5 miles a day

I recently challenged myself to run 5 miles every day for 30 days. This is not easy for me. I usually only run 5 miles when I’m with my running club. When I’m alone, I rarely run more than 3. Now I’m doing more than that, AND consecutively? So yeah, this challenge is a pretty scary thing. 

I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to do it. But I’m doing this for exactly that reason. I love taking on challenges that seem outside my reach. 

That, and also because I want to regain my sense of purpose when it comes to running. I once gave myself the challenge to run every day for at least one mile. I ended up with a 150 day streak. I miss having a purpose to my running, no matter how arbitrary.

As I’m writing this, I just got done with my 5th day. I actually feel great about my chances of succeeding. I feel like the only thing that can stop me is an injury.

Wish me luck. If you want to follow my journey, add me on Instagram or on Strava.

Update 8/1/19 : well, I completed the challenge. This gave me the confidence to register for a 50k race. This will be my first ultramarathon. Wish me luck, again.

My Battle With Honesty and Personal Gain

A few years ago I attempted to create an online business. It was a website called Smart Archery. In it, I reviewed crossbows. It made money through affiliate links.

I went through many challenges during this project. I had to learn how to make a website, then how to write, how to sell, how to SEO, and more. The biggest challenge for me, however, was the fact that I had to lie. I had to pretend I was an authority in a niche that I had no experience in.

I only chose this niche because, through my research, it seemed like a good one to enter — the products were expensive (which means high commissions) and the competition was low.

I saw so many people in the affiliate marketing space become very successful even though they had no previous knowledge or interest in their chosen niche, so I thought “why not me?”

At the time I was only thinking about that sweet, sweet passive income. I didn’t realize how much I would have to pretend, and subsequently, how much it would discourage me.

Every time I finished an article, I felt like my soul had died a bit. Yes, I did tons of research to make the review as accurate as possible. But the people that read about the products want to read from an authority, from someone who actually tried the product. They want social proof. And if they knew who had written it, if they knew the truth, they wouldn’t take it seriously. And rightly so.

Because every step took a lot out of me, I was never able to get out of the “valley of despair” that entrepreneurs speak of. Eventually I passed the website to someone who had more expertise and passion in the niche.

From then on, I decided that I want to honor my need to be honest. That’s why I decided to be an open book in my blog. I have this rule where, if I don’t feel comfortable disclosing something here, then I shouldn’t do it.

Although I may have done the wrong thing by pretending I’m someone I’m not, I’m extremely grateful for what I learned by doing the project. There’s the technical knowledge, but the biggest thing I learned is about myself: I don’t want to be part of anything in which I need to lie to either get ahead or keep things from falling apart.

Our Thoughts Are More Interesting Than They Think

The thoughts that go on inside your brain are complex and nuanced. So much so that they don’t belong in the real world. To take them out to the real world, you have to re-package them with limiting tools — i.e., language and your ability to wield it. This inevitably leaves out some of the meaning behind your original thought. And it’s often forgotten.

I believe everyone has interesting thoughts daily. Thoughts that are relatively unique. And perhaps helpful, if only they are able to capture them intact.

The problem is that the more you allow these elusive thoughts to slip by, the less you start to notice them. They become white noise.

The skill of capturing and articulating your thoughts has asymmetrical benefits. Both in your personal and professional life. Not to mention it makes you so much more interesting. It’s like there’s a superpower inside of you and it’s waiting to be ignited.

To ignite it, you have to make it a habit to write down your thoughts. Practice getting on paper what is in your mind. Over time you’ll get better and better at articulating it. Understand that it’ll never be an exact copy.

The authors and speakers you admire don’t have a special talent, they just had tons of practice doing this.


This idea was inspired while listening to this amazing speech by David Foster Wallace. His ability to articulate his thoughts is unparalleled.

Was moving to the U.S. worth it?

I recently got the chance to visit Mexico for the first time in 15 years. This is the place where I was born, and where I spent the first 10 years of my life. As you can imagine, I was very emotional during this trip. 

To get reacquainted with the places and people that used to be part of my life was such a special experience. So many thoughts and emotions (both negative and positive) finally resurfaced. It was overwhelming. Throughout all of this, there was one question on my mind, a question that has been bugging me ever since I set foot in America: was it worth it? Was moving to the US worth leaving behind everything I cherished at the time? 

That’s what I’d like to explore with this post.

I remember very clearly the day I left Mexico. I remember because I desperately didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to be far away from everything I cherished: my extended family whom I was very close with, my neighborhood which was filled with kids to play with, the Sunday gatherings with my dad’s side of the family, and more. 

That night when I arrived in Minnesota, I remember crying myself to sleep. And many nights after that. In those early days, I would have done anything to go back. 

