I turn 27 tomorrow: here’s ~27 micro-essays on life

A year is now officially 6-months. Luckmaxing. You were born to adapt. The "It is done" mindset. And the power of the follow-up.

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I remember being 14 and thinking 27 sounded old. Well, look what happens.

I’m convinced my years now feel like 6-month blocks. By this rate, when I’m 50 a year should feel like a season. Time flies when you’re having fun.

Anyway, I love birthdays. One of the main reasons being birthday’s in the Bourke house usually involve plenty of good food. Another reason being because growing up I always felt special that my birthday was the first day of Spring. Catch ya later Winter, bring on the singlet weather.

For the last couple of years, I usually use the backend of August to reflect on what I’ve learned in the past year. And after doing it for five years, I’m starting to notice a trend: how much I don’t know.

Another thing I remember being 14 is thinking the teachers (who were about my age now) knew what was going on. Now I’m there I realise they were still figuring this sh*t out too.

In saying that, take whatever you read here with a grain of salt. Some of them are directives, some of them are notes to myself. Maybe some of it relates to you, maybe you can point out the flaws in my thinking.

If you want to check out the other years, see 23, 24, 25, 26.

Let’s roll.

1. Don’t plan just show up

Go on, keep holding yourself back by waiting for the perfect moment to arise. Plan it all out, make sure you’ve got everything ready to go. If you don’t, don’t even think about starting.

And whilst you do so, there will be others who decided to show up.

The ones who decided to write the book instead of thinking about it.

The ones who decided to trust their abilities instead of their foolproof plan.

Think about all of the best things which have happened in your life. How many of them were planned?

Life hardly goes to plan. So forget your plans and put on a show instead.

2. You’re smarter doing than you are thinking

Writing is nature’s way of showing you how poor your thinking is. The best example of this is when you write down your fears or worries.

Seeing them in words makes you realise how petty many of them are.

Why?

Because fears and worries are often far worse in the mind than reality. They live in thought space, not action space.

Writing is a form of action space, a form of doing.

Bourdain’s donkey died of hunger and thirst after being stuck between a pile of hay and a bucket of water and not being able to decide which one it should go for first.

Don’t be a donkey. Act, do, think, adjust when needed.

3. I don’t care what you do or much you earn, what sets your soul on fire?

What have you made? Not from a salary. Not from your job. But from scraping the inner lining of soul and pouring it onto the pavement, cleaning it up, refining it, removing what doesn’t need to be there and turning it into something worth admiring.

The world needs more art. Create yours.

Side note: I’ve noticed nothing I can get excites me as much as the things I can create.

4. Learning isn’t linear

You read one book, you get the equivalent of one book smarter.

You do one course, you get the equivalent of one course smarter.

You study for a year and your knowledge has increased just as much you studied.

There’s a trend in the above sentences. They’re all lies.

School conditions you to think another year, another year smarter. But without dedication to your studies, as many do, you could end up the opposite, going about each year thinking they’re smarter than the previous without actually being smarter.

Learning is in payoff space, meaning the returns are nonlinear. You could study all year and not make any progress. Then whilst walking your dog down the street, looking at the neighbourhood fences, have a breakthrough you’d never even considered. Suddenly, your lack of progress ceases to exist.

The shame is it’s impossible to tell when the breakthrough will arrive. So one of the best skills you can build is the habit of learning, be tenacious with your studies. So when the breakthrough does arrive, you’re ready for it.

5. What doesn’t work

There is another side to knowledge and a seeming lack of progress: figuring out what doesn’t work, the most valuable kind of knowledge. However, despite the value of knowing what doesn’t work, you will not get rewarded by others for it.

Never devalue finding a dead end in your endeavours. When you close one door, you give yourself an opportunity to open others.

A good life can be lived by simply avoiding the things you know don’t work rather than always searching for the right thing to do.

6. Specifics win: show, don’t tell

When I worked in Apple retail, we had a saying.

“Benefits not features.”

In other words, don’t just explain to someone this new iPhone has a 12-megapixel camera, a 10nm processor, a 400 pixel per square inch resolution. Sure, if the person is a tech nerd, these things might be important to them but for most people, they want to know how something benefits them rather than what it is. The more specific the better.

How does having a good camera benefit their life?

“You’ll be able to take amazing photos of your daughter, look at this.”

What about a 10nm processor?

