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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Do Americans Know How to Elect a Real Leader?

Poor Man Survival

Self Reliance tools for independent minded people…


ISSN 2161-5543

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” - Mark Twain

[Get this game at:]

Americans were bushwhacked by the Patriot Act and I’m willing to bet the French will find their rights under attack too in light of recent attacks…

Few people, aside from those who folks have been labeled “conspiracy theorists,” questioned the Patriot Act which makes me wonder:  Do Americans even know how to elect a real leader?

Unlike our reaction and our petition to the White House to overturn the most anti-freedom set of laws ever created…[the un-Patriot Act which robbed Americans of many of their freedoms, privacy, and dignity at airports…about dangerous government overreach.


“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing:  “The last of the human freedoms,” Viktor Frankl wrote [in response to his captivity & research at a Nazi prison camp] in Man’s Search for Meaning -- “to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

The heavy hand of government is beginning to have a negative impact on everything from slower business startups to anemic job growth [the government loves to applaud its growth of menial, part time jobs]…



 An exodus of people from the United States continues … and it’s not just Americans giving up their citizenship this time.

According to the Pew Research Center, more than 1 million Mexicans and their families returned to Mexico from 2009 through 2014. During that same time period, roughly 870,000 Mexicans moved into the U.S., resulting in a
net loss of 140,000 Mexicans in the U.S.

Pew’s data includes both documented and undocumented immigrants. And while 14% of those leaving were deported, the majority left “of their own accord” with the intent of reuniting with families or finding better job opportunities in Mexico.

The slow economic recovery, high taxes and intrusive government have left people looking for opportunities outside the U.S. In fact, 1,426 Americans gave up their citizenship in the third quarter of 2015, setting a new all-time record high. So far in 2015, 3,221 Americans have renounced their citizenship, putting that figure on pace to surpass the high reached in 2014 of 3,415.

The march for the exits is a massive warning sign of which we need to take note. Conditions within the United States have worsened. The government has made few efforts to protect the privacy of Americans and no attempts to rein in its reckless spending that has pushed debt above $18 trillion. The economic recovery has created a poorer middle class and
job growth that has been focused on low-paying jobs.


According to the Fed, some 31% of non-retired Americans have no savings or pension whatsoever.

Some have been frozen out, unable to save thanks to stagnating incomes and dismal job prospects. Others who might otherwise be able to save just don't see the point when they're not making any interest to speak of.

That negative outlook is understandable, given today's economic realities.


The 7th largest economy on the entire planet, Brazil, has been gripped by a horrifying recession, as has much of the rest of South America.  But it isn’t just South America that is experiencing a very serious economic downturn.  We have just learned that Japan (the third largest economy in the world) has lapsed into recession.  So has Canada.  So has Russia.  The dominoes are starting to fall, and it looks like the global economic crisis that has already started is going to accelerate as we head into the end of the year.  At this point, global trade is already down about 8.4 percent for the year…


   Think of it in terms of our GDP or simply put as:


1.       How many people are working?

2.       How productive are they?


Since Obama took office, the numbers are dismal.  There has been a striking decline in the US labor force participation since the beginning of the global financial crisis in 2007.  [from 66.4% to 62.2%] now the lowest since 1977!


There are many reasons for this decline:  The rise of benefits under Obama’s leadership, discouragement [why work when there are no good jobs?] and a mismatch of skills and job openings…carpenters, for example, don’t easily become computer programmers or nurses.  Regardless of what the government tells us, the actual unemployment rate stands at 10% or higher and productivity has barely grown 1% a year since the ‘end’ of the recession in 2009.


Polls show 71% of Americans are unhappy with country’s direction-many are openly frustrated which is why candidates like Trump are faring well in the polls.  Folks are frustrated with career politicians who have turned the political process into a farce.


America is suffering from a feckless, lawless leadership who seem to have a broken will to help the nation rather than to restrain dishonesty and corruption they have foisted onto the American people.  But do Americans know how to elect a leader?

As Thomas Sowell wrote:  “If you are not informed, then the most patriotic thing you can do on Election Day is stay home!”


Staying Sovereign in the Face of Fear
Just like after 9/11 in 2001, the terrorist attacks in Paris have inspired a lot of fear — and a call for action. Unfortunately, our government is all-too-good at manipulating our emotions to attain its own end, curtailing our freedoms in the name of “security.” But we don’t have to fall prey to the fear: Learn how you can stay sovereign, even in the midst of a crisis. To read more, click here.


