This site contains the archives of my travel blogs from 2010-2016.

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Top 10 Things You Should Know About Life


Well, this is one guy's take on it.
I ran across this post on Quora, and was intrigued by the question:

What are the top 10 things that we should be informed about, in life?
As ambiguous and ridiculous this question sounds, I hope you get the gist of what I mean. What main things should a person know about in life? Whether it be their government, types of awareness in any particular subject, anything would be great to hear!

The most popular answer received 1820 votes, and was written by Justin Freeman. I like his style.

  1. 1. Realize that nobody cares, and if they do, you shouldn't care that they care. Got a new car? Nobody cares. You'll get some gawkers for a couple of weeks—they don't care. They're curious. Three weeks in it'll be just another shiny blob among all the thousands of others crawling down the freeway and sitting in garages and driveways up and down your street. People will care about your car just as much as you care about all of those. Got a new gewgaw? New wardrobe? Went to a swanky restaurant? Exotic vacation? Nobody cares. Don't base your happiness on people caring, because they won't. And if they do, they either want your stuff or hate you for it.
  2. 2. Some rulebreakers will break rule number one. Occasionally, people in your life will defy the odds and actually care about you. Still not your stuff, sorry. But if they value you, they'll value that you value it, and they'll listen. When you talk about all of those things that nobody else cares about, they will look into your eyes and consume your words, and in that moment you will know that every part of them is there with you.
  3. 3. Spend your life with rulebreakers. Marry them. Befriend them. Work with them. Spend weekends with them. No matter how much power you become possessed of, you'll never be able to make someone care—so gather close the caring.
  4. 4. Money is cheap. I mean, there's a lot of it—trillions upon trillions of dollars floating around the world, largely made up of cash whose value is made up and ascribed to it, anyway. Don't engineer your life around getting a slightly less tiny portion of this pile, and make your spirit of generosity reflect this principle. I knew a man who became driven by the desire to amass six figures in savings, so he worked and scrimped and sacrificed to get there. And he did... right before he died of cancer. I'm sure his wife's new husband appreciated his diligence.
  5. 5. Money is expensive. I mean, it's difficult to get your hands on sometimes—and you never know when someone's going to pull the floorboards out from under you—so don't be stupid with it. Avoid debt on depreciating assets, and never incur debt in order to assuage your vanity (see rule number one). Debt has become normative, but don't blithely accept it as a rite of passage into adulthood—debt represents imbalance and, in some sense, often a resignation of control. Student loan debt isn't always avoidable, but it isn't a given—my wife and I completed a combined ten years of college with zero debt between us. If you can't avoid it, though, make sure that your degree is an investment rather than a liability—I mourn a bit for all of the people going tens of thousands of dollars in debt in pursuit of vague liberal arts degrees with no idea of what they want out of life. If you're just dropping tuition dollars for lack of a better idea at the moment, just withdraw and go wander around Europe for a few weeks—I guarantee you'll spend less and learn more in the process.
  6. 6. Learn the ancient art of rhetoric. The elements of rhetoric, in all of their forms, are what make the world go around—because they are what prompt the decisions people make. If you develop an understanding of how they work, while everyone else is frightened by flames and booming voices, you will be able to see behind veils of communication and see what levers little men are pulling. Not only will you develop immunity from all manner of commercials, marketing, hucksters and salesmen, to the beautiful speeches of liars and thieves, you'll also find yourself able to craft your speech in ways that influence people. When you know how to speak in order to change someone's mind, to instill confidence in someone, to quiet the fears of a child, then you will know this power firsthand. However, bear in mind as you use it that your opponent in any debate is not the other person, but ignorance.
  7. 7. You are responsible to everyone, but you're responsible for yourself. I believe we're responsible to everyone for something, even if it's something as basic as an affirmation of their humanity. However, it should most often go far beyond that and manifest itself in service to others, to being a voice for the voiceless. If you're reading this, there are those around you who toil under burdens larger than yours, who stand in need of touch and respect and chances. Conversely, though, you're responsible for yourself. Nobody else is going to find success for you, and nobody else is going to instill happiness into you from the outside. That's on you.
  8. 8. Learn to see reality in terms of systems. When you understand the world around you as a massive web of interconnected, largely interdependent systems, things get much less mystifying—and the less we either ascribe to magic or allow to exist behind a fog, the less susceptible we'll be to all manner of being taken advantage of. However:
  9. 9. Account for the threat of black swan events. Sometimes chaos consumes the most meticulous of plans, and if you live life with no margins in a financial, emotional, or any other sense, you will be subject to its whims. Take risks, but backstop them with something—I strongly suspect these people who say having a Plan B is a sign of weak commitment aren't living hand to mouth. Do what you need to in order to keep your footing.
  10. 10. You both need and don't need other people. You need others in a sense that you need to be part of a community—there's a reason we reflexively pity hermits. Regardless of your theory of anthropogenesis, it's hard to deny that we are built for community, and that 'we' is always more than 'me.' However, you don't need another person in order for your life to have meaning—this idea that Disney has shoved through our eyeballs, that there's someone out there for all of us if we'll just believe hard enough and never stop searching, is hokum... because of arithmetic, if nothing else. Establish your own life—then, if there's a particular person that you can't help but integrate, believe me, you'll know.
  11. 11. Always give more than is required of you.