“This new processor means all of your favourite apps will load faster. Which doesn’t seem like much but remember the old computers which took forever to load? Yeah well, day to day it might not seem like much but add it up over a year…”

And a 400 pixel per square inch screen?

“Go on, try and zoom in. See the text? It’s not blurry. Have you ever got sore eyes from looking at a screen too long? It’s because your eyes have to constantly readjust for the blurry pixels.”

Benefits not features is a fancy way of saying, sell the product without explicitly selling it.

When you call sales sales, it typically gets a bad rap. But life is selling.

You’ve got to sell your personality to a future partner. Why should they love you?

You’ve got to sell your skills to an employer. Why should they pay you?

You’ve got to sell your product to customers. Why should they buy it? How does it benefit them?

Show, don’t tell.

7. The follow-up

I’m writing a novel. Three drafts in I decided to hire an editor. I’ve never hired an editor before so I asked Derek Sivers where he’d recommend I look. And he told me EFA (Editorial Freelance Association).

Qualifications don’t mean much to me so I posted the job as something along the lines of “help me fill the holes in my novel, no qualifications required but if you’ve edited novels before, that’d be great.”

The first email I got told me I’m probably going to get a lot of emails.

It was right. I got 120+ offers to edit my unfinished manuscript.

My email inbox started to give me more anxiety than usual. Since my going rate is replying to three emails a day, it’d take me a month and a half to get back to everyone.

Thankfully, I ended up finding an editor I vibed with within the first 20 applicants.

But I still made it a point to get back to everyone who offered their services.

Have you ever applied for something and not heard back at all? That’s a sh*t feeling. Even if the answer is no, I’d rather that than nothing.

I bumped my response rate up to 10 per day. Something along the lines of “Hey [name of generous person], thank you thank you thank you for your kind offer to help me edit my novel, however, I’ve found another editor to move forward with.”

What shocked me the most were the responses.

Like this one from Sue.

“Thank you so much for responding. You’re the first author I’ve responded to who has actually written back to me with a note of closure. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this gesture on your part.”

Look at that. Even though I was saying no, it sounds like it made her day.

There are two sides to this story. Because of my slow response rate, some editors followed up to their first offer to make sure I’d received it or had any questions.

Guess who I was more likely to respond to?

I couldn’t help it. Recency bias got the best of me. Because I saw the second email, even if they were below in the original queue, I’d get back to them first.

The takeaways?

  • If someone offers you their services, a response, even if it’s a no, is respectful.

  • If you care enough about an opportunity, you’ll follow-up.

Most undervalue the power of the follow-up.

8. Payoff space and consistency space

There are two ways of earning. Payoff space and consistency space.

Payoff space is the business owner, the entrepreneur, the risk taker, the investor. They invest an hour and may get rewarded exponentially or end up with nothing.

Consistency space is the employee, the commuter, the 9–5er, the casual worker. They invest an hour and get paid for that hour.

However, these two spaces go beyond earning.

Events can be payoff space. You go to the local cafe and end up meeting the love of your life.

Creations can be payoff space. I write an article, someone reads it, reaches out and asks if I’d like to partner up for a new business venture. The article might take 3–4 hours to write but the business venture changes your whole life. This happened.

Consistency space is common in diet circles. People eat the same way without changing. Their health deteriorates but they keep eating in the same way due to the requirement to be consistent.

Once you understand the two spaces, you can start to see why some of your actions result in linear returns (consistency space) and why some of the most important events in your life seemingly came out of nowhere (payoff space).

If you’re looking for returns many times your investment, you’ll want your actions to be in payoff space. If you prefer predictable outcomes, stick with consistency space.

9. You were born to adapt

A fallacy which pisses me off, partly because I fall victim to it often is: avoiding change whilst forgetting you were born to adapt.

If our ancestors couldn’t adapt to whatever situation came their way, I wouldn’t be writing these lines, nor would you be reading them.

What makes you different?

There’s been a shakeup in the job market. Recently, I saw a physics graduate making a living installing new bathrooms because he couldn’t get a job with his degree. He adapted when necessary.

10. Earn your dopamine

Save yourself from the grips of this addictive hormone with a simple heuristic: no risk, no reward.

No movement during the morning? No breakfast.

No study yesterday? No video games today.

No juicy cheque being delivered to your bank account from a recent business contract? No new iPhone.

11. Luckmaxing: increase your chances of serendipity happening

Every worthwhile opportunity I’ve had in the past three years has come to me. Meaning, I haven’t applied for any of them. The difference between the last three years and the previous three years? I increased the amount of creations I put into the world.

