Tag Archives: keep going

How I Lost 30 Pounds In A Year (And You Can, Too).

Me on the left, at 225. Me on the right, at 195.

“Staying comfortable is the number one way to stay exactly where you are.” — Kate Matsudaira

In 2008, when I got my new driver’s license, I weighed in at 175 pounds. By the end of senior year, as I started to grow into myself, I hit 190. But I was still pretty darn skinny. I’m 6’5”, and at that height, people don’t really notice a belly until you start putting on serious weight.

But in Winter/Spring 2011, I was living at home, and I put on weight quickly. It wasn’t hard to do. I was living with my parents, and my parents were always putting food in front of me. We had Girl Scout cookies everywhere. My dad was trying to convince me to put whipped cream on chocolate milk before bed.

I wasn’t working out, and I didn’t belong to a gym.

The tipping point came in May. I went to my sister’s college graduation, and I realized that I could only fit into my suit if I sucked in — hard. None of my jeans fit anymore.

When I saw the scale — TWO HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE POUNDS! — I was shocked. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t realize it was that bad. It’d never weighed that much before.

But then three wonderful things happened. And by the end of Summer 2012, I was down to 195 lbs. I was in the best shape I’d ever been in, and I was also — not coincidentally — as happy as I’d ever been. In August, I finished a sprint triathlon.

There aren’t any secrets to losing 30 pounds in a year. There’s no mystery. All you need to do — and anyone can do them — are these three things:

1. Starting Cooking For Yourself — When you eat out — or when someone else cooks for you — it’s easy to put crap into your body. When I was at college, I always joked about the “Winter Break 15.” At home, I’d go on a diet of Thin Mints and leftovers, and I’d always come back to school a few pounds heavier. When you’re not cooking for yourself, you’re usually not thinking as much about what you’re eating.

When you start shopping for yourself, you start making better decisions. You start choosing good stuff to put in your shopping cart — fruits, vegetables, protein, grains — and start leaving out the junk.

And actually cooking the food helps, I’ve found. It makes you extra conscious of the stuff you’ve had other people sneaking into your food all these years — butter, fatty oils, etc. When you cook for yourself, you’ll start leaving those things out.

Cooking for yourself is how you can hold yourself fully accountable for what goes into your body.

2. Start Exercising — Again, there’s no magic here. The first thing I did when I moved out to Missouri was join a gym. I started going a couple of days a week for 45-60 minutes each morning. When I noticed my enthusiasm lagging, I hired a personal trainer to work with me twice a week. I find that I work out much better when others are doing it with me.

But I know that personal trainers — even in Columbia, Mo. — are expensive. So here’s an alternative: Find a class you can take. Find a group you can run with. Join a local league for soccer or frisbee. It’ll all help.

3. Create Routine — Any health pro can tell you this: Diets don’t work because diets don’t create routine. Go on South Beach for two months and you might lose 10 lbs., but as soon as you drop the diet, you’ll gain it all back.

Diets are like duct tape: They’re an okay temporary solution, but they’re not always pretty, and they’re certainly not something you should rely on for too long.

What you want is to build something lasting for yourself. Build out a block of time in every week to work out, and find time to go grocery shopping once or twice a week. The more you shop, the more likely you are to buy stuff like fresh vegetables, and the less likely you are to stock up on the frozen stuff.

The longer you keep all of these things going, the better. Work begets work. Healthy habits beget healthy living.

Getting in shape doesn’t need to be a mystery. It requires a lot of work. It requires a certain persistence — you absolutely have to be willing to put one foot in front of the other, and again, and again, and again.

But something wonderful comes at the end of all of it.

A month ago, I went to a wedding with a friend. She had made fun of me a year earlier for having to buy bigger jeans.

So this time, before I hopped on the plane to see her, I stopped at Old Navy. I discovered I’d dropped a full size — from a 38 waist to a 36.

When I finally saw her, I showed off the new belly. The word “astonished” came out of her mouth.

You can earn that kind of reaction, too. Just do these three things — cook, exercise, and create a routine — and keep it going. That’s the roadmap to getting yourself into the shape you want.

It is not magic. In fact, it’s a little bit boring.

But I’m living proof: It gets results.

Run Your Own Race.

