“What the hell are you trying to do? Ruin the book?!”

kurt vonnegut cameron lord

When I was 14, I had the opportunity to meet Kurt Vonnegut in Midway, KY. Having recently read Slaughterhouse Five for English class, I shared a question about the book that had been puzzling me.

CL: “Sooo, Mr. Vonnegut, you describe the Tralfamadorians as seeing humans in four dimensions, and you illustrate them as caterpillars, with little baby legs in the rear eventually transitioning into geriatric legs in the front.”

KV: “Yeah.”

CL: “OK, but if they really see people in every instant of their life, wouldn’t they see a blur instead? Like, wouldn’t discrete legs be imperceptible to them?”

KV: [pause]

KV: “What the hell are you trying to do? Ruin the book?!”

[Awkward moment as he autographs my book]

This anecdote came to mind while I reflected on last night’s Q&A session, referenced in the prior post. No one asked interesting questions, and I’ve been wondering, “why?” Since I’m as guilty as everyone else in the audience of not asking interesting questions, I figured I’d start with myself. Why didn’t I ask anything?

My unasked questions all revolved around the film’s themes and what Mr. Schiller was trying to communicate through various episodes and devices. However, as the Q&A veered into film arcana instead, I caught myself wondering, “Is no one asking about the story because it was just obvious to everyone?” I mean, these were mostly “advanced” film people in the audience; maybe I was going to do the equivalent of asking James Cameron why “NO FATE” is important in Terminator 2. Basically, I was afraid of looking stupid.

Questions about story are tricky; in order to ask one in the first place, you need to have a perspective on what the story “means.” The question presumes or implies a given interpretation, which could be incorrect. This dynamic requires you to be vulnerable in a way that asking assorted variations on, “So what’s it like to never have your film released?” does not.

In an “advanced” film crowd (with folks like Tim League in the audience), the stakes are even higher. Questions are funny things, because they’re not just an opportunity to learn, they’re also an opportunity to show off. I remember when I visited Georgetown University as a high school senior, and a young woman in my tour group asked, “Is there a language requirement if I’m already fluent in French?”

Ultimately, all we’re talking about is ego. My ego’s self-preservation mechanism (insecurity) prevented me from asking my question. Presumably, other people’s egos mutated their questions into opportunities to show off (haha, or maybe I’m just projecting).

Most ironically, this entire post (hell, this entire series of posts) is built on my self-centered perspective that what I deem “interesting” is in fact interesting or more inherently worthwhile than the audience’s collective investigation into the film’s production and commercial rejection. In truth, it’s really just what I find interesting.

Regardless, I’d be interested to know how many billions of dollars of value have been left on the table because someone was afraid of looking stupid. Like most everything else, it’s a paradox. If you want to look (or be) smart, you have to be willing to look (and be) stupid.


Nothing Lasts Forever, Screened at the Alamo Drafthouse

nothing lasts forever poster

Tonight, I screened Nothing Lasts Forever at the Alamo Drafthouse here in Austin. Digesting the experience an hour later, I find myself compelled to write, not about the movie, but about the Q&A session with Writer / Director, Tom Schiller, that followed it.

100% of the questions asked by the audience were about:

  1. The fact that the movie was never released,
  2. Other Schiller works, unrelated to the movie, or
  3. Arcane production details.

None of the questions addressed the story, characters, or theme; all of which were incredibly compelling, and all of which merit some attention, especially given the scarcity of the film.

I am no film critic; however, I do think, and I have my own thoughts about all of these elements, which I feel compelled to share via the blog. I realize it’s a somewhat futile exercise, since practically no one has seen the movie, and even if you wanted to see it, I’m not sure how you could. However, no one reads the blog anyway, so it’s a moot point :).

I’m travelling early tomorrow morning, so I’m not going to get into it tonight. Instead, I’ll go ahead and outline the series of articles I intend to write about the movie.

  • The “Carnegie Hall” scene, both the nightmare and the recapitulation
  • The presentation and treatment of contemporary art
  • The usefulness of the Moon as a tool for revealing aspects of contemporary culture that often go unnoticed
  • The irony of the film’s subtext, given that it was never released
  • The role of the “bum” subculture and the notion that New York is an “idea,” especially regarding the “money montage” with the stacking coins

This will be an especially interesting exercise, since I don’t have anything to go on aside from my memory and this outline, but we’ll see what happens. [Astute readers may notice a) this post disappearing after a week or two if no subsequent, related posts follow it, or b) the irony of this knee-jerk post given the subject-matter of the preceding article.]

