Before You Tear Down Others, Ask Yourself This

What have you done?

If there is one thing that really pisses me off about society right now, it’s how hyper critical people are of everything and everyone that they don’t like, and how unjust most of it is. Just recently, we saw it with the movie Dunkirk. First it was the Salon article criticising the movie for “celebrating maleness” — an utterly ridiculous claim considering the amount of male lives destroyed during WWII. Following that, articles on how Dunkirk is a whitewashed version of the story, ignoring Indian and Muslim contributions to the effort to evacuate British troops. None of the criticism of the movie seems to be about the merits of the movie itself, but rather that it violates whatever rules the leftist, social justice crowd has set for representation in movies.

As with most critics who exist just to tear things down, they do it because they have no creativity of their own, and they resent those that do. So instead of trying to be better, to improve as humans and to actually make something of themselves, they attempt to tear down those that actually do create. Worse yet, their attempts of destruction are nothing more than virtue signalling. It doesn’t just make them feel good to try and destroy the work of creative people, it makes them feel virtuous because there are a whole bunch of others out there like them who all believe they are performing a service for society.

Dunkirk was made because Chris Nolan wanted to tell a story he thought was important. Hell, that’s why most movies or anything creative gets made — because someone wants to tell a story that they believe is important. Nolan didn’t criticise all of the other WWII movies out there because they neglected to tell this story in favour of other stories, he took up the cause of Dunkirk and told his own story. He created something. A true creative who believes that Dunkirk was whitewashed and feels that Indian soldiers were shortchanged might pen a long form article on their heroics. They might make their own movie on it. What they wouldn’t do is just sit there and criticise Dunkirk because it didn’t have everything that they wanted.

I’ve seen the same things dozens of times in dozens of different fields. Take a look at how many people come out of the woodwork anytime a fighter that they don’t like loses. People hate Conor McGregor and cheered when he lost to Nate Diaz, and will no doubt cheer that he just lost to Floyd Mayweather, despite the fact that they’ve never had the guts to step into a ring themselves, let alone even feel what it’s like to be punched in the face. Ronda Rousey was the same — she’s still got the greatest record of any female fighter in the UFC, but listen to how many people say how she was never really that great, as though bringing her down somehow elevates them.

I find this attitude despicable, because it’s weak. Because the first question that comes to my mind is, “well what the hell have you ever done?” I think Joe Rogan summed this attitude up really well after Rousey lost to Holm, because it can apply to so many other situations where people decide to armchair quarterback and second guess the actions of people who are doing things that they cant. He said:

“It’s that the people that are mean and nasty and insulting after fights, they’re the weakest aspects of humanity. They’re the people who are scared and terrified because they know that they could never do that. So when someone does do that and falters they’re like “ehh you fuckin loser, fuckin kill yourself”. Because that’s their own demons, their own insecurity and the knowledge that they could never do that in a million years. So when someone does do that and fails all of their insecurities come flying out of their stupid fucking mouth or fingers and that’s what it is. When I went on Instagram and Twitter and read all that mean shit about Ronda, I knew what that was. That’s the weakest aspects of humanity. If we could pluck people like that out of our culture the world would be a way better place.

And the people listening to this if you’re one of these people, you need to go for a long walk and recognise who you are because that’s why you did that. Both of those women put everything that they are on the line, and for you to insult them after they came up short, the reason why you’re doing that is you’re a cunt. You’re a cunt of epic proportions. And there’s no way around that. If you knew anything you’d just look at it and recognise the sacrifice, the drama and the danger of it all and you’d have respect for it.”

So if you’re like this, if you’re one of those people who has no accomplishments but lives to criticise every little thing, if you love hanging out in the comments section of anything or bitching on Twitter, it’s time for you to wake the fuck up. You’re not superior or even on the same level as the people who actually create things. Posting a snarky comment about how the author of an article is stupid or doesn’t know what they’re talking about doesn’t make you sound clever, it makes you sound like a smug asshole. They’ve spent hours putting serious thought and effort into creating something, and you’ve spent thirty seconds being snarky. How about you either go and create something of your own, or shut the hell up?

And here’s another thing. If you are one of these people, you’re nothing more than a bitter, cynical loser. We live in the greatest time of history, the world is your oyster and you can do or create anything, but instead, you choose to sit back and be a critic of anything you don’t like, as though the world exists to please you. You’ve probably never noticed that really successful or even happy people don’t spend their time criticising others all the time, because they’re actually out accomplishing things and living a life that’s worth living.

