June 2024 – this is a letter to my son about what I’ve learned in life so far and would like to pass on.

You can listen to this article here.


Dear Andrew,

We live today in interesting times, perhaps the most interesting of times.  There has never been a world quite like the one you’re joining.  8 billion people share the planet at the moment, and there are more people and more prosperity than anytime in human history. There is more opportunity than ever before.

We have more advancements in science, technology, medicine, and engineering than ever before.  We have more cures for diseases, longer life expectancy than ever, and global poverty rates are at the lowest they ever have been.  Yet, we also face major global issues that plague humanity.  People in the western world aren’t having children anymore. 70% of Americans are obese or overweight which is toxic to the mind and body. We have an ever growing global arms race that threatens global peace.  And screen time and porn addiction have caused a crisis of our attention and of our minds.  It is worth knowing of these issues so you can be prepared to face them.

Life is a miracle, truly.  Of all the possibilities to exist, of all the eggs or sperm that could have been created, you exist.  Life is a gift, and to be born into a family like ours makes you incredibly lucky.  We’re incredibly lucky.  Recognizing this luck is important so you know where you’re at, and you don’t take it for granted.  It isn’t a given, your life must be earned.

Life is full of ups and downs, unexpected events, overwhelming high times, and occasionally some times of confusion.  This is normal.  It is part of the normal development of a human to go through these stages.  Recognize that at each stage, the goal is to constantly improve and get better.  Each day is an opportunity to improve, to learn, to share, to create, to enjoy.  Every day is day 1, it’s a new day.  The past is what has made you who you are, but it is gone, all there is is today, and the future that you create.

How you deal with unexpected events that come out of life is the quality of your life.  Heartbreak, death of a friend or family, accidents, and mistakes are all part of life that everyone goes through.  No one is perfect, but ensure you reflect and learn from the mistakes you’ve made.  Train and prepare your mind to handle anything that is thrown at it.  Mindfulness practice to pay attention to your thoughts is useful.  Exercise is vital to relieving stress and keeping quality of mind, let alone having a strong/fast/fit body.  The mind and the body are one.

Fall in love, enjoy sex, but do it safely.  Use protection and then have fun.  When you’re young, explore.  Travel to places that interest you, be excited to meet other people, be curious about other people.  Everyone has a story you can learn from, and you learn most by asking questions and listening, not by telling others your stories.  But do tell stories when people ask, you can inspire people.  And the practice of telling stories is good for learning how to socialize.

Read often.  You can learn a tremendous amount through the brains and eyes of other people.  Lots of people have existed before you, learn from them.  The more you can learn and understand, the more effective you’ll be at life.  Don’t underestimate how much knowledge you can learn from just 30 minutes of reading a day. A book is a lens into the brains of some of the brightest thinkers of life.  Read things that interest you.  It’s worth studying psychology (how and why humans think and behave in different ways), finance (understand money, business, economics and the broad things that shape the world).  Study history, how the world came to be the way it is.  Read biographies and autobiographies, it is fascinating to see how different people got to where they were in life, and biographies tell their story.

Life’s a pursuit of improvement, and getting better.  Get stronger each day, smarter each day, create a little something each day, be kind and generous to people each day.  Small tiny improvements each day can lead to drastic improvements over time, the key is actually making progress each day.

Life can be overwhelming sometimes, and things can take up all of your time and attention.  Ensure you’re spending part of each day moving forward in whatever that means to you. A stronger relationship, a stronger body/mind, a stronger business, a new experience, etc.  Most importantly, enjoy the ride.  Have fun in life, there is a hell of a lot of fun to be had.

Think independently about what you want to do. When I was a teenager I decided to study abroad in England.  Not sure what triggered it but I was basically the only one in university who wanted to do it, and it ended up being transformational to me as a person and widened my perspective in a big way.  I found that the classic 9-5 route wasn’t for me.

I recall in university when I was about to graduate, everyone around me was talking about the salary and the job offers they were getting, but my mindset was on growing my business and traveling.  It was what I felt deep inside was the right idea, and I always had the plan B to become an engineer worse case, so I really had nothing to lose.

That decision ended up being a great decision.  I tell this story because throughout life, I often felt strongly about a way of life that didn’t align with everyone else.  Even now, at 35, I still feel this way. The way society and even many friends live and behave is quite different to how I think we should live.  Recognize that there is no right answer, but there are better and worse answers.  Think for yourself about really what you want to do and don’t be deterred if society thinks otherwise.  You know best deep inside.  Try it, and see what happens.

When you fall off track and make some bad decision, get back on track right away.  Never have 2 bad days in a row.  Getting back on track is as important as being on track in the first place.

Have a family. Sure, when you’re young explore and date and see what you like and enjoy.  Communicate, it’s all we have humans.  Find a partner you can be honest with.  Monogamy is not for everyone, and we probably didn’t evolve as men to be so.  Sexual variety is important, but don’t let that stop you from committing to a person, having a wedding, and having kids.  A wedding is a great opportunity to bring together a bunch of cool people to celebrate.  Any opportunity to do that is good, celebrate everything, if nothing else, life.

How you communicate is important.  Don’t just say what you think, craft what you say such that the other person will understand.  Do to others as they want done to them, not as you want done to you.  How you want to be treated may not be how they want, so understand how others, including your partner, want to be treated and treat them that way.

Be fit, be active, spend lots of time outdoors.  Play a sport, do yoga, pump iron, run. The stronger your body, the better you think, the more energy you have, and the more motivation you tend to have.  All good things in life come from having the energy to capture them, so being physically fit is vitally important.  The mind and the body are one.  Avoid steroids and focus on being strong, fast, and fit, not just looking strong.

