Introducing Free Book Fridays

Do you have any idea just how many fantastic books are available out there? How many are undiscovered or have long fallen into the public domain?

One of the little projects I want to undertake is saving fantastic books from obscurity by putting them in front of more and more people. To do this, I’ve started with my email list (sign up above). Every Friday, I send my email list a new free book as a PDF and Kindle document. 

Last week was How They Succeeded. This week is Thinking as a Science. A lot of these are going to be older, obscure books but some will be newer, lesser-known books.

Sign up above to join.

Introducing Free Book Fridays

The Google Memo Debacle Shows Us How Schools Harm Civil Society

I haven’t said much publicly about James Damore’s Google Memo because 1. other people more eloquent than myself have made all the points I would want to make; 2. those who know me well should be able to infer my opinion on the matter. After a small group discussion last night on the effects of schooling on society at large, though, I thought it could be important to throw in a point about how much of this damage can be traced back to K-12 education.

Numerous commentators on Twitter have pointed out how this debacle relates to the culture wars happening on college campuses. It’s easy to get caught up in the controversy and drama of college students shouting down speakers with whom they disagree. The videos of said drama are simultaneously entertaining and simply horrifying:

Like I said, horrifying and entertaining. It’s tempting to wave these incidents off as non-representative of college students today and as something that people grow out of. The reality is that these people eventually graduate college (I originally typed “grow up” here and felt dishonest in leaving that) and go get jobs in the real world. They get jobs at real companies that do real things and impact real people outside of the college bubble.

They get jobs at places like Google, Twitter, and Facebook, which are much more than simply tech companies. These companies are the primary way that people get information. These employees have sway over how these companies filter and present this information. They can decide whom to ban and keep off their platforms and which information to mark as “fake news.”

Again, these are all points others have made more eloquently elsewhere.

The thing I have found particularly disturbing is how otherwise reasonable people are taking it as fact that this Memo was “bigoted,” or “sexist” without reading the memo for themselves. Numerous outlets have reported on the memo without directly quoting it (CNN) or by selectively quoting it and removing references and citations (Gizmodo), which should make their reporting suspect. Here’s the full text of the Memo for those curious. Decide for yourself if it is bigoted, sexist, or anti-diversity. I personally don’t read that into it and find it a stretch to do so, but before you do so, actually go ahead and do the reading.

It’s easy to get caught up and angry at people for not going and reading the primary source document themselves. How can people be so quick to jump to conclusions? How can they just take it as fact that this is a truly evil document without actually at least skimming it?

I was reminded last night in a discussion that this kind of behavior should not be surprising at all given that most people (especially those opining on the memo) have been rewarded for anywhere from 12-17 years of their life for regurgitating authority’s interpretation of source material. Those who are high-achieving, quality students are rewarded even more for kowtowing to the expected group of interpretations for source documents.

In the attempt at getting people to learn an equal amount about “mathematics,” “literature,” “history,” “science,” and “social studies,” in our K-12 educational system, schools water down primary source documents into columns in a text book or a handout summarizing Shakespeare or Milton or Darwin or the Bible or any number of significant documents. Students aren’t expected to read original source documents and are only expected to read excerpts (themselves selected by a panel of self-appointed experts) or summaries. The student who does decide to actually delve into one of these documents is considered weirdly exceptional and likely has to do so at the cost of doing something else in school.

In a perverse attempt at forcing diversity of learning at the K-12 level, students never really get acquainted with the process of investigating documents for themselves and then making up their minds against an array of popular interpretations. Time is limited in the classroom because the factory-model of compulsory schooling requires that students follow a learning schedule and plan decided upon by educrats. Students are never given the opportunity to go deep in any subject matter. Choosing to do so must be done in their own time, which is increasingly owned by the school.

This is dangerous.

Raising a generation of children and young adults who are never expected to acquaint themselves with source material begets a generation of professionals and even parents who find it acceptable to never acquaint themselves with source material. Anybody who does decide to do so is immediately suspect of having an axe to grind and a point to prove.

This makes civil discourse even harder than it already is. One of the core assumptions of a civil discussion is that both parties want the best thing possible, but if one party is already suspect of trying to prove something in particular by doing the appropriate thing and investigating the truth for themselves, this makes it that truth has an uphill battle.

