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.

In each of these cases, we […]

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 1980, virtually no […]

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, he sees that […]

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 it was no longer […]

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, but he did […]

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 “expert” were going […]

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 myself.

Do cardiac surgeons look for inspiration before […]

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 […]

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, […]