People Remember The Little Things.

Here's the note from Delta. In part, it reads: "We appreciate your loyalty, and wishing you and your family an amazing day."

On a Delta flight today, the flight attendant stopped by my row. “Mr. Oshinsky,” she said. “We wanted to thank you for your loyalty.” And then she handed me the note above.

“Aww, that’s nice,” I thought.

A few minutes later, the flight attendant stopped at the row in front of me and handed another passenger a similar handwritten note.

“Aww, that’s so kind,” she said.

And then I saw the flight attendant do the same for someone else a few rows ahead of me, and then for the passenger sitting beside me. All gave a big smile after reading it.

The notes were a tiny gesture — but the fact that someone took the time to hand write a few words of thanks felt meaningful. Had I gotten that exact same message in a marketing email from Delta, it probably would’ve felt far less powerful. The medium — a hand-written note — changed everything.

Those little things get remembered. Those little gestures often feel extra meaningful.

Sometimes, it’s a small act of kindness. Sometimes, it’s someone taking the time to make sure you feel seen and heard.

Whatever you do, do the big things well. But don’t forget about the little moments, too.

Only the Prepared Can Be Spontaneous.

Daddy walking his baby in a stroller in front of one of Stockholm's emblematic creamy façades in Södermalm.

One funny lesson from parenthood: In order to be spontaneous with the baby, we’ve learned we first have to be prepared.

Whenever we get home from being out with the baby, the first thing we do is prep the stroller to go out again. We’ll restock the diaper bag with new diapers and wipes. We’ll make sure all the stuff we need to feed the baby is clean and ready to go. We’ll add a fresh outfit to his bag if he wore the last one we’d packed.

Why? Because we want to be able to be spontaneous. We want to be able to meet friends out for a last-minute drink. We want to be able to go for a long walk in the park. We want to be able to stay out a little longer than we expected with the baby.

But that starts by being prepared. Imagine being out and about and wanting to do something spur-of-the-moment — but realizing that you’ve left a few key things at home? You’re probably not staying out — you’re heading home right away, and probably not heading back out.

I always want to be a more spontaneous person. But having a baby’s reminded me: The only way to be truly spontaneous is to be prepared for anything.


That photo of a stroller — which, I’ll note, doesn’t seem to have anything packed underneath — comes via José Jóvena and Unsplash.

Get the First Win.

This is a photo of white golf balls and red, white, and blue golf tees on a driving range.

I went to the driving range once and found myself next to a couple that was playing golf for the first time. They had an instructor with them, and within the first minutes of the lesson, he was walking them through the complex biomechanics of the swing. He was telling them that there were more than three dozen different parts of the swing, all of which had to work together. He was giving them tips from professional golfers. He was getting into the mental side of the game.

In the hour alongside them, I didn’t see either of them swing the club a single time. The entire lesson was on golf theory.

And I remember thinking: These people will never come back and try to play again — because they never had that first win.

Golf can be a frustrating game, and yes, a really good swing is a complex thing, but the reason you come back is because of the feeling that happens when you hit a really good shot. That feeling — the sound off of the club, the whoosh of the ball in the air, seeing the ball fly — is what every golfer chases. You come back to try to recreate that feeling, over and over again. Those first-time golfers weren’t going to hit a drive 250 yards or experience a perfect wedge shot, but they never even got the chance to try.

With anything you’re doing for the first time, you’re chasing that first win.

Maybe that first win is the first time someone compliments your work.

Maybe it’s the first dollar you make.

Maybe it’s the first time a lesson starts to click.

The goal is to get that first win as soon as you can. Because once you’ve gotten that first win, you’ve experienced a taste of what the work is for — and can decide whether you want to come back for more.


That’s a photo of golf balls and tees at a driving range. It was taken by Robert Ruggiero for Unsplash.

Let Everyone In.

Here's a photo I took during “Born to Run” at the Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band show on April 9, 2023, at UBS Arena. The house lights are up, and you can see the entire crowd dance and sing during the performance.

We saw Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band last week, and there’s a cool moment in the encore that Bruce and the band do at every show. Throughout the concert, the house lights are down, with just the spotlights on the band. But right as they break into “Born to Run,” the house lights go up — suddenly, you can see every single person in the arena.

And since the song is “Born to Run,” every person in the arena loses their damn mind. People spill out into the aisles, singing and dancing along. If you want to understand the concept of “dancing like no one’s watching,” go to a Springsteen show and wait for the lights to come up. You’ll see 20,000 people leaning into that mantra.

What I love most about it, though, is that it shifts the perspective of the show. For 2+ hours, you’re standing in darkness, watching Springsteen and the band perform. And when the lights come up, it all changes: Suddenly, the crowd is part of the show. Their dancing, their singing — it’s part of the performance. And as the crowd gets into their role, you can see people around the arena starting to loosen up. Seeing so many others dance freely and sing at the top of their lungs gives them permission to do the same.

Would “Born to Run” be the same if the house lights stayed down? It’d still be a great moment during the show, but it’d be different — it wouldn’t be a shared performance. What makes it special is that everyone gets to be part of it.

There are moments when you want others to join in. There are moments that you want to share with the crowd. Recognize them. Turn the lights up.

