To Florida and back

This morning, I leave for a two-week road trip. The longest vacation I’ll have since starting my own business.

The end goal is my coaching community‘s five-day retreat. But rather than fly down, I’m taking my car to make a few stops.

Stop 1: Asheville—to stay the weekend with some of my best friends.

Stop 2: Savannah—a gorgeous place on the river for some much-needed solo time.

Stop 3: Tampa—to spend a few nights at my coaching mentor’s house.

Then the retreat just south of there.

I feel a sense of bliss. Here’s why.

I love my job. It’s genuinely my dream career. It fulfills me, pays my bills, and allows me to connect with humanity at the highest level.

But we all need breaks.

Regardless of how much we enjoy something—an activity, a place, a person—we need space away from whatever that thing is. It’s in taking this room to breathe that we recharge our respect for it.

Americans work too much. We have the fewest vacation days in the western world and aren’t even close to being the most productive.

But time off relaxes us. It clears our minds, making us more energized to live. It only makes sense that someone who’s thrilled with their life would be a better worker.

Anyway, I’m excited about this time off. I won’t be posting any blogs. I won’t be on at all. (Maybe I will, but probably won’t.)

The main reason I’m excited? It’s because I don’t specifically know what I’m excited for. I feel empty, void of expectation. I’m just going to enjoy each individual day as it comes.

No hard structure or plans. Just friends, driving, reading, and thinking.

See you in two weeks. ✌️

Time doesn’t fly; you’re just not paying attention

People say: “When you’re 10 years old, a year is 10% of your life. But when you’re 50 years old, a year is only 2%. That’s why time speeds up when we get older.”

I think that’s bullshit.

When we’re young, everything is a novelty. We’re learning about the world, about our environments, and about ourselves. We try new things: activities, styles, hobbies. We know very little.

Then as we get older, for better or worse, most of what we do becomes routine. We pick the things we like and we do them over and over again. Or, unfortunately, some of us become akin to factory workers; we wake up, go to work, come home, watch TV, wait until the weekend to have fun, and repeat. Our lives become familiar.

I do the same thing. Although I have the freedom of running my own business and creating my own schedule, I still have my own version of clocking in during the week.

So what’s wrong with this?

Well, nothing’s wrong with it per se. But it does allow our minds to shut off. Let me explain.

Habits are great because they let us go on autopilot for things we want to do (or don’t want to do). I’ve gone to the gym so consistently that sometimes it feels like I just wake up there.

And that’s my point.

You ever drive to work (or somewhere you go often), and when you get there you realize you don’t remember the journey? It’s because you’ve done it so many times your brain doesn’t have to be on guard. Meanwhile, if you took a different route to that same place, you’d be much more alert and mindful because you’d have to make new decisions.

That’s what happens to us in our week-to-week lives. When there’s no newness, when we’re doing the same things over and over again, we wake up one morning and realize it’s already May.

“Where the hell did four months go?”

Nowhere. Time moves at the same rate for each of us. Some just pay attention better than others.

So how can we be more mindful? How can we slow down time? Two ways.

  1. Newness
  2. Gratitude

We’ve covered newness a bit. In this lies adventure, spontaneity, and curiosity.

This is something I could use way more of. I’m a super scheduled person. So I’ve been trying to leave more unstructured time in my calendar.

Trips also help—especially last-minute trips. Surprise your partner. Surprise yourself. Take a weekend off, go to the airport, and take the cheapest flight to somewhere random.

Constantly change things. Keep doing the things you love but find different ways to do them. Do them with different people. Try activities that scare you.

I have a phobia of heights. Right now, I’m slowly using rock climbing to squash that fear through exposure.

As for gratitude, this is a habit that can be built quickly.

Not only can we begin our day by writing or saying three things we’re grateful for. But we can also just start telling the people in our lives why we love them and what they mean to us.

It only takes a sentence.

I try to do this frequently. They don’t always respond with the same sentiment. But that’s not because they don’t feel the same way. It’s because they haven’t built that habit yet.

Want to make a good friend uncomfortable? Tell them how they’ve positively impacted your life. Watch them scramble for words. It’s lovely.

Anyway, my two questions for you are:

  1. How can you add more newness to your weekly life?
  2. Where can you express more appreciation?

Answering these questions will help you create your own time machine.

What we don’t see

When we look at famous actors, we don’t see all their failed auditions.

When we look at pro athletes, we don’t see the other 99% who didn’t make it to the big leagues.

When we look at a successful person, we see their highlight reel; we don’t see their embarrassing moments, their doubts, or their anxieties.

We often compare our insides to other people’s outsides. But we’re all terrified one way or another.

We want to live fulfilling lives and feel we’re spending our time well. We want to feel loved, feel important, and feel supported. This is true regardless of our occupation, geographical location, or income.

