The Best of Sett A Curated Best of Sett en-us Mon, 23 Sep 2019 00:15:50 +0000 Sett RSS Generator Punch That Wall A Few Times by Sebastian

You’re not stuck until you’ve taken every step up to the barrier, and tried to break through.

I run a small consulting firm, and I’m the (volunteer) Executive Director of a growing nonprofit. I see a lot of different people in very personal, intimate, nitty-gritty detailed situations.

I see my clients — usually founders, CEOs, or high-level executives— and I get a unique window into their staff and partners. I see who is performing and who isn’t.

On the charity side, we have a core team of around 9 people, and another 10-15 on the edges of the organization who help out from time to time.

And here is one of the biggest predictors of success —

The most successful people do every action they can take right up until hitting a barrier, and try to break through the barrier at least a couple times before stopping to analyze or ask for help.

This does not come naturally to analytical and thinking people. It does not come natural to people who are conservative, cautious, or have a significant fear of failure.

I’m naturally analytical. I did not naturally follow this successful pattern. I did the opposite.

I would see a barrier on the horizon, and I’d sit down on the ground and get worried about it. I would start feeling a little bad, and maybe ask for help. Sometimes — most embarrassingly to confess — I would just quit at that stage.

I wanted guarantees of success. I wasn’t willing to put in the intensive action until I was sure things would work.

This, of course, is a near-fatal flaw to building successful organizations and achieving large things.

Art Williams, the billionaire founder of AL Williams and Associates, said: “I don’t believe it’s possible for smart people to succeed. They’re too busy figuring things out to actually do anything.”

Hyperbole aside, the man makes a point. When you complete all the work in your capability even when you see a potential roadblock, the world opens up for you.

Often you’ll discover the solution yourself as you do the work. In the rare instances that you don’t, all the work and momentum you’ve built makes you credible — and makes it easy to ask and get a helping hand.

Remember this: if you see a wall on the horizon, march right up to it. And take at least a couple shots to knock it over before you’re discouraged.

Don’t ignore the barriers. Do give them thought. But never at the expense of doing the work.

Sebastian Marshall authors The Strategic Review, actionable long-form insights from strategy. You can get a free subscription at — if you’re looking for an excellent volunteer opportunity that helps you get excellent contacts, build very valuable skills, and do good for the world, you can email

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Wed, 18 Sep 2013 17:59:09 +0000
Wealth Redistribution by Danny “I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.” - Stephen Jay Gould

I love this quote. More than anything else I've heard, this sums up why I believe everyone should do what they can to help others. If we can come together and solve basic problems for everyone in the world, all of humanity will benefit from the increases in the collective knowledge. Just imagine if Einstein or Newton had been born in a situation where every single day the only task was to find food and clean water. As Gould says, this is very likely the case with other individuals of equal talent right now.

There are plenty of problems to fix, and plenty of reasons that each of them remains a problem. I guess this is just a good reminder of how philanthropy and other investments can ultimately pay back a thousand times.

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Sun, 15 Sep 2013 18:11:28 +0000
On Being a Bully Buster by Laura LM My heart broke and melted at the same time. I was listening from the top of the stairs during a playdate between my daughter Zoe, her BFF, and her other good friend. Her BFF kept complaining about the third friend who was 2 years younger than the two, "Why does Joey (n]]>

My heart broke and melted at the same time. I was listening from the top of the stairs during a playdate between my daughter Zoe, her BFF, and her other good friend. Her BFF kept complaining about the third friend who was 2 years younger than the two, "Why does Joey (name changed) have to be here? He's a baby and no fun. I bet he'll just mess things up." Joey's feelings were obviously hurt. Before I could process what was happening within the group dynamics I heard my daughter say directly and plainly, "Suzy (name changed), you are being mean. I know you are a nice person but if you keep acting this way Joey will think you are mean too, and no one will want to play with you." Suzy stopped being mean and they all played together without further incident.