Let everyone in.


That’s a photo I took of the crowd at UBS Arena, on April 9, 2023, during the performance of “Born to Run” at the Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band show.

Be Thankful For the Little Things.

That's a photo of the Statue of Liberty, with the port in Jersey behind it, at sunset.

I was driving back to New York a few weeks ago. It was one of those days where a 90-minute drive was somehow taking close to three hours. And on the way out of town at the start of the trip, I’d gotten stuck in traffic getting through the tunnel — the same 90-minute drive took nearly four hours.

I was a little sour on New York at that moment. The city can be such a wonderful place to live, but there are parts of it — the traffic is certainly one — that can be so frustrating. Wasting a weekend in traffic made me wonder why I was living here.

I was on a stretch of highway leading through Jersey City and towards the Holland Tunnel. It’s an interesting part of the road — you’re driving among tall buildings, with even taller buildings in downtown New York looming behind.

And then there’s one little window between the buildings where suddenly, you can see the Statue of Liberty emerge. You can’t see the river — just the statue, poking up like a part of the skyline.

It reminded me: Sometimes, you have to go through a lot of everything — work and struggle and crap and things you really don’t want to do — in order to find the stuff that makes it all worthwhile.

The special stuff is out there. You just have to make sure you’re looking for it.


That photo of the Statue of Liberty, with the port in Jersey behind it, is by Oliver Plattner for Unsplash.

What’s Your One Unique Thing?

I flew through Chicago a few weeks ago. I flew Delta, like I usually do, even though Chicago O’Hare is a hub for American and United. There aren’t that many flights on Delta out of O’Hare every day, and Delta’s flights have always operated out of some of the oldest gates at the airport.

But when I was there, the Delta staff mentioned something to me: They’d be moving to a brand-new terminal later in the month. That meant new gates, a new check-in area, and a new Delta SkyClub for their frequent fliers.

The SkyClub, in particular, was built with an interesting feature: For flights to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, passengers can board the plane directly from the SkyClub. They don’t need to exit the lounge and go to the gate.

Delta can’t compete with American or United when it comes to the number of flights or the connections they offer at O’Hare. But nobody else at that airport offers the ability for a business traveler to work from the lounge, then walk directly onto the plane. By building something like this, they’re hoping that frequent fliers from Chicago to New York might like the SkyClub enough to permanently change who they fly with.

This got me thinking about the things that make any person or any business stand out. For me, for the past few years, it’s been where I publish — people don’t easily forget the guy with a Google Doc. Many have asked me if I’d ever move Not a Newsletter over to a blog or another format, and the answer’s always been “no.” When you do something that stands out, you lean into it.

You still have to do more than just have a unique thing — if my Google Doc wasn’t very useful, it wouldn’t matter where I publish it. But having a unique thing might help you get noticed amongst the crowd.


That photo is of the new Chicago SkyClub, and it comes via Delta’s own site.

Be Yourself. (Aggressively So, If Necessary.)

Here's a photo of Jimmy, which was taken back in 2009.

I’ve lived in New York City for a decade, so I’ve gotten the chance to see some celebrities on the street. (Apologies to Matthew Broderick for the time I saw you on 21st Street and stared so much that you pretended to check your phone until I walked away. My bad.)

But one of my favorite recurring celebrity sightings was Jimmy McMillan — who you might remember as the Rent Is Too Damn High guy. He lived a block away from me in the East Village, and I regularly walked past him on the street. With such unique facial hair, he was easy to recognize. I often saw him wearing a T-shirt with his logo, which was a drawing of his own facial hair.

Thanks to “Saturday Night Live,” McMillan became a bit of a caricature in popular culture. Most saw him as a one-issue candidate with a memorable look.

But when I think of McMillan, I think of a guy who was unapologetically himself. (All these years later, he’s still pushing the issue of affordable housing forward, and as a New York City resident paying rent, I can’t help but agree with him.) He figured out who he was and what he cared about, and leaned into it.

Remember: It’s easy to blend in with the crowd. It’s easy to be afraid to stand out.

Every time I think about taking that easy route, I think about all those times I saw McMillan out in my old neighborhood, loudly and proudly himself. There’s only one of you; you might as well be whoever you are.


That photo of Jimmy was taken back in 2009 by Matt Law, and is used here thanks to a Creative Commons license.

The Things You Have to Do to Get There.

There are a few different ways to become a PGA Tour member, but the most direct is by being one of the top players on the Korn Ferry Tour, which is the top minor league circuit for men’s professional golfers. Just making it to the Korn Ferry Tour itself is hard enough — it requires first going through a series of qualifying tournaments, and then life on the Korn Ferry is a grind. While the PGA Tour offers massive checks, the Korn Ferry’s prize money is relatively paltry. (The player who finished in third place in yesterday’s PGA Tour event won $885,000; the prize money for the entire field at last weekend’s Korn Ferry event was $850,000.) But to get to the PGA Tour, you have to go through the Korn Ferry Tour, so those with dreams of playing on the big tour have to go through the minors first.

