You still control these things

My Godfather, Damo and I went to lunch at the LinkedIn New York City offices. He worked for LinkedIn two years ago and still had plenty of friends there.

I knew people loved him but I didn't realise how much.

'OMG Damien!'

'Damo, how are you!'

'Damien's back!!!'

These are the type of reactions we got walking through the offices.

It was like the second coming of Jesus. The whole floor was lit up.

Everyone welcomed us with open arms.

It was inspiring.

People forget specifics but they'll never forget how you make them feel.

Even if you work for someone else. You're still in charge of:

  • How much effort you put into your work

  • How you treat other people

  • How you treat yourself

  • Why you do what you do

When it comes to this list, you're your own boss.

PS if you've ever wondered what lunch at a global tech company is like, I shot some footage while we were there. And since the LinkedIn offices are in the Empire State Building, we checked out the view from the 86th floor too.

Make sure you get addicted to the right things

Once they form, addictions never go away.

They're like energy in the universe. It can't be destroyed or created, it can only change form.

Reformed alcoholics find God.

Smokers find sugar.

People who've had them ambitions taken away find small incremental hits of dopamine from a screen.

The heartbroken find extreme fitness challenges.

Gamers find content creation.

Some addictions are worse than others. You're smart enough to figure out which ones you should avoid.

Human beings weren't made to sit around all day. The time has to be passed somehow.

Choose what you get addicted to wisely.

How to get someone on your side

Ask for their advice.

If it's good, put it into practice and show them the results.

Remember though, advice from someone may also be them trying to live their life through you. It's okay not to take it. Thank them anyway, most of the time it's with the best of intentions.

But if you do put it into practice and it works, follow up. The follow up is often a forgotten step. I write these posts to remind myself of these things.

Imagine this.

You told someone to try doing X.

They went and did X and it worked for them.

And then they came back and told you they did X and said 'thank you for telling me X.'

How would you feel?

The next time they decided to take on a challenge, you'd be on their side.

The only thing holding you back

Is the fear of the unknown.

The unknown outcome, the unknown of what people will think, the unknown of whether it’ll be worth it.

The amateur never learns to control these feelings.

The professional learns to use them. Learns to use them to his advantage.

The professional knows they never go away. So instead of kicking them out and being angry, he invites them to dance.

When a new challenge arrives. The professional says, 'hello there.'

He knows it's going to be hard work. He gets his hands dirty.

And he reminds himself of the choice he made. The choice to spend time doing things that matter, known outcome or not. Because the most important things the professional does might not work.

'What's the one thing you'd do over again?'

I get asked often what's the one machine learning course I'd take over again.

'What's the one fitness habit you'd do again?'

'What’s the one thing I can do….?'

There is no one thing.

Even if there was, there would be no point doing it because everyone else would be doing it.

You're capable of making the change you want to see in the world.

Whatever it is. Bettering yourself, learning a new skill, travelling to that place.

The only real gatekeeper is the one in your head. The one who decides to listen to the naysayers.

But the catch is, you're also your biggest naysayer.

Now you know this. You don't have to be. Not anymore.

The one thing I'd do over again is starting sooner. Starting my own learning journey. Starting my own creative studio. Starting to share my work. All sooner.

How to Win Survivor — The Ultimate Strategy (and tips for being more confident and charismatic)

 ‘You’re just a bunch of fun aren’t you,’ she said.

‘Yeah, you’re right.’

‘I’m going to put you through to the next round,’ she was smiling, ‘you should hear back in a couple of days.’

I was applying for Survivor.

We had a Skype interview. The video quality was bad but she was beautiful.

Skype calls are like blind dates. I only talked to her via email beforehand. So I had no idea what she looked like.

Then we were dialing in. I had a pile of notes next to me. My brother and I had spent an hour or so practicing potential questions.

This was a big moment. We watched Survivor as kids, now I had the chance to be on it. A real life TV show. This was my chance!

The call connected.

‘Hello, can you hear me?’

‘Hi there, I can hear you.’

‘Oh wait, I can’t hear you, let me fix something.’

She fixed it.

‘There we go are you there?’

‘I’m here, nice to meet you,’ I smiled.

‘Okay, Daniel right?’

I forget her name.


