Do more by managing this resource: energy

When it comes to productivity most of us think about time. It is important, but there is, I believe, another resource that is even more so. It’s this.

Energy.

I don’t mean that we are battery-operated, like a Tesla, no. But it’s not too far from that, in some sense. I mean, you can feel it, right? It’s that draggy feeling you get through the day, or, if you’ve been working really hard and hardly sleeping, you might start feeling burned out. That’s you mismanaging your energy.

Or, on the opposite side, it’s those days, when you’ve been eating well or exercising and sleeping better, that you sense your energy levels are at full capacity. You’ve got a bounce in your step and feel like you can take on the world.

That’s what I’m talking about. That’s energy.

And many of us believe that to do more, we need to work harder. But that’s not true. It’s a recipe for hating your work or burning out. I know. I’ve been there. And doing that makes you incredibly unproductive.

Energy is critical. It’s what helps you do your job, learn, create, parent—you know, live. It’s the fuel you have within you that powers your ability to be productive in your life.

And, the truth is, too many of us are terrible at managing our energy. We don’t really think about it, let alone talk about it. But we should. It’s not easily quantifiable, but, as I said, you can feel it.

You see, highly productive people have learned to dial in their energy. They aren’t just thinking about time. They find times to play, rest, relax. Jeff Bezos talks about getting eight hours of sleep. Winston Churchill took regular breaks just to doze off or stare out over his pond and daydream. Me? I like to watch Netflix or read.

I’m not saying I’m a master at this. I’m not. My point is to make you aware of this dynamic within all of us. Awareness is key. Take stock of how much energy you do or do not have. Look at your life patterns, your routine, and consider changing things to improve your management of this.

When you are running low, learn to rest, sleep more, say no to requests. Find the things that give you energy and incorporate the into your life. Maybe it’s reading poetry, or watching a feel-good movie, even really cheesy romantic comedies, or spending time with your loved ones. Whatever it is, do it regularly. Doing that will help you have the oomph to accomplish the things that really matter.

And you’ll produce more than you thought you could, even more than when you were working longer hours.


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Gain financial freedom by doing this

One of the hardest lessons to learn about investing is this: to win, you need to learn how to lose.

These past several days the market has been going down, and I was tempted to sell. Maybe you were too. I get it; losing is scary. It’s tempting to sell your investments, especially your stocks, when they are plummeting.

But that’s exactly the wrong thing to do. Sure, there are some positions you might need to get out of, the losers that have little chance of winning. But I’m not talking about those.

I’m talking about the investments you’ve researched and formed a conviction around, the great companies that you hold in your portfolio. Those are the ones you shouldn’t sell. I know. I’ve been there.

In February or March of last year, when people thought that the coronavirus was going to create a zombie apocalypse, I sold most of my Shopify position in one of my accounts. It was a big position for me. And that was a huge mistake. If I had held on, it would have been a monster gain. It would have been something someone could have retired on. But I didn’t hold on.

I wasn’t willing to lose, so I lost.

See, when the market is going down, you have to be willing to take paper losses. Those are the ones you get before you actually sell your stock to actualize your loss. Not actualizing your losses leads to a path of winning.

And, the truth is, the higher your account goes, the scarier it gets. It sounds backward, but it’s not. That’s because you have more to lose. Your account balance might be higher than it has ever been, but that’s when you’re in the most danger. Maybe your account crossed some threshold, six figures, seven figures, or whatever, and when a week like this week happens, it’s all the more tempting to sell to keep what you have left. But don’t.

The best gains aren’t made in a day. They are made in a year, five years, a decade. Hold onto the companies that are growing and innovating and dominating their industry. Don’t sell them. Add to your positions when days like these come along. And you’ll be amazed at what will happen.

You’ll gain financial freedom.

You’ll win.


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How to overcome your fear of pain

Life isn’t about avoiding pain. It’s about knowing what’s worth living for despite the pain.

