Scott’s Sunday Sentences, Issue 008

Sentences are my spiritual currency. 

Throughout my week, I’m constantly scouring and learning and reading and annotating from any number of newspapers, blogs, online publications, books, articles, songs, art pieces, podcasts, eavesdroppings, random conversations and other sources of inspiration.

Turns out, most of these sentences can be organized into about eleven different categories, aka, compartments of life that are meaningful to me. And since I enjoy being a signal tower of things that are interesting, I figured, why not share them on a regular basis?

In the spirit of “learning in public,” I’ve decided to publish a weekly digest of my top findings, along with their respective links or reference points. Sentence junkies of the world unite!

Creativity, Innovation & Art 

“In songwriting, the real trick is to be the spider that doesn’t get caught in its own web,” from an interview with Paul Weinfeld.

Culture, Humanity & Society 

“We live in an alpha world, one in which the strong and popular and smart and fast win,” from Rob Bell’s blog.

Identity, Self & Soul 

“Maturity is always a return to reality about yourself,” from Gentle Persuasion.

Lyrics, Poetry & Passages 

“A woman who died ten years ago, and she can’t stop talking about it,” from an interview with Amy Hempel in The Paris Review.

Meaning, Mystery & Being 

“Human beings are notoriously lousy at predicting what will make them happy,” from an article in Psychology Today.

Media, Technology & Design 

“Technology doesn’t just do things for us, it does things to us, changing not just what we do, but who we are,” from the brilliant Sherry Turkle.

Nature, Health Science 

“Science doesn’t want to take god away from people,” from a report on NPR.

People, Relationships & Love 

“Giving away little margins of time you never will miss will become riches to someone,” from my favorite book, Try Giving Yourself Away.

Psychology, Thinking & Feeling

“By the time poor children are three, researchers believe they have heard on average about thirty million fewer words than children the same age from better off families,” from an article about poverty’s vocabulary.

Success, Life & Career

“Don’t stop believing unless your dream is stupid,” from Kid President.

Work, Business Organizations

“I want to hire people with humble ambition,” from The Corner Office.

See you next week!

So Obsessed With Success, I Barely Smile

The other day I was reading a bodybuilding and fitness forum
when I stumbled acrosssomethingthat really disturbed me.

It wasn’t so much the picture of the guy with biceps the
size of trashcans, but the headline written above him:

I’m so obsessed with success,
I barely smile.

That broke my heart a little. Probably because I saw a part
of myself in that post. Not so much the muscles, but the mentality.


I live in a city where eight million centers of the universe
are scrambling around town, building their personal real estate, froggering
their way to the front of the line.

And because of that, I’ve actually discovered a newfound pleasure
in reeling it in a bit.

Turns out, there’s more to life than being successful. Turns
out, it’s amazing how sublime and quiet and simple and weightless life can feel
when you’re not running around making it all the time.

With nothing to fear, nothing to lose, nothing to hide and
nothing to prove, you’re finally free to focus on the present. You can just be
here, now. You can shake off the cobwebs of the past while the future, which you
once perpetually gripped with quiet panic and tight anxious hands, can
disafuckingppear from plain sight. And from that place of joyful lucidity, there’s
actually room to pursue life’s more existential achievements.

Satisfaction. Wholeness. Meaning

You’re building your existential
real estate, not just your biceps.


Keep Your Giving Away Machinery in Good Working Order

Selling is the side effect of giving.

Through reckless generosity and a promiscuous heart, you create
so much value in the
marketplace, that people have no choice but to pay you what you’re worth.

In short, you give yourself away.

This concept began as an anonymously written article in Forbes magazine nearly a hundred years
ago. And due to its popularity and volume of reprint requests, the piece was
later expanded into a book.
And it became an inspiration to millions.

Especially me. Especially in the world of business.

Truth is, sales was never my thing. I’m not aggressive, I’m not competitive, I’m
not motivated by money and I’m not a closer. I’m more of a touchy feely,
sensitive artist type who loves creating things and talking to strangers.

But what I lack in selling skills I make up in generosity.

Here’s my philosophy:

Giving yourself away is about being generous with your
tangible assets like time, talent, treasure, touch and ties. Are you building a monopoly by becoming a
center of connection for your customers?

Giving yourself away is about generous with your intangible
assets like thoughtfulness, understanding, appreciation, attention, tolerance, courage
and faith. Have you created a system for
filling your customers’ emotional tanks?

Giving yourself away is about practicing generosity as loving
impulses, not calculated actions. When
was the last time you talk yourself out of thoughtfulness?

Giving yourself away is about increasing the acceptability
of your gift by the multipliers of friendliness, immediacy and enthusiasm. Are you giving too long after the moment is

The good news is, the reservoir of giving is in the heart,
not the wallet.

