In 1902, Einstein (far right) formed “The Olympia Academy” with two friends, who met to discuss books about science and philosophy. Three years later, Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis papers vaulted him to international fame.
I’m asked “How do I find a mentor?” all the time.
I’ve never had a good answer. The sad fact is this: people you want as mentors don’t want to view themselves as pro-bono life coaches. So what to do?
First, change the question. Perhaps it’s a cliche to say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears, but it’s a prescription in disguise. Here, the better question is “How do I become an ideal apprentice?”
The best treatment of apprenticeship I’ve ever found is in Mastery, the latest book by Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power. His writing on apprenticeship, mentor cultivation, and in-depth mastery of skills makes Mastery the perfect companion book to The 4-Hour Chef, in my opinion. It’s one of the few books I made time to read cover-to-cover in the last few months.
The below article explores examples of world-class apprentices and how you can emulate them. Once you do that, growth is a foregone conclusion.
Enter Robert Greene
The path to greatness is simple. It’s the path followed by everyone from Renaissance artists to the entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley. In writing my first four books, I immersed myself in the study these types of people–some of most powerful figures in history. Over the course of many hours of thinking, researching and writing on excellence–the last four years of which were dedicated to writing my newest book–I discerned an unmistakable formula for becoming the best… Read More
This will be a short post as, sometimes, brevity counts. I want to let Neil Gaiman speak in this instance. Neil is one of my favorite authors, and I first became fascinated by his imagination with The Sandman comics in the 90′s. So much so, in fact, that I imported The Sandman from different countries to help me learn languages.
The Sandman from Brazil. Wonderful for studying Portuguese, as I have identical English editions.
The above commencement speech, mandatory listening for anyone who hopes to be creatively successful, is right up there with Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement speech, which I’ve embedded below. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments on either, as well as links to any favorite speeches of your own.
I’m often asked, “What does your typical day look like?”
In an attempt to answer this difficult question, I met up with Morgan Spurlock’s film crew for an episode of “A Day In The Life.” The full Friday we shot (I reserve Fridays for in-person meetings) reiterates a point I’ve driven home before: The 4-Hour Workweek is, and always has been, about using time optimally, not being idle.
It also shows how much I love my POS VW Golf, which is having its 10th birthday soon.
To clarify the intro, here’s a mostly complete list of start-ups I advise and have invested in:
Would you like to work together? If so, watch the “Advise This!” video below and tell me about your company in the comments, ideally in 200 words or fewer. Stats are always helpful.
Look forward to checking it out. In the meantime, I have to wrap up The 4-Hour Chef!
It’s shaping up to be a fun one…
——- Odds and Ends:
WellnessFX Competition – Would you like to spend 30 minutes with me? I’d love to learn what you’re up to and see if I can help. WellnessFX, featured in the above episode, is sponsoring a giveaway for six 30-minute slots. Click here to learn more.
SXSW – “Advise This” Panel – So, what do start-up “advisors” do, exactly? How do you recruit A-listers to your cause? Or, better yet, how do you assemble and leverage the *right* team? In the below panel, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Conrad, JR Johnson, Chase Charvis, and I discuss the relationships between founders, investors, and advisors in start-ups. You’ll recognize the now familiar “14 minutes into my 15 minutes…,” which I say to keep my head from getting too damn big. It’s a Seneca thing:
Let us start with a quote, often misattributed to Goethe:
“Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
- William Hutchinson Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951)
If you want a lesson in boldness, and to cross things off of your bucket list, there is no better teacher than Ben Nemtin.
His story, and that of the entire Buried Life team, is amazing.
Most recently, they crossed off #19: Write a bestselling book. Their debut, What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?, just hit #1 on The New York Times, which will be announced officially April 15th. To celebrate? They’re sending a copy of the book into space.
It all seems unbelievable, which is exactly why I love this guest post from Ben.
This original content covers his 6 steps for crossing anything off of your personal bucket list. There is a method. Everyone needs a kick in the ass sometimes, and this did it for me.
If there’s one thing I’m proud of, it’s being able to tell good stories.
