people are going to so many different parts of the earth. He’s going to Asia for business, she’s going to New York for an interview, he thinks he’s at the fair but is in for a rude awakening, they’re about to start their honeymoon.

    It’s just the idea of people actually doing things that I enjoy. Well, that and the melancholy spirit of everything having a beginning and an end. Weird stuff.

    Do you ever feel stagnant? Well, the airport will cure that. You, unfortunately, can’t bottle the energy of an airport up, but you can surround yourself with people who have the same energy.

    What's the saying? You’re the average of the five people you hang out with most. Who do you hang out with? Are they the cumulative average of the person you want to be?

    Day 14 - Two Of the Best Investments You Can Make

    Investments are a part of our world. Delaying gratification now to have more later will always be an option for us. Investments by definition are risky. Sometimes you give up something now and don’t see a return on it, or worse you actually lose time or money. So today I wanted to talk about two of the best, safe investments available to us. Investing in yourself and others.

     

    Investing in yourself

     

    “If you want to invest in something with minimum risk and a guaranteed big return, invest in yourself” - Someone on Twitter

     

    investing in yourself is never wasted time. It has the greatest ROI because it affects every area of your life. So what are the best ways to achieve this great ROI?

     

    1. Reading

    “The difference between where you are today and where you'll be five years from now will be found in the quality of books you've read.” - Jim Rohn

    Reading, by far, is the best investment you could make in yourself. Imagine being able to sit down with Warren Buffet, Winston Churchill, or Elon Musk, and just listening to them teach you. That’s what reading is. You get to listen to some of the greatest thinkers, dead and alive, to have ever walked the earth. 

     

    I realize not many people enjoy reading. I didn’t either, but I found that starting small and building momentum is key. I started with the Harry Potter series and built momentum and found a love for reading. Start small, maybe with fiction or biographies. Just start reading, that's all that matters. There are studies that found that reading for just 6 minutes a day reduces stress by 68%. 6 minutes or a chapter of a book before bed is not hard to do and if you do this every day you’ll finish sooner than you think.

     

    2. Youtube/Podcasts

     

    This one is easier because it’s passive learning. Watching guys like GaryVee, NerdWriter1, L2inc, Vox, and WiseCrack are all great ways to learn about various topics. And there are a ton of topics you can learn from Youtube. Fitness, investing, car maintenance, and almost anything else. 

     

    Podcasts are even better because you can do other things while you learn. You can do the dishes, drive to work, or clean your house. Listen to shows like 99% Invisible, Ask Science Mike, GaryVee Audio Experience, Handel on the Law on Demand, How to Start a Startup, How I Built This, and the list goes on and on. These are all great ways to learn without much effort other than just having to pay attention. 

     

    3. Exercise

     

    I know, everyone hates to exercise, but you never get to leave your body and you only have one of them, so why not make it the best it can be or at least maintain it? Going to the gym can be daunting and if you don’t have anyone to go with, just realize that no one is paying attention to you there. Most people are busy with their own workout or too busy looking at themselves in the mirror to care about what you’re doing. It’s all in your head.

    As far as workouts go, almost every workout I’ve learned has been from Youtube. Youtube is free, you don’t have to pay $50 a session for a PT. Check out channels like Steve Cook, Sixpackabs.com, David Laid, and Whitney Simmons.

    If you need to start small, start with running. It’s not hard to screw up or learn how to do. Make sure you have proper shoes and download Strava or the Nike app to track everything. And hey, maybe explore a city while you're at it.

     

    Investing In Others

     

    Invest in others by building a network or tribe, 15-150 individuals, by always giving more to them than you receive from them. Give with no expectation of return. When a recession hits, they will still be there while your 401k might not be. Never burn a bridge unless it’s a toxic relationship. Most things just aren't worth never having that person in your life again.

     

    Maybe you’re not good with people, that’s ok. Just ask questions and be genuinely curious about them. Join organizations like a church, running clubs (two birds with one stone), or other organizations. Invest more in them than you receive from them and you will be thankful in the long run.

     

     

    Oh yea, invest in Bitcoin. 

    Day 13 - Let's Talk About Settling

    “On your last day on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.” — Someone’s definition of hell.

     

    Settling. What comes to your mind when you see that word? I’ll tell you what comes to mine, disgust, sadness, and wasted potential. Three not very positive things. Settling might be one of my biggest pet peeves. No, pet peeve isn’t strong enough. One of my greatest hatreds, that’s better. There are two main areas people tend to settle in.

     

    1. Relationships

     

    Well, this is a tricky one so I’ll try and keep it short. Many people lack patience, including myself, you should see my driving. Many people lack confidence, including myself, but I’ll try and fake it till the day I die. When you add a lack of patience with a lack of confidence in one’s self it will always result in settling. Many people’s fear is looking back and seeing this reality has played out in their life. Run from it! Don’t rush "forever". 

     

    2. Life

     

    This is the more important one. You only get one of these and you're responsible for every second of it. One of the many problems with formal education is it trains us to be passive. Everything is laid out for us. Get on the bus, sit in class, go home, do homework, repeat. This continues in college, but it’s not as laid out. Then you graduate and realize nothing is laid out for us. Sure once you get a job you’re told what you need to do, but how do get a job? How do you perform well in your job? Not much of this is explained to us in formal education unless it’s a specific trade.