Kelly Fogarty

“At 25, if I was sitting at this desk speaking with you, as pompous as the things I have to say are now, they would be millions of times more pompous and inappropriate.” — Scott Avett

I’m 25, and it feels weird to say that. I haven’t been quite sure what 25 means — it doesn’t have the significance that turning 13, or 18, or 21 had for me — but it definitely means something.

And then I read something that really captured the experience of 25 for me:

“At 25, you will feel drastically more mature than some people you know, embarrassingly less put-together than others, and acutely aware of these imbalances in lifestyle, career, and consciousness between you and the friends you used to feel absolutely in sync with … Your 20s is supposed to be a time of rapid growth and development in every area of your everything, but we don’t always — in fact, rarely ever — evolve along the same timeline. And so we lose pace with each other.”

And that’s it! I have friends who are 25 and who own their own home and are married. I have friends who are 25 and who have kids. I have friends who are 25 and have graduated from law school, and I have friends who are 25 and taking the LSATs. I have friends who are 25 and who have started their own companies. I have friends who are 25 and who are permanently unemployed and live with their parents.

It’s weird to think about that, too. Some of these friends I’ve known since I preschool. We grew up together. We went through all the same life stages together. When one of us took the SATs, we all took the SATs. When one of us was getting internships or summer jobs, we all were going through it.

Then we graduated, and we all went different directions.

When I think about my friends at 25, I think about a 400-meter race. When you watch that race, each of the runners starts at a different point on the track. At first, it’s tough to tell who’s going really fast and really slow. The curve screws up your perspective.

It’s not until the straightaway that everything comes into focus.

I get jealous, sometimes, when I see 25 year olds who are way ahead of where I am. I get competitive. How’d that person pull off a book deal at 25? How’d they get a movie done? How’d they make their first million already?

But then I remember that this isn’t a 400-meter race. We’re not all shooting for the same end goal.

We’re all on different paths. We’re all running our own races at our own speeds.

It’s tough to tell where each of us is going now. It’s only with time — a decade, maybe more — that we’ll start to understand where we’ve been going.

In the meantime, what really matters is that we keep going. We keep putting one foot in front of the other.

It’s not easy being 25. But the road ahead doesn’t get easier. Stop worrying about what everybody else is doing and focus on what you’re doing.

I’m 25, and I’m pledging today to run my own race.

That photo of runners via.

Go Chasing Waterfalls.

Waterfall near Ballachulish

“Don’t go chasing waterfalls / Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to / I know that you’re gonna have it your way or nothing it all / But I think you’re moving too fast.” — TLC

With all due respect to the wise women of TLC:

Screw that.

This is the time to go chasing those big dreams in your life — those waterfalls way off in the distance. I don’t care if you’re 21 or 31 or 81. This is the time you have right now. This is all the time you know you have.

This is when things get done.

I remember when I started Stry.us. I told myself: I’m 23. I’m young, I’m without debt, and I don’t have a family. If there’s a time to try something crazy, it’s now.

The idea for Stry.us lingered. I thought about it all the time. It didn’t let go.

I knew I had to face up to it.

I tell other young people the same thing: Right now, while you’re free of responsibility, this is the time to do something big. If it scares you, that’s a good thing. Fear’s often the way you know something is worth doing.

But I’m also starting to see people of all ages — and with all types of real responsibility — making big leaps. I see them chasing opportunity when it presents itself. I seem them refusing to idle.

Great things come with great ambition — and great hustle, and great tribes, and great skills, and great luck, and great passion.

This is me giving you permission to go screw things up. To try crazy things. Yeah, things will get weird along the way. It happens to all of us.

Keep going. Dream big.

Chase your waterfalls.

That shot of waterfalls come via Peter Hunter.

Anthony’s Lesson: Onward, We Go.

“If I’ve gotta make it, I’ll make it.” — Anthony Tryba

I called Anthony last night. I first met him two years ago in Biloxi. He said he had a Katrina story to tell me.

Did he ever.

Anthony rode out Katrina on his roof, a few hundred yards from the Gulf of Mexico, clutching the branches of a tree. There is no logical reason why Anthony survived. One of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history passed through his town, and he rode it out on his roof.

His home flooded. Everything he had was taken from him.