An appropriate education would reward independent investigation and explication of truth. At the very least, it would not make it incredibly difficult and costly to pursue truth. It would make investigation of the truth an expectation of any reasonable person and would flip this topsy-turvy model of Cliffsnotes-for-the-truth on its head. Yes, this comes at the cost of not spending time on other topics, but perhaps our entire current approach gets things wrong. 


The Google Memo Debacle Shows Us How Schools Harm Civil Society

“Buy a Brita Filter”

That was my response to somebody on Twitter reacting negatively to a post somebody had shared where I made a point about the economic and personal impact of 70 mining jobs. brita

Admittedly, the response was more an attempt at ironic humor but there’s a deeper point here that often gets left out in discussions on environmental trade-offs. I’ve written before about how I am an advocate of increased fossil fuel consumption (especially clean-burning natural gas) and that, given all of the trade-offs, fossil fuel use is better for human beings and probably better for any reasonable conception of “the environment” than relying on the wind or the sun (turns out, storing sun and wind is hard and hydrocarbons are good for storing energy. Go figure.).*

Continue reading ““Buy a Brita Filter””

“Buy a Brita Filter”

Doers 022 – Ali AlShamsi on the Formula for Success and How to Grow Wealthy

Ali AlShamsi is a financial trader, entrepreneur, and investor in the United Arab Emirates. Having worked with over 100 companies, Ali actively promotes the growth of new business with his experience and network. Ali and I discuss how to become successful (and objections to his formula), raising money from investors, adjusting your standards for success (both up and down) and his vision for the future of economics.

You can read his writing at and find him on Quora at

Doers 022 – Ali AlShamsi on the Formula for Success and How to Grow Wealthy

Navigating the Labyrinth of Life with Ambition Mapping

One of my deepest fears is waking up one day and living a life that I did not create. I’ve met far too many people — young and old — who realize they are living a life that they fell into rather than one they consciously created only too late to do anything about it. I’ve written about the dangers of lifestyle inflation and the golden (and bronze) handcuffs for this reason and worked with people from dropouts to Ivy League grads for whom this is a problem. It doesn’t need to come as waking up as a homeless person on the street or as an overworked executive, either. The ambitious, hard-working high achiever is particularly apt to fall into this trap as he often has more doors open to him and more choices available than the passive slouch. His labor and time is of higher value to all parties at the table so they expend more resources to get him to work for them and to convince him that its in his own best interest. Large established companies — from Apple to Goldman Sachs — pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into recruiting a handful of candidates from specific campuses, convincing them that their paths together are the candidates’ destinies.

Until they’re not.

Continue reading “Navigating the Labyrinth of Life with Ambition Mapping”

Navigating the Labyrinth of Life with Ambition Mapping

Doers 021 – Kylon Gienger on What Makes a Successful College Dropout

Kylon Gienger is a serial entrepreneur and host of The Successful Dropout Podcast (listen to my interview here). Kylon left college to become a youth pastor (we had a great conversation on theology before the recording was rolling…I cover it in the intro briefly) and eventually launched several businesses and has one exit under his belt. Kylon has since interviewed nearly 50 successful dropouts, looking to dissect what makes these people — rarely credential-praisers or those impressed with fancy titles — tick compared to other high-performing people.


Doers 021 – Kylon Gienger on What Makes a Successful College Dropout

Doers 018 – Ryan Smith & Zach Silverman on Launching a Cannabis Software Company, Hiring, and Fundraising Venture Capital

Zach Silverman and Ryan Smith are the cofounders of LeafLink, a software platform connecting cannabis dispensaries to vendors across the United States. They just raised $3MM to grow the company in new markets and expand their team. Both Zach and Ryan have multiple startups under their belts. They join me to discuss what it is like to be working in this…budding…new industry, what their clients are like (spoiler: mostly just businesspeople and people who want to do good through their work), misconceptions of working with this industry, and what it is like to raise money from institutional investors.

All episodes of Doers are produced by Lacey Peace.

