A lot of people, maybe most people, try to make a big self-improvement push in their lives sooner or later.
They start eating better, or change how they spend and invest money, or whatever.
It keeps going for a while. There's progress. There's success. And then, the person falls off a cliff.
I'm now thinking it usually happens due to a convergence of bad events. That would be when a lot of little things hit you all at once, or a big thing hits when you're not in the best place to absorb the blow.
Question on "The Persistent and Timely Will Inherit the Earth" -
Which is the best methods for dealing with people that correspondences aren't as much interesting as many with other people, and that you don't feel there is a fit, but they are really nice and want to connect with you ?
One thing I've learned is that you never know who is going to rise in the world.
Just writing to a random stranger on the internet shows a decent amount of tenacity on someone's part. Most people won't do it. So you're already filtered down to people who will put themselves out there a little bit and take a bit of action.
I know a guy who applied to work for me in a job when he was still in high school some years ago. I couldn't say yes to that - didn't want to deal with labor law, signing a contract with a minor (including IP assignment, work for hire... I don't know, seemed like it would have been a nightmare) - but he seemed like a good guy, so I took him out to lunch at a little Greek restaurant near my office and just asked what's going on his life.
I've been in touch before, and found it to be a highly valuable exchange. I was just reading your post titled 'Watching the Lightning' and had a couple of questions, if you don't mind?
Firstly, do you find 4-7 hours sleep per night sustainable? I note the post was written a few months ago so I imagine this has been enough time to measure the success of getting aforementioned amount of sleep. I've tried to limit myself to 6 hours sleep a night, but found it a struggle after 2 or 3 days. I plan to push through the struggle as I imagine it will become easier after time, which leads me to my second question: what steps did you take when planning to reduce your time spent sleeping?
I have my highest performance levels overall when I'm average 7.5 hours per night. But often I get there in a funny way - a mix of 4 hour nights and 12+ hour nights. Beyond that, I think napping is valuable, diet/exercise/health is extremely important if you want to do it, consistency is important, and also getting high quality sleep in general.
I've recently come of the opinion that most people get very little really good sleep - too much artificial light, not enough exercise, bad diets, stimulant usage (caffeine...), inconsistent schedules, and so on. I think it'd be possible to run at the 4-6 hour sleep range with maybe a 30-120 minute nap each day, but you'd need to be near perfect across the board on all the good sleep elements with serious discipline about consistent schedule, total darkness and minimal artificial light before you're going to sleep, regular exercise, a perfect diet, maybe quit caffeine entirely?, and similar.
The original title of this post was, "The Reason We Didn't Meetup When I Visited Your City" and it was geared towards explaining what it's like to be busy with lots of correspondence. The post grew past this. This one will be useful for people who expect that they might have huge correspondence increases in the future - rarely do people talk bluntly about what it's like. It'll also be useful for the expansive sort of person who reaches out to people they don't know, so you can understand the mindset of who you're reaching out to. It rambles a little bit in the middle, but I think the mindsets and details could be useful for you.
The Reason We Didn't Meetup When I Visited Your City...
...is because I'm disorganized and you didn't drop a line again.
So, I get a lot of correspondence. Which is great. I really dig that. A couple days ago, I had a great Skype chat about international investing and business expansion with a really smart and cool guy out in SF, and then I met three people locally in Tokyo who are all exceptionally cool guys. I learned a lot, and I think so did the guys I got to hang with, and it was good. I like seeing other people thrive and make money, and got to have some good talks on business and entrepreneurship with everyone I met - I think everyone can hustle a bit more cash here or there.
I really enjoy that. I like meeting smart and enterprising people. I say that everyone - on my site, in posts, on my "About" and "New? Start here" pages,
Question from a reader -
I often compare my life to others, especially to successful persons. It doesn't do any good to me. I feel such an injustice and get angry or depressed. Even if rationally I know that it's stupid and that there are people who got a way harder life than myself.
Do you know how to deal with that ?
Had a hell of a time at the Consulate trying to pick up a visa for longer than thirty days. I had my ducks about as lined up as I could, but it was going to come down to whether the consular official wanted to help me or not.
She didn't. Most useless human being I've encountered in a while. "So, by the rules, I'm sure I'm eligible for this visa..." - "I'm sorry, you're not." - "My friend got this same one, under these exact same circumstances, in Mongolia." - "Maybe you should go to Mongolia." - "The point is that it's the same rules there and here." - "You're an American. I'm sorry." - "Umm, right, yes, I'm American. So is my friend. I read all the rules that are available online, and I believe I'm eligible for this visa. I have the forms and money. Can you please just take the forms, the money, and put it into processing?" - "I can't do that. Next person, please." - "Excuse me, ma'am..." - "I can't help you. Next person."
