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Los Angeles, CA
Chicago-based social entrepreneur; co-founder and executive director of Moneythink
Recent Activity
All posts from now on will be at Thanks for reading. I hope you like the new interface as much as I do. To kick things off over at the new page, I picked the "best of" posts I've written over the past couple years on this blog and posted them as the base material for the new blog. I will no longer be posting to this URL directly. Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2013 at GONDER
“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can't tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own - not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2013 at GONDER
“Life is an adventure of passion, risk, danger, laughter, beauty, love; a burning curiosity to go with the action to see what it is all about, to go search for a pattern of meaning, to burn one's bridges because you're never going to go back anyway, and to live to the end.” - Saul Alinsky Reminds me a bit of the Bukowski quote from January 5: Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2013 at GONDER
As the difficulty level in the game of life rises and my range of challenging experiences expands, I am learning to find more significance in literature, especially poetry. Here's one shared recently by a friend, which I found remarkable for its ability to both acknowledge the tragedy of war and honor the silver lining of "battle as opportunity." Italicized are my favorite lines. The Charge of the Light Brigade Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1. Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. "Forward, the Light Brigade! "Charge for the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2013 at GONDER
A few months ago, I discovered a wonderful quote which inspired some deep reflection throughout the fall: "Maturity is when all of your mirrors turn into windows." - Henry David Thoreau More recently, a couple of written pieces--"There's More to Life Than Being Happy" and a speech by John Gardner called "Personal Renewal"--have sparked new thinking on the topic. Some snippets from the latter... "There's a myth that learning is for young people. But as the proverb says, "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." The middle years are great, great learning years. Even the years... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2013 at GONDER
"Fate guides the willing, but drags the unwilling." - Cato Among those who value free will, there is sometimes a bit of apprehension around the notion of fate, as if it is something to deny, something to turn from. If control is what is sought, then denial is the wrong response. Fate is something to accept and welcome, for when we stop fighting, it seems to stop fighting, too, enabling what follows: a harmonious dance in which we can lead fate's present manifestation through our chosen responses to the circumstances each second deals us. Accepting the reality of the present... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2013 at GONDER
‎"If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery--isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you'll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2013 at GONDER
“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2013 at GONDER
“On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring." -MLK, From "A Time to Break Silence," at Riverside Church Continue reading
Posted Dec 30, 2012 at GONDER
"Because we think well of ourselves, but nonetheless never suppose ourselves capable of producing a painting like one of Raphael's or a dramatic scene like one of Shakespeare's, we convince ourselves that the capacity to do so is quite extraordinarily marvelous, a wholly uncommon accident, or if we are still religiously inclined, a mercy from on high. Thus our vanity, our self-love, promotes the cult of the genius: for only if we think of him as being very remote from us, as a miraculum, does he not aggrieve us... But, aside from these suggestions of our vanity, the activity of... Continue reading
Posted Dec 30, 2012 at GONDER
"Do not think that what is hard for you to master is humanly impossible; and if it is humanly possible, consider it to be within your reach." - Marcus Aurelius So often, we think when we're tackling something new or difficult that we're the first ones to try to do it. It's been done before. Not by the same person or at the same time or with the same inputs, maybe, but it's been done before in some analogous format. Nothing we do is revolutionary in the course of human events. On the one hand, knowing this is kind of... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2012 at GONDER
‎"Do not talk about giftedness, inborn talents! One can name great men of all kinds who were very little gifted. They acquired greatness, became geniuses through qualities which no one who knew what they were would boast of: they all possessed that seriousness of the efficient workman which first learns to construct the parts properly before it ventures to fashion a great whole; they allowed themselves time for it, because they took more pleasure in making the little, secondary things well than in the effect of a dazzling whole." -Nietzsche Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2012 at GONDER
I've been reading more poetry lately. I used to hate poetry, but I've discovered that if I listen to it with ambient music early in the morning, it resonates a lot more deeply than it otherwise would for me. This one was sent to me by a close friend and mentor recently, and it nearly brought me to my knees in awe. Crossroads by Joyce Sutphen The second half of my life will be black to the white rind of the old and fading moon. The second half of my life will be water over the cracked floor of these... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2012 at GONDER