I’m terrible at applying for opportunities. That’s consistency space, my brain doesn’t work that way. I prefer them to come to me.

The idea here is simple. You want a job in finance, you move to New York, perhaps not right now due to the virus but you get the point. You want a new relationship, you dress nicer and go to places where other people looking for a relationship are. You want more friends, you talk to more people. You want a job that doesn’t exist, you create it by continually putting out work that someone in that job would do. You want to be a writer, you put out articles on the regular.

Will any of these actions pay off?

Maybe.

You’re smart enough to figure out the probability of doing the opposite.

12. Make the pathways

A really useful way to see your brain is as a pile of programmable mush. And the way to remember anything, in other words, make the pathways between neurons is through simplicity and repetition.

Think about anything hard, when you started, you probably sucked. But what happened after a while?

You practised, broke it down, made it simple and then repeated it a bunch of times. Eventually, it became part of your instinct.

I tried to learn to code three times. Each time I got overwhelmed when it got hard. I didn’t break it down enough. Didn’t invest the time into making the pathways.

Not having the skill to connect your ideas with the physical world is far more painful than the struggle of building the skill.

If you want to make something, you’ve got to make the pathways in your brain first. Do so through repetition and simplicity.

13. Own your territory

An internal argument I have is between the concept of putting out work for the sake of the work itself or putting it out there with your name on it. Think creating something and being anonymous versus taking responsibility for whatever it is you’re doing.

I respect the former but respect the latter more.

One could argue being anonymous puts more emphasis on the idea itself whereas taking ownership concentrates the credit on an individual or entity.

However, credit assignment is not my concern. There’s something about someone standing beside their creation and having the balls to say, “I did this.”

It’s opening the hood of your car and seeing the person who put it together’s signature on the manifold.

It’s the etching on the bottom of the statue where the carver has imprinted their name.

But it goes deeper than creations.

It goes for ethics and space (physical and mental) too. What do you stand for? What happens when someone invades your thought space? Do you treat them the same way as someone who invades your physical space?

The crippling guilt of an unlived life creeps in when you don’t accept the responsibility of carving out your own space.

An animal in a cage behaves irrationally because it’s had the one thing which makes it an animal away. A territory to dominate.

14. “It is done”

Amen is traditionally said at the end of prayer to signify “so be it” or “it is done”.

How would things change if you said it before commencing your next endeavour?

By starting something as if it was already over.

Call it visualisation, call it what you want. But something I’ve noticed: if I’ve even had a slight sway in confidence of something being done, the prophecy has fulfilled itself and whatever it was I was doing takes a dive. It’s like the universe has sensed the gap between my beliefs and actions to fulfil those beliefs.

Whereas for anything I’ve had a deep feeling inside me as if I’d already done it, it’s came off. I’m not pretending to be able to predict whether something will work or not but something has to be said for being irrationally confident, for being the one in a million who has a 100% true belief in whatever they’re doing.

Have you heard Elon Musk speak? Whether it be self-driving cars or colonising Mars, you can hear the belief in his voice. The energy is contagious.

Forget hope. Hope leaves space for disbelief. Hope is the currency of fools.

Begin your next mission as if you had already succeeded. You will be called crazy, obsessed, a lunatic. No matter. They are observers, if they are not standing beside you in your journey, their views do not matter.

Say it with me.

Amen.

15. Fix your balance: Creation vs. consumption

It’s never been easier to create but it’s also never been easier to consume.

Netflix usage, Facebook usage, YouTube viewing time, infinite scrolling. All have increased dramatically over the past few months (for future reference, I’m writing this in August 2020, during COVID19 lockdowns).

Imagine if it was the reverse. What kind of world would we live in if people sunk the same amount of consumption time into creation time?

I’m not even advocating more creation than consumption, just the same.

We started a family tradition. Every Sunday afternoon we’d compare the screen times on our phones. My little brothers and their friends were shocked when they saw they averaged 6–8 hours per day on their phones. Social media apps often dominating the top. And for what?

Tech companies aren’t stupid. They’ve implemented screen-time features so in a few years time when the science links a plethora of mental health issues to overdoses of digital interactions, they can say “well, it’s not like you weren’t aware of it.”

A simple exercise for the next week: how many hours do you spend creating, consuming and doing nothing? Do these balance out? If not, you might want to reassess.