My heart broke because at 6 years old, my kid was already experiencing and navigating through bullying behavior. (This wasn't the first time Suzy had tried to exclude others from their play group). How does it come to be that these beautiful children, blank slates of new beings, were already picking on each other and making others feel unwelcome. Remember life as a six year old? All you wanted to do was fit in and be included in your social group. And yet, I had a brave daughter who risked being ostracized from the only world she knew, to right a social wrong.

I've asked Zoe many times why she continues to want to play with Suzy who can be mean, and she replied with such sweet and simple wisdom, "I do bad things sometimes and you still love me." My heart melted. How can I argue with the natural law of love? Universal love finally made sense to me.

Imagine if we, as adults, adopted that philosophy. If we loved each person we met, the same way we loved our own children. Wow! My mind was blown. I forgive my daughter for her mistakes because I love her. Could I apply that same unconditional love to all of mankind? Philosophically my higher brain knows this is the right way to live but my sometimes-louder reactionary lower brain likes to mutter 'idiot driver' when someone cuts me off on the road.

I'm a member of an online women's veterans community. It is a place where women veterans post updates about their lives and seek encouragement and feedback from fellow veterans. It's a positive community and I enjoy reading and commenting about the successes of others.

There is, however, one particular member who is focused solely on her personal politics. Tammy (name changed) likes to post snide comments and encourage others to not support the goals of someone within the group if she finds out that the member's personal politics support a different political party from hers.

I have seen her comments and generally, like most people, ignore them. But the other day it finally hit me - Tammy was a bully! She was a grown Suzy with no friend like Zoe to positively influence her. Tammy had become an online bully who hides behind her computer screen to intimidate and cause pain.

The other day one of my fellow vets posted a story about an free fitness camp she started for children. Kids, exercise and free - what's not to love? Not for Tammy- "This sounds like a program the Nazis had. I think its a terrible idea."

The only flaw I could see in this kids camp was that the founder was a former local politician and obviously from the other side of the political aisle from Tammy. My lower brain wanted to finger-point and yell, "Tammy, you are such a jerk! Why are you always tearing people down?" But, spend any time online and you will know that name calling quickly spirals out of control into unproductive bigoted slurs in every situation no matter what the original topic.

(Deep Breath) How would I react if she were my daughter? A much-deserved time-out was unenforceable. How would my daughter have reacted if she were Suzy? Ignoring her hateful comment, I posted a follow-on positive comment, "I think what Tracy is doing is great. It takes great courage to start something. She is a fellow veteran and I support her camp." Lots of 'likes' attached to my message and Tammy was silenced. I had focused on positivity and won the battle.

I wondered how many other people were tired of seeing Tammy's mean-spiritted posts. Philosopher Edmund Burke said, 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.' How many times have I stood by and done nothing? And how much less do I have to lose by saying something positive, than my 6 year old child whose entire social world could have ended by her fearless but kind-hearted stance towards bullies? What if we all modeled ourselves on the wisdom of a child?

"Besides," Zoe continued on that fateful playdate, "Maybe Suzy will want to be more like me if I'm nice." I quickly realized that as much as I try to teach my daughter, she is continually teaching me.

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Sat, 07 Sep 2013 14:57:48 +0000
You are Full of Shit about Food and here's why by I am an experimentalist. If you can prove 2 things to me, then I'll try it at least for a couple of weeks. Does this have a potentially great benefit? Will it kill me? If the answer is Yes and No, then let's get it on. There is quite a lot of arrogance in the scienti]]>

I am an experimentalist. If you can prove 2 things to me, then I'll try it at least for a couple of weeks. Does this have a potentially great benefit? Will it kill me? If the answer is Yes and No, then let's get it on.

There is quite a lot of arrogance in the scientific community as I imagine it has always been this way in history. The only thing that has been proven is that every scientist in the past has virtually been wrong. They may have been close in approximation, but always wrong.