And yesterday, the PGA Tour announced the 25 golfers who played well enough during this Korn Ferry Tour to qualify for PGA Tour’s upcoming season. I was reading through their bios and found myself amazed by some of their stories.

Among the qualifiers are Paul Haley II, who qualified for the PGA Tour back in 2012 but played poorly in his one season on Tour. He spent a decade bouncing around the minor leagues of golf, but will be back after a strong season on the Korn Ferry. “Maybe if you were younger, you stress out about really small things and when you play bad, it seems like the world is coming to an end,” he told a PGA Tour reporter. “You’re not going to have your best stuff every week. You’re going to miss the cut. You’re going to shoot over par. But just taking that step back and realizing everything is still pretty good.” This time, he’ll aim to stick around on the top circuit in golf.

There’s Ben Griffin, who quit golf and was working as a mortgage loan officer — until his grandfather died, and Griffin decided to give golf one last shot. (A line in his grandpa’s obit: “His motto was ‘Hit them long and straight,’ having loved golf.”) A year later, Ben qualified for the PGA Tour.

There’s Erik Barnes, who had to take a job stocking shelves at a grocery store during the pandemic (base pay: $17/hour) to make ends meet when the Korn Ferry Tour went on hiatus during the early part of the pandemic. He’s 34 years old, but after more than a decade as a pro golfer, he’ll finally make it to the PGA Tour.

And there’s Kevin Roy, who once missed the cut in five straight events, which meant that he went more than a month without collecting a paycheck. Scrolling through Instagram one day, he saw a hat with the words “Have More Fun” and bought it. While other golfers wore hats with sponsor logos on it, he wore his “Have More Fun” hat as he turned his season around and qualified for the Tour. He’s 32 and will be a PGA Tour rookie.

It’s remarkable the things that people will do to achieve their dreams — the sacrifices they’ll make, the work they’ll put in, the challenges they’ll overcome. Even people at the top of their field struggle. But sometimes, reading stories like these reminds me that it’s possible to reach the top of your field — even if it takes a little bit longer than you expected.


At the top, that’s a video of the 25 Korn Ferry Tour members who officially qualified for next year’s PGA Tour.

Go Big.

Paul Simon plays to the crowd at Newport Folk Festival in 2022

One more story from Newport Folk:

We’d been told that at Newport, special guests sometimes show up. And then on Saturday night, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats came out and played two Paul Simon songs in a row, and we realized: Paul Simon might be tonight’s surprise guest!

An hour later, after a half-dozen artists had played Simon’s music, Paul himself came out and played five songs with the band.

So we weren’t expecting much on Sunday night. How are you going to top a special guest appearance by Paul Simon? Brandi Carlile was expected to play with some friends. (The set was billed as “Brandi Carlile & Friends,” which made that a fair assumption.) We figured she’d bring out the usual group of indie musicians and colleagues. We didn’t realize one of them would be Joni Mitchell! And that a group of musicians would sit around in a circle and play for — and with — her.

What I loved wasn’t just that Newport brought out two icons. It’s that they found new ways to honor them. They’d clearly asked: How do we pay tribute to these legends? What formats can we try? How do we do something that’s never been done in the history of this festival?

Had a group of musicians played a tribute to Paul Simon, that would’ve been something. Had Brandi Carlile played “Blue” from start to finish, that would’ve been amazing. But instead, they somehow did something even more unexpected.

If you’re going to go big, go big.


That was my view of the stage for Paul Simon’s set. Paul’s up there if you zoom in far enough.

Everything Changes, and That’s OK. (Part II)

That's a photo I took of The Linda Lindas on stage at Newport Folk on July 24, 2022

57 years ago today, Bob Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival. Reports say the crowd shouted and booed at Dylan — “Like a Rolling Stone” had been released only days earlier, and the crowd at Newport Folk wasn’t prepared for an artist suddenly heading in a new direction.

Yesterday, I went to Newport Folk, and saw an all-girl teenage punk rock band, The Linda Lindas, absolutely rock the festival. Newport Folk is more than folk now — there are acoustic acts, and bluegrass, and country, and even rap. Watching The Linda Lindas reminded me of how much even established brands like Newport Folk can change. The festival that was once synonymous with Dylan and Joan Baez and James Taylor is now the kind of place where a teenage rock quartet can show up and command a stage for an hour. I’d bet that there were more than a handful of people at the festival yesterday who had parents or grandparents at that Dylan show in 1965, and yesterday, those in attendance roared for a band that wouldn’t have fit in fifty years ago at that festival.

It’s OK that Newport’s changed. It’s OK that one of the original American music festivals can now host Joni Mitchell and The Roots on the same stage in the same afternoon. The spirit and mission of Newport remain the same, but the sounds coming off those stages are as different as ever.

And not everything changes. At one point during yesterday’s show, one member of the The Linda Linda, guitarist Lucia de la Garza, pointed towards a voter registration tent just off stage. “Us kids can’t vote,” she said, “but you can!” Their sound didn’t sound like anything from the original version of Newport Folk, but at the moment, if you closed your eyes, their message sounded a lot to me like Newport in 1959.


That’s a photo I took of The Linda Lindas on stage at Newport Folk. They’re amazing. If they come to your city, go see them!