16. The longer something has been around, the longer it will continue to be around

There will be a new iPhone in a couple of months. And there will probably be another one next year. However, in 10-years time, it’s unlikely either of these devices will work how they were intended.

But a book? A piece of technology which has been around for thousands of years?

It still functions as it was intended. You can pick up a book printed 100-years ago and it will still read as it did 100-years ago. And the same goes for a book printed tomorrow, permitted it doesn’t go for a swim or get caught in a house fire.

Nassim Taleb calls this effect, the concept that if something has been around for a certain period of time it is likely to stay around for that same period of time, the Lindy effect.

It’s easy to get obsessed with the new. Endless feeds, news cycles, technology, this abundance of information conditions us to believe the new thing is the most important thing.

How much of it will be relevant next January?

If you’re looking for something to read, something to learn, a subject to study, a new tool to use, somewhere to visit, the right food to consume use time as your filter.

17. It’s amazing what you can get if you just ask

It pains me to think about the opportunities which have evaporated because someone didn’t have the courage to ask. Imagine the number of lovers bathing in loneliness because each is waiting for the other to ask them out.

A few times per week, my Dad and I go for walks along the water. Every so often we run into a girl and her parents doing the same. And every time we’d say hello, good morning to each other. After a few weeks of this small interaction, I decided I wanted to ask her out. So one morning, I walked up, said excuse me, I don’t usually do this, but would you like to go out on a date sometime?

Turns out, she’s married.

And even though she said no, I still get a high off thinking about it.

Another girl at the cafe, I thought the same, maybe I’ll ask this girl out sometime. Except this time I didn’t, I sat there and watched her get up and leave. Months later, it still eats me up.

It doesn’t just go for dating. Jobs, business ventures, friendships, study questions, advice, entry into secret lairs.

If a company doesn’t have any job vacancies for your skillset, have you thought about asking?

If you’ve got a question about a topic in class, chances are many of the other students have the same question. I teach a machine learning course and the most common questions are not to do with complicated concepts but usually something simple explained poorly. A reflection of the teacher, not the student.

Your conversations will improve when you realise most people have plenty to say, they’re just waiting to be asked.

Merlin and I spent 2-hours sitting with a Dutchman and his wife sipping coffee and eating stroopwafels in a small blue boat on the end of a pier in New Zealand listening to stories about how he used to hunt deer out of a helicopter. How? We asked, “can we come aboard?”

Worst case, you get a no. Even then, reject is far more tolerable than regret.

18. Build more things with your hands

I am using my hands to type these lines. Seeing the letters come up on the screen gives me a good feeling. However, when I look at the coffee table in the lounge room I made when I was 15 in a woodworking class, the feelings do not compare.

Perhaps it’s the ability to interact with your creations with multiple senses. Touch and vision rather than just vision.

I walk past houses being built and admire the skill of carpenters. I think about the feeling they must have when completing a project, standing back and admiring the structure in front of them.

I read stories of churches which took decades to construct and think about the builders who died before seeing their work finished. Whereas, I sometimes lack the motivation to edit the 2nd draft of an unfinished article.

Not only do I want to fulfil the urge in me to create. To write words, to write code. I’d like to build more things in the physical world.

What if a door came off its hinges?

Could I fix it?

Oh yes, but you could just hire someone to do so.

Of course, but then how often would I end up doing such a thing? Would I slowly end up as someone incapable of doing anything for themselves?

The builder in me dreams of a workshop filled with tools, littered with wood shavings and a house full of furniture crafted with purpose.

In the digital world, it’s easy to forget: if you don’t make the stuff, there is no stuff.

19. Use less tools

If only you had the right pencil to write the book trapped in your soul.

If only you had the right computer to code the program floating through your ideas.

If only, if only…

The amateur holds back their creations in search of the best tools. The professional says, f*ck the tools, give me constraints, throw me the curveball, I’ll swing.

I’ve been stuck there. Trying to learn a new programming framework to make things easier instead of sticking to fundamentals.

Looking for the best writing app instead of picking up a pen and paper and bleeding onto the page.

In a kitchen full of options, a chef still spends the majority of their time with the combined use of two tools: a knife and the controlled use of fire.

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already got a knife. What’s your controlled use of fire?

I’ll give you a hint. You’ve probably already got that too. It’s the poke in your side. The thoughts you feel laying in bed at night. The fear you avoid. Let it out before you get burned.

