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Over a year ago I was driving my Bentley in Las Vegas and a car ran a red light and drove straight into the side of it, sending it first into a sideways slide, and later to the body shop. The body shop repairing the car is extraordinarily slow. At first this bothered me and I was constantly checking in with them to see when it would be done. Then I bought a minivan and no longer cared. I still don't have the car back, after almost a year and a half.
I'd say that my family had a minivan since I was little, but really my dad had a minivan. He loved that thing. And then after ten years or so it died and he bought another, and another still when that one reached the end of its life. He was a carpenter, and his minivan could hold a 4x8 sheet of plywood in the back with the seats removed. I've followed in his footsteps in that I also do projects all the time, and being able to carry a 4x8 sheet is pure magic.
All minivans are pretty good, but the Dodge Grand Caravan, also known as the Chrysler Town and Country, or now the Chrysler Pacifica (not to be confused with the crossover they stopped making which was also called a Pacifica), is the best one to buy. The primary reason for this is a patented feature they have called Stow-n-Go seating.
Stow-n-Go seating means that every seat other than the front two can be folded flat into the floor in a matter of seconds. Lift up the cover to the storage area, pull a tab on the back, and the seat is flat. You can go from seven passengers to two with more cargo space than a truck in under a minute.
It's hard to explain to non-minivan-havers just how amazing this is. Want a five seat car with more legroom than a limo? Great, just stow the middle seats. Want to go skiing with four people? Drop the back seats, put all your gear in the back and ride in the four bucket seats. Need to buy a ridiculous amount of furniture at IKEA? Pop down all of the seats and you have a 4x8 area with quite a bit of height as well. I usually leave all of my seats up except for one of the middle seats. Then when I go pick up my packages or shopping I can just load it all in the side door instead of dealing with a big trunk.
Even the rear seat splits into a one and two seat section. It's amazing. And when the rear seats are up the storage space that they fold into makes the trunk huge. In Hawaii we keep 4 boogie boards and 4 beach chairs back there all the time.
Because they're low to the ground, minivans get pretty good gas mileage. My 2005 one gets about 17-22mpg depending on whether I'm driving locally or taking highways, and the 2010 we bought in Hawaii gets slightly better. They're very comfortable to drive because you're sitting upright and have plenty of headroom. There's tons of space between the seats, and if you have fewer than six people you can put down the middle row and the rear row couldn't touch the back of your seats if they tried. Side doors slide open, which is pretty cool, and the rear windows pop up for theft-free ventilation. Newer ones, like our 2010 have power sliding doors and trunk. Some models have built in vacuums.
I love using our minivan in Hawaii as a scuba car. Open the sliding doors and one person can set up on each side, sit down, and get into their gear. Fold down the double seat in the back and a third person could do it in the rear. What other car could do something like that? We once did a scuba trip with nine tanks and three people and had room to spare.
People don't think that minivans are cool, so the prices are low. I paid $2500 for my 2005 and we paid $6000 for the 2010 (which was certainly higher than it would be in non-Hawaii cities).
Now I don't really care about the Bentley. It's a cool car and I really appreciate the craftsmanship, but I think the minivan is equally cool and certainly a lot more useful. Other than possibly buying an old Porsche to learn how to fix cars, I can't imagine I'll ever buy another non-minivan.
A lot of friends made fun of me for the minivan. Then they rode in it and heard my spiel, and now many of them want to buy minivans. It's easily my favorite vehicle. If you're in the market for a car, think about a minivan!
Photo is our Hawaii minivan set up for a scuba dive.
I like and spend time in several cities which are very different from each other. Las Vegas, Hilo (Hawaii), Budapest, rural Halifax (our island), and Tokyo. On paper it would be hard to draw many links between those cities, which of course led me to think about why I liked all of them so much.
What I realized is that each of those cities has extremely low friction.
San Francisco is a very high friction city. Everything is expensive there, so unless you are wealthy, eating out for meals feels a little bit stressful. Is it really worth $25 for a non-Chipotle dinner? Getting places is stressful because you have to take ubers to most places and they are expensive and exposed to traffic. The homeless problem has grown so out of control that you are almost certain to be confronted with feces and heroin needles during your visit.
New York is also very high friction. The subway is swelteringly hot during the summer and has none of the efficiency or thoughtfulness of systems in other cities like Tokyo. Real estate is expensive, so your living situation is likely to have a bit of friction. Like San Francisco, everything is expensive. Getting to the airport can take a couple hours or $80, depending on whether you take the train or uber.
Not every problem in life requires overwhelming force applied to it, but I find that the best way to resolve issues that keep cropping up is to go totally overboard and crush them completely.
I used to always try to post blog posts in the beginning of the week. Then that soft deadline slid to the middle of the week. Recently I've had a few too many weeks where I was scrambling to get something posted over the weekend.
This is only really a problem because it annoys me, but in my world that's enough to do something drastic about it.
My solution isn't to reset the deadline or to block out time to write blog posts. Those would be incremental solutions and would likely erode over time. Instead I have decided to write an entire year's worth of posts in two weeks and to queue them up.
I've gone through a lot of cycles of expansion and consolidation. I make a ton of progress, but then I circle back and solidify it, making sure that the gains will stay with me and that I'm unencumbered enough to do the next thing.
Now I'm in the curious position of having reached all of the goals that actually matter to me. Sure it would be great to have more money or to visit more countries or have more adventures, but I'm self-aware enough to know that each of those areas will produce diminishing returns.
My ongoing campaigns like coaching, writing, and CruiseSheet don't require huge amounts of effort. I could certainly spend a lot more time on CruiseSheet, and I do plan on ramping up to some extent, but it doesn't seem clear that I can fruitfully fill up months with CruiseSheet work.
