What I want for myself in 2011




New Year’s Resolutions are often sad (they are often about what we hope for but can never get) and are often lies. I don’t want to lie to myself this year. So this year: practical, easy to do, resolutions in several important areas of life.

Emotional: I’ve had some bleeding the past few years. I’ve bled all over the place. I’ll bleed more in this blog. So there’s a couple of things I’d like to improve this year:

–          Friends. I don’t have that many of them. I’d like to have more. To spend time with more friends. I don’t even really know what that’s like. All I’ve done the past 15 years is work. Maybe once every two weeks at least, I’d like to have lunch or dinner with a friend. Just hang out. Talk about something other than business. Maybe play games (and not online) . I have a good ongoing backgammon match with Stephen Dubner which has been fun. We’ve been doing that since 2002 when he was writing a book on “The Psychology of Money” but he then got diverted to writing a book with minimal sales called “Freakonomics”. I’d like to have more outings playing games with friends.

–          No Clutter. I’m not moving (I moved four times last year). I’m not getting married (did that last year). Everytime I buy a book I’m giving one away.  STOP EATING AT THE DESK. I want for nothing (except the Ipad2 when it comes out. Oh, and I’m getting the Macbook Air 13” by the time I go to India).

–          Meditation. I put this under the category of “emotional” rather than “mental” or “spiritual”. Practicing meditation is good for those moments where you catch yourself in regular life getting angry, or stressed, or anxious. The “practice” gets practical when you can stop yourself and say “wait a second, there’s that anxiety again. Hello anxiety.” Just acknowledging an unpleasant emotion or stress (like acknowledging an itch), helps it disappear.

In reality, its not possible for everyone to sit still for 20 minutes, which is why I also like these 60 second meditations described in “Naked Girls, Astral Projection, and achieving Nirvana in 60 seconds or less”.

–          Family: Finally. A lot more time with my kids. Ideally, I home school them. But I don’t think that’s practical for me right now. But more time on a weekly basis. Enough to do the advice described in “Is it bad I originally wished my first kid was aborted?”


–          Morning routine: I want to get my morning routine back in shape:

  • Read at least one good piece of writing each morning: a short story, a literary essay, good non-fiction
  • Study at least one game in the morning. Choose from: chess, Go, backgammon, scrabble, checkers, bridge
  • Ideas. Get my handy waiter’s pad out and jot down 10 ideas. Ideas can be about anything: new businesses, article ideas, people I want to meet, ideas for other people (with the intent of communicating those ideas). Just keep exercising the idea muscle.

–          During the day. At least 20% less screen time. More walking-around-just-thinking time. I spent 10 hours a day in front of a screen typically. What a waste of life.

–          Memorize a list of 2500 Spanish words. I don’t want to read a “Learn Spanish” book. I just want to get the 2500 most used words in the language and memorize them. If I do 8 a day I should be good within a year.


–          Transition: I’m still going to write (and trade) about stocks for WSJ, Business Insider, CNBC.com, AOL, and wherever BUT I’m going to scale out of that into doing other things. I’m not sure what the writing has really done for me, career-wise. All I get it a ton of grief on message boards, people calling me a “psycho idiot” all the time.  I have another book coming out February 1 (“The WSJ Guide to investing for the apocalypse (Harper Collins)”) but its going to be my last finance book (and my fifth. I don’t ever want to do another).

–          TWO BOOKS: I’m self-publishing two new books in the next three months: “The White Book” and “The Black Book”. The White Book is basically a guide to living a better life, with different definitions of success, health, happiness, than anyone’s seen before.

The problem with the self-help industry out there is that I feel 99.99% of the authors in the space haven’t really lived at all. They all talk about “being optimistic” or “the secret” but have no idea how to really execute on an idea, appreciate a simpler life, or even understand when optimism bleeds into stupidity.

Nobody knows how to have ideas or really make the most of opportunities. Also, people confuse investing with happiness. Not a single article about stocks has anything to do with actually having a better life.  I’m sick of the vapidness of the self-help industry and all of its sub-genres in personal finance, health, spirituality, etc.

“The Black Book” is, well, a little darker.

–          Speaking: This past year I did some fun speaking engagement that weren’t all finance related. I want to do more of those. A lot more. Colleges, conferences, random bars in the middle of the night, etc.

–          Private investing: I have another post coming out soon about what investments I currently have. Of my dozen or so investments only one requires me to be hands-on. Ideally I keep it that way and just ride out the rest without sweating them. My checklist on a private investment remains the same and I won’t waver from this in 2011:

  • CEO who has built and sold before
  • Good co-investors (let them do the handholding, the background checks, the term sheets, etc. I don’t want hard work)
  • Good demographic trend (facebook marketing, personalized medicine, cloud storage, disintermediated commerce, etc)
  • Cheap valuation. This is subjective. But most people know “dirt cheap” when they see it.
  • Clear path to profitability and good revenues. I’m tired of seeing the crooked smile on business plans which start at 0 and end up at $1 trillion in profits in 10 years. Only invest in reality and not the fad of the day. I’ve been guilty of that also many times.


I’m going to follow EXACTLY what I prescribe in How To Live Forever


–          My whole life I’ve wanted to do standup comedy. THIS IS THE YEAR I’m going work out a routine, get up on stage, and do it.

You’re all invited.


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