For years, I thought everyone around me had their shit figured out and I was the only person on the planet who was clueless. Then I got curious about people.

All it takes is asking someone a few questions to realize: None of us have figured out life. We’re all just winging it and are doing our best.

Don’t look to a person’s social media page to see how they’re doing. Look at their current fears and stresses. That will paint the real picture.

I’m reading 80 books this year—Why I don’t recommend it

A bookshelf stacked with books of all kinds

I read 64 books in 2020. Last year, I read 70.

So naturally, I stretched the goal this year and set my GoodReads challenge to 80 books.

I’m hitting a point of diminishing returns. Let me explain.

I love reading. It calms me down and makes me feel like I’m entering another person’s mind while applying lessons to my own life. I also keep an extensive collection of notes with each book I read.

But 80 books is a lot. For the first time in my life, it feels like I’m reading to meet a quota instead of reading because I’m feeling pulled to. (I never read a single book in school.)

Not that that’s always a bad thing. I don’t always want to go to the gym but I force myself to go three times a week. That’s a number I have to hit because I know it’s good for me.

But the difference with reading books has been my lack of retention. I looked through my 2022 GoodReads list the other day. There were at least three books I didn’t remember reading at all.

I’ve been flying through audiobooks. If I don’t take notes, then within a week or two, all that I learn has left my mind. And even when I do take notes, it’s not like I’m reviewing what I capture every week.

Would you rather read 50 books you forget about or 5 books that change your life?

My point is: “I read 80 books this year” sounds sexy. It sounds impressive. It sounds like something you tell your friend who doesn’t read to make yourself feel big.

But I won’t be doing it again. I’m sacrificing enjoyment for quantity. It looks cool on the outside and feels grey on the inside. It’s like a gorgeous Instagram influencer who’s severely depressed. (Does that make sense? I’m not depressed.)

Goals can be great. But we have to know why we’re pursuing them. “Because it sounds impressive” is a terrible reason.

Quitting vs. giving up

A woman in a red shirt banging her head against her keyboard and wanting to quit

A few weeks ago, I interviewed Lynne Tye for my book. She’s a badass entrepreneur who wrote the article which inspired me to launch my business.

The conversation flew by as we laughed and vibed over building stuff. Our discussion was full of gold but I wanted to share a simple framework that I found super useful.

The difference between quitting and giving up.

According to Lynne, giving up is when we still want the result.

“I gave up the other day,” she said. “I was running and stopped halfway through and walked the rest…which is trash. I still wanted the result of getting in a good run, but I stopped putting in the work needed to get that result.”

Quitting, on the other hand, is a strategic choice. It’s when we decide to put our time and energy elsewhere because we no longer crave the result.

In 2020, I was certain I wanted to become a YouTuber. I started posting a vlog a day. After two months, I realized I absolutely hated it and didn’t care about filmmaking. So I stopped.

Did that mean I gave up on my dream? No. It meant I stopped wasting valuable mental and creative energy so I could channel it into something I did care about.

“Quitting is such a valuable thing,” Lynne told me. “Like quitting cigarettes. What we want is constantly changing so we need to keep taking stock of that. More people should quit more often.”

So the next time you want to stop something, ask yourself: Do I still want the result of this?

Then you’ll know if you’re choosing to quit or if you’re simply giving up.

The gift of suffering

We were not suffering in this photo.

My friend and I saw a play at the Kennedy Center last night. It was lovely.

Things shutting down for a year made us appreciate being able to go out and do things. Since things have gone relatively back to normal, I’ve been treasuring every activity.

Jiujitsu. Climbing. Dinners. We never truly relish things until they’re taken away from us.

My coaching friend and I had a call yesterday before I left for DC. He was telling me about this five-day meditation retreat he experienced last week—just a month after his dad passed.

His biggest insight was the ability to lean into suffering. He told me, “You can’t have a lotus without mud.”

In other words, we can’t fully respect the highs unless we’ve felt the lows. We can’t bask in connection with others unless we’ve been lonely. Love means more to us when we’ve been heartbroken.

Despite my incredible tribe of friends and family, I’ve felt wildly alone in the past—like I had no one to talk to or share with. What a gift that was.

Now, when I have a conversation with a close friend, it’s almost like I enter a flow state. True present awareness. I feel nothing but gratitude and groundedness. But that’s only because I know what it’s like to long for that state.

Who appreciates a plate of food more: the rich kid who wants for nothing or the kid who almost starved to death?

✌️

Grow a mustache—Why you should be more polarizing

A man with a mustache and sunglasses looking into the distance

(Yes, ladies. Even you.)

The idea

I want to alienate more people. Let me explain.

The goal is not to go out of my way to piss people off. I don’t want to do or say anything controversial just for the sake of being controversial.