Galileo's persecution of finding out that the universe did not revolve around us is a classic case used. If we look today who gets persecuted in challenging the status quo, we have political revolutionists (Assange, Snowden, etc), dietary & medical revolutionists (Mark Sisson, Dave Asprey, Douglas Graham, etc), and physics & reality revolutionists (Richard Feynman, Rick Strassman, etc).

The case I am making is experimentation is the very heart of discovery. However, our society demonizes it. One area I have very intimate experience is with diets. I never had even one supporter for anything I was trying, and I also had to deal with extremely difficult social situations because of it. Nonetheless, here are some key lessons from being my own guinea pig.

1. We are all different

I can't say this enough. What works for someone may or may not work for you. I can't for the life of me take Vitamin D supplements. It always causes some kind of depression or sore throat. However, sun tanning for 10 minutes a day works really well. I become better looking and feel 10x better. In addition, low carb diets don't work very well for me and believe me, I've tried. However, adding in daily portion of white rice and fruit works wonders.

2. Quality of food matters

Just like Christ, there is a Before Carl and After Carl. Before Carl was pre 2004 and this guy was massively insecure, acne ridden, and just not a very cool dude. After Carl happened at the very moment I decided to try a raw diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, raw egg yolks, and brazil nuts. I became bold, much more attractive, and started to think outside of the box. Sure, it's possible that it might have been psychological, but nonetheless, it happened. Eat foods that are minimally processed and full of nutrients.

3. Supplements matter

We live in the modern world and shit ain't what it used to be. I tried eating a very enlightened vegan diet consisting of only raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts for many years. I managed to make it work, but every year it got harder. In a competitive world, high quality supplements give you an edge over others. The basics may include Weston Price's recommendation of Vit A & D from fermented cod liver oil and Vitamin K from butter oil (Green Pasture).

4. Cognitive boosters matter

Once you've got your diet and supplements in order, you should feel awake and rested, but you're too damn comfortable in this manufactured life. That's why we simulate being chased by a tiger with performance enhancing drugs like caffeine. You think the European renaissance would have happened without coffee? Think again. I'm currently writing this post with vengeance using a new technology of caffeine intake by taking it through the skin (Sprayable Energy). And it ain't just caffeine, try some of the nootropics as well.

5. Your life matters

Working 100 hours a week and destroying your health? You will pay for that one day. The people who tell me they don't care about being healthy because we are going to be shitty old people one day anyway. Well let me tell you, I'd rather one badass great feeling grandpa than a fat sick diabetic monster. Find work life balance. There's always a way. You don't need a bigger house and car.


I'm not here to tell you what to do. I'm just asking you to try. JUST TRY for maybe 2 weeks something different. You may be surprised at what happens in your life. My experiences have resulted in 95% poor results, but trust me, those 5% in positive results can be so mind blowing that you really feel like you're the guy in Limitless even if it's just for a moment.

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Sat, 07 Sep 2013 14:47:15 +0000
The Mystery of the Lonely Grape by jessub flower Poor little lonely grape. Where did you come from? Where are you going? I stand in line at the grocery store and wonder... You were once surrounded by those you loved. Those you grew up with. Those who knew you from sprout to seed. Those who watched you develop y]]>

Poor little lonely grape.

Where did you come from? Where are you going?

I stand in line at the grocery store and wonder...

You were once surrounded by those you loved. Those you grew up with. Those who knew you from sprout to seed. Those who watched you develop your own purple color. Those who encompassed you while sharing the vine. You looked to your left. A grape friend. You looked to your right. Another grape friend. You looked behind you. Kind of a jerky grape, kind of a sourpuss -- but you still got along.

But then...

What happened?

Was a child, lonely grape? A child -- too anxious to get home to wait to sample your fruity sweetness? Too anxious to feel the snap of biting into your familiar texture? Or was the child a little punk? Screaming and crying, and throwing a fit -- and in order for that little hellion to stop reaching for the KitKats, mom broke off a few grapes to satisfy him...but he threw you in rebellion.