Yours for better living and…I offer you my best wishes for fruitful thanksgiving,

Bruce ‘the Poor Man’


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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

8 Ways You Can Make an Impact Today

Poor Man Survival

Self Reliance tools for independent minded people…


ISSN 2161-5543

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources

The American Republic will endure, until politicians
realize they can bribe the people with their own money."

-- Alexis de Tocqueville




8 Ways To Make An Impact Today

James White for Treason.News

Behind the scenes of the alternative media space, a revolution is afoot. Many alternative media companies are banding together in preparation of a potential crackdown on our freedom of web speech…more about the horrors of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

“In the realm of alt media,” Edward Szall of TruNews told us yesterday, “many took the words of Matt Drudge, from his appearance on Oct. 6 on the Alex Jones Show, as the ‘canary in the coal mine’ that hard times were beginning. And that the real fight for the collective freedom of the press was underway.”

If you missed it, here’s what Drudge said in the interview…

I had a Supreme Court Justice tell me it’s over for me. ‘They’ve got the votes now to enforce copyright law, you’re out of there. They’re going to make it so you can’t even use headlines.’

To have a Supreme Court Justice say to me it’s over, they’ve got the votes, which means time is limited.

We’re moving into a time, said Drudge, when operating an alternative or independent website (ahem) could be made illegal.

If such draconian copyright laws are enforced (not dissimilar to those outlined in the TPP), Ed told us, we’re going to see a fight for freedom of information on the Internet.

Reason being...

Blatant and covert censorship could, in this scenario, become a common, and possibly daily, occurrence.


One of the greatest frustrations that I face, and have for some time now, is the lack of participation in the fight for liberty by individuals who are clearly “awake.”

These people know what we are up against, but they are content to let the few among us do most of the heavy lifting while they parade through meeting after meeting… only to go home and do nothing.

I began to think that there must be some way to take the energy I expend on my frustrations and use that same energy for good.

The following list of action items are my attempt to do just that. This list is not complete, and I encourage you to think of your own.

These tasks can easily be done by anyone who is not bed-ridden. As you may notice, they go from low activity tasks, to more active involvement as you get your legs under you.

• E-mail, e-mail, e-mail – If you have e-mail, you qualify for this task. There is no easier way to get the word out than e-mail. You can find a list of your local, state and federal representatives pretty easily with a search online. Pick a topic that you feel strongly about and start sending e-mail. Do not forget to include your friends, you might just inspire someone. If you have hesitated in the past because you didn’t want to be tracked or alert the “authorities” about your views, do not let that stop you now because we’re ALL being tracked anyways.

• Blogging – Again, a simple task for anyone with an internet connection. We all have opinions, regardless of how we decide to express, or not express, them publicly. Blogging, or creating an account on your favorite website to make comments, is free and easy. Still feel a bit weird about it? Use a fake name. Even if you suck at first, just keep writing. You will get better. Always remember to embrace your critics, and you will have them, for they only serve to harden you in the long run.

• Create a weekly podcast – Here is another almost free activity that you can engage in. Break cheap for a decent microphone, and you are pretty much ready to go. A quick online search will reveal a multitude of free recording software, and with it plenty of venues for you to choose from in which to broadcast your work. Use your own name, or use an alias. Keep in mind that the important thing in the equation is not you, it’s the information.

• Flyers – Once again, this is something that can mostly be done at home. But, you will need to leave the cave briefly to complete this task. If you have a printer, you are the person for this mission. Pick one of the first ten amendments, or a particular quote or fact that suits you, and put it into a flyer. I am willing to bet that most everyone has a printer, and many have the software on their computer to create a simple flyer. Hang it on the peg-board that is present outside 99% of the grocery stores in this land. Still feel weird? Tack them on telephone poles under cover of darkness to maintain your anonymity. Want a bit more action? The following tasks will take you out of your mom’s basement into the real world.

• City Council Meetings – I do not know the rules for every community, but I would safely guess that everyone who reads this has some form of regular meetings taking place, regarding the town in which they live, within 20 miles of them. Pair up with a friend and make a commitment to regularly attend these meeting once you locate them. Take good notes for dissemination in e-mail, and for the blog that you created a few steps back. Once you get a feel for how the meetings work, take that next bold step and get your time on the microphone to express your views. Remember, these people are elected, and have their salaries paid for, by you.