‘Let’s do this.’

We got into it. And then the inevitable question was there.

‘Why should we choose you to be on Survivor?’

This one always comes up.

‘Why should we pick you for this job?’

Or even if it doesn’t, it comes up in other forms. When you’re a date, the other person is trying to figure out if you’re worth another date. But instead of asking ‘why should I keep seeing you?’, they ask questions like ‘are you religious?’

I told her why I should be on the show.

The same thing I told my brother when we practiced.

‘I should be on Survivor because no one else will play the game like me.’

Crap. Everyone would’ve said that.

‘How will you play the game differently?’

She was good.

‘Driving Uber I meet a new customer every 10-minutes. Working at Apple, I talked to a new person every 15-minutes.’

I went on.

‘To provide a quality service to someone, you have to figure out their needs. You have to understand them. That’s what I’m good at.’

‘I see.’

‘So no matter who’s there, I know I can get close to them, lead from the front and at the same time know when it’s time to sit back,’ I was rolling with it, ‘I call it the co-pilot strategy.’

She loved that.

‘The co-pilot strategy?’

I have no idea where this came from. An unexplainable force.

‘The co-pilot has enough control but isn’t the main guy. When it comes time to vote someone out, it’s often the one who stands out too much, the pilot.’

‘Oh I see, you’ll stay high enough in the tribe, but not too high to stand out.’

We kept talking. The conversation was supposed to go for 20-minutes. But we ended up going for an hour or so.

By the end of it I was in love. Or was it lust? I get the two mixed up.

She put me through to the next round. An in person group interview.

We had to attempt the same challenges as we would if we got on the show. My team won all the challenges.

After the group interview I saw a girl looking at Physics books at the bookstore. I stopped her on the way out.

‘Were you looking at Physics books?’

‘Yeah, I was.’

So how do you be so charismatic and confident you get through to the second stage of Survivor?


A) Practice

If you know the questions are coming, practice them.

This goes for any kind of scenario. Got to give a talk? Practice it. Going for a job interview? ‘Why should we hire you?’.

I practiced the exact questions she asked with my brother before the interview. I had a head start.


B) Get good at something

Being confident is being good at something.

If you’ve got some skills, own them. So you hear someone is looking for a few art designs, and you can draw. ‘Hey I can draw up a few things for you.’ Will it work all the time? Probably not. But at least you put it out there.

I’d been practicing understanding people for the past four years driving Uber and working at Apple. And I was good at it. So I told her. It’s easy to be charismatic about something you’re good at.


C) Practice again

This one is important enough to list twice. You don’t get good at something without practice. And practice usually involves being bad at something for a period of time.

It’s normal to lack confidence when you first start. But over time, your skills will improve and your confidence will begin to grow.


D) Tune the voice in your head to suit the conversation

There’s always that voice. The one telling you you should say something. Or telling you to go and talk to that girl. It won’t always be the right words. But the nervous energy will be there. Shape the energy to match the scenario.

I had no idea where the co-pilot strategy came from. The nervous energy must’ve sent it out. So I ran with it. And the subconscious took over.

There’s no way to get this to happen except to keep showing up. And learn how to use the energy when it arrives.

In the meantime, better to practice what you need to say or the skill you’re working on.

I think I would’ve won Survivor if I got on.

If you manage to get on, use the co-pilot strategy. Tell me how it goes.


Confidence comes in many forms

What’s your name?


Hey Sara, I’m Charlie. I’m your ward doctor.

Sara didn’t say anything.

You know why you’re here right?


We’re gonna work together on this. You’re going to get better. Is it okay if I ask you some questions?


When did you first notice something was wrong?

Every day for the past 8-years.

When did you get pregnant?

Two years ago.

Do you know who the father is?


Were you using whilst you were pregnant?

I don’t know.

How did you get here?

I brought myself in.


Sara didn’t respond. She was facing the other way.


Sara, it’s okay if you don’t want to talk, I can come back tomorrow.

Sara turned around.

My daughter doesn’t deserve a mother like me.

What kind of mother does she deserve?

I don’t know.

Well, you’ve made the right choice being here.

Sara looked at Charlie. She had tears in her eyes but her lips formed a nervous smile.

It’s easy to be confident when things are going well.

