The Miracle of Feedback

[cs_content][cs_section parallax="false" separator_top_type="none" separator_top_height="50px" separator_top_angle_point="50" separator_bottom_type="none" separator_bottom_height="50px" separator_bottom_angle_point="50" style="margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;"][cs_row inner_container="true" marginless_columns="false" style="margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;"][cs_column fade="false" fade_animation="in" fade_animation_offset="45px" fade_duration="750" type="1/1" style="padding: 0px;"][cs_text][dropcap]I[/dropcap] wake up smiling this morning because it's a beautiful, sunny day. The window is open and it doesn't feel cold outside. I get out of bed and dodge a few walls on my way to the bathroom. Then I shower, get dressed, and head out the door to work.

I look both ways before crossing the street, then I jump into my Honda.

I drive to the main intersection and wait for cars to pass. A Chrysler mini-van drives by, and I get behind it. At the light, I sneak a peak at my phone, and see that I have plenty of time to get to work. As I'm waiting, I think about how all my decisions have been affected by one thing — feedback.

And it made me wonder. Life is an absolute marvel, but what would life be without the ability to try new things, experience the unknown, and somehow have the feeling that you're progressing in life?

And yet, how can one progress or gain mastery of something without the miracle of feedback?

Feedback brings life

Peter Senge wrote a book titled The 5th Discipline, including the follow-up The 5th Discipline Field Book. I read the opening chapter of the Field Book in the bookstore over 10 years ago, and it always stuck with me. Here's the excerpt:

Among the tribes of northern Natal in South Africa, the most common greeting, equivalent to “hello” in English, is the expression: Sawu bona.

It literally means, “I see you.”

If you are a member of the tribe, you might reply by saying Sikhoma, “I am here.”

The order of the exchange is important: until you see me, I do not exist. It’s as if when you see me, you bring me into existence.

This meaning, implicit in the language, is part of the spirit of ubuntu, a frame of mind prevalent among native people in Africa below the Sahara. The word ubuntu stems from the folk saying Umuntu ngumuntu nagabantu, which, from Zulu, literally translates as: “A person is a person because other people.”

If you grow up with this perspective, your identity is based upon the fact that you are seen — that people around you respect and acknowledge you as a person.

Not long ago, an internal consultant who had been raised in a rural village became visibly upset after a meeting where nothing much had seemed to happen. When a project where he had played a key part came up for discussion, his role was not mentioned or acknowledged.

Asked later why it bothered him so much, he said, “You don’t understand. When they spoke about the project, they did not say my name. They did not make me a person.”


When we acknowledge each other, we activate a feedback loop. When we don't acknowledge one another, does a part of us disappear?

A simple "hello" and a smile can work miracles in someone's life.

It's our way of saying, "Sawu bona. I see you. You exist."

That's the power of feedback. That's the power of responding to a stimulus, internal or external.

Remember, communication is the response you get.

If someone yells at you, what did YOU say to them?

If someone kisses you, what did YOU do to them?

If someone spews hate and discontent toward you, what role did you play?

Are you listening?

There are two types of feedback that we're all working with.

External and internal feedback.

[x_blockquote cite="Jimmy Dean" type="left"]"I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination."[/x_blockquote]

This quote speaks of external feedback.

You begin with a goal, make a move, sh*t happens, you make adjustments, and persevere towards the goal.

This kind of feedback comes from everywhere. Teachers give out grades in school. I smile at a woman and her look tells me whether she's interested or not. The crowd reaction I get depends on whether I make or miss my shot.

A wall tells me to go around it, objects on the floor ask me to step over them, and heat coming from the stove cautions me to keep a safe distance.

You're constantly receiving information (feedback) through your 5 senses, then you either correct course and keep moving forward or you give up on your goal entirely. Moving forward or quitting depends on two things: how difficult the next action step is AND how bad you want to accomplish that goal.

If you're highly skilled at dealing with feedback, you're likely to accomplish much more than the average person. Very likely.

If you're poorly skilled at receiving feedback, you're likely to settle for a life of mediocrity.

Internal feedback

[x_blockquote cite="Antoine de Saint-Exupéry" type="left"]"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."[/x_blockquote]

That's INTERNAL feedback. You know when you know something. You know when something is just right for you.

Internal feedback is instinct, intuition, or that gut feeling. It's accumulated experience. It's wisdom.

Sometimes the world seems right, but you know something is wrong. That business deal seems right, but the person behind it is all bad. Conversely, sometimes things look bleak, but something about this person feels right.

You're constantly getting signals and cues from your inner and outer worlds, but are you listening?

[x_blockquote cite="Paulo Coelho" type="left"]“We always know which is the best road to follow, but we follow only the road that we have become accustomed to.”[/x_blockquote]

Your intuition tells you to approach him, but you're afraid of rejection.

Your gut tells you to go for the job, and that it's right for you, but you decide against it, rationalizing your lack of experience will somehow work against you.

Feedback is coming at you from everywhere. Again, are you listening?

Feedback deepens connections

According to George Anders, what's the most valuable skill to have in 2020? Empathy.

How can you empathize without feedback? And how can you get feedback from somebody if you're not in direct contact with them? It's impossible, yet empathy is lacking in every sector. People suffer as a result.

As organizations grow, they lose contact with the very people who can help them grow — employees, customers, and partners.

No contact, no empathy.

No empathy, no feedback.

No feedback, no adjustments will be made.

No adjustments made? See Kodak, Blockbuster, and Border's Books.

When you adjust, you also demonstrate empathy.

Sure, you can adjust based on analytics, data, and sheer manipulation, but it won't get you very far. Empathy seems like the obvious choice, but decision makers still don't get it.

Empathy is a culture. See Apple, Zappos, and Netflix.

Feedback is neutral

Most times, the feedback we get sucks and feels like a kick in the mouth.

To correct mistakes quickly, to address situations before they get out of hand, and to acknowledge the elephant in the room is not just critical to progress, it gives you an opportunity to find and express your humanity.

What good does it do anyone if get the message, only to ignore it?

What good does it do for you to see yourself in the mirror, notice those unwanted results, but return to the same routine?

What good does it do to look at your bank account, then continue with the same spending behaviors that keep you living from paycheck to paycheck?

What good does it do to look at your organization's subpar results, and continue the same behaviors that got you there?