Why I Don’t Write As Frequently as (I Think) I’d Like

I’m not sure where this notion of posting blog content daily originated, but it seems stuck in many people’s heads (at least in my own). I hear it invoked when people comment that they couldn’t have a blog because they couldn’t write that often. I invoke it when I commit to writing more frequently. However, no one ever asked me to write every day. WP Engine gladly takes my money even if I never write another word. So why all the pressure?

I won’t lie. I entertained grand ambitions of generating a ton of content between now and SXSW, since that will provide a unique forum for me to get in front of a lot of people. However, it didn’t take me more than one week  for my ambition to confront my priorities. For better or for worse, I have a job that is my number one responsibility and that consumes the bulk of my energy (if not the bulk of my time). I also value sleep more than the average bear, so anything extra tends to receive short shrift.

Despite the lack of attention the blog may receive, I still appreciate it as a periodic outlet for ideas and expression. Posting infrequently > not posting at all. Currently, I’m drafting an article addressing my need to let go of perfection in order to achieve quality and approach excellence. While ideals are useful when held in the proper regard, they’ve become counter-productive for me when they sneakily morph into self-expectations.

I add the parenthetical “(I Think)” to the title, because I’m not sure that I really “should” be writing any more frequently than I already am. On one hand, there’s an ideal of posting daily, accumulating a portfolio of content, and iterating through my ideas at a faster pace. However, I’ve learned to be wary of “should” whenever it’s invoked. Maybe publishing daily isn’t the best use of my time and energy. If taking care of my body and getting the job done at the office are really my priorities, then the blog is getting the appropriate amount of attention.

Context is key with all of this, which is why I find self-improvement literature especially dangerous. Margaret Wheatley’s book, Leadership and the New Science, earned instant credibility with me when she offered up the following comment in the introduction,

“This is not a book filled with conclusions, cases, or exemplary practices. It is deliberately not that kind of book…There are no recipes or formulas, no checklists or expert advice that describe “reality.” If context is as crucial as the science explains, then nothing really transfers; everything is always new and different and unique to each of us. We must engage with each other, experiment to find what works for us, and support one another as the true inventors that we are,” pp. 8-9.

My Kindle Upsell Idea for Amazon

When I buy books from Amazon, I often do something weird, crazy, or maybe just stupid; I pay for the book twice, so I can have a copy on my Kindle and also IRL. Here’s how this happens:

  1. I prefer physical books to e-readers (the exception being Jack Reacher novels, and such).
  2. However, I have a huge bias for “traveling light” with just my iPad (no books), so prior to a trip, I’ll re-buy anything I’m in the middle of reading.
  3. I also enjoy having a parallel “Kindle Library” for impromptu web browser / phone / iPad reading, so I’ll re-buy my favorite books and the ones I most frequently revisit or re-read.

I probably value #2 and #3 more than most people (otherwise my purchasing behavior wouldn’t be weird); however, I suspect that this value proposition becomes attractive to a critical mass of customers at a lower price threshold. This morning I was kind of bored, so I decided to run the numbers. In short, I believe Amazon could make a lot of incremental book revenue (and make me a happier customer) by offering a discounted Kindle “upsell” to physical book buyers. I would select this 80-100% of the time at the right price (for me, $5.00).

The really interesting opportunity for Amazon, though, rests with the presumably larger segment of the population that considers buying a book twice to be stupid but that could see the value in an “upsell.” In all scenarios, converting these non-duplicate buyers into duplicators makes Amazon more money.  Here’s how the numbers shake out.

My back-of-the-envelope math on what I spend on books each year:

Here’s how my annual book spend flexes as my duplication frequency increases and the upsell cost decreases:

Here’s how that looks on a percentage basis:

In practically all cases, this is a win for Amazon.  The only scenario where this doesn’t work is where they decrease prices, and it has no impact on my behavior. However, for my n=1 sample size, I can vouch for that not being the case.

The even more compelling opportunity, though, is with the customer who never buys twice. I assume that this represents the bulk of the book-buying population, so any movement in this segment’s average book spend has a big impact on Amazon’s book revenue. To evaluate the numbers, we’ll invoke The Onion’s “Area Man.”

Regardless of what % of the time our Area Man buys the upsell, it’s incremental revenue for Amazon. He wasn’t buying it before, and he is now.

See. In all cases, Amazon makes more revenue.

