What’s your exit strategy

I was reading Tim Ferriss’5-Bullet Friday” newsletter this week, and he briefly talked about Craig Newmark – founder of Craigslist – and referenced a quote he made:

“Death is my exit strategy.”

What a refreshing statement in a world that focuses on short-term gains and companies that are formed to get sold shortly after.

How cool would it be to find a calling that consumes so much of you and is so timeless that it’s not just a full-time job or a contract that lasts until retirement – but a lifelong mission that ends when you do, or even continues beyond you?

Just something to make you pause for a moment to check the work you’re doing right now. Hope you’re building something so valuable that the only buyout firm that can afford you is God =)

Surrender to your own mediocrity

This is amazing advice I got from listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast interview with author and super-creative, Cheryl Strayed.

When you accept that you’re not perfect and neither are your contributions to the world, it will instill the humility you need to get help, to stay curious, to desire more knowledge, to gain more perspective, to be grateful when you win, and to accept failure as a necessary ingredient to progress.

It also takes the pressure off of having to do “great” work – pressure that will never get you started; and if you do get started, it won’t be authentic. It will help you to actually take the first step, and actually do the work itself.

Ego and unreasonable expectations are the enemy. Embrace your humanness, get out of your way, and share your passion with the world.

Flip-flop: My new goal in life…to be lazy

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This is part of a series called “Flip-Flop” – explained here.

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What happens when I get lazy?

My life becomes more enjoyable and productive.

Reading this article helped me to relax, cancel a few meetings and calls, rethink how I do things, and delete a few tasks from my to-do list…and I’m learning to be comfortable with this uncomfortable feeling.

(It’s thanks to Kevin Rose’s monthly email that I found this gem)

This reminds me of my aspiration of “saying ‘no’ to the good, so that I can say ‘yes’ to the great.” It’s so true that when I fill my schedule up with tasks – because I can’t sit still, because free time makes me feel like I’m not being productive, because it’s frowned upon in the workaholics world – I don’t create any white space to do what truly matters.

Taking care of my health. Reading a good book. Writing on my blog. Having a real, in-depth conversation with a loved one. Brainstorming a passion project. Spending time with my family. Helping people in need. Expanding my relationship with God.

I lose “hell yeah” opportunities because I’m so buried with “okay” or “good” opportunities. And the thought of surviving or dying of mediocrity sucks.

I need to change my perception of “laziness.” It should not be a bad word, but a filter for things that matter. It’s actually good for creating processes that make me more effective. The question I try and ask myself moving forward is:

“Because I am lazy and want to do things that truly matter, do I really need to do this? And if I really need to do this, what is the laziest way I can handle this so that I don’t ever have to do it again?”

As Tim Ferriss has taught me, being busy is the true, unhealthy form of laziness – it means you aren’t thinking, you don’t have your priorities straight, and you are avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.

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The picture above is a hammock from the Parker Palm Springs hotel – a favorite spot for my wife and I (where I first asked Christine to be my girlfriend…the rest is history). It was a weekend where we didn’t have the kids, and we did absolutely nothing. And it was the best time of our lives. 

Flip-flop: My kids need to mind their own business

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This is part of a series called “Flip-Flop” – explained here.

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Tim Ferriss and his interviewees continue to mess up all of my plans and ways of thinking. So frustrating and liberating at the same time lol!

I was listening to his interview with Ricardo Semler, who – despite his fame and fortune as a successful entrepreneur – does NOT involve his kids in his business.

He never talks about work with them, he never brings them to meetings, and he does not plan on letting them take his company over in the future.

I used to think that involving my kids in my business was good for them. I thought that it would inspire them to work hard; that it would be a way to show how important passion is; and that they could learn a few skills from their papa.

But I am changing my mind on how to share all of this in a healthier way, and that my current methods may be damaging them.

One of the worst things that a parent can do is force their own agenda on their kids. Sometimes – if they were successful in their field, admire a particular career, or regret not having a certain profession…they can unintentionally try and fit their kid into either one of those molds, and that’s a terrible mistake with long-term – if not permanent – consequences.

It disrespects their child’s individuality, doesn’t allow them to discover themselves on their own, and creates resentment and lost time.

I want to tell my story so that it inspires them, show them how excited I am to have found my purpose, and allow them to help out now and then if they are curious; but I need to remind them that this is me and that true success is finding who they are.

I’m still trying to figure out how to do this optimally, but my message is this: that God made each of us unique – our physical makeup, our talents and abilities, our experiences, and most importantly – our purpose. We as parents can inspire, build boundaries, and point them in the right direction – but I must do so with their separate path’s interests in mind.

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The above picture is from an event my kids participated in, where Christine, their biological dad, and I helped them build their own cardboard boat to race with in a fun competition with other kids. I caught myself at times trying to make my kid build the boat a certain way; and as soon as I realized that, and let go – I was able to enjoy following his lead, and these designs are what they came out with. Unique – just like them =)

Flip-Flop: Changing my mind about allowance

I’m going to create a series of blog posts called “Flip-Flop” where I share long-held beliefs I’ve changed my mind about after getting older, after new experiences, after conversations with people, and/or after repeated failed attempts at being successful operating on those original beliefs. 