See that dirt? Go ahead, sweep it under the rug. Soon a mound of dirt will pile up, waiting for someone to step on it, and *poof* everybody gets to taste it.

Feedback is neutral, it's not a personal attack on you.

Given what you're trying to accomplish in work or life, feedback asks you to change course, to adjust. Is that too difficult? Does the truth really hurt that bad? Indeed.

What if your quality of life was as simple as telling the truth about what you experience and then doing something about it?

Can you handle the truth?

Feedback increases engagement

I remember conducting a "feedback experiment" at the nonprofit I used to work for.

What would happen if we increased feedback for participants?

Could we accomplish more in one two-week workshop than we have in the previous ten workshops combined?

How will this affect long-term retention and engagement?

By gamifying the workshops — essentially increasing feedback using logged data — we outperformed the previous results by a factor of 10x. Sure, we measured outcomes better, but the quality of outcomes blew away past cohorts.

The lesson? Feedback is a powerful tool for individuals and organizations, and it's always right there, in your face.

Will you listen? Will you adjust and adapt?[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][/cs_content]

One Step Closer

I was thinking the other day...

Life is hard.

I thought about this. Nothing seems easy. If I want to live, work is required. The expenditure of energy is necessary to get results. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. No action, no results.

Yes, life is hard, but withholding my energy from some person or project not only makes my life harder, it makes it less fulfilling.

What are you giving to life? What are you getting back?

Accomplishing anything worthwhile requires so much hard work.

If I want to accomplish anything noteworthy or worthwhile, then hard work is mandatory. There is no short cut, no easy hack, no magic pill to swallow. Busting my ass is the only answer to achieving anything worthwhile.

I think about the things I want to see in the world...

  • write a few books
  • create a magazine
  • develop a few apps
  • Tibet, India and the Himalayas
  • Siberia
  • perform on stage, either as speaker or actor
  • a stronger, healthier body

None of it is easy. There are no short-cuts. I have to put in the time and practice, the energy and effort to make it all happen.

All of these things require devotion. It's not a word I use very often, but if there's no devotion, then I'll never put in the time.

devotion |diˈvōSHən|


love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause

What are you devoted to?

Most of the time, I don't WANT to do the hard work.

I don't want to do the hard work most of the time. I'd rather relax, watch a Youtube video or sports, read a book, or surf the internet. Who wants to work out and exercise? Who wants to write everyday especially when you don't feel like it?

I'm learning that when I face the hurdle of not wanting to do something, then I should find someone that does. In the connected world and economy that we live in, it's not that hard to find someone who compliments your skill set.

Stop whining about hard work and figure out what you're willing to work hard on.

Then find other people to do the hard work you want no part of.

Collaboration is a lesson I'm learning (the hard way).

Who do you know that can do the things you don't want to do?

It's easy to do nothing and be lazy.

Initiating a new project is exciting and invigorating, but after the excitement ends, real work needs to get done. It becomes easy to do nothing and get a little lazy.

But I've noticed something about my laziness. I'm lazy when I'm not clear on what to do next, and I'm not clear on what to do next because I don't have enough reasons to BE CLEAR. Kinda circular, I know.

Knowing your "why?" is crucial to doing anything in life.

I'm also lazy if I'm doing something I've never done before and I know my process is going to be very inefficient.

What if all laziness was a by-product of my inability to see clearly? What if laziness was simply a result of my own uncertainty?

If the next steps aren't clear to me, then I can be sure of one thing: I will definitely procrastinate.

Define the next steps with clarity. Be concrete. Write it down. 12 different people should be able to take what you've written down, perform the next steps, and produce similar results.

If you're being lazy or procrastinating then spend more time being clear. If a problem repeats itself or still confuses you, then spend more time defining the actual problem.

Clarity (easy to perceive, understand, or interpret) = Power (the ability to do something or act in a particular way)

The more CLEAR you are, the more POWER you will exhibit.

Remember that.

It's easy to quit when things get tough.

And it will get tough. I start a project and pretty soon I find that there's something or someone I don't know, something I don't know how to do, or a task that is beyond my current skill level.

Starting Everybody's Famous quickly taught me what I didn't know, and what I'd have to learn quickly.

  • Will this venture succeed? How can I validate a magazine, actually get people to fork over their cash for something that doesn't exist yet?
  • How will this magazine earn money? What's the business model? What will people pay for? What's the value being delivered?
  • What kind of corporation is it? LLC, C, S, or B?
  • Since the magazine requires content, stories from local communities, where will that content come from? How will we find those people? How do we tell compelling stories that engages just about anybody?
  • What other legal considerations, ethical questions need to be answered?
  • I'm not a journalist. I'm not a photographer or videographer. I'm not an audiophile. EFM is a multi-media magazine, so I'm going to have to learn fast. Each one of those statements comes with a bunch of questions, research, and activities.

I could be here all day listing everything I don't know about how to run a magazine or a business, but the point is, each one of these challenges are learning opportunities. And learning requires lots of mistakes. Lots of them.

In the beginning of learning anything, there will be a disproportionate amount of mistakes to what you do right. Know this and suck it up.

It's easy to quit when you suck at something, but anything worth doing is worth doing POORLY.

Do it wrong, learn, and grow. Just don't quit when things get tough.

But I don't know "how?"

I learned a few years back NEVER to ask how to do something until I've tried it first. I never realized that question could be used as a cop out from true action. I'd say 90% of the people who ask "how?" before any research or taking some kind of action are not truly serious.

I used to be like that, maybe not verbally but definitely in my head. I found over time that if someone has enough desire, has enough reasons to do something, they'll find a way to make it happen.

I also found that if I dug down deep enough into a problem or project that the next step to take was always within my line of sight. Even if I couldn't see beyond that next step, I always knew what the very next step was, and once I took it, then next one would reveal itself.

Stop playing around. You know what the next step is. The next step you need to take for your relationships. Your business. Your community. Be responsible and take it. Stop asking "how?" and just do it. At least Nike got that right.

Oh, and from now on, replace "how?" with "why?" to get to the heart of things. If your purpose isn't strong enough, it won't get done anyway, regardless of all the how-to books in the world.

WHY always beats HOW.

I can do so much better...

Really? You can have a better relationship, a better job, a better home, and a better life?

Then do something about it.

'Better' requires a little bit of faith. Faith requires a clear vision.

