40 Bits of Unsolicited Advice

2021 September 15th

Photo of a graffitied charatcter on a messy brick wall. The character is holding a sign that says, "Bad Shoes, bad life."

One of my favorite blog posts of all time is Kevin Kelly's 68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice. Kelly is a thoughtful writer and technologist who for his 68th birthday posted his "advice to the young ‘uns." I doubt I have as much wisdom to share as Kelly, but his list inspired me to write my own bits of unsolicited advice.

I'm 40 years old today and here's my list of unsolicited advice.

  1. Be the go-to person for something. (Mine is technology.) Let everyone know you're always available to help them with a problem.
  2. Follow the 3-2-1 backup strategy and you won’t lose any digital data.
  3. My guess is that if you have a budget for most of your life, you’ll be somewhere around 2x-3x richer than you would be without one.
  4. The more vulnerable you are the more at peace you’ll be with yourself and others.
  5. One of the most frustrating experiences of my life has been knowing you can do something well, but being unable to prove it to others. Do whatever you can to show your work and make your skills evident.
  6. Be a superfan of someone. Buy everything they create.
  7. Find a way of exercise that works for you. Wholeheartedly try them all and find what works for your life.
  8. If you see someone loading or driving a U-haul assume they are having a tough day. Be kind.
  9. Take lots of photos when you're young. You'll be glad you did.
  10. There are people who make simple things complex and people who make complex things simple. Be the second kind.
  11. Whenever you can, buy regret insurance. If you think you'll be frustrated or sad and you can spend a few dollars to mitigate that regret, do it.
  12. You'll be more impacted by and remember more about the movies you watch than nearly any TV show you watch.
  13. If you want to help someone, don't offer general help. Offer something specific.
  14. Whenever you buy something new and you unpack or unfold it, take photos of the process. It'll make your life so much easier trying to get it back in the box.
  15. When you're helping others grieve: "Support goes in, complaining goes out."
  16. If someone wants you to price your services, use orders of magnitude. Do you want me do to a $10 job?, $100?, $1000?, $10000? Which one is closer?
  17. I've done way better with exercise wherever I focused only on feeling stronger instead of trying to get skinny.
  18. Being proactive is the most undervalued virtue.
  19. Figure out what kind of clothes you feel comfortable wearing. Don't worry if it costs a lot to figure it out. When you find what you like and feel good wearing, it'll be well worth however much you paid.
  20. When you get together with a group of friends for an event, take a group photo. It's really nice to look back on those memories.
  21. Don't give anyone advice unless you're darn sure they want it.
  22. Strive to spend at least 1 hour outside everyday.
  23. Find your vice, but find one that won't hurt you. Mine is ice cream.
  24. Schedule regular, re-occurring hangouts with friends. It's the only way I've found to ensure you'll stay close. I have one that's weekly and a few that are monthly. They give me so much life.
  25. Don't use 20 words when 10 will do.
  26. Most consumer products fall into 4 quality/pricing scales: Junk, Barely Good Enough, Great but pricey, and Luxury. For any given product you want to buy, figure out which scale is right for you and buy accordingly.
  27. Whenever possible, publicly give others credit for their work and influence in your life.
  28. Using a password manager will make your digital life dramatically better. Not slightly better, dramatically better.
  29. Every few years pay someone to take photos of you and your family.
  30. Be irrationally, enthusiastically interested about things that don't really matter. Some of mine are: sports, Apple news, and award shows.
  31. I try and follow this rubric for my income: Give away 10%. Save and invest 10-20%. Live on the rest.
  32. Learning how to breathe well has made my life significantly better. There are many traditions and ways of learning. Choose one and integrate it into your life.
  33. Celebrate big events. Even make up new big ones to celebrate. Always be looking for a reason to celebrate.
  34. Print out about 10-20 of your favorite photos of the year around the holidays. It'll make you happy to see them and act as an emergency backup in case your digital photos are ever lost.
  35. Be sure that every meeting you host has an agenda.
  36. 3 is 2, 2 is 1, 1 is none.
  37. A mantra of my life I often come back to is "less, but better."
  38. A place for everything, everything in its place.
  39. Ask lots of questions, in good faith, and genuinely seek to understand before you respond.
  40. Always be generous.