A Simple Truth about Existence

Ideally, life shouldn’t be an ongoing struggle to see the glass half-full, but rather an appreciation that there’s a glass at all.

-Andrew W.K.

Someday McDonald’s will sell its last hamburger.

Think about it.

One day somebody’s going to walk into a McDonald’s, place their order, pay for and receive their burger, and it will be the last time it ever happens.

As Tyler Durden tells us, “On a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.” It’s as true for companies as it is for individuals.

Even if McDonald’s manages to avoid mismanagement, economic upheaval and every other calamity that businesses face, scientists estimate that our sun will burn out in five billion years.

Sooner or later that last burger is going to be sold.

Everything that begins ends.


What I Live For

We are always getting ready to live but never living.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

With this blog post I invite you into my inner life. I share this partly to get many of my ideas and plans “out there”— to usher them more fully from the realm of thought into the realm of reality— to make them more real by sharing, and also to open up the possibility of connecting with others who are interested or who might want to more actively journey life’s path with me. Putting my thoughts into writing and also helps me to clarify my own thinking.

I know it’s true that “life is what happens while we’re busy making plans,” but this post represents my life’s path, at least as far as I can see it.

Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein tells us, “I don’t know why we are here, but I’m pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves.” Joseph Smith offers the perspective that, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence.” At first glance these thoughts might seem incompatible, but I happen to think that Wittgenstein and Smith are both right.

Life is not about indulging in base self-gratification. It is about discovering the true and lasting happiness that comes from tuning into the deep joy and satisfaction of discovering and living our life’s purpose, in harmony with natural rhythms and God’s will for our lives.

(Whenever I talk about God I realize that I’m far from an authority on the subject, and that I can’t say that I know much more about Him than that He exists. I know that He exists simply because I exist. The way I see it, SOMETHING created me, and that something, by definition is God. Beyond that, I don’t know much. In fact, whenever the subject of God comes up, I’m reminded of a piece of advice commonly attributed to André Gide, “Love those who seek the truth; beware of those who find it.”)

As I’ve thought about why I’m here and how I want to spend my life, the fact doesn’t escape me that I’m extraordinarily blessed. I sincerely desire to share my blessings with others. We all want to make a difference.

In a speech I heard earlier this year, author Arthur C. Brooks shared a story about Johann Sebastian Bach, the great Baroque composer, in which Bach was asked, “Why do you compose music?” Bach responded unhesitatingly, “For the glory of God and the enjoyment of man.”

That answer resonates powerfully with me. It’s a great and noble thought to labor in service to God and to use the strengths, gifts and talents we’ve been blessed with uplift and enrich our own lives and the lives of others.

I think often about my dad’s remarkable career and all the good that came of it. But I have an ongoing debate with myself as to whether or not his success was worth the price he paid for it. His success came at the cost of his health, his relationships, and his spirituality (at least in the middle part of his life, when he was so focused on building and running his business). I find this question impossible to answer and endlessly debatable.

Also, I often wonder if it’s possible to achieve a level of success comparable to my dad’s while balancing health, relationships, spirituality and personal pursuits. My intuition tells me that it is, but that’s the same part of me that says that it’s possible to hit 100 out of 100 three-pointers. Sure, it’s possible, but it’s not going to happen. And anyway, it’s impossible to know for sure, and it’s a trap to compare ourselves and our accomplishments to others.

Observing my dad’s life has led me to create daily and weekly routines that help me to ensure that I give proper attention to my health, relationships and spirituality.

I walk at least three miles every day. (The 1000 Mile Challenge makes this as fun as possible.) I eat more vegetables than apple fritters. I’m home in time to eat dinner with my family every night. I practice being present when I’m with my wife or kids. My wife and I have a weekly date night. I meditate every morning and every night before bed. I usually read something of a spiritual or devotional nature a few times a week.

I practice a half dozen other minor routines in the morning or at night that help me to stay focused and balanced. I suspect that my routines border on OCD, and I know that they’re not for everyone, but I’ll keep doing them as long as they keep working for me.

In addition to my daily and weekly routines, I have identified a number of things that I want to become or accomplish before I die. I’m aware of the risk pointed to in the Japanese proverb: “Chase two hares, catch neither.” But I ignore that, opting instead to follow Peter Diamandis’ notion that, “Multiple projects lead to multiple successes” and the advice to “Start many fires.”