If you don't have a vision for your life and all your ideals - your ideal average day, your ideal relationship, your ideal job, etc. - then you won't act. You'll talk and talk and talk, but nothing will get done.

Faith and risk require a solid vision or plain ignorance. You'll go on with your sh*tty job and your mediocre lifestyle, but nothing will get 'better' unless you see things clearly and ACT.

So basic, but it's easy to get caught up in our own heads.

Besides, if you have a clear vision and are taking the necessary actions to see it through, you'll be able to put up with that sh*tty job a little while longer. Your time there is coming to an end, and you KNOW it. It's just a matter of time.

Can you imagine? Working that job and having no light at the end of the tunnel?

Having no vision sucks. Not acting at all is worse.

C'mon, let's do this. Life can be better for all of us, and you know it.

What's your next step?

For work?

In your relationships?

For your health?

For recreation and travel?

For learning?

For your money?

Clarity is one step closer. Take a step towards your vision today.

Even if it's tiny and miniscule.

Just one.



"You're a loner."

I was standing in the cold on campus at the University of Washington (UW), talking to my dad on a pay phone.

I was silent after his last statement. He began again.

"It's not like you CAN'T make friends. You just don't want to. Nothing wrong with that."

I got off the phone and his statement stuck to me. I'm a loner.

I thought about it some more. Yup, I have no problem with that.


I've known for awhile that I'm an introvert. I didn't really care for social settings when I was younger, although I'm much better now.

I remember visits to our relatives and sometimes I would just sit in the car. "You coming in?", my dad would ask, probably already knowing what my answer was.

No. I'll be fine right here.

And I would sit in the car until it was time to leave. If someone came outside, I would hide so they wouldn't come over and talk to me.

I remember times during high school when girls would say hello to me, and I'd just stare or be non-responsive while they carried a conversation for the both of us. Tragic.

Parties were pointless. I didn't do anything but bob my head and listen to the music, if I even went at all.

You think this changed as I got older?

I remember women asking me out for coffee and I'd respond with, "Oh, I don't really drink coffee."

She's asking you out, stupid! Of course, she wouldn't know what to say after that, just give me a smile and probably wonder wtf is wrong with me. I was kind of oblivious. Probably still am.

I missed some key opportunities in my life because I was clueless in social situations. I'm sure it's cost me, but to what degree, who can say?

A simple test

When I started working for a social services agency, I participated in a workshop facilitated by an expert in Myers-Briggs personality profiling.

The facilitator was contracted by the UW and I proceeded to go over 350+ statements to assess whether I agree a little, a lot, or disagree a little or a lot. At the end of the test, they tabulated the results and 4 letters were presented to me:


I = Introvert

N = iNtuitive

F = Feeling

P = Perceiving

(To learn what an INFP is, you can go here. To learn what each letter means, go here. To take the test to find out what your type is, go here.)

The report also showed the degree to which I was an "I", "N", "F", and "P". I saw my "I" was practically off the charts. Sure, I knew I was introverted, but this much?? Can't say I was surprised, then I remembered my dad's words.

You're a loner.

He didn't mean anything by that statement, he was simply stating a fact. He probably had a little concern when he said it because I was young, and starting over in a new place. He just wanted me to be mindful of it.

Before we got off the phone, he said to me, "If you want to change, you can. It's up to you."

Acceptance & Practice

Over time I would learn to embrace who I was. I also learned how to improve myself in social arenas.

This led me to the understanding that if something can be improved upon, it's a skill. I would just need some more practice.

Some psychologists believe that your personality type is innate. Some think it's nurtured over time. Some think it's fixed, and some believe you can change it.

I'm somewhere in the middle of all of that. I've been introverted for as long as I can remember, but I'm sure I've shifted a few degrees over to the extroverted side. Maybe I'll take the longer version of the test again to find out where I am again. Maybe I won't.

Finally, there are advantages to being introverted. I get to live within my wild imagination. I've become a decent teacher and facilitator. I'm developing my writing and public speaking skills. I'm able to generate fresh ideas and practical, but innovative solutions to everyday problems.

I'm still a loner, preferring my journal to a networking event, but I'm getting better, day by day.

How about you?


30 days to a new life

You may have noticed that I've been writing a lot more. Like, every day.

Well, I was challenged by a very good friend to write a blog post for 30 days straight. She challenged me to produce more work and get more ideas out there, because there's no good reason for me NOT to. She also believed that blogging more often would improve my writing, and teach me a few things in the process.

How could I say no?

So here I am, 16 days into this challenge and so far, she's right. I'm just over half way to 30 days, and I can feel the creative channels opening up.

30 days

Many times, we know what's best for us, but we don't challenge ourselves enough. I knew that writing every day would benefit me in so many ways, but I still didn't act.

A friend of mine just recently started a "no-grains" challenge. 30 days, no grains, no bread, period. He's aware of the benefits, but 2 days in and he's experiencing withdrawals. It's called a 'challenge' for a reason.

And that leads me to YOU. I'm sure you know of some behavior or activity that would improve your life over the course of 30 days. Is it around health, money, relationships, work, or planning and organization?

Take a look at the 8 Life Pillars:

8 Life Pillars

Which pillar would you like to strengthen? Use this framework to brainstorm some ideas and do a quick assessment of yourself. Then ask yourself....

What ONE activity or behavior that, if you were to do it for 30 days consistently, would have a powerful and immediate impact on your life?

Maybe it's eating less. Maybe it's exercising more frequently, or for longer periods of time. Like, instead of exercising for 30 minutes, you exercise for 60. Maybe you want to exercise for 10 minutes a day, every day, just to start.

Maybe you work too much, and need more recreation time each day. What ONE activity could you do every day to unwind or relax? What ONE activity will reenergize you?

Maybe you want to make to-do lists everyday? Maybe it's meditation? Maybe it's saying "thank you" in a unique way to someone new, each and every day.

I once was challenged by Joel Runyon to do cold showers for 30 days straight. Can you imagine how shocking that was to me the first time I did it? Doesn't matter, I did it, and was invigorated every day.

What can you do consistently for 30 days straight? What strengths do you already possess that you can bolster?

I challenge you

Let's face it. You're not challenged enough in life. You can BE and DO so much more. Potential is practically impossible to realize, so we all have room to grow.

