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It’s my 39th birthday!

I love using birthdays to reflect on what was learned, trying something new, or appreciating memorable moments from the past year. I also like to craft recaps (e.g. 33rd birthday / 2014 recap) for my future self to read. This year, YDNTB is quite the relic to always remember this moment in my life so instead of a personal narrative highlighting the past, let’s lean into the future by exploring the idea of retirement.

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“Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow.” –Naval

I always told myself I wanted to retire in my thirties. Financial advisors are quick to remind us that the golden years of middle class leisure will require around $1 million in savings, but perhaps there’s more to this story.

Yes, the traditional path to retirement is all about earning enough money to cover the burn rate of your life. A second option to realizing financial freedom is to reduce your burn rate to zero, but not many people are cut out to be a monk.

I prefer early retirement in the form of leveraging what you love to do. Similar to what I describe as Career Nirvana, peaceful satisfaction can be achieved when you do something you love so much that it’s not about the money anymore. This doesn’t mean the work stops or that the responsibilities of life fade away. It’s quite the opposite, as more opportunities tend to present themselves when you figure out what you’re best at and map that to what society wants. This forges an abundance of innovative energy you can’t buy. As you collaborate with those who feed off this energy, you soon realize that nobody can compete with being you.

As you build towards such transcendence and realize that a neon future awaits us all, I’ll close with a toast. May the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows. Cheers!

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Good, better, best;
Never let it rest,
‘Til your good is better,
And your better is best.

Champions of Change

Intrapreneurs are starters who champion change inside established companies.

These skilled and determined people are often salaried employees who want to enjoy their job more. They do this by reinventing how they work at a company they trust. While intrapreneurs shake things up in more controlled environments, they share a similar innovative spirit with entrepreneurs building their own company. They challenge the status quo for larger companies smart enough to listen.

Companies that recognize the value of intrapreneurship stay ahead of the market. They do so by not falling too far behind the innovation curve. Smart companies go further by emboldening intrapreneurs. They do so with trust, resources, and a culture that encourages their passionate employees to get weird.

This sounds cool, but there’s a lot of moving parts when steering a cruise ship (large companies) compared to a little speed boat (startups). Add the fact that no matter how big a company is, change is hard, everyone fears it, and advocating for change is more difficult with more branches on the decision tree. As if it’s not complex enough, new ideas will always feel risky to those in power as well. This makes climbing the ladder of progress painfully slow and poses a quagmire for intrapreneurs: constant oversight and a lack of action can lead to burnout.

Intrapreneurial burnout usually translates into employees leaving the company or choosing to play it safe. When conformity sets in, intrapreneurs lose their edge and misinterpret the market. To avoid this hazard, intrapreneurs must keep making a ruckus and companies must help preserve innovative vibes by motivating intrapreneurs with action.

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Big, small, old, and new businesses can all do more when the people they trust find fresh ways to collaborate throughout the community.

Shifting the perspective, it’s good for entrepreneurs when more inspired intrapreneurs are connected throughout an ecosystem, but collaboration with intrapreneurs requires a long-term approach.

One reason is that intrapreneurs can be hard to identify within a startup community. Many intrapreneurs are also quick to say they’re not entrepreneurial, which makes it even harder to uncover these hidden leaders. If you’re a founder able to connect with these unicorns in the balloon factory, be quick to encourage their fresh ideas. Show interest in their latest innovation and invite them to where other entrepreneurs are gathering. Everyone is entrepreneurial to some degree, so the more intrapreneurs feel innovative energy, the more they’ll participate within the community.

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Are you an intrapreneur? If you shake things up and fuel positive change in an existing organization, You Don’t Need This Book is as much for you as it is for students, side hustle enthusiasts, or entrepreneurs building new companies. Another interesting read is Free Prize Inside by Seth Godin. There’s an entire section focused on championing new ideas into existing companies.

Entrepreneurs need intrapreneurs, and intrapreneurs need entrepreneurs. Intrapreneurs stay innovative by learning from entrepreneurs who are building what’s next. In exchange, intrapreneurs offer entrepreneurs established wisdom and access to customers. Intrapreneurs may not always be the decision makers, but they can still share resources, feedback, and meaningful introductions. This elevates entrepreneurs and fuels more profitable initiatives led by intrapreneurs.

Such shared momentum translates into existing companies getting more excited by profitable progress and often converts to an increase in their company’s community involvement. Companies become more willing to reinvest in intrapreneurship and ongoing innovation is liberated by an entrepreneurial mindset. As more existing companies thicken their connectivity within the startup community and entrepreneurial ecosystem, more ways to collaborate will emerge. Over time, the rising tide of intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial activity compounds into community-driven partnerships that raises all ships through layered economic growth.

Threaded Thoughts

Let’s talk tactics. Here is a simple technique to absorb, translate, and share the (audio)books you read.

Start with one tweet, then reply to that same tweet over and over again. The result is a thread (sometimes called a tweetstorm) that combines your key takeaways and gives you a single link to share your collective thoughts.