Now, I know some of you are at home, doing backflips saying, “But Cameron, you big dummy, you’ve ignored expenses in your analysis. Obviously, if Amazon lowers prices, people will buy more frequently, and if you assume the increase in frequency more than offsets the decrease in price, revenue will go up. But what about PROFIT?!”

OK. Let’s talk about costs. However, before we get into the weeds, I want to make one thing very clear. Kindle books are DATA. There is no variable cost to manufacturing them, storing them, or shipping them. There’s some amount of infrastructure overhead, and the publisher gets a rip. That’s it.

From Amazon’s perspective, they’re on the hook for some amount of money to the publisher. As long as the upsell price is greater than this cost, my proposal still works. The only stumbling block is if the cost to the publisher is greater than the threshold where this is attractive to a critical mass.

However, from the publisher’s perspective, this ALWAYS makes sense. You are selling your IP twice! Even if the second time only nets you a couple of dollars, this is money that you were otherwise not going to receive (remember, Area Man never buys books twice), and it costs you NOTHING to earn it. Blocking this would be totally short-sighted on the part of the publisher, since it creates value for all parties to the deal (book-buyer, Amazon, and publisher).

So Jeff, if you’re listening, I think it’d be awesome if you guys did this. What do you think?

Writing in Longhand

pen and notebook on desk

While reading D.T. Max’s biography of David Foster Wallace, I was surprised to discover that DFW’s creative process prominently featured hand-written notebooks. It occurred to me that I never really considered handwriting to even be an option for serious drafting. Although I used pen and paper for journals, note-taking, and personal correspondence, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t that take forever?”

Intrigued (and ever the fanboy), I decided to give it a try while flying this weekend. Much to my surprise, I discovered that it actually works for me. I’ve been generating first drafts faster when writing by hand. Although my writing pace is slightly slower, the elimination of “backspace” from my toolkit preserves the forward momentum. My notebook also feels far less formal than my laptop, and I’m sure the overlap with journaling subconsciously facilitates some ideaphoria.

Considering that I wrote my first book report on our family 486, it’s never occurred to me that generations of writers (practically all writers, prior to my generation) were forced to employ a completely different process due to technological limitations. Editing was iterative by default, one draft at a time. Today (and for the past 20+ years), we’ve been able to edit continuously, in real-time. It’s interesting to think about what we consider a “first draft” today versus what it must have been before word processing software. I suspect this is painfully obvious to anyone older than maybe 35, but it’s a bit of a revelation for me this morning.

SXSW Interactive, and Other Updates

A few updates for you on this Monday morning:

My proposal to SXSW Interactive was accepted, so I will be speaking on March 11, 2013. This has been a huge surprise, and I’m excited for the opportunity to share some of my ideas in front of an audience beyond this blog. The presentation will based off of this post, but I anticipate that my thoughts will continue to evolve between now and then.

Unrelated, I’m re-tagging my longer, more substantive, (or just “better”) pieces as “Featured,” so that they’re easier to filter among the noise. My primary purpose is to facilitate more frequent posting while striving to bring you a weekly Feature.

I’ll be guest-writing at the Acton MBA blog in the coming weeks, discussing a “Lesson Learned” since graduation.

Otherwise, this week is a bit crazy with quarterly reporting responsibilities, project launches, and debriefs from my team’s week in Las Vegas at DMA and Pubcon. More to come.

Practice. Why do we do it?

yamaha digital piano

I hear a lot of talk about “reps.” E.g., one says simply, “You need more reps,” when one means, more specifically, “You need to do this MANY more times before you can hope to be any good at it.” I expect that we all can see the truth within this, but as a starting premise, it leaves some interesting logical consequences.

A. Whatever “this” is, you are currently not good at it. In fact, by definition you are “bad.”

B. Because you are “bad” (albeit, on the road to “good”), your reps will be “bad” more often than they are “good.”

C. Consequently, if you ever hope to get to “good,” you have to tolerate working through “bad.”

So why on earth would you ever do anything? We can agree that being bad at something isn’t fun, right? The most obvious answer is, “because we really want it.” This may be correct in some circumstances, but it’s far from universal. For example, practically all of us developed expert proficiency at walking without the aid of habit lists and deadlines.

My answer may be less inspirational than “really wanting it,” but it’s even simpler: the things that we actually become good at doing are the things we enjoy being bad at doing. Tolerating the “bad” becomes a non-issue, because there’s nothing to tolerate.