So if you’re one of these people, stop commenting on things that aren’t important and get off Twitter. Your opinion is worthless, and your snark and “wit” even less so. Even if a movie is terrible, you pointing that out doesn’t make you some kind of genius, it doesn’t even put you on the same level as the guy who ran around and got coffee for everyone on the production. They actually worked hard and created something. That is almost always worthy of credit and recognition. Bitching about something isn’t. So for all our sakes, but yours most of all, get off your ass and go and accomplish something in this world. Go and make someone of yourself; write a book, direct a short film, work your way up in a worthwhile career. Just do something besides tearing down the work of others.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” — Thedore Roosevelt

5 Words to Banish From Your Life

If there’s one thing that makes me roll my eyes as I scroll Instagram, it’s the fit chicks and inspiration ambassadors that litter the place with their bullshit messaging. They’ll take a strategically bad shot of a part of their body (strategic meaning they say it’s bad, but it’s not actually bad) and talk about how everyone has imperfections, how we need to love ourselves more and that we need to give ourselves a break if it all feels a bit too hard. The message seems so right, because it tells us everything we want to hear: that life is hard, that it’s not our fault we don’t have the results we want, and the solution is to just forgive ourselves and be happy.

I hate this kind of messaging, because it seems as though it’s offering people the solution they need, when the reality is that it’s just to make their followers happy and make money off of them later through paid advertising. Either that or the poster is an attention seeker just wanting adoration and validation. But the part that I hate the most is that it’s just not true, and more than anything the people that look at this stuff and respond with sycophantic garbage like “OMG so true babe” and “you’re such a beautiful soul”, could do with hearing two simple words instead:

Be Better.

I bet you’re stunned by that, right? Some of you are probably thinking “hey Pete, go fuck yourself, you don’t know anything about me or my life”. But here’s the thing. Right now it’s August, which means half of this year is gone. I want you to think back to what resolutions or promises you might have made to yourself on New Year’s Eve, what plans or goals you had. How many of those have you actually made happen, or made solid progress on? How many of those have you even started on? I’ll wager that it’s very few, because as soon as life gets too hard or busy, you bail.

What’s even worse is if you made a decision to go after something, and you’ve spent your whole time doing busywork around it, instead of making a real plan and executing. A great example of this recently is a young lady known as “no shit Taylor”. She called the Gary V show and talked a whole bunch about how much she hustles, that she wants to be a millionaire by 25, that she feels hopeless when she looks at people like Kendall Jenner. Gary gave her some abrupt feedback and told her she had a month, and to get off social media and get to work, because the world would be watching. I had a look at Taylor’s Instagram page and then her blog. She has a post about her 30 days and what she got up to. It was a bunch of garbage. What she did in a month, anyone truly motivated could have done in the space of a week.

One of the things she listed as doing was creating a hashtag on Instagram to keep herself accountable. Seriously? That’s not work, that’s mental masturbation. That hasn’t stopped a whole bunch of people commenting, telling her she’s an inspiration, that she’s crushing it and so on. It’s like this great collective delusion where everyone constantly slaps each other on the back because no one wants to call anyone out for being full of shit. Gary V told her on that initial call that she was lying to herself, and it’s clear that she’s continuing to do it. She’s probably telling herself right now that she’s doing her best, instead of being honest and realising that she could do better.

One of the best lessons I learned during my military service was to simply be better, every single day. If you get told your shoes are dirty during a dress inspection, don’t offer excuses and don’t rationalise in the hope of looking better. Shut up, take the criticism on the chin and be better next time. If your time on the last run wasn’t great, don’t offer up the excuse that you ate a bad burrito last night. Suck it up and be better. Excellence and achievement are daily habits — they are not rewards or the endgame. You get them by practicing every single day.

“But I’m doing my best!” you protest. Let me tell you, those 5 words are the siren song of the loser. To quote one of my favourite movies:

“Are you sure you’re ready for this?”

“I’ll do my best”

“Your best? Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen”.

Because the truth is that if you aren’t doing your best, you likely know it deep down, despite whatever protest you might make to the contrary. You can’t say with honesty that you’re doing your best when so much of your time is accounted for by Netflix, social media, gaming or drinking. If you aren’t actually using your time to accomplish what you want out of life, you aren’t doing your best. So the solution to that is to get it out of your head that you are doing your best, and be honest with yourself. The next time you think or go to say those 5 words, instead tell yourself the truth: I could do better.

Because nobody makes a remarkable life by telling themselves they’re doing their best. I don’t mean remarkable in the sense of being someone famous or rich either. I mean remarkable in the sense of living the life that you truly want and that makes you happy. That’s remarkable, because so few people actually do it. It’s rare because for the most part, people just lay in the rut that they’ve carved out for themselves, lamenting that they never did better, instead of striving for what they want.

Do you want to actually achieve things? From now on when you fail at something, don’t protest about how you were just doing your best. Ask yourself instead, how could I have done better? Because that’s the only way you actually get better — it doesn’t happen by sitting there wishing for it, or lamenting the fact that your life isn’t what you want it to be. You have to start asking yourself the uncomfortable questions, the ones that leave you feeling ashamed for letting yourself down. At the end of all that comes the most important question of all, which can turn everything around:

How can I be better?

