9 things I learned by living to 37

I’ve just turned 37. I’m not gonna lie or even pretend to be modest; I’ve had an enormous amount of fun getting here. I’ve had more success than many. And I’ve attracted help every step along the way. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t define success as a job title or the rolls of fifties some people use to stuff the seats in their Ascaris. I define success as the ability to come and go as I please.

At 37, the only two things I value are the people in my life and all the choices I’ve made (bad ones too). But if I had to add a third, it’d be the handful of everyday lessons I picked up along the way.

Ascari A10. If you’re doing the mid-life crisis thing, do it right.

1.  Expressing strong opinions about things you haven’t lived through generally makes you an ass. Public commentators earn tons of cash to stake their position on social-political issues. They are paid to be polarizing. It’s a schtick that earns advertising dollars. Assuming you’re not being paid, unless you know the lives of the people you are criticizing, you’re basically a loud mouth whose throwing it out there hoping to find another loud mouth who’ll agree.  When I figured this out: 36

2.  Arguments that lead to no particular action are completely pointless. Yes, you just smoked a dude with your incisive rhetoric. You’ve proofed him to death and you shoved him into a tautological loop he can’t talk out of. You win…absolutely nothing. Except now the dude doesn’t like you much any more. “Debates” about religion, politics or life-style are not debates. They are moderated barbs at some guy’s core beliefs. It’s one guy trying to tell another guy what’s what. And when you win, all you win is a moment of awkward silence.  When I figured this out: 35

3.  Be skeptical about anybody who believes anything too strongly. Anybody who believes anything too strongly is likely actively ignoring facts and ideas that could challenge their beliefs. When I figured this out: 11

4.  Accept that everything is placebo. From prayer to probability charts, if it makes you feel better about your situation, it’s the right thing to do. I have lost my fear of most things simply by trying to understand probabilities. Planes crashes and terrorists don’t scare me.  Salmonella and slipping on ice does. Information and statistics are simply consumables.  They are only as accurate as the guy who assembled it and only as valuable as I can interpret it. In short, most of us make ourselves feel better with info somebody else compiled; either yesterday in a lab or 4,000 years ago in a desert.  When I figured this out:  22

5.  Job titles mean almost nothing. You have no idea how that person attained their current station in life so why be impressed until you do (assuming it’s not bullshit)? When I figured this out:  18

6.  You are only as believable as you are in shape. Unless you’re a rapper with an entourage, you can’t pull off cool if you’re downing burgers and cokes for your 3-squares.  Good health is a choice.  It’s the choice to not eat sh_t and it’s the choice to stay active.  You can pretty much BS about anything you want but one thing you can’t hide is your inability to manage your own personal health goals, assuming you even have them.  And if you can’t manage your own personal goals, who are you to teach me how to manage mine?  When I figured this out:  25

7. Get rid of unnecessary people and be good to the people you have. Sounds harsh and it is. Not everybody is worth your time. And by the same token, you’re probably not worth everybody’s time either. So why fake it and cling on to some weird obligation that isn’t really a thing. Real life isn’t Facebook and you don’t look cooler by bragging about how many people you know. When I figured this out:  23

8. Everybody should try to start and run their own business. It’s hard to be fully convinced of anybody’s business pedigree unless they’ve risked time, money and family. I have more to learn from somebody who has tried and failed than somebody who has never tried. Unless you’ve paid salaries out with dollars that you feed your family with, you’ve never made a do-or-die decision. When I figured this out: 33

9.  Absolutely everything is in your control. Dude. Your job does not control you nor does your boss. Do you know what does? Your costs do. Your expenses do. Your life-style does. If you’re use to banking seven-figures and spending seven-figures and 1, you will never have any sort of freedom. I’ve helped more people than I remember obtain jobs who had all the intelligence, aptitude and skills to create their own businesses. But they can’t because their life style didn’t allow them to take the chance. Here’s a tip. When I raised money for companies, the first thing I asked was “What is your burn rate?” because it’s not how much stuff a company sells that makes it successful. It’s how little it spends to sell the stuff that makes it successful. It’s not how much money you make. It’s how much money you burn that’s keeping you from doing what you really want to do.  When I figured this out: 36

I started this blog a couple of months ago and it’s been read and followed by folks all over the world. Now’s a good a time to say thanks for reading. And if you send me your email address, I’ll scan you a picture of the cake.

M