28 Pieces of Life Advice

In honor of my 28th birthday, here are 28 pieces of life advice:

  1. Block off 90 minutes in your calendar every morning to work on the most important thing. Wake up early if you need to. Don’t compromise. 
  2. If you’re writing and feel the need to use an exclamation point, you subconsciously know your words aren’t vivid enough. Don’t compensate. Drop the exclamation point and rewrite the sentence. 
  3. If you want to explore a new skill, don’t just consume information. Do the thing too. If you want to learn about music, don’t just listen to a lot of music. Play it too. Every activity has indescribable aspects you can only discover in the course of action. 
  4. When building a piece of IKEA furniture, don’t tighten all the screws to 100% right away. Start by tightening each one to 75%, and only bring them up to 100% once all the screws fit nicely together. This principle applies beyond furniture too. 
  5. Make decisions easy for busy people. You will rise fast in your career if busy people like working with you. Here’s a tip: when you have a problem to solve, come prepared with a suggested next step. If you have a question, phrase it in a way they can answer yes/no. If there are multiple options, lay them out and ask them to pick one. Try to avoid expansive, open-ended questions. 
  6. Don’t get offended by what others say. When you do, you’re subconsciously telling other people not to tell you the truth, which leads to bigger problems in the long-term. 
  7. Don’t choose what to read based on what was published recently. People have been writing for hundreds of years. Unless you need to for work, why prioritize the past 24 hours? 
  8. Top-shelf sunscreen for your face is worth it. 
  9. You should know enough about your hometown to keep somebody engaged for a two-hour tour. Don’t do it for others though. Do it for yourself. Learning about your environment makes it come alive. 
  10. Having a good Zoom setup is like wearing high-quality business attire. It creates a strong first impression. If you work remotely, invest in a good on-camera aesthetic. Get a decent camera, place it slightly below your eyes, face toward the light, and create an interesting background. 
  11. Make a ‘last resort’ playlist, and only listen to it when you need to crank through work you don’t want to do.
  12. Remember the Hotel Bathroom Principle: Whenever I’m in a city and I need to use the bathroom, I walk into a fancy hotel. They always have nice bathrooms, and if you’re dressed well and walk confidently, they won’t hassle you for using it. Though the world is becoming more casual, you should dress well enough to walk into a 5-star hotel and use their bathroom. 
  13. Religion is core to the human experience, but the way contemporary elites and academics dismiss it is a major blindspot. Don’t just read about religion. Experience it for yourself, even if you’re a non-believer. Attend religious services from all walks of faith. 
  14. Leaked emails are among the best ways to learn how business actually gets done. They often get released in legal proceedings. Read them.
  15. Nothing good happens between the hours of 1am – 4am. Go home. 
  16. Always fly with long socks and a zip-up jacket in case it’s cold on the airplane. You can change your socks when you get to the airport. If you have a jacket, use the extra pockets for storage. 
  17. To judge a book, open to a random page in the middle and see how you like it. I recommend page 87. Close enough to the beginning that it’s still written for a beginner, but deep enough that you’re well past the introduction. 
  18. Don’t look for people without vices. Instead, look for people who are up-front about them. Everybody has a dark side, and people are much more trustworthy when you know their weaknesses. (Thanks to Jeremy Giffon for this one).
  19. Save money on city hotels. You’re away from the room for most of the time. If you need to meet at a nice hotel for dinner, stay down the street and make a reservation. Spend the money you save on beach hotels, especially if you plan to spend entire days there. 
  20. The industry you work in will often dictate your success more than how good you are in that industry. For example, if you want to make money, play tennis instead of badminton or pickleball. A top-10 tennis player earns 10-20 times more than a Top 10 player in the next most prosperous racket sport. 
  21. Most of the pleasure in a dessert comes in the first three bites. After that, you should stop eating it. As a reward, you can eat dessert more often because you don’t binge it (Tyler Cowen taught me this).
  22. Spend at least 20% of your social time with people who are at least a decade older than you (family members don’t count). Don’t aim for mentorship. Aim for a two-way exchange of value. You’ll bring them vision and energy. They’ll give you wisdom and opportunities. 
  23. Music is the closest thing to social programming that exists. Choose what you listen to wisely. If you don’t, most of what you listen to will push you towards Faustian one-night stands and spending money on pointless stuff.  
  24. When you see somebody taking a photo of their friends, offer to take the shot for them so they can be in the picture. 
  25. Most wealthy people are starving for ideas and don’t have interesting friends, so you can claim a spot at the deca-millionaires table by simply having interesting ideas.
  26. Set aside 5% of the cash you earn after taxes, and put it in a bank account called “fun money.” Don’t invest it. Spend it recklessly on things you want to do, and don’t make yourself justify that spending. 
  27. Get your clothes fitted. Treat them like you’re going to own them for a decade so you can justify buying nicer stuff. Investing in fitted clothing becomes a good incentive to maintain a healthy weight. 
  28. To write well, delete most of what you put on the page. This piece began as 107 pieces of life advice, but I parsed it down to the top 28.