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Wow. Over six hundred people responded to my social skills survey and gave really thoughtful and in-depth answers. In retrospect, I really wish that I had done this survey before I had written the book. I think it would have made the outline a lot easier, and I wouldn't be making last-minute additions right before the book comes out.
But better late than never. I've skimmed all of the answers and ready many of them in detail. My main goal was to find patterns. I found some, but I was also struck by just how the diverse the set of goals, strengths, and weaknesses that we have is.
Just under 30% of people were satisfied or very satisfied with their social lives. The largest group was "Somewhat satisfied", followed closely by "Somewhat unsatisfied". That sounds about right to me. Social skills are difficult, but so important that we tend to push until we get right up to that "acceptable" level.
Before I jumped into social skills, sparked by my involvement in pickup, I think I would have answered either unsatisfied or somewhat unsatisfied, depending on how optimistic I was feeling. I was very satisfied with my friends, but not satisfied with myself. It felt like many people moved with a certain level of social ease that I couldn't understand, let alone replicate.
I woke up to a message from my friend Leo, asking if I'd heard the news about Scott. I assumed that it must be some amazing story or accomplishment, as that's the sort of thing you hear about Scott.
"He died. On Kilimanjaro."
The last I'd heard from Scott was ten days prior. Five of us have an accountability group, and in his update he was talking about his plans for the future, and his apprehension about being away from the computer for a week to climb mount Kilimanjaro.
I'm still stunned that he's gone. He was in extremely good health, was young, and wasn't a reckless risk-taker. Kilimanjaro is an extremely safe mountain, claiming just a few lives per year against the tens of thousands who climb.
As I've mentioned briefly before, I'm finishing up a book called Superhuman Social Skills. I think that this is going to be the best and most impactful book I've written, so I'm really trying to make it great. I'd like to ask for your help with that, and to give you the book for free as a thank you.
I've spent the last few days talking with three guys who are absolute experts on launching books: Noah Kagan, Charlie Hoehn, and Taylor Pearson. One thing they all stressed with me was that I should involve my readers from the beginning, and make sure that the book is tailored towards them. Ideally I would have done that before I started, but it's a bit too late for that.
I've put together a really short survey, just six questions. If you could take a few minute to answer them, it would mean a lot to me. Whether you have great social skills, poor social skills, or anywhere in the middle, your responses will help shape the book. I'll personally read every answer.
I'm also creating a Thunderclap campaign. It's a cool service that will synchronize one tweet/facebook post across everyone's accounts. So if you help me out by joining in, Thunderclap will post one message about my book to your twitter or facebook on launch day.
EDIT 9/28/15: Coinbase has now blocked me from doing this. Prior to offering it, a friend had emailed the CEO of Coinbase and got the go-ahead. A few weeks later a CSR told me that they were disabling referral bonuses for my account. I have paid out 100+ readers and will continue to pay out anyone I get a bonus for. I'm told that anyone who signed up before 9/28 will qualify. If you made your account before 9/28 and I did not pay you, please email me.
I hesitate posting stuff like this because I generally try to talk about stuff that might be useful long term, not just a quick short term boost. But I figure most readers could use a free $36.50, so it's probably worth posting. And I'll still post a real post later this week.
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The service fee is 1%, which means that you'll spend $101 to get $137.50. You can immediately cash back out to cash, or you can keep the bitcoin.
Once you buy the $100 and it arrives, send me an email and I'll send you back $37.50. Total time should be around five minutes to get some free money and support this blog.
Last night I played poker at Bellagio in Las Vegas. At one point I got pocket queens, a tremendously good hand. The hand played as expected until the last card. I got raised by a mediocre player which meant that I could be assured that he had made his hand. I had hundreds of dollars in the pot, but I folded. The money was spent, and chasing after it wouldn't do me any good.
When I got home, I cleaned up my place and packed for my trip the next morning. Several months earlier I had used some airline points to book a round trip flight to Hong Kong. I stayed up late to get myself tired for the flight, and went to sleep.
The next morning I woke up to my alarm. I packed up my laptop, brushed my teeth, got dressed, and began to dial the number for the taxi company to take me to the airport. I paused for a minute and then put down the phone.
