You Are Not ‘Behind’

Have you ever felt like you were behind? I used to feel that way. I would read articles about a 26-year-old entrepreneur with a billion-dollar company or a 16-year-old kid who invented a new kind of fusion reactor and a slow creep of panic would start to rise in my chest. I would read about my favorite author who published their first book at 27 and I was already 25 and I had not even written one page and I started counting backwards to figure out of it was even possible to finish a book by then and I can’t believe I didn’t start it last year when I said I was going to and why the hell it so easy to watch six seasons of Game of Thrones in two weeks but I can’t even get myself to write one fucking page of a book or how about the gym for that matter, I haven’t been to the gym in six months and if I had stuck to it back in college I would have a six pack by now like the guy on the front cover of Men’s Fitness.

Stop it.  Continue reading

Down to Earth: SpaceX and the Return of Limitless Ambition

I have been thinking about the SpaceX launch since I watched it last night – and, of course, the subsequent landing – feeling inspired and excited in a way that I cannot ever recall feeling before.

The last launch I watched was back in June, when the Falcon 9 was due to deliver a much-needed payload with resupplies to the International Space Station. I was shocked when the rocket exploded shortly after launch. It was a heartbreaking sight – seldom do we witness a failure so spectacular, so public.

And as the video feed started, this time live from SpaceX headquarters, the energy was palpable. Much was at stake: the ostensible goal of carrying eleven ORBCOMM satellites into low-Earth orbit – a nontrivial task, to be sure. But the larger objective, for those of us who have been following the SpaceX journey, was something far grander.

SpaceX was attempting to make history by being the first to land a large portion of the rocket back on Earth after delivering a payload to space. Continue reading

How Uber’s Autonomous Cars Will Destroy 10 Million Jobs and Reshape the Economy by 2025

I have spent quite a bit of time lately thinking about autonomous cars, and I wanted to summarize my current thoughts and predictions. Most people – experts included – seem to think that the transition to driverless vehicles will come slowly over the coming few decades, and that large hurdles exist for widespread adoption. I believe that this is significant underestimation. Autonomous cars will be commonplace by 2025 and have a near monopoly by 2030, and the sweeping change they bring will eclipse every other innovation our society has experienced. They will cause unprecedented job loss and a fundamental restructuring of our economy, solve large portions of our environmental problems, prevent tens of thousands of deaths per year, save millions of hours with increased productivity, and create entire new industries that we cannot even imagine from our current vantage point. Continue reading

How to Name Your Startup

“It is a pretty recognizable brand name. Originally it was ‘Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web’ but we settled on ‘Yahoo.’” -Jerry Yang, Yahoo founder

It is no secret at this point that I love being an entrepreneur, and it’s a profession that I would recommend to virtually anyone. At the first mention of job-related trouble, the de facto advice I’ll dispense is to quit your job: burn the bridge behind you and don’t look back. I’ve given away more copies of The 4-Hour Workweek than I can count.

I am often asked, “what is the hardest part of starting a business?”

Like most things in life, the process of starting a business seems impossibly complex until you actually begin to undertake it – what appears from afar to be a mysterious black art becomes fairly simple and straightforward upon closer examination.

With my companies, I have negotiated distribution deals with Amazon.com, manufactured life-or-death components for 200 mph race cars in China, and managed 1,650+ different SKUs – without any full-time employees or a background in engineering, and all while living in South America for a six month stretch…without a cell phone.

Having said that, I can tell you – without hesitation – that the hardest part of starting a business is naming it. And, thanks to a booming startup market and the shrinking availability of .com domains, it is getting harder every day.

But fear not, my friends – while the proliferation of tech startups has certainly dwindled the supply of available .coms, it has also given birth to a series of fantastic tools and resources for solving this frustrating problem.

Below, we’ll go over some rules of naming, and subsequently I’ll divulge my heretofore secret arsenal that will turn you into a dark wizard in the mysterious and elusive art of startup naming.

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The Lost Generation, Explained (finding purpose in an uncertain future)

"We'll start you out here, then give you more responsibilities as you gain experience."

I’ve heard that, in the minutes before a natural disaster, farm animals often exhibit a general and uneasy restlessness – long before any detectable indicator appears on the horizon, they mill about and complain noisily, not exactly able to identify the impetus for their discontent – but fearing the impending storm nonetheless. Continue reading

10 Killer Negotiating Tactics (or, how I got $125,000 for nothing)

A nice bonus.

I once was contacted by a multibillion dollar, publicly traded German company that wanted to use one of our trademarks for their new line of products.

I asked them how much they were willing to offer in exchange for a licensing agreement. In their response below, you’ll see them inform me that company policy prohibits them from compensating me for it, but they’d be happy to cover reasonable legal fees.

Translation: they wanted to use my trademark and they were offering me absolutely nothing in return.

It was a starting point. Continue reading

Knowing Yourself (and, some exciting news)

Some much-needed rays of sun on my road trip.

Despite a decent night’s sleep and an IV bag of iced coffee, I found myself feeling awful today as I sat down to try to get some work done. My mind was foggy and I simply had no energy to get myself going.

For the past day or so, I’d been craving particularly bad food and at the moment, a cheesesteak, sour cream and onion chips, and a gallon of Arizona iced tea was sounding pretty good. Against my better judgement, I left the office in search of some food.

As I stomped through the streets of downtown Chicago in search of satiation (I know…I’m supposed to be in Buenos Aires, but more on that later), some road construction forced me to take a detour past the river. I walked out from the shadow of the buildings and the sun hit me – and the feeling was almost indescribable. As my body began to drink up the rays, it hit me that I had barely seen the sunlight in nearly three weeks. Continue reading

Want To Live A Happy, Healthy Life? Fire Your Boss

People tell me time and time again that they want to quit their job, but entrepreneurship is just too risky. Here’s a few facts I’ve collected that show you that staying in the cubicle farm is more detrimental than you may think.

1. Your boss is slowly killing you.

According to a study of 3,000 Swedish workers, workers who rated their managers most incompetent had a nearly 25% higher risk of developing serious heart problems (the gluttons for punishment who stayed four years or longer increased that risk to 39%).

I personally believe that bosses should be subject to the same labeling regulations as cigarettes: 25% of their viewable surface area should display a warning from the Surgeon General.

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How To Make $7 Million: Ignore Your Critics

The $7,000,000 watch

If you follow any sort of tech news, I’m sure you’ve heard about Pebble – the runaway Kickstarter success story that has sold over $7 million worth of watches virtually overnight.

The project was launched by a 25 year old guy and a couple friends. As with many success stories, they turned to Kickstarter as a last resort after being turned down by a number of (regretful) venture capitalists.

I was reading a New York Times article today and it quoted one of their critics, Robert Fabricant – the VP of some big-time development firm – “casting doubt” on their success:

“Mr. Fabricant, like others in his field, cast some doubt on the notion that it was possible to sidestep the traditional routes to building a business, particularly through a service like Kickstarter. They say young, inexperienced business people need advisers, mentors and a network of support to help them deal with the problems that can emerge.”

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How to Stockpile Cash (a short, no-BS guide for debt-free living)

How much should I spend on rent? On food? What the #$% is a 401(k)?

Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does buy an eccentric imagination and a great legal team to significantly improve your odds of not getting arrested for pursuing it. Read on as I demystify the ridiculously complicated world of personal finance and get you on a path to stockpiling cash.

Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor, and my lawyers don’t have my forwarding address in Argentina, anyways. Also, I wrote this post on my iPhone while traveling on a 35 hour bus ride to see the glaciers in Patagonia – please excuse any rambling.

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