But I noticed recently that most (if not all) of my writing has been curated for anyone and everyone. I’ve been painting with a broad brush in the hopes that any kind of person could sit down and enjoy my stories and lessons.

The consequence of that has been me avoiding certain topics I thought would be lost on most of my readers: the ins and outs of my business, hot takes, possibly-arrogant stories…

Then everything changed when the fire nation attacked.

Whoops. I mean, everything changed when I grew a mustache. Here’s what I mean.

The stache

Dillan Taylor and Hank the dog sitting in his bed
There are more pics of Hank in this blog than there are of me.

I shaved my beard and left my mustache about a month ago. Since then, I’ve gone to a wedding, a bachelor party, and have gone out drinking.

The thing I noticed immediately? Mustaches are polarizing.

Some people (women) wanted nothing to do with it. Others went out of their way to say how attractive they thought it was.

Prior to that, no woman had ever mentioned to me in casual conversation how sexy she thought my face was. I realized that was because I was trying to have a face anyone could get down with.

I went from attempting to reach everyone to only spending time and energy with mustachers. They were bought in. They were my people.

Then I thought about other areas I could apply this.

The meaning

When we polarize people, some folks naturally get alienated. Some hate mustaches. Some don’t care about business tactics.

But for the ones who stick around…the connection with them is 10 times stronger. It’s not about trying to get people to buy in; it’s about investing in the ones who are already bought in.

Lower quantity. Higher quality.

So what does this mean for us?

I’m guessing half of my readership cannot actually grow a mustache (ladies…and some dudes [sorry, gents]). But we can think about this as we create things and as we connect with others.

Do you hold any opinions you’d be uncomfortable sharing with the people around you? If not, that’s a problem. It could be a sign that you just go along with what everyone else thinks and that you have few values of your own.

When creating something, are you trying to make it so everyone can enjoy it (like I did)? When we build something for everyone, we build something for no one. Find your people.

In my coaching business, I have high standards for the people I work with. I want committed action-takers who show up on time and do what they say they want to do. That’s not most people.

And that’s the point. Most people shouldn’t work with me.

It’s not about the ones left behind. It’s about finding our people and giving them the world.

Grow a mustache.

You can do it (actually)

A group of athletes running a marathon

Here’s a self-improvement cliche: You are capable of so much more than you think.

I check in with my coaching clients every two months or so. The most common statement I’ve heard over the last year when I do so is, “I never actually thought I’d be able to do this stuff.”

To be clear, it’s not because I have some mystical or magical coaching technique. It’s because the average person doesn’t consistently reflect on what they want, what they think is in the way, and what they can do to get further.

It’s the difference between someone who practices piano for 10 minutes a day and someone who doesn’t think they’ll ever be a good piano player and therefore never practices once.

One is guaranteed to improve. The other is guaranteed to change nothing.

The people I see creating fulfilling lives for themselves are not the ones making the most money. They don’t have above-average IQs. They don’t have the perfect morning routines or meditation practices.

They just take consistent, small steps in the direction they want to head.

I ran a marathon in 2020 without training for it once. That was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done. Don’t do that.

My legs stopped working about 19 miles in. After that point, the only thing that kept me going was my mind (and the encouragement of my friend).

My brain told me I had to stop. I had to walk the rest. But I just kept hobbling.

I knew there were only so many steps between where I was and the finish line. Once I made it there, my first thought was, WTF, brain. Why’d you lie to me like that?

Running 27 miles with rubber legs is different than living our day-to-day lives. But the mentality is all the same.

We want something. We think there’s something in the way. Then most of us choose not to pursue it. We often think, I can’t bear this. But you can. You already have.

I knew I could keep running in pain because, well, I was already running in pain. I had proof I could handle it.

Unfortunately, most people stop before they get that proof. Don’t stop.

Keep running.

2am nightmare

Every month or two, something shitty happens.

I wake up in the middle of the night—usually around 2 or 3 o clock—and I’m wide awake. Each time, I think it’s like 30 minutes before my alarm is supposed to go off. Then I check the time and panic.

I’ll walk out of my bedroom and read or listen to a podcast. Something light until I get sleepy.

Eventually, I get tired again. But that tends to take another two to five hours. If I fall back asleep, it’s for another hour at most. Then I have to get up and start my day.

That happened today. I feel like a zombie. And I never know what to do.

I canceled my last call just to take a nap.

Anyone else experience this?

I’m scared to talk to women

A guy with flowers behind his back as he picks up a woman for a date

I’ve never been able to go up to an attractive woman and just start flirting with her. I used to think there was something wrong with me—that I was weak or a coward.

But that’s 95% of dudes.

For many years, I thought having “game” was just one thing: being able to court someone and get them interested in spending time with me.

But that’s wrong. I think having game (a term I hate) is more universal.

