Don’t Worry if You Don’t Know What You Want to Do in Life

You don’t know what you want to do in life.

That’s not a problem. In fact, you can’t know what you want to do in life. Most of what you’ll do you’ve not even heard of yet or it hasn’t yet been invented.

Forget all that. Just don’t do stuff you hate and everything else is fair game.Instead of what you want to do, think about who you want to be. What kind of person, what kind of habits, virtues, friends, and inner fire do you want?

Set about becoming that person. No one will give it to you. Setup routines and practices that move you a tiny bit closer to the version of yourself you want to be every day. 

Do that, and more amazing opportunities to do cool things will emerge than you can now imagine.

95 – FwLM: Unsung Entrepeneurs, Uber Class, 150 Year Lifespans, and More…

Pulled a fast one on you today!  TK is occupied in Chicago at a family wedding and told me the house he’s staying in is way too loud and full of nieces and nephews to record today.  I called him a wimp.  He laughed.

Keeping with the family theme, today my brother Levi Morehouse steps in as TK’s replacement.  He’s the Founder & CEO of Ceterus, which provides cloud-based accounting and bookkeeping for franchise owners.  Levi is a ridiculously successful entrepreneur, father, and offensive fouler on the basketball court.

It was just like growing up.  I did most of the talking, he made most of the sense.

Some of the things we discuss:

  • If you lived to 150, how would that change your lifestyle today?
  • Could you learn more as an Uber driver than a student?
  • Philosophers vs. Tony Robbins
  • Choosing what to do based on what it does to you, instead of what it does for the world
  • Unsung entrepreneurs (and how Levi’s company helps them!)
  • Smart drugs

Recommendations: BOLD by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters.

Previous episodes with Levi:

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher.

94 – Economics as Self-Help

This episode is a short audio essay on one of the most life-changing mindsets I’ve found.

Economics is the most powerful social discipline.  It also has tremendous potential to improve our lives on the individual level.  Not by understanding the stock market and making money, but by seeing the world through the lens of rational choice theory.  The minute you do, problems and challenges become opportunities and possibilities.  The world becomes a series of games.  All actions become a source of information and enlightenment.

Economics helps you navigate relationships with others, and your own process of self-knowledge and self-improvement.

When you assume rationality, you can begin to peel back and understand the preferences, information, and incentives that cause people to do what they do.


Yes, I’m Pretty Damn Proud of What Praxis is Doing

No one can come close to what Praxis is doing.
In Praxis you spend zero net dollars and nine months to get an amazing job, guaranteed.
What college guarantees you a job upon graduating, let alone an awesome startup job? All the university guarantees is four years and six figures, then you hope it leads to something.
In Praxis you get six months apprenticing at a business and an advisor who works directly with you and your business partner to help you succeed in every way possible. We tailor the coaching and curriculum to what’s needed to succeed at that job in that environment. From technical skills to soft skills to emotional intelligence and beyond. Praxis advisors are conspiring for your success with your business. Three parties all working together to move you forward.
What college has professors working hand in hand with your supervisor at your first job, making sure both are helping you succeed? When do they ask your future employers what it would be good to help you learn and gain? They just teach whatever matters to them and hope it’s somehow relevant to your real world work later and you’re on your own when it comes to a job.
There is nothing like this on the planet. It is the revolution. The best and brightest are getting started now. College or not, they want to dig in to self-directed living and learning, self-improvement, and a real challenge in a real career.

93 – Don’t Do Stuff You Hate, with Author Mitchell Earl


This week’s guest is Mitchell Earl, the co-author of Don’t Do Stuff You Hate and a Praxis participant working at Ceterus, one of the INC 5000 fastest growing companies in the country.

Mitchell shares the origin story of Don’t Do Stuff You Hate and covers his journey from growing up in rural Oklahoma to becoming an author and working with a high growth startup in Charleston, South Carolina.

Covered in this episode

  • Life lessons from livestock and meat evaluation
  • Why do so many young people want to go to law school?
  • Being entrepreneurial in college | Freelance writing and photography
  • The “Don’t Do Stuff You Hate” origin story
  • Lessons learned from writing a book
  • Mitchell’s next book
  • Then tension between getting things done and getting things perfect
  • The value of teamwork on a book project and benefits of co-authoring

Don’t Do Stuff You Hate is now available on Amazon, make sure to get your free chapter.

