“Disturbed because they fear that they have mislived …”

Photo Cred: Greg Ortega @ http://gregrtega.tumblr.com

Am I ready to die?

If I were to die today, I would regret.

Not preparing my wife and child for my death.
Not writing down my life lessons to share with my child(ren).
Not telling my family how much I appreciate them.
Not sticking up for myself earlier.
Not finding courage to live authentically earlier.
Not thinking for myself earlier.
Not snowboarding more.
Not going to Crossfit more often.
Watching too much TV.
Not eating healthier.
Not building more.
Not living up to my values sooner.
Not having stronger character.

But it doesn’t have to be like this when I’m 100. I don’t have to have regrets. I know what I value. I know what I stand for. I know my calling. I know whom I’m impacting. I know what makes me happy. I know what makes me fulfilled.

I don’t need permission to live life without regrets.

Do you?


“[..] why are people, both young and old, disturbed by the prospect of dying? Some are disturbed because they fear what might come after death. Many more, though, are disturbed because they fear that they have mislived — that they have, that is, lived without having attained the things in life that are truly valuable.” — William B. Irvine, A Guide to the Good Life

Bottom Feeders

Bottom feeding is the race to go lower. Bottom feeders want to keep costs as low as possible, while cutting corners. Cutting corners just enough to get by.

This is when you cap employee’s salary ranges at your organization.
When you cut your support staff a member.
When you close the store an hour early.
When you bargain with your vendors for a lower price.
When you send your production to cheaper labor.
When you compromise on the quality of the product to ease manufacturing.
When you choose a slightly cheaper raw material.
When you put in 90% of the effort.

Bottom feeders make up the majority of products and services we encounter. It’s logical to be a bottom feeder. You minimize the amount of energy. You maximize profits by cutting corners.

The top feeders are the local shops offering authentic product.
The coffee shop owner that works 70 hour weeks, but cares deeply about where the coffee comes from and how it’s prepared.
The no-frills bakery serving up new pastries and flavors weekly.
The company selling a product that deeply cares about its users.
The organization with a mission to make the world a better place.
The employee who treats the company as if (s)he were an owner.

Top feeders are the creme de la creme. They are often not the most flashy. They often aren’t the most profitable. But they put in the most important part of the work, the emotional work into the product.

It’s the top feeders that the world craves. They have integrity in the product. They care for the consumer. It’s a human making every decision for the company and not a bunch of shareholders.

They carry the passion. They carry the story.

What they’re really delivering is trust.

This post was originally written for www.marcuswong.ninja where I write about anything that helps me kick ass in life.

How I Stopped Snoozing and Got Motivated to Start the Day

Some mornings I would snooze for 30 minutes before getting out of bed.

I needed a passive activity to slowly wake up. Often I would lie in bed and flip through Instagram for half hour till I felt awake enough to move. Sometimes when I got up right away, first thing I would do was use the toilet. I would fall asleep on the toilet for 5 minutes before realizing.

I don’t know what’s up with me but I need some time for my brain to calibrate before I can start moving on the day.

I don’t know how I came up with this technique. I just know that I had a hard time getting up to get on with my morning routine. I was losing precious time in my morning that could be used productively.

Getting Shit Done in the Morning

I had to get up to start my morning routine. I had to get up to read and write. I had to get up to organize my day. I had to get up journal. I had to get up to meditate. I needed to have a nutritious breakfast. I had to spend some time with the dog before leaving the house.

The morning is the best time to get work done. There are less distractions. People aren’t working or emailing or texting you in the morning. Your brain is at it’s freshest. Your mind can perform optimally in the morning. Decision fatigue has not set in.

I spend the morning writing. Writing is exhausting. It requires me to search deep within myself for material. It’s scary. It exposes me to myself. I get to know what I really have inside. Do I have what it takes to affect the change I seek to make?

