Category: Career

The Long Term Makes the Short Term Easier

I’m working a pretty physical job right now, but I’m usually a bit surprised by what other people consider to be “really hard” work. Sure, moving dirt with shovels or gravel with wheelbarrows can be taxing, but I also know about jobs which are a lot harder – and I expect I’ll be doing them […]

Read More..

Competition Makes Suffering Easier To Bear

Have you ever worked on a sandy surface in the summer sun? If you do, you’ll know that it’s one of the hottest places you can be in the summertime. That was my place today before noon, on a day full of outdoor work with temperatures reaching the 90s and typically high humidity. Am I […]

Read More..

In Defense of Romanticized Careers

Most of us have the jobs we do and the jobs we romanticize. We romanticize the jobs of cowboy, firefighter, soldier, farmer, and filmmaker – and we do the jobs of tech support, retail associate, lawyer, and corporate executive. We all have an intuition that the former jobs are more beautiful, cooler, or somehow more […]

Read More..

If You Must Serve, Serve Someone Good

It is better to serve principles rather than people. But in work life, even the most independent and stiff-necked of us have to serve others. Employees (to some degree) serve bosses and managers. And even entrepreneurs are in service to customers and clients. If there can be no freedom from service itself, there can be […]

Read More..

The Freedom of the Blue Collar Worker

Tradesmen, contractors, and blue collar workers hold the jobs no one seems to want. They get paid less generally than some office desk jockeys, and they may never be rich enough to own yachts or mansions. But they are free in a way few corporate employees are. Excepting the more unionized trades, these men and […]

Read More..

Be a Useful 21-Year Old

Today I met a 21 year-old who was spending his day working and building alongside two experienced carpenters. We sat down together for lunch, and I got to know his story a bit. His background? Working for a landscaping company. No fancy degrees or fancy pedigree as far as I would guess. When I asked […]

Read More..

Make Friends With a Machine

After dogs, man’s best friends are working machines. They’re a lot more useful than most dogs, too. Machines from backhoes and excavators to tractors and lawnmowers enhance human productivity and save human labor every day. If you can drive one of these things, you can accomplish things well beyond the skill of any human alone […]

Read More..

Don’t Feel Guilty for Not Being a “Team Player”

“You aren’t being a team player.” “You always think you’re right.” “You are so stubborn.” The irony is that these criticisms only sting if you’re a pro-social, agreeable person – they wouldn’t work on sociopaths or narcissists. So take them with a grain of salt. It helps to know that the people who make these […]

Read More..

That Job You Want Might Be Open To Remote Applicants Now

The chaos of the current pandemic is a tragic thing, but it can also be a source of opportunity. Many businesses will not survive the pandemic, lockdowns, or second-order effects of lockdowns on consumer demand or supply chains. The businesses that do survive will be businesses (by and large) worth working for – they’ll be […]

Read More..

The Extra Work Makes You the Owner

Most days after I finish my tasks at the stables, I’ll spend a little extra time working. I clean in the corrals, check on the horses, fill up water buckets, or pick up some trash – some extra contribution to the upkeep of the stables. I take more care of my charges than I’m asked […]

Read More..

Work Until You’re Too Tired To Care What Other People Think

For the first time in years I’m working a job that is physically strenuous: cleaning stable stalls, feeding and watering horses, tearing apart an old wood structure. And I come home pretty tired. Let me tell you: nothing feels better than a shower, food, and nap time after that. But there may be other benefits […]

Read More..

The Paradox of Success

There is a paradox to success. If you want to be successful, you must be viewed (to some extent) as successful. Status does matter. A person of high status and reputation for excellence will tend to attract more of the things that make life worth living: more friends, more clients, more potential partners, etc. At […]

Read More..

Follow a Different Script (For the Hell of It)

Grow up in the suburbs, go to Disney World, do well in school, go to a nice college somewhere, get a nice comfortable corporate job, get married to a girl he met in college, obey the boss and climb the ladder, have a kid or two, accumulate consumer debt, continue working to pay the college […]

Read More..

What Is “Honest Work”?

I’ve heard the term “honest work” a lot in my life, and it’s always had an appeal for me. Now it’s something I want more than ever – but I’m not sure exactly how to define it. Here is an attempt. I would think honest work would at least meet these criteria: Honest work is […]

Read More..

Privacy Is Trust. Trust Is Freedom

Remember Google Glasses? Turns out they are still a thing. Granted, they’re for manufacturing and specialty industrial purposes now. Google discovered that people weren’t quite ready for glasses that recorded everything. I was talking with someone today about how useful it might be to have Google Glass in construction/maintenance/contracting work. He was remarking how it […]

Read More..