• Video Journalism – Most everyone has a phone with video capabilities these days, and a YouTube account is still free last time I checked. Take a topic that you are opinionated about and take to the streets. If you are friendly and act appropriately, most people will stop to answer a question or two while you record it. Take the video and post it on your newly created YouTube account. Look at the work of guys like Mark Dice or Luke Rudkowski. I do not know them personally, but I would bet that neither of them has formal acting lessons on their resume’. Trust me, it gets easier each time you do it.

• Call for a Town Hall Meeting – Post flyers with the skills that you practiced earlier in this list and call for a Town hall meeting. It will likely be slow going at first, but, then again, you may realize instant success; for many people are fed-up these days. Many local restaurants have larger meeting rooms and would welcome the increased traffic on their slow evenings. Like a Tuesday, for example. Perhaps you can even speak to the manager and get them to agree to post a flyer, or otherwise promote your meeting. If it grows beyond the restaurants capacity, a local hotel meeting room can be rented for fairly cheap, especially on those slow nights through the week. Pass a hat around to cover the expense.

• Run for Public Office – I am not so certain that we can effect much change within the current corrupt system, but we have to try while we still can. I am no expert on running for public office, but I do know how to search YouTube and the web to find answers. Do not try to take on the world right away. Run for something like your school board, or PTA. Get your feet wet before you decide to go big-time. Your town does have a website, and on it you will likely find all of the forms or requirements that you will need to run for public office. If you stand firm on the US Constitution and maintain a strong foundation for liberty, your message will sell – that I can almost guarantee.

That’s all I have for now. As I said, the list is not complete, but hopefully it’s a good start.

I implore those who may read these musings to take that next step from gathering Intel, to taking action. Freedom is NEVER free, and there is no time like the present to start paying your share. This country is bleeding out right before our eyes… is there not a cause?

Source:  Laissez Faire


More articles from the blog:


AND FINALLY:  As if we Americans didn’t put up with enough government crap…

The Government Netted $4.5 Billion in Cash, Cars, and Houses Taken From Americans Last Year

For federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, a little-known practice giving them the power to take Americans' property, cash, and cars has proven to be a boon over the last decade.  Between 1989 and 2010, U.S. attorneys seized an estimated $12.6 billion in asset forfeiture cases. The growth rate during that time averaged +19.4% annually. In 2010 alone, the value of assets seized grew by +52.8% from 2009 and was six times greater than the total for 1989. Then by 2014, that number had ballooned to roughly $4.5 billion for the year, making this 35% of the entire number of assets collected from 1989 to 2010 in a single year!

Read More


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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Is it Possible to Make an Honest Living?

Poor Man Survival

Self Reliance tools for independent minded people…


ISSN 2161-5543

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources

More money buys more happiness for the poor and more headaches for those who already have too much. - Anonymous


“It’s nearly impossible to make an honest living.”


The U.S. Census Bureau says that nearly 47 million Americans are living in poverty right now.

The number of Americans that are living in concentrated areas of high poverty has doubled since the year 2000

   In the 1970s when I attended ASU [Arizona State] as an out of state student my tuition was roughly $650 per semester.  Between the GI Bill and the money I had saved from summers of driving a fork lift in a factory as a union member and some sideline painting jobs I had stashed away nearly $6,000 to pay my expenses.


I further supplemented my income by working a part time job as a night club bartender [that made it tough on my 7am Spanish class].  My budget was often wrecked by the constant tweaking that my Chevelle Super Sport required and the steady stream of  girlfriends I seemed to acquire [there was a reason Tempe, AZ was nicknamed ‘Sin City].


The cost of living then was considerably lower back then.  Around 1975 my brother purchased a new VW bug for less than $1800 – today you can’t buy a decent lawn tractor for that!


By the mid-1980s I owned a successful company which published regional business journals and produced business expos and seminars.  I also wrote a nationally syndicated business column, and offered marketing seminars throughout the country based on a business manual I had written.


I belonged to a barter exchange which allowed me to stretch my budget even further and offered me further ways to promote my business while enhancing my travel dollar.


However, the most important rule I learned in business was this:  One must always seek out new profit centers and new ways to save money. This has become increasingly more difficult.  The average American has no real money to speak of and they have the attention span of a gnat, seldom able to take their eye off their “smart” phone for more than a minute.


Today it seems the government’s goal is continually create new barriers to starting a business, job creation, saving money and/or the enjoyment of life.  Is it any wonder why so many of our youth take to dealing drugs on street corners rather than working for minimum wage?