I have a strong commitment to all of the following objectives, though I’m pursuing some of them with a lot more energy than others.

Miller Inspiration

It’s been a little over a year since I launched Miller Inspiration, a company that serves business leaders, entrepreneurs and the 10,000+ employees of the Larry H. Miller Group by providing lessons and services related to professional training and personal development. Miller Inspiration uses the lives and lessons of my parents, Larry H. and Gail Miller, as the starting point for its curriculum.

The company is still very much in the startup and development phase, but we’ve got a great team and we’re having fun and making progress.

Miller Inspiration’s four big initiatives are:

  • Beyond Driven, a book of 99 inspirational stories about Larry H. Miller. You can learn about this project here.
  • The Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Archive. The Archive is a formal effort to collect and organize my mom and dad’s photographs, correspondence and other personal papers and to preserve them for future generations. We are currently talking with BYU about housing the Archive.
  • Workshops. We are working to create workshops for business leaders and their employees based on some of the sports and entertainment properties within the Larry H. Miller Group— the Utah Jazz, the Salt Lake Bees, Miller Motorsports Park and Megaplex Theatres.

These workshops are still in the customer discovery and content development phase, but I intend them to combine stories, learning activities, practical wisdom and humor in a way that makes them both fun and valuable.

  • Universal Message. This is a presentation intended to create cultural cohesion among the employees of the LHM Group. This is no small feat given that the Group now does business in 46 states in a wide variety of industries. This presentation is intended to convey the Group’s history, mission, vision and values, along with powerful vision for its future in an emotionally engaging way.

It’s also designed to convey who the Miller family is, and what our family and company’s commitment is to continuing the service and philanthropy we provide in the communities where we conduct business.

Family Office

John D. Rockefeller established America’s first family office in 1882. The point of a family office is to help a family to preserve its financial, intellectual and human capital.

Only 30% of family businesses successfully transfer to the third generation or beyond. As a second-generation family member I feel a great responsibility to ensure that the lessons and sacrifices that my mom and dad made to establish our family business are preserved so that the business can continue in the future. James Hughes wrote a great book on family offices called Family Wealth.

I’ve devoted significant time over the last two years to learning about family offices and how one might benefit our family. I continue to help provide direction and definition to this effort.

Professional Coaching

My wife Dawn and I are working to become professional coaches. This entails more than 300 hours of study over a seven-month period. We are nearly a third of the way through the program and we’re enjoying it immensely. We both have a few clients already. You can learn about our course of study here.

Charitable Foundation

Dawn and I recently established our own charitable foundation. We’re still a ways from putting specific plans or substantial effort into this, but we know that we want to help address some of the world’s major concerns in the areas of environmental sustainability, education, health and sanitation, nutrition, clean water, human rights and the cause of freedom.

One of my dreams for this is to create “learning journeys” where we organize trips to places we’ve been able to visit such as the rain forest or villages in Africa. Seeing the needs and opportunities up close and first-hand can have a powerful impact on people.

Zero Emissions Driverless Car

I dream of a world where cars are emissions-free and drive themselves. The potential benefits of this technology for humanity are massive (as are the challenges to making it a reality). In the future, I want to dedicate more of my time and resources to making this technology a reality.


I’m writing a screenplay. This creative endeavor is a welcome contrast to the non-fiction, pragmatic writing and thinking that makes up much of my workdays. I’ve devoted roughly half of my evening writing sessions to this project, which explains why I’m no longer blogging every night.

It’s a Romeo and Juliet story set in a future where the world is on the edge of ecological collapse and the brink of war. I’ve received positive feedback on a synopsis I wrote for this story that I shared with an Academy Award-nominated producer. My writing partner and I continue to plug away at this project.


I want to write a book for my kids and posterity that will help them to understand who I was and what my life was like. This book will include a story I’ve been meaning to write for more than a decade about a mental breakdown / spiritual awakening I had while studying in Japan when I was 18.

During this episode I heard myself say— in Japanese— “From now on, I only want to hear God’s music.” I knew that came from somewhere deep inside of me, but I didn’t know what that meant for how to live. Here I am, eighteen years later, still trying to figure it out.

