The Lazarus Philosophy: The Danger of Expectations and The Beauty of Duty

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Here are some excellent tenets of self-interested (not self-centered) lifestyle design from The Notebooks of Lazarus Long by the inimitable Robert Heinlein:

Do not confuse “duty” with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.

But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad [a thief] than it is to deal with a leech who wants “just a few minutes of your time, please – this won’t take long”… Read More

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Services for a Hyperspeed Life: Faster Speed Dating, 100-Word News Summaries…

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I was interviewed recently from Uruguay by Marco della Cava of USA Today for a cover story that appeared yesterday titled “Speeding Up the Mad Dash”. It’s a quick read and good food for thought:

If you’re reading these words, the chocolates and flowers are on their way. Because given the gazillion draws of modern life — the cellphone, the BlackBerry, the boss, the kids, the TiVo, the dog — it’s a small miracle this sentence has made it into your day.

Our fast society is only getting faster, putting inordinate demands on our time and prompting the people and companies that service our lives to come up with ways to help us reclaim some of it.

Don’t have time to read all those magazines you subscribe to?

Not a problem. A new website called Brijit offers one-paragraph summaries of even the most complex and deeply researched tomes. “It’s like drinking from a fire hose these days,” says founder Jeremy Brosowsky. “There’s more good stuff than ever, but the problem is consuming it day to day”… Read More

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5 Boundary-Setting Tips for the Work Obsessed

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[Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Anne Zelenka, who serves as Editor at Large for Web Worker Daily.]

If you are so passionate about your work that you border on obsessed, you might find it near impossible to turn work off.

This is especially so in the web age, when you can stay connected no matter where you are, who you’re with, or what you’re doing. What do you do when suggestions like “work only during certain hours” and “don’t check email on evenings and weekends” just don’t seem to be enough?

Here are five more powerful tricks for keeping work in its place… Read More

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Bad News: Higher Income = Less Leisure Time?

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There may be no such thing as too much money, but there is certainly such a thing as too little time.

How does one of my best friends make several $100,000 USD per year as an investment banker but have less than two hours per month for his dream car, which sits gathering dust in his garage?

Let’s look at the numbers…

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…when you compare modern Americans to their 1965 counterparts—people with the same family size, age, and education—the [leisure time] gains are still on the order of 4 to 8 hours a week, or something like seven extra weeks of leisure per year.

But not for everyone. About 10 percent of us are stuck in 1965, leisurewise. At the opposite extreme, 10 percent of us have gained a staggering 14 hours a week or more. (Once again, your gains are measured in comparison to a person who, in 1965, had the same characteristics that you have today.) By and large, the biggest leisure gains have gone precisely to those with the most stagnant incomes—that is, the least skilled and the least educated. And conversely, the smallest leisure gains have been concentrated among the most educated, the same group that’s had the biggest gains in income.

Aguiar and Hurst can’t explain fully that rising inequality, just as nobody can explain fully the rising inequality in income. But there are, I think, two important morals here.

First, man does not live by bread alone. Our happiness depends partly on our incomes, but also on the time we spend with our friends, our hobbies, and our favorite TV shows. So, it’s a good exercise in perspective to remember that by and large, the big winners in the income derby have been the small winners in the leisure derby, and vice versa.

Second, a certain class of pundits and politicians are quick to see any increase in income inequality as a problem that needs fixing—usually through some form of redistributive taxation. Applying the same philosophy to leisure, you could conclude that something must be done to reverse the trends of the past 40 years—say, by rounding up all those folks with extra time on their hands and putting them to (unpaid) work in the kitchens of their “less fortunate” neighbors. If you think it’s OK to redistribute income but repellent to redistribute leisure, you might want to ask yourself what—if anything—is the fundamental difference.

From economist Steven Landsburg

Related Links:

The Karmic Capitalist: Should I Wait Until I’m Rich to Give Back?
Wealthier Than Thou: Is it enough to be rich, or must others be poor?

Chapter 2 – Rules That Change the Rules: Everything Popular is Wrong
Mail Your Child to Sri Lanka or Hire Indian Pimps: Extreme Personal Outsourcing

Odds and Ends:

Tim Ferriss one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Business People of 2007
USA Today Cites 4HWW in #2 Trend for 2008

Tim interviewed in Japan’s Nikkan Gendai

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What if you protected personal time as "family time"?

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While you’re at it, can you please stick bicycle spokes in my eyes?

Bob Cramer has taken six tech companies to successful exits, IPOs or acquisitions. Here is how he negotiates family time, from “The Secret Life of a Serial CEO” in the January 2008 issue of Inc.:

“He recounts how he recently considered taking the CEO job at a database company with big potential. But the second round of interviews spilled into a schedule family vacation, and he refused to change his plans. When he returned, he learned the company had gone with someone else. He was a little surprised and disappointed but felt he had made the right decision. After all, he was just following another of his rules: ‘Never regret doing a family thing over a business thing,’ he says.”

Some people are excellent at protecting family time, but most are terrible at protecting personal time.

How would your quality of life change if you safeguarded personal time like Bob safeguards family time, even if you’re single?

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Odds and Ends: More videos from Buenos Aires – Taxis and Tango


Crossing under the “obelisco” and flying across the widest avenue in South America, 9 de Julio.


This is the famous “La Viruta” tango club in Buenos Aires. It is 4am on a Sunday night (Monday morning), and these 100s of people have to work in a few hours. God, I love cities designed for night owls!

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