Keeping streaks alive

The Rocky Horror Picture Show has played at Portland’s Clinton Theater every Saturday night for 43 years.

And during the pandemic they kept it playing, even when no one came.

That’s commitment. That’s a streak that someone has found that wasn’t worth breaking.

How does one keep a streak alive during the trying times?

  • Make the decision once. Decide now what you will commit to doing the rest of your life.
  • Start in the morning. The science tells us that cognitive load goes up as we go through the day. The ability to make good decisions goes down the more decisions we make.
  • Be accountable to someone. Who’s it for? What’s it for? Find the why.
  • Make your art. Art is anything we do as humans that bring emotional labour to the table to make a connection. Art is what we get to do to bring joy, meaning and happiness.
  • Be grateful that you get to do the work you do. There are billions still without the proper resources.
  • It isn’t about the numbers, it’s about the impact. Knowing that the Clinton Theater is still playing Rocky Horror sends a signal that the virus doesn’t change who we are.
  • Infinite games by nature don’t have an ending. But you can find a game within a game.
  • You can’t spring forever. It is a marathon. Find a pace you can maintain.
  • Read something inspirational. When I am thirsty, books fill my cup.

Most importantly, find a new way to measure. Clearly, keeping Rocky Horror playing wasn’t for the money. It was for the story that people told themselves. That story matters.

Economic power

When you study the works of economic thinkers like Ricardo and Smith, you will find rents to be a powerful economic incentive.

Own something that is scarce and turn up the ratchet.

Someone with a million dollars doesn’t have enough money to compete in the type of machines that farmers or automobile titans have. It is requires too much capital.

So, what do you do?

Invest in real estate or perhaps crypto or a VC.

You make small, safe economic moves to go from 1 million to 2. 2 to 5.

When this goes at scale, however, you have a few people that own a lot of real estate. Wealth continues to flow to the top.

The ones on the bottom have no way to break the cycle and despite best efforts have no economic mobility once wealth transfers from one generation to the next.

This is how aristocracies were built. And they continue to this day.

Sure, with real estate you can point to low interest rates, low inventory and high demand for houses. This is true. There are other things behind the curtain that continue to make it hard for those to get what their parents had.

Desperate moves

If you’re unemployed long enough, you will take the first offer you are given.

That is what makes desperate moves so desperate: You are willing to take anything that comes in your path.

If you invest time building a resilient system, the frequency of emergencies tends to go down.

The longer you are out of debt, the more you invest in a nest egg. If you have an emergency fund, having your car go out won’t disrupt the flow. The less artifacts you collect, the less credit card debt you will accumulate. And on and on and on.

Let’s be clear, the system that is set is rigged. Money flows to the top. And the rich do get richer. Social mobility continues to dwindle no matter how hard people work. What was true then isn’t true anymore.

Until we get the system right, the choice then is to figure out how to build a resilient system for ourselves. Personal choices are still a powerful tool despite the landscape:

  • You don’t have to go a famous college when the community one down the road is a fraction of the price.
  • You don’t need a new car. Cars lose 40% of their value over the first 4 years. That’s a good starting point.
  • You probably are missing out on tax benefits by not hiring a professional.
  • Accidents happen, do you have your financial affairs in place when the day comes that you leave this world?
  • Don’t buy it unless you can go home and pay it off. Building credit is part of the nature of the business these days. But there are smart ways to do it. The reason why credit cards offer the incentives they do is because they are winning. Treat credit cards like Vegas. “The house always wins.”
  • FOMO is real. Housing prices continue to skyrocket. Bitcoin seems to come and go. Be patient. Don’t skip steps.

Despite making all the correct choices, it still may not be enough. That is the world of inequality that we continue to build. We must keep demanding change.

Are we all lost stars?

We can see in the classic 1977 film Powers of Ten, the universe is a vast place.

It is dark. It is cold. And it is quiet.

It turns out, that each of us is made of ordinary matter. Matter that emits light. Ironic since ordinary matter is the rare type we see in the universe. Which makes us unique. We stand out amongst the stars.

Earth is a sanctuary from the universe. The only place that can sustain life as we know it.

If we are reminded of this perspective, we would treat it differently.

This is our best shot: Spaceship earth.

Moving up the ranks

A promotion probably isn’t the solution to your problem. It isn’t going to make feel any better about a job you hate. Money, title, a parking space, status is only temporary. A temporary boost in “happiness”.

Paychecks and titles have this unique way of locking us in. “Don’t be stupid, you are not going to find something better” is what we tell ourselves.

Be glad that the job you have doesn’t make you happy. Uncomfortable situations nudge us to move on and take chances. Even if the world is scary.

Instead, feel bad for those who dislike the work they do and have settled for a promotion.

Your soul deserves to be free. Stop looking for a cage to put yourself in.

Drought

Governor Cox recently asked for a weekend of prayer to end the Utah drought.

Here are some facts:

The commercial industry uses 8% of the water.

6% of the water goes to residential lawns and another 4% is used for indoor purposes at residences.

The rest?

82% of Utah’s water goes to the agriculture industry.

So, asking Utah residents to be water consciousness, is simply not enough. Even if every resident went to a xeriscape type of lawn, you are not going to turn this drought around.