You’ve got a good job, a happy relationship, buying food isn’t a problem.

But what about when things aren’t going so well?

A confident person doesn’t always mean the well-dressed guy walking into the room with his head held high.

It’s also the person who hasn’t been through the best of circumstances but still takes it upon themselves to make a change.

Sara decided to make a change.


The role of the professional

A true professional shows up no matter what.

Imagine if your heart surgeon decided she didn’t really feel like replacing hearts today right in the middle of your surgery.

 ’Well, I’m kind of over all this blood, I’m going to a beach.’

But she doesn’t go to the beach. Because she’s a professional. 

A professional is not immune to thoughts of doing other things. Nobody is. But a professional deals with them accordingly.

A professional knows there’s a job to do, a mission to complete. 

There will be times where you don’t want to do the thing you know you have to do.

And in that moment you a choice. A choice whether to take on the role of the professional.

 ...or not.

Bring the target closer

Someone emailed me the other day saying they were having trouble completing the projects they started.

'I have 17 unfinished projects, how do I keep going to the end with them?'

The truth is, I'm the same. I have a list of unfinished projects. A book, a couple of apps, an AI curriculum.

So when I thought about how I should respond, the advice was to myself as much as it was the person on the other end.

If you keep missing your goals, bring the target closer.

Make your goals smaller. Have the big picture in your mind but break it down into sizeable steps.

If you want to write a book, write 500 words per day.

If you want to improve your data science skills, practice 1-4 hours per day.

If you want to build an app, strive to write one line of good code per day.

Some days you’ll do more. But aim for a at least a little each day.

Get a feeling for what it's like to complete something. Something small.

Then as you keep achieving smaller goals, you'll start moving toward your bigger goal.

Lay one perfect brick per day and eventually you'll have a beautiful wall.

 Damn, I wouldn’t mind a wall like that. Let's see if I can follow my own advice.

Damn, I wouldn’t mind a wall like that. Let's see if I can follow my own advice.

​10 life Lessons From the Wild Life of Gareth Jones

Gareth Jones joined the force when he was 25. Now he’s the best damn detective we have.

I’ll tell you a story about Gareth if you want to hear. It’s not a long one. But it’s worth it.

It’s 1999. Hot as usual. Gareth walks in and people know he’s there. They can smell him.

The man is the only one I’ve known to be out boozing with his clients until the sun comes up and then roll into work as if nothing happened.

‘Nicky, how’s the 14 coming along?’

‘Good Gareth, how’s Jack?’

‘Loyal as always.’

Gareth had this energy. You couldn’t tell what was stronger, the smell or the aurora.

There was this one case he told me about and I’ll never forget it.

A man came in one day saying his wife was doing the dirty on him.

He’d been suspecting it for years but could never quite figure it out. It was time to hire someone.

Gareth stepped up to the plate. The guy couldn’t pay much but Gareth didn’t care. He loved the hunt. It was only his third case.

So the next day Gareth shows up at 9:39. A two hour turn around from getting home the night before. Not bad.

‘You need some help Gary?’

‘Nah,’ Gareth said, ‘I’m good.’

At the start, he did all his work alone. He liked it that way. He had his own style, unconventional, but he got things done.

The blue machine needed to be opened from the outside. The door handle was broken so Gareth would stick his arm out the window and open the door. He got out, closed the door and walked over to the house. His approach was straight up.

‘She stays home during the day, I bet that’s when it happens,’ the husband told us.

Gareth’s walking around the house, peering into the windows. Nothing’s happening.

He keeps going, down the side path and round the corner. Then he trips over the hose. A lady runs out.

‘What are you doing?’

‘I was walking around the side and then I tripped over this hose.’

Gareth always tells it like it is.

‘Well you better get the hell out of here before I call the police.’

‘I am the police,’ Gareth thought, ‘sort of.’

He left but didn’t. He knew something was up. When the lady came outside there were other footsteps inside.

Gareth went around the corner. Found a seat and sat in it. You see Gareth had this talent. He could sit there for hours. Thinking about things. Anyone would think he was brain dead. But he wasn’t. He’d be working out a plan in his head.

The seat wasn’t far from the house. It didn’t take long to get back.

