Eleven gems on the net #1

I’m an avid reader of books, follower of dozens of blogs, consumer of hours of youtube videos.

I love being hit by waves of information on the topics I care or I’m curious about.

I don’t follow the news or the politics too much, topics where people tend to get very hot about. Well, I do love to talk about politics but in the highest form, asking myself and friends questions like: “how would you organize a society?“, “are nations the right-sized entities to face future challenges?” or “should we go to mars?” – yes, I see it as a political question 🙂  I do also like politics at the very local level, where pragmatism is more important than ideologies. I just don’t like to discuss about parties, VIPs, marketers, sloganists, actuality, candidates,…

So I spend a lot of time reading, studying and watching interesting and mentally challenging videos. Whatever stimulates my creativity, satisfies my curiosity, challenges me, makes me smarter or simply makes me laugh I add that to my list. I’ve shared some of these resources in a page on my blog. I’ve set up tools to keep myself up to date on new videos from my subscriptions (thanks, Youtube), new posts from the blogs I follow (thanks, Netvibes) and new books I should read (thanks, Goodreads).

[Fun Story: That’s the price to pay if you’re a Strategic Thinker, according to Gallup Strengthsfinder. I did the test an year ago in a leadership training (thanks, Hooli) and I discovered that four out of my top five strengths are in the strategic thinking category. This strengthsfinder is a very valuable tool I’m glad to have discovered and I recommend it to you if you don’t know what to do and you think you’re an impostor where you currently work. Anyway, here‘s the list of the 34 classified strengths, here‘s a clustering of them in 4 categories and here’s my top 5 strengths: Input, Learner, Futuristic, Analytical (all in Strategic Thinking cluster) and Woo (Influencing). I must admit I was skeptical but I can’t agree more with the conclusions the came out of the tool. I can’t share them here – they are too much Hooli related – but trust me: I got actionable items to put my strength at work both professionally and in my private life!]

What’s the point in this very long introduction? I want to start a section (actually rebrand the inspiration series) into an (a)periodical series on “what I found interesting on the internet“. The key requirements of something to appear in a post are:

  • It must be a recent discovery of mine: I’m not going to post links to something I have in my bookmarks.
    • Well, I may add related resources and use my bookmarks.
    • Well, I may add some old links if I recently stumbled upon it.
  • It should be Personal Finance related.
    • Well, I consider everything personal finance related, even mars exploration.
    • Well, I can allow a couple of non personal finance related links per post.
    • Well, I can also allow a couple of meaningful “quotes”. I do love quotes. I have a doc with collected quotes. 23 pages of them…
  • You got it: I’ll put whatever I want in these posts.

I don’t want to make the series “weekly” or “monthly” or “whateverly”. I want to have a constant size for each post. As soon as I have N links I’ll publish a post on the series. It may happen I publish a post per day (it means I found N links worth sharing in a day) or maybe I won’t publish for a month, in case I won’t find enough things worth sharing.

The chosen size is 11. Why? I don’t know. The world is filled by 10s and 12s. None cares about the poor Eleven.

Next problem: how to name the series? Random names that I tried:

  • Things worth sharing. Boring.
  • Seen on the internet. Turbo boring.
  • What made me smarter. Bleah.
  • Last week today. It doesn’t look original at all 🙂
  • Elheaven. Ouch, this really sucks!
  • Eleven links that made me smarter. Looong and boring.
  • Eleven gems on the net. Mmh, it’s not that bad. Let’w work on it.
  • Eleven links worth spreading. Plagiarist!
  • Eleven Inspirational Links. Meh.
  • Eleven worthful resources. Not bad…
  • The Elevens. Featuring Bill Cosby?
  • My latest eleven discoveries. Nah.
  • Eleven links found on the web. Produced by National Geographic?

Nope, I’m going nowhere. Today is not the day I name this series. Temporary name is: Eleven gems on the net. Enjoy!


1) The Oatmeal on happiness.

Simple. Beautiful. Clear. I love The Oatmeal comics but this one I had to read three times to let it circulate into my brain. It’s about happiness and the misconcept that one must be either happy or unhappy. We lack words and we’re so used with this dualism that we talk about happiness without knowing what it is. The same happens when we talk about love.