Links and recommendations from this episode:

If you are a fan of the show, make sure to leave a review on iTunes.

All episodes of the Isaac Morehouse Podcast are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher.

92 – FwTK: Listener Questions on Tons of Stuff

Today TK became inexplicably obsessed with me respecting his name (also he’s getting a haircut for the first time in years so he’s respecting his mane…ba-dum!)

We talk a little about PDP’s and persistence without doing stuff you hate, then we dive into tons of great questions from: Eric Olson, Sigal Sharabani, Andrew Stover, Simon Fraser, Thomas Bogle, Michael Hogan, Julia Patterson, Jeff Till, Forrest Plaster, Gabe Mitchell, Philip Gross, and Kelly Hackman.

Some of the questions were:

  • Can you promote my book? (Yes!  See below)
  • Can order exist without state monopolies, even when bad people want to do bad things?
  • The Terminator-like future of Praxis
  • How to get important people to do favors for you
  • Why is success specific but failure is universal? (or is it?)
  • Should you cut negative people out of your life? (Yes)
  • Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson duets
  • How to get off the conveyor belt
  • Hayek and the size and structure of companies
  • Is boredom good?
  • Is the German school system good?
  • Lessons from seeing life as a game

Mentioned in the episode: Blake Boles, Taking a Walk as a Revolutionary Act, Noble Boredom, Ronald Coase, The Pretense of Knowledge, The Use of Knowledge in Society, Robert Heinlein, Ursela Le Guin, Don’t Do Stuff You Hate (now on Amazon!)

Today’s recommendations: The Option Method by Bruce Di Marsico, The Optimistic Child by Martin Seligman.

Eric’s Book: Why Every President Sucked, check it out on KickStarter.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, Google PlayYouTube, and Stitcher.

91- How to Succeed at a Startup, with Connor Jeffers

How to Succeed at a Startup

Connor Jeffers is the Director of Revenue Operations at Dose Media, one of the world’s fastest growing digital media startups. Dose uses innovative testing to create massively viral content on their popular sites and

Connor shares how he built his career from interning at an education startup to becoming Director of Revenue Operations at Dose in only a few years. He teaches you how to succeed at a startup, from how to get hired, how to stand out once you are working, and how to leave a job without burning bridges.

Also covered in this episode:

  • Why big brands are paying people to make their content look worse
  • How Dose uses testing and experimentation to create viral content
  • How Facebook is flipping the advertising world on its head
  • Trends in how people consume content online (Hint: Not on your website)
  • Does content on social media platform’s make branding more important
  • Connor’s smart house
  • How to get noticed and hired by a startup
  • How to move on from a job without burning bridges
  • How you know when it is time to move on to a new opportunity
  • The value of changing “maybe we should” ideas, into “can I?” solutions
  • Connor’s favorite books and podcasts right now

Make sure to check out Connor Jeffers on Quora and Medium for a ton of wisdom on sales, Salesforce, marketing, and general know-how on how to succeed at a startup.

Links and recommendations from this episode:

If you are a fan of the show, make sure to leave a review on iTunes.

All episodes of the Isaac Morehouse Podcast are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher.

‘Don’t Do Stuff You Hate’ Paperback is Here

Check it out on Amazon, read it, and write a review!

We were able to release the book earlier than the August 31 release date, due to hard work by copy editor Lacey Peace and coauthor Mitchell Earl.  The Kindle edition is still showing an August 31 release date, but we’re trying to get that updated as well.

Get a copy.


90 – FwTK: Anger, Work, Crappy Arguments, and the Supernatural

TK and I get into discussion on a recent post I did about working your butt off before trying to optimize your life, and his story of learning the “carry the tray”.  Then we dive into a little philosophy and explore crappy arguments for and against the supernatural, aliens, immortality, God, and more.

Mentioned in the episode: Carl Sagan, Bertrand Russell’s Problem of Philosophy, not finding yourself until you know how to work, game theory, carrying the tray, John Hasnas, Descartes, the Socratic method, Steven Brams, and more I’m probably forgetting.

Recommendations: Superior Beings, and, The Fabric of the Cosmos.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, Google PlayYouTube, and Stitcher.

89 – Lightning Projects, No Hipsters, Abundance Mindset and more, with Derek Magill

Lots of people have ideas, not many take action and create valuable products. Derek Magill, Director of Marketing at Praxis, turned a frustrating problem into in the course of a day. Instead of complaining or talking about your ideas, what lightning project could you be creating this week? 

