What are you doing to keep from doing what you're supposed to be doing?

If we put as much time, energy and creativity into our work as we did coming up with ways to avoid our work, we’d be prolific. 

Scrolling, masturbating, tweeting, cheating, drinking, smoking, eating (sugar & fried foods), complaining, answering email, refreshing email, creating unnecessary drama in our lives, bad-mouthing those doing well and ranting about things we can’t change are just a handful of the many clever and creative things we do to avoid doing real work that will create impact. 

When you find yourself being unproductive, it might help to take a closer look at what you’ve been productive at –– there is good chance that if you can’t find the time to do good work you’ve spent most of it doing something in the pile above

Be very aware of the things you’re doing to keep you from doing what you’re supposed to be doing. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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7 ways to communicate better.

  1. Share something only when it adds to the conversation –– there is nothing wrong with thinking out loud, just save this more verbal thinking for yourself when you’re alone in a car. 
  2. Remove buzzwords from your communication (especially in business).
  3. Listen more than you speak –– in addition, don’t think about what you’re going to say while other people are speaking (it’s rude). 
  4. Remove the fluff –– fluff is nice in pillows and comforters, less so in conversation. 
  5. Be present with the person (or persons) sitting across from you –– the conversation going on in your phone or email inbox is irrelevant because that person is not in the room. 
  6. Pay extra close attention to point number 6. 
  7. After the conversation, reflect on what was said –– many people lack awareness when it comes to conversation and as a result don’t realize when they sound arrogant, blunt, brash, wishy-washy or ridiculous… by simply reflecting on what was said and how those around you responded you can tremendously improve your communication. 

By Cole Schafer.


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Using the right metrics.

Most of us are currently in the gritty process of sifting through the junk to discover the right metrics to gauge our life’s success.

Unfortunately (and fortunately), it’s not like Track & Field –– the person who runs the fastest, jumps the highest or throws the furthest doesn’t walk away with the gold medal.

There is no universal metric. You can’t measure the success of a social worker the same way you would measure the success of an investor or entrepreneur. 

Instead, we must take it upon ourselves to choose our own metrics. We can measure our impact by how many people we’ve helped, how much money we’ve made, how much money we’ve given away, how present we are, the quality of things we’ve built –– the list goes on. 

There is no wrong answer. The only wrong answer is comparing your success to someone else’s success –– especially if that someone else is using a different set of metrics. 

Again, it’s difficult comparing the social worker’s success to the entrepreneurs or investors. So don't. 

By Cole Schafer


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One-hit wonder.

The trouble with creating a hit is that you’ll want to do it again and again and again.

When you hear the applause, it suddenly becomes less about the act of creating and more about the act of recognition.

Creativity is a process born from a place of selflessness.

It’s born from a selfless vision the creative has that she wants to share with her fellow humans.

Unfortunately, when this process becomes selfish and the creative begins sitting down with the sole intention of creating a hit… the energy changes. The muse stops showing up. The genius finds another home.

And, the creative becomes that which she feared the most –– a one hit wonder. 

By Cole Schafer.


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Steel Toes & Validation.

I realized how much I relied on outside validation when I quit my job and started my writing business.

Oddly enough, I’d catch myself looking over my shoulder from time to time thinking, “I wonder if I am doing this right?”

It was counterintuitive feeling that wasn’t unlike running backwards. 

For years, I had been programmed to seek the validation of teachers, coaches, parents, bosses and society. Then, suddenly, I was stuck in a room alone and I was the only one that could give myself the validation I was looking for. 

For the first time in my life, it had to come from within. 

Seeking validation from others is tricky because there is never enough to feel fully satisfied.

For example: you can tell the body-builder with abs that she’s not fat 1,000 times but until she believes she’s not fat, it’ll never be enough.

Writers, marketers, creators, entrepreneurs, bodybuilders… eventually all of us have to dig deep and feel around for the validation buried somehwere inside of us.

