In a world awash in noise, my goal with Spread Great Ideas is to increase the signal. In other words, I want to bring you what I consider to be the best of what’s out there. To cut through the clutter.
Personally I value curators. And I believe that who each of us listens to shapes how we see and interact with the world – and with ourselves. So it’s best to choose wisely!
When someone says they’ve discovered a “new” idea, I’m inherently skeptical. History can teach us a lot. Or as Charlie Munger said, “There is no better teacher than history in determining the future… There are answers worth billions of dollars in a $30 history book.” So can the world’s greatest minds. That is if we are humble enough to listen to them, and study not only what they said but how they put their ideas into practice i.e. how they lived.
In the interest of being transparent, you should know my biases.
First up I’m a humanist. That’s a fancy way of saying that I believe humans are inherently righteous. Yes we make mistakes. Yes we overcorrect in messy ways. But on the whole, I think our future is bright if we exercise our own capacity for goodness and practice cooperation.
Politically I’m a libertarian. I believe in free markets and free people. We spend too much time engaged in divisive left vs. right name calling when the real battle is one of liberty vs. authoritarianism. This is a battle which cuts across party lines.
Though I’m an expat, I’m still proud to be an American. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not the starry-eyed, chest-thumping sort. But I deeply believe in the American ideal that each of us is endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, namely the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” – rights which our courageous Founding Fathers believed enough in to take up arms and defend with their lives.
Nowadays I think that the military-industrial-surveillance complex is ruining America from the inside out. At the risk of sounding cliche, Americans in my opinion have more to fear from men in suits in Washington D.C. than from men in caves in some far away land. We’re being manipulated by scare tactics and fear mongering to sacrifice our essential liberties in pursuit of some temporary safety – and that’s a horrible trade.
I read a lot. And I read a variety of books, newsletters, etc. about all sorts of topics because I aspire to be a polymath. My friends would describe me as “curious” I think.
Personally I’m drawn to people who are discreet when it comes to their wealth. They’re not ostentatious. And they are convinced that while part of their wealth came from hard work and strategic insight, another part came from sheer luck.
The goddess Fortuna in Roman mythology is a useful metaphor here. In one arm she holds a cornucopia of delicious fruit, indicating all that good fortune can bestow on someone. In the other arm she holds a ship’s rudder, indicating that at any moment bad fortune can change the course of things for us. “Fortune is a fickle mistress” a mentor of mine often said, and the reverence bestowed upon her is well-deserved.
Dealing with adversity is a recurring theme of mine. This quote from Jim Rohn is something I read every day: “Be grateful for adversity, for it forces the human spirit to grow – for surely, the human character is formed not in the absence of difficulty but in our response to difficulty.”
Professionally I’m an entrepreneur. In my early teens I started a lawn mowing company when my Dad came home with a red Snapper riding lawn mower instead of the fancy mountain bike I craved. He loaned me the new mower on credit, and I got to work paying him back and then saving up the money needed to buy the bike. Still one of the best lessons I’ve ever received. BTW I got the bike. 🙂
At 24 I sold my first company. By 30 I was a self-made millionaire. Along the way I’ve made and lost a fortune several times. Each time has been exhilarating on the way up, and humbling on the way down. Getting one’s teeth kicked in by life can be very useful! It has also taught me how to be resilient. As Mike Tyson famously said, “Everyone’s got a plan til they get punched in the face”. It’s that we get up off the mat after the punch which counts.
Being an entrepreneur has been both a blessing and a curse. I love the freedom it offers. However some of my most profound professional growth has been when I’ve worked for someone else as an apprentice. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, and that’s okay. We all need structure and if we don’t have the self-discipline or the internal motivation to maintain that structure, then working for someone else is a wise move. Plus you get the benefit of in-person mentorship – and that can be priceless.
Growing up in a small town in Tennessee, my parents made tremendous sacrifices so that my sister and I would be better off. I’ll always love and respect them for their courage and hard work. In the East, Confucius called this “filial piety”. In the West, Moses called it “honoring thy father and thy mother”. Either way I try to practice it in both word and deed.
A big part of my spiritual journey has been rectifying how I grew up – in the heart of the Bible Belt attending church every Sunday along with Christian summer camps – with my own personal relationship to Jesus as both a man and a teacher.
I’m a spiritual seeker, and likely always will be. That’s led me down a number of interesting rabbit holes as an adult – singing in the choir at Self-Realization Fellowship, intensive meditation retreats, shamanic ceremonies with medicine men, etc.
All this (plus lots of reading!) has led me to the belief that religion is a very poor container for Jesus and his ideas. What he taught was radical, hard to understand because it was such a strikingly different world view, and even harder to put into practice.
(If you’ve ever tried to “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” and “love thy neighbor as thyself” on a consistent basis, then you know what I mean!)
Nowadays I gain inspiration from others who are humble in their aspirations. Gracious in their successes. And resilient in their failures. This combination of humility, graciousness, and resilience is what makes us special. It’s also what gives life it’s texture!
My goal with what we publish is to be “an inch wide, and a mile deep” as a mentor of mine used to say. It takes hard work to gain expertise in a particular field. And to be clear, I’m not an expert in any particular field. I just like asking provocative questions. 🙂
If this sounds like your cup of tea, then please stick around. I’d love to have you join in our conversation and help us spread more great ideas.
Onward and upward,