Don’t Fall for the “Whistle Trap”

In one of Benjamin Franklin’s many writings, he told a friend, Madame Brillon:

“When I was a child of seven years old, my friends on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children; and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family.

My brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.

This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don’t give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money.

Don’t pay too much for the whistle. Be careful what you want, as you may get it, and at the cost of something else. There is a opportunity cost for every choice you make. Spend your time, attention, and money on one thing, and you forego another.

Be sure about what you want, and ignore everything else.

7 Risks You Should Take This Weekend

How did you learn to walk? One risky step at a time, right? Now you are running. But, don’t run away from risk. Run to it. No risk. No opportunity to grow.

Taking risks is healthy. Have you taken enough risks this week? Doubtful. Psychologists say that people who take risks are happier than people who constantly play it safe. Risks forces you to experience a full range of emotions including fear, anxiety and joy. It doesn’t have to be as dramatic as jumping out of a plane without checking your parachute. Instead, taking risks can be as small as ordering whipped cream on your dessert. For some people, these “small” risks are the equivalent to climbing Mount Everest.

Here’s my top seven risks everyone should take this week.

Be Yourself
Without you, who are you? Being yourself can be risky. I get it. But, what’s the alternative? Being something other than you? That seems more risky. This week, dare to be yourself in situations where you would normally hide your feelings or who you really are. Disagree with someone at the dinner table, or tell that ridiculous sushi joke that makes you laugh. Everyone else will laugh as well. When you let your personality out, you will not only notice that you’re happier, but that you make the people around you happy too.

Go Out With People You Don’t Like
Yep. That’s right. Call (text?) someone you don’t like up and make arrangements to see them. Whether the person is an old friend, a colleague, or someone who asked you on a date, what do you have to lose? Besides, how do you really know you don’t like them? You may find that your feelings toward them were more of a reflection of you. Or, you may learn that you were completely justified in your disdain for them. Either way, you will have learned more about yourself, and if nothing else generously donated some time to someone else for the sake of taking more risks.

Try Something You’ve Always Wanted to Do
What are you waiting for anyway? Whether you are the last person on Earth who has not tried a frappuccino, or you have not been able to muster up the courage to try a new sport, or raw oysters, this is the week that you try at least one thing for the first time. Break out of your “skinny dry cappuccino” rut or make a small adventurous gesture. Why not? You might be surprised at what trying something new can do.

Be Just a Little Impulsive
At the last minute change your plans. Intentionally. Go to a new place. Take a different route. Try a new food. You can do it. This week, take a moment to remind yourself that if nothing else, you deserve the $0.35 upgrade of whipped cream on your coffee. It’s all in the name of taking risks, of course. You have the power to create your own adventure. If you don’t, who else will?

Speak Your Mind
When you have an idea, say so. Let it be heard. It doesn’t matter if it is a little off the wall or not even really feasible. Who knows what it might lead to. A lot of genius has been wasted by people being afraid to speak up. As Aristotle said, “No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.” Show yours this week.

Ask Someone Their Name
Introduce yourself to someone new this week. Certainly you don’t have enough friends, do you? Who knows who you might meet. Consider it a game. I really like to read people’s name tags and start talking to them by name when I am out. They say the sweetest sound to anybody is their own name. When you use someone’s name, it becomes a more personal conversation. It always makes for great interaction, and I am constantly meeting new people that way. It doesn’t matter if they are a complete stranger or a person you see regularly, but have never met. Think of it this way: If you don’t meet new people, you’re losing new friends.

And my favorite is – fail. I love it. Why? Because it helps me find the edge; the boundary. Failure is commonly cited as being one of peoples’ biggest fears. Yet, it is also one of the most important ingredients for success. If you haven’t failed, then you haven’t taken enough risks. And if you have failed, you probably found a boundary or learned something new. This week, go out and do something that you know will fail. Play a game or sport that you are terrible at, or try to take on the impossible feat of folding a fitted sheet. Whatever it is, don’t look before you leap. Failure opens up new paths towards success, and helps you see the world in a way that is impossible otherwise. Enjoy.

The Secret to Success

Everybody is looking for the secret to success. But, it’s right in front of you. It’s called . . .


That’s it. Done. Period. There is no other secret.

The Fractional Fallacy: Shark Tank Sharks Understand It. Do You?

You hear it on Shark Tank all the time. “The market for xyz is millions of dollars. If we can get just 5% percentage of that market, we will make millions.” The sharks roll their eyes. What’s wrong with this logic?

The problem with this line of thinking is what I call the “fractional fallacy.” Basing projections for success on acquiring a small fraction of a large market, sounds great. But it is flawed logic.

The size of the market, and the idea that you only need to penetrate that market in a small way to succeed oversimplifies the challenges of starting a business. It ignores the fact that any new business idea has multiple variables. The size of the market isn’t the only thing that matters. In fact, it may be one of the least important considerations for initial success.

First, the product must be needed and wanted. These two variables tend to be binary. Either the product is desirable or it is not, at least for widespread adoption. And this may be the  hardest aspect of starting a new business to predict.

Success relies on a number of variables that align in a way that the customer places value in what you have to offer. Then, and only then, is the market size relevant. If no one wants what your making, the billions of dollars flowing in the overall market is irrelevant.

Time as a Force

Einstein said that the most powerful force in the universe is compound interest. But I think he got it wrong. The most powerful force is – time. It impacts everything we do. And the older we get the more we see it’s effects.

Take for example, the cost of products. Order a birthday cake today and you’ll be surprised how thin it is. They just aren’t as tall as they once were. The price of the cake hasn’t changed. So why the short cake? Inflation. As the cost of goods increases over time, either the price of the product has to increase, or you have to get less of it. With cakes, for the same $20 today, you get less cake than you did twenty years ago.

Without the long term perspective of time, no one would notice. But those of us that have been around a while can’t be fooled.

So which is the force, inflation or time? Both. But as strong as inflation and interest are, they have a small impact in any one period. But add the force of time, and the effects of these other factors are magnified, or compounded, quickly.

Fail Fantastically. Succeed Spectacularly.

Fail Fantastically. Succeed Spectacularly. Nothing in between matters.

You will know it’s the right thing, when your willing to fail trying to do it. If it isn’t worth pouring everything you’ve got into it, regardless of whether you win or lose, it isn’t worth pursuing.

Find something you believe in, and then go all out for it.

If Your Bored . . .

Are you bored? You know the solution. Life is too short to waste time. Start that project, business, or trip you have been putting off. Inertia is the primary impediment to success. You have to start to finish. Why aren’t you starting?

If your bored, you simply aren’t taking enough risks.

Say “No” To Your Good Ideas

Everybody has ideas. In fact, many people have new good ideas everyday. And that’s a problem when it comes to making something a success.

The difference between great entrepreneurs and the ones that never really get much off the ground, is being able to say “no” to good ideas. Focus on ten tasks, and you’ll get ten partially done projects. Choose one thing to focus on, and you’ll be able to apply all of your energy to make that one thing successful.

To combat “idea fatigue” I have developed a system called – Good Idea? Great Idea? When I have an idea I am interested in pursuing I ask a couple people that I respect whether it is a good idea or a great idea. If they agree that it is a good idea, I throw it out. I only spend time pursuing things that pass the great idea test. Everything else gets left on the table.

Say no to good ideas. So the great ones can succeed. #takerisksbeyou