These roadblocks have taken a huge toll on the American Dream

It looks like a new housing slump is emerging in the United States.  Sales of previously owned homes fell by 2.3 percent in September.

 New home sales in the United States declined by a whopping 11.5 percent in September.

According to John Williams of, if the government was actually using honest numbers the unemployment rate in the United States today would be 22.9 percent.

And according to Challenger Gray, layoffs at major firms have risen to the highest level that we have witnessed since 2009.

Recently I had given thought to starting a neighborhood barter club but decided against it given the limited outlook on life most of my neighbors have.  Using Craigslist as a barometer I can see few, if any, folks around here have any interest in bartering…


If I trade my neighbor one chicken for help fixing my plumbing, where/how will we generate the currency I need to pay our exorbitant water bill, property taxes, auto insurance [all of which are among the highest in the nation]?

I’ve asked my neighbors if anyone here has ever tried launching alternative currency or a trade exchange of any sort…the short and long answer is NO.  Even the poor vendors at our one and only indoor flea market of the area gripe about ‘cheap ass’ customers and lousy sales.

I’ve been working hard on a new business venture connecting college student workers and senior citizens - something ideally suited for Arizona, Miami, Utah, Washington and other areas and have recently started preliminary advertising…so far however, not even one inquiry.  I’ve included several premiums [a PR package, a mobile app and more] into the package but am left scratching my head about the state of entrepreneurism in this nation…

Fewer US corporations innovate today as it is easier to simply purchase another startup company.  Indeed, due to our overly litigious society, most firms discourage any  innovation from outside their firm.

Think about why so many politicians want to remain in office for life?  It sure beats working for a living and the benefits and perks outweigh the private sector. 

I’m leaving for Arizona soon to connect with old friends and business contacts…perhaps we’ll be able to brainstorm some better avenues…Have Brain-Will Travel!


A few parting goodies

15 Grocery Store Foods You Can Stockpile Virtually Forever

Preserving and stockpiling food is a cornerstone of homesteaders and off-gridders. Not all foods, though, preserve well, no matter what you do to them. Some are just bound and determined to deteriorate with time. But there are enough foods that will last virtually forever, if we take the time to select and pack them in the right manner.

Read more here.



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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Uncertainties of life seem to have multiplied…[the secret, my friend, is to remain...

Poor Man Survival

Self Reliance tools for independent minded people…


ISSN 2161-5543

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources

Education is the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty...Mark Twain



Remaining Stoic in Uncertain Times        

Most Americans know deep down that something is seriously wrong with our nation.  In fact, a new WND/Clout poll has found that 85.3 percent of all likely voters in the United States believe that our country is going in the wrong direction…

The poll found 92.6 percent of those who identified themselves as conservative believe the nation is on the wrong track. Among those who call themselves liberal, 90.9 percent said it is going the wrong direction.

When asked what they think of the American economy after seven years of Obama’s leadership and economic policies, nearly 80 percent described it as “very fragile” or “somewhat fragile.”

We could all learn some lessons from what Chairman Jonathan Johnson is doing. The following is an excerpt from a recent Fox News report

One week ago Johnson, who is also candidate for Utah governor, spoke at the United Precious Metals Association,  which takes advantage of Utah’s special status allowing them to use gold as legal tender, offering gold and silver-backed accounts. As a reminder, the UPMA takes Federal Reserve Notes (or paper dollars) which it then translates into golden dollars (or silver). The golden dollars are based off the $50 one ounce gold coins produced by the Treasury of The United States. They are legal tender under the law and are protected as such.

What did Johnson tell the UPMA? Here are some choice quotes:

We are not big fans of Wall Street and we don’t trust them. We foresaw the financial crisis, we fought against the financial crisis that happened in 2008; we don’t trust the banks still and we foresee that with QE3, and QE4 and QE n that at some point there is going to be another significant financial crisis.

So what do we do as a business so that we would be prepared when that happens. One thing that we do that is fairly unique: we have about $10 million in gold, mostly the small button-sized coins, that we keep outside of the banking system. We expect that when there is a financial crisis there will be a banking holiday. I don’t know if it will be 2 days, or 2 weeks, or 2 months. We have $10 million in gold and silver in denominations small enough that we can use for payroll. We want to be able to keep our employees paid, safe and our site up and running during a financial crisis.

We also happen to have three months of food supply for every employee that we can live on.

