Thursday, May 10, 2012


Photo courtesy of April Allsyon Abel, a woman who inspires daily invention. 

People think up new ideas all the time.
Some people just think about them.
Other people do more than just think.

They take action.

I wonder who has better odds of success - the folks who act on every single idea, or the ones who really focus on just one thing and make it happen?
Is it like sales? The more calls you make, inherently by statistic,  the better your numbers are?

But what if the invention is yourself?

I used the be the kind of person who picked one thing and went after it with all the force and focus I could muster.
Pretty exhausting when the one thing turns out to be the wrong thing.
Or at least wrong for me.

Alas, in my "old" age, I don't know what the one thing is anymore.
I find myself stirring and jumping into 12 different pots at once, having no real clue which one is "right".
But I do know what is wrong, so I guess that's something.

Maybe there isn't a right answer. Maybe our parents idea of picking something, one thing, and doing it forever and forever isn't the right way, just the way they did it. Maybe the world really is different now.

Can we be happy with an undefined career?
No, that's not a cop-out or a carefully worded disguise for no career.
Is a broad brush better than a pigeon hole? I don't know.

But the truth is, no matter what, staying relevant in this world is hard. Really hard.

Everyone wants to be relevant.
Everyone needs to be relevant.
Our disposable mindset moves from objects to people.

Does constant reinvention keep us out of the trash?
It sure can keep you busy. I know that much.
Getting comfortable with the great unknown, closing your eyes and jumping takes some getting used to.
Ah, but the promise of true fulfillment is an addicting chase.

I have never taken bigger leaps than I have over the past few years, and for the first time, I  see a real opportunity to live a complete life. I just have no idea which pot I will end up in.

Scariest. Thing. Ever.
Tossing the comfort and camaraderie of common daily misery is, well, nausea-inducing.

So, I offer applause to all my friends and colleagues who have chosen to stand, undefined, proudly reinventing for a greater purpose, and a chance live truthfully, as they are.

Much love and admiration.


  1. The courage it takes to reach the place of profound and lasting change is not easily found. Being open to what new and wonderful things that the Universe offers you will ensure an interesting but not always smooth path. It took me until I was 45 to really see and like the person I am becoming. I am changing and being changed every day. I have gotten used to it somehow. It takes real guts to look at your life and realize, "this is NOT working for me..." Be bold and courageous. I have found you will generally not regret the things you try... but you may look longingly and wonder at the things you did not.

  2. Well it's a funny question. It really depends on your desire for risk. Risk takers will pick one winning horse and stick with it. You can spread out your risk by by betting on multiple horses. In a zero sum game or less like horse racing you don't want to do this. You want to research and bet the most exact way your information and specialized skills tell you how.

    Now applying economic theories, or more broadly, theories of choice making, to non-monetary systems is about 9,001 doctoral dissertations. Better to compare things to monetary systems, I'm guessing there are only about 1/10th as many interesting options.

    I think most social situations and life in general are non-zero-sum. That means we can benefit in the majority of cases by picking a broad spectrum of "horses" and seeing where each one goes.

    However, if we examine historic brilliant success stories, we see people across the board, some who worked on a large number of projects like Tomas Edison and Tesla, with others who tend to focus on just one thing like our popular culture stars. During the industrial revolution you hear about self-made millionaires who chose either newspapers or steel mills and worked their way up from laborer, to manager, to owner. In most of these brilliant success stories what you find in common is focus on making ones "self" the most valuable asset. There are many components to success and disciplined people who are not truly amazing aside from their discipline will often succeed. That suggests that the most important aspect is the desire to succeed and the ability to give up anything in order to accomplish a goal.

    So at this point I think what we see is that the winning horse is yourself and that's what you bet on. What are your skills? What are your desires? What is your comparative advantage? This is the go to piece when we don’t know where to invest. Invest in yourself.
    There are other factors of course. If you’ve got a losing hand you need to know when to fold. There is always a way to evaluate your future options. Do this on a regular basis and when they are undesirable move on to plan B. This brings me to another concept. Even if you are a risk taker and you like to have a brilliant success and need it for life fulfillment you need to have a plan B to switch to when you come to a decision point in plan A that indicates insufficient future value.
    As for me. . . finding a second winner has always been tough. I lost about $12000 in the stock market in 2001 to global crossing (similar to enron). I made $7000 on $13000 with JNK (spider Barclays junk bond ETF) and spent it all in bars while I was drinking my life away in Korea (in addition to all the money I was making on top of it). Recently I started peer lending and I’m generating a slow income of about 21% annualized with monthly payments. In this situation I have very small notes spread out over a very large number of borrowers limiting my risk with statistical advantages and hopefully maximizing my payoff. I estimate it will drop to about 13% annualized after one or two default. Still a very attractive estimate when the fed lends money so low and inflation will remain stable around 2%. To me that means I’m going to borrow and invest as much as my credit can handle. That is the side of me that is conservative. However I also have a risk taker side. My risk taker side has a fantasy portfolio where I short Chinese stock (yoku). In that fantasy portfolio I made about $280,000 on $100,000 (leveraged to $200,000) in one week (today the portfolio is around $600,000). I continue to make (personal) record returns. I know that once I get enough together I can use my analysis to evaluate other options in a similar way. All I have to do now is get to a critical asset level.
    Even if you don’t have your eyes on finance you can incorporate these principles in your plan. Make plans for expansion. Make plans for current progress. Plan a road to success.