Here’s how I define it now: building a connection with another person, making them feel interesting, and looking forward to the next conversation.

The cool thing is, we can do this with anyone, not just a potential romantic partner. All it takes is vulnerability, genuine values, and curiosity. Meta skills like storytelling, humor, and adventure are helpful as well.

My point is: I don’t think I’ll ever be the guy who walks up to a group of women at the bar for no other reason than to hit on them. That’s where I’m uncomfortable.

But when there’s a reason for communicating, that’s where I thrive. Example: My buddy and I spent hours talking to and hanging with this group of women in NYC.

How did we start talking to these ladies? Bowling.

They were in the lane next to us. So it only made sense that we joked and laughed with them as we watched each other throw gutter balls. We had a reason to start building that connection.

So, yes. While I find it terrifying to randomly go up and start flirting with a woman, if there’s a reason for it, I’m confident in my ability to get the ball rolling.

I’ve never written about my dating life in this blog. If you don’t hate it, let me know and I’ll keep spilling the tea. ❤️

Writing is still hard

A person sitting at their desk and writing with pen and paper

I’m day 69,420 into writing my book. It feels that way at least.

When I decided to embark on this journey last August, I thought I could finish it by December…Silly, silly man.

I’ve pushed back the publish date several times now. Partly out of procrastination, but mostly out of necessity. Here’s what I mean.

When I started, I did what I tell others to do when they’re creating something. I reached out to my network. I asked everybody if they knew someone I should talk to. It was easy to find people to interview.

So I did. It was fun and super low pressure.

Then, I interviewed the hosts of my favorite movie podcast. Then, I email-interviewed my favorite author and speaker. And then, I interviewed an entrepreneur I look up to who wrote the article that inspired me to launch my business. And then, my favorite chess streamer and YouTuber responded to my email and asked to set up a call in May.

This thing is getting bigger. What a lovely problem to have.

I call it a “problem” for two reasons:

  1. I’m still setting up calls with people which means more time is needed to write this thing.
  2. To keep the book short and minimal, I’m choosing to cut out certain people I’ve interviewed. That makes me feel bad.

But on the upside, my confidence has soared as I’m getting people who are huge in my eyes to hop on a call and talk to me about what they’ve created. That lights me up.

Also, here’s the good thing about not being all big a famous with an enormous audience: there’s not a ton of people I can disappoint. Many people bought pre-sale copies of the book. But I doubt they’re checking their calendar and stressing over when they’ll get their $10 back (soon, my friends).

Anyway, here have been my biggest lessons so far:

  • Reach out to people. You can’t get what you want if you don’t ask for it. If they don’t respond, you’ve lost nothing because you already weren’t talking to them.
  • People LOVE being asked thought-provoking questions they’ve never been asked before.
  • Writing is easy. Sitting down to start writing feels impossible.

Stay tuned. ✌️

What I learned from Will Smith’s slap

I never thought I’d use this blog to respond to pop culture, but here we are.

Anyone with eyes knows about what happened at the Academy Awards. People seem strangely divided on their opinions. I’m not going to dive into mine here.

I just want to share an insight I had when I first read about it and watched the uncensored video.

My emotional reaction was something like: Oh my God, that’s not the Will I know!

Once I felt that, I started laughing. I don’t know this man even a little bit. In fact, I know more about the characters he’s played in movies and on television than I do about him.

For some reason, when someone is famous or in the public eye, we get a false sense of familiarization. We build internal relationships with them. We say things like, “I adore her,” or, “I can’t fucking stand that guy.”

Either way, we truly have no idea what it’d be like to sit down with this person and have coffee with them. Maybe they’re as outgoing and humble as they seem. Maybe they’re an asshole. We. Don’t. Know.

And we’re not supposed to know. Actors used to have a mystique about them. You know, back in the good old days before I was born. Here’s an entertaining video explaining why modern actors just don’t shine the same.

My point is: We should judge a person’s work, not the person themselves.

Having millions of dollars and being known by millions of people doesn’t make someone more ethical, more intelligent, or more rational. Those things become harder with more money and power.

They’re just as smart and as stupid as we are. They’re not Gods. They get jealous and cranky. They make mistakes.

The difference is that when we slip up, a few people at most will hear about it. When Will Smith does something idiotic, billions of people to come will see it unfold.

Was I disgusted by what he did?

Of course.

Will I go see the next movie he stars in?

Of course.

Sick thoughts

I’m sick. It’s not COVID.

This usually happens twice a year when the temperature changes. Cold symptoms. Cough. Congestion. Sore throat. It’s not fun but I tend to survive.

One thing that the pandemic has taught me is how often I used to go out into the world while sick. I’d go to work, hang out with friends, or go to the gym.

My Ph.D. in Bro Science tells me that coughing in the same room as others is a great way to spread whatever it is. I feel a refreshed sense of courtesy.

