A few things I know at 38 that I wish I knew at 18

Today’s my birthday. This time last year, I wrote 37 lessons. Instead of trying to come up with another 37+1 lessons, I thought I’d expound on some of my best ideas from the last year.

Fall in love with your craft

I’m on my quest to achieve a one-arm handstand. Someday, I’ll get there and then I’m going to be disappointed.

The one-arm handstand isn’t my real objective. I’m actually obsessed with the pursuit. Once I achieve the goal I’ll have to find a new one.

I started writing Snafu a year ago because I wanted to hone my craft as a salesman, think more about human behavior, and write more. As I have on a notecard on my desk, “I like who I am when I write.”

Writing is hard. And doesn’t seem to get easier with time. As with water-only fasting or sitting in my cold plunge, the more I write, the harder it gets.

That’s what it is to pick a craft and stick with it. Read more on the pursuit of craft.

Creative habit

When I first read The Creative Habit by legendary modern dance choreographer Twyla Tharp, I saw in her writing my own desire to create.

My mother is a visual artist. She’s been making visual art for longer than I’ve been alive. My dad is a gardener. Every time I visit, he’s working in a new garden bed.

For twenty years, I’ve studied movement. Whether through jiu-jitsu, surfing, ballet, or handstands, physical practice is my creative habit.

I believe we are all happiest when we are building, making, and creating. Here’s an article on building a creative habit.

How to tell a great story

I started Zander Media in 2019 because I wanted to study storytelling.

I’ve learned a lot about storytelling in five years of telling other people’s stories for a living, but condensed into a single phrase my advise would be this:

Be fascinated by your story and your audience.

Great storytelling requires both enthusiasm and empathy. Here’s an article I wrote on storytelling.

Relentless optimism

I’m pretty happy most of the time. Not because my life is full of rainbows and puppies, but because optimism is a strategic advantage.

I’ve done a number of things that people told me were impossible – learning to do a backflip, joining a pre-professional ballet, opening up a restaurant. When you are relentlessly optimistic, you see opportunities that others don’t.

The best way to practice optimism is to practice celebrating – to actively celebrate things that could otherwise be viewed as setbacks. Here’s what I wrote about celebration.

Let’s reclaim selling

I’m not sure why it was that I initially gravitated towards sales. Maybe it’s because my grandfather sold vacuums door-to-door, but by the time I got to know him he was retired.

Or maybe it’s because my first job was selling homegrown pumpkins for Halloween. I earned $550 at five years old and I felt like I was doing something illegal.

Regardless of why, I’m on a lifelong quest to reclaim selling for the rest of us. Here’s the article on why everything is sales.


My grandfather was an alcoholic. My uncle died of alcohol and pills. I’ve been very fortunate to avoid that path.

But whether through 40 hours a week of ballet or an accumulated 45 days of water-only fasting in 2023, I live on a fine line between healthy habits and addiction.

I’m strict in only allowing myself things that are difficult to do, and get increasingly challenging the more you do them – like cold plunging or fasting – and not things like alcohol and sugar that feel good in the moment, but have negative consequences after.

I wrote about the fine line between habit and addiction.

Trust your hunches

For the last 4 months, I have eaten nothing but grass-fed bison, organic zucchini, and quinoa.

I have been dealing with gut information for years and mainstream medicine has been unable to help. (I’ve recently discovered that it is due to a bacterial infection.)

In eating three ingredients for months, I’ve also discovered that sugar is a drug and that most of us don’t eat enough protein. As a result of this three-ingredient diet, I’m healthier than I’ve ever been.

Just because what you are attempting is far outside the norm doesn’t mean that it is wrong.

Pay attention to yourself.
Trust your hunches.
Experiment from there.

Here’s the backstory.

Be of service

Professor BJ Fogg, PhD of Stanford University once told me to “Help people do things they already want to do.” He gave me this advice in reference to selling, but I actually think it is also a good life philosophy.

It encompasses generosity and empathy, persuasion and influence. You can’t help people do things that they already want to do if you aren’t first paying attention to who they are and what they want.

You have to really know someone, and yourself, before inviting them towards an outcome.

The best way to help people to change is to invite them towards things that they already want to do.

Here’s more on the topic.

Until next week,

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Share This Post