In this episode you will also learn:

  • How side projects create value for you and your business
  • How to make decisions on outsourcing vs. doing the work yourself
  • How to persuade by showing, not telling
  • How treating yourself like a company changes your mindset
  • The value of answering questions on Quora
  • How to bring an abundance mindset to your work
  • How spending your own money at work is a great investment in your career
  • The behind the scenes of redesigning
  • Steps you can take to create the job you want

If you enjoy the show, leave a review on iTunes

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.


88 – FwTK: Are Words Colonizing the World?

Today we dive deep into the ideas behind a single chapter of a (weird but fascinating) book TK recommended called, “Sex, Drugs, Einstein, & Elves”.  It’s about language, and to what extent our vocabulary actually alters our reality, not merely our attempts to give expression to it.

Discussed in the episode: Marc Andreesson, George Lakoff, Ben Horowitz, Wayne Dyer, Seth Godin, Terrence McKenna, Clifford Pickover, Robert Anton Wilson, general semantics theory.

Recommendations: Lexicon, and, The Tyranny of Words.

Also, sign up to get mid-week quick-hits every Wednesday!

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, Google PlayYouTube, and Stitcher.

If You Don’t Like the Place, Don’t Renew the Lease

My wife and I hated living in DC.  We found out a few months before our lease was up that the landlady was selling and we couldn’t renew.

It was the best inconvenience to ever befall us.

Today I write about how giving yourself the right incentives to build a better life is a lot more effective than having the right ideas and intentions.

I share two reasons why planning a perfect future is unlikely to get you there.

  1. You don’t yet know what makes you happy
  2. You don’t have a strong enough incentive to find it

Check out the post:

Sometimes You Have to Put Yourself in a Pinch to Get Out of One


87 – Aaron Watson talks Productivity, Frisbee, and Snapchat

Aaron Watson is a two-time national ultimate frisbee champion and the host of Going Deep with Aaron. On “Going Deep” Aaron has interviewed Wired Magazine founder Kevin Kelly, Chris Guillebeau, Taylor Pearson and over 100 other entrepreneurs, authors, and interesting human beings.

This episode is a wide-ranging conversation with Aaron covering:

  • The benefits of starting a podcast
  • Life lessons from sports
  • Goals vs. processes
  • How to prepare for podcast interviews
  • Beginners Guide to Snapchat
  • The creator vs. consumer experiences on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat
  • The relationship between work and happiness
  • And more

If you are a fan of the show, make sure to leave a review on iTunes.

Links from this episode:

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunesYouTube, and Stitcher.

86 – FwTK: Don’t Ask Ideology to Be Your Identity

Today we take a few Ask Isaac questions and dive into the problem of asking your ideology to be an all-consuming identity.  Political philosophy needn’t be life philosophy, religious beliefs needn’t be aesthetic preferences, networks built around one thing needn’t serve every other thing.  You’ll probably end up a perpetually frustrated crusader if you don’t realize this.

Thanks to David Richelson and Leonard Marino for great listener questions!

  • How to tell the different between stuff you hate and stuff that challenges you in a good way?
  • Better to have a too long or too short bucket list?

Mentioned in this episode: H.L. Mencken, Man’s Search for Meaning, The Twighlight Zone, the good life, bucket lists, hard work vs. hated work.

Recommendations from this episode: How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World, How to Win Friends and Influence People.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, Google PlayYouTube, and Stitcher.

What Homeschoolers and Startups Know About Learning…

Check out this post on the Praxis blog, where I make the case that homeschoolers and self-directed learners already embody the learning style that is the future of hiring and professional development.

From the post:

“Classrooms don’t prepare young people for success in life and career.  They’re slow, expensive, often boring, the incentives are all wrong, the setting is dull, customization is almost non-existent, and lack of real choice means peers and professors alike aren’t the most valuable people to add to your personal network.

Home educators and self-directed learners know this.  They eschew the conveyor belt approach to education.  They step out of the classroom and into the world.  They understand that real learning is a lot more fun, varied, and valuable than chasing the same paper as everyone else.”

I share the three things that homeschooling an apprenticeships have in common:

  • Interest vs. credentials
  • Doing vs. memorizing
  • Being around vs. reading about

Check out the post.  It’s good.

85 – Encryption for Everyone, with Henry Boldizsar

Shout-out to the ongoing, excellent work of editing, uploading, adding shownotes, and publishing each and every episode done by the talented Lav Kozakijević!

Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now know that governments have the power to (and do) read emails and texts and monitor online activity in a variety of ways.  It’s creepy.  Even some of the applications we use (and voluntarily agree to terms with) collect more data than we’d sometimes like.

Today’s guest is creating a way for anyone to encrypt any message on any platform.  It’s called Felony, but it’s not a crime!

Felony allows you to encrypt messages, verify identity, and ensure privacy and security over all messaging devices. Henry Boldizsar discusses why he built a program that allows even those that are not tech savvy to access the power of encryption. Besides using Felony and not being one, we discussed making YT tutorials, dropping out of high school, and ending up in San Francisco.

Felony is open source and free. It’s still in beta, but you can contribute to it through or you can get in touch with Henry via @henryboldi.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.

How the World Will Change

When the world becomes free it will not be by the creation of new laws, or the removal of old, or of new political leaders or any election result. It will not be because of a change in government, but because of a change in attitude toward government. It will not be because of legislation, but because of disregard for legislation.

Genuine change will come when the state is ignored, not reformed. It will come not when politicians are better, but when they are irrelevant.

When state-made law is no longer deemed necessary or important it will not be respected. When it is not respected it will not be enforced because it will not be enforceable.

This is how the world will change.

Evidence in the Face of Disbelief

The world can become free of the barbarous relic called the state. The state is a dangerous fiction whose power rests entirely on people’s belief in its necessity, or inevitability. Belief in the state is not insurmountable. It is not hard-wired into the human mind. It is not a given that a state must or will always exist. The state, like so many other superstitions now thought to be outrageous, inhumane and inefficient, can be left in the ash heap of history.

Many once laughed at the notion that an institution as old as humanity itself, the institution of slavery, would or could ever be removed. The prevailing wisdom for centuries, even among those who had discovered the moral repugnance of slavery, was that it was just a part of human nature. Reformers argued the best thing was to work for a more humane version of slavery.

Slavery was an institution that, however evil it may sometimes be and however utopians might imagine a more perfect world without it, was here to stay. Some embarked on efforts to improve the institution, to teach masters to be “good” to their slaves. Some setup rules and mores designed to limit the nastiest outcomes of the institution. But the institution itself was as unavoidable as scarcity and death.

The fatal flaw in this thinking is that slavery and government, unlike scarcity and death, are human institutions. They are, above all, mental constructs. Their physical manifestations are not physical realities humans simply encounter in nature, but realities we create, and humans only create by first imagining. An idea does not become an action unless the individual actor believes that the idea is worth acting on. To subjugate another human being, or to condone or allow the subjugation of one by another, one must first have the idea of subjugation and must believe that acting on it is preferable to ignoring or condemning it. Scarcity and natural death need no such human consent. The old saying about death and taxes turns out to be only half true.

If the state, like slavery, is the result of the ideas held by people it is not inevitable. Some day humanity could look back on the institution called the state with the same sense of shame and wonder that we now have about slavery. How could so many people – many of them good people – live their lives day in and day out surrounded by an institution so inhumane, so nakedly violent and demeaning? Did they really think it was necessary? Did they not understand how degrading it was? It will be hard to understand how so many humans thought the state was inevitable, tolerable and even good. As sure as slavery became a hated relic, so can the state.

How It Happens

When slavery ended it was not by changes in rules or laws or political leaders. Such changes often quickly follow changes in belief and mistakenly receive the credit, but they are never the cause. Slavery ended as people’s ideas about it changed. People began to believe it was not only an evil, but an unnecessary one. People began to believe it so evil that they were willing to tolerate the short-term sacrifices of ending it in order to reap the long-term improvement in the human condition.

The calculation of cost and benefit changed as people’s sense of morality trumped their sense of conservative institutional stability. The unknown outcome of ending slavery became an acceptable risk when considered against the known evil of the institution, which became an unacceptable reality.

Political Reform

Political reform can never bring about liberty. It can on rare occasion expand a bit of liberty for a few, but as long as that expansion occurs via political methods, it means bargaining that often takes away freedom in some other arena, or the long-term furtherance of trust in the state. The political game is about reshuffling and re-enforcing the necessity of the state.

The political game attracts great attention, and as such many suggest using it as a means of educating people about the power of liberty. Politics as education is only valuable in the long term to the extent that it educates people that politics is at bottom bad and government cannot ever be good. If it merely inspires people to advocate that the state do to things better, it is not, in the end, going to make society more free. It is disbelief in politics and in the state that leads to freedom.

