#23 🇺🇸🇫🇷 Zigging, Zagging and Golden Nuggets

Airport lounge thoughts over bubbles as I wait for my flight to France

🇺🇸 Happy 4th of July to those of you in the US and happy normal Sunday to the rest of you.

I’m at the airport lounge in SF sipping on some bubbles while waiting for my flight to France. Carole flew there a week ago to spend time with her family before our 10-day road trip to the south of France. We’ll stop in Annecy, Lyon, Sainte-Maxime, Gorges du Verdon, and Luberon. We went to Annecy a few years ago and the charming town on a lake nestled into the French Alps was absolutely beautiful. The rest of the destinations on this tour will be new for me.

This trip is coming after a week of quality time with George, watching Euro 2020 games, and working on my 1000-piece puzzle while listening to audiobooks and podcasts. In other words, lots of “me time”. I ambitiously started the puzzle a few days ago and scrambled to finish it before the trip because I really didn’t want to come home to an unfinished puzzle. A couple late nights got the job done.

I’m ready for this vacation. It’s been hectic getting some big things over the finish line at work. My team had a massive win a month ago so the last few weeks have been a mix of celebrating and leveraging the momentum to set things up for when I’m back.

Overall, I’m entering the holiday feeling proud of my team and grateful for the group’s ability and willingness to cover for me while I’m offline. Nothing will break without me, which is exactly how I like to set things up. I configure my teams to always have some slack in the system as well as redundancies so that no single person feels like they can’t take time off. I believe it’s critical that people feel that it’s not only okay to take time off, but it’s even expected.

I’m happy to lead by example with my 2 week holiday. Who said leadership is easy?! 😜

I’ll repeat something here that I tell people at work all the time: take time off! I hope you’re all taking the time off that you need to stay excited and engaged about what you’re doing. Burning yourself out is the most damaging thing you can do to those around you. If you burn yourself out, you’ll eventually need to quit and you’ll most likely be awful to those around you. Either way, your team will be more screwed if you don’t take time off than if you do. If you like your teammates, do the best thing for them and take time off. Just do it.

Alright, on to some other things I’ve been thinking about…

Zigging and Zagging for Gold Nuggets

Optimists and pessimists occupy the exact same reality with diverging perspectives about how the future will play out. Optimists tend to assume things will go well. Pessimists believe things will generally not work out.

As a result of their outlook, optimists and pessimists have different ways of approaching new systems of ideas.

An optimist who stumbles upon a new system of ideas will look for what works. A pessimist encountering a new system of ideas will look for what breaks.

To evaluate new ideas in a balanced way, we need to use both optimism and pessimism. Optimism and pessimism are tools that allow us to filter away the dirt to end up with the ✨golden nugget.

A ✨golden nugget is a new idea that we can integrate into our belief system in a way that improves our ability to engage with the world in a productive way.

We assemble our philosophy in life one golden nugget at a time.

I’ve stumbled upon treasure troves of golden nuggets and have also experienced long droughts free of golden nuggets. For me, long periods without finding new golden nuggets are challenging because it feels like I’m stagnating.

Big life changes — e.g. moving to a new city, changing jobs, etc — allow us to audit our golden nugget set and upgrade our collection.

There’s no guarantee that big life changes will bring new golden nuggets but like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play.

Big life changes are risks that can pay off in major ways for personal growth.

A big life change is like a vaccine against stagnation; it won’t guarantee personal growth but it’ll dramatically reduce the odds of experiencing a sense of stagnation.

In hindsight, my life has been a series of big life changes, with lots of zigging and zagging. I haven’t allowed myself to stagnate. I zig in one direction while the golden nuggets are aplenty. Once the golden nuggets run dry on a certain path, I zag toward a new direction (aka big life change).

I don’t know what my life will be like in five years. But I‘ll continue to zig and zag my way there. And I’m lucky to have a great zigzag partner in Carole ❤️


  • I finished the last War God book in a historical fiction series about the Spanish conquest of Mexico written by one of my favorite authors and thinkers, Graham Hancock. It’s bloody, action-packed and infused with psychedelic and spiritual storyline catalysts.

  • I read the first book in the Foundation series and was honestly disappointed by the slow pace and fast-forward style episodic storytelling with a new set of characters each chapter, many years in the future after the former chapter. There are many more books in this series and I haven’t decided yet whether to keep going. If any of you are fans of the Foundation series, lmk why it’s worth sticking with it : )

  • I read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, which was quite interesting. While it’s a self-pronounced feminist manifesto of sorts, I still found it insightful and relevant.

  • I’m a couple hundred pages into the first book in the Mistborn saga by Brandon Sanderson. I loved Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series and a couple friends have told me they like Mistborn even more so I finally decided to check it out and I’m really digging it so far. Excellent fantasy with deep characters, intriguing magic, and a plot that advances one interesting scene at a time.


  • I binged the latest seasons of The Kominsky Method and Master of None on Netflix. Both were superb with strong writing and acting that made me laugh and cry.

  • I finally watched two Rob Reiner classics I’ve never seen before: When Harry Met Sally and The Princess Bride. Completely different genres of movie but each was excellent in its own way and neither seems to have aged at all. Highly recommend both.

  • Quentin Tarantino went on JRE podcast recently and any Tarantino fans will probably love the long-form interview with the filmmaking genius.


  • I just finished the audiobook of The Everything Store about Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s inception and the company’s growth. Lots of interesting stories in this one that help make sense of Amazon’s dominance.

  • I’m listening to The Immortality Key by Brian Muraresku, which outlines in fascinating detail a multi-year investigation into “the secret history of the religion with no name”. I’m loving it so far and Brian reads it himself which makes it even better.

  • Started listening to a classic, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie, which is already getting me to experience less worry one story at a time.

That’s all for now, see you soon!

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