So, I'm challenging you to do something for 30 days straight. You decide what it is. You decide when you start, BUT start this week. Find a behavior or build a habit that will have a ripple effect on all areas of your life.

Cold showers? Writing? Exercise? Meditation? Applying for new jobs? Validating a new business?

If you need more ideas, check this out.

Just pick something and stick with it. Daily practice and performing consistently are foundations for greatness.

If you need a way to track your progress, then use Jerry Seinfeld's secret to being a great comedian, and don't break the chain.

Let me know in the comments or use the contact form on this site if you want to be held accountable. There's nothing like making a public declaration to keep your feet to the fire (where does that saying come from anyway?).

Good luck.


I can't vs. I won't

One day, I woke up so refreshed, it felt like every cell in my body was revitalized. I ran to the window, looked outside and the sun was setting. I had missed the entire day SLEEPING.

No biggie. I slept through the entire workday, and noticed my cell phone was bombarded with phone calls. They must've thought I died. Since when does Paul miss work? No call, no show is just aberrant behavior.

It didn't matter, because I felt like flying. I walked outside in my boxers, barefoot and all, and leapt into the air and flew. I didn't get very far, because I thought to myself, "I can't fly!"

I landed in a playground not too far away, and a child walked up to me, and asked me what was wrong. I told him that I tried to fly, and I couldn't stay up.

He giggled and asked, "Why do you pretend that you cannot fly?"


"Just jump in the air and go!", and there he went. He didn't look back, and here I was, trapped on the ground.

I jumped, and landed on my feet. I jumped again, and it seemed even more difficult.

Then a little girl walks up to me, "What's wrong?"

"I can't seem to fly", I looked up into the sky as I said it.

"Yes you can", she said in a matter of fact way, "Just jump into the sky, don't you remember?"

"I came close when I got out of bed, but now, I don't know...", my voice trailed off, hoping she could help me in some miraculous way.

"You'll figure it out. It's not hard."

"You make it sound so easy. I'm trying."

"Well, watch me", and she flew into the sky, and never looked back.

Why can't I do that? Why can't I....

And it hit me. It was so obvious. I was simply asking the WRONG questions.

It's not that I "can't" do it, because I just did it, even for a brief period of time.

It's just that I "won't" do it.

Why won't I fly?

Why won't I fly? Why won't I fly? I want to fly into the deep blue sky...

And I jumped and flew after the little girl. As I flew faster, I eventually passed her and began looking for the boy, but he was nowhere to be found. I just wanted to show him that I made it, but it didn't matter.

They both helped me to see what I could not. That I was always capable. I had simply forgotten.

It's not that I can't do something, it's just that I won't do it, and that choice made all the difference in the world.


How to rewrite the story of your life

My friend Lisa wrote a book titled, "Wired For Story". She wrote it to help aspiring writers, fiction or non-fiction, to write how people already think and interpret the world around them: through story.


Lisa believes that all people, from all cultures and backgrounds, see the world as a narrative. It could be a boring narrative, an engrossing drama, or an adventure, but a story nonetheless. In her book, she says that writers can produce "better" stories by appealing to how people are naturally wired. Lisa's done her research, and there's a ton of science backing up her ideas.

It's an awesome book for writers, and I highly recommend it, but I believe a wider audience could also benefit from the book's thesis.

Think about it. If humans really view the world through a story lens, and if we're interpreting every interaction and experience as some form of narrative, then what does that mean?

A meaningless universe

I need to make a point before we continue.

The events in our lives are just events. The stuff that happens to us is just stuff, and none of it has meaning. None of it.

It takes a human, animal, or alien to create meaning from events that take place in the world. Conscious entities from all worlds make their world mean something, because inherently, the universe is meaningless.

Information enters the 5 senses, and almost immediately the mind is asking, what does this mean to me?

The creation of meaning is the formation of story. We spend our entire lives making up things about the world we live in, or we spend our lives consuming the creations of somebody else.

Are you even aware that this is what you're doing? Are you aware of this process as it's happening? Just becoming aware of your meaning making ability can influence how 'entertaining' your story ultimately becomes. Let me explain.

We are story

You ARE story. I am story, and life is the unfolding story of us all.

In life, there are many chapters with twists, turns, and challenges to overcome. Everybody gets their share of awesome climactic moments, and an abundance of fall-flat-on-your-face experiences.

The potential for an epic life, or a forgettable one, lies with every decision we make, but make no mistake - long after you're dead and buried, you will be remembered in story form by the people who are still around. If you're remembered at all.

This is profound. It's profound because we can observe what makes an awesome story from a writer's perspective, and anybody can apply the same principles in their lives.

The story's setting, plot, themes, conflict, and oh sh*t moments provide a character with opportunities to demonstrate their best self, or show their ugly side - just like LIFE.

The only difference is that a book, movie or theater piece has consolidated all the highlights (and lowlights), then presents it in a very entertaining way. You get to skip the day to day mundane aspects of a person's life.

Stephen Covey wrote in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (a personal development bestseller), begin with the end in mind. His point is that everyone needs a destination or vision first, then they can begin to work towards that vision. This is similar to advice I've seen authors give other writers: figure out a memorable ending FIRST, because that will help guide the writer's hand.

Profound entertainment

Entertainment is:

entertainment |ˌentərˈtānmənt|


the action of providing or being provided with amusement or enjoyment: everyone just sits in front of the TV for entertainment.

You can provide entertainment or have it provided for you, simple enough, right? But I'd like to coin a new term and a different style of entertainment: profound entertainment.

Profound Entertainment is simply you're ability to become aware of your own life story as it unfolds, and then to shape and advance it in the direction you choose. Self-awareness is essential.

PE makes your life story more dimensional, and gives you a chance to live your life in HD.

PE takes you out of consumer mode, where entertainment is merely provided for you, and into producer mode, where you're creating value for yourself & others, and really living life.

In order to live Profound Entertainment, you must do what all stories require you to do: face and embrace conflict.

That's the cost of living AWESOMELY. The cost is facing your fear, overcoming inertia and stagnation, and overcoming doubt, despair and depression. It takes heroic effort, the determination of that guy from the English Patient, and the courage of Rocky.

It's easy to read about (or watch) fictional characters transform their lives by dealing with their inner and outer challenges.