The Chinese army fired on their fellow citizens in Tiananmen Square. This massacre was not caused by political leaders and generals saying, “Shoot”; but by men in the Chinese army deciding to shoot. It was not caused ultimately by bad leadership, but by a belief in the necessity of obeying orders. There will always be people with a will to power; a desire to control. Only when the rest don’t believe that power to be necessary and therefore do not obey does freedom reign.

Shift Focus

Humans want to solve problems in the most immediate and direct way possible. We want to know where the problem of restricted liberty begins. We discover the source in a gradual progression. First the focus is on people – the wrong political leaders. This quickly generalizes to political parties or groups, then to policies or laws, then to agencies and institutions, and finally to the state itself.

Here it seems we’re at the core of the problem: the state itself. Not any of the personalities or parties or bureaus or laws under its aegis. But a further shift in focus is required. The state is not the root of the problem. The real problem is not an institution, but an idea. It is the idea that government is necessary. That’s the culprit and final basis for every bad thing the state has ever done.

To a small degree, a shift in focus is happening now. A great many people don’t believe that a particular politician will solve the problems created by the state. An increasing number don’t believe one party is more likely than another to do so. It is more common to hear institutions or the incentives built into the system of government blamed. This is progress. It is, however, still rare to hear the existence of the state itself blamed, and rarer still to hear blame placed on the idea that a state is necessary.

The belief in its necessity gives rise to the state, which by definition is full of bad incentives that attract and nurture bad people in bad parties. To say the people, parties, or policies are the problem would be like blaming the sidewalk for breaking your leg after you walked off a tall building because you were ignorant of the staircase and elevator. Frustration with the sidewalk is useless and ignorant. The proper response would be to question the necessity of walking off the building; perhaps in so doing you would discover other less painful methods of achieving your goal and reaching the ground floor.

There is no form or arrangement of a state that can guarantee liberty. The answer is always peace, markets, and voluntarism. The ring of power cannot be wielded for good, but must be thrown into the fire before it uses good for evil.

Changing Lives and Changing Life

I do not wish to downplay the possible outcomes of attempts to reform the state. By such efforts lives can be changed. A court decision can save an individual or a whole neighborhood from being bulldozed by the state. The removal of a regulation can change the life of an entrepreneur and allow her to pursue her dream. These activities are analogous to disaster relief or soup kitchens; they can genuinely change lives and offer welcome relief. They can change lives, but they cannot change life.

Disasters will still come and go. The conditions that brought about hunger are not ameliorated with the appetite of the person receiving soup. The liberty-crushing actions of the state do not cease when it ceases to crush one neighborhood or regulate one industry for some period of time. The state will – must – continue to seek its own expansion, and it will push at every weak point it finds to do so, ensuring that an endless stream of lives will remain to be helped, but that the conditions of life itself will not be fundamentally altered. Treating disease is noble, but it is different than eradicating disease.

Changing lives is good and fulfilling work. But for those courageous enough to dream, changing life itself is bliss, and can only be done by undermining, not improving the state.

What to Do?

The only tactic worth pursuing is enlightenment. Enlightenment of self and of others, and both continuously. This does not mean telling people what to believe or what to do. It is more akin to discovery than education. A teacher may help you discover truth by providing information, but the discoverer has to have curiosity and openness. It is the discoverer himself who chooses to discover.

Become a free person, and your freedom will be a beacon to others who are searching. Create liberty in your own life, exchange ideas, be open to the power of human creativity. Free your own mind and you will begin to help others to free theirs not by telling them what to believe, but by demonstration and discussion.

The market does not produce new innovations and technologies because smart people tell others what to design; instead it is a constant dynamic give and take, show and tell, creation and imitation, trial and error, the greatest ongoing play of economic exchange.

The building of a free-society needn’t wait until the state is limited or absent; indeed the state will not wither until the free society is first built to replace it. The explosive power of ideas will destroy the foundations of the state as free people continue to live and breath those ideas and demonstrate the life, energy, fun, progress and fulfillment in freedom.

This does not mean everyone who wants liberty must do the same thing. Demonstrating and discussion the ideas of a free society is such a broad and evolutionary task that it opens endless doors. The differences we have in ability and interest lead to numerous efforts, and enlightenment leaves ample room for differentiation.