                The Uncertainties of life seem to have multiplied…[the secret, my friend, is to remain fluid against the opposition]

The amount of variables in our lives has multiplied, and with that, every day seems to contain growing uncertainty. There seem to be two schools of thought on how to deal with this increasing inconstancy:

  1. The Technophiles: These are the guys who say you should embrace everything that’s new. Technology will annihilate uncertainty. The aim is to integrate ourselves with machines as much as possible.
  2. The Paleophiles: These are the guys who say you should reject anything new, recover our ancient human history, and live according to that (effectively ignoring new uncertainties). Technology is making us less human. The aim is to detach ourselves from technology.

My goal here is to take a more sober look at ways to deal with (and even benefit from) the ever-increasing uncertainty of daily life. This isn’t a “middle” path of half-measures between the two views, but a totally new way to approach things.

Two Types of Uncertainty

The first thing to understand about our unpredictable world is that there are two types of uncertainty:

  1. Soft Uncertainty. This is the uncertainty you feel inside yourself. It encompasses the moral, spiritual, or philosophic uncertainties in your life, and the doubt that surrounds your choices in what to do and which way to go. It’s the uncertainty you feel before asking for a raise. It’s the uncertainty you feel before attempting a project. It’s the uncertainty of the existential crisis. It’s the uncertainty in the minds of generals at the start of WWI.
  2. Hard Uncertainty. This is uncertainty that exists outside of you. It’s the uncertainty that exists after you ask for a raise and after you begin your new project. It resides in the probabilities and randomness of the world. This uncertainty is the work of the Fates. This is the type of uncertainty that soccer moms and economic planners fail to solve, every time. It’s the fact that weapons will be used in ways never imagined.

If we look at these as problems, they are impossible to solve.

Soft Uncertainty seems, at first glance, to be a solvable problem. Just adopt the proper mindset – often that of some religion, nation, or political stance – and you’ll be golden. Many of us, however, are unable to adopt some ideology whole-heartedly.

Hard Uncertainty also seems like a lost cause. Each time we are promised some scientific or economic certainty, the forecasts miss and everything changes.

The problem isn’t uncertainty itself. The problem is our rejection of it.

Perhaps we don’t need to solve Soft Uncertainty by finding the answer. Maybe the ability to comfortably hold a paradox in our mind is the better answer.

Perhaps we can’t control Hard Uncertainty. Maybe we ought to position ourselves to actually benefit from things out of our control.

The tools we discuss below develop our strength to handle both types of uncertainty simultaneously.

Instead of becoming arrogantly certain, we will become confident in our uncertainty. Instead of pretending we can predict the future, we will be ready for a future we could never imagine.

hese uncertain areas are the most interesting and the most valuable; they provide the most challenge, and thus the most growth, satisfaction, and ultimately, joy. It’s where your time is best spent, and where the concept of obliquity mentioned above factors in. Some problems — the complex ones, especially — require indirect solutions and the ebb and flow of a risk and discovery cycle.

The best chance you have at taking advantage of an uncertain world is to be operating with the proper framework. The tools below will take you a long way in developing that framework.

5 Tools for Dealing With Uncertainty

We are going to look at five tools for dealing with uncertainty through the emotional and professional lens, but understand that this is for the sake of space; many of these have the potential to benefit you in all areas of life where uncertainty resides. Which is to say, everywhere.

1. Stoicism: Focus On What You Can Control

When I was a day trader I would often lose thousands of dollars while making what I believed to be the correct trade. The next day I might make thousands of dollars while executing a foolish trade on a whim. If I allowed my emotions to tie themselves to these outcomes I would have gone broke within a month.

In an uncertain world we might have a great outcome follow a terrible choice or a terrible outcome follow a great choice.

The best we can do is stack the probability of winning in our favor and then act consistently towards winning.

This is terribly difficult because it hurts especially bad to lose while doing the “right” thing.

Stoicism is a powerful tool to help us through the emotional turmoil that this can cause.

Even more than any Roman philosopher, Nassim Nicholas Taleb has summed up what it means to be a modern Stoic:

Stoicism is about the domestication, not necessarily the elimination, of emotions. It is not about turning humans into vegetables. My idea of the modern Stoic sage is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into information, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking.”