I ask myself that question every 6 months. I take a look at what I’ve achieved, what I haven’t, and how I’m tracking in different areas of my life. I realised about a year ago that my efforts as a father were shitty and that I needed to up my game. I didn’t let myself off by saying that work was too busy, that I was too tired, that I was doing my best. Even if I was doing my best, it wasn’t good enough. It’s the same with work, it’s the same with everything. People complain that they aren’t getting what they want because of some external factor, without ever asking how they can improve their part in it.

We’ve got to get past this current attitude of everyone being equal and that we all deserve what we want out of life just because we’re alive. It’s logically and spiritually bankrupt, because it creates a culture where people never reach their full potential or get what they truly want out of life. Instead of looking inwards and asking themselves what they can do to make their own lives better, it causes them to look outwards and ask why someone else is doing better, or why they haven’t been helped more, or that it’s unfair. Instead of individual empowerment and the will to improve one’s life, a victim mentality ensues. “Life isn’t fair, because I’m just doing my best and I’m not getting anywhere”.

Take an honest look at your day right now, and ask yourself if you did your best:

If you’re trying to lose weight, did you take the elevator at every opportunity, did you park right next to the store so you didn’t have to walk, did you have a beer that you really didn’t need with a dinner that wasn’t very nutritious? Guess what, it doesn’t matter that you had a bad day at the office, you can do better.

If you’re trying to get promoted, did you spend a lot of time talking to colleagues, did you scroll social media, did you not really get much done? Guess what, you can do better.

Extrapolate this to any situation where you wish you were doing better than you are right now. Instead of telling yourself that you’re doing your best, ask yourself if you could do better. If you’re honest, you’ve just been given an incredible gift: choice. Because now it’s on you as to whether or not you want to do something about it. You can step up, or not, it’s totally up to you. You now own whatever choice you’ve made — if you step up and decide to be better, you own the fruits of that labour. If not, you own the consequences of that too, and you don’t get to bitch about your situation anymore, because you chose it.

So the next time you feel like whining about your situation, don’t utter the 5 words that losers do. Instead ask yourself, can I be better?

Be the Best In Your Own Little Pond: How To Use the Example of Dominos Pizza to be a Better Writer

I was watching one of those panel shows a couple of weeks ago and they were discussing one of my favourite things: pizza. Specifically, they were talking about the fact that one of our pizza chains here, Eagle Boys, had gone into voluntary administration. They went on to discuss why this happened and got into the market share of all the pizza chains — things got really interesting at that point.

We have something like 6 different pizza chains here. They’re a cheap and quick dinner on a Friday night after a long week at work. They’d surely have to have all the market. You’d think that, but no. Traditional pizzerias make up something in the realm of fifty percent of the pizza sold in Australia. That’s huge. It’s huge because it’s generally two to three times the price of the pizza chains, and you wait considerably longer for it because they don’t have an army of minimum wage teenagers to drive around delivering.

The interesting part of this story, however, lies in the 50% market share of the chains. Out of these chains, Dominos has a whopping 43% market share compared to its closest competitor, Pizza Hut, who sit at a relatively abysmal 23%. How could this happen? If people want a chain pizza, surely it’s just about what’s closer and cheapest, right? Apparently not. See, Dominos used to be number 4 in market share amongst the pizza chains, but then something happened that set them on their upward trajectory:

They started giving a shit about their little pond.

Since Don Meji became their CEO, Dominos has done a blitz on marketing, on innovating their order and delivery service, and even coming up with a delivery robot that they’re going to patent. All of these are great, but that doesn’t touch on the most important thing they did: they began to make better pizza. They began to make pizza that, while it isn’t going to win any awards, will certainly stop you from saying “eh, it’s not very good, but it was only 5 bucks”. They now sit slightly higher than Pizza Hut on price, but after recently comparing the two, I wouldn’t ever go back for Pizza Hut again.

What someone very clever at Dominos realised was that you didn’t need to be the absolute best, just the best in your pond. Dominos has never said or acted as though their pizza is as good as what you’d get from a traditional pizzeria. They don’t say stuff like “our pizza is as good as mama makes” or any BS like that. Nope, they know they can’t compete with that section of the market, because people in that part of the market are willing to pay top dollar for the best available. That’s not Domino’s model.

Domino’s model is to do it better than anyone else in their pond, and they’re succeeding wildly.

Now, why the hell have I spent the past 5 paragraphs harping on about how great Dominos is? Am I a paid shill for them? Of course not. It demonstrates an excellent point about the online world, personal branding, internet marketing and all that stuff right now. Check out any advice about building an audience nowadays and you’ll find it chock full of gimmicks, but most distressingly, a lot of it tells you that you need to pivot and start a podcast, because that’s where the audience is. Start a Snapchat profile, an Instagram profile, get on Twitter, do Facebook ads. The list never stops.