The Companionship That Outlasts Coworking

If companies could have veteran’s organizations, my last company’s would be a thriving one. Tonight I gathered together with some current employees and past employees (I’m now one of those salty old-timers) as we bowled, played games, drank, ate, and caught up. The magical thing is that it felt to me like we were all […]

Read More..

Are You Properly Enjoying Your Wealth?

I know what you’re thinking. “I’m not wealthy. This blog post isn’t for me.” Actually, it is. Historically speaking, you are one of the wealthiest individuals who has ever lived. It takes relatively little effort to provide for your own really essential needs: food, water, shelter, clothing. Setting aside people who feel the need to […]

Read More..

7 Things I Won’t Be Doing While Unemployed

I am experiencing for the first time in my adult life the wonderful sensation of being unemployed – ahem, job-free (by choice). I feel a tremendous sense of freedom, feelings of withdrawal and a gnawing feeling that I should check my work email notifications (no longer a thing), and an excitement to discover what life […]

Read More..

Your “Work” Is More Than Your Job

I left my job on Friday. It feels good. I’m at the beginning of a mini-retirement in which I have much more freedom to pursue my interests on my schedule. But part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop. I expect a negative reaction from my own inner voice and from some […]

Read More..

Don’t Name the Game: Use the Element of Surprise Against Manipulators

People play games. Some games are fun. Like soccer. They’re games you can join in on. Other games are not so fun. They’re games in which *you* are the soccer ball. I’m talking about emotional manipulation, pretense, posturing, and all of that jazz. People aren’t usually playing these games maliciously. Manipulation is sometimes unconscious and […]

Read More..

De-Platform Yourself

A new phenomenon in the Internet age is that of “deplatforming” in which a person, organization, or movement gets booted off of an online platform. Sometimes de-platforming happens for good reasons (a bank refusing to serve a drug cartel). Sometimes it happens for bad reasons (YouTube’s algorithm arbitrarily bans your cat videos). That’s not what […]

Read More..

If It’s Systematized, It’s Probably Commoditized: Or Why You Should Occasionally Reinvent the Wheel

“Don’t reinvent the wheel.” As a naive and inexperienced marketer, I’ve hard this many times. The implication? Follow the ways of doing things that have been laid down before you. Often this is fine advice. The reason we have giants of invention is so that we can stand on their shoulders. And yet . . […]

Read More..

Never Be Without a Coach

Coaches kind of suck sometimes. They yell at you. They push you. They don’t go easy. They pick out failures. Of course, this is also what makes coaches great. They fill in the unenviable role of confronting your massive ego and telling you that you need to do better. As Ben Horowitz pointed out recently […]

Read More..

To Solve the Problem, Move the Problem

Do you ever feel stuck or unsure where to begin on a creative problem or work task? Whenever this happens to me, I find it helpful to open up a Google doc and start spitting out random ideas. Why is this helpful? For one thing, most problems start out in constrained environments with little elbow […]

Read More..

Sleep Through Your Evening Commute

I’m a big fan of living outside of the normal modern human time cycles. Rush to work at 8? Rush home at 5? No thanks. If you’ve tried it, you know that traveling and trying to get things done (from grocery shopping to watching a movie at the cinema) simultaneously with everyone else results in […]

Read More..

5 Principles for Action-Oriented Meetings

If you don’t have time to mess around, you certainly don’t have time to mess around in meetings. If you want your meetings to go somewhere (and not take forever to do it), there are some principles that have come from the deep of corporate time for all of us to remember: 1) Be sure […]

Read More..

Why Be a Peasant When You Can Be a Knight Errant?

What adventurous boy or girl didn’t grow up wanting to be a knight? All of our favorite stories, video games, and histories let us imagine ourselves spending our lives as a series of adventures. Yet somehow most of us have chosen to be peasants. There wasn’t much attractive then to the idea of serving a […]

Read More..

It Really Is Just About the Will To Work In the End

You know what the Internet needs? Another post about how hard work and execution is more important than ideas. But it’s true, and I feel a need to repeat this from my own experience. I work in a company that wants to grow fast, and faster. When we don’t grow like we should, the debate […]

Read More..

Take a Digital Victory Lap By Clearing Your Inbox

Most people take a victory lap *after* they get to inbox zero. But what if you could use inbox clearing as a digital victory lap of its own? Yesterday I listened to a good podcast from The Voluntary Life about one of the podcaster’s  personal journaling habits related to productivity. One of them is journaling on […]

Read More..

Build a Culture Open to Debate

Our company is not shy about debating. If there is an issue, it usually gets raised – and publicly. “I’m not sure about this subject line.” “We should rework the copy on this page of the website.” “This dashboard functionality doesn’t do what it promises.” These critiques come from every area of the company – […]

Read More..