It’s not an activity I can save for the evening. In the evening I’m tired. I want to unwind. I had a tough day at work. I’ve used my mind’s juices already. I am out of self discipline power to sit down and get my words on the screen.

The (Silly) Tactic

Now I wake up, and the first thing I do is open the YouTube app. I used my weakness and found something productive to wake myself up. I found a way to get my ass out of bed quickly.

I started watching motivational videos on YouTube as soon as I woke up. I have my headphones plugged in (cause I don’t want to wake up my wife), and I have a playlist cued up. It makes me accountable to the speaker screaming at me to hustle harder, that I need to sacrifice sleep, that I need to work hard to get what I want.

I made the playlist here. Feel free to use it. Or come up with your own playlist. If you don’t know where to start, just type in “motivation” into the search box and start there.

Not only does it help me get out of bed, but I wake up ready to tackle the day. The synapses in my brain start firing. I can’t wait to get to hustling. I have the urge to skip breakfast so that I can start my writing. It increases my productivity by a factor of two to three.

Would love to know how you start your day. Do you struggle as much as I do? Any tips?

How I Am Going to Hit My Goals

Don’t become a wandering generality. Be a meaningful specific. — Zig Ziglar

I haven’t accomplished too much.

This year I turn 30. I guess when I was 20, I thought I was gonna be a baller by the time I was 30. Somehow I would find my way to a six figure salary. I thought if I kept up with my gym and fitness habit, I was going to be a real fit and good looking guy. I wasn’t only going to be rich, I would look it.

That’s the only thing I remember about it. I have to admit, that was a pretty shallow 10 year vision. Money and looks. Well I’m a few months short of 30, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t achieved either.

Money, looks, vacations, big house, sports car, and fine dining. The dreams that I always had. Advertising, BET, and Hollywood did a pretty great job for painting the vision for my life.

Thing is, I’m a little older and know that none of these material things are going to make me very happy, very fulfilled. I know that I need my own vision.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” — Yogi Berra

Personal Vision

That’s why I developed my own personal vision. A compelling vision of the life that I want to live.

Why I exist on this earth.
What sort of husband I will be.
What sort of father I will be.
My vocation.
My career.
Physically how I’ll feel and look.
Who and how I will impact.

It took me several months to develop my personal vision. It went through iterations. It actually started out as a “25 Year Vision”. But it didn’t serve my purpose. I needed a statement written that had exactly what I was living for, and who I was going to be. If I am qualitatively working towards any goal in this manner, I will not have failed.

If I teach, instruct, and model my children to live a good life, of joy, charity, love, and learning, I will not have failed. If I give high satisfaction to my wife in our marriage, I will not have failed. If I live a life of charity and giving, I will have not failed.

10 Year Goals

The personal vision is a mission statement. It’s the qualitative parts of my life. But it still lacks to oomph that really gets me going. It’s nothing I’ll ever achieve or arrive at. They are statements of what I stand for and the lens in which I view success.

So then I have my 10 year goals. These are KPIs. They are falsifiable. Either I have achieved it or I haven’t.

Financially — I will have X amount of disposable income every year. Influence — this is the number of followers, and impressions I have. Charity — this is how much I am giving. Physically — I don’t even have words — it’s a picture of a handsome and fit 40 year old.

At 40, either I have hit the mark or I haven’t. Making these goals falsifiable makes the goals clarified. Writing it down, and naming it my “10 Year Goals”, makes me committed.

1 Year Goals/Vision

The 1 year goals are a drip down of the 10 year. Now that I know exactly where I am going, and what is pass/fail, I need to make steps towards that goal. The 1 year goal is simple. They are numbers somewhere between where I am at now, and what I wrote in my 10 year vision.

The Sunday Review and Planning

Writing it down wasn’t enough for me. I need constant reminders. I’m pretty damn forgetful. When I don’t remind myself, I end up watching TV eating chips for dinner. This past Sunday I didn’t do my weekly review. I slept in. I didn’t write. I didn’t go to the gym.

