Retain your brightness

Culture wants to tear people’s dreams apart. It wants you and me to be average, mediocre, to not stand out, and, of course, it wants us all to fit in. Average products for average people.

Culture amplifies mistakes and minimizes leaps. We point to an outside force called luck instead of celebrating the 20 years of day in and day out labor. We call people an overnight success so we can reinforce the search for a short cut. But overnight success isn’t by accident and it isn’t overnight. Culture downplays the years of generosity—people who freely give their gifts expecting nothing in return—because deep down inside we know we can do better.

Find a way to retain your brightness. What makes you that special snowflake. That thing that makes you you. Your talents. Your gifts. Your art. Because we now live in a world where there is a culture activily seeking for us to be ordinary.

Formalities in an informal world

The world is becoming more and more informal.

Communication, for instance, has progressively become more informal. Since Alexander Bell created the Telephone a hundred fifty years ago, we’ve seen communication go from face to face verbal conversation to letters on a screen.

But there’s still a place for formalities in an informal world.

The ones that are going to produce remarkable products, goods, and services in the future will be the ones who figure out how to make formal experiences for there customers. We live in a culture where it’s constantly get pushed on us to be average. People don’t want that. They are wanting more substance.

[That’s why marriage is so highly valued. It’s a formal, unique experience that isn’t replicated anywhere else in the culture.]

Management vs leadership

Managers tell people to do what they did yesterday, but a little faster and a little cheaper. Making the status-quo exhausting to maintain. So, you quit.

On the other hand, leadership is finding a common goal, aligning your views, and getting out-of-the-way. That last part is important.

You won’t find great leaders doing a lot of pushing or pulling—but I think the good ones are masters at persuasion (not manipulation).

From bigger to smaller

Tom Goodwin said, “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.”

And as Kevin Kelly has pointed out, “Access is better than ownership.”

Over the last 200 years, the way to get rich was to own the factory. But over the last two decades, the internet has changed everything. The factory is no longer a building where the goal was to do the same thing you did yesterday but a little faster and a little cheaper to make a little more profit. Now, the factory, is a laptop. Now, anyone with 500 bucks can own the factory. There is no leverage by owning the building anymore.

So we’re seeing this door opening. One that Walmart and Goldman Sachs are too big to go through. But we’re seeing freelancers and small business owners and entrepreneurs who are now entering the game. And they are flipping the marketplace upside down.

The future isn’t about how big you can get. No. It’s about being small. It’s about leading a tribe.

[If you want to change the world, think smaller. Don’t worry about changing the entire world. Focus on changing your world.]

Something worth crossing the street for

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, sold a shoe store for a billion dollars. A shoe store! How? Because it wasn’t a shoe store. It was something worth crossing the street for.

So if you want to produce art, do something remarkable. Something that will change us. Because finding the fastest and cheapest good, product, or service is only one click away.

But the ones we’ll notice, the one’s will miss when they are gone, the one’s worth crossing the street for, are standing up and standing out.

Cakes and candles

There is more in the world than we could ever consume. Most of us are starting to realize that on the endless wheel of accumulation, it’s actually endless.

If you see the world as only having finite resources then you’re seeing it as a cake. Fixed. If your slice is bigger than mine, it must mean I received a smaller piece.

On the other hand, when we see the world as having an infinite amount of resources (and opportunities and possibilities) than we can view it as a candle.

We can share what we have with each other by lighting the other person’s candle. By doing so, we add more light in the room.

We all benefit to more light and knowledge.

[Merry Christmas. I hope it’s a good one.]

The problem with everything being relative

One of the biggest traps we see in the culture today is this idea that everything is relative.

It’s dangerous to imply that there isn’t a moral standard or absolute truth for each and every one of us to discover.

Often, we hear the phrase, “It’s all relative,” as some sort of intellectual argument. A way to dismiss other perspectives so we can protect our own world view. It’s a form of hiding.

Hiding because we don’t want to be accountable for the years of mistakes. Hiding because we would have to change. Hiding because we’re afraid. We’re afraid of consequences and shame. Hiding because we would have to say we were wrong.

The moment we abandoned this search for absolute truth—the kind of truth that once was and always has been—we see the degradation of family and culture. While it’s great to learn from your own mistakes. Wisdom is learning from others:

(Note: I’m not talking about those with clinical struggles. That’s a different discussion.)

If we are going to build a culture that we can all be proud of we can’t justify or excuse or dismiss bad behavior by simply saying everything is relative. Not when we’re trying to solve one of the biggest public health crisis in history. We can’t live in a world where everyone gets to pick their own truth. All it does is take us one more step further down the road we don’t want to be on. Making it even more difficult to turn around when the instinct is to keep moving forward. Which perpetuates the cycle of bad decision-making: one bad decision leads to another.

Sure, it’s natural to think that saying ‘no’ is a form of control. People don’t want to have their rights and agency and freedoms infringed upon. But freedom isn’t defined by those who can (or are allowed to or have the right to) pick up a cigarette. No. Freedom is the ability to put it down.


Everything has an opinion.


Your family, your friends, your co-workers, and even products.

Nowadays, you can’t even buy a sandwich without hearing what its stance is on the economy or the environment or politics.

Some thoughts:

  1. You can have an opinion. But if it’s not for them, it’s not for them. Be okay that not everyone is going to agree with what you have to say. Not everyone is going to get the joke.
  2. If you are going to have an opinion, might as well make it a good one. An educated and informed decision of why you believe what you believe. Reading and writing will help articulate your position. And yeah, you will be judged. But great work never happens without critics criticizing. So stand up and stand out if you believe it’s right.
  3. The good news is living in a digital age you can scroll to the next article. The bad news is maybe you never find anything that will challenge your world view. The kind of stuff that makes you think differently. Where growth can take place.


A few years ago, Marcus “Notch” Persson began developing a video game as a side project. While lacking time, money, man-power, hardware, and other resources. What he had an abundance of was vision, imagination, and grit.

With over 70 million copies sold, Minecraft has become the third best-selling video game of all time. In addition, Microsoft purchased the franchise for a whopping $2.5 billion.

How did Minecraft become one of the most successful video game franchises of all time with throwback 90’s graphics?

Marcus Persson, or “Notch”, began developing the game as a side project. Some of the constraints included: scarcity of time (full-time work), money, man power, hardware, and other resources. What he had an abundance of was vision, imagination, and grit.

These constraints were opportunities. The beauty of the game is not because he wanted to be the best in the world in terms of graphics. He focused on being the best in the world by tapping into what all human beings want to experience: to create something new (communities, resources, projects, buildings).

It didn’t matter that the game had throwback 90’s graphics. Too much time is spent these days polishing edges instead of doing the work that matters. While the graphics may be described as “poor” (depending on your view), the experience is rich. The constraints of the blocky graphics have enhanced the game experience not taken away from it.

Notch used what he had available and turned Minecraft into something worth mentioning, something worth experiencing despite the restraints of the project.