And it never runs dry.

Are you keeping your giving away machinery in good working

The New Entrepreneur’s Dilemma

Now that anyone can turn their passion into a business,
anyone will.

And most of them won’t last.


Because we chase
passion at the cost of practicality, and we fool ourselves into the false
viability of our own ideas.

It’s the new entrepreneur’s dilemma.

We’re deciding what we want
our customers to want, instead of uncovering the actual material realities of
their every day lives.

We’re asking the marketplace to care that we’re fulfilling our
lifelong dream, instead of listening for the problems they’re asking us to


We’re falling in love with the archetype in our own head,
instead of finding something else that’s already in the customer’s head and
hanging something next to it.

We’re superimposing a prefabricated definition of who our
customers should be, instead of focusing on who we are and letting the marketplace fill in the blanks.

We’re trying to persuade people to pay for something they’re
not used to paying for, instead of calculating value based on when people think
our product is worth more than it costs.

We’re selling something that’s important to us and
disguising it as something that’s important to them, instead of asking
customers how we can make their lives run smoother.

The lower the barriers to entry, the higher the likelihood
of exit.

Attitude Affects Experience, Not Outcome

Optimism doesn’t increase your success.

What it does do is
increase your field of vision, which allows you to better notice the
opportunities that lead to success.

If you have a bad attitude about your job or your relationship
or your battle with depression, odds are, you won’t get better­­ because you won’t
do the necessary research on the resources that will make you better. You’ll
never find the solution that leads to the solution. These are the physical and
procedural manifestation of a bad attitude.

On the other hand, consider the show Law & Order.

Before they solve the big case, the detectives always track
down the guy who visited the prostitute who sold drugs to the guy who used to
share a prison cell with the former roomate of the killer.

Because each of those people is the solution that leads to
the solution.

They’re all part of the expanded field of vision.

It’s not about mind over matter, it’s about using your mind to
allow more things to matter so you can eventually bump into the best solution.  

Scott’s Sunday Sentences, Issue 007

Sentences are my spiritual currency. 

Throughout my week, I’m constantly scouring and learning and reading and annotating from any number of newspapers, blogs, online publications, books, articles, songs, art pieces, podcasts, eavesdroppings, random conversations and other sources of inspiration.

Turns out, most of these sentences can be organized into about eleven different categories, aka, compartments of life that are meaningful to me. And since I enjoy being a signal tower of things that are interesting, I figured, why not share them on a regular basis?

In the spirit of “learning in public,” I’ve decided to publish a weekly digest of my top findings, along with their respective links or reference points. Sentence junkies of the world unite!

Creativity, Innovation & Art 

“Make a character want something, that’s how you begin,” from Conversations With Kurt Vonnegut.

Culture, Humanity & Society 

“The diorama was the original virtual reality experience,” from the obituary of Fred Scherer.

Identity, Self & Soul 

“Our personal culture is constituted of our point of view, our style, our sense of humor, our unique gifts and drives, our voice and our artist’s sensibility,” from Steven Pressfield.

Lyrics, Poetry & Passages 

“Do we have to live in a world of fictions, falsehoods and figments?” from Why Facts Matter.

Meaning, Mystery & Being 

“Happiness is driven more by experience than things,” from designing happier cities.

Media, Technology & Design 

“You comment on things, and that substitutes for doing them,” from The Circle.

Nature, Health Science 

“Numbers are as close as we get to the handwriting of god,” from Pacific Rim.

People, Relationships & Love 

“He accomplished big things by making himself smaller than the moment,” from Thomas Friedman’s obituary of Mandela.

Psychology, Thinking & Feeling

“Responding to life in a manner that’s free from our conditioning,” from Psychology Today.

Success, Life & Career

“People without dirty hands are wrong, doing something makes you right,” from The Cult of Done.

Work, Business Organizations

“Any tension sense by anyone anywhere has some place to go to get rapidly and reliably processed into some kind of change,” from the genius of Holacracy.

See you next week!

Dabble In Magic Early And Often

If you
don’t believe in magic on some level, your art is going to suck.

when I say magic, I’m not referring to supernatural enthusiasms or ancient
mythologies or occult practices or bewildering godspeak, rather, those moments
of virtuosity and mystery and meaning, those acts of human moral beauty that
provoke the kindred and start a c
onversation with something much larger
than yourself.

short, awe.

what we mean when we say magic.

In the
landmark study on awe, researchers defined it as a moral, spiritual and
aesthetic emotion. Something has the power to transform people and reorient
their lives, goals and values in profound and permanent ways. Making awe one of
the fastest and most powerful methods of personal change and growth on the

that got me thinking.