Until then, finding confidence in our work will feel like treading water in steel toe boots.

By Cole Schafer. 


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Look out, bus ––

You will be tempted. 

You will be tempted, at times, to play it safe. 

You will be tempted, to not give me and everyone else in this world everything you’ve got. 

Because giving everything you’ve got hurts like hell. 

But, what hurts worse, is getting hit by a bus. 

And, what hurts worse than getting hit by a bus, is getting hit by a bus without having given this world everything you’ve got. 

We’re here for a short time, honey. 

And, for some people, it’s a hell of a lot shorter than others –– after all there are a lot of buses. 

So, don’t play it safe. 

Give this world everything –– give it everything you've got before you go –– Splat.

By Cole Schafer


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Call yourself out on your bullshit.

Our bullshit never starts out as bullshit. It begins with a piece of adversity or jealousy or insecurity that snowballs into a ridiculous story we tell ourselves –– and as we tell it and retell it over and over again the snowball eventually starts to stink. 

Here are some bullshit stories we tell ourselves to mask our own jealousy, insecurity and unhappiness:

  • Dave got the promotion because he has an MBA and I never had money to get mine. 
  • Sandra has a great ass and is in the best shape of her life because she won the genetic lottery. 
  • Mark was able to successfully start up his own business but he has always gotten lucky. 

When reading these objectively they sound absurd and completely ridiculous. Yet, all of us have been guilty of telling similar stories to the bullshit ones above to ourselves when others are doing interesting successful things we wish we were doing ourselves. 

What’s funny, is that if we were to narrate the stories we tell ourselves out loud alone in a room, many of us would not be able to finish them without shaking our heads in disgust. 

I would recommend doing this.

Next time you catch your mind piecing together a story as an excuse for why so-and-so is successful and you’re not or why [fill in the blank opportunity] didn’t work out for you, write it down, lock yourself in your room and read it out loud over and over and over again. 

By the second or third time through you’ll be calling yourself out for your bullshit. 

By Cole Schafer.


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Mastery.

Triumph is a rose never held by the fiddler, the finagler, the hobbyist and the tyre kicker. 

It’s a rose that only comes to those who have the grit to bite the goddamn bullet and crack a few teeth –– those courageous enough to stick their necks out and commit years (and in some cases light years) to what they were put on this Earth to do. 

Triumph is a rose felt and seen by a brave few –– a handful of renegades willing to risk their lives, their money, their reputations, their happiness to cross the chasm –– it has no patience for the jack of all trades (master of none). 

It wants one thing and one thing only: 

Mastery. 

By Cole Schafer.


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Cement.

When you look at an exposed brick wall you see two things –– bricks and cement. 

While our eyes are naturally drawn to the aesthetically pleasing bricks –– some laid evenly some jutting out –– we rarely take notice of the glue keeping them together.

We overlook the cement. 

There is a metaphor in there: bricks without cement are useless rectangular chunks of rock –– it’s the grayish grit that makes them something more. 

The essence that makes up the human is not unlike the brick wall. 

We live our lives in search of bigger better bricks to build our walls higher and stronger –– money, promotions, love, relationships, fame, notoriety, growth, ventures, passions, etc. 

But, we often times overlook the most important building material –– the cement

Cement is grit. It’s courage. It’s resilience. It’s bull-doggedness. It’s loyalty. It’s devotion. It’s work. 

It’s the small invisible underwhelming substance that differentiates the brick walls from the brick piles. 

We should spend more time in search of stronger cement then bigger better bricks. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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It's okay to be indifferent on important issues.

A little while back I wrote an article titled On the fence, where I argued the importance of choosing when it comes to making decisions versus sitting on the fence. After all, you can’t build anything on the fence. 

However, I think in many instances, indifference is acceptable –– especially in regards to opinion on important matters. 