Dominos didn’t expand their market share so rapidly because they did a million different things they didn’t know how to do or weren’t good at, they did it by being better than everyone else in their niche. If you’re a writer and you want an audience, how is starting a podcast going to help you? You aren’t just going to have an audience from day 1 that you can direct (or who would want to be directed) to your writing. And if your writing is piss poor, they’re going to click away pretty quickly anyway.

What if instead, you decided to get as good as you possibly can at writing, painting, podcasting, whatever. What if you gave up trying to do a million things and just got really good at what you do, in order to get noticed in your little pond? The world of the audience is very similar to a whole heap of ponds that spring up after a big rainfall. The biological life in one pond is pretty much cut off from the pond that is a few metres away, even if they seem really close. A tadpole in one pond doesn’t care and isn’t interested in a tadpole in the other pond. If we look at the creative world, the people who live in the pond of podcasting aren’t necessarily very interested in the pond of reading. The people who live in the pond of taking pictures probably aren’t all that interested in the pond of political discussion in 140 character bites.

Too many people unfortunately make the mistake of believing that they need to be in every pond to build an audience, not realising that all they’re doing is spinning their wheels, because people in those other ponds aren’t interested. Why would you do that when there is a pond full of people that are interested? Because you’re not being noticed is the likely answer. You think if you instead get on a whole heap of different platforms and promote yourself that the audience will come flooding in. I hate to break it to you, they wont.

If you aren’t being noticed, you’re likely just not good enough yet, or you’re trying too hard to be like someone else and just coming off as a cheap imitation. Like Jon Westenberg said just a few days ago, all of these marketing tricks just don’t work. Following someone on Twitter in the hope of being followed back so they can read your writing when you link to it is just stupid and pointless. If you spend all the time you normally would on your marketing strategy instead getting better at your writing (or any other skill), and trying in earnest to become the best in this pond, you’ll be far better off. Take a look at any of the many great writers on Medium with a sizeable audience — whether you like what they write or not, they are excellent technicians at the craft of writing and they speak authentically. They didn’t get their audience by being on ten different platforms, they got it by being really damn good on one platform.

So quit wasting your time on the tadpoles in all of those other ponds. They don’t care about your writing, but the tadpoles here are always looking for something great to read. Give it to them and you’ll do great.

If you need further convincing, order a pizza from Dominos the next time you write. They’re pretty damn good (and not “for the price”).

PS In case you’re wondering, I’m a pepperoni guy with extra oregano sprinkled on top.

It’s Time to Forget About Personal Branding

Ah personal branding, it’s the thing that everyone’s trying to do right now. You’ve been told by all those in the know that you have to do it, that you have to differentiate yourself, that you have to show your audience who you are and engage with them. They want to know what makes you tick, they want to know who you are behind the scenes and they want to feel like a part of what you’re building.

I call bullshit.

Personal branding is yet another piece of flawed conventional wisdom in the online world. It holds true for a precious few people, and is a distraction for everyone else. 99% of the people trying to build a personal brand right now are putting the cart before the horse — they’re doing the online equivalent of starting a business by designing logos, ordering business cards, building websites, all before they have any kind of plan or product to sell. You’re doing nothing more than spinning your wheels and making yourself feel good about doing something that is ultimately nothing more than a waste of time.

Now don’t get me wrong, personal branding works and is important for a rare few. Names that come to mind are Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferriss and Ramit Sethi. They all have very distinct and unique personalities that are a part of why their audience sticks around. They are all trying to appeal to a certain demographic. And most importantly, they have something of quality that they are trying to sell. I’ll say it again: they all have something they want to sell, something that they have put significant time, research and effort into building. It’s not some bullshit course they cooked up overnight in a field they had no expertise in. The personal brand came after the product, not before.

My question for those of you trying to build your own personal brand is, what are you offering? No one cares about your bullshit “I was sleeping on my friends couch with no money to my name, before I dragged myself out and became a millionaire, and you can do it too”. That horse has been flogged so badly it’s nothing more than dust. We don’t need another Eric Thomas, another Lewis Howes, another Derek Halpern, another Tai Lopez.

The problem with personal branding is one of ego. We’d love to believe that our fans care about us. We’d love to believe that they want to know what makes us tick, that they want to be a part of our lives, that they think we’re a great guy or gal and they’re hanging on our every word. It’s nothing more than delusion and a desire to be validated.

