Smart is as smart does

People are considered smart because they have an advanced degree, an impressive vocabulary, or are well-read. But how we apply what we know is more important than what we actually know.

When I read a book, attend a seminar, pay attention to people wiser than me, or make a mistake, I always look for the take-aways and biggest learnings. The best way to do this is to ask: how will I use this?

Learning but not making use of it is roughly the same as not learning in the first place.

Conversation or violence

If there’s a way forward in building a peaceful global civilization among 7 billion people, we must understand that ideas spread and persuasion works along a continuum of only two things: conversation and violence.


Each of us can choose to be accountable, improve our abilities to converse, debate, and disagree peacefully, so we don’t move the wrong way.


Two things to remember:
1)  Always contend with arguments, not people
2)  You have not been victimized because you heard something with which you disagree or find offensive.   Learn to separate your views and beliefs from you as a person (your ego).



Hack for forming new habits

One hack for forming new habits is to commit to activities so small and seemingly insignificant that they rule out the perception that you don’t have the time or energy.

Do just two push-ups.  Floss one tooth.  Drink one extra glass of water per day.  Meditate for 30 seconds.  Stretch one muscle group before bed.  Writing a 365 page book is daunting (I’ve done it), but writing one page per day for a year isn’t.

Don’t be concerned with volume.  The goal is consistency and continuity.  Most people find after a few days that it’s easy enough to do more push-ups, floss all their teeth, drink far more water, stretch more, and are well on their way to authoring a book.

Our continuing education

While it’s impossible for our education system to predict what money-making skills will be most valued in 15-20 years, certain skills are undeniably useful for everyone: conflict resolution, empathy, sustaining meaningful relationships, mindfulness, critical thinking, managing anger and other emotions, practical financial acumen, and others we know we need.

We don’t have to wait for institutions to upgrade.  We can impart valuable knowledge to the next generation.  As adults, we can (and should) take the opportunity to level up.  Wisdom, education, and improvement don’t end with the last test you were forced to take.

Negotiating well

Consider the following in addition to whatever advice you’ve received on negotiating:

  • People (especially those who negotiate often) will remember the person you are and how you carried yourself throughout the negotiation, not necessarily the deal itself
  • No matter the outcome, being respectful and acknowledging the other side’s position never works against you.

My personal goal in negotiating is to get the most I can while doing my best to play the game in such a way that I would get invited back to play again.


This gives away all your power

“As soon as” syndrome happens when you make your next move – or worse, your happiness – contingent on something else happening.

There is rarely a perfect time to do anything worthwhile.

You have the power to determine what you do right now.  Don’t give it away to people or circumstances you don’t control.  You are the CEO of you.  Be a good one.


Intentions and behavior

Most of us tend to judge others by their actions, but judge ourselves based on our intentions.

One without the other is impure.  Let’s look for opportunities to let other peoples’ actions slide, and occasionally seek out (or even assume) that they have good intentions.  After all, we’re doing that with ourselves.