To find that purpose that makes the pain irrelevant or less relevant is key to really living.

Many of us get carried along in our lives without really knowing what we want in life. And, when that’s the case, we take the path of least resistance. We’ll choose comfort. We’ll coast.

But, when you live purposefully or have a goal, you approach life differently, better.

You won’t see pain as something to avoid, no. It becomes an obstacle that you must overcome to get to your goal. Pain becomes a challenge, not a deterrent. You see, good goals eclipse the pain.

So take the time to clarify what you want in life. If you do, you’ll be able to go through anything to achieve your purpose.

You won’t just be alive. You’ll really live.


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A secret to winning

We all want to win in our relationships, investments, love. But winning is often counterintuitive. And we can sum it up like this.

To win, you must be willing to lose.

You see, in relationships, we want to be right or argue our point or make people see our way, our hurts, our pain, our truths. But if you’ve been around the block and have some experience, you know that doesn’t work. In fact, it only poisons relationships. Making people see what you see isn’t a way to create intimacy. To go deeper with people, you have to lose that need to be known first and, instead, try to understand others before being understood, empathize with them, feel their pain. When you do that, you will likely deepen your relationships. Of course, you want to find people where this “losing” is mutual. They are willing to “lose” for you and you for them. But sometimes, it takes someone to initiate it. And if you do, you will not find yourself without friends and loved ones.

Who doesn’t want more money? Of course, we all do. I’m just keeping it real here. But, what we aren’t real about is how to win in this area. In investing, winning is also about losing. Maybe you’ve lost money trying to invest, and you don’t want to touch the stock market. But I think there’s a reason for that. It’s the fact that you’re trying too hard to win. I know that sounds confusing. But let me explain. When I lost money in the market, often it happened because I was too afraid to lose money: anytime my stock or investment started losing money, I would sell. Then that investment would recover and appreciate, and I would feel terrible because I felt like I was missing out. So then I would buy back into that stock when the price was higher. Then it would go down again, and I would sell again because I was losing money. And that cycle kept happening. In short, I would try so hard to win that, at any moment when I was losing, I would try to save myself by getting out of the market out of fear of losing more money. Maybe you can relate. After reading books and reflecting on my countless mistakes, I realized that I needed to just buy and hold. But to do that, I had to get my head right. I had to be willing to lose my money, all of it if necessary, if I had a high conviction about a company. That’s when I started making money. To make money, you have to be willing to lose it.

Love is complex. And I don’t want to say that to make romantic relationships work, you just have to lose, because that’s not necessarily true. But it does help. I’ve seen it in my marriage. When I’m willing to die to myself for my wife, our relationship goes better. And, when I say “die to myself,” what I mean is that I’m willing to set my agenda, preferences, desires, etc. aside and let hers be higher, more important. That’s losing. And if you do that, you will win. Your love will grow. Now, I don’t mean for you to get abused. No, marriage or romantic relationship is a two-way street. So you need to tell the other person to treat you better if they are treating you like crap. But often, to engender love, love will feel like a one-way street. And you might be the roadkill sometimes. But your relationship will likely flourish.

And, in general, too many of us care too much. We live like we have something to lose. We strive to upgrade our cars, houses, jobs. And we are terrified of getting them taken away from us. But what we don’t see is that this race robs us of joy. When we care so much about our stuff and titles and money, keeping up with the Jones, we just end up living poorer lives. We lose.

It’s when we stop caring so much that we begin to live more richly. When we stop trying to make another buck, sacrificing time with loved ones, and start making sure they feel loved, we are richer. I mean, have you ever seen someone who seems to live so effortlessly, who doesn’t seem to have a care in the world? I don’t mean that they are careless. They just are not that burdened. They may not be the wealthiest person, but they have something money can’t buy. They are free. I’m not saying we should all become homeless people. But we all burden ourselves with things that just don’t matter that much. If that’s you, stop worrying about winning. In fact, be more willing to lose.

