The Knowledge

To achieve the required standard to be licensed as an “All London” taxi driver you will need a thorough knowledge, primarily, of the area within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross. You will need to know: all the streets; housing estates; parks and open spaces; government offices and departments; financial and commercial centres; diplomatic premises; town halls; registry offices; hospitals; places of worship; sports stadiums and leisure centres; airline offices; stations; hotels; clubs; theatres; cinemas; museums; art galleries; schools; colleges and universities; police stations and headquarters buildings; civil, criminal and coroner’s courts; prisons; and places of interest to tourists. In fact, anywhere a taxi passenger might ask to be taken. — London Taxi and Private Hire (LTPH)

To become a taxi cab driver in London, you must first take a state administered test.

This test has been coined the hardest in the world.

There are over 25,000 streets and alleyways in London that perspective taxi drivers have to memorize.

This fool’s errand is referred to as The Knowledge.

The question is: In the digital age, why are we still making cab driver’s take such a monster of a test?


Mastery of knowing every detail, every part of your craft. Knowing what the street name is unnecessary with GPS. But having someone that is willing to dedicate so many hours, so many years to their art is hard to find.

Writer’s block

After 800 blog posts and 1,000,000 words, I can safely say that writer’s block is made up.

More often than not, it’s an excuse. A reason to hide from shipping our work into the world.

Sure, some days it’s hard to write. It can be difficult to know which words to say. But then again, I have never met someone who woke up with talker’s block.

If you have something to say, say it.

Because we need you. We need you to be a voice for the voiceless.


In the old building where I used to work, they found asbestos under the carpet.

To solve the problem, management contracted prisoners to tear the carpet out.

They were supposed to be experts.

They weren’t.

They were supposed to wear safety equipment.

They didn’t.

And they were supposed to seal the area to keep it from spreading.

They couldn’t.

Management saved a few bucks. A job well done.

Except, of course, the job wasn’t done properly.

No one wants to work in a building full of asbestos. No one wants to feel that it isn’t properly taken care of. Even if there is no clear risk to the people in the building, the message is clear:

Your health and safety is important but not enough to hire professionals to dispose of cancerous material.

Trust takes a long time to build and can be completely wiped away in an instance in the never-ending pursuit of faster, cheaper and cutting of corners.

Treat people the way you want to be treated. With respect.

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Two weeks ago, I quit my job.

Since that time, we finished the state licensing process for our startup. (Five months of work to complete.)

I started a Recreation Department for the city I live in. (In its 100 year history, it has never had one.)

It makes me wonder: If I didn’t quit my job would I still be working on the license? Would I have started a Recreation department with the security of a 9 to 5?

I’m afraid, deep down, I wouldn’t have had the guts.

We live in a culture of starting. But really, starting is the easy part. It takes guts to finish.

Sometimes you just have to scuttle the ship.

Never miss an opportunity to bet on yourself.

You have more power than you can imagine.

Act accordingly.

What does the right place at the right time look like?

When Johannes Gutenberg launched the Printing Press, 90% of Europe was illiterate. What a terrible time to start a book publishing business. At first glance, it appears Gutenberg showed up at the wrong place at the wrong time.

It turns out, having the seed is not enough to get your ideas to grow. You need the right conditions. But conditions will always appear too bleak too soon when trying to change the masses.

Not everyone is ready to hear what you have to say. Much easier to talk to someone who is eager to change.

It’s hard to see when a revolution is taking place. It’s only after the fact, after you’re finished will you know if you were at the right place at the right time.

What is emotional labor?

It’s not the work of digging a ditch or putting pieces together on the assembly line.

It’s the work of caring.

The scary work of trying things that might fail.

It is the work of seeing someone for who they are and who it is they can become.

Hard skills are not that difficult to teach anymore.

What’s difficult is operating without a map.