20. Time spent doing nothing is rarely wasted

An accordion only makes sound when compressed and pulled apart. Filled with air and then emptied.

A room is wall fours around empty space.

A ship floats because of the space in its hull.

The tires on your car are filled with air.

Don’t underestimate how your ability to do nothing influences your ability to do anything.

21. Copy others until you have your own style

Ideas are commodities. If you’ve thought of something worthwhile, someone else probably has too.

Knowing this, it’s impossible to face creative roadblocks because anything can become your inspiration.

I stopped quoting others on purpose. I want to go through the effort of absorbing their thoughts and then making them have sex with my own. I want my creations to be the love child of the work of my idols and my own ideas.

A few weeks ago, I created a feature-length film introduction to many of the most fundamental concepts in machine learning. Along with it came an interactive roadmap joining different concepts together.

The whole thing started out as my interpretation of Daniel Formosso’s original machine learning mindmaps. I then added in the works of Aurélien Geron’s Hands-On Machine Learning Book, various passages from the Machine Learning Mastery blog and many more resources. Once I was happy with the skeleton, I dressed it up with my own ideas. Added flairs of colour where I thought necessary, removed the parts which weren’t.

And I’ll be honest, before I posted it, I didn’t think much of it.

Silly thoughts like: What am I contributing here? All of this material already exists somewhere…

A momentary lapse in self-belief. When will I learn? Come on son, what you’ve created here is really something. Imagine if you had this when you started out. Ho ho, what a kickstart that would’ve been.

I came to my senses when I realised even the Mona Lisa started out as a portrait of Lisa del Giocondo.

If you’re stuck on where to start, steal the ideas of others and use them to fuel the fire of your own work.

23. Amplify your weirdness

If you haven’t heard there’s a computer program out there now which can probably write better articles than you. It’s called GPT3. What the letters stand for don’t matter. But as you can imagine the “3” stands for version three. Which means there’s probably going to be a version four, which will probably be better than version three.

It works by sucking in a whole internet worth of text, imagine all of Wikipedia, all of Reddit, all of Medium, all of those obscure blogs you read and more. It then uses this large body of text to figure out the patterns between different words.

For example, whether the word “giraffe” is more like to come after the words “I love my pet _____” than the word “dog”.

So what is one to do?

Well, you either learn to play GPT3 like you learn to play the piano. As in, use the program to write for you. Who knows, maybe this whole post was written by GPT3.

Or, you amplify your weirdness.

You inject more humanness into your articles.

How?

I don’t know. You’re you. Let your quirks sink into your work. Perhaps you have a healthy obsession with 100% almond butter or perhaps you know the ideal ratio of mushroom compost to mulch ratio one should use in their home gardens.

More and more things are starting to look the same. New smartphones are basically pieces of glass with cameras on them. Take the badge off almost any new car and try and guess what brand it is. Maybe the Cybertruck was such a hit because of its weirdness.

When I read your work, what makes it yours?

Does it make me want to dance from sentence to sentence?

Or could I get this type of experience anywhere?

If so, no thank you. Life’s to short to read crap, hear crap, make crap.

A new filter for my own writing is: could this have been written by GPT3? If so, delete and start again.

24. Why so serious?

The Joker came out last year and became the top grossing R-rated film of all time. I have an idea why.

Despite the clear darkness of the film, many related to the whole idea of not taking things so seriously.

The Joker was fed up with the day to day mundane activities filling the time between birth and death. The kids stealing the sign, the boss firing him, living with his ageing mother, not being acknowledged by his peers or his idols.

We’ve all felt this pain, the pain of being left in the dark. And it either consumes you or it makes you.

The most powerful scene for me was when the Joker came dancing down the stairs to Gary Glitter’s Rock n’ Roll (part 2). He’d given in. He’d become himself.

Either way, that’s how you can tell a really swinging human being. A person who’s ignored the collective voices of others telling them to be one way or another and started dancing to their own tune.

The ultimate test in life is not seeing whether or not you can avoid the darkness, it’s seeing whether or not you can dance with it.

And let’s be serious, if you’re not dancing through life, what else are you doing here?

25. Ready, fire, aim

Saw video of lioness stalking flood of warthog streaming past.

Lioness sitting there quietly. Watching. Thinking. Many warthog running by.

One minutes passes. Lioness still watching. Video getting boring now.

BOOM!

Lion comes out of nowhere and tackles first warthog he sees. Little banged up by other warthogs but has teeth deep into rump of captured warthog.