On Friday, when things felt super mild, I called my friends before going over to their place for dinner. I explained exactly how I felt and they told me to come on over.

But for the rest of the weekend, I canceled all plans. I’m coughing up a storm. My head feels like it’s full of mucus. The only plus is that my voice is twice as deep from the sore throat.

This is starting to sound like, “Look at how virtuous and ethical I am for canceling events while I’m ill.” But I seriously used to push through stuff like this in the past. It’s crazy to me now.

Once when I was quite sick, I showed up for my shift at the restaurant I used to work. The GM took one look at me and asked, “Are you sick, dude?” I said yeah and he promptly told me to go the fuck home.

Who would’ve known it would take a global pandemic for me to see that being around others while sick isn’t a great idea?

Not me.

On confidence

Confidence is not a necessity. It’s a reward.

I’ve had nearly a thousand coaching conversations with people. I’ve heard it every week for over a year.

“I just need more confidence.”

In other words: “I must first have this internal emotional change. Then and only then will I be physically able to do what I want to do.”

It’s totally understandable. But it’s nonsense.

If confidence is the belief in oneself, how can we have such faith when we’re unskilled and inexperienced in a thing? Unless we’re full of ourselves, we’ll naturally be nervous and unclear. That’s okay.

Being scared has nothing to do with us being able to do something. We do scary stuff all the time. If we don’t, it’s not because of inability; it’s because we choose not to.

Running a business. Talking to people we’re attracted to. Improving a skill.

We often think: “I need to learn X so I can do Y.”

When in reality, it’s: “I need to do Y and then I’ll learn X.”

Do first. Then feel confident as a reward for doing.

Don’t wait for it to fall into your lap.

RSS

I’ll be making an RSS feed for this blog soon.

That way, readers won’t have to check it every day. The posts will get sent directly to anyone who subscribes.

Stay tuned.

Quitting coffee (for a second time)

A cup of coffee on a table surrounded by a pile of coffee beans

Last year, I tried quitting coffee cold turkey. It sucked.

It led to two of the most miserable days of my life. I had to cancel my calls the second day because my head hurt so bad. It felt like the life had been sucked out of me.

I figured, I only drink a small cup each morning. Nothing crazy. Apparently, that’s all it takes to spark a caffeine addiction.

To be fair, I’d rather have a caffeine addiction than need something like booze or cocaine to get me going in the morning. But it pisses me off that I “need” any substance to function.

People laugh about it like it’s a good thing.

“Don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee.”
“I need my coffee.”
“I’m not a human without my coffee.”

We’re basically okay with being a slave to a chemical. What if we were to say, “Don’t talk to me at night until I’ve had my evening beer.”

I’m not shaming any addicts or people with prescriptions. It’s just strange to me that we have a culture where the norm is to physically require a powerful chemical—which caffeine is.

If this sounds harsh, keep in mind: I’m talking to myself here.

So today I started the weaning process. I used 50% less ground coffee and less water. This morning’s cup was weaker and smaller. I’ll continue chipping away at this until I run out of filters. Then I’ll switch to black tea.

The end goal: Only drink water and a few supplements in the morning. Coffee will only be a treat on vacation.

I’ll keep you all updated. If this blog suddenly stops, I probably went into caffeine withdrawal.

Startups suck

The whiteboard of a startup business with planning and sticky notes

That sounds harsh. Here’s what I mean.

When I visited my friends in Philly this January, I walked one of them to the train station. We were chatting in the freezing cold about the next steps for my business.

I mentioned I wanted to help startups. I had always been fascinated by them from afar but have had no interest in creating one myself.

What she said struck me.

“I mean, you do run a startup,” she said. “You manage a profitable business. You provide a service that other people pay for all on your own.”

Whoa, I thought. “I suppose that’s true,” I replied.

She reminded me that we seem to have unhealthy images of what startups actually are. Millions of dollars of venture capital. Software as a service. Founders who work 10-hour days and neglect their health.

I don’t want to do any of that. And I don’t have to.

I’m rereading Rework by Jason Fried. It’s a business book on how to optimize for fulfillment, not profit or growth.

In it, he argues that when starting a business, we don’t need business plans, we don’t need to grow if we don’t want, and we don’t need a big team. All we need is to sell a product or service to people willing to pay for it. Then, we need to make sure our revenue is higher than our expenses.

That’s it.

Jason also suggests not using the word “startup.” Just say business.

Before starting my coaching practice, I saw the “world of business” as this intimidating, unwelcoming entity. But there really isn’t a “business world.”

There’s just the world. It’s made up of human beings. They make decisions. They buy stuff. I had this idea in my head that startups were these mystical and magical creatures. They’re not.