It makes me think of my favourite writers who lived before the age of social media and the Internet: Steinbeck, Yates, Tolstoy, Fitzgerald. Most of all I think of Hemingway. Here was a guy that lived an amazingly interesting life. He traveled the world, went to war, had tumultuous relationships. He was everything that the average person of the time wasn’t. Does anyone believe that people read his work just because they liked the idea of who he was, because they felt they could live vicariously through him? Maybe a few did, but the fact is that if his writing was poor no one would have given a flying shit how great or interesting Ernest Hemingway’s life was. No one wants to read a piss poor book, no matter how interesting a person the author might be.

And there’s the crux of it. Forget all this horseshit that you want to help people achieve greatness, forget about changing the world, forget about your image, people only care about the quality of your product and whether it entertains or is useful to them. It doesn’t matter if your product is your writing, photography, an app or a Youtube series — if it isn’t good, people don’t care about your personal brand. People don’t care if you don’t reply to their comments, and they don’t care if you engage with them.

People. Don’t. Care. About. You.

The other thing is, this personal brand you’re building that you think is so unique, is more than likely so vanilla that vanilla ice cream looks at it and says “Jesus, you’re white bread”. The online world has become an echo chamber, where everyone is so busy congratulating themselves on being unique because they rejected the cubicle lifestyle that they’ve failed to notice they’re doing the same damn thing as every other wannabe who is trying to build a personal brand online. It’s always the same story, the same M.O., the same script.

The people that build the best personal brands are the ones that aren’t even trying to. Richard Dawkins isn’t known worldwide as that pain in the ass atheist guy because he set out to build such a reputation, it happened because he has strong opinions based on decades of work and he wasn’t afraid to put them out there. He polarises people because he knows what he’s talking about and doesn’t care whether you like it or not. Compare that to the army of brand builders online right now with their lukewarm, everyone’s gotta like me and look up to me image.

One is black sesame ice cream — a flavour that turns a heap of people off, but has others coming back for it again and again because they can’t get enough. The other (to belabor the point) is vanilla ice cream. It doesn’t matter that you try to dress it up by calling it French vanilla, Madagascan vanilla, Peruvian vanilla, Siberian vanilla,


And the thing we all know about vanilla, is that you only go for it when there is nothing better around.

None of my readers over at or here likely know anything about me or give the slightest shit about who I am, what I do or what makes me tick. All they care about is have I given them something interesting to read. If I haven’t, their clicks and attention go elsewhere. That’s all they care about with you too.

So quit trying to build a personal brand. Build something that captures people’s attention and interest, the rest will take care of itself.

In Defence of Harsh Words

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I can be a bit…harsh in my writing and advice. I’ve written a few angry rants so far and while for the most part people seemed to love them because it was a sort of vicarious catharsis for them, many did not. Many called me arrogant, an asshole, pretentious and told me to get off my high horse. Funnily enough, the more aggressive the comment, the more hateful it is, the more it makes me laugh. It’s not so much because I’m trolling people and wanting to bait people into anger, it’s more the fact that I’m a lot more chilled out in real life than what comes across in my rant pieces. They’re more a way of releasing pent up irritations into the world, which is why I generally don’t edit (or edit just to check for typos) them – I don’t want to think too much about it, because then I’d second guess everything I wrote merely for the sake of not pissing some people off.

But why so harsh, you might ask. Well, because I don’t want to try to be eloquent all the time. I don’t want to spend hours in thought on every single piece of writing I do, I don’t want to always try to put beautiful (in my eyes) work into the world. Sometimes, sometimes I just want to shake things up a bit. I’ve read numerous times that one of the best ways to write is as though you were speaking to one particular person, or a group of people. That’s what I’m often doing in a rant piece. Many people hate the style, but I’ve always been a fan of it. People think putting the word “fuck” in the title is me trying to click bait, but in reality it’s a signal to whomever wants to read that this isn’t a piece that will in any way be diplomatic or “nice”. It’s me saying “hold onto your butts, shit’s about to get real”.

It makes me think back to the first time I saw Alec Baldwin’s scene in Glengarry Glen Ross. You watch his character, who seems so hateful, so angry, as though every breath that comes out of his mouth must reek of bile, whose words at the assembled characters are like the relentless pounding of a minigun.

But after a little thought, you realise something. The scene ends and immediately follows the characters and their reactions. What do you think we would have seen if it had immediately followed Alec Baldwin’s character? Do you think we would have seen him getting into the car, pounding the steering wheel with anger, screaming into thin air how stupid and hopeless these schmucks are? Nope, he would’ve walked out that door and not given it a second thought. Maybe he even would have chuckled to himself. He was there to deliver a performance that would elicit a strong emotional response. The best response would be the guys feeding off his ruthless energy and finding new motivation. Or maybe one of them thinking “who the fuck does this guy think he is!? I’ll show him!” The worst responses would have been dejection and resignation.