Our differences will manifest in which “others” we exchange with, and what methods and mediums we use. But it must be an exchange of ideas and the building of a free society. It cannot mean deceiving, cajoling, “nudging”, forcing, bribing, or dictating. These, in the end, will only lead to less freedom.

Liberty not inevitable, but it is possible. A state that does not trample liberty is not possible. So long as the state is deemed necessary it will exist, and the state will always grow beyond its originally desired limits. The state will prey upon society until it destroys it, and then destroys itself. But if the belief in the necessity of the state remains, the deposed state will soon be replaced by a new one and the process will begin again.

The only foundation that society can be built on without collapse is a belief in statelessness.

It must be belief. Consequential (practical) and deontological (moral) arguments against the state miss the point. People will accept an inefficient and immoral system if they believe it necessary. Once they find it unnecessary, they will abandon it and give moral or practical reasons for doing so, but the belief in the necessity of the state must go first.

Imagine Liberty

Ludwig von Mises described three preconditions to human action. An individual must have dissatisfaction with his current condition, a vision of something better, and a belief in the ability to achieve that vision.

Everyone has dissatisfaction with government. Almost no one has a vision of something better. People have visions of a differently structured “necessary evil”, but their lack of imagination makes them keep the modifier, “necessary”. The Proverb says that for lack of vision people perish.

If we open up our imagination there is abundant evidence of order without the state. Non-state norms and institutions produce the majority of the world we see around us. Historically, society precedes the state, and there is ample evidence of stateless solutions to problems we are taught to believe only the state can solve.

Beyond past or present evidence, an application of our knowledge of human potential can also help us envision what could be. Science fiction writers imagine unheard of technologies by looking at technological advances in the here and now. They extrapolate and predict where human ingenuity, if it continues on its present course, may go. The best social thinkers do the same with society.

Some advocates for liberty do have a vision of something better. They can imagine multifarious social arrangements without the state. But most still lack the third condition of human action; a belief in the ability to get there. After so many vein attempts at revolution and political activism it seems there is no answer. But in some ways, the second condition of action is the answer to the third. If enough people can imagine a better solution, they will cease to support an inferior one (even in the face of the unknown, if they believe it to hold promise) and cease to prohibit new experiments. People with imagination too small to envision an automobile may very well accept restrictions on road building. But people who can’t envision the specific manifestation of the automobile, but can imagine human progress and invention capable of surprising them will be reticent to restrict the construction of something with unknown promise.

This is why we needn’t all share the same, or even a very specific, vision of a stateless world. We must, however, be brave and broad-minded enough to see in human relations the potential of order without the state.

For those who can imagine such a world, the task is to open others up to the same possibility. Show them, intrigue them, inspire them. Where imagination is wanting, so is liberty.

When It Happens

Perhaps the beginning of the end of the state will be gradual. Maybe state efforts to restrict minor activities will be increasingly ignored. Bans on food and drink may be laughed at and become unenforceable. Perhaps it will slowly extend to ignoring bigger and bigger restrictions.

Perhaps it will start with a bang. The prohibition of drugs may simply come to an abrupt end, and sooner than anyone expects. Public schooling may suddenly become so little used and so uncompetitive in the face of educational innovation that it disappears.

It may happen without a big production. The visage of the state may not even die with its function. The royalty of England still exist, but they are longer relevant in regulating daily life. They exist as reflection or memory of what was once believed. Some Native American tribes perform rain dances not because they believe, as they once did, that they will bring rain, but as an homage to their past. The state may transform similarly. It may never “go away”, but it may cease to have meaning except as a tradition. Parades and pomp may remain while power over our lives withers.

Fast or slow, big or small, conscious or unconscious as it may be, the world will change. The state can be a relic of the past, harder to understand as time moves on, like slavery in America today. In so many ways the trend is well underway and we are already in a mostly stateless world, though it is little appreciated or understood. It may be a matter of merely realizing what is already true: the state is not, and never has been necessary.

Realistic and Radical

The dissolution of the state doesn’t rely on people to become better or morality to change, or for the next step in evolution. It is a fallacy that government is inevitable and necessary. It could wither away in no time. It is only a matter of us changing our beliefs, paradigms, and theories of world. It only requires that we realize that it is not necessary. I say only, but the power of imagination necessary to see that the state is not is no small thing. Opening our minds to this possibility is the greatest and promising intellectual and practical adventure.