Everything but his life.

So with Hurricane Isaac passing over the Gulf Coast last night, I called Anthony to say hello. I was worried about him. He picked up on the fourth ring. No, he told me, he wasn’t evacuating. If there was a worry on his mind, it was that the power would go out and all the TV dinners in his freezer would go bad.

He reminded me not to worry. I asked him if he was scared. Nah, he told me. “If I’ve gotta make it, I’ll make it.”

I think about Anthony’s story sometimes. I think about it on my worst days, the days when I’m frustrated. I think about Biloxi, and I think about Joplin. I think about a story I wrote many years back on Herman Boone, the “Remember the Titans” coach.

I think about the things that have happened to these men and women on their worst days.

They have seen things, felt things, heard things that I hope to never feel. They have felt pain that I hope to never feel.

My worst day doesn’t come close.

Neither does yours, I hope.

I know this: We all struggle with work. We all have bad days.

But we all need stories like Anthony’s. We need reminders of just how bad things are elsewhere, and how lucky we are to have the opportunity to live these lives and do this work. We need reminders that all of this can be taken from us at any moment. We need perspective. Our chaos and struggle is almost always minor. In a few hours, the anger or the frustration often fades.

Right now, Anthony Tryba is riding out another hurricane in Biloxi, Miss. I do not know how he finds the courage to go on. But he does.

We must too.

Onward, we go. For Anthony. For the Anthonys in your life.

For all of us.

Want To Start Doing Better Work? Set A Schedule.

“Decision is power.” — Tony Robbins

I’ve kept a private collection of writings for the past two years. I was fishing through that collection the other day when I found something that surprised me. A year ago this month, as I headed out to start my fellowship at RJI, I wrote this:

“Dad’s been asking me about what my schedule will look like at Mizzou. It’s something I’ve been thinking about, too. I know I want to get up early. I want to hit the phones. I want to write. I want to study. I want to read. I want to find time to be normal, to unwind, to exercise. But an exact schedule? I don’t know yet. I’ll have to decide soon, though.”

It’s funny to imagine now. A year ago, I didn’t have a schedule.

I woke up… whenever. I worked… whenever.

I was, in one word: Unspeakablylazyohmygodwasthatreallyme?

This was the single biggest mistake I made after I left Biloxi. I stopped sticking to a routine. I stopped waking up at a specific time. I stopped having a plan.

I started waiting for things to happen, instead of making things happen.

I stopped doing the work every single day — and the work has to get done every single day.

I’m telling you right now: Don’t be this guy.

Everyone can do great work. But first, you must start with this: By creating routine.

At a normal job, routine often feels like death. It sucks the life out of you.

But when you’re building or creating something, routine gives you essential structure. Studies show that if you give yourself a routine, your body starts to learn when it’s time to work. And by keeping a sleep schedule, your body learns how to recover for the next day’s work.

When you get off that routine, your body gets confused.

Ever been on vacation for a few days and then tried to return to work? That feeling — that struggle — is what happens when you lose your work routine. It can take days to get back into the flow of work.

Our bodies demand that flow — and demand that we stay in it.

The hard truth is that work does not just happen by accident. It cannot happen whenever you feel like making it happen. If you’re just sitting around waiting for inspiration, you will be sitting a long time.

You have to commit to the work. You have to make the choice to build a structure for yourself. A wake-up time. A bed time. A plan for the day.

You have to build the structure on which great work happens.

There’s a section in Andre Agassi’s great autobiography, “Open,” that I really loved. He’s talking about losing his focus and slipping in the rankings. He makes a choice. It’s time to change. He writes:

“And yet. Our best intentions are often thwarted by external forces – forces that we ourselves set in motion long ago. Decisions, especially bad ones, create their own kind of momentum, and momentum can be a bitch to stop. Even when we vow to change, even when we sorrow and atone for our mistakes, the momentum of the past keeps carrying us down the wrong road. Momentum rules the world. Momentum says: Hold on, not so fast, I’m still running things here. As a verse in a Greek poem goes: “The minds of the everlasting gods are not changed suddenly.””

This is the reason why New Year’s resolutions are so easily broken. A simple pledge one day is just the start of change. If intention and repeated effort aren’t paired together, the result is often failure.