Spend below your means.  Making money and keeping money are 2 different skills.  You can lose money faster than you can make it, so make wise decisions.  Never invest into things you don’t understand, it’s a sure way to lose money.  If you spend below your means, you’ll have a surplus.  Invest the surplus and use it to help others.

Helping others is a tricky issue.  You can’t just give money to someone and expect it to be better.  Give a man a fish vs. teach a man to fish.  But, having the resources to help when one needs it or when an opportunity arises is useful, and gives a peace of mind.  Study the effective altruism movement – people like Peter Singer were interesting to study.  GiveWell.org, and Kiva.org are organizations I’ve supported for years.

Study philosophy, and the various kinds that interest you.  The study of what is, the study of knowledge, and perhaps most importantly, moral philosophy.  What is right and wrong.  It is a fascinating discussion that will help you throughout life make decisions that align with your morals.  But the first step is discovering your own morals, so studying moral philosophy is vital.

Write. Put your ideas onto paper and get them out of your mind.  The sheer act of writing makes your mind come up with more ideas.  Write about anything you want.

Focus and capture energy when it is there.  Sometimes you’ll be motivated and sometimes you won’t, that is normal.  When you have the motivation, or the ideas, do the act and build the thing or write the article or utilize the motivation.  It is normal for it to come in waves and in seasons, and when it is there, use it.

Having downtime is as important as working.  People think of downtime as a waste but downtime is where ideas are formed, it’s where your mind processes what is has taken in, and it is where you become creative.  Downtime is some of the most important time in life to think and recharge.

Start the day with a glass of water next to the bed, and ideally get out into the sun not long after waking up.  It gets your body and mind ready for the day and helps you sleep better at night.

Live diligently. Figure out what you want to do and deliberately go for it. Looking for a partner? Date, and get better at it. Want to make friends? Study how to improve.  Want to start a business? Start building and learning how the best do it.  While life can’t be controlled fully, we can certainly change how we behave, where we live, what we pay our attention to, who we spend time with, how we learn, what we work on, and how we work.  These decisions are the most important decisions of our lives, because they are our lives.  Our life is what we do.  Our life is how we think. Our life is how we live.

Build and create things.  Anything.  Could be a business, a piece of art, a new shop or store, a website.  Humans learn by doing and creating is where fulfillment and satisfaction come from.  We evolved to create so ensure throughout life, you’re creating and building stuff often.

Be reliable.  Always show up on time,  Being late means you’re wasting other peoples time. Don’t waste others peoples time.  When you say you’re going to do something, do it.  Reliability is a human trait that will serve you well over time.  On the same token, avoid people who aren’t reliable, or who waste your time.

The traits that plague many people are envy and resentment.  Wish everyone you meet, especially the people closest to you, the very best.  When people around you succeed, wish them well.  Life is better when the people around you succeed.  And when you’re treated poorly or unfairly, move on and avoid any further suffering.

Never underestimate the value of a solid night of sleep.  You can go to bed feeling one way and wake up feeling another. Sleep a lot.  Sleep is foundationally important to the body and mind, and it not only makes life longer, it makes it better.  Avoid having 2 days in a row of poor sleep.  If you sleep poorly one night, ensure the next night you sleep well.

The modern era is full of distraction. Ensure you’re consciously choosing where you pay attention and what you pay attention to. If you aren’t aware and deliberate in choosing, your attention will be chosen for you and you’ll end up spending your attention on stuff that doesn’t matter or isn’t important.  Focusing and choosing what you pay attention to vital in the age of abundance of everything.

Opportunity favors the prepared.  Be prepared to take advantage of opportunities when they come.  This could be in finding a partner, a friend, capturing a business opportunity, or simply having the freedom to go somewhere when you get invited.

Take action.  Action is where all possibilities lie.  You never know until you try, and action produces information.  Action is also where you learn, come up with more ideas, and gain insight into what happens.  Always bias toward action.

And move fast, time goes by quick. Don’t wait for someday.  1 week is 2% of the year.

Be grateful, express gratitude often.  Reflect on who brought you your food, who cooked it, who served it, where it came from.  Reflect on the efforts of people who host parties, drive your taxi, or clean the building you’re in.  The more you’re aware of how lucky you are, the more grateful you’ll be.  Say thank you to people always when they help, serve, or are kind to you.  You can’t say it too much, but you can not say it enough.

Spend time in nature. It is how we evolved, to be out in fresh air, surrounded by green plants, in a quiet, beautiful landscape.  The Japanese have a term “forest bathing” for therapeutic relaxation.  Never underestimate how important being in nature is to recharge, think, and relax.  The mind enjoys it, so prioritize time in nature often.

Pay attention to the little things, always, And the little sensations.  Taste every bite fully and observe the feeling.  Observe tiny insects walking around in detail, observe buildings and discover how they were built.  Visit beautiful architecture and see how it makes you feel inside.  So much of life is observing in more detail, there is fascination to be found in everything.

Life is a journey, and you learn a lot by simply being.  All the best things take time, and often longer than you think.  Constantly be working to get better and improve at every part of life, that is what life is about.  It is a gift to be, to fall in love, to have friends, to eat amazing food and see amazing places.  Most importantly, enjoy the ride.

I wish you luck and an amazing life, it’s a privilege to have you as my son,


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I write for fun, I travel for fun, and I enjoy learning. I hate sugar-coating things. Understand the world in reality, not by dogma. Question everything.

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