So I'm thinking about doing something totally new. Here are my two ideas and why I am considering. I may do one or both of them, something totally different, or nothing new at all. I often consider things with no pressure or prejudice, just to think about what it would be like.
Recently I've had a lot of friends going through hard times. Not terrible times like great illness or financial loss, but times of growth like going through big life changes or breaking up with a significant other who you know isn't the right one.
It's nice to be able to provide some comfort or advice for a friend going through these sorts of things. If you don't know how, or aren't sure that you're particularly great at it, here are some ideas on how to improve.
Listen to your friend. Most people have the need to be heard, and it tends to be very important. Most people know the answers to their problems, if there's even a question at stake at all, and they just want to be heard. In other words, one of the greatest skills needed for supporting your friends is just shutting up and letting them talk.
This conveys to them that they're important and that their concern is valid.
I've now been coaching many people one on one for over 2 years. In that time all of them have had major positive life changes and a huge portion have already achieved goals that they had set for much longer time horizons. In some ways each person is totally different, but I've noticed some very strong trends in what causes people to have success.
The first thing I always try to find is the person's real goal. People usually know what their top goals are, but sometimes it takes a little bit of refining to get to the core of what's going on.
But the most important thing about their goal is that they have to really want it. This sounds obvious, but sometimes people have goals that they think they should want rather than goals they actually want. Thinking about why a goal is important and why you really want it is an important part of the process. Writing down a goal isn't enough.
Once a good important goal is set, I design a habit or process which will all but ensure success if they follow it. In designing these habits, I've found that by far the most important factor is that it is easy enough that they will follow it consistently. As long as the habit is on the path towards the goal, there is no difficulty level that is too easy. Start very easy and focus on perfect consistency, increasing difficulty only once perfect consistency is reached. As soon as someone is consistently following the habit or process for a couple months, I know that they are probably going to reach their goal faster than they think.
Since a few years ago, when I realized that I vastly preferred traveling with my friends versus traveling solo, almost all of my travel has been with other people. I'm fortunate to have a group of friends who are really good travelers, but that's not always the case.
If you aren't sure whether you're good at traveling with others or not, here are some guidelines that you can use.
Make sure that your goals for the trip are the same as the other person's. One of the times I felt I wasn't a great travel companion was when I went to Morocco with a good friend of mine. He had a normal job and was taking vacation, but for me it was part of my normal life. So when we got there he wanted to go out and do fun things, but I wanted to spend half the time working.
I felt bad because I knew I was putting a damper on his trip. We had a good trip overall, but in retrospect I think I should have set expecations before agreeing to the trip or cleared my schedule.
I have to admit, I was a little bit nervous about hosting the Budapest event, moreso even than when I hosted the very first event in Vegas. Vegas events are simple by design. I rent a really nice space, bring together some great people who are motivated to make their lives even better, and we work. A trip in a foreign city that involves walking, training, and even boating across the city has a lot more moving parts with a lot more things that can go wrong.
Luckily everything went off with out a hitch (ok, maybe we did lose a wheel briefly on a pedal-cart that we rented, but through the power of teamwork we fixed it with no tools).
First, I want to extend a huge public thank you to the seven people who came to Budapest 1. It's a long way to travel for an event with a very vague description and promise, but everyone showed up ready and participated fully. Like the other events I've done, our group spanned a large age range and scope of professions and life-situations, but each person was a genuinely good human being who was authentic, open to the process, and contributed to a group that was greater than the sum of its parts.
We went to my favorite tea place twice, went to four of my favorite restaurants, saw some of my very favorite sights, went to two bath houses, and failed to find the elusive bat-house at the zoo. During tea, meals, and even in the baths I worked one-on-one with people to help them figure out how to excel at the next phases of their lives.
In the year before I met the woman who is now my wife, I was dating with purpose. I didn't necessarily aim to find a wife, but I was pretty intentional about what I was doing. And since I ended up finding an amazing woman and marrying her, I figured I'd share what I learned from it to help men and women looking for something similar.
The biggest mistake I made by far was traveling so much. I wouldn't do it any differently, but huge gaps between the first few dates torpedoed a lot of relationships that may have otherwise worked. In fact, if it weren't for my friend Todd pushing me to fly to visit, I probably wouldn't be married. ("You never like a girl this much. You are an idiot if you don't see her before your next trip")
Despite your best efforts, a lot of it will come down to random chance. My wife told me that she only swiped right on me because I mentioned cruises in my profile and she figured we'd have something to talk about since she liked cruising too. There was another girl I was dating earlier with whom it may have worked out if her ex-boyfriend didn't show up in her life between our first few dates. You just never know.
That said, the key is just maximizing surface area. Figure out what it is you want and spend as much time as possible with potential partners. That also means spending as little time as possible with those who don't fit. One thing I think I did really well was stop seeing girls once incompatibilities surfaced, even if it was going really well.
I used to be neutral, or maybe slightly negative on museums. There was something pleasant about being in them, but I didn't really know what I was supposed to do there, and always felt like I was doing it wrong.
And it turned out I was doing them wrong. I was introduced to a guy who is now one of my close friends, Nick Gray, who hosted guided tours of the Met. I actually delayed meeting him for a while, because a tour of the museum sounded very boring to me.
When I did, though, I saw the museum through a different lens. It didn't matter what I was supposed to do at a museum. It was a public resource that I could use in any way I wanted. Nick's Museum Hack tours were irreverent and fun, and focused on the less famous pieces of art in the museum, but gave a lot more context on them.
Now I have my own way to enjoy museums, which is heavily influenced from what I've learned through Nick (I thought it was exactly the same, but now I find that when we go to museums we do it differently).