“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. That surrender, even the smallest act of giving up, stays with me. So when I feel like quitting, I ask myself, which would I rather live with?”
― Lance Armstrong, It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life


“Pain is tempor…


Band of Brother’s Speech – Adapted for Entrepreneurship

Shakespeare’s Henry V is surprisingly well suited for the spirit of entrepreneurship as well.

Context: a friend recently posted on Facebook, expressing the hardship of entrepreneurship with a mimosa metaphor. 

When you stare into the bottomless mimosa, sometimes the bottomless mimosa stares back at you. 

I decided to change the speech as a response, and was surprised at how well it turned out (changes in bold).


WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in the Valley
That write no code to-day!

KING. What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to fail, we are enow
To be a statistic in Kauffman’s survey this year; and if to succeed,
The fewer men, the greater share of stock.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet ownership,
I am the most offending soul alive.

No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from SV.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an investment
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through our team of developers,
That he which hath no stomach to stay to the end,
Let him depart; his termination-contract shall be fulfilled,
And fare for taxi put into his man-bag;

We would not fail in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to fail with us.
This month is call’d the month of Crispian.
He that continues to work this month, and is able to payoff his mortgage,
Will stand a tip-toe when this month is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall survive this month, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours at the finest restaurants,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he open his cupboards and show his medical records,
And say “These wounds I had eating ramen and coding on Crispian’s month.”

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Elon of SpaceX, Larry and Sergey of Google,
Jobs and Wozniak, Allen and Gates-

Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that puts his livelihood at stake with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

life heuristics, motivation

How to do hard things (Part one)


 in a liquid world of solid will, rhythm drives you on.

Today I had an inflection point in my positive behavior loop, it felt so amazing.

Since last Wednesday, I’ve been waking up every morning and biking in preparation for an exciting adventure  I’ll write about in a future post. I learned to  ride  a bike as a child, but never really seriously pursued cycling as a physical activity. Nevertheless, the adventure called for some serious stamina, so I thought that I would start.

It hasn’t been easy – the first few days, it was really difficult to wake up in the morning, with the alarm clock blaring, and sleepily roll out of bed and onto a bike. Also, when I came back from the ride I would feel exhausted – not energized and excited to start the day: on two occasions I even took a nap after to recover from the ride.

Slowly, though my stamina “– and I started to add more distance to each ride. I had an occasion to measure the distance last night, it turned out that I am riding about about 10 miles each morning!

this morning, for the first time I woke up before the alarm sounded. My columns and shoulders were sore, and I briefly considered taking a rest day in order for my muscles recover – at the online forms suggest. However, to my own surprise I found that I really wanted to go, and for the first time my inertia was actually to go out and get on the bike. As I started  riding,  I surprisingly did not feel any soreness at all, in fact I felt amazing!


In population genetics, there is idea that when a beneficial mutation first appears – before it “fixes”  –there’s a chance that it will be lost,  even if it is a really good beneficial mutation.  This is because the organisms that host it are so small in number,  and can be easily wiped out by some random process.  However given enough time, the mutation will spread to the rest of the population, and  the majority of the population will host it. Once this happens it will be very hard for the population to lose the mutation.

I feel like the same is true for good habits you want to develop – in the beginning, when it has not become a routine, there’s a chance that  random perturbations  cause you to lose it: it might rain for several days in a row,  you might have a flat tire, you might oversleep your scheduled time. However if you keep at it, eventually  it will  become part of your schedule, and instead of having to make a conscious decision to do it – you  will have to make a conscious decision NOT to do it. That is when you know that you  have hit the sweet spot.

 Takeaway: when trying to add the new behavior to your repertoire, the beginning is always difficult. Don’t  being discouraged by the early failures, they are part of the process – continue to nurture the behavior until it becomes a routine. When you wake up in the morning and look forward to doing that thing, you know you have succeeded.

Do you have something that you want to learn or get better at?  Share what it is in the comments below, and may we all keep improving ourselves.


You can either wait for life to happen to you, or you can happen to life


every few days, we need a kick the butt  to tell us that there are important, urgent, and exciting things to do.