For the handful of things in my life where I claim advanced or expert status, I can remember the moment when I was first exposed to each. Without fail, I sensed the exact same feeling every time: this palpable joy that I knew I could do it, and I really wanted to do it, deep down, and not because I thought I should do it. Something just clicked, and I knew, knew, that I could be great at it. On the rare occasions when this happened, being bad was tolerable, and the promise of good was believable; I could taste it.

I can contrast this easily against all the times I tried to learn something but failed (a much larger sample size, believe me). Invariably, these tended to be things that I wanted intellectually or perhaps out of fear, but the “practice” lacked the joy I found elsewhere and eventually lapsed. For a long time, I was convinced that I could overcome this and persevere through the right combination of present-mindedness, habit-development, social pressure, and practice technique. Now I’m over it.

Think back to your childhood. How did you spend your time? Was it ever this intentional? For me, I simply spent my time doing the things that I liked. When I did pursue something proactively, I enjoyed the pursuit, it wasn’t part of some plan or goal.

Piano was a perfect example. I took lessons. Many of my friends took lessons. I practiced 1-2 hours per day. Many of my friends didn’t practice at all. Did I have a “tiger mom?” No. A militant teacher? No. It was this simple – I really enjoyed it, and I had some natural talent. I’m certain that having a weekly lesson, really wanting to play harder material, and having “deadlines” via recitals all helped me to get better. However, these things would have never been enough, had I not really enjoyed the work.

Before you mistake me for a pollyanna, I’ll be the first to reiterate that work is a four-letter word for a reason. It’s not necessarily fun. However, there’s always been a viscerally rewarding aspect to the practices that I enjoy and that survive and that ultimately thrive. It’s never about will-power, it’s never about “should,” it’s never about “wanting it.” It’s the far less admirable, primal reality of doing more of what feels good and less of what feels bad.

In summary, a few conclusions:

  • Anything “forced” is unsustainable in the long run
  • Trust your instincts and “gut”
  • Do a lot of different “stuff.” When something is fun, pay attention. Do more of it.

Karaoke Like Weather

Friday night I ended up discussing karaoke bars with a friend. We agreed that they were generally awesome, and we each proffered various arguments explaining why. The most compelling point was that karaoke performances provide a unique, shared experience, generating a wealth of low-risk subject matter for conversation. Unlike the regular bar, which facilitates interaction by simply reducing inhibitions, the karaoke bar actually gives you something to talk about. It’s like user-generated content, but before that was even a thing!

In this way, karaoke is a lot like the weather. It’s something shared and neutral that we can discuss without infringing upon anything personal. Now there’s an interesting wrinkle. What is it about not infringing upon anything personal? Have you ever thought about how much conversation we spend on impersonal, more or less irrelevant subject matter? We talk about sports, politics, reality television, people who aren’t in the room, etc. Rarely do we actually engage each other about each other.

I’m not sure if that’s necessarily problematic, but it’s hard to see much benefit from meaningless chitchat aside from some sort of social grooming. Real, honest, personal conversation enables us to understand a person’s truth and develop trust. This can be uncomfortable, though, because it requires you to be vulnerable.

Perhaps we’ve stumbled onto the real reason why people like karaoke – vulnerability. What could be a more vulnerable act than standing in front of a crowd of strangers and belting out How Can We Be Lovers or Stay (I Missed You)?  Our shared acts of vulnerability bring us closer together, while the general ridiculousness and variety of the performances give us something to talk about.

Like most magical things, we’re probably better off not trying to crack the code on the magic of karaoke. We can simply enjoy this gift from the Japanese.

Positive Blind Spots (why you should ignore Tim Ferriss)

I suspect you’ve heard of “blind spots.” We typically use the expression to describe the thing you’re unknowingly doing, that’s hampering your effectiveness or annoying others. Basically, they’re bad.

However, we’ve done the term a grave injustice. Contrary to what you may believe (and far more importantly), our “blind spots” actually conceal our greatest strengths. Here, I will explain why this is the case, the consequences of this situation, and what we can do differently because of it.

Why don’t we know what we’re best at doing?

Positive blind spots are the unintended consequence of our culture of self-improvement. Growing up, we’re taught that we can do anything. The sky’s the limit. Dream and you can achieve. Etc, etc. It feels good to hear, and I think we’re guilty of actually believing it.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and it obscures a more powerful and actionable message, that “there is something truly great that ONLY YOU are capable of doing.”