It's quite another to overcome your own inner demons and external barriers to become your best self ever. Yes, it's difficult, but profoundly entertaining.

malcolm x quote

PE Ratio

Your PE ratio is your Profound Entertainment ratio. PE is how much you create/produce versus how much you consume on a daily basis? Essentially, are you a creator/producer or a consumer?

You may be an avid reader, but what have you written?

You may love to watch sports, but how much do you play?

You may love travel stories, but how much have you traveled?

You may love music, but how much do you play?

You may love to learn, but what have you taught others?

If you're on the consuming side of the ratio, perhaps your pie looks like this:

pe ratio12% creator, 88% consumer. How would this ratio affect your body, mind, and spirit over time?

How do you feel after a productive day? After you've built something that you WANTED to build? How do you feel when you're with people you want to be with? How do you feel after having new experiences, seeing an idea of yours take off, playing a game that you excel at, or performing in front of others?

The spectator always gets the short end of the stick. The consumer vicariously feels through the characters/players he watches, but the power of those emotions are muted compared to the real thing.

It's why spectators turn into haters so fast. It's hard to appreciate something if you don't understand it, and how can you understand something if you haven't personally experienced it or have completely forgotten what the experience was like?

Vicarious feelings or the real deal? Which do you prefer? And which of those would benefit you the most?

Rebalance your PE ratio

Life is ultimately about PE. Somehow, this disparity between consuming and producing must shift. Feeling alive comes from playing, not so much in spectating.

Don't get me wrong. Passively consuming entertainment plays an important role in the evolution of our culture. We get exposed to new ideas, new perspectives, new language, and new methods of being and doing. It serves a vital function in community development. Stories must be told, shared, and passed on so that we can be better human beings.

But the time has come for new stories, new lessons, from new players. There's an old saying: there's nothing new under the sun. Perhaps that's the cosmic perspective, but it's just not true for humanity. We get a chance to experience new things in our lives every day. We have the opportunity to grow and be something we've never been. A choice is available to us in every moment.

What will you do with your moment?

Will you create something fresh? Or repeat or consume the known again?

Personal Stories

You'll survive

I moved to Seattle with $160 in my pocket, a car full of clothes, a mind full of ignorance, and a heart full of courage. I had no plan, no clue, and nowhere to go. The question that arises when all-or-nothing risks like this are taken is, will I survive? I survived.

And this would have never happened if I didn't make the trek:

Article PC - August 17, 2003This happened because I took some risks, challenged assumptions, and stuck to my guns when I was really shaking inside. There are many stories that led up to this, but the lesson remains the same:

Follow your heart.


I was in France, and my friend Mark asked me if I wanted to go canyoning. Say what? What's canyoning??

I was sick as a dog, but I would be leaving back home in the next couple of days. I chose to go, even though I had no idea what I'd be doing.

Next thing you know, I'm in the canyons in the mountains of France, not too far from Switzerland, listening to our french guide give me options: "Zjump? Or rappel?"

I chose to zjump. See my feet??



I leapt into pools of water I couldn't see, rappelled down steep cliffs, slid down natural rock slides, and froze my behind off. I was sick before going, and was revitalized after.

Sometimes you have to leap before you look, open a book despite its ugly cover, and say yes to the french guy because he thinks it's ok to jump. You think a better story would've had me say 'no' to canyoning so I could fly home safe and sound? No way.

I'm not going back

3 weeks into my trip to Peru, and we're finally on the Incan Trail for a four day hike up to Machu Piccu. It felt like an exciting adventure, until I hurt my knee on day 1. I'm clearly hobbling now, and our guide Wilbur is obviously concerned. After some discussions with another guide, he came over to me and said:

"You're going to have to go back."

Wilbur was an experienced guide, and he knew this was a problem and could possibly turn into something serious.

"I'm not going back."

He saw the determination on my face. I've been wanting to do this for over 5 years now, and here I was, injured heading into day 2 which would test my will, endurance, and patience. The highest peak on day 2 would be around 14,000 feet.

After some more discussion, everyone knew what my final decision was. A fellow traveler offered her walking stick after I made my decision, my friend Edgar said he would stick with me, and I hiked up that beast one step at a time. Here I am with two bamboo poles on day 2:

day 2 of incan trail

I had a choice. Turn back around, and say I gave it my best effort, OR walk through the pain, and have a better story to tell. I chose the better ending. I took this picture when I finally reached the lost city:

Machu Picchu

Startup Weekend

The first time I went to Startup Weekend in Seattle, our team came in 5th place. If you're unfamiliar with the event, the goal is to recruit a team of people whom you never met before, work on a business idea, develop it as much as humanly possible in 54 hours, demo the product to some judges, and walk away with a potential business, maybe even some funding for it.

It's an intimidating experience. I was surrounded by awesome talent: a ruby developer, Microsoft product guy, Amazon PR dude, and the founder of one of the most popular blogs in the country with an average of 10,000 readers a day. I'm glad I chose to play with them. I'm better for it. This was 2011.

I pitched an idea of my own in November of 2013 at Startup Weekend Davis. It was difficult watching my team crumble and walk away in the middle of the project because the vision was unclear and they just weren't feeling it anymore. We went from 9 people to 4, and none of us were developers.

On the day of judging, the facilitator asked me when we wanted to present, and I said, "We're not presenting."

She said, "Oh yes you are. Let me ask you this. How often are you going to get the opportunity to present to high caliber entrepreneurs and investors? This doesn't happen everyday, and at the worst, you will have gotten some good feedback and learned from it. So, what order do you want to do your presentation in?"

"I want to go last, if we can", I said in resignation. How else could I respond?

I prepared the slides, pitched the idea and our team came in 3rd place. It was the only time when coming in 3rd place felt like coming in 1st. I thought we had no business being up there, and almost walked away from the project myself.

But the lesson is clear: embrace conflict and learn, OR shun it and stunt your own growth.

All that experience would pay off in June of this year. We entered Startup Weekend East Bay, recruited a massive team, the largest I've ever seen at one of these events, and impressed Google staff who acted as the event's mentors.

We would come in 1st place for our category:

startup weekend east bay number app

The story doesn't end there. The next challenge is to actually build something, not just a demo or prototype, and build a REAL business from it.

Yup, PE is tough, challenging, and difficult. Ready or not, the show (story) must go on.


How can I say this without being redundant? Never mind. Redundancy is necessary.