Is that what happened, lonely grape?

Regardless, know this. We still love you, lonely grape. Yes, even though you probably have a seed (being purple and all). That's fine. We don't reject you, lonely grape. We care for you too. Though you were once a part of the vine and things can happen get you out of the fold -- (little devil children can pull you away, we know...we know) though you once were surrounded by grapes that knew and loved you --

-- don't stay alone, ok, lonely grape? Don't stay stranded alongside the conveyor belt. Don't buddy up and make friends with those good-for-nothing separators. They're trouble, friend. Trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with P and that stands for produce.

Produce like you.

Get back on the vine, lonely grape. We want you. Your grape brothers want you. Forget about the separators and those horrible little greedy kids. Come back to the bunch. We miss you.


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Sat, 07 Sep 2013 14:42:41 +0000
Screw the ratings by linusrylander I think TNT made a mistake canceling Leverage.

Too low ratings, they say.

Who gives a shit about ratings? It's not about the ratings, it's about the fans.

From your local pizzeria to Lady Gaga to The Walt Disney Company, the #1 asset of any business is their customers. Disney gets it, but most big companies don't.

Leverage, it's got the television x-factor. And hordes of raving fans to prove it.

But the almighty ratings don't match up.

Well guess what, ratings are about bell curves. It's about what the average thinks.

And the average never matters.

The top 20% are the only ones you need to pay attention to.

Big Dumb Companies don't get this.

It's not about bell curves. You want to cater to extremes. The 80/20 curve.

For people like us, who build tiny online businesses, we have to in order to survive.

And before long, Big Dumb Companies will need to get hip to how the world works.

If you want semi-decent ratings with a tv show, it needs to cater to everybody. That means it won't be polarizing, won't pack any emotional punch, and it'll be lame as shit. Like most TV is.

They might get decent ratings, but that's not a winning business model.

There's going to be a tiny percentage of people, the top 5%, who love everything you do.

You need to talk to them and IGNORE everyone else.

I don't care if you're a smalltime blogger or a major TV network.

That's what the game is about.

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Mon, 26 Aug 2013 14:24:24 +0000
If you want to earn more, have more fun by Sebastian Never address anyone by "Mr. so-and-so" except in a friendly joking well. First names mostly, last names in a bold way sometimes, and never by their title.

Everyone is a peer of yours.

No corporate speak, ever.

Never let yourself be intimidated. Intimidated people aren't fun to be around.

Keep it light.

Stay on topic -- it's really not fun having having people drift into nonsense and not getting important deliverables down. [*]

[*] I struggle with this sometimes. We all struggle with something. My mind goes on tangents, sometimes useful, sometimes not. I've been working on it a lot lately.

Make all your collateral focused on the buyer. Identify risks, yes. But make sure you leave them with a broad strong promise. Don't talk about yourself too much. Nobody cares.

Don't be too formal.

Do be professional.

Professional isn't accoutrement or nonsense. Professional is being focused on understanding the buyer and delivering the results they want.

Winning is fun.


NEVER bow and scrape. If you're a clear subordinate, people can't let their hair down. They have to keep up "authority mode." If you're true peers, you can relate as true peers and get an honest dialog going. People don't get honest dialogs going with subordinates. So, never bow and scrape. That's the biggest mistake new people make. Everyone's a peer. Keep it fun.

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Sun, 18 Aug 2013 01:31:20 +0000
How to get paid outrageous sums of money for doing what you love by linusrylander It's all about leverage.

Here's the deal: everyone, through unique life experiences, has their own unique sets of skills, strengths and talents.

But more importantly, you have a unique combination of those sets of skills.

If you find you have a talent for writing, the first thing you're going to figure is "Hey, maybe I should do something where I get paid to write!"

Congratulations, you're already a step ahead of the curve.

But what if you're also great at systems thinking or negotiating or physical expression... or whatever else you happen to be good at?

