The Inner Game of Startups #26: Life Outside of Work

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The Scarcity of Shared Memories

When supply decreases while demand remains constant, prices rise.

This is at least a partial explanation for why the older people get, the more they value close friends and family.

I was listening to a DMX song on the drive in to the office this morning, and a flood of memories came back. It triggered the sights, sounds, ideas, jokes, and stories from an entire epoch of my life. Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Trips to the beach in South Haven. Lifting weights every morning with some guys before work or classes. The smell of my buddy's Mazda. Burning CDs.

I sent the link to my brother when I got to my desk and said, "Remember this?" He immediately acknowledged and even though we didn't exchange any words about it, I knew that he was thinking all the same things I was.

It hit me that he's probably the only person on earth who would share that whole bundle of memories from that phase of life, or who would feel the same things about the song.

When I was younger, I was mostly surrounded by the same people. Friends, family, etc. Pretty much anyone I knew would have the same shared experiences. As time moved, the number of different people I did different stuff with expanded. Each year, there are fewer and fewer people who share big chunks of memory with me. There are many more people who share slivers - work life for this segment of time, softball for that one year, etc. - but those get smaller all the time as a percentage of my life.

Shared memories are fun. There is a steady demand for them. But the supply decreases as life goes on. They become scarcer, and therefore more valuable. My wife and I have shared memories going back almost twenty years. My siblings and I have shared memories for the first fifteen or so years. Nobody has complete shared memory of course, but those with really big chunks are really fun, and I appreciate them more over time. It allows a kind of joyful or poignant communication without words. It's telepathy.

Fads and Phases

Here's a little rule of thumb I use to navigate all the trends, buzzwords, advice, and expertise in the world:

If it seems dumb or boring, ignore it.

There's no "must read". There's no "consensus opinion" to imbibe. There's no best practices you can't live without.

There's just stuff. A lot of stuff. Some stuff I like, some I don't. Some that's useful, some that's not. Some that adds to my stock of energy, some that drains it.

So I pick what works and forget the rest.

I have no malice for it. I make no claims about its truth or applicability to others. I just don't make space for it in my own life, and I don't even devote enough resources to it to provide a clear repudiation or reason why. Why would I? What a burden to be forced to provide a reasoned articulation of every abstention or predilection. I can't die on that many hills.

So I pick what matters to me, enjoy it, use it, and keep moving.

I can't tell you if it's a good idea for you, but I have no regrets.

Writing Regularly Without Speaking too Soon

Sometimes I don't feel like writing.

I go through phases where what's on my mind is too deep and unresolved for daily dispersion, and writing a post seems like a dumb, surface level thing.

I have tested breaks from daily blogging, and there are benefits to being more inward for periods of time. But the bigger reward have come when I take those times with not a lot of ready for consumption ideas and use them to redefine my relationship with writing. Can I explore something without resolving it? That's the biggest question.

When an idea or even an unformed sensation gets in me, writing gets it out. It's cathartic. But if I get it out too early, I'll only scratch the surface and let off the steam needed to drive me to deeper stuff below. So daily blogging can feel like a penny-wise pound foolish activity. If I give me two cents on everything, I'll never find the gold. Boy, these metaphors are clunky.

I'm in a phase where there's some transformation going on inside me. I'm in a new phase in life, a new act. And it has new patterns I'm not accustomed to. I've got to figure out which parts to write about in my daily discipline, and which parts to give time to better form.

So today, writing about how to figure out how to write about it was the best I could do.


I love writing copy for websites and landing pages and marketing materials.

My favorite is starting with a design that's done and rewriting the copy. There's something about having a placeholder framework to work from that helps my brain connect the content to the goal.

Writing copy is one of the only activities in a professional context where I truly enter a flow state and feel completely in love with what I do. It doesn't last long though. I tend to write fast and be done. I wish it could take longer, but I've learned the initial take is almost always better than followups.

One way to scratch my copy itch is to help other people and other companies improve theirs. I have no scientific method and never try to sell this as a service, but I get excited when people ask for help. I can't prove I'm good at it. I've never run A/B tests on my copy vs other copy. But I know with my knower that when I really focus on it, I can put good words together.

I'd write all day if it were leveraged enough. But it almost never is. So I do a once daily blog post for fun, a few Tweets, and when needed, weigh in on the copy for the company.

Illness Haiku

Never figured out

How to get along well with

This flesh and bone shell

Brutal But Worth It

Daily blogging is a small thing. But missing a day of a commitment is a big thing to my psyche. Etching those tiny wins helps keep me happy with myself.

I'm sick today and forgot about blogging until right now laying in bed (in fairness I was well enough to browse Twitter).

