Be The First

So many founders want to be the next Steve Jobs.

So many startups want to be the next Facebook.

Every VC is hunting for the next Uber.

Are these worthy aspirations?

Why are we so fixated on following in someone else’s path, rather than carving our own?

Instead of trying to be the next anything, focus on being the first you.

Labels

The current version of my About page on this site starts like this:

I’m an entrepreneur, writer, athlete, educator, burrito enthusiast, and human.

These are all labels. I ended with “human” to make light of the concept—because while each of these labels describes me, none of them tell the whole story. I often find myself defying my own labels.

I’m a total tech geek, but I’m also an athlete—like a high school kid walking the line between nerd and jock. I train at the gym every day, but I also enjoy reading and learning about the cosmos. I’m not a “meathead.” Hell, as much as I love burritos, I’ve been eating burrito bowls and salads lately.

Labels are useful for grouping people with common characteristics, but rarely can a single word or phrase capture the full essence of a human being.

People are multidimensional, man.

Pain Tolerance

Often the people who win in life are not necessarily those with superior talent or intelligence, but those with an exceptionally high tolerance for pain.

Pain comes in many forms: physical pain, the emotional pain of rejection and failure, the pain of tedium—all of these have the power to hinder success.

I started thinking about this in the gym one day as I was approaching failure on a set, and I realized that what most of us call “failure” in fitness is not failure of the body, but failure of the mind. Because I’ve trained my mind just as hard as my body, I was able to overcome the burn and push a little bit harder.

Great athletes can tolerate high levels of pain. They live for it.

The same goes for great entrepreneurs. There’s a lot of pain involved in building a company. Financial woes, uncertainty about the future, social opposition—these things can really tear you down if you don’t have the mental fortitude to keep pressing forward.

Those who are most successful in dating and relationships are those who have endured rejection and unrequited love and nonetheless chose to keep trying. As Oliver Goldsmith so famously wrote, “Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall.”

If you can train your mind to tolerate intense pain—or better yet, embrace it—you’ll experience untold advantages in fitness, in business, and in life.

12,000

I recently passed 12,000 total students across the six business and technology courses I teach on Udemy. I’m so grateful for everyone who has enrolled—if that’s you, thank you!

Those 12,000 students collectively represent 154 countries, with the United States accounting for less than a quarter of the pie.

Just a few decades ago, the notion of a single educator reaching 12,000+ students in the majority of the world’s countries would have been absurd. The Internet is a cool thing, isn’t it?

Education is changing for the better, and I’m stoked to play a small part in the e-learning revolution.

Stephen Hawking On Curiosity

Genuinely sad to learn that the legendary physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76. His work helped shape our understanding of concepts like black holes and relativity, and he inspired millions to embrace their curiosity and ask questions about the cosmos.

It surprises me how disinterested we are today about things like physics, space, the universe and philosophy of our existence, our purpose, our final destination. It’s a crazy world out there. Be curious.