The decision is yours. Change does not merely happen. It starts by creating a schedule and creating a plan. It starts by creating a platform on which work can get done.

It starts by committing — to that schedule, to work.

Don’t go at half speed. Don’t waste time before starting.

The sooner you get a plan in motion, the sooner the real work can begin.

That alarm clock photo comes via @juliaworthy134.

How Long Are You Willing To Suck?

The Exorcist Stairs

“Put yourself out there and give yourself permission to suck. That’s not to say you should try to suck, but you have to give yourself permission to allow for the possibility of sucking. Without sucking, you’re never going to find your boundaries, and you’ll never push through those boundaries. That’s all it is.” — Michael Ian Black

You aren’t going to like this blog post. I can tell you that already. I think the message in here is ultimately uplifting, but I’m guessing you’re not going to see it that way.

Here goes anyway:

If you want to do anything good in this world, you are going to have to suck at it for a very long time.

If you want to be a great stand-up comic, you’re going to have to get on stage a lot and bomb. If you want to be a great guitarist, you are going to have to spend a long time struggling with basic chords. If you want to be a great writer or a great businessman or a great athlete, you’re going to have to deal with one simple truth:

Before you can get any good, you have to suck. Unless you’re a born genius, this is just how it works.

First you start. Then you struggle. Then you struggle some more.

And then, maybe waaaaaaay down the road, if you’re able to accept the sucking and push through, you might get to a point where you actually get kinda good.

And then you’re going to suck some more, and some more.

And some more.

And then maybe, somewhere even further down the road: Success! Breakthroughs! Money! (1)

I promise you that if you have the right ingredients in place — passion, hustle, skills, time and a strong tribe — hard work will lead you somewhere great.

But first, you’re going to go through a lot of this:

That very scene has happened to anyone who’s tried to do anything great. Doubt happens. Fear happens. Struggle happens.

To all of us.

I just got finished with “American on Purpose,” Craig Ferguson’s autobiography. Craig’s a guy who’s made it — he has his own TV talk show, and he’s done stand-up for the President of the United States. He’s doing alright for himself.

But when you read his autobiography, the first 70 percent of the book is all about how much things sucked for him in the first 15 years of his career. He joined bands, and they sucked. He started in stand-up with a character called Bing Hitler — Bing Freaking Hitler! — and you can imagine how much that sucked at the start. He had audience members actually fight him on stage during his stand-up routine. That’s how much they hated him when he started.

For a two week stretch in Edinburgh, he slept in phone booths at the train station. He sucked so much on stage, he couldn’t afford a hotel room on the road.

He kept going. He got some good breaks. He caught a lot of bad ones. He just kept pushing on.

Today, after a lot of sucking, he has his own TV show — and even when he started that, critics told him that he’d suck at it.

Face it: Doing great work isn’t easy. It takes time. It takes persistence. It takes stubbornness.

But maybe above all, it takes a certain faith in the journey, and it takes an ability to bounce back from many, many tiny failures.

Promise yourself that you’ll keep going. Don’t let the first or the 50th or the 500th failure stop you. The longer you’re willing to suck, the wider the window you give yourself to do something great.

Greatness is out there for all of us — as long as we keep on pushing through.

Those photos of the stairs from ‘The Exorcist’ were taken by Matthew Straubmuller.

  1. I can’t guarantee that last part, actually. Sorry.

You Will Screw Up Over And Over Again. (And That’s Okay.)

“I would not change a thing because if I did, I wouldn’t be me and I’m really glad to be me. There are a hundred things I regret; there are 75 things I could do over, but I wouldn’t because that would mess up what I ended up with.” — Seth Godin

Endings tend to bring about this sense of nostalgia in me. Four years ago this month, I was finishing up my stint covering the Olympics from Beijing. Two years ago this month, I was midway through my summer in Biloxi.

I look back now on these versions of me — four years ago, two years ago — and I laugh.

Who was I? What the hell was I doing?

And I wonder, as Stry.us’s work in Springfield comes to a close this month: Will I look back two years from now on Springfield and wonder the same thing?

I’m guessing I will.

Time isn’t good for much, but it’s wonderful for giving you perspective. It’s hard to know in the moment what’s happened. With time, truth reveals itself.