2) Waitbutwhy on marriages.

I told you I’m a strategic thinker. I’m a software engineer, I’m a learner, input driven, INTJ (not sure actually) et cetera. That’s why I love WBW blog and Tim’s very looong posts in general. I feel very inspired by him and I guess I got influenced by his writing style. Anyway, this post of his is about The Decision and how humans come up with that. With special attention to brain-driven people.

3) Trent Hamm’s Manifesto.

It’s no secret I love The Simple Dollar blog. In this post Trent lists his values in a kind of “10 commandments” tone, slightly less “thou shalt not“-y. My hard drives and cloud systems and paper notes are full of small Manifestos of mine. I love listing values, goals, todos, things I own, things I never did, things I care about… Now I can’t help myself but I need to write my own manifesto sooner or later. Items in his list I really loved reading are:

  • I will work toward a day, sooner rather than later, where I no longer have to work to earn an income, and I will achieve it by saving the excess of the fruits of my labor.
  • I will find variety in my life not through opening my wallet, but opening myself to the widest array of experiences that life provides for us without having to exchange money for it.
  • I will enjoy some of the pleasures of life irregularly so that they remain special and feel like a genuine treat, rather than enjoying those pleasures frequently and have them sink into part of the ordinary routine.
  • I will work to maintain and improve my mind every single day as well, as the freedom I desire is best expressed with a healthy mind.” (this is actually the best one!)

4) Financial Samurai on Brand and Blogging.

I like Sam’s blog even though I don’t always agree with him. This post is about building your own brand. It’s centered around blogging but the same rules apply for other fields as well. It’s aligned with the philosophy I found in the book Choose Yourself, by another virtual mentor of mine: James Altucher. What I liked the most in this post is the concept of “Value Proposition“: what’s your brand offering? Which value is your brand adding? By value he doesn’t necessarily mean economic value.

Here some related readings by the simple dollar (1, 2, 3)

5) Buy Nothing Project.

I found this project listed in a recent article on frugalwoods blog. I started years ago as a sharing economy enthusiast and I gradually become more and more disappointed about it. I thought the sharing economy would have killed all the middle men and made us richer, but it turns out to just substitute middle men with even stronger and monopolistic middle men. I supported couchsurfing but then airbnb came and now social lodging costs like hotels. I wanted carpooling and carsharing to be closest to actual operating costs (super cheap) but then uber came and now social driving costs like a taxi. I see this Buy Nothing Project as a last resort for the sharing economy and I will devote time and resources to it.

6) Derek Sivers: Why.

Derek Sivers is one of my virtual mentor. I carefully read all of his updates. Every post is a look at the world by another uncovered angle. This post is about focusing and motivation/purpose. Focusing on the goal with the intent to maximise your impact leads to the best strategy that, as he says, may be counterintuitive:

Like if you have a high paying job, but realize that charitable giving is what matters most to you, then the best strategy is not to quit your job and go hang mosquito nets in Africa, but actually to keep your job and make as much money as you can, while spending it on hiring hundreds of people in Africa to hang thousands of mosquito nets. (Unless your goal is more about looking charitable, instead of actually being charitable. Then admit that to yourself, too.)

As I said. Another angle, another point of view. Food for thought.

7) Medium: I got scammed by a silicon valley startup.

I was kidnapped by this very long post. I started reading and I went all the way to the end of it. Long story short: a girl accepted a contract with a company in silicon valley that simply never paid its employees till everything blew up with a fake wire transfer story. Penny (the storyteller) kept CEO, CTO and employee names (and company name) secret, but the story went so viral that everything is public now. Nothing related to my working situation or to the one of someone I know. But the story is a perfect post mortem that can teach you how to recognise bad smells when closing working deals. I had my scammy startup experience during my freelance years, I wish I had this article around at that time. Anyway, the other take away from the story is that behaving badly with one of your employee ruins your reputation, sometimes with devastating PR effects.

8) Goodbye Coworker’s Mail Generator.

