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Never Normal Newsletter

Never Normal Newsletter

Every week I send a Never Normal newsletter to share what I’m learning and new ideas to help you find freedom, success, adventure, and more:

You can find the most recent issues here.

You can find the most recent issues below.

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Never Normal Newsletter

Creator Cabins, Charisma, and Carving Your Own Path 🪓

Last week I shared my latest Never Normal podcast episode, How to Take a Year Off and Balance Your Life with Vikram Seth.

We got some great feedback and questions (“how do you afford to take an unpaid sabbatical?”, “what happened after the one year ended?”), so Vikram and I just recorded a follow-up episode.

A decentralized city built by creators, for creators

I also recorded a new episode with Jonathan Hillis. Jon is at the forefront of so many interesting areas in technology right now.

He’s the founder of Creator Cabins, which started as a single cabin in the Texas Hill Country, a place to gather face-to-face with friends from the internet. But it’s morphing into something much bigger…

In the future, our hope is that it becomes one node in a network of decentralized properties, owned and operated by small groups of independent online creators and entrepreneurs. The density of creative energy of San Francisco or New York, but wherever and whenever you want it to be. If you were designing a 21st century city from scratch, why would you put it all in one place?

Both podcast episodes will be out soon. In the meantime, I recommend checking out Jon’s essay, A brief history of decentralized cities and centralized states.

I’m excited about the idea of creating a digital country, so naturally Jon’s essay caught my attention. Jon does a great job of putting our current era in the context of a grand historical narrative. History may not repeat, but it does rhyme, as they say.

At the end of a cycle, civilization faces two choices: devolve into chaos, or plow forward with new tools for coordination to rebuild decentralized organizations from the bottom up. With eyes wide open to the historical precedents behind us, we are a generation that has been handed the tools to build the next iteration of local self-governance and the federated structures of decentralized cities that will form the basis of the next era of human prosperity. Let’s get to work.

Speaking of things written by Never Normal guests…

Paul’s Pathless Path

Paul Millerd, who you might remember from his Never Normal podcast appearance (ep. 15) just published his new book, The Pathless Path.

When I read Paul’s writing, it feels like he’s taking the words right out of my own mind:The pathless path is an alternative to the default path. It is an embrace of uncertainty and discomfort. It’s a call to adventure in a world that tells us to conform. For me, it’s also a gentle reminder to laugh when things feel out of control and trusting that an uncertain future is not a problem to be solved.

You can read a free sample chapter here. You can also find links to buy the book and get behind the scenes with 10 reflections on the process of writing and publishing the book in Paul’s latest post here.

Charisma on Command

Charisma is one of those nebulous words that people use, but no one seems to know exactly what it means. Or maybe that’s just me?

I never thought much about it, until I had a conversation with a friend about a decade ago… I had suggested that he take some action, and his response was, “easy for you to say, you’re the charismatic one, that would never work for me…”

I was surprised, to say the least. Me, charismatic? It feels awkward to write those words, even now. But I’ve had several similar conversations since then. And as a result, I’ve learned that I know quite a few people who feel like they are lacking charisma, and that it’s holding them back somehow.

Enter Charlie

Charlie Houpert runs a YouTube channel and an online course, Charisma on Command. This past week Charlie was on one of my favorite podcasts, Modern Wisdom, with Chris Williamson.

Chris and Charlie talked about how to overcome being shy, make a great first impression, flirt better, and what makes people like Russell Brand and Bill Clinton so magnetic.

That’s all for this week. More soon…

Not a subscriber?

I write occasional emails to share what I’m thinking, learning, and doing. It’s all related to the idea of breaking free from the “default plan” in life.

Want to learn along with me? Join my Never Normal Newsletter:

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Never Normal Newsletter

Taking a Year Off, 10 Days of Silence, and a Very Long Walk

This week I’ve got a new Never Normal podcast episode to share!

How to Take a Year Off and Balance Your Life with Vikram Seth

By day, Vikram Seth is a Senior Economist working on renewable energy at Shell. By night, he is the co-founder of Bounce Bhangra, an award winning combination of high energy cardio and Indian dance.

At heart, Vikram is a philosopher. Someone who spends much of his time thinking deeply about life and the meaning of it all.

In this episode we talk about how Vikram has cultivated balance between a demanding career, his personal passions, and his spiritual side.