We have a common misconception that to be valuable in this world we must have an opinion of every slightly controversial subject out there –– sex, religion, politics, money, etc –– regardless of whether or not we are educated on the topic. 

It’s okay –– let me repeat that –– it’s okay to be indifferent on important matters (or the matters society has deemed important).

It’s okay to say “I don’t know” when you truly don’t know. 

It’s okay to say “I’m not sure” when you truly aren’t sure. 

It’s okay to say “I’m indifferent” when you truly are indifferent. 

If more people in this world had the courage to say they were indifferent… there would be less hate, less war and less nonsensical arguing over things that don’t matter all that much in the grander scheme of things. 

I truly believe it’s okay to be indifferent and I think there would be more love in a world that was less sure about everything. 

By Cole Schafer.


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Ask bigger questions.

Greatness begins and ends with the questions you ask yourself –– let me explain. 

Bob and Susan started out one month in very similar economic situations –– they were both broke and neither had money to pay their rent. 

Bob asked himself –– how can I make $500 this month to pay my rent? 

Susan asked herself –– how can I make $6,000 this month to pay my rent for the next 12 months? 

By the end of the month, both Bob and Susan succeeded at finding the answers to their questions. Bob walked away with $500 while Susan walked away with $6,000

More times than not, we find the answers to the questions we ask. So, when striving for greatness, be sure to ask big questions that demand big answers. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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On the fence.

If you’ve ever sat on a fence, you’re aware of the fact that it’s extremely uncomfortable –– nobody’s cup of tea is spending an afternoon with a fence picket jutting into their buttocks. 

Yet, we use the phrase “on the fence” to define someone that can’t seem to make up their mind.

When you’re on the fence, you don’t know which side to step onto so instead you sit and you wait, uncomfortably, whilst inconveniencing yourself, your ass and the people waiting for you to make up your mind. . 

From an avid fence-sitter, let me offer some words of advice.

Pick a damn side –– sooner rather than later

Because, at the end of the day, you can’t build anything on top of a fence. 

Plus, it’s insanely painfully uncomfortable, isn't it? 

By Cole Schafer. 


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Short rules on happiness.

  1. Don’t work any job that makes you unhappy for too long  —  sometimes you have to work a shit job for a little while to get the job you really want  —  just remember that five years isn’t a little while. 
  2. Don’t spend time with people that don’t make you happy.
  3. Spend less time with your face in a phone screen regardless of whether or not it makes you happy in the moment  —  it won’t make you happy in the moments to come. 
  4. Be present, especially when in the company of people you care about (#3 can help here).
  5. Do work you would die for (or at the very least pay to do). 
  6. Have a purpose for living  —  find the change you’re wanting to see in the world and make it happen before you’re dead. 

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Staleness.

Staleness sets in when something sits too long in the same place. And, contrary to common belief, it’s not unique to just bread and poorly sealed chips and crackers. Humans can grow stale too. 

Though, unlike chips and crackers, knowing when humans get stale takes some awareness. You can’t just bite into them and realize the lack of crunch or underwhelming flavor –– this isn’t cannibalism

However, if you’re a human and you find life to be less interesting or perhaps lacking inspiration and wonder, you might be experiencing the symptoms of staleness. 

The antidote? Stimuli. 

Do something different than whatever you do most days. 

If you normally eat cereal, eat eggs and bacon. 

If you regularly drink coffee, drink green tea. 

If you generally run, swim. 

If you usually watch Netflix, listen to a vinyl record. 

What ever you do most often, do less of it and instead to more of something else.

Here’s to being less stale. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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Sharp.

Lincoln gave us some invaluable advice, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

It’s revolutionary when it comes to work and getting better results from your work, yet few choose to follow it because it seems that many are vastly impatient. 

I see this often among young writers. They approach the page swinging, with the let’s throw shit at the wall and see what sticks mentality. And, as a result, they don’t see results. 