50 Mile Walk

I’m organizing a 50 mile walk from Provo to Salt Lake September 13th. It’s the kind of event where you learn a lot about yourself. This will be the seventh time I’ve walked 50 miles in 20 hours or less.

Every time I do this I ask just about everyone I know if they want to participate. Only a handful of people take me up on it, and even fewer people finish. If you have interest to give this a go let me know and I’ll be sure to add your name to my invite list.


I will climb Kilimanjaro. I will ride a motorcycle through the streets of Tokyo at three am.

I think often about Werner Erhard’s advice: “Decide on a project for which you are willing to take complete responsibility. Complete the project successfully. Relate this achievement to others as an inspiration for them. Your willingness to express yourself may be just the trigger needed by someone else to do something for themselves. From now on, don’t wait for something to happen to you. Actually take responsibility for making something happen. Keep at it until you make it a successful experience for everyone. You can make the difference.”

Every morning I endeavor to hold onto the mindfulness I achieve in my mediation, and to carry it with me through all of my day’s activities— the little actions I take in order to achieve the big objectives I just described. I get frustrated with myself when I catch myself hurrying, trying to do too many things at once, or not being loving, patient and considerate with someone. I wish to have the patience and grace of a holy man, but I haven’t achieved that yet. But I keep trying.

I remind myself of Yogananda’s words: “Live each present moment completely, and the future will take care of itself. Fully enjoy the wonder and beauty of each instant. Practice the presence of peace. The more you do that, the more you will the presence of that power in your life.” And, “Everything you do should be done with peace. That is the best medicine for your body, mind, and soul. It is the most wonderful way to live.”

I’ve written versions of this blog post many times over the last few months, but I haven’t shared any of those due to one fear or another. I’ve thought, “People will think I’m silly for having such [big] or [nebulous] or [whatever] dreams and goals,” or “I might not succeed in achieving one (or more) of those objectives and then I’ll look stupid” or something like that.

I know that talk is cheap and that ideas are a dime a dozen. I understand that when all is said and done, more is said than done. I get that. But I also know that our own fears— our own inner critic— kills a lot of dreams and ideas before they ever have a chance to take root in the physical world. And that’s a shame because Earl Nightingale was right, “Everything begins with an idea.”

So, now that I’ve let you inside my inner life, you’re welcome to stay as long as you’d like. Just please try not to step on the dreams.


The Law of Process

Respect the Law of Process. It never happens in a day.

A few years ago, back when I believed that life had neither meaning nor purpose, I saw no point in consciously creating or refining processes in any area of my life. Although I was aware that my father had achieved his incredible success in business through a combination of hard work and talent— amplified through solid and scalable processes— I personally never saw the point.

I have since come to believe that life has meaning, and I now feel that I have found my purpose. I have also become incredibly concerned with process. A large part of the reason for this relates to the book that I’m writing about my dad. I’m collecting 99 brief stories about him from those who had close relationships with him.

Remaining organized while writing this book is an incredible challenge. My intuition and common sense tell me that the quality and ultimate success of this book depends on me maintaining a high level of organization. And I know that this organization must be founded on a great process, and the discipline to stick to it.

My team at Miller Inspiration and I need to keep track of literally thousands of items, such as the names and contact info of hundreds of potential story contributors, which of these contributors we have already contacted, which ones have already contributed stories and which ones have committed to do so. Once we get stories, we need to track those that require editing, and which ones we’ve selected for final publication.

We also need to track a large number of minor (but highly important details) such as which contributors have not yet signed a letter of release allowing us to publish their stories, who we still need to send thank you cards to, and who we still owe copies of the book. There’s a lot to keep track of!

As I searched for ways to make this book-development process easier and better, I came across a blog post written by an entrepreneur named Marty Hu called A Startup’s Guide to Time Hacking. Although it’s written for early-stage entrepreneurs, it contains useful wisdom for just about anyone in business. Marty writes about creating great processes as a way to achieve a “Superlinear return on organizational productivity.” (Don’t worry— it’s not as MBA-ish as it sounds.)

Marty tells us, “As a founder or employee on behalf of a product business, it is your job to create systems and processes to improve the way in which things are done.” He encourages us to “Be process, not outcome oriented.” Focusing on the process over the outcome reminds me of Mother Teresa’s words: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”

Marty goes on to say, “Because processes repeat, you can improve them. You can complete them in less time and (through documentation and/or analytics) develop methods for making them yield better outcomes. When something happens over and over again, any incremental improvement is multiplied by each consecutive execution. This can equate to big long-term wins for your organization.”