Not because I’m a particularly good storyteller, but because I’ve been able to accumulate some amazing experiences in the last 5 and a half years.
It was 2006 when I first hit the road with my next-door neighbor, his younger brother, and a kid I knew from high school to accomplish a list we had created of 100 things to do before we died. We made a promise that for every item we crossed off, we’d help a total stranger do something they wanted to do before they died. To date, we’ve accomplished 81 items on our list and helped over 81 people.
In addition to those Tim mentioned in the intro, and among others, I’ve made a TV show, crashed the Playboy Mansion, streaked a stadium, been on Oprah, reunited a father and son after 17 years, made a $300,000 donation to charity, helped a girl find her mother’s grave for the first time, and am trying to help a college freshman find a new kidney (Need your help on this one: info here)… Read More
Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (Photo: Jim Maragos/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.
-Viktor E. Frankl, Holocaust survivor, author of Man’s Search for Meaning
I believe that life exists to be enjoyed, and that the most important thing is to feel good about yourself.
Without the latter, little else gets done.
Each person will have his or her own vehicles for achieving both, and those vehicles will change over time. For some, the answer will be working with orphans, and for others, it will be composing music. I have a personal answer to both–to love, be loved, and never stop learning–but I don’t expect that to be universal.
Some criticize a focus on self-love and enjoyment as selfish or hedonistic, but it’s neither.
Enjoying life and helping others–or feeling good about yourself and increasing the greater good–are no more mutually exclusive than being agnostic and leading a moral life. One does not preclude the other. Let’s assume we agree on this. It still leaves the question: what can I do with my time to enjoy life and feel good about myself?
I can’t offer a single answer that will fit all people, but, based on the dozens of fulfilled people I’ve interviewed, and the thousands who’ve provided feedback on this blog, there are two components that are fundamental… Read More
34. I’m turning a glorious 34 this year, right about now.
It’s going to be a great natal year–-I can already feel it. Perhaps it will be good luck for you, too: in this post, I’m giving away a round-trip ticket anywhere in the world.
But back to that strange birthday gift…
Much to the chagrin of my momma-san, I’ve become quite difficult to buy presents for. Some friends even think I’m impossible to find presents for.
It’s not entirely true. I love handwritten letters, home-made brownies (like Fred Wilson), girlfriends dressed in next to nothing, and–-most of all-–when people do something nice for others.
In lieu of gifts this year, my birthday wish is to help the poorest kids in the world learn to read. I believe literacy, and the self-determinism it allows, is fundamental to solving the problems of this world. Want an alternative to extremist terrorist schools, to have fewer welfare states, or to prosper with better economies? Teach people to read and help themselves… Read More
Soon 33 years young. I’ll be back on the playa in August for Burning Man.
33. I’ll turn a glorious 33 this weekend.
It’s going to be a great natal year–I can already feel it. Repeating numbers (born in ’77) are good luck. Perhaps it will be good luck for you, too: in this post, I’m giving away a round-trip ticket anywhere in the world and more.
“It’s impossible not to constantly wonder if there’s something better, someone better.”
My good female friend picked up her third glass of Syrah-Merlot and continued: “If I could only choose between three decent guys, it’d be a done deal. I’d be married already.”
I nodded. Having options–perceived infinite choice–isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. How, then, do you tame indecision, particularly in relationships?
The following guest post, written by Claire Williams, explores some of the more successful approaches… and realizations.
In 2000, Drs. Sheena S. Iyengar and Mark R. Lepper set up a tasting booth at an upscale grocery store in California. On some days, they put out a selection of six types of jam; on other days they set out twenty-four. Although the wider selection attracted more shoppers, more people bought the jam when there were fewer options. It seemed
the more choices people had, the harder it was to make a decision.
The Paradox of Choice explored this infamous dilemma, in which having more options tends to leave us paralyzed and increase our buyer’s remorse. But what does that mean when you’re not just shopping? What about when you’re doing much more important stuff…like picking a job, a house, or – gasp – a life partner?… Read More