Tag Archives: blog manifestos

I Am 29 Years Old. This Is What I Believe.

us

I am 29 years old, and I’m learning how to be grateful for the life I have. The truth is, I don’t know what happens next. I don’t know what I’ll be doing next year, or where I’ll be working. I don’t know if the big decisions that are just ahead for me and my wife are ones we’ll be making sooner or later. All I know is that this year, the changes kept coming, and there’s still more to come. A year ago, I wrote: “By the time I write the 2016 version of this post, things could be very, very different.” If only I’d known how right I’d be!

But with all the uncertainty, I keep coming back to one thought: I’m a truly lucky guy. I get to come home every day to my wife and share a home with her. I am so grateful to have married someone so kind and big-hearted and silly and wonderful — and have married into a family equally warm and generous.

I know I’m grateful to have siblings I can count on, and parents who have always supported me — even when others lost faith. My wife and I are especially lucky to have such incredible friends, a group that keeps us anchored even when everything around us seems to change. We have good-paying, stable jobs. We have our health.

We really do have a lot to be thankful for.

And the older I get, the more I understand how important it is to find a few moments every day for gratitude. There is a lot we can’t control about our world. Best not to worry about all that, and instead be grateful for the lives we have and the company we keep.

Over the past year, there are certain things I’ve come to believe hold true. I know that my beliefs will continue to change. I know that I will change.

But here, at 29, is what I believe:

What you say matters. What you do matters more. How you treat people matters most.

Ask more questions. There’s always more to learn.

Words to live by: It takes a lot to know a little.

If you wait until you’re 100% ready to try something, you’re already too late.

Read more. The smartest people I know are always reading, and especially reading things that challenge them.

Travel more. Travel to places that inspire you, and travel to places that make you uncomfortable. Travel isn’t just for vacation — it’s also an opportunity to learn.

A great wedding has three things: Enough food, enough drink, and enough dancing. That’s it. Everything else is just for show.

Be someone who gives wedding gifts months before the wedding. As soon as you find a couple’s registry, buy them something, and make it something they’ll use. They won’t remember most of the things they got, but they’ll remember your gift, and they’ll love you for it..

Thanksgiving leftovers > Thanksgiving dinner (and it’s not even close).

Some things are worth spending a little extra money on: A direct flight. A comfortable bed. Nice shoes. Pay a little extra now, or pay for it in time or pain later.

Ever been in a room where you look around and realize, “I have something to learn from everyone in here”? That’s a great feeling.

You don’t need permission to do the best things in life — to get dinner with a friend, to call someone you care about, to try something new.

And most of all: Nobody knows what happens next. So don’t wait. Get moving. The good stuff is worth working for.

I Am 28 Years Old. This Is What I Believe.

the entire family

I am 28 years old, and everything is about to change — again. That’s what happens when things start to seem settled in your life. You meet a girl, and she’s amazing. You move in together. You’re in a job you like, and you’ve been doing it well for a long time. (Well, “long” as far as internet standards go.) Things are good!

And then you look at the calendar year ahead and realize: You have 11 weddings to go to next year. Eleven! And one of them is yours! Your friends are having kids and buying homes. You drive through the suburbs and think, Having more space might not be so bad!

It hasn’t all happened yet. But it’s happening. By the time I write the 2016 version of this post, things could be very, very different.

For now, though, there’s 28, and it’s been an incredible year. Over the past year, there are certain things I’ve come to believe hold true. I know that my beliefs will continue to change. I know that I will change.

But here, at 28, is what I believe:

The hardest part of the work isn’t getting it going — it’s keeping it going, week after week, year after year.

End results matter, but the routines and processes you use to get there are so much more important. Master those, and the results you want will come more often than not.

When you stop feeling like a little like an impostor at work, that means it’s probably time to take on a brand new challenge. You should always have something to prove.

There are so many big, weird ideas I want to try. I’m just waiting for the right teams and the right time to try them with.

Inbox Zero is too hard. Shoot for, like, Inbox Twelve. It’s more do-able.