That's just a snippet of the whole exchange. Man oh man, I've met some very friendly and useful and helpful consular officials and immigration officials, but I've also never seen a position with such uncalled-for amounts of arrogance. She wouldn't refer me to anyone else, wouldn't give me a copy of the rules that she's referring to (online, the website says I'm eligible) and was just a patronizing and nasty person. And I was pretty polite and friendly up until about 90% of the way through the conversation.
I run through all my options, and anything that's going to make a scene or escalate things is more likely to do harm to me than to get what I want.
I leave the Consulate, the security guard is very friendly and cool on the way out as I pick up the bag I left downstairs (thanks, that helped), and I sit down with some food and coffee.
A few months ago, I reviewed AgileTask in the post AgileTask Feedback. I liked it, and my biggest piece of feedback to Rob was -
The biggest one I’ve got for you – try tweaking your Call-to-Action. “Sign Up Now – 30 Days Free”
I’m almost certain you could get a higher conversion rate. Perhaps “Take it for a spin”
Or “Get Started – be rolling with AgileTask in 7 Seconds”
If you A/B test your call to action, I reckon you’ll be able to find one that gets people to try the product at a much higher rate.
Rumena Zlatkova has been one of the most prolific and excellent commentors on this site and I've learned a lot from her and always been grateful for those insights. We started corresponding a bit by email recently, and there were some real gems of insights in her writing.
We were talking about work and advantages from having grown up in one culture and now living in another. Here's Rumena -
Yes, the skillset / mindset that you can develop having lived in Bulgaria and then moving to the UK is quite unique and gives you a very different perspective compared to the other people around you. For me, so far it's been very useful in identifying 'black holes' and things / aspects of society that I don't want to participate in - so having the perspective on why for example Bulgaria is a messy, unorderly place, while the UK is the most structured country I've been in so far, also gives some insight of why it's that and what purpose it's helping. I mean, in Bulgaria people always complain they are not taken care of by the country, that everything is left pretty much to the laws of the jungle (I don't know of you're familiar with any Eastern European country, but it's part of the culture there - maybe a little less harsh than what you've been describing about Mongolia), but that gives you the unique skillset of being an 'all-around' person (also because the country is poor, we don't 'hire' someone, we try to fix things ourselves). You don't just trust or 'buy in' what the State / or overpriced business is selling to you - and you know you have only yourself to rely on if you want something done. Whereas in the UK, people are so much taken care of, that they are too relaxed, and probably unadaptable. I'm guessing you can also relate to that coming from a country such as the USA, where most things come easily and you don't need to think too much (or that's what it looks like).
I thought that was interesting - observing that people feel like they're not taken care of, yet simultaneously don't have the resources and trust to get skilled professionals and get the benefits of a division of labor. I asked Rumena if I could share, she said yes and kindly shared some more insights -
Here is another point that might be of interest for you or your readers that I have been thinking about recently: individual vs. team work.
Question from a reader -
Kaizan (I believe this was the word encapsulating the concept that small but regular efforts both build momentum and create a larger effect)
You seem to have some of the best discipline and commitment I've seen in anyone. Quite frankly I have the toughest time fighting the urgency of the present for the promised windfalls of the future. Are there any tips you have for effectively depriving oneself now for greater long-term success? If you feel as though each small effort has no measurable impact, beyond the short-term perceived negative effects, how do you justify and reason that the long-term positive effects will come. E.g. how do you say "no I can't drink this coffee with milk in it because I'm avoiding carbs" or "I can't buy this interesting book because I'm trying to save" when the correlation between those individual events and the desired result (weight-control/savings) is unmeasurable?
I'm not sure the exact year, but somewhere around 2008 to 2010 I started thinking about why video games are so easy for people to get engaged in.
When you look at it objectively, a lot of video games are more difficult, more time-consuming, and more tedious than getting large real life successes.
Question from a reader -
You have maintained your commitment to being prolific which is made even more exceptional by the fact you are travelling around the world at the same time.
I realise your article on being prolific is about this, but accepting that I'm going to release a lot of crap before I realise something good is a tough wall to knock down. My biggest issue writing anything seems to be that it feel insufficent. Naturally no post I write has the length of Steve Yegge, the persuasiveness of Paul Graham, the content of Unqualified Reservations etc. etc. and while I can consciously accept this, there seems to be some mental block. How do you go "that's sufficient" and release it into the wild?
There's two basic approaches to being successful as a writer. The first, we could call the "Paul Graham / Derek Sivers" approach. This is where you explore a lot of ideas privately, go forward with the best ideas you have, and edit and polish the hell out of everything before you release it into the world. If you do this, and you've got talent as a writer, and you've got important ideas - then you're going to consistently only release masterpieces.
The second way is to just write a hell of a lot and know that a number of the things you write will turn out quite well, but your average quality level will be much lower. We could call this the "write every day no matter what" approach.