Elon musk is a visionary, focused entrepreneur who is simultaneously leading three companies in three different sectors. If you ever need a hero,or inspirational figure,  you can’t probably do better than this: http://www.gq.com/news-politics/newsmakers/200901/elon-musk-paypal-solar-power-electric-cars-space-travel

this is the interview with Salman Khan in Khan Academy a month ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDwzmJpI4io

Some  things stand out:

1.  he has a clear idea of what is important in the future. As he says, during college he was convinced that the three most big important things that were 1) the Internet, 2) sustainable energy, 3) planetary travel and settlement.

2. He says that being an entrepreneur is like staring into the Abyss and eating glass. The first, because you are confronted with the imminent destruction and failure of your company every day. The second because as chief executive officer, there’s a filter such that the worst, troublesome problems are the ones that arrive on your doorstep. It takes someone with a high pain tolerance to do this.

3. On education – Salman Khan asks him what his advice for Khan economy is. Elon musk says that essentially education is the process of downloading information into your brain. What we need to do is to figure out how to gamify it, so that it is like playing video games. He says he has to pry the controllers from his kids when they play video games, when our education becomes that sticking, and addictive, then we will have solved this problem.

4. Stick to the facts: when someone tells you something can’t be done, see what facts he is starting from – and  evaluate those facts to  arrive at  your own conclusion. Don’t be biased by other people’s opinions, but by what is really happening in reality. For example, when he looked at building spaceX, was trying to figure out the cost of building a rocket and it turns out that if you were to have all of the raw ingredients that goes into making rockets laid out, and wave a magic wand such that the atoms rearrange themselves in the correct configuration, then the total cost is only a few tenths of percents of the cost of going through NASA, or some other space agency. With that as a starting ground, there’s no reason why he could not build a company that makes cheaper rockets.

So what excuse do we have living mundane, fearful lives?  Lets go out there and do something


Sharing a Drink Called Loneliness [is] Better than Drinking Alone

Sing a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
and you got us feeling alright

I wake up alone in my cold bed
Feeling a warmth long gone.
The moon winks and just turns her head
The sun still doggedly comes.

Dust bunnies multiply in my closet,
Where her drawers used to stand.
I’d sweep and chase their happiness away
but she also took the dustpan.

Down at the bar they’re nursing beers
And drinking in a piano’s tears.
Cocktail surgeons stand so alert
Ready to ice your broken hurt.

After bandages, and stitches too
I realized that I’ve been such a fool:
That gush of blood, that flood of feeling
That alone itself was healing.

And every radio pop that pierced me true
Was just another rose pedal— pure blue
And every thorn that decorated its midsection
Is what gave love its price; its perfection.




(written on a bus, trying to get to Brown during Hurricane Irene).

Riding through New York at the wee hours of the morning, the faint edge where black earth met black sky is slowly turning red, like a wound. Above, in the slowly distinguishable sky, there are colors of blue and blue-green; bruises preparing for the raw maw that will eventually leap over the horizon.

We drive towards the brighest part of it all. The sky gleams pregnant orange, and I turn off my seat lamp to hold my breath, waiting for the golden yolk. New York, new yolk. Driving due east to the shore, the way is now again clear; there are a thousand ways to Providence, we will get there yet.



Beginnings are such fragile things

Beginnings are such fragile things,
New love’s delicate beau –
like morning mist collecting on leaves of honeysuckle
And falling off at the wind’s first sigh:
A dew! (I do!)

Beginnings are such beautiful things:
the first cracks in the white pupa shell,
show iridescent glimmers of a caterpillar dream
woven with mystery and homespun with leaves.

The first ray of light over a darkness will
paint redwood shadows behind acorns still
biding their time on the windowsill.

Later in the day, the afternoon sun
will scorch love’s petals dry as a nun’s,
cook the acorn in its big wooden shell,
fry the caterpillar in middle-age hell.

But time’s harsh rays are just rose-beams now,
And life will be beautiful before it would be foul.
Beginnings are fragile while the end is hard,
Nothing to do but dig in and start.Image