Excerpted from the book Better Off Free

How to Build Social Capital

Not enough saving, way too much spending.  Willingness to go deep into debt, a demand for instant gratification, and the inability to defer consumption.  I think these problems are real, and far too common.  But I’m not talking about money.  I’m talking about social capital.

A lot of young people, eager to carve out a career and life path, burst onto the social/professional scene looking for favors.  Every new person they meet might be able to help them get a gig, a contract, an interview, or a check.  I don’t think most realize that approaching people with a, “What can you do for me and my career?” mindset is the fastest way to burn through social currency and end up broke.

Every time we interact cordially with another person, we generate some good will.  It’s like putting a deposit into a social bank account with their name on it.  A simple smile and a handshake is worth a little.  A interesting conversation is worth more.  Connecting them to an idea or person of value to their goals, offering insightful feedback, or helping them achieve something can be worth quite a bit.  Being reliable, and doing these things consistently over time can build up a massive balance.  When you consider all the people you know and meet, it’s easy to see how a diverse portfolio of social capital can accumulate.  In the long-term, this social capital is more valuable than money, education, or credentials.

I’ve observed a lot of ambitious types meet a new person, and two minutes after shaking their hand, try to withdraw the tiny amount of capital they accumulated.  Indeed, many try to take out a massive loan without even a down-payment.  Every time you ask something of someone, you’re withdrawing some currency.  If all you’ve done is say hi and tell them where you work, you’ve deposited the minimum balance to establish an account.  When you follow this by immediately asking them to introduce you to someone, or read your manuscript, it’s like setting up a free checking account, dropping five bucks in, then hitting up the ATM for ten grand.  When nothing comes out, you shouldn’t be surprised.  The next move should not be to see a loan officer and beg for credit.

Don’t misunderstand; allowing others to help you can also be a way to accumulate social capital.  If someone really wants to help you, or if part of their job is to help you, or if they want to offer advice on something they are more experienced in than you, let them.  People love to be helpful, and especially love to give their opinion.  If you think of creating social capital only as you helping others, it may come off as condescending.  Often the best way is to ask people about their own life, work, and success.  Tell them your dreams and ask them what advice they’d offer, then really listen and try to take something from it.  Being an eager and grateful recipient of things that others enjoy giving is one of the best ways to achieve a positive balance in their account.

If you spend social capital before you’ve earned it, you probably will get ahead faster than your peers.  If you push and pester every new contact and drop business cards faster than Bernanke prints bank-notes, you will eventually get some interviews and make a little headway.  You’ll have the debt-fueled illusion of prosperity.  But you’ll owe so much to so many.  Your reputation, like a credit score, will scare away the prudent, who are those you’ll most need in the long run.  If you tap your Rolodex for social capital for every new pursuit, you’ll have nowhere to go when the really good idea comes along.  You’ll be a short term prodigy and a mid-long term failure.

Create a relational reserve.  See every person as another place to deposit some social cash, let it earn interest and be accessible when something really worthwhile pops up.  Ask yourself what you can do for people.  Don’t over-strategize how much help to offer based on how much you might value their help later.  It comes off as sketchy, and you’re probably not smart enough to figure out ahead of time who will generate the best return.  Keep a diverse portfolio, but deposit more where returns are consistent and solid over time.  Think about people that you would be eager to do a favor for, ask yourself what it is about them that earned your willingness, and emulate it.

If you spend your professional life building up social capital by being generally helpful, resourceful, reliable, and likable, you’ll soon have tremendous net social worth.  That pool of social capital can provide more knowledge, skill, counsel, connection, and even cash than any amount of paper money you could save.  There will come a time to withdraw and spend social capital.  There may even be a time to borrow some on credit, but you’ll need a good credit score and a down-payment in the very least.

Make it your goal to help people, listen to people, generate goodwill, and deposit a little more each day in your social bank accounts.  Someday soon, you’ll be glad you did.

Check out the Praxis blog for why social capital is more important than mentorship.


Originally published June 14, 2013.

The College Dropout’s Guide to Getting a Job

Praxis intern Amber Grubenmann put together this great infographic on how to get a job without the need to purchase paper prestige.

And, of course, you can join Praxis and we’ll give you the job straight up!  We provide a three month professional bootcamp, help you build a personal website and populate it with projects that demonstrate your value, give you a paid apprenticeship at a startup, and at the end you walk away with a job offer.