Pay the writer

Harlan Ellison has a great bit on paying writers. And it isn’t just writers. It is anyone who is using emotional labor to create a connection.

The worst thing to happen to artists in the last decade or so is when the public started to call them content creators.

As Michael Metcalf has pointed out, “Content creation is culturally insignificant.” It is used to fill gaps. Click bait. We can all agree that there is a distinction between the work of Bob Dylan and what a stranger on YouTube posts.

Artist are much more important and need to get paid.

Of course, you can find amateurs who do something for free and are willing to do work anything to get their name out there. That’s fine. But don’t expect a professional to do the same.

For professionals the stakes are much higher. They do their work for money because that is how they put food on the table.

From time to time, I get asked to guide for free because of the gear and experience we have at Pivot Adventure. “Hey, its rock climbing. It is supposed to be fun.” And I almost always say no now. Because I know what I do has a ton of value. It bring joy and meaning to so many people’s lives. And I have to get paid to keep the lights on. Good Charma doesn’t fill your gas tank.

That is not to say artist can’t be generous with their time and talents. Of course they can. Just like a plumber or a CPA can give their time to help someone who needs to be helped. Generous doesn’t mean free though. Generous is seeing someone who is in pain and alleviating it. Generous is invoking a change in emotion. Generous may be giving the number to your competitors when you can’t serve someone the best. There are lots of ways to be generous.

“What time are you off?”

It seems to me, when you are getting paid by the hour, you are not likely to stay after your shift ends.

There are not many people on the Amazon assembly line asking if they can stay later.

That is vastly different from someone who is working with purpose–doing that thing they were born to do.

We do things all the time for free, especially when we are younger. But all of sudden we get paid, and now it is work.

If you are going to dedicate 40 years of your life doing something, you should be careful choosing your life’s vocation.

Looking for the heart and soul

If you are searching for something real, something that is true, you probably won’t find it on the internet.

Most of the time, the way we use the internet, it is for entertainment. Not education or enlightenment.

Instant feedback loops

There isn’t a noticeable piece of feedback if I switch from a chocolate bar to celery sticks. It’s only over time we receive the benefits.

And since so much of our feedback is instant, we have a hard time making decisions today that will improve our future.

There’s a reason why we still rely on fossil fuels even with the alternative technologies available. For too long, we invested in efficient, profitable systems rather than resilient ones.

Not all gratification is instant. We have to plant seeds.

Don’t let the opportunity pass

What would the Egyptian Kings of old, with all the riches of the world, pay to fly on an airplane?

To have access to a smartphone or Google?

Novocain, anesthesia or antibiotics?

If I had to guess, almost all of them would trade their position for ours today. Life is just better by almost every measure.

That doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Of course not. We have so far to go. Yet, having access to the same tools (a laptop and an internet connection) as the richest people in the world today has opened so many doors of possibility. It’s a dramatic shift, one that has never been available before.

“What is the point in being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable? How very odd, to believe God gave you life, and yet, not think life asks more of you than watching TV.” – John Green

How do you tackle a challenge the size of climate change?

If you are shown a problem but have no idea how to start or solve it, it can become discouraging.

So much so, that many people will just decide to get used to the problem instead.

You need a story about our place in all of this.

What is my contribution? Tell me why the fight is worth it.

Check, please!

Usually, food tastes better the longer you take to prepare it. And it is a better experience when you share it with other people.

Packaging matters too. Because we can’t really taste the difference between expensive and cheap wine except by the price tag and bottle it’s in.

What kind of story do we tell ourselves about waiting in line at McDonalds? It’s really different from the story we tell about waiting in line for two hours to try the new restaurant downtown.

Settings matter too. Because something doesn’t ever feel right about eating sushi at a gas station.

Marketing and placebos work. They signal to us how we are supposed to behave. They trigger us. They create expectation. The story we tell about food changes the way it tastes.

The wrong assumption

Contrary to popular belief:

  1. We use more than 10% of our brains. If we only used 10%, brain damage would be perhaps impossible to recover from.
  2. Brain damage isn’t permanent. The brain can heal itself and even form new connections.
  3. People are not right or left brain dominant. We use both sides of our brains to solve different types of problems.
  4. We don’t have the biggest brains. Sperm whales have an 18 pound brain, humans, by contrast, have a 3 pound brain.
  5. Alcohol doesn’t kill your brain cells.
  6. Your brain has 85 million neurons. Not 100 million.

These are myths and urban legends that are quickly debunked with a simple Google search. There are lots of rules of thumb and heuristics we use that are false. Like pumping your breaks when you have ABS.

Let’s be clear, no one is immune to falling into the trap of fake news or misinformation. We hear something, take it to be fact and only sometimes go back and verify.

We can’t pretend that getting to the truth is impossible either. We have all the tools at our disposal to become truth seekers. We just need to learn to be skeptical of the incoming. Slow down and put in the effort to do a bit of research.

Each of us has a narrative in how we see the world. There is more than enough information to keep it in tact. The question is, are you willing to be incompetent for a while so you can learn to see the world through a new lens?

Five years of blogging

Today is the day. I’ve published one blog post every day for the last five years. What a journey it has been.

Here’s the secret:

Write every day. Put it in the queue. Publish it. Repeat.

That’s it. There is no magic trick or secret formula to follow. Only commitment.

Mathematics tell us that most of the posts are going to be average. Mistakes still occur even though I do my best to correct them. But it’s free. 260,000 words of mine. Enough to fill ten books. (There is definitely a book in here to be written here in the future.)

What’s popular isn’t always important. My favorites sometimes don’t get read.

When I first started, I didn’t feel like a writer. I felt like an imposter. But committing to this practice every day, I now have proof I am a writer. Am I New York Times Bestseller? Nope. Not even close. I haven’t even published a book yet. But even though I have never published a book, I can’t say I don’t write. These are metrics we choose to measure.

Here’s to five more years of sharing.

Thank you for being on this journey with me.

The power of suggestion

Back in the 90’s, Daniel Gilbert came up with an experiment to test our belief formations. It turns out that our default setting are to believe what we hear–not to question it. So much so that it may be “involuntary comprehension rather than rational assessment.”

With only the slightest pressure, we begin to assume statements as true.

That’s why suggestions are so powerful. We trust our senses.

What makes this so dangerous, however, is that anyone be can sold a lifestyle and hook a whole generation.

It seems silly to watch this kind of disinformation spread now. But if you like smoking, you don’t want it to be true that it is bad for you. The truth is, this isn’t the first time we have had to deal with this disinformation. But the question I have is this…

How can anyone fall for ads like this?

And yet today, we have to have publish information about how there are no microchips present in COVID vaccines.

Indeed, we hear or read something, believe it to be true and sometimes, down the road, we make the time to challenge that belief. Making it ever more difficult to change our mind when we have been living on incomplete or false information.

Ideas are sticky for a reason.