But as time passed, I slowly became numb to that desire. I started to forget what Mexico meant to me. Call it a coping mechanism. I also grew accustomed to my new environment and culture. So much so that I eventually started saying “no” to the question, “would you like to go back to Mexico?” I guess I stopped valuing the things I used to value. My 10 year-old self would be very sad about this. And for a long time I felt a great amount of guilt for it. 

It’s clear that I’m not the same person I would have been if my parents never took me here. Whether that’s for better or for worse I honestly don’t know. If I stayed, would I still gain an interest in philosophy, or would I be less of a critical thinker? Would I be the shy person that I am today, or would I be more outgoing? Would I still believe in the importance of peaceful parenting, or would I have continued the tradition of threats and violence once I have kids? It’s hard to say whether these things that are core to who I am today would still be here. 

Then there’s the question of what kinds of opportunities and freedoms I would or wouldn’t have if I had stayed in Mexico. I think it is safe to say that in those terms I’m better off in America. However, I wouldn’t say it’s by that much. In fact, this visit opened my eyes to the fact that Mexico wasn’t the underdeveloped country I previously thought it was. I was actually surprised at how modern the cities were and how much flourishing is going on.

By the way, I highly recommend visiting Monterrey — the combination of skyscrapers and mountains make for such a beautiful city. I definitely wouldn’t mind living there. 

Sure, there may be more poverty in Mexico, and you do have to be more vigilant of thieves, but when I look at the lives that my cousins lead, it is honestly not that bad. In many cases it’s indistinguishable from life in America. As I got to know them, it’s clear that they have a great life ahead of them — one with plenty of opportunities, but more importantly, a great family that they love.

Before this trip I would have said that I was better off living in the US, but after seeing my cousins, and seeing how happy they are to be surrounded by their family, I’m not so sure anymore. If I had to answer the question right now, I’d say that losing the relationship I had with my family was not worth it. And then there’s the fact that I lost the opportunity to see certain family members again before they passed away, something I deeply regret.

I feel sad about the many things I missed out on as a result of my parent’s decision to move and stay in America. No doubt this has shaped me into someone that’s more reserved. But I am happy for the things I’ve learned and the values I hold as a result of this journey. I guess it’s bittersweet. It may not have been worth it in my opinion, but I guess all I can do is make the best of it so that it wasn’t all for nothing. 

The Podcast Wanderer

The Podcast Wanderer

On March I listened to 73 episodes from 45 different podcasts. Many of those shows were new to me, and there’s a good chance I won’t come back to many of them again. That’s not because those shows were bad — It’s simply because only one particular episode intrigued me, so I already got what I wanted from them.  

I like to think of myself as a “podcast wanderer.” This is a term I came up with to describe people who listen to standalone episodes from many different podcasts.

(I also considered “podcast nomad” or “nomad listener” but right now I like “wanderer” because of the song by Dion which describes the way I treat podcasts so well)

I’m much like Dion, but instead of being capricious towards women, it’s towards podcasts.

Where an episode comes from does not matter to me. What matters are the topics discussed or who the guests are. That’s why I’m not very loyal to any particular podcast.

I think sticking to a few shows increases the chances that I’ll listen to mediocre episodes. Or, if not mediocre, then episodes that I’m just not that interested in. So I jump from podcast to podcast to maximize my enjoyment.

Of course, that’s not the case with story-based shows which are meant to be fully consumed. I’m talking about the majority of podcasts that are standalone interviews.

I wonder how many people treat podcasts the way I do. Are you one of them?

Right now, there are many companies in the podcast industry, whether it’s an app or a site, that are focused on helping me discover new shows. However, not many are focused on helping me discover specific episodes!

I think there’s a missed opportunity there.

Edit: to try and fill this need in my own little way, I’ve decided to create a Twitter account that helps people find good episodes. It’s called The Podcast Wanderer. Follow me there if you like!

Surrounding yourself with successful people (through podcasts!)

Being around successful people is empowering. It causes you to expand your idea of how far you can reach. This is why I believe growing up in big cities — specifically places with a high concentration of successful people and an abundance of opportunities — can be a huge boost.

To not raise your children in that environment (if you have the means to do it comfortably) borders on negligence. But that’s a topic for another day.

I often hear the quote, “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” I couldn’t agree with it more.

I wasn’t around many successful people growing up. In fact, I was around people who were the opposite of successful. As a result, I had a hard time believing I was capable of much.

I’m barely waking up to my potential and it’s largely thanks to podcasts.

Through the medium I’ve been able to fill the hole that my immediate environment neglects. Thanks to podcasts, I’ve been in the room with hundreds (if not thousands) of highly successful people. This has expanded my idea of what I’m capable of.