Regardless, of how you feel about the power of the divine–go ahead and pray. We need faith. And at the same time, demand systematic change. Because if everyone does their part it would not be enough until we demand the agriculture industry to change.

Difficult choices need to be made. Some of those choices may not be popular for a re-election run. Some of those might mean we can’t support the cattle industry or the alfalfa industry (which is then shipped to China). The system that we have built is not enough to curve the effects of climate change.

The consequences are coming.

Update:

It hard pill to swallow to ask residents to keep cutting back when there are clear conflicts of interests happening. Read about Governor Cox’s alfalfa farm here.

These machines are so sophisticated and expensive to start an alfalfa farm most millionaires would look at other safer investment opportunities (crypto or real estate). So, I suspect, many of these farm owners had them handed down to them. Why we protect the few while the many suffer still beguiles me.

Not for free

The problems people come to you to solve provides a good indicator at what you are good at. And sometimes friends or customers or neighbors will ask you to do work for free.

There is nothing wrong with free. If someone needs free, there are places and resources to seek. And if someone needs cheap, you can show them the number of competitors in the area or have them contact someone on Fiver.

But if you have built a large body of work and you are a professional, you are not those things.

Professionals do work for money. That is usually what stands out from an amateur. Not because they necessarily need it. It doesn’t fill the why. They do it because their time is valuable.

There is a reason I can’t pick up the phone and call Danny Elfman to come score my next super 8. He’s Danny Elfman! And has built a reputation.

So, there’s this large gap between what we can do by ourselves and what professionals can only do. We are talking about scarcity. As you move towards what only professionals can do, the more difficult it is to solve a problem. And less affordable solutions there are available.

Here are the steps to say, “Sorry, I’m not doing that for free.”

First step is to say, “Thank you.” “Thank you so much for thinking me.” “That is flattering that you would consider someone like me.”

Next, state that you don’t do this work for free. “Unfortunately, my schedule does not allow to take unpaid projects right now.” “Are you able to confirm this is a paid opportunity?” “I charge a flat fee for this kind of advice.”

Finally, tell them where they can find your product or service. “Here is a price sheet of what I offer. Let me know if you have any questions.”

Not for free is an important step to becoming a professional. You don’t ask your plumber to do work for free. And you wouldn’t ask your doctor to do it either. Just because you have a skill and you are creative doesn’t mean it is given for free.

Pattern recognition

Triggers -> Thoughts -> Actions -> Results

This is the pattern. This is how we seduce ourselves to act against our own self-interest.

Triggers are neither good nor bad, they just cause us to think a certain way.

Often, we fixate on a result and we try to use our willpower to change the consequence of our actions. But we end up right back where we started, don’t we? (How many New Years Resolutions have we abandoned?)

The problem compounds when we don’t reach our goals. We become a bit more deflated and cynical. Which in turn feeds our thoughts and then our triggers.

Will power is not the answer. We use enough of it to go through a normal day. Rather, we need to look at our environment for answers:

How can I create a system where it will supply the right kind of triggers?

You only make the decision once to create an automatic deposit that contributes to your 401K.

You decide once to blog every day for the rest of your life.

Cognitive load is real. Make your decisions once. Create a system where the triggers lead to desired results.

Capital

The other day, I had to go pick up a prescription for my four-year-old. The problem was with it being a holiday, there was only one drug store open for the entire valley.

The line was expectantly long. By the time I got to the front, I realized I forgot my insurance card and as a result had to pay full price for the prescription. It wasn’t much but the thought hit hard:

What if I couldn’t pay for this?

How in the world do we still not have some sort of universal health care system? Who doesn’t need quality healthcare?

The average life expectancy in the 18th century was 25 years old! No public schooling, no health benefits, no retirement existed–no social programs of any kind. Poverty was literally a death sentence.

During this time, you inherited your wealth and married to keep it. You created dynasties and aristocracies. Many economist would argue that if you didn’t create incentives people wouldn’t work. You need inequality to get people to try harder. The problem was there was no social mobility. No matter how hard you tried. And so, you are stuck. Which creates all sorts of social, economic and political stresses until you reach the tipping point where the people rise up.

David Graeber has pointed out that when the people rise, they burn the tax records. The Bible confirms this with the jubilee. Debt systems will always work out of control. And those who control the means of production have no incentives to give up their wealth. You have to have someone to referee the disparity. This is the true role of government: to set up guardrails.

We are not here to serve capitalism, capitalism is here to serve us.

The Fed estimates that the wealthiest 10% of Americans hold more than 88% of all available equity. The eight, all men, hold as much combined wealth as the 3.6 billion people in the bottom half. In Europe, two-thirds of the population is dying without a single asset.

Life expectancy in the US is falling for the first time in a while. What does that tell us? What’s the point of having all this capital if you are not going to use it? Furthermore, what is the point of a few to hold so much of it?

HT Capital

Definition of beauty

Actually, there is no universal definition of beauty. It’s too subjective. And yet…

A bunch of random notes doesn’t sound very good until you create a melody.

Creating a great deal of lines across a canvas is nothing but chaos until you connect them in some way.

These words on a screen mean nothing unless I organize them in the a way that tells a story to the recipient.

The pattern it seems to follow is when matter goes from unorganized to organized.