The no. 1 secret to wedding-related sanity: Stay the hell off Pinterest.

Travel reveals who you really are when things get stressful. So if you’re dating someone, and you’re thinking about popping the question, and you haven’t taken a big trip, well: Maybe it’s time to see how much a round trip for two to Thailand costs.

I don’t know what happens at my alma mater next, but I do know this: We stood up for Michael Sam. We stood up for Jonathan Butler. We can stand up for a whole lot more, Mizzou.

Once a week, reach out to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Write an email. Send a text. Or (and this sounds crazy): Make an actual phone call! The 15 minutes you spend laughing and catching up might be the best 15 minutes of your week.

I still think this is the year my Washington Capitals are going to win it all.

Screw “Fake it ‘till you make it.” Don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t. Recognize your weaknesses. Be willing to say: “I don’t know — but I can find out.” There’s power in that.

I used to say, “Define your greatness, and go out and do it.” Now I see it a little differently. First, you’ve got to define what success means. Because if you don’t know how to define it, how will you know when you’ve achieved it?

Friday is my 10-year high school reunion. On the day I graduated, I had never held a smartphone before. Never even owned an iPod. Never blogged. Never tweeted. Never posted a photo or a video online. Never downloaded an app. Never started a video chat. I don’t know what the next 10 years will bring, but I know it’s going to be amazing.

And most of all: I know change is scary for some. But when I think about Sally and the things we want to do together, I’m not scared at all. I’m excited.

Bring it on.

———

In that photo at top, from left to right: Sam, Mom, Dad, Sally, and El. Love you, guys.

I Am 26 Years Old. This Is What I Believe.

me

I am writing this from a bus on the New Jersey Turnpike, headed south for Thanksgiving. I wrote this post for the first time two years ago. I was 24, and in a major period of transition in my life. I wrote it last year from D.C., in transition to my life in New York.

And now I’m 26, and so much has changed. I’m settled in New York. I’ve got a job I love, and I’m lucky to have a lot of amazing people in my life. I met a girl. Things are really different this year — and really great.

Over the past year, there certain things I’ve come to believe hold true. I know that my beliefs will continue to change. I know that I will change.

I am 26, and this is what I believe:

You can tell a lot about a person by the quality of his/her friends. Great people always surround themselves with the best. Always.

The good stuff is worth sharing.

Know the difference between what you want and what you need. Ask for the latter.

If you can show it in a spreadsheet, you can sell it. And if you can pair that data with a great story, you’ve really got something.

Jealousy just isn’t worth the time. Ever.

Deal with things as they come. Shit happens — but it’s far easier to deal with it now than to let a lot of things pile up and overwhelm you.

Be skeptical. Especially when it comes to things you read on the internet.

There isn’t a skyline that makes me as happy as the one over Washington, D.C. But New York City’s is getting pretty close.

Everyone is asking themselves, What the hell am I doing? It’s not just you.

I don’t always know that I’m on the right track. But people keep coming to me for advice and help, and it makes me think that I must be doing something right.

You get there when you get there. Work hard, but don’t rush.

Have something to show for your work. An end product. A lesson. Something.

And one more thing, and I mean this in the sappiest, Lifetime-movie-of-the-week-iest way: Until you know, you don’t really know what you’ve been missing out on all along.

People + Things.

There is a quote that I’ve been carrying around for a few years now. It’s one of the few core things I believe.

My little manifesto goes:

“In this life, find things you love, and people you love, and make time for both.”

Everywhere I’ve gone, it’s worked for me. It’s not exactly the most complicated formula, but it makes sense. And as long as I’ve stuck to it, I’ve been happy.

The “people” part is something that everyone gets. But it’s the “things” part that people misunderstand.

Things have to be passions or hobbies. They have to active. Not necessarily physically active — one of my things is seeing live music, and I see a lot of it — but it has to be you, out in the world, doing something.

If you try to replace activity with the other type of things — your possessions, your stuff — the formula doesn’t really work.