Even if I never reach their level of success, I will still go further than I previously thought possible.

Podcasts are so awesome.

Don’t be a completist

How many chapters have gone unread because I didn’t want to take on the whole book?

How many days of exercise have I skipped because I didn’t want to drain myself completely?

How many blog posts have gone unwritten because I didn’t have a neat conclusion?

I bet if I wasn’t determined to have conventional standards from the start, I would learn and grow a lot faster.

My Favorite Podcasts of March 2019

My Favorite Podcasts of March 2019

I love podcasts. I often say they have educated me more than school ever did. The more time passes, the more this is true. The problem is that the more time passes, the more podcasts there are, and the more podcasts there are, the harder it is to choose what to listen to. That's why I started publicly documenting all the podcasts I listen to in the hope of helping people make more informed decisions. (see table above)

I wish everyone did the same. In an age where information is basically unlimited, we need more curators! Well as they say, be the change you want to see in the world.

I'm already documenting the podcasts I listen to, but I think I'm going to take it a step further and post about my favorite listens at the end of each month. Because why not make it easier for you?


On March, I listened to 72 episodes from 45 different podcasts. This added up to 63 hours worth. (Though I listen to a lot of them at 2x speed, or more)

Here are my 5 favorite episodes in no particular order:

Mike Solana: Problems inventing the future, Problem Sighted

Mike (@micsolana) is the vice president of Founders Fund, a venture capital firm founded by Peter Thiel. This was my first time hearing about Mike. Now I'm a fan, and not just because he's a libertarian. 

This episode showcases a view of the future from the perspective of a story teller.  And let me tell you, it looks awesome.

He argues that there's a disconnect between how technology is perceived and how great the possibilities are. He challenges the all too common, pessimistic view of our future. I found this refreshing.  

The part that stuck with me the most was Mike's argument that wealth grows. He brought up the fact that there are thousands of billionaires when, not too long ago, there was only one. (I just looked it up. There's 2,208!) And this has not resulted in us having less wealth. In fact, we have more.

Eric Weinstein: Revolutionary Ideas in Science, Math, and Society, Artificial Intelligence

Seemingly in response to the previous podcast, this conversation between Lex Fridman (@lexfridman) and Eric Weinstein (@EricRWeinstein) has a more pessimistic take on technology (particularly AI). Eric expresses a strong concern about AI. He argues that even if things seem to be going fine, the bad things are still there, only in the form of potential energy. That idea really grabbed me.

Despite the gloominess, I think this episode has best-of-the-year potential. It was full of interesting ideas and it was challenging. I think Lex and Eric make a great duo — I would love to see them together again. Maybe they should even start their own podcast!

This episode touches on way more topics than AI — it also covers capitalism, Kung Fu Panda, academics, 14 dimensional observerse (whatever the hell that is) and more. If you're looking for an intellectual rollercoaster, then this it. But first, I should warn you it can get pretty mind-bending. Basically, you must be this smart to ride 👉 160 IQ.

Daniel Kahneman: The Map of Misunderstanding, Making Sense With Sam Harris

This podcast is very much like the one above — it presents interesting after interesting ideas. Ideas that are so unique and yet so simple in retrospect (my favorite kind!). This is my first time ever hearing about Daniel Kahneman. How that's possible I do not know. 

In this episode I learned that some of the most celebrated studies are riddled with bias, and therefore not replicable. "The more surprising a result is the less likely it is correct."

I also learned that our intuition betrays us when making moral decisions. For example, showing a picture of a poor girl in need makes us give more than if we were shown a picture of the same girl and her brother. And the amount we give drops drastically when we are shown many more kids in need. This is a very interesting revelation, which I think explains why there is moral panic about (in my opinion) small things and indifference towards (imo) big things. 

This podcast is 2 hours long, so you can be sure to hear many more interesting ideas. 

Dave Gerhardt: Legendary Marketing Lightning Strike, Follow Your Different

This podcast introduced me to three big things which I'm now very interested in: Dave Gerhardt and David Cancel (my new favorite people to learn from), category design, and conversational marketing (aka chatbots).

This podcast gave me a new understanding on marketing: now that companies pretty much have the same technology, it's the relationship between you and your customers that makes you stand out.

Ever since hearing this episode, I've gone down a rabbit hole of chatbots and conversational marketing. At this point, I'm fully sold that this is the future of marketing and I'm excited to learn more. 

It's also worth mentioning that I really like the chemistry between Dave and the host, Christopher Lochhead

If you like this episode, you should listen to the one with David Cancel too.

Mike Solana: How Capitalism Will Get Us to Mars and Beyond, Reason Podcast

After listening to Solana for the first time on the Problems Sighted podcast, I knew I wanted to hear more. So I did. 