Lion carries warthog off to finish the hunt.

Lioness still watching warthog stream and now lion walking off with warthog in mouth back to heard.

Lion walks off screen. Lioness still watching.

Still thinking.

Still hungry.

26. I missed number 22

Didn’t you notice?

Hell, I didn’t even notice.

What else is hidden in plain sight that we’re missing out on?

27. Anti-X

Anti-goals, anti-role-models, anti-ways-of-living, anti-ethics.

Whenever I’ve been lost on the right way to do something, I’ve referred to the anti-X idea of doing things.

I didn’t know how to get fit but I knew I didn’t want to be fat, so I figured out how.

I didn’t know how to start a business but I knew I didn’t want to work a job, so I figured out how. There’s nothing to it. All you do is bring people value and charge them for it.

You might not know the person you want to be but it’s likely you know the person you don’t want to be.

28. Love yourself like your life depends on it

You tell others you love them but when was the last time you told yourself?

Mine was this morning. Looking in the mirror. Full eye contact.

I love you. I love you. I love you.

It’s simple but all else stems from this.

Love is the suit of armour you wear into the battle of life against the ever present subconscious fear of death.

Bonus round

Sheesh. I didn’t realise how large a number 27 is. These didn’t make the original list but circled around long enough to be mentioned.

1000 ways to skin a cat

My physics teacher used to say, “there’s 1000 ways to skin a cat” to describe the number of different ways you could solve mathematical equations.

Animal cruelty aside, the same goes for the different ways of living life.

To put it bluntly, a horseback rider in Mongolia doesn’t give a f*ck what TV series you’re up to date with on Netflix and likewise you for what village she’s planning on raiding next.

The only true way to live is to create your own style.

Have fun

If you’re not having writing it, how do you think your readers are going to feel?

This is not to say avoid anything that isn’t fun. Many will claim your ability to do things which are difficult correlates with your level of success.

But there’s a caveat here. You can flip the switch. Outside of physics and math, life is largely a self-fulfilling prophecy. Change your narrative to make difficult things fun.

Health by first principles

I’m shredded. Meaning, my abs are visible. You can see veins coming out of my limbs in various places. Google statue of David and you’ve got me.

My body should be the average. Except sadly, I’m becoming more and more of an outlier.

There’s no secret.

I move every day, avoid eating things my great grandparents wouldn’t recognize as food, eat one to three times per day max, get adequate sleep. And laugh very very often (the best ab workout).

More data cannot prove, only disprove

A turkey has 999 good days until thanksgiving comes along. Based on the good days you’d think all was well.

You’ve heard how much more data we’re producing every day. But more data doesn’t necessarily mean better decisions. In fact, one way to tell if someone is divorced from their essence is if they can’t make a decision without adequate data.

Because to truly make a decision based on adequate data, you’ve have to reinvent the entire universe specific to your situation.

One million data points can tell you one thing and all it takes is a single data point to come up showing the opposite for your understanding to be completely thrown.

A list of failures

People, including me, avoid specifically defining their goals or assigning timelines to projects because it means if you don’t adhere to them, you lost.

It’s too easy to list wins. Here are a few things I’ve failed at in the last year:

  • Machine learning course release date: was meant to be November 2019, came out in January 2020.

  • Book release date: was meant to be April 2019 (wow, this one is longer than a year), still not out. I owe Dave $500 for this one.

  • Detectron2 project: I spent 6-weeks replicating Airbnb’s amenity detection pipeline with the goal of improving their results. My results weren’t better.

  • Snapchat Lens: had a four week contract with Snap to build a multi-class food detection model right within Snapchat. At the end of the four weeks, it only worked for one class.

  • Liquid cash in the bank: the goal at the start of 2020 was $250k, with 4-months left, it’s about $100k.

  • YouTube subscribers: 58k/100k for 2020. At the risk of sounding like a copout, I’ve never really cared about the number here. 1,000 was my only goal.

  • Writing every day: some days I miss.

  • Reading 1-hour per day of a book which intimidates me: the going rate is about once every three to four days.

  • Build a nutrition education app: started, on hold for another project.

One could argue these were all wins in some way or another because they partially came off. I either learned something or taught someone else something or gained a story to share.

But in terms of specific wins or date certainty, they were all loses.

Do I beat myself up about them?