William Irvine has written the only true guidebook to modern Stoicism that exists (the Stoics didn’t bother with this, which tells you a lot about the differences between their minds and ours). In it, he describes one of the most important topics of Stoicism: control what you can, forget about the rest. He uses a tennis match to illustrate:

“Remember that among the things over which we have complete control are the goals we set for ourselves. I think that when a Stoic concerns himself with things over which he has some but not complete control, such as winning a tennis match, he will be very careful about the goals he sets for himself. In particular, he will be careful to set internal rather than external goals. Thus, his goal in playing tennis will not be to win a match (something external, over which he has only partial control) but to play to the best of his ability in the match (something internal, over which he was complete control). By choosing this goal, he will spare himself frustration or disappointment should he lose the match: Since it was not his goal to win the match, he will not have failed to attain his goal, as long as he played his best. His tranquility will not be disrupted.”

This is easier said than done. It takes constant practice to separate your emotions from external situations.

How do we go about this?

Every time you begin to feel anxious or upset, try practicing the Triad of Control. To do this, you simply distinguish, in any given situation, whether you have total control, no control, or some control. Then, focus on what is in your control with your whole being.

At first glance it seems like this may rob you of power. It’s acknowledging that you can’t, in fact, control everything. After some practice, though, you will notice a growing sense of control in your life. Instead of tiring yourself worrying about what-ifs and shoulding all over yourself, you are concerned with what you are able to do. You connect yourself to reality.

If you practice this consistently for a month or so you will notice that you actually seek out adversity. Consider Seneca’s description of a wise man:

Working toward that mindset will make you a force in an uncertain world. You don’t hide when things shift, you push harder. You’re not afraid to learn when new skills become necessary. You aren’t afraid to see opportunities where others only see chaos.

For more on Stoicism check out Ryan Holiday’s quick and motivating The Obstacle is the Way, Tim Ferriss’s favorite essay by Seneca, or, if you want something comprehensive, William Irvine’s A Guide to the Good Life.

If you’d rather visit the primary texts (which are extremely readable and approachable; these guys were more concerned with solving problems than sounding smart) then I’d suggest Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic or Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations to start.

2. Make Many Small Bets

“People are bad at looking at seeds and guessing what size tree will grow out of them.” –Paul Graham

In most situations, it’s cheaper to test the validity of something than to spend a lot of time guessing about it.

In my business, StartupBros, we will use a blog post (investment: time) to gauge demand for information on a certain topic. We have an idea of what types of posts will hit, but we can never be certain. If a post elicits an extreme reaction from readers we consider building a paid course or coaching program based on that topic.

We make small bets (blog posts) and then pour more resources into the ones that show promise.

Venture capital funds operate in a similar way. They never know what is going to be the next Google or Facebook and so they are forced to make a ton of small bets, knowing that most of them won’t work out.

Paul Graham, founder of Y-Combinator, discusses the odd place this puts venture capitalists in:

“When you interview a startup and think ‘they seem likely to succeed,’ it’s hard not to fund them. And yet, financially at least, there is only one kind of success: they’re either going to be one of the really big winners or not, and if not it doesn’t matter whether you fund them, because even if they succeed the effect on your returns will be insignificant. In the same day of interviews you might meet some smart 19 year olds who aren’t even sure what they want to work on. Their chances of succeeding seem small. But again, it’s not their chances of succeeding that matter but their chances of succeeding really big. The probability that any group will succeed really big is microscopically small, but the probability that those 19 year olds will might be higher than that of the other, safer group.”

We can use this same approach to taking risks in our own lives. Put most of your resources into something safe while putting a small amount into extremely risky bets with massive potential.

An example of this for your career: keep your day job while working on a crazy startup at night.

If you’re operating in a random world you don’t want to have all your eggs in one basket. You want to be able to take a lot of small losses while being exposed to potentially massive wins.

3. Give Yourself Options

“[B]iology rarely rests with a single solution. Instead, it tends to ceaselessly reinvent solutions.” -David Eagleman, Incognito

An option is something you can take advantage of but don’t have to. If you buy a movie ticket then you’re guaranteed to be able to see a movie, but you don’t have to. That option cost you about $10. If a friend invites you to dinner it’s not a terrible cost to forgo the movie. A ticket to an AC/DC concert will be a much more expensive option.

Being exposed to more options means more potential opportunities.

Being able to move freely in life depends on the options you open up for yourself. Robert Greene explains how optionality is used in warfare:

“The world is full of people looking for a secret formula for success and power. They do not want to think on their own; they just want a recipe to follow. They are attracted to the idea of strategy for that very reason. In their minds strategy is a series of steps to be followed toward a goal. They want these steps spelled out for them by an expert or a guru. Believing in the power of imitating, they want to know exactly what some great person has done before. Their maneuvers in life are as mechanical as their thinking.