Even though it's a repeated guest, I feel the need to include this episode on the list because it includes the story of how he got to meet and work for Peter Thiel. It was a cool story of right place, right time. Of course, this is not to take away from his proactive past that got him there in the first place.

In this episode, I learned a bit about Thiel's peculiar personality. I loved it.

It also includes an awesome rant about capitalism vs socialism at the end. 

Because you get to know more about Mike as a person, I recommend you listen to this one before the other one.


So thats the best of the month according to me. What about you? Let me know. I really love getting recommendations. You can reach me through my Twitter or however else you see fit.

Why I left college

I dropped out of college for the same reason an atheist stops attending church: I refused to suspend my disbelief any longer. Specifically, I stopped blindly accepting the narrative that says you need college to have a great career.

During high school, I attended a school named IDEA. Boasting a 100% college acceptance rate, the only purpose of an IDEA public school was to prepare and get kids into college. They are like Catholic schools but, instead of worshipping God, we worshipped higher education. 

During my time there, my teachers and counselors enforced the idea that if I didn’t go to college, my chances of having a great career would drastically diminish. To question that assumption, or to entertain the idea that maybe not all kids are best served by a 4 year university, was blasphemy. They expected your full cooperation in their goal to get that 100% acceptance rate. Because nothing screams education like not being allowed to think and make decisions for yourself.

Back then, I accepted the doctrine — I believed that college would teach me the skills that employers value. That is, until I reached the promised land. 

College was not too different from high school. The classes were just a bit more challenging and I had more freedom. While those things were great, a major question still bugged me: how much of what I'm doing in class is connected to launching a great career? The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was taking it on faith that my academic work would translate to the real world. 

I saw the same doubt in other students too. But they just "knew" they needed that degree, so they followed the ritual.

I spent three years in college, yet I didn't feel any more employable than before. It wasn’t until I changed my major for the third time that I started to be honest with myself about the fact that school was not a good option for me and my goals. I had a strong need to feel that my line of study had a tangible use for something that I cared about. I wanted something more realistic and less ritualistic.

Though it was painful, I stopped attending college. Instead I decided to try my hand at creating an online business. It was a site where I reviewed hunting gear. Through this endeavor I learned lots of useful things, like how to create a website and how to write for an audience. 

The biggest thing I learned, however, was that I always had the ability to directly make things happen for myself. I never needed to wait for permission from a higher power to start creating awesome things that other people value. I believe this “permissionless mindset" is the most valuable thing a person can learn: it will create many more opportunities than a generic degree ever could. 

If you’re a high school student, I urge you to examine what it is you want out of your life, and then think critically about how to get there. It’s likely you will find that most of what you learn (and soon forget) from college won’t be needed. 

I know there are lots of job listings that say you need a degree, but more often than not you can bypass that. Because in reality, employers don’t care about what you can do in a classroom, they care about what you can do for them. Find out how to prove your worth. With the time and money you would have spent for college, I bet you’re smart enough to figure out how to get your foot in many more doors than a degree ever could.

Oh and if you don’t yet know what it is you want, I recommend reading Don’t Do Stuff You Hate. It’s a book I wish a had read back when I was in high school (although it didn’t exist yet).

Be unapologetic about your methods.

Some people argue about the superiority of old-fashion reading. They may have a point, since there are studies which conclude it helps you retain more information than listening.

Even if that’s true, I think it is wrong to look down on people who choose to listen rather than read. The reason why is because there’s something valuable about removing friction.

I once heard someone tell a story about a person asking his priest what translation of the bible he should get. The priest replied with, “the one that you’ll actually read.” In this exchange lies a very valuable lesson: choosing a path that you’ll stick with is better than choosing a "superior" option that you won’t stick with. Because something is infinitely better than nothing.

That might seem obvious, but I’m willing to bet we’ve all, at some point, missed out on personal progress just because we viewed the path with less friction as inferior, and yet failed to commit to the superior path. 

I started to listen to audiobooks around 2010. I did read the old-fashion way before (and still do sometimes), but once I switched, the amount of books I finished increased significantly. Without audiobooks, and the friction they removed, there are a lot of books I wouldn’t have consumed at all. 

Sometimes I consume books by listening to the narrator (or text-to-speech) AND reading along. I’ve found that this complete immersion helps me retain information better while still reducing the effort of reading myself. (Could this be more superior than just reading?)

Anyway, my point is that we should not stigmatize audiobooks.

Sometimes it's best to do what you find more appealing because it will be your best bet for personal progress. Don’t worry if it’s objectively worse in a vacuum. Be unapologetic about your methods.