I had one of those responses to my last rant. It stuck out in my head, after a commenter told me I was an arrogant, self-righteous SOB and that I had no right to trash other people’s writing. They took my rant personally, and told me that not only was I being detrimental to new writers, but that I discouraged her and made her want to throw down her pen and never pick it up again.

How perplexing.

Upon reading that, my first response was to furrow my brow and think, gee whiz, if one of my little pieces offended you so much that you don’t want to write anymore, are you sure it’s something you really wanted to do in the first place? Does one person’s opinion, which may not even be directed at you, really sway you so much to quit? Maybe you should quit, and I say that in a completely non douchey, concerned for your well being tone.

But if you really, truly love writing, then write. Don’t worry what the hell I (or anyone else) think. That goes for whatever you want to do – it’s pointless letting other people’s opinions bother you. Shit, the amount of abuse I’ve copped since my stuff started gaining traction is crazy; people call me arrogant, stupid, an asshole, an idiot, and so on. But why would I care? Hell, I’ve even had family friends go on incoherent, pointless rants over what I’ve written. All I could do was laugh and think “wow, guess who got paid actual money just to get your knickers in a twist?” It probably helps that I’ve got a very nihilistic attitude towards life and that carries over to my writing – some people are going to love what I say, some people are going to hate it. Some will leave a really insightful or thoughtful comment, some will just be indifferent. None of it matters, because sooner or later I’ll be pushing up daisies and not long after that everything I’ve done will likely be forgotten anyway.

And that being the case, I’m going to write whatever the hell I feel like. If people are going to misread what I write, or take it in the wrong way, or project their own baggage onto it anyway, then there’s no point writing something mild, vanilla and boring. I’d rather be hated for writing something that I think is true than being hated for writing what I think people are going to like to gain approval.

Look, I’m not going to tell you to grow a thicker skin and just deal with it. After having my master’s thesis (something that I worked on for 3 months) eviscerated by one of the markers, not to mention six years in the military, I’m used to and in fact quite enjoy harsh, right to the point criticism. I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea though. So if you aren’t used to harsh words and criticism, if you’re one of those people that just wishes we could all get along, I apologise, it’s just never going to happen. Take anything I say with a grain of salt, and before you get upset or offended, ask yourself if my (or anyone’s) opinion is really worth so much of your mental energy.

Don’t Squander Your Time in Obscurity – It’s an Artist’s Greatest Gift

This year has been a wild ride for me so far. After a quiet start on Medium, I had a couple of posts hit the top 10 within a few days of each other. I subsequently got an offer to work over at and since the end of March I’ve put out an article a week for them. This last week I hit a point I never believed possible — I published a piece on Bernie Sanders that went well and truly viral. As in, half a million page views and over a hundred thousand shares viral. It’s still the top story too, so while it might be slowing down because it’s the weekend, who knows how many views it will end up with. It may spike again next week and hit a million.

A lot of people have asked me how I feel about it. It’s pretty nice, but to be honest a number that large, I can’t even really fathom it. It’s too big. I remember not so long ago having a piece do 10k or even 20k page views would leave me giddy with excitement. This time I didn’t actually feel any kind of exhilaration or enormous high, because I had a really important change in mindset recently — that of finding happiness in doing great work, rather than finding happiness in the result of the work. Believe me, it took a long time to get to that point, and that’s what I want to talk about.

Let’s rewind the clock 7 or so years. I started my first blog intended for an audience about 2009. It was similar to what Art of Manliness is, but a little less in depth. I guess you could say it was somewhere between AoM and a printed magazine like GQ. I kept going at that for a few years not really knowing about using social media or how to get an audience. The result was I had maybe 15k views for that entire period. I spent a lot of that time copying what other sites were doing and adding my own spin, really just experimenting and trying to get my voice out there.

I eventually stopped doing it because I figured people just weren’t interested — it was probably a wasted opportunity.

Then a few years ago, I started my current blog. This time, this time was going to be a success. I’d been reading Tim Ferriss, Derek Halpern and Ramit Sethi and thought I had it all worked out. I knew all the social media avenues, how to get traffic and so on. Well, it worked out ok. Certainly not great, but ok. I worked hard on doing what I thought would get lots of traffic and bombarded social media with my stuff. Unfortunately, it never really took off at the level that I wanted or expected it to. I published my first 3 books, two of which sank like a stone without a trace of a sale, one of which has at least done passably well (passably well = over 200 sales, which is apparently the average number of copies a book sells, skewed upwards by the bestsellers).

I started to get mad. I got mad and I got jealous. Jealous at the fact that there were people out there who proclaimed they were making a living off of their blogs/books with material that I though was either derivative or just shit. “Why is the universe so against me?” I thought. “Why am I toiling away in obscurity, when I have so many better things to say than them?” See, this is what so many gurus just don’t get. They’ll tell you to stay positive about it, that you aren’t entitled to success and that if you just stay positive you’ll make it. But the negativity was good for me, because being mad made me work like a demon. It made me think that if people with sub par work can be making a lot of money off of this, why the fuck shouldn’t I? Where is my share dammit!? So I expanded. I started writing for other major publications and had some great results, but none of it brought me what I thought I wanted — lots of email subscribers and people paying for my books.