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I was listening to a Tim Ferriss Show interview with Pete Adeney aka Mr. Money Mustache – and he shared that he (1) doesn’t give his son an allowance – he doesn’t want him to think that money comes from out of nowhere; (2) pays him for riding his bike – an incentive to get fresh air and exercise; and (3) created a “Bank of Dad” – where he gives his son interest for money that is saved versus spent.
I disagree with #1, want to modify #2, and will incorporate #3.

I understand the thought process behind #1, however my upbringing and faith direct this matter. I do want my kids to know that money is worked hard for and earned – for sure, and that’s why I have a career and multiple companies to model for them; but I also want them to know that they are provided for and more…just like my Heavenly Father wants us to trust Him – and that they don’t need to stress or worry.

Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” (Luke 12:24)

The world has enough problems for a kid (they grow up so fast and are surrounded by confusing and negative stimuli), and most relationships are torn because of money (not enough of it, less time is spent with family to make it, etc.). I want to eliminate the money issue from their list of heavy and ever-growing challenges that come with life.

Their basic needs are met – clothes, food, shelter, education – and their weekly allowance lets them take care of their wants and it’s an opportunity to practice – consistently and without fail – good habits on how to manage their funds.

We currently pay them $10 a week, and their money is split as follows:

  1. The first 10% of the money is tithing – money that goes to God ($1)
  2. The next 40% goes towards savings – to emergencies and very large future purchases like a car ($4)
  3. The remaining 50% goes towards spending ($5)

Money that is given as a gift (birthday, Lunar New Year) doesn’t count – it’s their bonus.

The goal of 50% is to program their mind to live below their means, and that it’s truly possible to enjoy life with discipline.

As for #2, I am inspired by it – but instead of exercise (my kids love being out and exercising already), I’d like to teach them about entrepreneurship, and thinking of a smarter way to earn money. My wife has been teaching my kids how to make soap and laundry detergent – and that might be their first “lemonade stand” style business – where we can teach them how to cost ingredients, source them from the best quality and priced supplies, package and design them for optimal reception, marketing, sales, management, etc.

More details on that as we move along, but I think that’s an awesome project and teaching opportunity.

I spoke with my wife about #3 and we’re totally on board with creating a “Bank of Mom & Dad” and giving them interest for money they decide to save versus spend. I think it’ll help them understand that their dollars are “green employees” that will work for them if they save and deploy them in the right place, to think twice about what they buy and how much it’ll truly make them happy and for how long, and to live on less.

What practices do you employ around family and finances? 

Take a guess. It’s good for you. 

I’m listening to a podcast by Tim Ferriss interviewing Jane McGonical – who says that she enjoys watching games she knows how to play, and predicting who wins. Her games of choice are tennis matches.

While seemingly trivial, according to her research – doing so creates anticipation and releases a healthy amount of dopamine, regardless of the outcome. 

If your prediction is right, you get a pat on the back; and if your prediction is wrong, you get to learn what went wrong and you’re wiser. How often can you bet on a win/win situation? 

She also cited that peoples’ moods are less happy during sports off-seasons; and she also chooses tennis matches because there is only one month when there are no games. A hedge against depression. 

So interesting!

If you decided to try this, what would you predict? I’m not a sports guy, so I’d have to find something else to play fortune teller with. Maybe reading a mystery book or watching a mystery show on Netflix – because I love reading, and I love guessing who committed the crime and looking back at clues when I failed. Any recommendations? 

What are you unfit to do?

I was reading Tim Ferriss‘ interview with Dan Carlin in the book “Tools of Titans” (epic book by an epic human, guys – get it), and he said something that stuck with me all morning:

“Don’t be afraid to do something you’re not qualified to do.”

It made me think (and that’s a dangerous thing lol). If I spent my entire life only doing things I was credentialed to do, I would’ve:

  • Remained unmarried because I am not a relationship expert – and have many failed dates and a failed first marriage to validate that.
  • Continued pushing a broom for pay, because I am a college drop out and would’ve been shut out by “bachelors degree required” job listings.
  • Had no kids because I am a child, and not a child psychologist. 
  • Put my aspirations to build and run companies into the trash because I don’t have an MBA or degree to give partners, vendors, or customers any sense of trust. 

The list goes on, for sure. But isn’t living a life you’re qualified to have a scary, unexciting, unfulfilling, and undesirable thing?

Good thing I’m annoyingly curious and stubborn in this aspect, lol, because I’ve done some pretty ignant things before, like:

  • Starting a restaurant with friends who had absolutely no experience; and dropping out of college – my sure shot insurance policy – to scratch that itch. We generated a profit within months and sold it three years later at a profit.
  • Convincing Fransmart – the world’s largest and most reputable franchise development company – to take a chance on employing and training someone who had no degree nor any franchising experience. I built a successful 10-year career out of it and continue to work there.
  • Giving love another shot and marrying the love of my life. 
  • Becoming a dad to two adopted kids and completing the family I never thought I’d have.

The most incredible, life-changing things that have ever happened to me were unplanned and I totally wasn’t prepared or knowledgeable enough at the time; and I’d bet that you are the same.

What are you not fit to do…but want to? Remember that amateurs built the Ark and that professionals built the Titanic…and do it.