When I Grow Up

Komisar QuoteI have been thinking a lot about a conversation I had with a friend recently – moreover, though, how I can’t help but feel that I have had this same conversation with dozens of people, and that I often wonder how many times a day this same conversation takes place.

It takes many forms, but, at its core, the message is always the same.

‘I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.’

And though this dilemma carries with it a connotation of youth, I find that many of the people trapped within it are, ironically, not young at all – they are simply facing the reality a bit farther down the road.

The truth is, though, you should feel relieved – at any age – to have this thought consuming you – and, if it doesn’t, perhaps you should try to conjure up some fear of it. Crises of this sort mean that you want more out of life – that your personal composition today is not sufficient, that you hunger for change that gives birth to self-betterment.

But we distract ourselves from this realization too often. It bubbles to the surface, and we panic – that is, until a well-meaning confidant assuages the fear by assuring us that it is natural, normal, and healthy.

In fact, that advice is sound, but it is missing a key followup. Continue reading

How to Name Your Startup

“It is a pretty recognizable brand name. Originally it was ‘Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web’ but we settled on ‘Yahoo.’” -Jerry Yang, Yahoo founder

It is no secret at this point that I love being an entrepreneur, and it’s a profession that I would recommend to virtually anyone. At the first mention of job-related trouble, the de facto advice I’ll dispense is to quit your job: burn the bridge behind you and don’t look back. I’ve given away more copies of The 4-Hour Workweek than I can count.

I am often asked, “what is the hardest part of starting a business?”

Like most things in life, the process of starting a business seems impossibly complex until you actually begin to undertake it – what appears from afar to be a mysterious black art becomes fairly simple and straightforward upon closer examination.

With my companies, I have negotiated distribution deals with Amazon.com, manufactured life-or-death components for 200 mph race cars in China, and managed 1,650+ different SKUs – without any full-time employees or a background in engineering, and all while living in South America for a six month stretch…without a cell phone.

Having said that, I can tell you – without hesitation – that the hardest part of starting a business is naming it. And, thanks to a booming startup market and the shrinking availability of .com domains, it is getting harder every day.

But fear not, my friends – while the proliferation of tech startups has certainly dwindled the supply of available .coms, it has also given birth to a series of fantastic tools and resources for solving this frustrating problem.

Below, we’ll go over some rules of naming, and subsequently I’ll divulge my heretofore secret arsenal that will turn you into a dark wizard in the mysterious and elusive art of startup naming.

Continue reading

The Lost Generation, Explained (finding purpose in an uncertain future)

"We'll start you out here, then give you more responsibilities as you gain experience."

I’ve heard that, in the minutes before a natural disaster, farm animals often exhibit a general and uneasy restlessness – long before any detectable indicator appears on the horizon, they mill about and complain noisily, not exactly able to identify the impetus for their discontent – but fearing the impending storm nonetheless. Continue reading

Creating a Vacuum (or, when to move on)

Careers and relationships are curiously similar, I think, and as a pair are quite unique in how we approach them. We dive headfirst into these commitments with only partial information – information which, more often than not, turns out to be inaccurate.

I don’t mean to imply that job openings and potential romantic partners are intentionally misrepresented (though, I’ll admit, they sometimes are). I mean to say that they are simply two aspects of life that must be understood experientially – initial descriptions and appearances suffice only to lure you in, and you’ll only truly understand them by experiencing them over the course of time. Continue reading

Twentysomething

George Harrison Quote

Sometimes I stroll into the grocery store and a big, goofy grin spreads over my face.

Look at me, buying my own groceries.

It’s not that I particularly love grocery shopping, exactly. Despite being 26 years old, I just still get a kick out of being an adult.

I distinctly remember homecoming weekend, sophomore year of college, sitting around with a group of alumni recounting their glory days. They spoke of how much they missed college, how things were never the same after they graduated, and how the four years they spent in school were the best years of their life. I wondered silently if I would feel like that in a few years – past the peak, looking downhill on a life doomed to be considerably less stimulating.

Continue reading

Jealousy, Relationships, and the Voices In Your Head

Tim Ferriss Quote

The brain is a wondrous instrument – it builds detailed mental models of how our world functions, storing a dizzying array of information based on historical observations that we’ve made. The purpose of these models, or schemas, is to provide us with a framework for decision making prior to committing to a given course of action.

It allows us to play out a scenario within the comfort of our own minds – it’s a sort of forecasting system, a Dopplar radar for social functions, that is designed to add a degree of predictability to our world. When you’re invited to a party, you quickly analyze the person who invited you, the other known guests, the venue, and any other information to make a quick run-through of the night.

Will it be fun? Will it be my scene? What time will I get home?

Your mind runs a explores simulations and then you make a judgement call whether or not to attend – and, if you do, what you should expect. The problem is, it often ends up being very wrong.

Continue reading

How to Make Bad Decisions

Quite possibly the earliest recorded bad decision in my life – that’s me wearing a New Kids On The Block hat and throwing down gang signs in front of a Saturn. I think/hope my taste has improved since then.

There’s a point, I think, where some people stop changing – they reach a certain level of personal growth, a plateau of sorts, and they just freeze. There must be a muscle deep within your soul, responsible for curiosity, for improvement, for disruption, and, one day, it just starts to atrophy. Continue reading