Although I absolutely want to write an exceptional book (my outcome), I’m focusing on all the little things that are required to simply make the book a reality (the process), and doing each one as well as I can. This approach has not only given me the confidence that I can  complete this project, it has also helped me to see the reality of Henry Ford’s insight that “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”

It’s hard for me to believe that there was ever a time that I ignored process. Today I’m having a lot of fun working with my team at Miller Inspiration to implement and refine processes both as we write a book about my dad and in every area of our business. And I’m doing it with great love.


How Not to Hurry

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” -Lao Tzu

Post written by Leo Babauta. Republished with permission.

Consider the above quote from Lao Tzu, (perhaps mythical) father of Taoism: how can it be true?

Is it possible to never hurry, but to get everything done?

It seems contradictory to our modern world, where everything is a rush, where we try to cram as much into every minute of the day as possible, where if we are not busy, we feel unproductive and lazy.

In fact, often we compete by trying to show how busy we are. I have a thousand projects to do! Oh yeah? I have 10,000! The winner is the person who has the most insane schedule, who rushes from one thing to the next with the energy of a hummingbird, because obviously that means he’s the most successful and important.


Maybe not. Maybe we’re playing the wrong game — we’ve been conditioned to believe that busier is better, but actually the speed of doing is not as important as what we focus on doing.

Maybe we’re going at the wrong speed. Maybe if we are constantly rushing, we will miss out on life itself. Let’s let go of the obsession with speed, and instead slow down, stop rushing, and enjoy life.

And still get everything done.

Let’s look at how.

A Change of Mindset
The most important step is a realization that life is better when you move at a slower, more relaxed pace, instead of hurrying and rushing and trying to cram too much into every day. Instead, get the most out of every moment.

Is a book better if you speed read it, or if you take your time and get lost in it?

Is a song better if you skim through it, or if you take the time to really listen?

Is food better if you cram it down your throat, or if you savor every bite and really appreciate the flavor?

Is your work better if you’re trying to do 10 things at once, or if you really pour yourself into one important task?

Is your time spent with a friend or loved one better if you have a rushed meeting interrupted by your emails and text messages, or if you can relax and really focus on the person?

Life as a whole is better if you go slowly, and take the time to savor it, appreciate every moment. That’s the simplest reason to slow down.

And so, you’ll need to change your mindset (if you’ve been stuck in a rushed mindset until now). To do this, make the simple admission that life is better when savored, that work is better with focus. Then make the commitment to give that a try, to take some of the steps below.

But I Can’t Change!
There will be some among you who will admit that it would be nice to slow down, but you just can’t do it … your job won’t allow it, or you’ll lose income if you don’t do as many projects, or living in the city makes it too difficult to go slowly. It’s a nice ideal if you’re living on a tropical island, or out in the country, or if you have a job that allows control of your schedule … but it’s not realistic for your life.

I say bullshit.

Take responsibility for your life. If your job forces you to rush, take control of it. Make changes in what you do, in how you work. Work with your boss to make changes if necessary. And if really necessary, you can eventually change jobs. You are responsible for your life.

If you live in a city where everyone rushes, realize that you don’t have to be like everyone else. You can be different. You can walk instead of driving in rush hour traffic. You can have fewer meetings. You can work on fewer but more important things. You can be on your iPhone or Blackberry less, and be disconnected sometimes. Your environment doesn’t control your life — you do.

I’m not going to tell you how to take responsibility for your life, but once you make the decision, the how will become apparent over time.

Tips for a Slower-Paced Life
I can’t give you a step-by-step guide to moving slower, but here are some things to consider and perhaps adopt, if they work for your life. Some things might require you to change some major things, but they can be done over time.