In this episode we discuss:

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Never Normal Newsletter

New Year’s Resolutions and Annual Reviews

Happy New Year! 🎉

Last week I shared 21 Super Interesting Things I Learned in 2021.

Thanks for all of the feedback, shares, and replies. It looks like I’m going to have to do another list like that again soon, but not just yet…

For the past week I’ve been busy reflecting on the last year and thinking a lot about goals and plans for the year ahead.

My New Year’s Resolution

I don’t normally make New Year’s Resolutions. It’s too hard to pick just one thing for a whole year.

But this past weekend, I was taking a break from all the thinking and planning. I was in the park, being silly and climbing trees, playing with my daughter, and dancing with my wife.

Suddenly, it hit me. This is it!

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Never Normal Newsletter

21 Super Interesting Things I Learned in 2021

1. Let’s Start with Hello 👋

The word “Hello” dates back to around 1820, and it only came into common usage in English after the invention of the telephone. Before that, people greeted each other with phrases like “Good Day”.

It was Thomas Edison who suggested “Hello” as the word to say when you answer a phone. Alexander Graham Bell (and Mr. Burns) preferred “Ahoy!”

That’s not the only common word that’s pretty new…

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Never Normal Newsletter

Climbing Hills, Setting Goals, and Learning to Read

Last week I wrote about finding yourself and whether it’s a “success killer” to travel in your youth (instead of going all-in on career early on).

Reader Lukas replied to say:

This is great! Thanks for writing it!

I also enjoyed the McAskill quote about “spending 5% of your time deciding how to spend the 95%”.

I’m now wondering about the different ways on where to place those 5% … most of it at the beginning of your career (= the travel and finding yourself) or sprinkled throughout your life (= short sabbaticals)? I assume the latter is better because plans and goals keep changing.

Here’s my take:

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Never Normal Newsletter

Should you spend time finding yourself? Is travel a “success killer”?

Last week I wrote about what it’s like to become a digital nomad these days and shared a few recent podcast interviews.

This week I planned to write about Web3 and some of the interesting projects I’ve come across recently, but then my little corner of the internet blew up a few days ago, thanks to this tweet:

Needless to say, I couldn’t disagree more (I finally understand what the phrase “triggered” means). I feel so strongly, that I decided to make this the topic of this week’s Never Normal newsletter instead.

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Never Normal Newsletter

Become a Digital Nomad, Pursue your Dreams, and Connect with More People

Last week I wrote about the self-tenured class, the pursuit of wealth, and working on what you love.

This week I’ve got a three new podcast interviews related to becoming a digital nomad and launching new ventures to share with you (plus a crazy love story).

What’s it like becoming a digital nomad these days?

In the past, one of the biggest challenges of becoming a digital nomad was finding a way to make money without being tied to a single location.

Now, since the pandemic hit and remote work has become much more common, there are new challenges and opportunities for those who want to go nomadic.

But at least one thing remains the same…

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Never Normal Newsletter

Moderate Hedonism, Peter’s Mystery Box, and the Self-Tenured Class


How I got wealthy without working too hard

This “here’s how I did it” guide written by a pseudonymous Italian software developer advocates “a sort of Moderate Hedonism”:

If you are a Software developer, it’s easier than ever to become a millionaire. What most haven’t figured out yet, is how to become wealthy without working too hard.

It’s full of life, career, and investment advice, plus little gems like this:

Money is literally defined as exponential so, don’t sit on your linear ass.

But the idea that stuck out to me the most is this:

When making life decisions, going in the direction of more money can be wise. However, we must keep in mind that when we choose money, we don’t choose much. We just decide to decide later.

That’s a really good way to frame it. Reminds me of the “deferred life plan” Tim Ferriss wrote about in the Four-Hour Work Week.

That kind of logic also reminds me of this bit from Family Guy. It’s silly, but: How often do we make ‘mystery box’ decisions in our own lives?

Rise of The ‘Self-Tenured’ Class

Sam Lessin tweeted a mini-essay highlighting The Power and Scale of The Crypto ‘Self-Tenured’ Class.

In academia, tenured is shorthand for “unfireable.” In this case, Sam is pointing out that there is now a big group of young and very smart people who have made enough money in the last few years (thanks to building or betting on crypto) that never need to work again.