I was talking to a former boss of mine yesterday, and we were laughing about all the stuff I screwed up at my old job. I was just out of college, and I was pretty raw. She watched as I messed things up over and over again. I confessed over the phone that looking back, I’m not really sure how she put up with me.

I was hugely ambitious, and maybe even a tiny bit talented, but I was also largely unaware of what was really going on in the office. This wasn’t the “no rules” world of start-ups. This was a newsroom, where actions have consequences.

I’m lucky to have had bosses who saw me as talented — and not as pure trouble. If you’re as lucky as I am, you’ll also work with people who believe in you and give you chances to try and try again.

Do I wish I could go back and keep myself from all that trouble? Certainly.

But I can’t. I can’t stop what’s already been done.

Besides, all of those mistakes, all of those screw-ups — they led me to here.

What’s done is done. But there are things I’ve learned you can do. You can take ownership of your mistakes. You can hold yourself responsible for what’s been done. You can take stock of what’s happened — and you can show others how you’ve grown.

Most of all, you can ask for help. For forgiveness. For an opportunity to prove yourself again.

This is a life of many, many little opportunities. You work hard for them. You will screw many of them up anyway. I certainly have.

But one or two will come along, and you’ll find the courage to make something awesome with them. You’ll find a way to define your greatness and then make it so.

So let the past be the past. Don’t hide from it, don’t run from it. And don’t let it stop you from what’s next.

Remember: We learn from the past. We make things happen in the present.

Onward we go.

That lovely photo of the road ahead comes via @stienz.

Finish What You Start.

I finished a sprint tri in Republic, MO.

“Courage can solve in 30 seconds what timidity can’t solve in 30 days.” — Steve Pavlina

Back in May, I started looking for a race. I knew that with Stry.us happening, I had plenty of business goals for the summer. What I didn’t have was an athletic goal to work toward.

So I started looking for a race. The 5Ks all seemed to fall on weekends when I’d be traveling for business. There were a few half marathons or marathons around the Ozarks, but there was no way I was doing one of those.

Then I found one that could work: The Republic Tiger Tri, taking place just around the block from Stry.us HQ. The race seemed straightforward: 300 yard swim, 12 mile bike, 5K run.

I signed up before I had a chance to convince myself that it was too crazy to do.

I spent the summer training. I did lots of running, lots of biking, and a weekly swim at the Republic pool. I did stuff I’d never done before: Kickboxing, intense weightlifting. Starting in July, I cut out beer and most sweets.

On Friday, when I picked up my race packet, I’ll admit that I was a little scared. Then I drove the bike course.

And I was a lot scared. Who knew the Ozarks had hills like these?

But I kept telling myself: You finish what you start, Dan. You signed up for a sprint triathlon. You thought this was gonna be easy?

I woke up at 5 on Saturday morning. I had everything packed in advance. I drove up to the race course. I got everything laid out in the transition area. The PA announcer called everyone to the pool.

And then I looked at my stuff, and I realized I was missing something:

A bike helmet.

There were 400 people competing in this thing, and I was the only one dumb enough to forget a bike helmet.

But I didn’t panic. Hell, I’m the guy who’s written a blog series called “The Things I Think About When Every Fucking Thing Goes Wrong.” I called Sarah, one of my reporters. I talked to the volunteer in the parking lot and one of the volunteers at the finish line. We coordinated a plan. Sarah would bring the bike helmet up to the course, and the volunteers would get it to my bike. It would be there waiting for me when I got out of the water.

Problem solved.

I grabbed my goggles and started to run up to the pool. They’d be putting in swimmers one at a time, and I’d be in the middle of the pack. I had a bit of time before I started the swim.

And then my goggles exploded.

Maybe exploded isn’t the right word. Disintegrated might be more appropriate.

I was running up to the pool, holding my goggles in my right hand, and the strap just snapped.

I was left holding the lenses and nothing else.

Oh, hell.

But that’s alright, I told myself. You finish what you start. And I’m the guy who believes that the harder the journey, the better the reward.

I found a volunteer, and she found the head lifeguard at the pool. I just need something functional to swim in, I told him. I’ll swim in a snorkel mask if I have to.