  1. Do less. Cut back on your projects, on your task list, on how much you try to do each day. Focus not on quantity but quality. Pick 2-3 important things — or even just one important thing — and work on those first. Save smaller, routine tasks for later in the day, but give yourself time to focus. Read more.
  2. Have fewer meetings. Meetings are usually a big waste of time. And they eat into your day, forcing you to squeeze the things you really need to do into small windows, and making you rush. Try to have blocks of time with no interruptions, so you don’t have to rush from one meeting to another.
  3. Practice disconnecting. Have times when you turn off your devices and your email notifications and whatnot. Time with no phone calls, when you’re just creating, or when you’re just spending time with someone, or just reading a book, or just taking a walk, or just eating mindfully. You can even disconnect for (gasp!) an entire day, and you won’t be hurt. I promise.
  4. Give yourself time to get ready and get there. If you’re constantly rushing to appointments or other places you have to be, it’s because you don’t allot enough time in your schedule for preparing and for traveling. Pad your schedule to allow time for this stuff. If you think it only takes you 10 minutes to get ready for work or a date, perhaps give yourself 30-45 minutes so you don’t have to shave in a rush or put on makeup in the car. If you think you can get there in 10 minutes, perhaps give yourself 2-3 times that amount so you can go at a leisurely pace and maybe even get there early.
  5. Practice being comfortable with sitting, doing nothing. One thing I’ve noticed is that when people have to wait, they become impatient or uncomfortable. They want their mobile device or at least a magazine, because standing and waiting is either a waste of time or something they’re not used to doing without feeling self-conscious. Instead, try just sitting there, looking around, soaking in your surroundings. Try standing in line and just watching and listening to people around you. It takes practice, but after awhile, you’ll do it with a smile.
  6. Realize that if it doesn’t get done, that’s OK. There’s always tomorrow. And yes, I know that’s a frustrating attitude for some of you who don’t like laziness or procrastination or living without firm deadlines, but it’s also reality. The world likely won’t end if you don’t get that task done today. Your boss might get mad, but the company won’t collapse and the life will inevitably go on. And the things that need to get done will.
  7. Start to eliminate the unnecessary. When you do the important things with focus, without rush, there will be things that get pushed back, that don’t get done. And you need to ask yourself: how necessary are these things? What would happen if I stopped doing them? How can I eliminate them, delegate them, automate them?
  8. Practice mindfulness. Simply learn to live in the present, rather than thinking so much about the future or the past. When you eat, fully appreciate your food. When you’re with someone, be with them fully. When you’re walking, appreciate your surroundings, no matter where you are. Read this for more, and also try The Mindfulist.
  9. Slowly eliminate commitments. We’re overcommitted, which is why we’re rushing around so much. I don’t just mean with work — projects and meetings and the like. Parents have tons of things to do with and for their kids, and we overcommit our kids as well. Many of us have busy social lives, or civic commitments, or are coaching or playing on sports teams. We have classes and groups and hobbies. But in trying to cram so much into our lives, we’re actually deteriorating the quality of those lives. Slowly eliminate commitments — pick 4-5 essential ones, and realize that the rest, while nice or important, just don’t fit right now. Politely inform people, over time, that you don’t have time to stick to those commitments.

Try these things out. Life is better when unrushed. And given the fleeting nature of this life, why waste even a moment by rushing through it?

Remember the quote above: if nature can get everything done without rushing, so can you.


I’m Writing a Book about Larry H. Miller Called “Beyond Driven”

It’s impossible to know how many lives my dad, Larry H. Miller, positively impacted, but one thing’s for sure— it’s a big number. I recall that more than five thousand people attended his funeral or attended his viewing, and in the five years since he’s been gone I’ve had so many people share with me incredible stories of how he touched their lives.

I want to capture those stories in writing before they disappear forever. That’s why I’m inviting people who knew or interacted with my dad to share their stories in a new book I’m writing that I’m calling Beyond Driven.

The idea for the book is to collect ninety-nine brief stories about my dad that are inspirational, motivational or uplifting in nature. (Nine was his softball number and it’s always been special to our family. 99 felt like a good number of stories to shoot for.)

Tomorrow I’ll send an email announcing this project to employees of the Larry H. Miller Group inviting them to contribute their stories. This email will link to a video I will post on MillerInspiration.com explaining the project.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks compiling a master list of my dad’s friends from childhood to adulthood, softball teammates, Jazz players, business associates, long-term employees, close neighbors and church members, government officials and others who had significant relationships with him.

I have enjoyed reaching out to a number of these people with phone calls and letters, and it’s been great to receive hugely positive responses from people who are willing and eager to share their stories.

