Are you confusing symptom with cause?

We take painkillers to cure our back pain. The Democrats blame Donald Trump for everything that’s wrong with America. Donald Trump wants to “defeat ISIS” to keep America safe. We look for a solution to life’s problems at the bottom of a bottle. [...]

The contrarian guide to America’s conflict in the Middle East

I recently finished reading what turned out to be a timely book, titled America’s War for the Greater Middle East, by military historian and retired Colonel Andrew Bacevich. The book opens with an intriguing premise: From the end of World War II until [...]

The paradox of success

Strolling along the edge of the sea, a man catches sight of a young woman who appears to be engaged in a ritual dance. She stoops down then straightens to her full height, casting her arm out in an arc. Drawing closer, [...]

Say this word more often

About a year ago, I realized I’d been saying “yes” too much. I was accepting all sorts of conference invitations, speaking engagements, marginally useful projects, and offers to “grab coffee,” “get lunch,” and “hop on a call.” Looking at my schedule, I realized [...]

How you can accomplish more with less

When the head of Random House bet Theodore Geisel that he couldn’t write a book using only 50 words, most authors would have walked away muttering words like “impossible” or “nonsense”. But Geisel gladly took him up on the offer. Not only that, [...]

Why the experts are full of it

Expertise has become a self-proclaimed qualification. Experts become experts by calling themselves that. Equipped with little more than fifteen minutes of Wikipedia knowledge, everyone and their cousin can claim expertise on something and begin spreading nonsense to the masses. As if the term [...]

The myth of writer’s block

I get the same feeling every time I sit down to write. I don’t feel like it today. I’m just not inspired. I have writer’s block. I feel exhausted. I should just take it easy and answer some emails. But then I ask [...]

How to beat procrastination by watching The Martian

As a former rocket scientist, I have a soft spot for books about space. The Martian is among my favorites. There’s a particularly memorable scene where the protagonist—astronaut Mark Watney—is giving a lecture to astronauts-in-training about the lessons he learned from being [...]

The contrarian secret to success

What have I achieved this week?

The best productivity apps: pen and paper

The first draft of this blog post, written longhand.   Inspired by the thought-provoking book The Beautiful Constraint, I've been experimenting with deliberately adding more constraints to my life. You read that correctly.  I'm adding, rather than removing, constraints. This goes [...]

Let’s kill all the lawyers

As a law professor, I have a soft spot for lawyer movies. Philadelphia is high on my list of favorites. In a particularly memorable scene, Tom Hanks’s character, Andrew Beckett, is lying on his deathbed. At his side is his lawyer, Joe Miller, [...]

18 Life Lessons from Nike’s Co-Founder Phil Knight

I wasn’t supposed to like this book. I’m married to a loyal adidas employee. When it comes to sportswear, it’s three stripes or nothing for me. I'm also not a runner (unless I'm chasing a soccer ball). So, Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s [...]

Contrarian Spotlight: Jerry Seinfeld

For a comedian, there’s the guaranteed route to laughter. You swear, joke about sex, and score some easy laughs from the audience. It’s a sure-fire way to success, the get-rich-quick scheme for the aspiring comedian. It works. Except when it doesn’t. The field of comedians [...]

How to disarm your enemies

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” ― Abraham Lincoln Political discourse has taken a particularly nasty turn.  We use words normally reserved for mortal enemies to describe our political adversaries.  Some of the choice terms thrown around in [...]

What does it take to be original?

We live in a conformist world. Starting at a young age, we are taught to use #2 pencils and color within the lines. Most of us grow reluctant to speak up and stand out, for fear of being ostracized by the mob. In Originals: How [...]

3-Minute Antidote for Despair

Whenever I need perspective on life, I watch Carl Sagan's iconic speech, The Pale Blue Dot. As it prepared to depart the solar system, the Voyager I space probe turned its cameras towards the Earth to take one last photograph of our blue planet [...]

Why white lies are black

"The moment we consider our dishonesty from the perspective of those we lie to, we recognize that we would feel betrayed if the roles were reversed." -- Sam Harris, Lying We tend to think that white lies are good. They spare others discomfort [...]

The Knowledge Paradox

Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know. -- Lao Tzu It was one of my first classes as a law professor. I was young and reluctant to admit what I didn’t know, for fear of openly revealing [...]

Why “Follow Your Passion” is Bad Advice

If there is a theme that connects most commencement speeches, it is "follow your passion." We have a limited time on Earth, and to be happy, we're told that we must find what we love and never stop looking. Here's Steve Jobs from [...]

America’s Demons and Better Angels

I came to America for all the cliché reasons. As a young boy growing up in Istanbul, America had assumed a dreamlike quality for me, culled from the eclectic set of American television shows selected for translation to Turkish. To me, America was [...]

How I Read 65 Books in a Year Without Speed Reading

“Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth.” — Archimedes, Greek mathematician and astronomer Books are to me what the lever was to Archimedes — they allow me to lift objects beyond the limitations of my natural abilities. For the price [...]

Turkey’s Reichstag Fire

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. — George Santayana, Philosopher On February 27, 1933, a fire broke out in the Reichstag building, which housed the German Parliament in Berlin. Although the fire’s origins remain shrouded in mystery, [...]

Irony And Tragedy In Turkey’s Coup Attempt

Coup plotters failed to realize that coups against stable governments rarely succeed. A successful military coup requires careful planning, masterful execution, and a good dose of luck. All three ingredients were missing from Friday’s haphazard coup attempt in Turkey.  The coup [...]