In starting a business, all we need are three things:

  1. A product/service
  2. People willing to buy it
  3. A way to take their payments

If we can’t define these three things first, there’s no business. There’s just an idea.

That conversation with my friend a few months ago was short and simple. And it uplifted my spirits moving forward. As I continue to meet startup founders and learn about what they do, I’m not thinking, OMG I’m talking to a startup founder right now. I’m thinking, Wow, this person is really interesting. I’d love to learn more about what they’re going through.

As always, things are much simpler than we think.

Anyone can talk

A man talking through a cup phone

For years, I said that family was one of the most important things to me. But that was a lie.

How do I know?

Because my actions tell the whole story. I never went out of my way to help my mom. I rarely spent quality time with my sister, aunts, or uncles. I visited my other half of the family when it was convenient.

Billionaire industrialist and vigilante Bruce Wayne once said, “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.”

The cliche states that actions speak louder than words. Basically, anyone can talk. Talking is easy. It feels good. Sometimes, people are so good at talking, they trick themselves into thinking they’ve already done something.

That’s why ideas, plans, and roadmaps bore me. It’s all just words.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t prep for the future. I’m just far more interested in what a person is doing than what they say they’d like to do.

(Keep in mind, I’m criticizing myself here.)

Here’s a pretty personal example.

One of my close friends has basically been radio silent for the past year. He doesn’t answer my calls or texts. I worry about his health and wellbeing. I get no answers.

He sent me a super long text on my birthday a few weeks ago. He apologized profusely. He told me how much he loved and respected me. Reading it made me cry at my dining room table.

When I responded to try to set up a call…nothing. I haven’t heard from him since.

Anyone can talk. It’s through our consistent actions that we prove who we really are (thanks, Batman).

If we want to be kind and loving friends, we have to show our friends we support them and are curious about them. If we want to care about our health, we have to exercise regularly and eat mostly well. If we want to be productive, we have to sit down and do the work every week.

So what can we do with all this?

Try this exercise: Take five minutes and write out all the things you value most. Then, take another five minutes and write about the actions you take on a regular basis for those things.

Notice where things are lacking. What can you do more or less of? What needs to change?

As always, let me know how it goes. 😎

Next level

A man playing a virtual realty video game

I’m shifting my business. It’s scary.

2021 was the year of building my one-on-one coaching practice from scratch. Mission accomplished. It had grown to the point where I had to stop pursuing new clients in December.

So I spent this winter focused on my current clients, writing my book, and learning how to slow down. The last time I created new income was at the beginning of January. I’ve been living off a decent cushion for myself, but I can’t move to Brooklyn in October if I don’t build something new beforehand.

In my community, we say: “What got you to this level is what will keep you from getting to the next level.”

What got me to the level I’m at was my client-creation process:

  1. Reaching out to people individually, connecting with them, and building a relationship.
  2. Inviting everyone I talked with to a coaching session. Coaching as many of them as I possibly could and seeing if it was a good fit.
  3. Making it easy for them to work with me (financially and schedule-wise).

I loved it. I still do. My one-on-one clients are some of my favorite people on the planet.

But there are only so many hours in a day, week, and month. Rather, I only have so much energy. I’m not some super-entrepreneur who can put in 10-hour days. Even if I could, I don’t want to.

First of all, people don’t actually work 10-hour days. We can’t even work for eight hours. Sure, we can be in the office for that long. But we only have about three to four hours of genuine focused attention at our disposal.

Secondly, with what I do, I get drained pretty fast.

My job consists of listening deeply to a person, being wildly curious about them, and challenging them. Doing this with multiple people for multiple hours would make anyone tired.

That said, I can’t keep doing the 3-step system I mentioned above. It got me here, and it’ll keep me from getting to where I want to go.

So what will get me to the next level?

Something scaleable. A service where I’m not trading my time for money. Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • A group program for entrepreneurs.
  • Only high-paying referrals for one-on-one clients.
  • A content marketing strategy.

In the first sentence of this blog, I said I was scared. That’s not quite true. I’m unclear. And that can often be mistaken for fear.

At this stage, I’m interviewing startup founders to hear about their stories and challenges. It’s already giving me a clearer picture of what I can help folks with. But I don’t quite know what service I want to provide yet.

Luckily for me, I learned a valuable lesson last year: We don’t have to know how to do something in order to do it.

On top of that, we don’t have to be fearless in order to do what we want.

I don’t exactly know what I’m doing yet. But I know I’ll do it.

And when I do, I’ll tell you all about it.

(PS—Connect with me on Twitter for more regular updates and insights! @DillTho)

Hungover without the alcohol

A woman holding a glass of wine

Two nights ago, my sleep tracker told me I got two and a half hours of sleep. I woke up in pain.

I trudged through my first two sessions yesterday. Then for my third, he asked if we could reschedule. I was elated.