I’m proud of my team at Miller Inspiration for having created a simple website that allows contributors to learn about the project and to submit their stories online. (You can find the page here.) I’m also very excited to have already received our first two stories.

I’m working to attach a charity partner to the project. I have already received a positive response from one that would be very appropriate. I hope to be able to announce it soon.

My dad hated certain words. These include “boss,” “empire,” (when referring to the LHM Group) and “legacy.” The reality is, though, that my dad did establish a legacy. It’s my hope that this book will help to build on and preserve that legacy for future generations.

If you have questions about Beyond Driven or you’d like to contribute a story please let me know. I’d love to include your story in the book!


I’m Sorry If You Were Offended

“I’m sorry if you were offended.”

Has anyone ever offered you this sort of “apology”?

I recently read a blog post called “A Better Way to Say Sorry” that offers a powerful alternative to such lame apologies. It outlines a simple, four-step method of apologizing that’s simple enough for children to learn but effective enough to help us preserve and enhance our relationships throughout our lifetime. You can read it here.

I highly recommend that you do.

Of course, it might not be appropriate for every situation that calls for an apology. As an alternative, one commenter on the site where I found this blog writes, “I prefer ‘Congratulations, you got to be offended. I’m only too happy to have played into your preferred personal narrative today. No, really, don’t thank me, it’s nothing.’”

Don’t over think it. Just go with what works for you.


This Post Put My Life in Perspective


Comedian Demetri Martin tells a joke about going to the bookstore, picking up an autobiography, flipping to the “about the author” section on the back flap and reading that instead of the entire book. Brilliant!

It’s remarkable that every book, every seminar or lecture, every speech, every novel or film can be boiled down to a single sentence. Every life, every career can be distilled— reduced to its essence—in one line.

Wikipedia tells us that Hemingway was “An American author and journalist,” that Chaplin was “An English comic actor who rose to fame in the silent era,” and that Jesus was “The central figure of Christianity, whom most Christians hold to be the Son of God.”

Summarizing a life clearly, simply, and accurately can be challenging. Where do you begin and end?

It’s a cliché among writers that everybody has a book in them, though Christopher Hitchens tells us that in most cases that’s where it should stay.

Last year I searched for a coach who could help me write my book. I wanted someone who could help me find my writer’s voice and refine my message. I wanted to get clear about what exactly I have to say and how to most effectively say it.

One prospective coach asked me to prepare for our first meeting by writing what I would say if I could broadcast ten of my life’s lessons— as single-sentences— to every person on Earth. What have I learned that I would want to share with every person on the planet? What would you say?

Samuel Johnson wrote, “When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” Unfortunately, I have found, that without the real and immediate threat of death, getting perfect clarity is nigh impossible.

Wess Roberts, a friend and best-selling author, once told me that if I want to know if my writing is any good— if people like it and are willing to pay for it— that I should reduce my main ideas to a single page, take that page downtown, stop people on the sidewalk and try to get them to read what I’ve written. If they do, he said, I should then ask them to pay me whatever they thought it was worth. He said that doing that would teach me all the same lessons I’d need to earn a spot on the New York Times Bestsellers List someday.

In his book The Millionaire Messenger, Brendon Burchard presents a ten-step plan to help people turn their passions and life lessons into profitable businesses. The first step, he says, is to “Claim and Master Your Topic.” I got stuck on step one.

I’ve heard other authors and speakers say things like, “I teach people how to live mindfully in a modern age,” or “I make great people unstoppable,” or “I help people find and live their highest purpose.” But I had no idea how to cast myself.

In our marketing-driven, sound bite society it’s easy to get overlooked without such a single-sentence descriptor. Heck, it’s easy to get overlooked with one.

Perhaps writing my own obituary can help me find the clarity I’m seeking. Maybe I should start with just six words, à la Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. I found this book when I drafted my brother Roger’s obituary last August. It inspired, “Cars and Computers— Never Fast Enough.”

Once I get past the discomfort that comes with envisioning my own demise, the thought of writing my own obituary really appeals to me. It reminds me of something Steve Jobs once said,

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything— all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure— these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

And now I know it! Writing this post really has helped me put my life in perspective. For my six-word memoir I want, “Lived simply. Loved fully. Died happy.” 🙂

What about you?