Writing and other professions must be taken with a level of seriousness and thoughtfulness. You approach the page or any day’s work with a focused respect or you should not approach it all. 

You must be sharp. 

You must be sharp first. 

Then, you can chop. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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Compounding.

I don’t write often on investing because I first and foremost view myself as a writer and marketer. But, I stay very active in both the stock market and other forms of investments. 

One important lesson that investing has taught me is how to gage cost. 

Prior to watching my money grow through investments, I viewed money and cost in the present tense –– $100 was $100. 

But, since finding modest success in the stock market, I now see $100 for what it truly is –– $1,083.47 when compounded annually at 10% over the course of 25 years. 

When you begin to gage cost not just in present tense but in future tense, your decisions when it comes to money changes drastically. 

For example, spending $4,000 a month on rent living in San Francisco becomes completely absurd when you realize if you were to invest the $48,000 you were spending each year on your rent for 25 years at a 10% return, it would eventually be worth $5,236,063.56. 

Now, I know these are extreme examples, but they are examples none the less. The $1,000 couch today ends up costing you much more than $1,000 tomorrow. 

Don’t be overly frugal, just be intelligent. Think like an investor and you will find you spend money on less ridiculous things –– or at least that has been my experience. 

Finally, if you are interested in getting started in the stock market, I use a service called Robinhood. On the other end of this link there is a free stock waiting for you. Yes, you read that right, free money. To be transparent, this is an affiliate link so I will also receive a free stock too.

As always, thanks for reading. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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Drawing a line in the sand.

When it comes to work, you need to draw a line in the sand.

You need to have the courage to say, you can have this, this and this but you can’t under any circumstances have anything behind this line. 

The individual that doesn’t know when enough is enough is the individual that ends up losing everything. And, many times, the individual that ends up losing everything is the individual that never took the time to draw a line in the sand. 

I’m willing to build this million dollar business, but I’m not willing to live everyday on just four hours of sleep. 

I’m willing to hunt down this promotion, but I’m not willing to sacrifice being a good husband and a good father. 

I’m willing to give everything to this company, but I’m not willing to be taken advantage of. 

Startup and business culture has us believe that in order to get what we want we have to be willing to risk it all –– health, money, family, happiness, ethics, etc. 

That’s bullshit. There are multiple paths to whatever it is you want. You’re just not seeing them right now. Drawing a line in the sand has a way of opening your eyes up to other avenues. 

Grab a stick and mark off where your work cannot go –– draw a line in the sand. 

By Cole Schafer.


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On flossing.

People who floss everyday are less likely to develop Heart Disease, Type 2 Diabetes and tooth decay.

In other words, if you agree to run a tiny piece of string through your gums for thirty seconds seven times a week, you are more likely to keep all your teeth and live a longer healthier life. 

Yet, almost 19% of Americans don’t floss. 

There is a metaphor in there somewhere... 

Like flossing, our lives consists of numerous tiny actions, that when compounded daily, offer huge benefits down the road. Saving, investing, dieting and exercising are a few that might come to mind. 

If you’re interested in changing your life, stop looking for the big break. There is no big break. 

Instead, find small actions you can do daily that can compound into massive change. 

And, also, floss your damn teeth. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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Money.

I’ll give you one piece of advice when it comes to “money”. 

When you hear the word “money” take notice of how you feel. 

Do you feel excited?

Do you feel indifferent? 

Do you feel scared? 

Do you feel hatred? 

Do you feel inspiration? 

There are a lot of people in this world who hate money. 

They talk bad about money. 

They think money is the root of all evil. 

And, it just so happens that none of them have much of it

When you hate something, the universe has a way of keeping it as far away from you as possible. 

So, I would be careful about the things you choose to hate and the things you don’t. 

I would be careful in regards to your feelings on important matters –– be it money, love, food, sex, religion, drugs and politics. 

On matters of importance I would be well aware of how you feel and where you stand  because ultimately it will determine how much or how little of it you receive. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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