How do
we create moments of awe for our customers? How does the street performer or the
landscaping company or the charity foundation embed the experience of awe into
their daily work?

to aforementioned research, awe is the intersection of two moments:

Wow and how.

meaning you’re in the presence of something sizable and powerful and
prestigious, and the sense of vastness overwhelms you. Holy crap. This is amazing. Where’s my camera?

meaning you can’t comprehend the mechanics behind that thing, and the desire to
accommodate that experience into your worldview overwhelms you. No effing way. How the hell did she do

how you create awe. Wow plus how.

not a proven formula. It’s not a predictable construct.

But if
you dabble in magic early and often, eventually, it’s going to stick.

That’s My Work, Not My Whole Self

Identity crisis is a group effort.

It may manifest in
the individual, but it’s magnified by
the collective.

When you realize you’re done doing that which defined you, giving
up a self that you have come to identify with and call our own, courageously leaving
behind a world you know so well––maybe the only world you’ve ever known and
felt home in––the first brand of devastation that manifests is existential.

Imagine an entrepreneur who retires or quits or sells her
company after ten years of painstaking work. It’s like she doesn’t know who she
is without the business. Nor does she know how to cope with reality in its
absence. She’s become a stranger to her own life.

But then comes the other brand of devastation.

When the identity crisis magnifies socially.

And it makes perfect sense.

Humans understand the self in the
context of other people. We regulate our emotions and understand the world
by connecting with others. And
we form our identities based on what we
hear ourselves say to people.

Back to our example of the entrepreneur. Without the company
attached to her anymore, other people don’t know to relate to her anymore. Because
for so many years, that was her chief form of identification. She made the
business the most important thing about her. People couldn’t tell where she
ended and the company began. And in their eyes, she was always going to be
nailed to that cross.

But that’s my work,
not my whole self
, she says to herself.


Since identity is a social construct, until she changes her
attitude about what her role in the world is, nobody will be able to tell the
difference between her work and her whole self.

Which means, she needs to reeducate people. To teach them how
to treat her and what to call her. And to live her life in a way that proclaims
to the world:

I am bigger than my past. I am surrendering
my case history. I am outgrowing yesterday’s definition of myself. I am
becoming more than what I am known for. I am living larger than my labels.

And with a ton of work, slowly, the new self
starts to emerge.

Help People Become What They Are

Leadership isn’t about having power over others.

It’s about giving people the freedom to be themselves.

Inviting them to discover pieces of themselves that were lost
or undernurtured, encouraging them to exploit talents they might never exercise
anywhere else, allowing them to show off the luminous parts of their identity
that exist beyond personality and inspiring them to becomewho they always were but had, until then, been afraid to embrace and to live out.

That’s the real power.

You say to people:

You no longer have to
fight to be who you want to be. I want to see you exactly as you always are.

Which makes people a bit uncomfortable at first.

And they think to themselves:

Should I sand off all
the interesting edges? Should I chase away my shadows? Should I remove my soul
before I come inside? Should I keep hidden my most secret compartments?

So you say back to them:

Never. Who you are is
not up for public comment. I am not here to prove you wrong in how you live your

How often you having those conversations with people?

Emerson once said that being yourself in a world
 is constantly trying to make you something else is the
greatest accomplishment, but I would argue that person who gives others the
freedom to be themselves, is equally as accomplished.

Be someone’s permission slip.

Help people become what they are.

Follow The Pen, Follow The Clock

I’m fascinated by the things in life that will never lie to

Dogs and children and nature and mirrors and dumbbells and
thermometers and bank accounts and human bodies, these are humanity’s greatest
reference points, the givers of perspective, the beacons of truth we can always
turn to.

Especially in moments of uncertainty.

When you’re sitting across the table from a person who can
potentially hire or buy or date or join or whatever verb will cause your
relationship to move to the desired level, you’re always on the lookout for
signals. Unconscious indicators of interest. Personal tells in the poker game
of human interaction.

And there are millions of varieties, but here are my two

If the person you’re talking to starts taking notes,
congratulations. It’s a silent compliment of the highest order. Taking notes is
proof of interest, attention and message reception. It shows that what you’re
saying is worth capturing, considering, saving and revisiting. And that the
other person might take action on something you said. After all, if you don’t write
it down, it never happened, right? Right?

If the person you’re
talking to checks the time and the conversation doesn’t end, congratulations. Time
is the most valuable asset people don’t own
. The story they tell
themselves about time is the overriding narrative of their day-to-day lives. And
if they weren’t interested in deepening the relationship, they would’ve ended the
meeting by now. After all, nobody has time for anything or anyone anymore,
right? Right?

Follow the pen, follow the clock.

They will never lie to you.

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