To separate yourself from such a crowd, you need to get rid of a common misconception: the essence of strategy is not to carry out a brilliant plan that proceeds in steps; it is to put yourself in situations where you have more options than the enemy does. Instead of grasping at Option A as the single right answer, true strategy is positioning yourself to be able to do A, B, or X depending on the circumstances. That is strategic depth of thinking, as opposed to formulaic thinking.”

The best generals aren’t the ones with the best plans, they are the ones who open themselves up to the most options.

In order to take advantage of these options one must be able to adapt.

Here are 5 ways to increase your options right now:

  • Learn a new professional skill. If your company goes bust right now, would you be able to get another job doing exactly what you’re doing in your current gig? If not, you need to expand your skillset. This kind of learning can create asymmetric payoffs – skills often work together synergistically.
  • Start a side hustle. Work on something on the side. Again, if everything goes to sh*t it’s nice to have options.
  • Save money. It’s also nice to have options if things go well. Money in the bank gives you the option to take advantage of opportunities – be they investments or some amazing offer that requires you to quit your job. Money in the bank also makes it easier to transition if everything goes to sh*t.
  • Go to parties. Opportunities often come in the form of humans – both personal and professional. One of the best ways to meet people is by going to parties. I hate parties until I get to them, then they are always worthwhile.
  • Shift your perspective. I know. This is BS. But it’s also not. When you shift your perspective and become aware of more options, then you can take advantage of them. Train yourself to see your opportunities and what you could do to expand them even further.

4. Adaptability: Learn How to Perform in the Present

“The problem is that we imagine that knowledge is what was lacking: if only we had known more, if only we had thought it through more thoroughly. That is precisely the wrong approach. What makes us go astray in the first place is that we are unattuned to the present moment, insensitive to the circumstances. We are listening to our own thoughts, reacting to things that happened in the past, applying theories and ideas that we digested long ago but that have nothing to do with our predicament in the present. More books, theories, and thinking only make the problem worse.

Understand: the greatest generals, the most creative strategists, stand out not because they have more knowledge but because they are able, when necessary, to drop their preconceived notions and focus intensely on the present moment.” -Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

Abraham Lincoln put it more succinctly: “My policy is to have no policy.”

Remember the WWI generals. They had access to decades of theory and planning when they entered the war. The first person to make a move that wasn’t in the playbook made all that theory irrelevant. Worse than irrelevant, clinging to old plans actually makes them harmful.

The war didn’t call for the generals with the deepest knowledge, it called for generals who were able to adapt to a rapidly changing situation.

We are in a similarly volatile situation today. Industries are completely changing shape in the time it takes college students to graduate.

If you want to be a writer you’re not going to take the same path writers in the past have. There are different demands on writers now. Publishing doesn’t work the same. Instead of waiting to get picked up by a publisher, you may need to release your own work on Amazon.

If you want to make movies, you may be better off starting a YouTube channel than working your way up the studio system. You’ve got to adapt to the new mechanics of the industry.

Even those who are looking to get a job need to adapt. Looking to the past might teach you that getting a degree (and then another) is the best way to get hired. Actually, you may be be better off creating a badass side project and showing it off online.

This world is changing so fast that no book (or even blog post) can give you a definite path to follow. You’ve got to quickly look around and act as best as you can given the environment you see.

Doing what makes sense in your specific circumstances will serve you much better than doing what you learned you ought to do in a situation similar to yours. There are best practices, of course, but until you grow past them it is impossible to fully take advantage of the randomness around you.

Robert Greene’s 48th law in The 48 Laws of Power is about remaining fluid. It’s about evolving into something other than you are in order to take advantage of a new situation. He explains the importance of adaptability in evolutionary terms:

“In the evolution of species, protective armor has almost always spelled disaster. Although there are a few exceptions, the shell most often becomes a dead end for the animal encased in it; it slows the creature down, making it hard for it to forage for food and making it a target for fast-moving predators. Animals that take to the sea or sky, and that move swiftly and unpredictably, are infinitely more powerful and secure.

Just because you’ve mastered a skillset doesn’t mean that skillset will continue to matter. A friend of mine was a well-known wedding photographer. When digital cameras began taking over, he refused to adopt the technology.