Gareth waited a bit out the front and out of the way so he couldn’t be seen. There was an extra car in the driveway. He saw two people walking around inside.

‘This is it, I’m gonna get these two.’

As soon as he stepped out the front door opened. He moved back and looked up. It was the husband.

‘He should be at work,’ Gareth thought.

‘Bye sweetheart!’

The lady closed the door. And then walked back inside as her husband backed out of the driveway.

Gareth stared moving around the back again. Any other detective would’ve gone home by now, cover almost blown and the husband showing up out of the blue. Not Gary.

‘There was no car there before. So who owned the extra footsteps?’

He heads down the side path and round the corner again.


There’s a sound out back. Gareth recognises the sound. He runs around. There’s a guy on the ground. He tripped over the hose.

‘Shit,’ Gareth turns back around the side. The guy didn’t see him. Gareth was big and strong but there was no point taking the sucker. He hadn’t confirmed the case yet.

The lady comes out and helps the guy up.

‘I’m sorry honey, he doesn’t usually come home during the day.’

‘It’s okay, let’s go back inside, this dam hose almost broke my leg.’

Gareth let them go inside. It pained him to see another man with someone else’s woman but he was a professional. He had a mission.

He waited a bit then went inside. The backdoor was open. No one closed anything in those days.

Family photos littered the hallway. Gareth was young but he'd seen it all. His Dad played up on his Mum when he was a kid. It hit him hard back then but he was alright now.

There were voices at the end of the hall past the kitchen. Gareth stopped and took out his camera.

'I don't think we should be doing this anymore.'

'Why not?'

'Because you're married, and I've met your husband.'

'What he doesn't know won't hurt him,' the wife said, 'come on now we haven't got much longer before he comes back.'

Gareth took out his gum and stuck it under the kitchen bench. And then kept waiting.

Then a door closed towards the front of the house.

Gareth walked out of the kitchen down the hallway. He was in the open now. If anyone came out he was done for.

The voices stopped. But there was motion in the room. Gareth stood by the door.

Wait time was over. Gareth popped open the door, stuck up the camera and clicked the shutter.

'What are you doing?!'

'You're done now,' Gareth said, 'should've listened to your flesh buddy in the hallway.'

The guy she was with was young and fit. When he realised what had happened he leaped out of bed towards Gareth.

Gareth stood back and braced and watched the guy's meat chandelier flailing about as he ran across the room towards him.

When he got close, Gareth pivoted on his back foot and launched his leg towards the guys skull. He didn't look like it but Gareth could move.


The guy fell to the ground but not before Gareth caught him and let him down softly. He was naked and stunned but nothing he wouldn't recover from.

Gareth lived by a rule. Don’t increase or decrease the population unnecessarily. And he wasn't about to break it.

The wife was rugged up in the sheets. She was as stunned as her partner on the floor.

Gareth turned around without saying anything. Closed the door behind him and then walked out. He kicked the blue machine in the guts. And then came back to HQ and told us all what I just told you.

'Jobs done.' Gareth handed in the camera.

'I'm going to Foley's.'

'Gareth, it's 2pm. On a Tuesday.'


Gareth went to Foley's. His name was engraved on a gold plaque under the bar.

'Early mark again?' Pauly asked.

'Today was hot,' Gareth said, 'I wasn't hanging round.'

'Yo Gareth, tell me,' Pauly leaned over the bar,'how you getting so lucky all the time?'

'It's not luck Pauly. I show up every day and work my ass for peanuts. Then I get the peanuts.'

'Why work so hard?'

'What else is there to do?'

'Play around, you know, have some fun.'

'Work and play are the same thing for me Pauly.'

This is what got me about Gareth. He lived to work. Anyone would think the opposite.

347 solved cases later, Gareth Jones is still going. He still drives that beat up old blue car. And he still sits there and stares into space as if nothing is going on. He's got a couple kids now so the late nights into early mornings have slowed down. He’s a good Dad.

Now you might be thinking why I told you the a story about Gareth Jones. Well, here's the thing.

Even when he was young, there was a lot to learn from Gareth Jones.

A) Telling it like it is

Remember how Gareth fell over the hose. He didn’t blame it on the hose, he said ‘I fell over the hose.’