Have something you'd like to add?  Please do share in the comment box :)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What they don't teach in school


Schools are good at teaching how to start projects.  How to do research.
What they don't teach is when to stop.

I've been an academic overachiever my whole life.  If the assignment called for 5 sources, I'd reference 15.  If we had to include a photo or some kind of multimedia, I'd put together a 30-slide digital photo book complete with captions.  This past autumn, there was a student uprising in my master's program when the vague nature of one 3-credit course (estimated to require 27 total hours of lectures + coursework) ended up taking more like 60 or 70 hours of our time.  I was astounded that my classmates were ready to argue based on the amount of time it took them to complete a project.  I've never expected to spend the minimum suggested hours on an assignment and come out with a good grade ... I work on a project until it's excellent, by my own standards.

Recently, however, reality struck me. It wasn't until I started my own company that I realized: People aren't going to pay me to do this much research.  I'm still learning how to stop; how to say, "It's good enough for today.  This is appropriate for the task at hand."  I'm learning that every 'above and beyond' has to be justifiable.  It's not so much where I choose to go above and beyond, but rather why  I do it which should drive my efforts. What is the ultimate consequence of this over-performance for me? for my client?  How much does this tiny factor really matter in the short run? in the long run?

Sometimes people don't realize how instrumental certain things - like a clear vision and idea of what they do and what they offer to clients - will be for the future of their business.  And in these cases, I feel a duty to convince them that these really are important, and that they need someone {e.g. me} to help them develop these areas. But overall, I have to balance my own enthusiasm to go above and beyond with the reality of the market and what my clients are willing to pay for.  Otherwise, my own business goes under.

So, moral of the story?  

Overachievers: If you're going to survive in life, you must restrain your urges to go above and beyond in every direction.  First, prioritize. Then refocus your extraordinary drive on the things that matter most.

By the way, Pointe3 Design Communications is open for business. We were born global with 5 clients in the U.S. & Europe on day one. My latest resume tells a little about what we do.  Our website is still under construction; Coming Soon!

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Volleying at 3,000 Meters


I took this photo during my last weekend in the Himalaya this past August. It was the last festival of the summer, and the entire village below the monastery hiked up to this clearing, where the guys measured off and marked out a volleyball field. The monks tied their monk-skirts up around their waists (obviously wearing shorts), and felled a few trees, ripped off the branches, dug holes, and planted stakes to hold up the net. All in about 15 minutes. Pretty impressive.
A match of monks vs. villagers

Meanwhile, I did cartwheels across the mountainside, played with cute little Sherpa toddlers, and took a few snapshots - like this one - with the hopes of forever capturing a moment of absolute care-free enjoyment in this incredible place I'm honored to have called home.
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