“Wise men talk because they have some­thing to say; fools, because they have to say something.” – Plato Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2012 at GONDER
“You reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.” - Michelle Obama Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2012 at GONDER
The two modes of life-learning I've usually heard people refer to are: a) "learning from experience" (i.e. doing stuff, trial-and-error, screwing up, taking on risk, paying the consequences, internalizing the process, getting back up and trying again) and b) "learning from others' mistakes" (i.e. observing others' best-practices so as to copy and pitfalls so as to avoid/sidestep) I tend to start with "b" to calibrate myself to the terrain, then dive in with the lowest-risk version of "a" until I've decided that I want to go all-in. Part of this is because I was raised by wonderfully risk-averse parents who... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2012 at GONDER
"It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste." ~Henry Ford When the sky freezes over, so do the people beneath it. "It's too cold! I'm just going to sit inside and watch TV all day." It's when everyone else chooses to go into hibernation that warriors-in-training make unfettered progress. "Sweat during peacetime so as to not bleed during wartime" maintains its application in the mundane endeavors of modern quotidian working-life. The best work often gets done in solitude. What better opportunity to dive deep and produce remarkable art than when the sky... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2012 at GONDER
Naked. That's what haters, critics, skeptics, gossipers, and all the other self-proclaimed judges of character in this world are. They're naked. What more telling way to explicitly expose their weakness and insecurity than to make destructive judgments of others? Weakness and insecurity. That's what it is that's exposed when they say mean things. It's their inner suffering lashing out, swatting and clawing and hissing desperately into the blinding darkness, angry at a world that once before hated on them. When haters hate, it's not because they've rationally decided that they want to make the world a worse place. It's because... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2012 at GONDER
"Rest is paramount in life, but laziness lies at the fringes of relaxation. Be careful of ceding ground to the creeping sloth." Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2012 at GONDER
This is a pretty interesting video by psychologist Paul Ekman. What he speaks of is nothing new, just mindfulness. But he frames it in the sort of "hacking" language that appeals to the 4-hour-workweek generation(s). Thanks to Jason Rowley for the recommendation. Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2012 at GONDER
Posted Nov 4, 2012 at GONDER
Recently, I've had the privilege of speaking for college audiences to share what I learned during my undergraduate years. I don't think any of this stuff is super unique, but some audience members found it valuable, so I'm posting it here. The talks were mainly themed around risk and fear. Here are some of the bullets from my notes: Take notes. Quit early, quit often. When quitting groups that pride themselves on their insulated and exclusive identity (such as fraternities or sports teams), don't be surprised that haters' gon' hate. Churchill said it: if you don't have any enemies, you're... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2012 at GONDER
What if a demon were to creep after you one night, in your loneliest loneliness, and say, 'This life which you live must be lived by you once again and innumerable times more; and every pain and joy and thought and sigh must come again to you, all in the same sequence. The eternal hourglass will again and again be turned and you with it, dust of the dust!' Would you throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse that demon? Or would you answer, 'Never have I heard anything more divine'? - Nietzsche Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2012 at GONDER
If you read this blog, you probably know that I have a thing for an anime cartoon called Dragon Ball Z. There's a character in the series named Vegeta. He's an afflicted, frustrated, morally-confused, and dangerously ambitious anti-hero. Despite all his flaws and struggles, I find him to be one of the most inspiring characters out of any story I've ever followed. Turning Super Saiyan in the world of Dragon Ball Z is essentially the equivalent of "leveling up" ... it's when one discovers his or her inner strength and manifests it outwardly in the form of a giant glowing... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2012 at GONDER
Yesterday, my friends Sam and Cosmo were talking about their respective futures. First, Cosmo asked where Sam would be [in life] a year from now. Sam replied with a few solid guesses of where she'd be, what she'd be working on, and why. Then she asked Cosmo the same question. Cosmo's response? "I don't know [anything except that] I'll be where I need to be." This struck me as pretty powerful. It really resonated. Not just because of the resolve with which Cosmo said it, but also because it's almost the ultimate statement of confidence in the present, a decalaration... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2012 at GONDER