Because we’re taught that we can do anything, we believe that everyone is capable of anything. The implications of this are staggering. It means that if I fail, it’s because I didn’t try hard enough. I wasn’t willing to “fully commit” (whatever that means). If I keep trying with all my will-power, ultimately I will succeed. This line of thinking turns productive failure into “real” failure, as we continue trudging down the wrong path.

Conversely, it also means that I’m not “allowed” to be naturally better at something than you could ever be. If we can all achieve anything, then you can do it too! Although this is clearly logically incorrect, we get queasy admitting it. It’s so inconsistent with the popular messaging, it seems somehow wrong or immoral to believe it.

Our positive blind spots are also tricky to recognize, because they come naturally to us. Pop culture tells us they don’t exist, so we’re not looking out for them. We don’t notice them because we didn’t work for them. We’re proud of the things we earned. They represent the fruits of dedicated effort and commitment. However, positive blind spots are like a windfall inheritance; we’re almost ashamed because we can’t associate them with any work or effort on our own part.

Positive blind spots escape detection because they tend to not fit our preconceived notions of “strengths.” We have a vocabulary of neat categories for strengths, almost like the stats of two-dimensional characters from a video game: Intellect, Charisma, Dexterity, ‘Strength’ (haha), Willpower, etc. In practice, our greatest and most individual strengths are extremely complex and manifest themselves in different ways.

For instance, I’m talented at understanding the underlying dynamics of a business and translating them into operating and financial models. However, this ends up being perceived by others as me being “great with Excel!,” “good at math,” or a “numbers guy.” The first may be true, but it misses the point of the actual talent (plenty of people are Excel experts yet bad at modeling). The second two are patently false :).

Consequences of Positive Blind Spots

Ignorance of positive blind spots can result in a lot of negativity, as we struggle to understand why we can’t do something the same way as someone else. I believe they’re especially vexing for generalists (full disclosure, I’m probably biased, because I’m a generalist).

Specialists are easy. They’re easy to hire, easy to manage, easy to be (I suspect). They do one thing, they do it well, and they don’t yearn to do something else or get bored with their specialty. If everyone was a specialist, then we could neatly and efficiently parse our work and make maximum use of our comparative advantage.

In fact, specialization makes so much logical and economic sense, that many gurus and experts identify it as the key to success. This is so wrong.

Unfortunately for the gurus, a large number of us were put on this planet to do something other than fit into a neat, pre-existing, professional archetype. Hard as it may be for us to figure out, it’s critical that we do figure it out, because this is why we are here.

Our failure to understand positive blind spots frequently results in bad situations at work. As employees, we focus on improving our weaknesses so we can be better at our jobs. However, we’d be far more effective if we spent 100% of our time on the things we’re best at doing. We end up slogging through tasks that poorly align with our true strengths, draining our energy and nudging us towards the exits.

As managers, we tend to focus on the bad outcomes and underperformance from our employees, rather than building on the successes. When we go over “opportunities for improvement” in formal reviews, we discuss the things one is relatively bad at doing. What if we flipped this definition on its head and identified the #1 successes as “opportunities for improvement?” We’d ignore the failures and focus instead on doing more of what’s actually working.

Finally, we’re FAR too hard on ourselves. When we believe in the “can do” mindset, failure to achieve becomes a reflection of our willpower or “grit” rather than a gentle nudge in a different direction.

So, what can we do differently?

Most importantly, get “ok” with being awesome. This is not an ego thing, or a conceit, or arrogance, and it’s CRUCIAL that you do this. If you aren’t open to the possibility that you are the very best in the world at something, then how will you ever actually be the very best in the world at anything? This isn’t a selfish notion, either, because the same is true for everybody else.

Since most people don’t recognize their own positive blind spots, strive to find them in others. When you see one, point it out and help the person understand and believe it. For the reasons explained above, folks are usually hesitant to acknowledge their greatest strengths. Citing examples and clarifying them in your own words can make it easier for someone to accept. This work may also help you get more comfortable with your own unique gifts.

On the other hand, cut people some slack. When someone does a crappy job on a project or task, misses an appointment, or otherwise disappoints, recognize that they may be out of their “sweet spot” in life. It’s not necessarily a reflection of their “attitude” or “work ethic,” they may simply be doing something they’re not meant to be doing. Instead of developing a resentment or trying to get someone to “improve,” try to help them uncover the joy of effortless and interesting work.