So I do a weekly review on Sundays. It reminds me of my why. I look back and review the week prior. I plan what I will do the following week to make steps towards my goals. I add blocks of time in my calendar for the activities that I have committed to.

I developed my weekly routine using the Weekly Planning Process and Template from the people at Live Your Legend.

I’m not sure if this will work. I’ve done the weekly planning 9 of the first 11 weeks this year. Both times I missed doing it I had way less productive weeks. Albeit one of the weeks I was deathly ill.

I’m not sure if any of this will work. But I’m not rich, and not that fit. So I might as well take action and do something different. Worst case scenario is that I will learn something. Worst case scenario is that even if I fail, I don’t have to regret not putting in extraordinary effort. Worst case scenario, I fail hitting my 10 year goals, but I uphold my personal vision and values.

Getting My Ass Moving

Each action removes the barrier to entry. Each action removes one more excuse off the list.

I’ve wanted to write about personal development for atleast 5 years. The biggest barrier though was not knowing where to start. So I had to take action. I set up a website. I chose the easiest one to set up, Squarespace. Now that I had a platform and a place to write, I had one less excuse to prevent me from writing.

Massive actions build momentum.

Take the big steps needed to start doing what it is that you want. I went through the pain of setting up a blog. It was one less excuse to start writing. I had to go through the pain of publishing my first post. Then I had to publish again. I had to learn the art of shipping your work.

I started off writing long, 10+ minute posts. Now my average post is about a 2 minute read. I needed to learn to ship more often. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Perfection is the enemy of results. The post is never up to my expectations or my standard. But I have the habit of writing daily. I learn to ship many times a week no matter what. I will have written thousands of more words, 5–10x more posts as I did before. I built momentum and learnt to ship the work.

Actions lead to lessons.

I hate everything I’ve written above this. It’s not meeting the vision that I had for this post. The ideas aren’t connecting. The words aren’t flowing.

But the post is going up. It doesn’t matter that I’m not very happy with it. I have a deadline and it needs to ship. Too bad for me. That’s what I deserve for not planning out my week. That’s what I deserve for not taking more time this week to write it. I shouldn’t have slept in 3 days in a row.

Each week I post new posts. Every time I learn something new. If I want to produce the quality of work I expect from myself, I need more time. I can’t rush the process. 3 days of sleeping in is half the week of writing. Losing momentum makes my brain rusty. Not posting is a missed opportunity to help someone. Not posting is a missed opportunity for me to learn about writing. Not posting is a missed opportunity for me to plan my thoughts.

Actions keep your head in the game.

Life is busy. It’s easy to do nothing. Doing nothing and no work towards our goals is a habit. We become numb to the desires of our hearts. We start to accept the daily grind. The status quo seems good enough. The lizard brain is comfortable cause we’re safe.

The daily actions though always keeps us moving. It’s not just the hour or two of writing that I get accomplished daily. It’s knowing that I need to wake up tomorrow and say something different. It’s knowing that I am running out of blog ideas and need new ones. It’s knowing that I have no stories to share and need a fresh one to share. The daily writing habit I have is not contained between 7–8am daily. It’s become 24/7. Inspiration suddenly pops up everywhere.

My daily writing habit is my daily action. It’s the daily habit. It’s becoming my new status quo. It’s becoming my new daily grind. The lizard brain still doesn’t like it. It still tries to scare the shit out of me. But I’m moving forward. This post may have zero impact publicly. But I’m learning. Gaining momentum. Learning to ship. Getting better at doing the work.



Making Self Limiting Excuses

Have you ever heard someone share a vague goal, and then qualify with a “but”.

“I want to get promoted and make more money this year, but I don’t want to be like my friend who doesn’t have a life.”
“I want to start working out, but I don’t want to be like super fit like the dudes in the magazine.”
“I want to start working out, but I don’t want to look like those Crossfit girls and get huge muscles.”
“I want to go on a diet and lose some weight, but I don’t want to be like those people that don’t eat dessert or don’t eat carbs when they go out.”
“I want to start doing/going (dancing, woodworking, writing, snowboarding, etc), but don’t want to someone that spends a fortune on lessons.”

