Salt and pepper shakers

How many times have you used salt and pepper shakers?

They work perfectly practically every time. You don't have to worry about whether salt or pepper is going to come out. You shake it and it does.

When I was 10 we went on a school camp. Everyone was around the table able to eat the camp food. Then my friend Kaushal grabbed the salt shaker to use on his meal.

The lid wasn't on properly and the salt went all over his meal. Too much.

15 years later and I can still remember his face when he tipped a full salt shaker onto his plate.

I used salt and pepper shakers today and I can barely remember it.

We take perfect processes for granted. All the things that happen without us noticing.

And people often strive to make their work perfect. But they forget, it's the less perfect stories that are remembered most.

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.


The man in the arena

My heart was pumping.

I tried to slow it down with my breathing.

In for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, out for 4 seconds. I read somewhere this is how Navy Seals breathe to keep themselves calm. If it was good enough for them, it was good enough for me.

It worked.

My vision got clearer and my heart rate slowed down.

But the voice in my head was still there. The one who says, 'you're not ready for this.'

Still there. It always is in the big moments. Even if you've been getting prepared for months. The voice always shows up.

I knew it was coming. And I knew what it was going to say.

Samurai's thought it was best to fight with an empty mind. So I cleared out the house in my head where my thoughts live and locked the door.

There I was standing at the edge of the mat, staring at a guardrail across the hall. But how did I know I was staring at the guardrail? Was that a thought? Dammit. My mind wasn't clear.

The voice started to come back. Maybe I hadn't done enough training. Maybe the other guy was better than me.


These thoughts aren't helpful but they're always there.

'Don't forget to breathe,' one guy told me. He was right. Breathing is important.

The fight started and the crowd cheered. I had some supporters and the other guy had some too. Everyone was there for the show. People love to be entertained.

It went on for a few minutes, he had control for the most part and ended up winning on points.

My first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament match, a loss.

'That wasn't so bad,' I thought. And the voice was gone.

What was the point of it showing up?

No one else was against me except it. Our harshest critique lives in our heads.

But you can silence it with your actions. The critiques opinion doesn't matter to the man in the arena. Because the critique isn't the one going to battle.

The critique isn't the one putting themselves out there.

The critique isn't the one showing up and trying something which might not work.

The critique feeds on attention and loses her power when the man in the arena decides to ignore her.

Today was good fun. I finished the day with 2 losses by points, 1 win by armbar submission and 9.5/10 fingernails.

Six weeks into this sport and I'm already in love. There are plenty more rolls to come. And that gets me excited.

If you haven't tried Brazilian Jiu Jitsu before, you should. I highly recommend it.

Even if it's not Jiu Jitsu, and you're thinking about trying something else. Something new. But you've been paying too much attention to your harshest critique and it's holding you back. Silence the critique with your actions. I highly recommend it.


​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.




The journey is the goal

Check out was at 10 am. So I had breakfast at 9. $1 for an omelette and pancakes. What a deal. I ordered two lots.

When I arrived at the car rental place there was a line three rows deep. I joined the back and took my backpack off. It wasn't heavy but I couldn't be bothered carrying it, the line was moving slow.

'Next please.'

Someone would get seen and then I'd kick my bag along the ground. I was checking out the new iPhone online while I waited. A new gold colour. Sweet.

Then it was my turn.

'Did you want to upgrade for $25?'

Of course, I wanted to upgrade. I'd already paid $150 for the Mustang but the Camaro SS was the fastest car they had. Easy money.

'I'll take all the insurance you have please.'

I bought the biggest package. Everything was covered. My friends will tell you how good of a driver I am.

The car was incredible. Black and yellow. Someone had thought about every line. It oozed muscle and sex appeal at the same time. You couldn't pinpoint what it was but it was.

It took me a couple of minutes to figure out how to put the roof down. There was some cover in the boot which needed to be put in place. The only flaw.

I connected my phone to the stereo and started blasting Eminem’s new album with the top down. I paused the music and the lady took my pass and pointed me out of the carpark. Freedom.

The highway was next. 455hp versus pavement. Ohh yeah.

When I put my foot to the floor there was a slight pause, like the car was asking 'are you really sure you want to do this?' I was sure. My whole body sunk back into the chair. I could feel all 455 horses galloping at once.

We hit the coastline, me and the car. I nicknamed it Bumblebee because it was the same colour as my favourite Transformer.

Us and the open road. Plenty of time to think. Plenty of time staring at the lines of paint coming towards me one after the other.

It was quiet. The engine noise sunk into the wind and I started to relax. Yawns were creeping up on me so I stopped at Starbucks and got coffee. Then I was back.

I keyed in Big Sur on the GPS and followed it along. All you could see to the right was water and to the left, mountains.

Having the top down and some clouds cooled things down. My party shirt and t-shirt combination weren't suffice. I pulled in the reigns and put the top back up.

The GPS said we were 13-minutes away. A couple hours down but it felt like just down the road.

30-minutes past. I passed a couple of signs which said, Big Sur. They were towards a big park. But I wasn't stopping. I was on the journey.

Then the sun started to go down. I was gearing up for an epic sunset over the Pacific Ocean. My phone had no signal. Good. But I still had no place to stay.

I watched the ocean for a bit then decided to head back. Big Sur was nowhere to be seen. Actually, I didn't really know what I was looking for.

The sunset was amazing. But I missed it. I timed it perfectly to take the one section of inroad whilst the orange dot was hitting the horizon.

'We're all booked out.'

'Are you sure?' I asked.

'I am,' he said, 'but there's a place down the road you might want to check out.'

I went to the other place and stopped out the front. I didn't like the look of it so I keyed San Francisco back into the GPS. 90-minutes away.

I put on the soundtrack from Drive and cruised back to the car rental place.

'Are you sure you haven't left anything in the car?'

'I'm sure.'

I left my headphones in there. Oh well.

It was midnight but I booked back into the hostel I checked out of. Then caught a Lyft there.

My driver was from Afghanistan. We talked about his favourite cricketer. A real young guy and had some great stats. I could see why he liked him.

'Good evening.'


I was half expecting the same guy to be on the front door of the hostel, then I remembered it was 14-hours later.

'You'll be in room 102, bed 1.'

'Ha, the same one as before.'


'Oh, don't worry.'

I went back up to the room and made my bed again. It was on the top bunk so moving the blankets around was a battle between them and my knees.

I took my pants off and hung them on the end of the bunk. That would be the last time I saw them.

It was bedtime. I peeled back the shower curtain and turned on the water. My toothbrush was sitting on the shelf in the tub. I left it there.

The whole journey had been to come back and find my toothbrush.

Sitting in bed I Googled 'Big Sur.' Turns out Big Sur isn't one single place rather a stretch of places. I drove right through them all.

Sometimes you don't find what you're looking for. Because it was right there in the first place.

I went to sleep knowing pancakes and eggs would be on the cards in the morning. A man always sleeps better knowing such things.