I said sure and I regretfully texted my personal trainer to reschedule our afternoon workout. Then I did something I never do.

I took a nap.

Three hours later, I woke up feeling human again. The day ended with a few fun and energy-filled calls.

But I wanted to briefly mention some Bro Science…

My hypothesis: Much if not most of the pain we feel during a hangover is sleep deprivation.

Firstly, when we drink, our sleep quality goes out the window. It doesn’t relax our minds; it sedates us. But alcohol aside…

I go months without drinking. Those periods don’t just lead to me feeling amazing. I have to eat well, exercise, and sleep 7-9 hours each night. There have been sober mornings of awful sleep and it genuinely feels like I’m hungover.

That’s what yesterday felt like.

So aside from the nausea, the headache, and the dehydration…how much of the physical pain of hangovers is simply because our brains didn’t get any sleep?

New rule; fewer blogs

Last month was an eye-opening experience for my mental health. After hitting a wall, I made some changes.

No more working on Sundays. No calls past 3pm. Friend and family time are to be prioritized.

I just made a new rule:

No blog-writing when I’m on vacation.

Simple, I know. But I’d often take my laptop with me when going out of town. That, or I’d write a bunch before leaving and schedule them out.

Either way, it would lead to low quality and throw-away writing.

This is already an “almost-daily” blog. Now even more so.

The freed-up headspace when I was on vacation was refreshing. Normally I feel panic and guilt as I question when I can find time to write a few sentences. It really takes me away from the moment.

Not no mo.

Done, or perfect?

My friend and I are recording a podcast episode today. Our first one didn’t go so well.

It wasn’t absolutely cringe, as the kids say. But it was tough to listen back to.

We gave too much backstory. We didn’t interrupt each other enough. It felt like we were taking turns giving TED Talks.

But we wanted to start a podcast simply because we enjoy our conversations and hope others would too. Something happens when you hit “record,” though. When you see that blinking red light, the butterflies settle in. It’s easy to feel like everything spoken must be funny or groundbreaking.

I’m so glad we had a mediocre first recording. We can’t grow or improve until we run a test and gather data.

We could’ve prepped and planned for months, trying to create the perfect conversation. But what we did was so much more efficient.

We said fuck it, let’s just do it and see what happens.

Done is better than perfect. Because perfect usually means doing nothing.

A simple technique for better conversations (that you can start using today)

Naturally, people enjoy talking to someone who asks questions and expresses curiosity. We all want to feel heard and feel important.

Whether it’s conscious or unconscious, people notice pretty quickly when a person only talks about themselves. The first thing I detect in someone is how often they ask (genuinely curious) questions. If they never do, I almost always find them less interesting.

But there’s a limit.

If we only ask questions in a conversation, it can feel like an interrogation real fast. That tends to make people uncomfortable or feel guilty that they talked about themselves the whole time.

So what if the person we’re talking to isn’t a skilled conversationalist? If they’re not giving us much to work with…

We can use the “2 for 1” rule.

Two questions. One personal story or idea. Repeat.

This ensures a back and forth. It lets the other person know, Hey, I’m a human being too. I’ve been through stuff. I can relate.

Try it out with your coworkers or with strangers. Let me know how it goes.

Success?

Is success a number or a feeling?

Is it a dollar amount in our bank account…or not being stressed about bills?

Is it how many followers, subscribers, or connections we have…or the level of connection we feel with the people we’re in the same room with.

Is it our weight…or the refreshing and limber sensations of a healthy and active body?

The 10 qualities of a Professional

According to Steven Pressfield, there are amateurs and there are professionals. Here’s what sets the pros apart:

1) We show up every day.

Vacations are nice and rest is necessary. But inside those boundaries, we’re on the clock.

2) We show up no matter what.

Again, time away from working is rejuvenating. But if we only do the work when our bodies feel like it, we’re doing ourselves (and those we serve) a disservice.

3) We stay on the job all day.

Our to-do list should be reasonable and doable. And our day ends when it is complete, not when Resistance begins to settle in.

4) We are committed over the long haul.

Perhaps we’ll be doing something different a year from now. But we’ll still be working consistently with purpose, providing value, and growing our skills.

5) The stakes for us are high and real.

We don’t create because it’s a hobby. We create to pay our rent, buy groceries, and afford trips with our friends.

6) We accept payment for our labor.

We are here to serve people and solve problems, yes. But we must be compensated for doing so. Otherwise, we’re not working; we’re running charities.

7) We do not over-identify with our jobs.

We write. We collaborate. We design. We’re not writers, collaborators, or designers. Our work is not our life; it fuels our life.

8) We master the technique of our jobs.

We improve each week because we know we’ll never know all there is to know. We become black belts in what we do.

9) We have a sense of humor about our jobs.