If you do, you’ll become a real winner.


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A secret to writing even when you don’t feel worthy

One of the hardest things about writing is saying something worth sitting down to write.

I know. I’m feeling it right now, as I’m trying to write this.

And that’s the thing about writing; it’s often based on our feelings. When we write, we can feel not only that our work isn’t worthy enough, but that, somehow, we are unworthy. That’s what makes writing so hard.

In writing, it’s less about what is being written than it is about the writer. You. Me. Us.

But, if you remember anything from this post, remember this. You are good enough to write.

Sure, you’re going to write crap. A lot of what you create will be garbage. Yes, most of it won’t get read, or it will get ignored. And all of that will feel horrible.

I know. I’ve been there. I still get there. I was there today.

But that doesn’t mean all of your writings are bad. You’re just in process. You’re growing. And that is painful.

I find that I must repeatedly give myself the permission to write, even if it’s poor, unread, ignored material (especially in those times). We as writers so easily stop ourselves because we have this imaginary person inside of us, criticizing us, telling us that we have no business sitting here writing.

But they are wrong. You do belong here. You do have something to say. You must write.

You must because you feel it in your heart. You have a desire within you. And, if you do, you must keep at it. Don’t stop. Keep writing.

You see, writing isn’t about whether your writing is worthy or not. Every writer, even Stephen King to Shakespeare, wrote words that flopped. So, no, it’s not about how worthy your writing is. It’s about what you do.

And if you write, you, my dear reader, are a writer.

And, over time, you will improve. You will find readers. You will write words that will resonate with the world, people, whom you never thought you would reach, will begin reading your words and find them worthy of reading.

I don’t know if it will get any easier to write as you proceed, but I do know this.

You’ll be a writer no matter how you feel.


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Time is more than money

Time isn’t money. It’s more than that.

Yes, I know that some people like lawyers and consultants bill hourly. But just because an industry works like that doesn’t mean we should live life the same way. We shouldn’t.

“Time is money” is a phrase that is pervasive in our American culture. Not everyone says it, but, nonetheless, too many of us feel it. It’s the pressure to do more so we can get richer, make an extra buck, and become more valuable. But it doesn’t work.

You see, as soon as we make time the same as money, it kills our health, relationships—life. Putting earning money as the end all be all and tying each minute you spend into a monetary value in all of life is not living. In fact, it’s dying.

Not only does the idea that “time is money” stress us out, but it also isolates us from others and makes us into human doings instead of human beings. It kills us from the inside out.

Instead, we should see time as a resource that we get to choose how to use, and making money is only one of many options. We need to see our time differently, not only with a monetary lens; rather, we must view it through one that is multifaceted and rich.

Time isn’t just money; it’s family, friends, rest, fun, games, hobbies—life.

And if you have time, no matter what your net worth, you are, in my book, one of the richest persons alive.

So don’t just spend your time wisely.

Enjoy it.


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When I made one of the biggest bets in my life

Sometimes you need to abandon plan b and go all in.

I recently read this 2013 article on Steve Job’s presentation of a lifetime. It was for the first iPhone. It was monumental, legendary, historic. Yet the article outlines all of the things that could have gone wrong (how the multitouch, making a call and surfing the web, messaging, etc. wasn’t working well). They had to get specialized cell service just for the presentation. It really shouldn’t have succeeded. It should have failed.

And usually, Jobs had a plan b for these types of presentations, having an out for himself. But not for this one. No. There was only plan a.

I think life is a lot like that, especially when it comes to decision making. Life is a bet. I don’t mean you’re going to the horse tracks and making wagers all of the time. What I mean is that we are all deciding on various opportunities and decisions. And each one is a wager. You can try to get a new job or make a change in your life, and each decision has risks and rewards, and they’re on a spectrum. And often, one option seems safer than the other. And choosing one over the other is betting. That is especially true when it comes to the big decisions in life. So, we are all making bets, more often than we may realize.

