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68 unsolicited tips

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This is a translation of the most recent post by Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired magazine, writer, photographer, and futurologist.


Today is my birthday. I’m 68. I want to pull up a rocking chair and hand out advice to the youngsters. Here are 68 unsolicited tips I offer you all as a birthday gift.

  • ……………………. Learn to learn from those with whom you disagree, or even those who annoy you. Is there no truth to their beliefs?
  • Enthusiasm is equivalent to 25 IQ points.
  • Always demand a deadline. A deadline gets rid of the superfluous and mediocre. It stops you from trying to achieve the perfect, so you have to do the unusual. Unusual is better.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask a question that might sound stupid, because 99% of the time everyone else is thinking the same question, but is too embarrassed to ask it.
  • Being able to listen well is a superpower. As you listen to someone you love, keep asking "What’s next?" until the next thing is over.
  • A worthy goal for the year is to learn so much about the subject that you can’t believe how ignorant you were the year before.
  • Gratitude will reveal all other virtues and one can excel in it.
  • Treating someone to lunch is so easy and yet always effective. It’s good with long-time friends and great for making new ones.
  • Don’t trust all-purpose glue.
  • Regular reading to your children will bring you closer together and stimulate their imagination.
  • Never use a credit card for credit. The only acceptable type of credit or debt is debt to buy something whose market value is likely to increase, like a house. The market value of most things decreases or disappears at the time of purchase. Don’t be in debt for something that is decreasing in value.
  • Professionals are amateurs who know how to recover from mistakes beautifully.
  • Extraordinary statements require extraordinary evidence.
  • Don’t be the smartest person in the room. Talk to smarter people and learn from them. Better yet, find smart people to mind you.
  • The rule of three for conversation: to get to the real reason, ask the person to go further. And then one more time, and one more time. The third time, the answer is close to the truth.
  • Don’t be the best. Be the only ones.
  • Everyone is shy. Other people wait for you to introduce yourself to them, for you to send them an e-mail, for you to ask them out. Go for it.
  • Don’t take rejections personally. Consider that, like you, they are busy, busy, distracted. Try again later. The second try works amazingly often.
  • The point of habit is that you don’t spend any more energy making a decision. You just do it. Good habits can range from telling the truth to flossing.
  • Promptness is a mark of respect.
  • While you are young, spend six months to a year living as poorly as possible, having as little as possible, eating beans and rice in a tiny room or tent to get a feel for the "worst" life you can have. Then every time you have to risk something in the future, you won’t fear the worst.
  • Believe me : there is no "them".
  • The more interested you are in others, the more interesting you are to them. To be interesting, be interested.
  • Optimize your generosity. No one on his deathbed has ever regretted giving too much.
  • To do something well, just do it. To make something excellent, just redo it, redo it and redo it. The secret of making beautiful is in redoing.
  • The golden rule never fails. It is the foundation of all other virtues.
  • If you are looking for something at home and finally find it, then don’t put it where you found it. Put it where you looked first.
  • Saving money and investing money are good habits. Regularly investing small amounts over decades is one path to wealth.
  • Making mistakes is human. Admitting mistakes is divine. Nothing elevates a person higher than quickly admitting and accepting personal responsibility for mistakes and then rightly correcting them. Having made a mistake, admit it. It’s amazing how effective such responsibility is.
  • Never get involved in a land war in Asia.
  • You can get hung up on serving your customers/audience/consumers, or you can get hung up on defeating your competitors. Both will work, but fixating on your customers will move you forward.
  • Apply. Keep applying. Someone successful said : 99% of success is simply because you apply.
  • Separate the processes of creating and improving. You can’t write and edit, or sculpt and polish, or make and analyze at the same time. If you do, the editor stops the creator. While you’re inventing, don’t choose. While sketching, don’t consider. While you’re writing the first draft, don’t evaluate. In the beginning, the mind of the creator must be free of judgment.
  • If you don’t stumble sometimes, you’re just drifting.
  • Perhaps the most illogical truth of the universe is that the more you give to others, the more you receive. Understanding this is the beginning of wisdom.