The more time you spend doing the things you're the best in the world at, the more you will get paid.

If you're great at writing, you have a slight edge.

But if you do something where you can get paid for doing MORE of the things you're good at -- in COMBINATION -- that makes up your personal USP (unique selling position) -- and your income goes up exponentially, and your competition goes DOWN exponentially.


The more things you do that you are great at, the fewer people have your exact combination of skills and strengths and talents.

It's a simple question of supply and demand.

A doctor is well paid because it's hard to become a doctor, so there's fewer of them. At the same time, they perform a highly valuable service. Because there are so few of them, hospitals need to compete for them.

If you identify five things you're exceptionally talented at, and you figure out a way to combine all of them in your work or business, there will be almost no one else on the planet who can do what you do.

If you're great at writing, cool. There's a lot of other people who are great at writing, too. Big pool of competition if you want to get well paid for it.

But if you're also great at systems thinking AND negotiation AND physical expression AND public presentation skills...

A lot of people are good at those things, but virtually no one else will have your exact combination of talents.

If you can leverage that to do something that's valuable to others, you will be one of a kind. No one else will be able to solve problems the way you can solve problems. You'll have a monopoly on it. You can charge $2000 an hour for your time.

Get it?

The first step is figuring out what you're the best in the world at.

If you insist that you're mediocre and you're not really good at anything, you're lying to yourself and you're afraid of facing who you are. You've allowed yourself to get rolled over by society. Everyone has a unique combination of EXPERIENCES, and that's where perspective and insight comes from.


Figuring out what you're the best at may be the most important thing you ever do.

It may take a while. I haven't fully figured out myself either. I know I'm good at writing. I'm GREAT at strategy and what I think of as "design thinking," I'm naturally good at selling and I'm good with people.

Some of my writing is also pretty bad, because while I'm good at writing, I'm really bad at editing.

Another aspect of this is figuring out what you absolutely SHOULDN'T be doing. If you're good at writing and you can get paid for it, your time spent writing might be worth $50 an hour. However, if you're BAD at writing and you still spend your time writing, that time is probably worth -$50 an hour when you factor in opportunity cost.

Don't do things you're not naturally good at doing. It drains you instead of energizes you, and it's a huge waste of opportunity since you (A) could have done something with that time that you're actually good at and (B) you could have gotten someone else who's good at that thing to do it.

The ultimate 80/20 application of how to spend your personal time is:

1. Figure out your exact combination of skills and strengths and talents


3. Build a team around you. A team of people who ARE good at those things you're not. This way, you will end up with a very very valuable group of people who, as a team, are exponentially more valuable than the sum of its parts.

Do you get it now?


That's about all I had to say. I'm thinking a lot about this kind of stuff. I just finished reading my (signed) copy of Perry Marshall's new book "80/20 Sales and Marketing" and my brain is violently throbbing trying to digest it. Probably the most important business book I've ever read.

Most of the ideas in this post, I stole from Perry, as I understand them. A lot of things I write are just for personal benefit, so I can better figure it out for myself. In this case, I thought this would be extremely valuable for just about anyone else.

I shall leave you with this thought from Gary Vaynerchuk:

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Fri, 09 Aug 2013 23:05:13 +0000
Motus Vita by Thaddeus Howze If you are fortunate, you have never seen it. No one in polite government acknowledges its existence. It arrives at night, cloaked in its own fog. Thick, sound absorbing, it rolls in a hour before the train arrives. No health agency officiates its movements, no new]]>

If you are fortunate, you have never seen it.

No one in polite government acknowledges its existence. It arrives at night, cloaked in its own fog. Thick, sound absorbing, it rolls in a hour before the train arrives.

No health agency officiates its movements, no news agency writes on it. No reporters acknowledge they have been aboard it. Healthcare workers deny working on it, chefs deny cooking there, social workers deny helping its passengers adjust to new lives.