  • Wake up the creator in you. The culture we have collectively built, and what's been passed down to this generation is not the best we can do. Let's improve. We can craft a more memorable story.
  • We've slumbered along consuming what other creators have made for us, and it's not healthy anymore. It's not healthy for your mind, body, or spirit. We can do better.
  • It's perfectly healthy to consume story, games, food, and other people's creations, just check your PE ratio from time to time. Watch for a disproportionate bias towards consumption.
  • In order for story to advance, conflict must be confronted and dealt with. Conflict is fear, doubt, hurt, pain, trauma, oppression, limitation, etc. Confront your fears, demonstrate courage, have faith, and transcend your pain and limitation. Nothing is stopping you, but you (unless you're physically restrained or caged).
  • An epic life = someone overcame epic problems. Are you facing the RIGHT problems in your life that will forge the best version of you possible? If not, then it's time to initiate a more appropriate form of conflict so you can FEEL ALIVE again.
  • If you want your life story to look and feel different, get out of the role of protagonist and back into the role of author again:
    • what's the setting of your story? (where do you want this phase of your life to take place?)
    • what's the plot? (what events would you like to take place in your life?)
    • who's the supporting cast? (what relationships are important to develop? who do you want in your life? mentors, romantic, friends, partners, etc.)
    • What themes or lessons are recurring for your protagonist? (what themes keep recurring in your life? what themes keep returning around relationships? themes around work? what feelings or emotional states seem to have a cyclical nature? what continues to happen in your life that you wish would change? what's the meaning behind them and how will you go beyond them?)
    • What types of 'conflict' will your character encounter? (what big goals do you want to accomplish? what activities make you feel alive? what challenges must you overcome to be your best self ever?)
    • What's the end of the story look like? How does each chapter end? (What's the ultimate accomplishment you want for your life? How does each year end, for the next 10 years? In each year, what have you accomplished for each and every month? What must you accomplish at the end of each day to move towards those outcomes?)
  • Finally, in key decision moments of your life, ask yourself, which choice leads to a better life? What decision will give me a better story to tell? Many times, it will be the more challenging choice. Take the road least traveled, and there will be reward in that alone.

Here's to your next chapter.



Go hard

Al came in, sat down, and told me that from now on, life would be different. Life had dealt him a bad hand, and he struggled with it. He was still young and inexperienced in many ways, but not in hardships.

After a great conversation, I offered my services and he said he would be interested some other time, but not right now. For now, he loved his role as a parent and enjoyed the time he was spending with his children. He missed out on their formative years, and felt a sting of regret recounting his early years as a parent, but the past is the past. He was ready to move on.

I explained that he could come back when he was ready, and I would help him prepare and look for work. He agreed.

Al came back from time to time to update me on how things were going. I could tell he was getting a little antsy, but he still wasn't ready to commit to work.

"I'm close", he confided in me. I knew it was a matter of time.


One day, Al came in with a serious look on his face.

"I'm ready."

"Ok", I said, "let's build out your resume and make it as tight as we can make it. We'll go from there."

He agreed. It didn't take too long to put together something good enough for the job market. Al always found a way to stay busy, finding odd jobs in his neighborhood, and picking up some temp work here and there. I know hustle when I see it and it translated well onto paper.

Once we finished the resume, I asked him how many he wanted me to print out.


Al caught me off guard, "50?? Uh, how about we start with 10 and go from there?"

"Naw, 50."

"Ok, how about 30?"

"Nope. 50."

"You're really going to do something with 50 resumes?"

"Yup. I go hard."

Hard to argue with that. "Ok, 50 it is."

I hit the print button, retrieved 50 copies of his resume and handed them over.

"Thanks man, I appreciate this", as he stuffed them into his folder.

"No problem. Let me know how it goes, and if you run out, come back and I'll print out some more."

One week later

Al comes to see me, sits down, and asks, "Can I get some more resumes?"

"How many do you want this time?", I asked knowing what he might say.


"Ok, so you're saying you put all your resumes into the hands of potential employers??", I asked incredulously.

"Yup. I go hard."

Hard to argue with that. "Ok."

I hit 'print', and 50 more resumes came out.

A week and a half later, Al was employed, earning good money with a reputable company with room for growth. He was happy with his situation, and I was grateful for the lesson.


Al taught me:

  • That somebody, somewhere is going harder than me. You can worship or idolize successful people, but how do you think they got to where they are? What will I do to match that energy and effort?
  • That sometimes deficiencies (like lack of work history) crumble to the ground under the sheer force of numbers. What if I did just one more? What if I multiplied my efforts and simply increased my output? Could I do ONE MORE push-up or blog post, help ONE MORE person, do ONE MORE presentation, and read ONE MORE page of that awesome book?
  • That persistence pays. How many "no's" did Al hear? At least 50, huh? And every "no" you hear brings you one step closer to a "yes". I have to remember that.
  • That I'm not challenging myself enough. Next time I'm thinking "10", perhaps I'll double or triple that number. Break through self-imposed limits.
  • To stay open to learning, and lessons will come from all angles. Even if someone is in a more vulnerable position than me, they can still teach me a lot. It happens all the time.

If you go hard it may or may not work out for you, but the odds will be in your favor.

So, go hard, and be like Mike was early in his career.


A Life-Changing Book & A Visualization Tip

[dropcap type="2"]W[/dropcap]eek 3 is in the books. This week, a book recommendation, some progress on my latest project, and a visualization secret. But first, SCOREBOARD:

[box type="blank" class="bg-blue rounded-10"]
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Total Earnings

Driving: $635.56


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Bank Account



Bank Statement 8-22-2012
Bank Statement 8-22-2012

First, An Awesome Book

Before I recommend this beautiful, wonderful, life-changing book, I have a confession to make.

I've only read nine (9) pages of this book, and did only ONE exercise out of it. I read the first exercise I was to do, and began doing it.

Even today, I have no clue what the rest of the book contains. None. It's sitting on my bookshelf right now, practically brand new.

So why am I recommending this to you?

Because that one exercise CHANGED MY FREAKIN' LIFE, MAN!

Ok, enough already. The book is called The Artist's Way, but I own a variation of this book, called The Artist's Way At Work.

The Artist's Way At WorkThe transformational exercise I did, over and over and over and OVER again, is called Morning Pages (click on link to learn more). You basically write three full pages of whatever comes to your mind, non-stop until it's done.