In one of my recent deep procrastination session (clicking on links on the internet instead of doing things) I stumbled upon this amazing website named The Cooper Review. I obviously started binge reading all the comics and it suddenly made it through the very selective process of being added to my feed reader. One of the posts who made my day was the one about how to send a goodbye mail to your coworker. In that article there’s a link to the mail generator. Working at Hooli I see a lot of these emails from coworkers who are leaving. I always thought that they look so similar. Now I wonder if they were using the generator!! For example they all end with “hey guys, let’s keep in touch! here’s my personal mail”, but then after 3 days none remembers not even the names of those who leave! This is both relieving and sad. Sad because as soon as you stop keeping up you disappear. Relieving because in the end, none cares about what you do or think or are. We overrate what others think about us. Anyway, here’s mine:

Fellow Brogrammers,

It’s with a gentle sad face that I must share with you my decision to leave. This was apparently a very difficult decision to make.

It’s hard to believe that Almost four years ago, I was the frontend engineer in team X… From that time, until when I was Backend engineer in team Y, and all the way to my current role as Senior Software engineer in team Z, I have grown so much. Thank you for teaching and inspiring me, and allowing me to do the same for you.

I am headed off to explore my next chapter enjoining the freedom brought by FU Money.

I’m excited about my future there while I continue to be excited about all the things you’ll continue to accomplish here (except for you Gavin Belson, you will never ever make the world a better place!)

If I could leave you all with just one thought, remember,

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” – Aristotle Onassise

If you ever want to get in touch, my contact info is below. This isn’t goodbye, our paths will cross again. Hopefully at farewell happy hour drinks at 5!


Email: mrrip(at)retireinprogress.com
Phone: 012 3456789
Twitter: misterrip
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/misterrip

9) Partial Financial Independence by The Simple Dollar.

I tend to skip TSD posts not written by Trent Hamm, because since after Trent sold his blog you can breathe the “need for money” on other writers’ articles. They usually talk about “best credit cards” or “best student loans”, i.e. referrals and affiliation programs. I can tell if an article is written by Trent by the title, so I clicked on this one sure it was written by my favourite personal finance writer. It was not and I kept reading. Ok, it’s not that deep (sorry Matt Becker) but it touched a topic that is in my mind these days:

While full financial independence is the ultimate goal, it’s not the only goal worth pursuing. Along the way you can attain partial financial independence, which is simply when you have the financial resources to make lifestyle decisions that make you happy, even when they’re not financially optimal.

Which is a nice way to say: if you have enough money to take some risk, well, you may take it already. No reason to be unhappy where you are till you reach FI. Food for thought.

As a plus, the author came up with a nice definition for Financial Independence:

I define financial independence like this:

The ability to make decisions based on what makes you happy instead of what makes you money.

It’s the point at which money stops being the limiting factor and starts enabling you to live the life you want.

Both simple and awesome!

10) James Altucher on Negotiation.

Wow. My knowledge on negotiation as always been limited to “let others speak before you do”. Now I have a dozen new techniques at hand, thanks to James and his friend Chris Voss, former lead hostage negotiator for the FBI. Some of them are intuitive, some are not. Some require acting skills and poker face, which I claim to have. And don’t underestimate the importance of negotiation. Negotiation will happen in your life more often than you think. For example, I ended up on the Silicon Valley scam article thanks to a Financial Samurai post on negotiation. Getting better at diplomacy and negotiations is what makes you stronger as you grow: what you can’t win anymore with a direct fight you can get by plain and simple diplomacy and negotiation.

11) [Special] David Foster Wallace: This is Water.

Yes, the eleventh will always be special. Either “from the past” or something plainly fun or just a quote. This time we have the amazing commencement speech given by Wallace at Kenyon College on May 21, 2005. Here’s the video:

Thanks to this video I discovered D.F. Wallace and like most of the people I recognise as being incredibly wise and aware of the supreme truth, he committed suicide. The video is a compressed version of everything a student should learn from school. The school year could have been easily ended after the speech. One of the top comments on youtube for the video is “I learned more in that 20 minute speech than i did in all of my public schooling…“. You need to listen to it, I can’t summarise it here. If you need help, here‘s the full transcript, here a nice collection of quotes from the speech, and here‘s the post by brave new life that made me fall in love with D.F. Wallace. Enjoy!


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