People know about it only in rumor. The staff is faceless; fearless; selfless.

It moves from city to city, never officially scheduled but strangely welcome. Every major metropolis expects it, sooner or later, and though there is never an official word, it arrives in the middle of the night, leaving some, but taking many.

People who have used it, never speak on it. Never write books about it. What is known even by the people who service it, is told in hushed whispers.

What we do know is this:

It is always full, never overly so, but the people are generous and sharing.

No one eats well, but no one goes hungry either.

It stops for only four hours.

Food, supplies, stores are made available. Food kitchens, churches, and yes even city officials see that it has whatever it needs as long as it is gone in four hours.

Everyone is patient. They wait for their turn. People get off first. They have been given a map, lists of resources, and a tiny stipend for work done on their passage. These first unload the Dead. Those who were too sick, too far gone, too old to survive the journey.

For some, they got on this train knowing they would not walk away from it.

Unspeaking city workers take away the dead, many unnamed to be cremated as per the arrangement with the Night Train's operators.

The Staying finish moving the Dead and with a quick prayer, vanish into the night, knowing what they have will probably not be enough. But they hope a new place, new faces will bring opportunity the last places they were, did not.

As they pass the New Passengers who wait patiently, some smile, others pass bags to them, filled with things they might need. Blessings are exchanged and the night swallows them up.

Strangely enough, most never return to the Night Train.

Food is next. It is already sorted, boxed, and made ready for easy access. Along with food, recyclable materials are moved off the train and a waste management vehicle handles the human effluvia.

This is a smooth operation, practiced. Everyone knows their job and how to do it.

The only words written on the outside of the train is the Latin phrase, "Motus Vita." Mobility is life. Our ancient ancestors knew this. They moved from place to place, learning the lay of the land and finding opportunity or moving on.

The Night Train crew recognizes this, so they sacrifice, never sitting still; always moving in order to give hope to the hopeless, mobility to the trapped, dreams to the impoverished, respite to the weary, food to the bellies of those unable to care for themselves.

Lastly, the New Passengers board. Many are tired, carrying only their meager possessions, they are ushered onboard by those who will be leaving on the next stop. They are cared for, cleaned up, fitted with new clothing, their hair combed, their health checked, their teeth cared for.

They are fed, assessed and by the next stop, they will have had more care than most will have seen in a decade. Social workers who reveal no secrets, help them to decide what can be done for them and calls are made along the route.

The Night Train has only one agenda, to help people keep moving on with their lives. As they pull away from the station, city officials grimace knowing they are paying for a service they need but are ashamed to have to take advantage of.

The existence of this Black train is a blessing to those served and a reminder of the failure of those in charge. They would love to stop providing service. But then they would have to explain so many other things. They go back to their offices and work a little bit harder.

If you are unfortunate enough to ride this train, you may experience shame for having to be there. Don't. This is not the end of the line. For some, this is a chance at a new life. Accept the help.

If you do it right, you will only need it once.

The Night Train pulls away from its latest station and blows its horn, a sad, sonorous sound. People in the distance, pretending they don't know that sound, lying nestled in their homes shudder gratefully.

Others who have just left it, smile, grateful for the chance to start again.

Of the Night Train's crew, no one knows what they think. They turn their collars up against the wind.

Motus Vita © Thaddeus Howze 2013, All Rights Reserved

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Mon, 29 Jul 2013 21:31:55 +0000
You're That Guy by Coco The one who
Stood next to me in the elevator
Shoulder to shoulder
Brushed my hand
Let me lean into to you
Didn't say a word...

The one who
Sat next to me on the bus
Made eye contact
brushed my bare thigh
Let me lean into you
Didn't say a word...

The one who
Walked towards me on the street
Caught me when I lost my footing
Let me lean into you
didn’t say a word...

Don't know who you are
thrice our paths crossed
you touched me
I leaned into you
I wish I said a word

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Mon, 29 Jul 2013 02:51:15 +0000