Notice a few things here …

1) Making enemies with “those people”.

The excuses automatically villainize the people who are successful. It’s a psychological slide that allows them to get off the hook from having to really do anything. “I choose not to be like those ‘bad’ people.” A condition is set, so that they can maintain their status quo and let themselves off the hook. It’s too easy to let yourself off the hook by fabricating a reason and getting people to agree.

2) Not having a strategy or plan

Lets take the diet and weight loss example. They want to eat their cake and have theirs too (no pun intended but it works). The reasons state the strategy or plan that they will not take, without actually saying what they will do. What I’ve found when I’ve heard these excuses is that there is no plan to get the desired outcome.

Cause not all people who get promoted and have great careers are workoholics.
Not everyone who exercises look like they are ready for a cover shoot.
Not everyone who is healthy denies themselves cake or wine at restaurants.

It’s fine not to do any of those things. But knowing what you’re not going to do doesn’t produce results.

Actually knowing what to do is going to get the results and desired outcomes.

3) Not willing to sacrifice

Embedded in the excuse is an admission of only doing easy work. Anyone who achieves any status of success in any area put in the work, had discipline, and took steps to master the domain. People want to have theirs, but not put in the work. So they won’t take the long cut, rather they are open to taking the short cut.

4) Protecting the failure

By saying that you won’t put in the hard work, you can protect your own reputation and self image. You never failed because you said you would only do it with a bunch of clauses and fine footnotes at the bottom of your contract.

A Call to Action

Getting what we want in life isn’t going to be easy work.

It’s going to require hard work.

It’s going to require being vulnerable to failure.

It’s going to require sacrifices.

It’s going to require you to live a different lifestyle than the status quo.

It’s going to require following proven strategies that others have used to succeed.

So let’s recognize the footnotes that we’ve attached ourselves to. The clauses. The boundaries. Put them aside, and let’s focus.

Let’s allow ourselves to dream about what we want to get. Whether it’s health, wealth, or more success in any area.

And next post, let’s look at some ways of actually getting there.

Want More Out of Life? You Need Failed Attempts

Failed attempts is a data gathering exercise.

It doesn’t work when I eat like this.
It doesn’t work when I go to bed in this manner.
It doesn’t work when my gym is a 15 minute drive away.
It doesn’t work when I only sleep 6 hours.
It doesn’t work when I drink 3 coffees in a single day.

Failure has such a stigma towards it. Yet, most of us already fail daily. We aren’t eating right, don’t feel optimal, aren’t getting enough sleep, don’t have a good rhythm of things. It gives us more data so that we can figure it out, to optimize our sleep, our diet, our exercise, our work.

So if we can get over the fact that we are failures anyways, how can we move from the list above, to failures where we can grow?

It doesn’t work when I give feedback to my colleagues like this.
It doesn’t work when I treat my clients like this.
It doesn’t work when I only ponder about changing jobs or careers.
It doesn’t work when I market myself like that.
It doesn’t work if I am not sharing my work with people.
It doesn’t work if I’m not putting in the work to the thing I love.

The first list is failed attempts at optimizing life. The second list is the list of failed attempts of someone who wants more out of life. The people that see a gaping hole between the life they have and what they want. But the road to success is littered with failures. Michael Jordan is famously quoted,

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.


We all get one shot at life. If we’re born in the western world, we generally have the same opportunities, the same economy, the same job market, the same audience, the same platforms. Some will never get past the first list of failed attempts. What is it that you have to do to get to the second list?

Make Amazing Pizza. Make Them Understand.

This past weekend, I returned to the newly opened Joe Pizza in Vancouver.  It was the second time going to the new pizzeria. My first experience was amazing.