Gareth always told it like it was. That’s why people trusted him. You knew what he was saying was genuine.

Be honest in your speech.

B) Your own style

I can count the number of times I remember Gareth rocking up when he was supposed to on one hand. He might’ve been late by other people’s standards but he always got the job the done.

Whatever you do, do it with your own style but don’t forget, the mission isn’t over until it’s over. And it’s never over.

C) Work well alone but play nicely with others

You remember how I told you Gareth took jobs on his own?

He was capable alone, that’s for sure.

But when the time came, he could work with anyone. When he came back to the office after a while away it was like Jesus was in town.

‘Gareth’s back?’

‘Yeah, he’s back!’

Be useful on your own and remember, we’re social creatures. Best to get along and treat others well too.

D) The butt in chair technique

I always wondered what he was thinking. Whenever he was staring out into space.

He’d spend 8-hours sitting at a bus stop if it meant he might get a lead on a case.

No paper. No phone. Nothing.

Whatever Gareth wanted, he could wait for it.

If you want something, work for it, wait for it, think about it for a bit and then do it all over again.

The secret to guys like Gareth getting to the top ranks is simple. It’s the application of butt on chair.

E) Fool me once shame on you, and you can’t get fooled again

The hose again. Gareth tripped over the hose but was cool about it. So when he heard someone else trip over it, he knew what the sound was.

Walking is a controlled series of mistakes, little falls one after the other.

If you mess up there’s always the next attempt (see F).

F) The next attempt

If any other of the men from the department rocked up to that house, they would’ve left after seeing the husband.

Not Gareth. He followed his curiosity.

It didn’t always work but this time it came up trumps.

You already know the result of giving up early, what’s the alternative?

Your most important step isn’t your last, it’s your next.

G) Mission first, feelings second

It’s hard watching a lion take out a helpless deer. But that’s nature.

Gareth watched as another man walked in to sleep with a married woman. It was against his being but if he acted too early, it might’ve compromised the mission.

Emotions can cause you to lose focus of the task at hand.

Complete the task first, then deal with the emotions when you’re in a better position.

H) Movement

You can’t roundhouse kick a naked man running towards you if you don’t care of your body.

Keep moving. Physically and mentally, every day.

I) Work as play

This is the one. Gareth knew how to have fun with it.

Times would be hard, the people would be hard, the work would be hard but he lapped it up. It was like he was a school boy in the playground.

There were men I saw who had everything going, the car, the nice bed, the beautiful home who would come into work as if they had a hot coal between their cheeks.

Here Gareth was coming in after two days without sleep or showering and still getting after it.

You don’t have to lose sleep or stop showering but enjoy the work. Enjoy the grind. There’s no such thing as work-life balance. Life is work and work is life.

J) Be a caring father or role model at least

Those kids are dam lucky. But Gareth wouldn’t call them lucky. He’d tell them their father shows up everyday, works hard for peanuts and gets the peanuts.

Every man should be a father figure. A loving and kind role model to others.

And if not to others. Start with yourself. Start by being your own biggest fan.

I’ll sign off how Gareth would all his letters.




3 crucial words for doing better work

‘I’ll never be the best engineer,’ I said. And I’ve said it plenty of times before.

‘Not with that attitude.’

He was right.

I was holding myself back.

If you want to make a lasting change, raise your standards.

If you want to do better work, raise your standards.

Take advantage of the most powerful human force there is.

We all strive to stay consistent with how we define ourselves. So if you want to improve, start by defining yourself differently.

Raise your standards.

Afraid of the ‘yes’

Dave and I would be on the bikes. Putting in some Km’s after working out.

The conversations are always better once the sweat starts. It’s like the good half of the first drink at a cocktail party. Everyone starts warming up and listening to Sarah talk about her latest group project is almost bearable. Actually, it’s not like that at all.

But we’d be going and then we’d start talking about girls.

‘How’s Jenny going?’

‘We’ve been chatting every day,’ I said, ‘you’ll love this.’

Then I’d tell him a story about Jenny.

‘Have you asked her out yet?’

‘Nah,’ I’d look forward, ‘not yet.’

‘What are you scared of?’

‘I think I’m afraid of the yes.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘You see, if she says yes, then I have to make something of it.’ ‘But if I don’t ask, then I get to keep this feeling of what it would be like.’