PS – If you’ve made it this far I’ll tell you about the photo above. I’ve include it because it represents for me the simplicity of life before we have language. It was many years before I started worrying about things like “How should I brand myself?” “What do I want out of life?” and “Am I happy?” (By the way, it’s one of my theories that if you ask that last question, you’re not.) 

The photo on the left is me in 1977, and the photo on the right is my daughter Maya in 2014. Thanks to my wife Dawn for mashing these photos together. Good times being a baby, but I’ll never go back.



Impact the World by Sharing Your Time, Talents and Treasures


What would you do if you had an extra $25 million? If you’re like Pierre Lassonde, you’d perform a massive act of philanthropy and donate that money to an institution of higher education, like, say, the University of Utah. And this would probably be just one of the multimillion dollar gifts you’d given to colleges and universities across North America.

A native of Quebec, Pierre earned his MBA at the University of Utah in 1973 before going on to have a successful career in the mining industry.

I attended a luncheon at the University of Utah today where Pierre was honored and the Lassonde Studios— a new building he’s contributing to— was unveiled.  

The Lassonde Studios will be one of the most unique buildings on any campus in the United States and will combine living and working space for as many as 400 student entrepreneurs.

If you check out the building concept video you’ll see that this $45 million building, slated for completion in 2016, is as beautiful as it is innovative. It’s a fitting design to host a unique program that will bring together students from all backgrounds and interests, from humanities and arts to science and engineering, from medicine to business and more.

In addition to being impressed by this project, I was touched by Pierre’s comments today as he shared a few things he’s learned during his career.  

His first rule of business is to say “Thank you.” He advises that if you’re asked to give a speech, make sure it’s no longer than ten minutes.

He said that entrepreneurs often don’t actually start with a vision, they start with an idea. As they explore and move towards their idea it commonly becomes a vision, but the vision doesn’t usually come at the beginning.

He encouraged entrepreneurs to start small. Failure is likely, he said, and when you fail, you’re going to lose money. By starting small you’ll lose as little as possible, but you’ll learn a lot. Your success will grow as you go.

He said that all good things take five years.

For Pierre, what it all leads to is giving back. His three T’s of philanthropy are Time, Talents and Treasures, and it’s important to share all three. And we don’t have to wait until we’re successful before we can share our three T’s. That’s something we can do today.


How Words Can Make You Rich

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

It’s amazing to me that if I put a thought into words, write those words on piece of paper or type them into my computer and send them to you, if you read them, you are forever changed, at least in some small way.

I picture words as vessels, like little clay pots into which we can insert meaning and emotion. For some reason I think of these word-vessels as grey with tiny lids, shaped like almonds or footballs or genie lamps. We send these vessels to others who receive not only the meaning they contain, but also the energy we put into them.

It’s not uncommon that the recipient of the word-vessel adds his own meaning as well. It’s as though the recipient uses dirty or contaminated hands to remove the meaning and energy from the vessels we send. For this reason we can never really be certain that what we intended to send was what was truly received.

Our messages are also diminished by noise both literal and figurative. Communication’s simple process of “encode, transmit, decode” isn’t really all that simple after all.

And although the process of using words to communicate is fraught with challenges, it has its benefits as well. When we exchange words and ideas with others, we almost always become richer in the process. Unlike the transaction of goods— if I give you a dollar and you give me a dollar’s worth of goods, although we may both now have something of value that we didn’t have before— neither one of us is really any richer.

But if I give you an idea and you give me an idea, we’re both richer and neither one of us had to lose anything for this to happen. We’ve grown wealthier by sharing what we have. I’m convinced that that’s the way the universe always works, even if it’s not always evident.

What this means for communication is that the more love and generosity we can stuff into the word-vessels we send to others, the more we’ll receive in return, and the richer we will be. Just be sure to wash your hands.


A Monopoly Champion’s Winning Secrets

“It is in games that many men discover their paradise.” -Robert Lynd

Fifteen years ago I competed for the title of National Monopoly Champion. After I won Utah’s state Monopoly championship, Parker Brothers awarded me an all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas to compete in the national tournament, where I finished fifth overall.

I missed out on the final game by just one position. I’ll go to my grave feeling confident that I would have won that championship game.