Shopping might make you happy. But just having clothes? Probably not.

Owning a big TV doesn’t really do much. But inviting friends over for movie night on your flat screen? That’ll do.

Look: Good things happen to those who actually do stuff. So be active. Make time for the things and the people you love.

It’s not exactly Gandhi-level thought, but I promise you, it works.

I Am 25 Years Old. This Is What I Believe.

I am 25 years old, and I’m going through a period of transition in my life. I know, I know: I wrote the same thing last year. And when I sit down to write this post next year, there’s a good chance I’ll say the same thing.

Yes, I know: The mid-20s are an unstable time — there isn’t anything yet to anchor me down (a family, a home, a city, a career). Things are changing, and that’s been a good thing. Change has brought me some really amazing opportunities.

At age 25, there are certain things I’ve come to believe hold true. I know that my beliefs will change. I know that I will change.

But here, at 25, is what I believe.

I believe that…

• People who hustle are the best kinds of people.
• There is nothing quite like the feeling of “done.”
• Respect must be earned. Passion must be shared. Rules must be ignored.
• People who refuse to talk things out are people who don’t belong in your life.
• Nothing good has ever come from a “reply all” email.
• The same goes for reading YouTube comments.
• Next year really is our year, Nats fans.
• When you’re “close,” that just shows you have far you still have to go.
• There really shouldn’t be people in the workforce who are younger than me, but there are. And that’s because you’re getting old, Dan. Just deal with it.
• We need more people who are willing to be kind.
• We need more people who are willing to struggle.
• We need more people who are willing to serve.

And most of all: Today is a work day. Today, we must do great work. It’s our time.

The Magic Equation: Work = Passion + Hustle + Skills + Time + Tribe.

“I find the courage to follow my dreams because I don’t have any other choice.” — Karol Gajda

 
Let it be known: I love doing the work.

I love it. I love showing up each day to make things happen. I love the feeling at the end of the day when I know I’ve done good work.

But when I talk about “the work,” I’m not talking about the day-to-day tasks and duties. I’m not talking about the bullet points.

The work is so much bigger than that. What I’m talking about is The Work — the thing you do to make a dent in this universe.

The work starts with five things. It is a simple equation:

Work = Passion + Hustle + Skills + Time + Tribe

 
Some people have one, maybe two of those things down. A lot of entrepreneurs have the first three, but they don’t have the time or the tribe, and without those, projects die.

If you can find a way to put all five together together, you’ll have magic.
 

Passion

Do you love showing up to put in the hours? Are you excited about what you do? Do you truly care?

Matt Rutherford’s a case study in passion. This year, he circumnavigated the Americas on a 27-foot sailboat — by himself, without stopping. A fellow sailor who’d done the journey — on a much larger boat, and with a small crew — described Rutherford like this:

“What Matt is trying to do, I’m absolutely blown away by it, He’s doing this in a boat that, frankly, I’d be scared to sail from Newport to Bermuda. I’m in awe of the guy. This is such a mammoth undertaking, and to do it without stopping — alone — is mind-boggling. It’s almost teetering on the edge of blood-insanity, frankly.”

That’s the kind of passion I’m talking about: the kind of passion that would drive your fellow colleagues to question your own sanity. Great work will push you to limits others say can’t be reached. Without crazy passion, you’ll listen to them — and turn back before the journey’s up.

Love — with every bit of you — what you do. It’s the only way to convince yourself to do what should be impossible.
 

Hustle

Hustle often gets confused with speed, and that’s not quite right. Hustle isn’t about working faster. It’s about working harder. It’s about putting in those extra hours, and making a few extra things happen each day.

Hustle means setting your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier every morning to make time for a big task. It means staying at the office 15 minutes later to make that extra call. Over the course of the year, all those 15 minutes add up.

The Olympics have given us story after story of athletes who hustle: the soccer player who has a bad game and then turns in 10 straight days of four-hour work sessions to prove to her coach that she’s ready for the Games; the gymnast who takes an extra job as a teenager so can he support his family while he works towards London.