So typing this up and hitting publish on my phone makes me feel like the day wasn't an entire waste. That's small but over time it's big.

Didn't bring much value to the reader with this one, but big value to me in keeping the streak.

I owe you one.

(Who am I kidding. I do this for me anyway.)

Inner Game of Startups #25

The latest issue and all others can be found here.

Isaac Morehouse

Isaac Morehouse is the CEO of Crash, the career launch platform, and the founder of Praxis, a startup apprenticeship program. Isaac is dedicated to the relentless pursuit of freedom. He’s written some books, done some podcasting, and is always experimenting with self-directed living and learning.

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How to Create a Career That Makes You Come Alive

A talk I gave in the fall on one of my favorite topics.

Twitter and the Real World

I've never noticed as great a disconnect between Twitter and the real world as I do now.

I'm not sure if the divergence has grown over time, or if I'm just more plugged in to Twitter than I used to be so I notice it more. But the real world and the Twitter world are now two entirely different places. So different that they hold mutually exclusive descriptions and assumptions about the state of the world at any given time.

I joked yesterday that my neighbors are much more sane right now than Twitter people, and wondered if any of them are also Twitter people when I'm not looking.

So great is the disconnect between every social surface in real life and Twitter that I can't help but wonder who the Twitter people are when they're not on Twitter. Do they morph back into the normal people I experience out in the world? Or am I just experiencing two completely different sets of people, and they'd be the same online or off? Am I a different person on Twitter than in real life? I hope not.

My Twitter feed is fairly broad and generous. I follow quite a few people (over 1,500), I've never muted or blocked anyone, and I've only ever unfollowed maybe half a dozen or so. I like having a snapshot of a pretty broad set of people. The bulk of the feed are people either interested in startups, education, careers, personal freedom, entrepreneurship, cryptocurrency, the NBA, human liberty, or parodies of the same. There are other random accounts, but most would be strongly identified with one of those buckets.

Until about the last 6-12 months, I'd say on average my Twitter feed was pretty consistently more reasonable, logical, commonsensical, and intelligent than the real world people I interact with. On average, it's a more technical, autodidact, curious, and dynamic group than most of the flesh and blood people in my neighborhood, at the grocery store, etc. So the Twitter people tended to have what I thought was a more reasonable take on most things.

That has completely flipped.

My normie neighbors are now quite reasonable compared to the more intellectual Twitter people in my feed. By a long shot. Something weird has happened on Twitter. It used to be that there were very unreasonable corners of Twitter, but the bulk of my feed was people poking fun at them for this. Now I'm hard pressed to find any reasonable quarters of Twitter at all. And anyone poking fun is in danger of some serious social censure. It's disconcerting.

Twitter people seem like the most frightened, panicky, unreasonable brewd imaginable, capable of tolerating or advocating almost anything, no matter how inhumane and dark, if it allays their pet fears. And it seems to be re-enforced by the very intelligence that once made them more reasonable than the common folk.

Maybe when times are good, intelligent people are better. Maybe when times are bad, intelligent people are worse.

I don't know, but for the first time in my life, I am somewhat troubled about most of the people I enjoy reading and following. They seem to me to be becoming the monsters they decry, while my neighbors, who mostly remain blissfully unaware of monster potential at all, aren't becoming any worse.

Maybe it's a return from two weeks unplugged that makes it more stark. Either way, my relationship to Twitter has changed. It's not nearly as fun and full of open curiosity and play as it was. I still like it. I'm still using it (at least for now), but I have a more hardened, distanced experience than I did.

Back from Two Weeks Completely Offline

No work. No email. No Slack. No social media. No blogging. No Voxer. No internet of any kind. I had a few text messages, and watched a few things on Netflix (The Evolution of Hip-Hop is a wonderful series!), but otherwise nothing but rest, walks, a crazy diet and daily routine, and books - physical books, not even kindle.

It was a pretty cool experience. I've never done anything like that before.

But since I was doing a crazy bodily reset at the same time that involved mostly fasting, very hot baths, and some limited and not very tasty or filling food, I didn't think as much about deep spiritual truths as I had hoped. I did think a lot about hamburgers and beer and coffee and donuts.

I'll share a little more detail about my two week experience later. But it feels good to get the daily blog revved back up.

See You in Two Weeks

You won't see my daily blog posts for the next two weeks. I'm trying something a little crazy for health reasons. Look for me to be back around the Ides of March.

Good time to go check the archives! ;-)

Another Bitcoin Discussion

Isaac Morehouse

Isaac Morehouse is the founder and CEO of Praxis, a startup apprenticeship program making degrees irrelevant for careers. Isaac is dedicated to the relentless pursuit of freedom. He’s written some books, done some podcasting, and is always experimenting with self-directed living and learning.

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