Their pizza is Roman style pizza, which are square shaped and cut, not circle and triangles.

It’s served at room temperature, not hot.
The crust was sourdough, not commercial yeast.  This added a lot of chew to the crust.
The dough is baked without any toppings, and then the sauce and toppings are added on afterwards.

Everything about this pizza was novel, fantastic.

When we arrived this time, we ordered our pizzas and sat down.  We started eating, and noticed the crust was less dense, less chewy, underwhelming compared to our first experience.

I asked the servers if they had changed the recipe of the dough since the soft opening.  “The crust isn’t sourdough anymore.  People didn’t respond well to it.”

CRASH.  My pizza world crushed the weight of my mind.   The pizza wasn’t served room temperature unless it is requested.  The only place in Vancouver to get sourdough crust pizza is no longer.

When you make a different decision, don’t expect them to like it.
When you make art that is from the unique you, don’t expect them to get the joke immediately.

“Hmm … it looks like pizza, it’s called pizza.  The crust is so chewy though.  It’s not hot.  There isn’t melted mozzarella on this.”

They never respond well to what they don’t expect.  That doesn’t mean you have to change.  You can take a stand for your art. Own it. Represent you.

“Yea I’ve tried that pizza joint before, it’s a bit weird and different.  It wasn’t my cup of tea, but it’s definitely different and they seem to be confident in what they are serving.”

Show up day by day, making art, being the unique you.  It creates trust between you, your art, and the consumer.

“You know it took getting used to.  But I just had to change my expectations for style of pizza.  This pizza is actually AH MAY ZYNG.”


The phone rings, and lots of people want a thing, and if it doesn’t align with the thing that your mission, and you say yes, now it’s is their mission.  There is nothing wrong with being a wandering generality instead of a meaningful specific, but, don’t expect to make the change that you seek to make if that is what you do. — Seth Godin


Special Star Syndrome and Homogenous Star Syndrome

Many millennials were told growing up that they were special no matter what.  It didn’t matter what their results were as long as they tried.

The “special star” treatment is excellent for building self confidence and self esteem.  You should feel that you are a special star.  Each of us are a unique human being and have a gift to offer others that no one else could possibly give.  Most people I know, including myself, would do much better in gaining this belief that “I’m a ‘special star’ in the universe.”

What most people I know have is the inverse special star belief.  “I am a special star and the world treats me uniquely.”  You are the only one that has a tough time dealing with rejection.  Your parents didn’t equip you or teach you.  You weren’t given the genetics to succeed.  The government, organizations, societies, target you, the victim.

The reality is that there is not a single person in history that has ever been you, or will ever be like you.  That makes you a special star.  The world, the people, it’s circumstances, cosmic forces, treat you the same.  That makes you a homogenous star.

The Free Rider Problem You Have

A free rider is someone who enjoys a service without giving anything in return.

This makes sense, ‘why spend energy when I can take the rewards?’

A pay rider is someone who gives of themselves generously.

This makes less sense, ‘why spend energy so that others can take the rewards?’

The pay riders are exhausted. They have to make difficult decisions. They have responsibility. People rely on them to get work done. Expectations are put on them.

But the problem with being a free rider is that they aren’t useful to anyone. They are easily replaceable. They don’t have trust from their comrades. They rely on the employer to hand them their pay cheque. Free riders are happiest on tuesdays at their bowling league.

But the pay riders don’t work for their employer, they work for the customers, the clients, the comrades. They are useful, make big contributions, exercise creativity. Pay riders are leaders, they have gained the trust of others. Pay riders have rock solid confidence in themselves, that they don’t need to free ride off others. Pay riders provide for themselves abundantly and are happiest sharing the spoils with others.

A pay rider learns the values of hard work
, patience
, creativity
, grit
, problem solving
, providing value
, hard skills.

Pay riders stand out and get paid.

Free riders blend in, and fade.