Hustle is one of the true game-changers in this world. Hustle is the physical manifestation of passion. It’s the way you show how hard you’re willing to go to do work you love.
 

Skills

What skills do you already have? And what do you need to learn in order to do better work?

The greats go and practice their skills every day, and they get better. Over time, skills get honed, refined and perfected.

Skills can be learned. You have no excuse: To do great work, you must make learning a priority.

If you’re not constantly evaluating your own skills, you’re not thinking about what you can do to do better work.
 

Time

Time cannot be accrued; it can only be lost.

So do you have time to do the work you need to do? There’s a reason many of the greats preach the virtues of saying “no” to time-consuming requests. There’s a reason the greats say something like this nearly every day:

But we can’t. We get the time we have. And every day is one less day.

Great work requires all the time you have. Start immediately.
 

Tribe

The final piece of the work, and the least obvious. Your tribe encompasses the people who believe in you and support you. They are your friends, your family, your co-workers, your mentors. They are the people who love the work you do.

Everyone who does great work has a tribe. Together, with your work and their support, you can make things happen that you alone cannot do. Work is best shared.

But you must be willing to ask for help, and you need that tribe there to help you find the answers.

Find your tribe and show them how important they are to you. They will give it back to you ten-fold.

¶ ¶ ¶

So that’s your equation: Passion + Hustle + Skills + Time + Tribe. Put those five together and — I promise you — you will do great work. Some of it will break through, and some of it will not. Luck and timing will play a role.

But if you have those five things, you have the formula.

Now it’s up to you to make the work happen.

Today, I urge you: Do great work.

That photo of the work getting done comes from @pyensan.

Ferris Bueller, You’re Still My Hero.

I had a Twitter back-and-forth with Therese Schwenkler last week. She’d just written an awesome post about Derek Zoolander and finding yourself.

And I joked: “Zoolander” is a classic, but I think my lifestyle (and Stry.us) is more based on “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

Except I wasn’t really kidding.

There’s a whole lot of Ferris in everything I’ve been doing these last two years. The attitude. The rejection of norms. The inability to play by any sort of rules.

Seriously, it’s all there.

But don’t take my word for it. Take Ferris’s:

Ferris: Hey, Cameron. You realize if we played by the rules right now we’d be in gym?

The rules were laid out pretty clearly for me in high school: Get good grades. Get a good SAT score. Go to a good school. Get a good job. Go to a good grad school. Get a better job. Have kids. Coach a soccer team. Send your kids through the same cycle. Retire. Move to Boca.(1)

I can’t remember a single class that taught me that doing what I’m doing now was possible. I was trained to go out and be a part of the existing workplace, to serve my bosses well, and to maybe get the chance to work my way up to boss one day.

This? They mentioned lawyer, doctor and firefighter, but they never mentioned this.

If I played by the rules, I’d be out in the journalism world starting a second or third job as a professional Facebooker by now. Instead, I’m building a start-up.

So I’m not big on rules these days. I think we make our own rules around here.

Cameron: Okay Ferris, can we just let it go, please?
Sloane: Ferris, please. You’ve gone too far. We’re going to get busted.
Ferris: A: You can never go too far. B: If I’m gonna get busted, it is not gonna be by a guy like that.

There have been times when I’ve been told it’s time to give this up. It’s gone on too long. It’s gone too far.

Hell, no.

Every time I get that sense, I push it even a little further. I’m not going to let the doubters keep me from taking Stry.us as far as I can take it.

Our site’s getting old? Let’s build the most beautiful new news website on the planet. Our team’s not big enough? Let’s hire a few guys. Hell, let’s hire five.

Let’s try some live events. Maybe one live events partner’s not enough. Let’s find another.

Let’s tell some stories online. And while we’re at it, let’s syndicate ’em. Online. And in print. And hey, why not?: Let’s do it on the radio, too.

All that’s happening this summer with Stry.us.

Ferris was right: Don’t set limits for yourself. Break beyond them.