He did me one better: He found an extra pair of goggles from another lifeguard.

Second problem solved.

I got myself in line, right in the middle of a group that expected to swim the 300 yards in 6:30. I started talking to the guy in front of me. He was telling me about how he’d run a marathon last year in Fayetteville, Ark. — at an 8:20 pace!

I was blown away. I wish I could run like that, I told him. Of course, I said, you’re a bit lighter than me.

He weighed about 140 pounds.

That’s not quite true, he told me. Two years ago this month, he weighed 255 pounds. He went to the fair in Springfield with his daughter, and the fair wouldn’t let him on the rides. He was too fat.

He’d had enough, he said.

So one step at a time, one day at a time, he started working it off. He gave himself big goals. Hit 200 and he’d buy a pickup truck. Go lower and he’d try a big race.

He’s now the owner of a new truck. He’s run a marathon. They let him on the rides at the fair. He doesn’t have to worry about being the “fat dad” at school anymore.

Suddenly, listening to his story, all the chaos of my morning got a lot less complicated. His story put everything in perspective for me.

He’d had to change his life to get here. I’d put in the work this summer — but nothing quite like that.

I had no excuses. I just had to finish what I’d started four months earlier.

I finished my sprint tri on Saturday in 1:26:56 — and I brought it home with a 27:10 5K. I nailed the swim. I conquered the bike, and all those hills I was terrified of the day before.

And when I hit that run, everything hurt. I started feeling muscles in my legs that I didn’t know I had.

For the run, I turned to one final source of inspiration. I thought about what my sister had told me on Friday. She’s run a couple of half marathons. She’s one of the toughest people I know.

A race like this is 90 percent mental, she’d told me. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Eventually, all those little steps will take you somewhere.

So I took her advice. I pushed hard through the run. I kept my head up and my feet moving.

And damn if it didn’t feel good when I crossed that finish line and had the race official hand me my time. Damn if it didn’t feel good to see Sarah running up to give me a giant hug, her yelling out, “I can’t believe you just did that! I can’t believe you just did that!”

Damn if it doesn’t feel good to be able to say now: I finished what I started.

Learning To Solve For X.

“Impossible is only true until you prove it otherwise.” — Tanner Christensen

There’s this thing I tell people often, whenever the bill comes or whenever a series of numbers get laid out on the table.

“I’m not very good at math,” I’ll say.

This is a standard journalism line. Journalists all say they’re bad at math. (1)

But I wasn’t always lousy at math. Actually, I’ll confess that I used to like it.

I remember when math made sense to me. Algebra was a wonderfully simple thing: Look at an equation, locate the parts, break them down and then just solve for x.


There were nuances, sure, and tricks to help you get there faster. But ultimately, finding that “x” was all that mattered.

I look back now and realize that my worldview was inadvertently shaped by forces like algebra. It taught me to be a problem solver.

As a kid, I never dreamed of changing the world. I never wanted to be an astronaut or a firefighter or the President. I can’t remember any major ambition or goal from my childhood, really.

Mostly, I wanted to do my schoolwork well, and score a couple of goals at soccer games, and wake up early enough on Saturday mornings for cartoons.

Modest goals, all.

Every day started by sorting out the variables and finding “x” in my daily life. “X” meant learning how to the work I needed to do to get the grades I wanted. “X” meant finding new ways to score on the field. “X” meant discovering that I could leave my blinds open on Friday night so the light would quietly wake me on Saturday morning and I could tip-toe downstairs to watch TV.

In my little corner of the universe, I wasn’t focused on changing the world. I was all about making little things happen — locating “x,” and then solving for it.

The “x” has gotten more difficult to find over the years. The challenges have gotten bigger. The variables have gotten more complicated. I feel so lucky to have these challenges in my life.

But the bigger the problem, the smaller the steps that need to be taken to solve for “x.” There are no big breakthroughs or magic bullets, I’ve found, just thousands of small steps.

It never hurts to have big goals. But the only way to achieve them is through doing small things, through solving for “x” over and over again — until all those little answers add up to the breakthrough you wanted all along.

Photo at top via @iheartstana.

  1. This is probably a bad sign for an industry that’s starting to focus more and more on the bottom line.

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.


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 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.


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 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.


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.