While the stakes are high, we don’t take ourselves seriously. We shrug off failures as part of the game. If we’re getting pummeled it’s because we’re on the field and not in the stands…and we’re grateful for that.

10) We receive praise or blame in the real world.

Some people love what we’re doing. Some people despise it. Both are okay. We appreciate the kind words and learn from or disregard the nasty ones.

I certainly don’t embody all ten of these each and every day. But all I can do is take care of myself and remind myself of the simple truth…

That the hardest thing to do in the world is to sit down in this chair and do the work.

Ideas vs. execution

Dillan Taylor's business ideas

I have a running list of business ideas in my Notes app. I’ve done nothing with 99% of them.

People can be super protective of their ideas.

But ideas are cheap. They mean nothing. They’re just words on a screen.

I don’t even know what some of these ideas mean. “1 hour blog or copy editor”??

Anyone can write a sentence in their phone. Execution is an entirely different thing.

Coming up with ideas is safe. It’s fun to fantasize about these things coming to life.

What’s scary is trying to make them happen.

I loved the idea of building a coaching business. I didn’t love putting myself out there and trying to get people on a call with me (at first).

When people are coming up with business or content ideas, my advice is always the same:

Just help one person. If you can get one person to give you their time, money, or attention, then you can get two.

And so on.

But people spend all their time in the blueprint and strategy stage. That’s a brilliant way to get nothing done, but to feel as though a lot is getting accomplished.

How to know you don’t suck at something

A dart on a dartboard that missed the target

I’ve tried my hand at podcasting, YouTube, and writing online.

The only thing I would consider successful has been this blog. It has anywhere from 40-700 unique readers per blog post.

Nothing crazy. But way more than when I started in 2019. Back then it was just me and my friend Grace reading my overly-confident preachings as I told people what to do and what not to do in their lives.

She still reads the blog today, which is a good sign.

But I want to briefly mention a helpful measure for success. It’s not some arbitrary number of readers, followers, or subscribers. It’s much more human.

People being nice when they don’t have to be.

This can be as simple as a friend sending a message saying they really liked today’s blog. It could also be a stranger reaching out and sharing their thoughts on the work we’ve done.

My blog about moving to NYC got 712 unique readers. That was cool. People shared it on Facebook and LinkedIn. I think it was so popular because it was a “huge” life decision for my personal and professional life.

It felt amazing. For a day.

But a few weeks later, I got an email from a guy in India. I had no idea who he was. I thought it was spam at first. He told me about his favorite pieces I wrote, dating back months and months. He said this:

“I relate on so many levels with your approach to life (Like Core Principles). And I’ve started working on certain things after reading your blogs (Like preparing for high-altitude treks like your triathlon). Your blogs have inspired me to write more too!
Anyway, just wanted you to know, you’ve got a fan from India. Thanks for being you.”

I saved this email. It made my eyes water.

Numbers are great. They mean we’re reaching more people. But messages like this are truly priceless. They keep creators moving. He didn’t have to send me this.

I don’t share this to boost my ego. My point is: If we stick with something consistently, make tiny improvements, and try to bring value to others…eventually, people will dig it.

I can’t give a masterclass on blog writing. I just sit down each morning and write short paragraphs about what I’m thinking and learning.

No hurry; no pause. I don’t have to sprint, but I can’t stop.

To anyone who wants to create anything, my advice would be just that.

(PS—I’m writing a book on creating. It’ll come out this summer. Pre-order it here. Or, send hate mail here.) 😎

Friction

A red cube on a black surface

With habits we want to do more of, we can reduce the friction. We can make it easier for us to do whatever those things are.

Examples:

  • Bring gym clothes to work so it’s easier to workout right after the day is done.
  • Leave a notebook on top of the coffee machine so you can journal while the coffee is brewing in the morning.
  • Find a buddy who can be an accontability partner, to make it easier to consistently go to the gym, to a foreign language meetup, or any other activity you want to improve yourself with.

With habits we want to do less of, we do the opposite: we add friction.

These past few weeks, I’ve been trying a stupidly simple strategy for watching less YouTube on my phone.

On top of deleting the app from my phone, I changed the rule for myself. I can watch as much YouTube on my phone as I want. I just have to log in and log out each time.

That little bit of added friction, that extra step…It’s enough to make me realize that I don’t actually want to watch anything in particular. I just want to stimulate and distract myself.

It works. I feel little to no compulsion to log onto YouTube on my phone.

But there are YouTubers I subscribe to and want to watch each day or so. That’s fine, but it means at the end of the day, I have to sit down on my couch and pull it up on my TV. It’s my version of Netflix.

This makes it more intentional. I’m not scrolling through the algorithm waiting to be entertained.

For yourself, what do you want to do less of? How can you make it harder for yourself to do that thing?

Relying on extra willpower and discipline is a fool’s game.