Ferris: Look, it’s real simple. Whatever mileage we put on, we’ll take off.
Cameron: How?
Ferris: We’ll drive home backwards.

Yeah, I had a couple of crazy ideas when I started Stry.us. Some worked. Most didn’t.

The crazy ideas keep coming. I’m not sure if any of them will work, but I’m going to push my team to try them anyway. One or two might turn into something big.

Do first, ask for forgiveness later.

Cameron: We’re pinched, for sure.
Ferris: Only the meek get pinched. The bold survive.

One of my earliest Ferris lessons: Get yourself out of a jam once and you’ll know you can do it again.

And again.

And again.

I’m not trying to end up in trouble. I swear I’m not.

It’s just that… trouble sometimes finds me. And when it does, it’s good to know that I’ve always been juuuuuuust smart enough to get myself out of it in the past.

Knowing that I can find an escape again helps in tricky situations.

Ferris: This is my ninth sick day this semester. It’s pretty tough coming up with new illnesses. If I go for ten, I’m probably going to have to barf up a lung, so I better make this one count.

Part of me keeps thinking about the end. About the untimely demise of Stry.us. I have this recurring fear — not a nightmare, just a fear — that somebody’s going to show up one day and tell me, straight up: Dan, it’s been a nice ride. But, uh, we made a mistake. It was supposed to be somebody else on this crazy journey. Turn in your press pass. You’re needed on the fryer at McDonald’s now.

I still might end up on the fryer. But I’m not going to go quietly. I’m going to do like Ryan Adams told me and burn up hard and bright.

Hell, I might end up in a place I didn’t expect/want, but I’m not going to spend my days there wondering what might’ve been if I’d just put in a little more work on Stry.us. I’m not going to leave any “what ifs” on the table. I’m trying everything I can right now.

Ferris: A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, “I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me.” Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus.

The -ism here: All those conventional journalism beliefs I was taught. Time to challenge them all.

And another thing: Be yourself! Not a bad lesson, either.

Ed Rooney: I did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind.

I like it when traditional news folks tell me that I’m messing with their shit. It means they’re scared of what I’m doing. And if they’re scared, that probably means I’m trying something a little bit risky.

Risky is good. Journalism needs some risk right now. It needs experimentation.

It needs something like Stry.us.

I’m not trying to leave anybody’s cheese out in the wind, but if we do this right, the Stry.us team might build something that saves somebody else’s bacon.

Ferris: Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

The best Ferris Bueller advice of all.

I’m 24, almost 25. I’m not waiting around for retirement here. I’m young, I’m dumb, I’m hungry. These are amazing years, and I’m trying to build something great with them.

So I tell you now: Be like Ferris. Be a little too bold. Get up and dance a little too hard. Drive a little too fast. Kiss the girl a little too long.

We may not be able to save Ferris, but I want to keep his spirit going.

Bueller? Bueller?

Yeah, he’s still alive here at Stry.us.

  1. Okay, maybe not the Boca part.

How I Fell In Love. For the First Time. For Forever, I Hope.

Love is in the air ! Literally !!

Something changed in me this year. I know, because I was on the phone with a friend a few weeks ago. I was telling her about all the work I’m putting in with Stry and Very Quotatious and the fellowship, and she didn’t say anything.

And then I saw her a few days later, and I told her that I was speaking at TEDxMU, and I mentioned that I’d started working out with a trainer for the Belly Challenge, and she just stared at me. It looked like she was trying to X-ray me, to look straight through me, to figure out whether or not she was talking to the Dan she used to know.

She knew something had changed. She knew that I’d started to find a new center.

I started to realize it, too. And I started to think about what had changed. And then it hit me. It feels like just a moment ago that I figured it out:

I fell in love.

And here I am writing it, and not caring how cheesy it sounds:

I fell in love.

And again, and again, because it is too wonderful not to say:

I fell in love.

I fell in love with the waking up in the morning absolutely full of awesome. With the feeling that I have when I’m absolutely exhausted after a workout. With the smile I have on my face when I cross something else off my TeuxDeux.