The results are simply astonishing. I filled up a journal that is four-hundred pages long in just over a year, and I didn't even write everyday. Out of all this writing came some deep clarity, my book, concepts for more books, and articles and future blog posts.

And I wasn't even doing it for all that. Of course, I broke a few rules, such as reading what I wrote, and not writing consistently, every single day. Eventually, I stopped doing the stream of consciousness thingy since ideas started coming out of nowhere, and I just had to write them down as fast as they came.

Now four-hundred pages is nothing to sneeze at, and I admit, a lot of what I wrote was repetitious. But I found that repeating myself was just part of the whole process of getting the garbage out of my mind.

I've already ordered two refills of the 400 page journal paper, since it is a refillable leather-bound jacket (hand-made in Tuscany, Italia, but I got it at Barnes & Noble in case you were wondering).

Here's a couple of images from the actual journal:

journal entry example 1
Journal entry example 1

And a more recent one:

Journal entry example 2
Journal entry example 2

So start your Morning Pages. It will clear out those cobwebs, you'll get ideas (even if some of them are weird), and gain so much inspiration from within. Let's face it, if you're not incorporating some form of artistry in your work, in some capacity, then you're just like someone else out there. Boring. Ok, off my soapbox...

Value Detectives Update

The website is coming along, although I get hung up over the design and how to phrase certain things, such as my offer. I admit I'm not satisfied, but I am making progress.

I redesigned my logo and tagline, so that it fits the concept I want to convey. Take a look:

Value Detectives Logo

My current offer is a free website analysis of the home page of that site. I'm still playing with other ideas that will lead to conversions.

I may also have a two new potential clients. One works for a non-profit who will be ready to meet with me in September. I've known him for awhile and did some website work for him in the past.

I am in contact with another prospect in the financial services arena. I met someone that works at this company during a local business meetup. I gave an impromptu website analysis for four people at this lunch meeting, which led to this contact. I have already provided a more formalized analysis of their homepage to them, and will set a meeting date next week after he returns from a weekend trip.

I won't post their names, but if I do complete their projects, I will post the results here and on the Value Detectives website, with their permission, of course.

In the meantime, I will work on my offer so it's a great deal and everybody feels good about what they're getting. Setting up the right offer is really is tricky to do, but I have to start somewhere. I'm getting some good ideas from The $100 Startup, too.

As for Value Detectives, I will keep tweaking it, adding more pages, probably set-up a blog, and add some sort of video presentation.

Speaking Of Video

I met with a friend yesterday, and he asked me why I'm not doing more video, specifically of me speaking. Didn't have an answer for him, and all I could say was, "I know. I've been writing about this in my journal, and I know I need to do it."

Perhaps it's clarity I'm missing. Or knowing what to say when that camera is staring me in the face. Or maybe it's just taking the time to practice this new skill, so I can feel more confident and deliver something good.

Whatever it is, I know I need to do it. And I will probably release my first live video on Wake Up Smiling, or possibly on this blog, if it's appropriate.

I've already started outlining some ideas, and that led me to a pretty cool revelation...

A Visualization Epiphany

We've all heard, many times, how important visualization is to creating our future, and bringing new experiences into our lives.

But I've noticed something really peculiar about this process, and thinking back on all the times I've consciously used visualization, I found this to be true.

First, visualization is hard. I mean, visualizing new stuff. It's easy for me to play around with my past experiences and mess around with all my memories. I think we're all great at that.

But seeing the new, envisioning something before it happens is quite another task. If it was so easy, I believe many people could change their bad habits with less struggle and get to truly beneficial thought patterns much faster.

So here's my visualization epiphany: as you take ACTION, as you actually move towards a goal, and I mean PHYSICALLY moving towards it in some way (not just thinking about it), the little bit of visualization you've done prior to the action becomes stronger and much more detailed. Your imagination actually becomes CLEARER and more powerful through action.

Not sure that makes sense or not, but what I'm trying to say is, as you act on something, your imagination kicks in to assist you. Details that were fuzzy become clearer, ideas that were vague become more precise, and paths that were hidden become revealed.

This reminds me of that scene from Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade:

I bring this up because this has been happening a lot to me lately. Recently, instead of over-preparing, I've had to act more and more because of the situation I've gotten myself into. And through every action, my mind becomes clearer in what's important and what needs to be done next. And incredibly, what I vaguely imagined prior to action goes from some fleeting idea to something much more tangible in my mind. I can't believe I didn't notice this phenomenon before.

The BIG DEAL about this whole "A Ha!" moment is the FEELING OF CERTAINTY that comes from this. Having a general idea of something you want doesn't give you a strong enough drive to fulfill it. The clearer you are, the more certain you are, the more detailed your imaginings, the more powerful feeling you'll have.

And the more powerful the FEELING, the more likely things will get done and stuff will happen. That feeling is a beautiful, precious thing, even in small bursts.

The takeaway? Go ahead and imagine something you want, even if it's a nebulous notion. Then write it down, to give it some form. Then take some form of physical action, after the writing, that gets you closer to what you want to create in your life. We'll call this an act of faith on your behalf, as demonstrated in the clip above. And as you 'JUST DO IT', you'll probably discover (as I have) that details will start to fill in naturally, each subtlety will become more distinct, and the FEELING you'll get will bring more confidence, more certainty, and the courage to ACT SOME MORE.

Next Steps

I don't want to overwhelm myself this next week, but here's what I believe I can accomplish by the following dates:

[list type="checklist"]

  • Complete Value Detectives website by September 1, 2012
  • Outline script ideas for video(s) by August 28, 2012
  • Put Butt-Naked Abundance on Amazon's Kindle by August 28, 2012
  • Place a Paypal button on Butt-Naked Abundance website by August 28, 2012
  • Add one blog post on Wake Up Smiling by August 28, 2012
  • Complete reading The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau by September 5, 2012


Hope you have a great week.


[dropcap type="2"]I[/dropcap] can understand why people seek permanence and stability in life, since our stay on planet earth is so temporary. Knowing that we are only a grain of sand (in the middle of the Sahara) gives a clue of what God/Universe thinks of our significance. It's a cruel joke on the ego.

The ego wants to last forever. Not just last for a long time -- forever. And the things people do to hold on: some have kids just to pass their name for generations, or give generously because they want their legacy to continue as some name on a building.