Doers 018 – Ryan Smith & Zach Silverman on Launching a Cannabis Software Company, Hiring, and Fundraising Venture Capital

Doers 017 – How Josh Fischer Went from 7 Cold Calls to 5000 in a Year & How to Master Sales Calls and Your Fate

Joshua Fischer (from episode 015.5) joins me again to discuss how he became an intrepreneur and went from 7 cold calls in a year to being on track to make over 5000. We discuss the Sandler Sales System, tips and tricks for doing a call, the framework Josh uses, and how mastering cold calls will help you master your fate.

Books recommended:

Prospect the Sandler Way (Josh)
You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar (Zak)

All episodes of Doers are produced by Lacey Peace.

Doers 017 – How Josh Fischer Went from 7 Cold Calls to 5000 in a Year & How to Master Sales Calls and Your Fate

Announcing the 2018 Slayback Grant for Young Entrepreneurs


I’m a big believer in putting money where my mouth is and putting my skin in the game. It’s one thing to talk about the importance (and decline) of entrepreneurship among young people. It’s another thing to actually tangibly support entrepreneurship among young people. It’s one thing to talk about how it is economic opportunity (and the entrepreneurs behind it) that transforms communities and lifts people out of poverty — not central planners and bureaucrats. It’s another to actually tangibly support the creation of new economic opportunity (also why I think venture capital is noble).

So today I am putting my money where my mouth is.

I will be awarding $2,000 to young entrepreneurs in Spring 2018. The awards will be split into 1 $1,000 grant and 2 $500 grants and will be awarded to young people ages 16-22 who have viable businesses that have achieved at least proof-of-concept and with which they want to work full-time (they need not currently work full-time on the businesses). When possible, I will be available to offer connections, resources, and guidance to grantees.

The application can be found here(Applications submitted directly via email will not be considered!)

Announcing the 2018 Slayback Grant for Young Entrepreneurs

How to Break Your Facebook Consumption for Good

I use Facebook actively. I travel a lot, have moved 4+ times in the last three years, and work remotely for most of my clients. Facebook makes it easy for me to stay in touch with people all across the world while I split my time between different time zones.

But it also makes it easy for me to waste way too much time when I am not paying attention. I’ve caught myself far too many times looking down at my phone and scrolling through Facebook mindlessly when my time would be better spent thinking about how to solve serious problems or reading or listening to quality material. Even if I didn’t spend downtime doing something productive, there is a value in boredom. Boredom allows the mind to wander and through this wandering I often make connections or breakthroughs I wouldn’t otherwise had come across. Facebook occupies the mind and prevents this wandering, even if the occupation is low-level and only slowly seeps energy from your day. That, though, is the topic of a separate post. At the very least, the minutes wasted putzing around on Facebook add up to be valuable time never to be reclaimed.

I’d tried using tools like StayFocusd and removing the Facebook app from my phone — and those helped reduce the amount of time I spent on the platform but I would still find ways onto it through Safari or the browser on my phone when bored.

For Lent, I removed Facebook from my life and made it impossible for my wandering mind to waste time on the platform. I wanted to make it truly impossible, even if I really wanted to get back on, to get on until the end of Lent (I did make the mistake that I set this for the end of liturgical Lent and not Lenten fast).  I burnt the ships. Retreat was not possible.

Here’s how I did it:

1. I changed My backup Email Address

I created a new Gmail address and set that as my new backup email address for Facebook. you’ll see why in a minute.

2. I CHANGED MY Facebook Password to a random string

I used a random password generator to generate a random string of symbols, digits, and letters and set that as my Facebook password.

3. I CHANGED MY Email PASSWORD TO the same string

This made it that I couldn’t log into the email account and recover my password if I really wanted to get on Facebook.

So, at this point I have a random password and an email account with the same random password. I did not save the password anywhere and I did not write it down.

4. I Scheduled an email to myself in the future

Using, I scheduled an email to myself for the end of Lent (well, liturgical Lent, which was a mistake on my part). This way, I would get the password to log back into Facebook only at the end of the period for which I wanted to stay off the platform.

5. Wait.

This morning, I received this email:


I can now log in, change my recovery email address back, and use the platform as I wish.