     

    What is regret? Isn’t it just realizing you settled for a lesser option? An easier, passive, worse option? Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m not trying to grow old with many regrets. I’d rather look back on a thousand failures than a life of settling. 

       

      “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone, and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Marianne Williamson

      Day 12 - My Top 5 Favorite Ways To Explore a New City

      Cities. If you don’t know much about me, congrats you’re probably doing yourself a favor, but if you do you know that I love cities. I mean the fact that stuff is open past 10 pm is extraordinary in-and-of-itself. Not to mention the food, culture, music, tech, the energy of the people, constant stuff to do (Why do people use the phrase “not to mention” when it clearly follows with them mentioning something?). But if you’ve never been to a city before, how do you learn about all these amazing things at your disposal? Well, I’ll give you my top five favorite ways to explore a new city.

       

      1. Running

       

      If you hate running you’re at a loss, but maybe you can change this to just walking around. My absolute favorite thing to do in a new city is to put on my running shoes, my headphones in, and then just aimlessly run. Most cities are only a few miles wide so if you can physically run 3-6 miles you’ll be able to cover any city in a super small amount of time. Just run around and see where the streets take you.

       

      2. Longboarding/Penny boarding

       

      Also if you hate running and are somewhat coordinated, an alternative is to skate around. Most cities have bike lanes so just hope in one on your board and start cruising. You can cover way more ground than running, and all it cost you is not being able to use your right or left leg the next morning!

       

      3. Yelp/Google Maps

       

      As far as food goes I make it a point to at least visit the number one rated food spot on Yelp in that city. I gotta see what all the hype is about. I’ve never been disappointed. At the very least I felt “eh” and it only cost me $200.

       

      4. Lyft

       

      Obviously having a car in a city is better for exploring, but who wants to worry about parking all the time? There’s a different feeling I get from a city when I ride around in a car vs when I walk or run around in it. Most roads let you see parts of the city you couldn’t see from just walking around.

       

      5. A Friend

       

      This might be the hardest one to achieve (having friends). But if you have a connection in a city, no one knows cities like the locals. Usually, they can give you tips on really cool stuff to do and stuff that’s overhyped and just a tourist trap. Also great for places to crash and cars to borrow!

      That's all I got. If know of better ways, leave a comment with it!

      Day 11 - Cleaning Out the Weeds To Plant More

      I’m a sucker for new year’s resolutions and the whole mentality of a new year, month, week, or day. I love the 1st of each month and mornings just for this reason.

       

      With the start of a new year, you have the completion of another which always calls for two things: planning and reflecting. If you’re wondering how to not just coast through another year, but grow and make it better than the last, you need to clean out the weeds to make room for better things in your life. This is done through planning and reflecting. (This is why I believe journaling is so important because it combines these two things.)

       

      Planning

       

      Once a week I like to take a day, usually a Sunday or Monday, and plan out the following week. Every plan you make should start with the biggest plan you have for your life so far. If it’s just to graduate college great, start from there. If it’s something 5-10 years out, start there. Then work like reverse Christmas tree workouts. Start with the biggest number of years out first, bring it into this current year, then month, then this week, then back out to see how your plan lines up with those goals.

       

      Here are a few questions to get started:

       

      • What are three main things I want to get done this week?
      • What insane request or risk do I want to take this week?
      • Is there anything I lack right now that won’t let me finish this week how I want to?
      • What can I do this week to improve it from last week?

       

      The key is to start your week with a purpose. If you have a plan for the week, you’re much less likely to get distracted and waste your most valuable resource. Monday’s are a lot easier to wake up to when you have a purpose.

       

      Reflecting

       

      This part of your Sunday or Monday isn’t to just focus on what you did poorly the past week, but to learn more about yourself. What great thing happened last week and what about you caused it to happen? The environment you were in, people you were around, amount of sleep you got, food you ate, etc. Write it down. 

       

      Here are some more questions to ask (I think I stole these from someone, but can’t remember who):

       

      Weekly: 

      •         Who did I not meet this week that I should have?
      •         What did I not do?
      •         What did I miss?
      •         What should I tighten up?

       

      You can also turn the "reflection" questions into pasttense and ask those.

       

      Daily: 

       

      •          What was I focused on in the morning?
      •          What was I focused on during the day?
      •          What did I enjoy?
      •          What did I do really well today?
      •          What did I improve or improve upon?
      •          What did I learn?
      •          How can I do things better tomorrow?
      •          What is one thing I didn’t do well?
      •          What did I focus on during the night?
      •          How much effort/energy did I expend today, compared to past days?

       

      The key here is to become more self-aware and improve upon last week. If you do this every week, think about where you’ll be next January.  

       

       

      Day 10 - Don't Chase the Degree Chase the People

      Not like in a weird way. While I was wrestling with whether I should go to college or not I asked many people who had already completed college, “Was it worth it?”. The majority said “Yes, of course!”, but maybe not for the reason you’d think. 

       

      The majority said it was worth it, not for the piece of paper, but for the relationships that were built, connections made, and organizations they were a part of. Now I know many people actually go there for the degree and go on to become doctors and lawyers and such, but if the majority are going because it’s “just the next step after high school” and finding out that the main benefit of going to college is the people you meet, you have to wonder if there’s a cheaper option.

       

      Well, that's about all I've got for today. Wow! My first paragraph post. I'd like to thank my friends and family.