We build time capsules, write books, keep journals and other records, but it seems no matter what we do, we're bound for oblivion. Poor egos.

Some think about the short time left here on the planet, and use this rationale to be completely selfish, while others can be destructive, be depressed and cynical, or live in fear for most of their lives.

For me, I find LIFE challenging, enjoyable, inspirational, and sometimes a frustrating pain that makes me want to scream. There's no place I'd rather be than right here, right now.

Regardless of whether there's an after life or not, what we ACTUALLY know is that we have just one life. Just ONE. This one itty bitty LIFE.

And if this is IT, then how do we squeeze every last ounce of life out of it, and realize a generous portion of our potential? Better yet, how do we even play this 'life game' to the absolute fullest while thoroughly enjoying it, WITHOUT being destructive to other people and our environment?

If we're really going to answer those questions, then we have to get back to basics. There is a foundation for life, a fundamental structure that, when understood, makes the difference in knowing who we are and improving our quality of life. Before anything is created anywhere within the known universe, there has to be some kind of structure.

Law is that structure. Law is the glue that binds the universe, our societies, and our lives together.

And law, specifically universal or natural law, is the only permanent thing in this whole entire universe and is the only known constant.

We may blow each other up, stars may implode and turn into black holes, and supernovas may destroy everything in their path, but LAW always remains. Maybe not too comforting for our egos, but hey, at least something lasts.

And since EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in the known universe is governed by law, then it's an absolute necessity that we learn a few things about it including how it affects us and how we can work with it in our lives. Let's first define law...

What is Law?

We'll use two different definitions. First, the most common understanding of law could be defined as:

the system of rules that a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and may enforce by the imposition of penalties

And second, universal or natural laws could be explained as:

a statement of fact, deduced from observation, to the effect that a particular natural or scientific phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions are present

In short, laws are invisible forces that govern how the universe and all it's inhabitants, animate and inanimate behave, react, and respond. Obviously man-made laws are only enforceable by men and women, and universal and natural laws are ALWAYS "enforced". Nothing you can do to alter their consequences.

When's the last time you jumped off a building and kept going up? Thought so. When's the last time you drove your car over the speeding limit? Did you get caught 'breaking the law'? Maybe, maybe not. And if you did get caught, perhaps there was a consequence, usually resulting in a fine. Perhaps not.

Universal/natural laws are always on. Can't turn it off one day, and on the next. Not going to happen. Man-made laws may or may not be enforced, depending on a number of factors, especially the getting caught factor.

That's a very basic look at what laws are, and the difference between the two categories. Let's talk about the hierarchy of laws...

The Law Hierarchy

There is an hierarchy, or a right order of laws. It's important to understand that we are ALWAYS subject to the highest of the laws. Once we enter the domain of man made laws, things become a little more inconsistent. Generally speaking, there are 3 main domains of law.

Let's list them:

[list type="pointerlist2"]

  • Universal Law
  • Natural Law
  • Man-made Law


An interesting quality about being on 'top' of the law chain, is that there's fewer laws the higher you go, and more laws the lower you go. So there's less of the universal variety, and a gazillion of man-made laws and rules.

You can download a simple diagram I created here:
[download id="1" format="1"]

Now, let's talk briefly about each kind of law.

Universal (Spiritual) Law

Every law is subject to Universal or Spiritual Law. It's kinda like the supreme court of laws. It's all encompassing, omniscient and, well, universal. It's everywhere.

The universe has the final say in all matters, and matter. It's more consistent than the earth spinning on its globe for billions of years. It manages the whole of everything.

An example of Universal or Spiritual Law would be the Law of Oneness. There is only ONE. ONE God, ONE Spirit, ONE Song (Uni-verse).

If this doesn't make sense to you right now, not to worry, we will be going over specific laws in later posts. In the realm of the Spirit, gravity and other natural laws have no effect.

Natural Law

Natural law is subject to Universal Law. Natural law would include laws that govern the body, mind, the earth, sky, etc. Newtonian physics including gravity, force, momentum, electromagnetism, aerodynamics, thermodynamics, are examples of natural law.

Man's Laws

Any law that men or women make are subject to universal and natural law. Universal and natural laws have immediate consequences whereas man's laws may or may not.

Although man's laws have been greatly influenced by universal/spiritual and natural law, the difference lies in consequences. If a man-made law is broken, there may or may not be a consequence, which is usually in the form of punishment or money.

Examples of man-made laws include commercial law, common law, codes, and statutes. There is also an hierarchy for man-made laws that the general population is typically unfamiliar with.

We will go over the man made laws in the near future, and that information will astound you. Truly.

So what?

"So what?", you may say. Here's why law is soooooooo important to understand:

Have you ever played a game where you didn't know the rules, and by not knowing them, you were penalized or thwarted in your chances of winning? Just because you didn't know a simple rule?

There are rules that govern our lives and the everyday games we play, and just by becoming aware of them, we can dramatically improve our quality of life, and the lives of those closest to us.

What games are we playing anyway? We play the economic/money game, relationship games, games that affect our health, the game of commerce and business, education, travel, social games, and on and on.

There are many games we play from moment to moment, and just by adding a little extra knowledge and skill to ourselves, we can positively influence our real world life results and 'win'.

Knowing and understanding the laws that govern our lives automatically increases the probability of winning exponentially. And the beautiful thing is, unlike most competitive games, there is more than one winner, and ALWAYS room for another.

By understanding law and it's natural flow of consequences, including the man-made variety, we can really set ourselves up for huge wins.

Remember that.

By understanding law and it's natural flow of consequences, including the man-made variety, we can really set ourselves up for huge wins.

What's next?

What if learning about certain laws that govern your life could drastically improve your life?

And I'm not just talking about the Spiritual/Universal/Natural Laws, those are obvious factors. I'm also talking about the specific man-made laws and structure.

Learning and practicing these newly discovered rules will transform how you interact with the "real" world in such an incredible fashion, that you will wonder WHY IN THE WORLD YOU WERE NEVER EVEN TAUGHT THIS STUFF???

You will curse the education system for holding out on you, and immediately forgive them in the same breath, because you get it. You finally get it. And now you know WHY.

So hold on, the best stuff is coming, we're just getting started. Stay tuned...