Being the first player excluded from a seat at the championship table was hard. Watching the eventual champion use the same strategy I had used to beat him in the first round made it even harder.

I’ve learned a lot about life by playing Monopoly. During my teenage years I had stretches where I spent more hours playing Monopoly than I did sleeping. I’d play anyone who’d accept my challenge. When no one would, I’d compete against myself, playing all four (or sometimes eight) positions myself.

In Monopoly, every other game, and life in general, I hate losing even more than I love winning. And I can’t think of anything that I love more than winning.

I can’t stand the smacking, stinging quality that losing possesses. If there’s any upside whatsoever, it’s that losing can provide perfect clarity, deeply impress lessons, and impart an intense determination to perform better in the future.

Playing a game of Monopoly with me doesn’t resemble the games that most people played as children. It generally takes me only 45 minutes to finish a four-player game.  

Some people think that Monopoly is merely a game of luck, or a simple kid’s game. I like to invite those people to play a game with me.

Of course, any game that uses dice contains an element of luck. But there’s a lot more to winning Monopoly than rolling well. It helps to know the rules inside and out, and to use them fully to your advantage.

Many years ago I bought and studied a book called The Monopoly Companion. It provides statistical tables showing which color groups provide the best return on investment, which properties are landed on most often, and a host of other insights and tips that increase a player’s chances of winning when applied consistently.

Monopoly’s rules are a bit like tax laws— most of them aren’t all that complex, many of them are situational, and by the time they’re all layered on top of one another they can seem pretty overwhelming. Those who understand them well and bend them to their favor benefit far beyond those who don’t.

I quit being surprised a long time ago that most people don’t know or play by Monopoly’s rules. It’s one of my life’s minor joys to witness an opponent’s surprise when I invoke one of the more obscure rules at a pivotal point to tip a game irreversibly in my favor.  

One of my favorite rules to exploit is the housing shortage. It’s based on the fact that there are only 32 houses in the game, and once they’ve all been purchased no one can buy a hotel even if they have the money to do so. It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but used correctly it can be game-defining.  

Another strategy I employ is memorizing the sequence of the Chance and Community Chest cards. There are sixteen of each, and because they stay in the same order, if you pay attention once you’ve seen them all you’ll know which ones are coming up.

This allows me to make more intelligent trades, to build (or abstain from building) houses or hotels at the most strategic times, or to hold cash in reserve when I’m at high risk of landing on a card that would require a large cash outlay.

Also, I don’t put money in the “Free Parking” square. First, it’s not in the rules, and second, it makes absolutely no sense to infuse cash into the monetary system of a game whose point is to bankrupt your opponents.

One thing I absolutely believe increases my odds of winning is that I exert positive belief into my play. Every time I roll the dice, from the moment I pick them up, I look at what I want to roll and repeat that number in my mind, or often out loud. It’s amazing how often I roll what I want.

By contrast, I have a friend who loudly announces what he doesn’t want to roll— the Go to Jail square, the property that’s already been purchased, or the one with a hotel on it that will bankrupt him if he hits it. I swear that he lands exactly what he doesn’t want to more often than he avoids it. 

It reminds me of Henry Ford’s saying, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” It also makes me think of what race car drivers are taught about “target fixation,” or looking where you want to go rather than where you don’t want to go.

One of the things I love about Monopoly is that unlike life, it is a closed system with clear rules and knowable and (mostly) predictable outcomes. I also love that every loss can be easily wiped from memory with a subsequent victory.

From Monopoly I’ve learned that before you even sit down to play you’ve got to have absolute confidence that you’re going to win. I’ve learned that it’s important to take action— to ask for what you want and to be creative when dealmaking. I’ve learned that it’s important to pay attention— after all, opponents don’t owe you rent if they land on your property and you don’t ask for it.

Monopoly has taught me that it’s possible to overcome seemingly impossible adversity— I’ve won games where I was only able to purchase a single property the entire game. Of course, it helps to know the rules backwards and forwards and to use them to your advantage whenever possible. 

But as much or more as any of these lessons, I’ve learned that there’s immense power in focusing on and believing in the best possible outcome. I’m amazed at how often it becomes reality. 

I don’t know why it works, but I know that it does.

In my mind I’m undefeated still.

I invite you to share with me your favorite memories or aspects of Monopoly!