And after that frenzy of work and nothing paying off, I was dejected. I felt exhausted, defeated and completely deflated. I didn’t write for months and I just left my blog there to rot.

After a while I returned to my blog just to clean up all of the spam comments out of my filter and found myself reading through old posts. My oldest made me cringe at how bad they were. I steadily made my way through, finding myself surprised here and there at older posts I’d actually still be proud of if I wrote them today. I finally made it to the present day and found something that made me really happy: the standard of my work at that point was far better than when I started. I didn’t realise it during that time, but I had grown a lot as a writer and thinker. This was tempered with a sobering fact though— when I looked at my recent posts, I realised they weren’t really that good, that I wasn’t as good a writer as I wanted to be.

That was late last year. Since then all of my energy has been spent just getting better. My “marketing” is limited to posting my stuff on Medium, Facebook and Twitter. If you want to read it, great. If you don’t, I don’t care. I found myself becoming increasingly happy, because rather than writing and hitting publish, I’d be spending weeks on each piece. I’d usually go back at least ten times, changing words or sentences here and there, challenging my own assumptions on what I had written and in some cases rewriting large portions or scrapping a piece altogether. It’s gotten to the point where I can leave what looks like a finished, polished piece of work for a week, come back and see that a certain paragraph just doesn’t sit with the flow of the piece. Or maybe a single sentence needs changing. Looking at my finished pieces since the start of this year I feel incredibly proud of what I’ve put out there, even if no one reads them.

In short, I’ve found a deep love in making great art.

It’s that love that has allowed me to put my recent success in perspective. Writing something that over half a million people see could very well be my peak of popularity. After all, the next level would probably be publishing a bestseller, something even fewer people are able to pull off. The old me would have been frantically trying to capitalise on this success, or even worse, trying to put out another article that I think would garner lots of traffic.

But I don’t want to do that. I want to keep writing things that are important to me. I want to write things because I have something to say. Every now and then, something will come out like that Bernie piece that will strike a chord with people, that will hit in the right place at the right time. That’s cool, but as a writer, it’s incredibly dangerous to tie one’s happiness to results like that. When we do, we end up depressed and bitter, because we put our happiness in the opinions of other people. And people are fickle. When you learn to find happiness and fulfillment in the act of making art, in putting the best of yourself into something you can be proud of, you’ll be happy anytime you create. The only way you’ll do that is by spending all of those years toiling away in obscurity, when the only person who cares what you’re doing is you.

The other great thing about obscurity is that I learned to never read the comments, because there was never anything in there anyway. I had to learn to make my own judgement on what was good, and rely on a few friends who could walk a fine line between not sugar coating and not devastating me with their feedback. Now when I check the comments, there is no shortage of people ready to tell me how stupid I am, how terrible my writing is, that I don’t know what I’m talking about and any number of other pointless criticisms. I have my own internal radar though, so I don’t feel any need to even look at the comments, let alone take them to heart.

Most importantly, what the time in obscurity and this recent success has shown me is that even if I really have peaked in terms of popularity, I certainly haven’t in terms of my skill as an artist. Not even close. With any luck, I’ll look back at my work in 3 years time and think it’s trash. Maybe I’ll have another big hit, maybe I won’t. Either way, I can be happy and fulfilled knowing that I can always create, and make each effort better than the last.

Pampered, Privileged and Annoying as Hell: Why SJWs Need to Borrow a Clue

Have you ever said something offensive to another person? Maybe you made a joke in poor taste, or you didn’t even mean it the way it came out. The person you said it to may have laughed it off, looked at you funny or said something like “that’s not cool”, which made you realise what you had said, allowing you to apologise or clarify what you actually meant.

Have you ever said something offensive in company, like at a dinner party? Maybe someone pulled you up on it, or maybe you heard about it the next day, when someone told you that everyone was talking about it behind your back. Maybe they thought you were a bit racist, sexist etc, or maybe they gave you the benefit of the doubt. Odds are they still think you’re a decent person and you probably didn’t mean it that way. Once you apologised or explained what you meant, they probably didn’t give it a second thought.