I checked the platform this morning. I honestly do not see myself using it daily in the future — it’s not like I wasn’t busy before, but removing the downtime on Facebook made it easier for me to find new productive uses of my time (or more productive sources of leisure, like exercise or reading) when I wasn’t doing work. The biggest loss was not being able to participate in certain Facebook groups for communities I appreciate.

Overall, a productive experiment.

How to Break Your Facebook Consumption for Good

Doers 016 – Jacob Goodman on Buying a Company in College, Being “Unemployable,” and “Oh Sh*t” Moments

Jacob Goodman is the cofounder and CEO of Fresh Prints, a printing company that specializes in printing apparel and goods for groups like fraternities, college clubs, and social organizations. At 25 years old, he’s already bought and sold several companies and hired dozens of young people across the United States.

Jacob joins me to discuss a handful of entrepreneurial topics like what it was like to buy a company in college (and the relative value of college entrepreneurship programs), sell that company, buy another company, turn that company around, hire employees, and how to get ahead as a young person. We also discuss his biggest “Oh, sh*t” moments and the upside of being unemployable (hint: it makes you more likely to employ others).

Kudos to Justin Lafazan for the introduction to Jacob.

All episodes of Doers are produced by Lacey Peace. Today’s episode is late due to issues with Soundcloud yesterday.

Doers 016 – Jacob Goodman on Buying a Company in College, Being “Unemployable,” and “Oh Sh*t” Moments

Doers 015.5 – Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within Recap, with Joshua Fischer

This episode of Doers is a unique one. My friend Joshua Fischer joins me to give thoughts on Tony Robbins’ weekend seminar, Unleash the Power Within, in Los Angeles. We recorded this episode the morning of the fourth and final day. We used a new lapel mic to capture both of us speaking on the patio of our Airbnb.

Unleash the Power Within, LA 2017 was a 9000-person event at the Galen Center at USC. The event featured Anthony Robbins and Joseph McClendon III, both of Robbins Research International. The event opens with Robbins’ famous firewalking activity, during which every attendee storms across a bed of hot coals and doesn’t get burnt. The final day of the event (not covered here) focused on health and wellness, with an emphasis on breathing, posture, and nutrition.

You can learn more about UPW and other services from Robbins Research at

All episodes of Doers are produced by Lacey Peace.

Doers 015.5 – Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within Recap, with Joshua Fischer

Doers 015 – Gordon Miller on Angel Investing, Starting 10 Businesses, and Succeeding on Quora

Gordon Miller is the founder of G3 Systems, Inc. and the founder and general partner at G3 iVentures, LLC. At age 28, he founded G3 Systems and has built it into a multi-million dollar business with zero outside investment. He’s started 9 businesses since then and 8 of his businesses still operate today. Gordon joins Doers to discuss what he learned from starting a business relatively young, advice he has to aspiring entrepreneurs (hint: don’t quit your day job), and lessons learned from doing angel investing. We also discuss Quora, where Gordon has quickly build up a multi-million reader following, which he has leveraged into increased deal-flow for his investment firm, G3 iVentures. He openly solicits pitches at

All episodes of Doers are produced by Lacey Peace.

Doers 015 – Gordon Miller on Angel Investing, Starting 10 Businesses, and Succeeding on Quora

Doers 014 – Ed Latimore on Boxing, Rising from Nothing, Living Next to Crackheads, and Writing

Ed Latimore is a heavyweight boxer, writer, and physics student living in Pittsburgh, PA. He’s the author of several books, the most recent of which is Not Caring What Other People Think Is a Superpower

Ed joins me for a varied discussion covering everything from gaining a reputation through Twitter (where I first found him), joining a boxing gym at 22 and now being 13 and 1 in tournaments, rising from the projects in Pittsburgh’s infamous Hill District and lessons learned living next to crackheads and crack dealers, and the importance of becoming a better man.

You can follow Ed on twitter here: @edLatimore

You can find him on Instagram at @edwardlatimore

You can see his website here.

All episodes of Doers are produced by Lacey Peace. Kudos to Lacey for making this episode producible, there were some technical errors in recording due to low bandwidth.


