Oct 11 2019

Randomness

I love randomness. It’s an essential part of how I live and work.

Today’s example of randomness is the book event for Do More Faster that David Cohen and I are doing at the Barnes & Nobel in Boulder at 4 pm today. It’s open to anyone and we have no idea who is coming or what the actual agenda will be, but we know that even if it’s just the two of us sitting at a B&N together, we’ll have fun and learn something.

My goal with randomness is to always be learning. Sometimes I have structured randomness, like the Random Days that I used to do all the time and now occasionally do. Other times it’s just a random event (like the one this afternoon), a random visit to a company/organization (like something I’ve decided to do on Saturday afternoon), or a random new thing to play around with.

One of my favorite Neal Stephenson anti-heroes is Raven from Snow Crash. Raven has the phrase “Poor Impulse Control” tattooed on his forehead as a punishment for some crime in his past. I’ve always loved this phrase, but use it in a positive way around randomness.

There are endless examples in the 53 years of my life in the power of randomness. When I’m asked about how we ended up in Boulder, I answer “it was random – we wanted to try it out and see if we liked it so we just moved here from Boston.” We knew that if we didn’t like Boulder, we could try someplace else. Another example is my Goodreads My Books Read list, which is a little less random than the infinite pile of books that I’ve actually bought and are sitting on my Kindle to read. My email is another example – the number of interesting things that have come out of a reply to a person I don’t know who cold emailed me is remarkable to me when I reflect on it.

There is an endless structure that is imposed on my life, either by me or others. All you have to do to see it is look at my calendar. So, in addition to the Joy Of Missing Out, I encourage you to embrace some randomness in your life.

And yes, I am very aware of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s thoughts, anecdotes, and warnings about randomness. Rather than being confused that luck is skill, I prefer to allow luck to just show up while I’m learning and exploring lots of different things.