Here are a few examples…
Tribes – Seth Godin
We Are All Weird – Seth Godin
This Is Marketing – Seth Godin
Free Prize Inside – Seth Godin (ideal for intrapreneurs)
The Icarus Deception – Seth Godin (great for students)
Startup Community Way – Brad Feld & Ian Hathaway
Think Like A Freak – Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner
The Hard Things About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
Angel – Jason Calacanis
The Almanack of Naval Revikant
BONUS THREAD – Big Thoughts in Little Tweets

Why is this helpful? If you’re thirsty to learn from (audio)books, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed as authors bombard you with knowledge. Passively enjoying (audio)books is fine, but this organizational exercise forces you to slow down, which reduces the numbing effect. In short, crafting concise tweets that are all connected forces you to feel the experience.

Another benefit to sharing threaded thoughts, is that each public post draws out more focused contemplation. I’ve found this technique makes me think deeper, use words carefully, and has actually made me a better writer. Such value is compounded when the entire thread can be retrieved with one link.

Lastly, this exercise generates accountability. When this exercise becomes a habit, you spend extra time with that first tweet, knowing it may become be the foundation for a neat collection of thoughts. As the thread expands, you’ll feel momentum that keeps you listening/reading. If progress stalls, the lingering sense of an incomplete project may bring you back to finish the literary journey. If you must get through something quickly, just craft a smaller thread, but include one post that lists the page numbers for areas that caught your attention. Such a hack is still better than nothing.

To be clear, this exercise is not about pirating content or echoing knowledge like a parrot that sounds smart. It’s about sharing a meaning narrative while leaning into what resonates for you, knowing you’re creating a relic for others (including your future self) to enjoy as well.

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Tag me on Twitter if you try this! I’d love to follow along and will definitely chime in if you experiment using You Don’t Need This Book.

Career Nirvana

Career nirvana is achieved when your community, work, and personal life are in harmony. This state of mind comes from happiness, health, and wealth emanating from the freedom to do whatever you’re best at with people you care about.

There is little holding you back from achieving such splendor. Start by doing remarkable work you enjoy. This creativity earns attention and delivers intellectual, human, financial, network, cultural, physical, and institutional capital. As we learn from The Startup Community Way, the Seven Capitals keep you building by using what you have, to attract what you want.

Let passion fuel persistence, then fuse your career portfolio into the entrepreneurial ecosystem. As you connect into community, be generous by accelerating others and use the trust that creates to do it more often. When this becomes routine, your generosity will leave a legacy. For innovators looking to change the world, such a legacy grants enduring satisfaction and furthers the sense of euphoria.

As a fulfilling career is composed, it’s easier to find work-life balance. Remember, we work to live. We don’t live to work. Nobody looks back wishing they had spent more time in the office. Use the freedom you create to embrace those you love while doing more things that make you happy.

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“The peace and satisfaction of building what you truly care about is one of life’s greatest gifts.”  –You Don’t Need This Book

This may sound idealistic, but it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. This approach to work requires creativity, immeasurable time, immense ambition, and advanced efficiency. As discussed in the Side Hustles chapter of YDNTB, an acute awareness of your personal bandwidth is essential to optimizing when and how resources are utilized. It can also be tempting to spend too much time on things that are fun but may not have real potential. Be humble enough to recognize what you have and what it will take to evolve your idea(s) into reality. Managing multiple “hobbies that pay” takes serious effort, but the reward is extraordinary work you love talking about and an inner peace that provides transformative happiness.

If you achieve career nirvana, be thankful, but recognize that things will always change. What you have today may not be the same tomorrow. Keep building to enjoy the moment, then make it last with generosity that recycles a sense of abundance for others along the way.

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Cheers to everyone who made last week’s book launch a huge success! Signed softcovers were shipped nationwide and more orders continue to pour in. As you dig into YDNTB, I’d love to see photos, hear what resonates and explore fresh ways to accelerate your work.

Jargon vs. Understanding

Seth Godin is my favorite thinker, but I’ve been pondering the words of Naval Ravikant a lot lately. In this interview, Tim Ferriss and Naval riff on how Richard Feynman differentiated jargon versus true understanding.

This has me reflecting on how humans seek the ability to effectively explain our thoughts, but too often a lack of understanding leads to fancy words and long-winded rhetoric. Sounding smart may protect our perceived knowledge, but as Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

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This tweetstorm first introduced me to @Naval. I’ve since listened to his podcast, read the Almanack of Naval Ravikant and enjoyed this Joe Rogan interview where Naval says, “We have two lives, and the second begins when you realize we only have one.”

As I translate this collective wisdom, I’ve organized a few simple constructs to practice this mental mindset.

  • Be more succinct with my words.
  • Ask an increased amount of concise questions.
  • Get comfortable with uncomfortable silence.
  • Inspiration is perishable. Act on it immediately.

    When trying to balance this cerebral equation, here’s are two questions to ask: Can we deconstruct, expand, or compress what was just said? Can we then describe the exact same idea five different ways? If not, seek further insight to go beyond memorized jargon for true understanding leads to more confident, diverse, and transformative conversations.