Why was I going to Hong Kong? I like Hong Kong a lot, especially this one teahouse in the park. And I had twelve hours in Seoul, which I was looking forward to. But beyond that, there was no reason to go. I was going by myself and had nothing planned. On the other hand, I had tons to do in Las Vegas. I'd finally gotten a stove, so I could complete the kitchen remodel I was working on. I had lots of regular work to do, too.
A few times a year, a crazy flight deal appears. Sometimes they're crazy sales, and other times they're mistakes that the airline will be legally obligated to honor. Take, for example, the one that popped up right as I began to write this post: San Francisco or LA to Jakarta for $385.
The unique characteristic of these flights is that they do not last. Sometimes you have a full day to book them, but other times you have hours, or even minutes. Very often availability will disappear within an hour or so until it's all gone. So you can't plan these trips like normal trips-- you have to go about a different way.
The first step is to just book any dates that you think you might want to go. Find an opening on your calendar, and choose a trip duration. When in doubt, go shorter. You never know what your schedule is going to look like, but a 4 day trip is easier to accommodate than a 10 day.
Because you're not paying much money, you don't need to get as much out of the trip. I'm paying less than $400 to go to Jakarta, with a full day in Tokyo. It's not going to take seeing too many things for that to be worth it.
Due to poor planning, I had to walk a half mile or so to my motorcycle tonight before going home. Not a big deal, but it was after midnight, I was tired, and still had a few things to do. Helmet in hand, I started walking down the sidewalk towards the bike.
A thought struck me: this could be the last time I ever walk. Motorcycles are a lot safer than most people think, but people do get paralyzed on them sometimes.
You never see it coming. You wake up, you think about unimportant things like breakfast cereal, and that night you're in the hospital, wondering if you're going to walk again. That's how it happens in real life.
As I walked, I thought about how good it felt to be walking. It's pretty amazing just to have the human ability to balance on two legs. And then there's the breeze, the sound of my rubber soles scraping against the concrete, the illuminated houses passing by. It felt great to move my legs with such precision and ease.
I remarked, on the way in, that we were the only people that wanted to be there. Being a defendant must be a bad time, and I doubt being a plaintiff is much better. Jurors are getting a couple bucks a day to disrupt their lives, and it's just another day at work for everyone else. But we were there voluntarily, because we wanted to see what a trial was like.
Everyone at the courthouse was friendly, but it clearly wasn't a place meant for visitors. We walked around trying to find someone to give us information, and finally found a friendly janitor. He had no specific suggestions, but said that we ought to just open courtroom doors until we find a case we'd like to see.
We walked in in the middle of the case, and I immediately felt as though I was somewhere I shouldn't be. A trial seems like such a personal and intimate thing, deciding one's fate. We sat up front.
The witness being questioned was a sixty-year-old woman. Her questioning was slow because it went through a Chinese interpreter, was interrupted by her sobbing, and was hindered by her clear displeasure at being there. It turned out that although she was the victim of a purse-snatching, she wasn't the one prosecuting. It was the city's DA.
In case you don't know, there are a large number of people on the internet giving up shampoo. They claim that shampoo is the problem, stripping your hair of oils and then adding them back in. If you just give up shampoo, your hair will regulate itself, just like the hair on all other animals.
I decided to give it a try, mainly to get rid of one more small thing in my travel bag.
My hair revolted from the beginning. At first it just looked a little bit oily, but soon it became stiff. I could shape it in any way and it would stay there. It was tangled enough that I couldn't run my hands through it.
A week or two in, it was looking less oily, but still stiff. No one noticed or said anything, so I figured that even if it was a little bit weird, it was still working.
There's some fundamental human attraction to permanence. We want relationships to be permanent, achievements to hold their importance permanently, and for our possessions to be ours permanently. When we break up, when our accomplishments are forgotten, or when something is lost, stolen, or sold, we feel a loss.
Good reasons to value permanence exist. It gives us consistency upon which we can base other things. It limits our options, which is something I think we all like more than we admit.
When I was a nomad, my permanence was my computer. I could be at a family member's home or at a grungy third-world bus station, and much of my world was consistent. I communicated with my friends online, worked online, learned online, and researched online. That familiar space allowed me to vary other parts of my life wildly. I never felt homesick or lost because of it.
Before being a nomad, I took permanence for granted. Even if I could have guessed I wouldn't live in Austin forever, I knew that I'd be there a while and that it would always be waiting for me. But becoming a nomad threw into contrast just how valuable permanence is.