The Slowest Hiker

I love the scenic beauty of Washington State—it’s the main reason I moved here. The problem is that everyone here loves the scenic beauty, so most hiking trails are crowded. When I hike, I constantly pass big groups because they can only move as fast as the slowest hiker. Like the ancient adage, “A chain […]

Secondhand Smoke

I’m always amazed by how quickly a clever framing can sway public opinion. In the US, smoking went from a commonplace activity to a near-villainous crime within a half-century, almost entirely through advertising. Compared to other vices—alcohol, gambling, porn—smoking rarely resulted in violence, financial loss, or broken relationships. But, more than any other vice, smoking […]

Gravitational Pull

Imagine a group of people as a solar system. Be it a family, company, sports team, organization, church community, or a gaggle of friends—someone in the group is the sun, around which activities, decisions, and conversations orbit. A sun has gravity, and a sun-like person has the gravitas to pull others toward them. In bigger […]

Eating the Frog

My cousins and I used to visit a place in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula called “Black Rocks”—cliffs beside the icy waters of Lake Superior. The thirty-foot drop was scary, so my cousins and I teetered at the edge for many minutes, summoning the courage to jump. But the longer we took, the harder it became to […]

Underpants Gnomes

On an infamous episode of South Park, the boys do a school presentation about “underpants gnomes”— little elves that sneak into a house and steal underpants each night. The underpants gnomes have a sophisticated plan for their operation: It’s easy to mimic these underpants gnomes. For instance, every version of this newsletter is a fresh 3-pack […]

Gray Time

Imagine time as black and white, where black is work time, and white is playtime. If our days were a chessboard of activity, we’d starkly transform from work to play and play to work and have clear compartmentalization. The reality is that we mix colors: We muddle our time and spend many hours dwelling in […]

Chronos & Kairos

The Ancient Greeks had two concepts for time: Chronos and Kairos. Chronos is quantitative, purpose-driven, and marked by hours and minutes, and Kairos is qualitative, having no measure or agenda. No surprise, but Chronos was portrayed as stodgy and evil, whereas Kairos was romantic, pure, and beautiful. Reducing Chronos and Kairos to simplistic terms like […]

Cliffhangers

King Shahryar’s wife cheated on him, so he beheaded her in rage. Her beheading wasn’t enough to assuage his anger, so he picked up a gruesome habit of marrying a new woman each morning and beheading her each night. He did this to many wives for many nights until one woman—Scheherazade—told him a story. But […]

Zeignarik Effect

In the 1920s, Soviet psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik observed a waiter taking orders at a restaurant. When prompted, the waiter could easily recall items from unpaid orders but couldn’t recite a single item after the patrons had paid their bills. Zeigarnik published her seminal work, hereafter referred to by her namesake. The Zeigarnik Effect states that […]

Warrior vs. Soldier vs. Police

A “marketer” in a year-old, ten-person tech startup will vastly differ from a “marketer” in a fifty-year-old, five-thousand-person Fortune 500 conglomerate. Even other teams may have different expectations for the same role. The organization’s size, scope, and maturity dramatically influence jobs with the same title. Knowing the position you’re in (or interviewing for) can set […]