39 Things I Know To Be True

Today is my birthday.

The 39th one I’ve celebrated to usher out my 40th year on this little blue dot. Along the way, I’ve had a pretty wild ride and got to experience a lot of interesting things.

My parents were teenagers when I was born — like early teen teens. We moved a lot. We didn’t have a lot of money. Sometimes we didn’t have any money. I’m Type 1 diabetic. I was working on an airplane on 9-11. I have daddy issues — who doesn’t?

I’ve built and sold companies. I’ve met some of the coolest people. I got to write a book because someone made the connection. I’ve made connections because someone read the book. I speak Spanish. I’m married to a chef. I have a killer mom, grandma, sister, and aunt.

Life serves it all up. We decide what to do with it. Here’s some of the truths I’ve learned along the way. Where you’ve been doesn’t have to define you. Where you’ve been doesn’t have to define you.

  1. Where you’ve been doesn’t have to define you.
  2. But it also doesn’t have to be forgotten or hidden to become who you want to be.
  3. Finding ways to build things together is far more interesting than designing moats with impenetrable walls.
  4. The best story usually wins.
  5. The best stories are the ones that make people feel something.
  6. You should never apologize for crying when something moves you.
  7. Linking pinky fingers with someone you love can feel like the force of 1000 deep hugs.
  8. Eye contact will rarely betray you.
  9. People care more when you care more.
  10. Agreement is sometimes the most revolutionary thing you can do.
  11. Silence creates tension. While there are a lot of ways to run with this and a bunch of reasons to hate it — my idea is that finding ways to be still and silent can drastically increase the tension you feel between where you are and who are you. Tension is the only thing that ever sparked action — so in this way, I say find stillness & silence so you can explore that tension to find yourself.
  12. Wine shouldn’t be served at room temperature unless your room is a cave. Follow the rule of 20. Pop your reds IN the fridge 20 minutes before you want to drink them. Pull your whites OUT 20 minutes before you want to drink them.
  13. Being a good audience member is usually the nicest gift you can give someone.
  14. Play to the top of your intelligence. This is a little something I learned at Second City — but it applies far beyond the stage. To me it means, not letting ignorance stop you from contributing. But also stops you from committing malpractice. Be honest — but still show up.
  15. Accept other people’s realities. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to agree with it. But you do have to accept that for them, for now — it is a reality.
  16. No one really ever did anything overnight. Whatever they have, whatever you covet, whatever you dream about — there is someway to get there.
  17. Nobody wins when you make excuses for playing small.
  18. We are all just jockeying for energy from other people all the time. When you realize that, you become incredibly powerful at giving people what they need in a way that allows you to maintain your own energy.
  19. You have to give and take with equal joy, energy, and intention.
  20. The best wine grapes are a lot like my favorite people. They do their best growing when the conditions are tough and water is low. They have to dig down into the roots while at the same time heading for the sun.
  21. Explore each thing to its fullest and then be willing to move on. We aren’t meant to do anything forever.
  22. Be willing to be changed by the people you meet.
  23. Nothing is ever 100% about the words being spoken.
  24. Listening isn’t about being quiet while someone else talks. It’s about being present while someone else communicates.
  25. No one is actually more creative. They are just more willing to be uncomfortable with all the ugly stuff they produced to get something pretty.
  26. Avoid winning the game if the cost is leaving the field.
  27. A perfectly told story is not a mirror — it’s a prism that allows others to see a version of themselves.
  28. Everything we say or do moves us forward. The big question is where is it taking you.
  29. When it comes to whether or not you can love someone — try harder.
  30. The best way to solve a problem at work is usually to get more clear on what you want to create — and then ask people how they’d like to contribute to that idea.
  31. The answer to the question “what kind of life am I creating?” is best asked early, often, and honestly.
  32. David started small. It’s typically the best way to slay a giant.
  33. Every piece of work is creative work. All work somehow benefits the continual creation of the next thing.
  34. The most interesting thing about you (and me and everyone else) is the YOU part. What you aren’t enough of is boring. What you are full of is the magic. Who are you and who are you becoming is wickedly interesting.
  35. How you choose to show up to the things in your life largely dictates the outcome.
  36. Stretching is good. For your body, your mind, your relationships, and your dreams. Get up. Move. See the world. Listen. Do some yoga.
  37. What we don’t know about other people, their lives, their stories has the power to strip us of joy if we compare it to what we do know about our own story.
  38. You can’t steer a parked car. The only way to make anything is with some momentum. So do something about it.
  39. Refusing despair is an act of revolution and creation when you realize that YOU can indeed impact this thing.
  40. I think the most powerful thing we can all do (and something I’ve tried to do since I was too young to even know I was doing it) is to refuse to be a cynic. Refuse to be someone who holds things at a distance, makes fun of them, sneers at them and judges them so they can’t hurt us. Instead be open to it all — the good, the bad, the ugly, the pretty, the hurtful, the joyful, the lively, the dying, the light and the dark. For in it all, we get to choose life.

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