That gives them the freedom to work on whatever they want to, without worrying about pleasing a boss, hitting quarterly numbers, or needing to make a profit ever.

When I read the phrase self-tenured, the first person who comes to mind is Elon Musk. The story goes that after Elon netted $180 million from selling PayPal to eBay, he invested $100 million in SpaceX, $70 million in Tesla, $10 million in SolarCity, and had to borrow money to pay his rent.

Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, you might say that those were obvious/easy investments to make, but at the time, they were anything but.

I wonder what interesting things will the new self-tenured generation will build?

Which Should You Choose? Advice from a Billionaire…

You could read the two sections above as somewhat conflicting advice about work and wealth.

One is saying, “don’t waste your life working too hard, just earn enough to live well” and the other is saying, “if you make enough money early on, you can spend the rest of your life doing whatever you want.”

So which should you choose?

Enter Ray Dalio (billionaire and head of the world’s largest hedge fund).

In his best-selling book, Principles, Ray encourages us to, “figure out how you can have as much of both as possible”:

How can we apply that logic here? In this case, choosing both means:

  • Working on whatever you want to work on
  • Earning enough money to live well, and
  • Having enough time outside of work to enjoy life

Doesn’t that sound like the ideal work/life plan?

(see also: my chat with Paul Millerd and post on time millionaires)

Think it’s too good to be true?

These People Chose “Both”

Ryan Hoover, founder of ProductHunt, recently asked on Twitter:If money was no object, what would you do with your life…

It’s fascinating to read the responses. Especially the number of people who said something along the lines of, “the same thing I’m doing now.”

What would you do?

If money was no object, what would you do?

If your answer is something other than what you’re doing right now, then:

a) Good for you for being honest
b) Good for you for having some ambition, and
c) You should ask yourself: Is there some way I can do that thing now?

Even if you can’t magically flip a switch, closing the gap between how you spend your days now and whatever you’d like to do instead should be at the top of your to do list.

Is there something holding you back?

Send me a DM and let me know. I’d love to hear from you. Maybe there’s some way I can help…

That’s all for this week. More soon!

Featured images courtesy of SpaceX

Not a subscriber?

I write occasional emails to share what I’m thinking, learning, and doing. It’s all related to the idea of breaking free from the “default plan” in life.

Want to learn along with me? Join my Never Normal Newsletter:

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Never Normal Newsletter

Mozart’s Farts, Becoming a Better Dad, Tensegrity, and American Anarchy

Last week I wrote let’s meme the world a better place. This week I’ve got a new podcast episode and an assortment of related things I’ve been learning, listening to, and thinking about.

It all starts with a tiny push

Even though you know exactly what’s going to happen, it’s still pretty amazing to watch this short video (dripping with high school science class vibes), and see that it actually works.

Beyond the physics, there’s an important lesson here about the power of taking action — even a very small action — that kicks off a chain reaction.

Can you apply this to your life or business? What’s the first domino that you need to knock down on the path to achieving your goal? 🤔

BTW – If you like thought experiments like this, check out Quality Questions. Speaking of asking lots of questions…

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Essays Never Normal Newsletter

Let’s Meme the World a Better Place

The world has changed, and we have a choice to make:

Should we focus on the bits or the atoms?

I’ll do my best to explain what that means and how it ties together my nomadic lifestyle, the metaverse, crypto, cows, and a radical plan to buy the constitution.

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Never Normal Newsletter

The most ridiculously dialed in man alive?

Last week I wrote about Antiwork, the YOLO Economy, Time Millionaires and shared my interview with Paul Millerd.

Ditching the Default Plan

The common thread is that people are asking: Why should we devote the majority of our time, during the best decades of our lives to work that:
a) we don’t find meaningful
b) undervalues our capabilities and creativity
c) no longer provides certainty for the future, and
d) interferes with our ability to enjoy life outside work

You’ve heard all of this from me before, but I’m not “antiwork” at all.

Ideally, we can all find ways of working that allow us to “give our gifts” and maximize our contributions to the world, bring us joy and meaning, and don’t detract from our ability to enjoy life outside of work.

A Ridiculous Fantasy?

If that all sounds too idealistic or unrealistic, then meet Rob Dyrdek.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I only knew of Rob as a former pro skateboarder and that guy on MTV 24/7.