In your own life, be willing to “follow the thread,” even if you don’t know where it leads. I think we’re often guilty of treading well-worn paths because of our perceived certainty of where they are going. Uncertainty can be scary, and we allay our fears by picking a road leading to a clear destination. But think about this — if we are each UNIQUELY talented in our own individual way, the odds are extraordinarily bad that ANY well-trod path will take us where we need to go.

The inherent uniqueness of our greatest strengths practically demands that we blaze our own trails. Unless you’re one of the lucky few who lines up perfectly with a preexisting path, you’ll never be making the best use of your gifts walking someone else’s road.

It flies in the face of what we’re taught, but maybe we really should simply follow the path of least resistance. This is what nature does. Ceteris paribus, would you rather do the work that is easiest or hardest for you? Would you rather do the thing you are best at doing or worst at doing?

Instead of trying to be like Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet and striving to duplicate their efforts, look for the way in which they followed their own threads, trod their own paths, and ultimately created massive amounts of value for the world. No one will be a better “Steve Jobs” than Steve Jobs, so get to work on being the best [YOUR NAME HERE].

The Irony of Guilty Pleasures

GWAR Concert Sign

Guilty pleasures are funny things. Lately, I’ve been thinking about them and the fundamental disconnect between what we think we’re “supposed” to like versus what we actually “do” like. Building on that, I’ve established two key criteria for a guilty pleasure:

a) We like it, but
b) We feel like we’re not “supposed” to like it.

The net result of this dissonance is some sort of tension or guilt (hence the “guilty pleasure”). This leads us into interesting territory. Why would we feel like we’re “supposed” to like anything? I’ve identified two key reasons:

a) External: Our enjoyment of the GP conflicts with some social rule or boundary. Liking the guilty pleasure results in disapproval or ridicule from a group with whom we identify or associate (or aspire to join).

b) Internal: Our enjoyment of the guilty pleasure conflicts with our self-perception. We think of ourselves in one way, and liking the GP is incompatible with this identity.

Wow, this is starting to sound bad! It’s almost as if the term, “guilty pleasure,” is simply a euphemism for, “liking something incompatible with either who you associate with or who you perceive yourself to be.”

Now it’s time for the cosmic joke: your guilty pleasures are what actually make you an interesting and real person! I realized this when reflecting on my own guilty pleasures, and how a curated (sans guilty pleasure) portrait of myself would look.

Basically, my non-GP identity reads like the table of contents for Stuff White People Like. I’m a W.A.S.P. who went to prep school then Washington and Lee, worked in investment banking and private equity. I wear preppy clothes and was in a fraternity. Oh, and I just finished Infinite Jest. BORING!!!!

Now let’s get into the guilty pleasures. I like heavy metal music, the whole spectrum. Everything from Malmsteen to Megadeth to Metallica to Ministry.[1] Oh, and I also like Toby Keith, and guess what, my favorite TK song is “Courtesy of the Red White and Blue.” How’s that for erudition?

I love action movies, especially from the 80′s / early 90′s, and if there’s a sci-fi bent, even better (Predator, Terminator 2, The Running Man, so I guess pre-Gubernatorial Arnold is a bonus). But it gets weirder, I like Jane Austen too. I have a love / hate relationship with video games, because I can’t control how much I play when I play them, and I also have at least 20 Snoop Dogg and Tupac songs memorized verbatim.[2]

Now, given all of that, which person sounds more interesting to you?

In the Facebook era, we’ve replaced the bumper sticker and the t-shirt with an international megaphone. The social media channels enable us to present a highly curated portrait of ourselves to the world. Conversely, they also facilitate an unprecedented degree of vulnerability. Writing a Facebook profile presents an interesting decision tree. How much of your true self do you choose to reveal to the world?

Now, having wrestled with this a bit, here are my lessons learned:

  • I still like the same crap I liked when I was 8-years-old. Get over it. Embrace it.
  • Be mindful when I preface statements with, “Well, it’s a guilty pleasure, but…” What’s going on that’s prompting this qualifier? Am I judging, or am I concerned with what someone will think? Why?
  • Definitely get presale tickets for Slash.


1 When I was in 4th grade, I convinced my grandmother to purchase Megadeth’s Countdown to Extinction for me. After spending several hours with my Walkman, listening to Side A repeatedly (Skin O’ My Teeth, Symphony of Destruction, and Sweating Bullets were the best), I proclaimed to my dad, “Metal is my life.”

2 Most recently, 2Pac, All Eyes on Me, Book 2.