Of course not. I see it as a way of tracking whether or not you’re all talk or walk. Talking comes easy to me. But your actions reveal your true desires.

A trend I’ve noticed in my own work: I’m pretty good with trajectory but timelines? Not so much.

People I’ve learned from

Find a person’s inspirations and you can often learn more about them than through their own work.

I’ve found the following people’s work indispensable to my own over the past year(s).

  • Derek Sivers — read all his books and articles on life, business and relationships. Listened to all of his podcasts with various people on similar topics. Have emailed back and forth with him various times asking for advice on programming, business and lifestyle. Thank you Derek.

  • Nassim Taleb — taught me more about the mathematics of risk taking with words than any math book I’ve ever read. I bought the hardcover version of his Incerto series and am now reading through it for a second time. Thank you Nassim.

  • James Altucher — much of my writing style comes from emulating Altucher articles. He’ll write something, I’ll read it and use it to fuel my own writing. Thank you James.

  • YousXP — the “It is done” point comes directly from one of his tweets. Also recently read an article of his called “Life’s Gamble”, the takeaway? Throw more darts, take more chances. Thank you Youssef.

  • Danny Miranda — great articles combining some of his own wisdom and that of others. Makes me want to do better work. Also, great name. Thank you Danny.

  • Paul Skallas — the LindyMan. The payoff space and consistency space point came directly from his work. Sign up to his newsletter and read his Tweets for an in-depth understanding of the value of time-tested traditions. Thank you Paul.

  • Scott Galloway — plenty of lessons here not only about business and marketing but about injecting your soul into your writing. The definition of the edutainment. Thank you DAWG.

  • Scott Adams — if you want to know why Trump is such an effective persuader, read Scott’s book Win Bigly, then go through all of his other books.

  • Joe Rogan — there’s only one person on the planet I know who can go from talking about how you could f*ck a turkey up if you kicked it in the head to some the most important issues of our time with some of the most important people of our time. Thank you Joe.

  • Elon Musk — no words necessary. Looking forward to peering down onto Mars from Heaven and seeing a statue of Elon. Thank you Elon.

  • Programming books — Hands-on Machine Learning and Effective Python: 90 Specific Ways to Write Better Python have both stepped up my coding game this year.

  • Alex Becker — sometimes it can be hard to relate to someone if they’re a couple of decades older than you. Alex is about 5-years older than me and doing many of the things I endeavour to do. Feels like having an older brother on the internet. Thank you Alex.

  • Seth Godin — everything I know about marketing and storytelling comes from Seth. I only put the knowledge he’s already shared into practice. Thank you Seth.

  • Steven Pressfield — I’ll tell you if you want to be an artist, you’ll read Steven Pressfield’s books. But he wouldn’t. He’d tell you to do the work instead. Thank you Steve.

  • Hunter S. Thompson — I found my first Hunter S. Thompson book in a community library on a road trip through Melbourne. I then went on to read his entire catalogue. If my writing has improved this year, it’s because I’ve stolen from Dr. Gonzo. Thank you Hunter.

  • Lex Fridman — a blackbelt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, an artificial intelligence researcher, a content creator but most of all a deep thinker. All of the things I’ve taken a liking to only much more skilful. Thank you Lex.

  • Caleb Kaiser — building a machine learning product and writing about it along the way. Inspiring work. Thank you Caleb.

  • Justin — an older brother I never had. Let’s get more hill sprints and morning garage sessions in this Summer hey? Thank you Justin.

  • Patrick Bourke — thank you for teaching me not to take life so seriously. A role model for no matter what happens, still figuring out a way to laugh. Thank you Dad. I love you.

  • Anne Bourke — I’ll be lucky to be as half as caring as you are. If reincarnation is real, I must’ve done something pretty good in a past life to deserve a mother like you. Thank you Mum. I love you.

  • My brothers — Will, Josh, Sam, thank you for constantly pointing out where I’ve contradicted myself and challenging me to be a better role model. I love you all.

Sh*t…

Now I realise how many more people could go on this list. Damo, Don, Dave & family, Joey, George, Rosey, Andrei, Shubahm, Merlin, Shaik, you’re all legends. I love you all.

Whenever your birthday is, happy birthday mothef*cker.

Let’s do this again in another 12 (read: 6) months, shall we?

In the meantime, keep learning, keep creating, keep moving.

Big dogs gotta eat,

Daniel

PS to see the other years of this post, check 23, 24, 25, 26.

PPS which was your favourite?

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