And, even playing it safe is a bet. If you don’t take risks and play everything in life safely is still betting. You’re playing the conservative hand, sure. But you’re also losing out on the possibilities or opportunities that only higher risks afford. There are possibly fewer bumps or losses or failures, yes. But, the safe bet is still a bet.

Now, I don’t think we should be making bets just to make one. No, that’s stupid. Risk in and of itself isn’t the point. That’s like dancing on the edge of a cliff just for the fun of it. Risk without respecting the risks, and not caring for the reward is just being dangerous. I don’t think you or anyone should do that.

Instead, there must be a goal and aim for the risks you take. You need to know the purpose of the bet and the risk involved. They need to be worth it. If you gamble something important, it must be for something better, greater, worth the ante. And if you’re betting, you might not have a plan b, but you should at least have a plan a.

For Jobs, he was, in a way, betting the future of his company. Apple hadn’t delivered anything new in an extended period, and people had been calling for a phone after the iPod’s iconic launch. Jobs was also announcing the launch of the AppleTV, but he believed he needed more. He needed the iPhone, which he was determined to deliver. And he did.

Over thirteen years later, Apple’s flagship product is still the iPhone, netting billions and billions of dollars and is arguably the most successful product ever. Yet, it started with a handful of partially working, glitchy prototypes in the hands of a man with a dream of making one of the greatest bets in his life. He went all in.

I think the biggest bet in my life was getting married. I was in my early thirties, and my future in-laws weren’t exactly my biggest fans during our engagement, and my fiancé was having doubts. We had even broken up during our engagement for a few days. I was terrified to tell you the truth. I had already experienced a broken engagement with another girl in my early twenties, and coming back from that took me about five years. And I wasn’t sure if I had the emotional resilience to recover from this engagement breaking. The likelihood of things working out between us at the time was uncertain. But after some prayer, I continued to feel the conviction to be with her. In fact, it grew. So I went all in. I wooed her with a romantic trip to Chicago and, afterwards, convinced her to meet with a therapist together. She was my plan a. And we made it to the altar.

Now, over ten years and two kids later, we’re stronger than we’ve ever been. We won.

What about you? What’s your plan a? If you don’t have one, form one. Dream a dream that you think is a stretch, might even consider silly, foolish. If the goal is about happiness, a healthy family, lifestyle, financial success, whatever, why not go for it? Why not abandon plan b? Make that bet. And who knows? You might win. Of course it’s not guaranteed.

But, if anything, you won’t just be alive.

You’ll have lived.


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A stronger you is often born from weakeness

Weakness often begets our greatest strength.

Most of us hate the idea of being weak. It conjures up images of being needy, helpless, desperate.

But that is one of the best ways of unleashing our greatest strengths. It’s often when we’ve hit a place where we feel the most vulnerable, exposed that something is catalyzed to take us to a place we never imaged going, somewhere better than we ever dreamed.

It happened to me.

I was fired from the only job I was qualified for in my mid-twenties. It devastated me. I lied in bed for months wallowing in depression from the loss of a dream and career and years of training. I didn’t have any idea of what I was going to do for a career moving forward; I had no idea how I was supposed to pay for rent. I was lost; I was weak.

But, at that time, what I didn’t know was that that season not only formed my character and solidified a faith in me that would help me weather future storms; it set me on a new trajectory that served me better in so many different ways.

After I got fired, I started an entry level job at a huge bank that helped me understand business and finance. That helped me land a job at a small design company that gave me a view into entrepreneurship. Marrying those experiences, I started my own company. And later, I used the cumulative learnings to begin investing.

Getting fired ended up being one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Being terminated initiated the trailheads for new successes and directions that I would have never imagined for myself all those years back. And with each step forward, I couldn’t have known where it would lead me. But, over time, when I looked back, I started to understand the beauty of how things worked out for my benefit.