I fell in love with doing. I fell in love with building things. I fell in love with the work.

And then I started to notice a whole world full of fellow builders. Turns out I’d lived in this world the whole time, and I’d barely noticed.

I know now: We live in a world where amazing things happen. We live in a world where there are so many people putting the tiniest dents in the universe. We live in a world overstretched with awesome.

I used to be stressed, and I still am. But now, stress is good stress. Excited stress! The “We’ve got a deadline to make because we’ve got shit to do!” kind of stress.

I find myself smiling a lot. I find myself in front of journalism classes, running around and jumping on chairs and yelling about building things and being awesome, and the students look at me wondering how much Starbucks it takes to make me this loud at NINE FUCKING O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING ON A TUESDAY, and then I tell them that I don’t drink coffee, and they look at me like I am absolutely mad.

And I am. You have to as mad as I am to do the things that I want to do.

There is so much to do, and there is not enough time, but that’s okay. The truth is, there is enough time for now.

And the truth is: When you are as in love as I am, it feels like I have all the time I will ever need.

And the truth is: When you are as in love as I am, time hardly matters at all.

What we build is what matters, and time is only there to show how long it can last.

Buy Into Your Own Demise, or Make Things More Awesome. (Your Choice.)

Best Buy

Forbes ran a story on their website this week about Best Buy. The lead paragraph read:

“Electronics retailer Best Buy is headed for the exits. I can’t say when exactly, but my guess is that it’s only a matter of time, maybe a few more years.”

Then it went on to detail numerous problems with Best Buy’s supply chain.

Now, I have a friend who’s about to start a new job this year with Best Buy. She’ll be working with their supply chain. So I sent her the link.

Naturally, she was bummed. She started saying that, well, at least she’d get a nice line on her résumé out of the job. At least she wasn’t really planning on staying there all that long.

And that crushed me. Because it wasn’t too long ago that I was reading headlines like this about my own industry:

“Sometime soon, millions of people may find themselves unwittingly involved in a test that could profoundly change their daily routines, local economies and civic lives.

“They’ll have to figure out how to keep up with City Hall, their neighborhoods and their kids’ schools — as well as store openings, new products and sales — without a 170-year-old staple of daily life: a local newspaper.”

Newspapers and big-box stores: we’re not all that different. So I sent my soon-to-be-working-at-Best-Buy friend back an email. It read:

Hey, I work in journalism. My senior year, I every morning, I went to a site called Paper Cuts to see which newspapers were slashing newsroom jobs that day. I say this all the time: Journalism companies are in love with their own demise. Back then, I was too.

And looking back, I’m horrified. Why glorify your own downfall? We journalists have infinite tools at our disposal. Why not spend more time focusing on making journalism more awesome?

Anyway, I suppose that’s the challenge before you: Either buy into Best Buy’s slow demise, or get working at making everything you touch more awesome.

Time to get into the latter category. I hope my friend at Best Buy will. I hope my friends in journalism will, too.

(A Unified Vision Statement For All Current and Future Endeavours Into and) For the Creation of Awesomeness.

Not too long ago, I added a little note to the top of this very blog: “Dan is the creator of awesome stuff.” That’s not just some bro jargon I’m co-opting; I really mean that. I love creating stuff that’s both, A.) Cool, and B.) Useful, and when those two get together, the result is usually awesome. With everything I do, I’m shooting for awesome.

But I decided I needed a few more rules to help me in the creation process. I needed some rules to help me get from idea to awesome a little more quickly. And I needed rules to keep me from working on stuff that’s decidedly, you know… blah.

So I made a list. And here’s what’s on it for 2012:

1. Doing > trying.
2. So do shit.
3. Go fast.
4. Fail often.
5. Be curious.
6. Listen always.
7. Try impossible.
8. Build with love.
9. Serve people.
10. Don’t suck.

In 2012, that’s what I’ve got to live up to. 10 rules. Infinite challenges ahead.

Onto the next.