‘Yeah mate, I get ya.’

You see the thing was, playing the game was fun. Having something being there but not quite there.

Not asking was the easy option. That’d mean I’d stay chasing after Jenny and not having to worry about stepping up if she actually said ‘yes.’

I wasn’t afraid of the ‘no’. I could handle that. I was already living the ‘no’. We’d never been on a date. A ‘no’ would mean same old, same old.

A ‘yes’ would’ve been far scarier. Then I would’ve have to had been a man and put my money where my mouth was.

The opportunity you’re looking for may be staring at you in the face.

But instead of saying ‘yes’ to it, you let go without acknowledging it.

In the short term, it’s much easier to keep doing what you’re doing.

And the long term? Perhaps not as much.

I never asked. And you can always predict the answer of not asking.

So if fear is only of the unknown and you always know what happens you don’t ask. Are you afraid of the ‘yes’?

I was.

And now? Perhaps not as much.

How to be the King of Your Own Kingdom (by reading books...)

Here’s the sitch.

You’ve been thrown back in time. Somewhere where Kings and Kingdoms and Knights are still a thing. Not like today but like the ones in Game of Thrones. The cool ones.

When you arrive, you’re naked. You end up in the middle of a field and you’re a bit sizzled because we haven’t quite worked out the ins and outs of time travel yet.

You walk up to a farmers house.

‘What are you doing here?’

‘I’m from the future.’

‘What’s the future?’

‘Do you have any spare clothes?’

You offer to help on the farm in exchange for clothes. Why? Because you read Influence by Robert Chaldini and know about the law of reciprocity.

The farmer agrees.

You help around the farm for a few weeks. Then decide it’s time to head into town.

The farmer taught you some good things. But it’s time to try something else.

You find a library. It’s bare. And the English in the books is broken but you can still make it out. You help others to read. They appreciate it.

Everyone starts coming to you as a source of knowledge.

‘I can’t seem to get my troops to follow me into battle.’

‘Well, how are you treating them?’

‘I train them hard and often.’

‘Are you doing the training?’

‘Of course not, I’m a leader, not a solider.’

‘Perhaps you should consider leading with actions, rather than words.’

The Commander comes back a few days later.

‘What you said worked,’ he says, ‘where did you learn such things?’

‘In a book called Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink.’

‘Willink? I’ve never heard the name,’ the Commander says, ‘but if you see him, let him know I must know more of his techniques.’

You keep making friends in the town. You know everyone’s name.

Paul the baker.

Mary the shoemaker.

John the blacksmith.

When Samuel needs new shoes you send him to Mary. And when Jacob wants a new piece of armour, you always recommend John.

‘Morning John,’ you say heading through the streets.

You remember how someone’s name is the sweetest thing they can ever hear from How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

An election is coming up. The King is getting old and wants to pass on the crown. He has no sons or relatives.

Your name gets thrown in the hat. You’ve only been in town for a year. But it’s been a good year.

‘We have a new King!’

It’s you.

‘How could this have happened?’ you wonder.

Then you remember back to all the actions you took in the past year. Helping the farmer, sharing your knowledge, making friends and connecting them to each other.

All these things came from books you read.

But you realise it wasn’t only because you read them. It was because you put them into practice.

Someone’s life’s work spread across the pages, absorbed into your head, then spread throughout and look what happened.

Remember how you helped others to read?

The people appreciated it. Why? Because they were learning. They were gaining knowledge.

It’s in our DNA to seek knowledge. It’s why reading self-help books can be addictive.

Each one sheds a little more light on what we could be doing better. But it’s like the coin stuck down the back of your couch, the closer you get, the more it inches away.

And so you keep reading, and reading, and reading. But never quite satisfying your thirst.

Then you realise.

There is no book which is going to help you become yourself. Because the books are simply the tool.

And what good is a tool which doesn’t get used?

But now you know. You know what’s possible when you use the tools available to you.

You can become the King of your own Kingdom.

Get ready. Being a King is hard. There will be times where you don’t know what to do next. That’s when it’s time to reach back into your toolbox.

Don’t have the right tool for the job? No worry. There are plenty more down at the hardware store.