Have you ever done it online? Depending on how people took it, what you said might have been retweeted tens of thousands of times and become a trending topic. You might have lost your job because people went to your employer, you were doubtless harassed by a huge number of people, you were probably even given death threats. If your name is Justine Sacco, it was all of the above, plus your family telling you that you’ve tarnished their name. Continue reading “Pampered, Privileged and Annoying as Hell: Why SJWs Need to Borrow a Clue”

Demonising the Different – It Isn’t Just for Donald Trump

When you think of some of the worst acts of humanity throughout our history as a species, almost all of them were made possible by the fact that one group of people thought of another group of people as less than human. Whether it be the Mongols in their rape and pillage of Asia & Europe, Hitler and his extermination of the Jews, or Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge killing anyone they deemed intellectual, all of these happened because they saw the people they were killing as something “other” than themselves.

Unfortunately this isn’t limited to the despicable people of history, because the tendency to put people in the “other” category is a feature of most human beings. We do it at work every day, we do it with people whom we perceive to have wronged us, and we especially do it to the people above that I just mentioned. We don’t see them as human beings, we see them as evil incarnate, monsters that have nothing in common with any of us “normal” people. White people have done it in the past (and some continue to do it) with black people. Parents do it when they tell their kids “the Asians are just better at maths”. We constantly put other humans in the category of “other”, because it’s easier to do that than attempt to understand them. Even SJW’s, who believe themselves to be the bastions of righteousness do it — inclusion and harmony are on their terms, and as soon as you disagree with them a torrent of abuse is directed at you, because you are deemed an “other” by them. Continue reading “Demonising the Different – It Isn’t Just for Donald Trump”

Confessions of an INTJ

One of my favourite discoveries of last year was the Myers-Briggs personality test. I had recently joined a new company who was big on personality testing – their first report was startlingly accurate and I became more curious about the whole thing. I eventually stumbled upon the Myers-Briggs test and of course took it. Reading over that report was even more interesting – I felt like finally someone understood what made me tick and was surprised there were others (although not many, my type makes up 2% of the general population) like me.

Even knowing my own shortcomings and issues, I don’t think I’d change who I am. So with that said, here are some confessions of what it’s like to be an INTJ – for better and for worse.

  1. While I can do social situations, anything with more than a couple of people feels really awkward for me. If humans were made on an assembly line, I’d suspect that they forgot to put the “group social interaction” chip in me.
  2. I’m extremely impatient. Whether it’s people doing things slowly because they don’t get it, they can’t keep up, or they’re just being slow for the sake of it, it irritates me to no end.
  3. I never really feel like I fit in anywhere.
  4. I once left a work function early, because I was more excited about starting work on a project I’d just thought of than getting drunk with everyone else.
  5. I sometimes wish I’d gone into science or tech. Every INTJ profile I read says we are so good at it, I feel as though I missed the boat on a truckload of money by being more fascinated in psychology, philosophy and the nature of things. Although I suspect it’s more satisfying.
  6. I’m both angry and disappointed that I live in a world where the Kardashians have more money and influence than someone like Alain de Botton.
  7. While I feel uncomfortable in group situations, I form fast and very deep friendships with individual people who are intellectually curious and passionate.
  8. I feel extremely energised after spending 4 hours discussing ideas and hypotheses with my best friends.
  9. I love time alone to just sit and think.
  10. I never feel truly satisfied unless I’m doing work that is difficult.
  11. I want to put a system in place for just about everything.
  12. I found military service difficult, because assuming I’m an idiot and need to be treated as such is the surest way to piss me off.
  13. I can’t stand opinions based on emotions, when logic and reason suggest the opposite.
  14. I have an almost insatiable thirst for more knowledge. It feels like I have an addiction to reading.
  15. I find people who hold intense ideologies, such as patriotism, religion etc utterly baffling.
  16. I despise it when people back down from a debate with “you just have to be right” or “I don’t want to argue”. I lose respect for people who can’t put their beliefs up to scrutiny and retreat back to comfort of believing a position they know to be false.
  17. I find dealing with my 2 year old daughter’s temper tantrums and obstinance incredibly difficult, because the things I am best at – ie logic and reasoning, don’t work.
  18. My dream job would be as a consultant, where people brought me in to analyse their operation and point out inefficiencies, to create systems that would fix their problems.
  19. In a group situation, people will often say “you’re being very quiet”. I just find more satisfaction in listening than talking. Either that or I’m bored out of my brain by conversation on pointless subjects.

I hope that gave you an interesting insight into the mind of an INTJ. Don’t know what an INTJ is, or never heard of Myers-Briggs? Head here and you can do the test for free, it takes about 10 minutes. I’d love to hear what you got!

It’s Not About Authenticity

I’m quite a fan of Jon Westenberg’s work on Medium. I know he cops a lot of criticism for being part of the self improvement/listicle/tech oriented content, which I feel is quite unfair because his work is experience based and not just curated bullshit. He certainly doesn’t deserve to be spoken of in the same breath as people like Benjamin Hardy. But there is something that I have to take issue with Jon, something you wrote about recently in your post “No more filters. No more editing.” Continue reading “It’s Not About Authenticity”