Doers 014 – Ed Latimore on Boxing, Rising from Nothing, Living Next to Crackheads, and Writing

Doers 013 – Michael Gibson & Danielle Strachman on Launching a Venture Capital Fund and Young Founders

Michael Gibson is a philosopher who left academia to write about technology and Danielle Strachman is an educator who moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to help young people drop out of college. And now they run a venture capital fund. Makes sense, right?

Michael & Danielle are the co-founders and general partners at 1517 Fund, an early-stage venture capital fund that supports companies started by young founders. Their investments include,, and Forge, among others and they are backed by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. Before launching 1517 Fund, Michael and Danielle worked at the Thiel Foundation, where they were instrumental in the launching of the Thiel Fellowship, a two-year fellowship program which pays young people to pursue significant technological and creative ventures instead of sitting in a college classroom. The Thiel Fellowship has been called by Harvard President Larry Summers, “the single most misdirected bit of philanthropy in this decade,” a label Michael and Danielle wear with pride. Their fellows have gone on to found companies with a collective market cap of well over $1B.

In this short episode, we discuss what led Michael and Danielle to launch a venture capital fund (with particularly unorthodox backgrounds for venture capital), what they look for in their investments and advice they have for young people looking to pursue an idea today (whether you live in rural America or Silicon Valley).

Those interested in speaking with them can email They encourage pitches and ideas and would love to hear from you.

Also, 1517 Fund gets its name from the year Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church doors and started the Protestant reformation…and this episode was recorded on Ash Wednesday, the first day of the (traditionally) Catholic season of Lent. I did not realize this until we had finished recording but it is worth noting because I thought it was funny.

All episodes of Doers are produced by Lacey Peace.

Thumbnail image credit: Businessweek.

Doers 013 – Michael Gibson & Danielle Strachman on Launching a Venture Capital Fund and Young Founders

RELEASE — New Series: Deschool Yourself

Do you ever feel like school did more to you than just use your time? Do you ever feel that you’re chasing things you don’t actually desire? Do you ever feel like you’re just checking off the boxes of your career, family life, and spiritual life? Do you wonder what it would be like to have the curiosity and love of learning that a young child has?

I know I’ve wondered these things many times over.

That’s why we’re releasing the Deschool Yourself podcast series today (Netflix-style, so you can download them all right now). Recorded by Jeff Till and yours truly over the last several months, the Deschool Yourself podcast explores the history of school, its effects on your thinking, and how you can break free.

Interviews with Dr. Peter Gray (of Free to Learn fame), Thaddeus Russell (of A Renegade History of the United States acclaim), Brett Veinotte (host of the School Sucks Project Podcast), and TK Coleman (education director at Praxis) give you real, actionable steps you can take to free yourself from the constraints of school.

It’s easy to get cynical and bogged down in pessimism when discussing the effects of school on the young and developing mind, so we tried to end this podcast series with real, practical tips you can take to deschool yourself. We want to give you the cognitive and psychological tools to become a free, effective, and happy individual in love with learning more about the world.

On SoundCloud

Subscribe on iTunes

RELEASE — New Series: Deschool Yourself

Starting a Cult for Fun and Profit – Interview with Salem Marrero

This is the first of a series of conversations where we explore utopian and dystopian models of the future. Welcome to Slayback to the Future.

So, you want a highly devoted group of followers who will risk their careers, lives, and fortunes for you? You’d like to become fabulously wealthy, powerful, and feared? You want to fill the void that many suffer with in the age of interconnected connectionlessness?

You should start a cult!

This is a fascinating discussion with Salem Marrero, a good friend whose father was an inner-circle member of Adidam, a Buddhist-Marxist cult in California. Salem not only goes into detail of what his early childhood was like but also how the cult has affected his thinking into early adulthood, how he started to de-cultify his mind, and why people were attracted to Adidam.

We then take a step up higher and discuss what is and isn’t a cult, why people join cults, and if there are any redeeming qualities of cults. We also explore how easy it is to know you are in a cult from the inside and where to get started if one were interested in starting their own!

Some links given by Salem:

Notes on Skeptics of Adidam

Adida Up Close

Intro and outro audio ripped from Mind Control Made Easy.

Huge thanks to Lacey Peace for killer production work in this podcast.

Starting a Cult for Fun and Profit – Interview with Salem Marrero