  • Friends are better than money. Almost anything money can do, friends can do better. In many ways, it is better to have a friend with a boat than to have a boat.
  • It’s true : it’s hard to deceive an honest man.
  • When something is lost, 95% of the time it’s hidden within arm’s reach of where it was last. Look around in that radius and you’ll find it.
  • You are what you do. Not what you say, not what you believe, not how you vote, but what you spend your time on.
  • If you lose or forget to bring a cable, adapter, or charger, contact your hotel. Most hotels have a drawer of cables, adapters, and chargers left behind by others, and there’s probably one you need, too. You can often keep one for yourself.
  • Hate is a curse that does not affect the hated. It only poisons the hater. Let go of resentment as if it were poison.
  • There is no limit to improvement. Talent is not evenly distributed, but there is no limit to improving what we are endowed with.
  • Be prepared : when any major project (house, movie, event, app) is 90% complete, it will take another 90% to complete the countless remaining details.
  • When you die, you take nothing but your reputation with you.
  • Before you are old, attend as many funerals as you can tolerate, and listen. No one talks about the successes of the deceased. The only thing people will remember is what kind of person you were while you were succeeding.
  • For every dollar you spend on buying something substantial, be prepared to spend a dollar to repair, maintain, or dispose of it for the rest of the life of the purchase.
  • Everything real begins with imagining what is possible. So imagination is the most powerful force in the universe, and a skill that can be perfected. It is the only skill in life for which it is useful to ignore what everyone else knows.
  • When crisis and trouble strike, don’t miss them. Without trouble there is no progress.
  • On vacation first, go to the farthest point of your itinerary, bypassing the cities. You’ll maximize the shock of the unfamiliarity of a remote place, and on the way back you’ll be glad of the city conveniences.
  • When you receive an invitation to do something in the future, ask yourself : would you accept that invitation if it were set for tomorrow? Not many promises will pass through such a filter.
  • Don’t write things in an email about someone that you wouldn’t feel comfortable telling them directly, because they’ll end up reading it.
  • If you desperately need a job, you are just another problem for the boss; if you can solve a lot of the boss’s problems, you will be hired. To get hired, think like your boss.
  • The art is in what you put down. (Footnote: leave out – is a polysemous expression that means as. omit and skip , and exclude and remove )
  • Acquiring things rarely gives deep satisfaction. But acquiring experiences does.
  • The rule of "seven" as applied to research : you can learn anything if you are willing to go through seven levels. If the first source you go to doesn’t know, ask him who you should ask next, and so on. If you are willing to get to the seventh source, you will almost always get an answer.
  • How to apologize : quickly, specifically, sincerely.
  • Never respond to a request or suggestion over the phone. Urgency is a disguise.
  • When someone is unkind, rude, full of hatred or anger toward you, imagine that they have an illness. This makes it easier to sympathize with them, which can soften the conflict.
  • Removing clutter makes room for genuine treasures.
  • You don’t really want to be famous. Read the biography of any famous person.
  • Experience is overrated. When hiring, hire for ability, and train for skill. The most amazing or great things are done by the people who do them first.
  • Vacation + disaster = adventure.
  • When buying tools, start by buying the cheapest ones you can find. The ones you use a lot, upgrade to better options. If any tool you end up using in your work, buy the best one you can afford.
  • Learn to take a 20-minute nap without embarrassment.
  • Following your hobbies is a recipe for paralysis when you don’t know what to be passionate about. For most young people, the best motto would be "master something; master anything." Once you have mastered one thing, you can move toward that which gives you more joy, and eventually discover your passion.
  • I am sure that 100 years from now much of what I consider to be true today will turn out to be wrong, maybe even shamefully wrong, and I am trying very hard to find what I am wrong about even today.
  • In the long run, the future is decided by optimists. To be optimistic, we don’t have to ignore all the problems we create; we just have to imagine how to improve our ability to solve problems.
  • The universe will orchestrate a conspiracy behind your back for you to succeed. If you accept this prooya , achieving success will be much easier.

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