After years of refusal he became a sort of novelty. For a window of time he was the person to go to if you wanted old-school film prints. Ten years later, nobody cared about film anymore, they just wanted great images. Now he has finally made the switch and is slowly building up his clientele again.

When a machine takes over your job your best bet is to learn how to use the machine. Don’t hold on to your old-school way in the name of tradition.

It’s easy to think of castles or fortresses as symbols of protection. We think that if we become strong enough nothing can harm us. Remember France’s Maginot Line? It was an impenetrable series of fortresses built as a reaction to the German invasion in WWI.

When WWII came around, the Germans marched right around the line, making it totally useless. The French, instead of looking around at their current circumstances, reacted to a previous attack. They prepared for the past instead of the future. They spent a massive part of their national budget on digging their heels in.

Their refusal to adapt was even more expensive.

5. Embrace the Undefined

“It’s also important to remember that no one is ‘the bad guy’ or ‘the best friend’ or ‘the whore with a heart of gold’ in real life; in real life we each of us regard ourselves as the main character, the protagonist, the big cheese; the camera is on us, baby. If you can bring this attitude into your fiction, you may not find it easier to create brilliant characters, but it will be harder for you to create the sort of one-dimensional dopes that populate so much pop fiction.” -Stephen King, On Writing

Our efforts to contain the world in a system or idea may be doing more to hurt us than help us. Instead of trying to find the answer, maybe we ought to embrace that there isn’t any answer besides what we do and what is.

Remember that this is true of both our external and internal worlds. John Kay describes the achievement of decision making under complexity:

“We do not solve problems in the way the concept of decision science implies, because we can’t. The achievement of the great statesman is not to reach the best decision fastest but to mediate effectively among competing views and values. The test of financial acumen, as described by Buffett and Soros, is to navigate successfully through irresolvable uncertainties.”

And so it is with our interior lives. At times it feels that we don’t know who we are. This would be bearable if we didn’t believe so intensely that we should know who we are. That we should be able to wrap up our identity into a box or sentence and serve it up to anyone who’s interested.

It’s not that easy, but it is that simple. Steven Pressfield has a suggestion for overcoming this dilemma in The War of Art:

“Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.

Do it or don’t do it.”

Let the actions you take define you and let the words fall away (they lie anyway).

Let yourself embrace the paradoxes of the world and begin to effectively mediate between the poles.

Let go of the need to explain and you’ll be amazed at what you do.

The aim here is to not just deal with the uncertain world that we have to live in but to embrace it — to love it. Nietzsche said it best:

“My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendaciousness in the face of what is necessary—but love it.”

Conclusions & Action Steps

“…it is much better to do things you cannot explain than explain things you cannot do.” –Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The world isn’t going to get any more certain. In fact, it looks like it’s going to get increasingly complex.

This doesn’t mean that we need to feel uncertain. It does mean we need to learn to operate under uncertainty more effectively.

I offered 5 specific ways in which you can go about doing this:

  1. Adopt Stoicism. Specifically practice the Triad of Control. Every time you feel disturbed by a situation, ask yourself what is in your control. Attach your mental well-being to your effort and the actions you take rather than the outcome. (Again, this is simple, effective, and incredibly difficult.)
  2. Make Small Bets. Think hard about small risks you can take that have the potential to pay off in big ways. Don’t focus on the possibility that you win but instead on the magnitude of the payoff if you do.
  3. Optionality. Give yourself more options in your life. Save money. Go to parties. Make your work public. Don’t commit until you need to. Get multiple offers. Always put yourself in situations where positive options are likely to be created.
  4. Adapt: Stay Present, Fluid. Stop reading about how to start a business and take the first step. Stop reading about fitness and go to the gym. Don’t think about what the book says you should do, think about what makes sense for you right now. The situation you are in is unique to you; a book or advisor may help you think through something, but only you fully understand the context of your situation.
  5. Embrace Uncertainty. Uncertainty is a force of nature; you don’t get to “beat” it, you can only hope to use it. How can you use it? Steps 1-4. How can you make room to begin applying those? Let go of your need for certainty. Begin to see that more ideas can be correct in the abstract — yet when you take action you find that only one reality exists. You can’t explain it all and you don’t need to. In fact, if you did, something else would just change. The goal is to love this. Amor fati!



Kyle kick-starts entrepreneurs at and is offering this free guide of necessary entrepreneurial epiphanies to you. Feel freer than free to contact Kyle anywhere on the web. Even his inbox: kyle at StartupBros dot com.


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