And I’d be remiss to say that I wasn’t aided by incredible Divine Grace. I was. I was the object of God’s mercy and love. But that’s not my point. Nor am I saying that there aren’t deeply tragic events that happen to us that can collapse all of our hopes and darken even the brightest of days. There are.

My point is that there is almost always a way out when the terrible strikes. And if we are open to the possibilities, things tend to work out better than they were before, even when you feel like you’re at your weakest—often especially when you’re there.

See, even this pandemic that’s ravaging our world is a case study for this dynamic. The virus has brought us to our knees and halted travel, commerce, holidays—life. But, even now, in this pit of weakness, we can see the sprouts of new strength growing in our world. It’s visible in the historic innovations in science with the vaccine developments, bolstering our supply chains, and improving our healthcare protocols. It’s evident in how we appreciate our health and families and how we’re all washing our hands a thousand times a day.

Christmas also gives credence to this. Jesus, the Son of God, was born as a baby. He came into the world vulnerable, flesh and blood, killable. And he didn’t arrive with pomp or in a court or with a scepter or divine fire. No, he came swaddled and weak, suckling and shivering, lying in a manger.

So, if you are feeling weak, remember; you likely won’t remain that way. And more than that, it’s often the beginning of a path to a strength you may never have believed you could possess.

It’s the begetting of a new you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. See you in 2021.

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To be rich, this is the kind of hustle we all need

Often it’s not how much money you make but what you do with it that counts.

I heard this story about this Chinese woman selling these little buns, for like fifty cents or something like that, in New York City’s Chinatown many years ago. And after maybe decades of working, she bought a building in Chinatown with her earnings. Then from there, she bought others.

You see, she didn’t make much, but she made the little that she had count. Day by day, she saved every cent to maximize her efforts to reach her future goals. She didn’t let her small income hinder her from dreaming big dreams. No, she did what she had to in the short term to enrich her long term vision.

She didn’t spend her money on nice clothes, a nice house, eating out, a Lexus. No, she saved. And, she slaved away rolling those buns before dawn, then spent the rest of the day standing on her feet selling her goods and wheeling her cart back and forth to her corner. And after she saved enough money, she invested and bought an asset that could earn her income. That’s hustle.

But it’s not just any kind of hustle. It’s immigrant hustle. It’s starting small, with virtually nothing but some buns and cart, and ending up NYC landlord rich. It’s knowing that you can compound a life’s worth of work and see incredible gains if you persist and manage your resources smartly.

She knew that even though she didn’t make a lot of money, she could save and not spend. And, this is important—over time, years, even decades, she could invest. She would accumulate assets that would make her rich. That’s the equation that makes the rich rich: saving + investing.

You see, you don’t get rich by living richly. No, you do it by living poorly and investing like the rich. That’s how fortunes are made: little by little until you have more than you can count. Fortune favors the patient and diligent. You don’t have to be an immigrant to practice immigrant hustle, nah. Anyone can do that.

Most of you have a greater advantage than this woman. Imagine what you could do if you heeded her example.

Yeah, you’d be rich.


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A time to grieve

Grieving can be one of the best things we can do.

Life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it almost kills us. Sometimes it sends a pandemic.

Those are the times we need to grieve. We need to face the terrible state of our life or the lives of others or our world, and we need to recognize it for what it is. Broken. Wrong. Sad.

Grief isn’t something that many of us like to do. We like to feel strong, capable, ok, good. But feeling bad, not ok, incapacitated—weak, no, we don’t like that. Many of us hate it, in fact.

I know I do.

But isn’t grieving what we all need these days. Isn’t it better if we just let the sadness of all that is happening in the world, in us, wash over us? And, instead of fighting it; we just feel it. We succumb to the reality of our situation.

Sometimes that’s the best thing for us.

Sometimes that’s the best act we can perform.

Sometimes being weak is the strongest thing we can be.

And, doing that is often the first step toward healing.

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