For My Fellow Entrepreneur

This is a share for entrepreneurs.

If you are an entrepreneur, you have a vision, you are connecting the dots, you are likely a leader who wants to make a positive change in the world.

It is also likely that you have something to prove. It might even be that you are doing what you are, to escape from some unsettling and uncomfortable feelings.

Marc Andreesen talks about that in this podcast conversation (starting at 32:27). He says most entrepreneurs are driven by a feeling of shame or guilt.

In this recent Wharton Fireside chat (starting at 5:52) Chamath Palihapitiya also talks about the “big hole” and the sense of worthlessness he felt in himself and how that drove him to be successful, just like many other accomplished people (like Elon Musk, Kevin Hart,…) in Silicon Valley and beyond…

You also might have these negative feelings inside you. And, that is totally fine. As you are connecting the dots for a better world, it is best to be conscious of those uncomfortable feelings, and unhealthy thoughts that lie beneath those uncomfortable feelings.

Marc Andreessen talks about how each founder is like a cult leader who creates a set of values for their coworkers to follow to achieve their common goal. The clearer and cleaner your values, and your mission & vision are, the more likely your cult will grow.

I became aware of my unhealthy thoughts and uncomfortable feelings when I first started working with Mariah Fenton-Gladis. She was the first therapist who could help me get out of my head and into my heart.

Mariah helped me become aware of my of negative feelings and negative self-talk and the weight that I was carrying because of them. Most of them are from early childhood years, of course. She talks about the importance of that inner “self-talk” in this TED talk.

My advice to my fellow entrepreneur is to become aware of your unhealthy thoughts and uncomfortable feelings and then be able to talk about them.

With who you might ask? It does not really matter with who as long as you can talk about it. It could be your business partner. It could be a coach or therapist. Even better would be your spouse, perhaps with the help of a marriage counselor.

Success starts with peace inside yourself first, then follows at home, and then at work. Marc Nicolson helped me realize that.

My 3rd Rodeo – stream of thoughts

I am working on my 3rd major life-project/startup.

Yes, my passion project, SolarAcademy, is moving forward with some new energy, as it joins paths with new partners, collaborators, and a team, to meet its vision.

I spent parts of this weekend in meditation about our MVP and found myself watching and benefiting from a series of videos. Below is a list of the videos I watched and found relevant to where I am in this space and time.

Found this 3 min segment [6:50 to 9:50’ish] in the below video very relevant because we need to refine our brand, product, and its value proposition. As well as our team’s Belief/Purpose, aka mission, vision, and values. In other words: What is life about for me and my team?

Also found these 2 Udacity videos with Nir Eyal (author of Hooked & Indistractable) about Habit Forming Products very useful.

Habit Forming Products:

I found this second Udacity video – about the morality of manipulation – especially interesting and relevant as I might be about to embark on a project (yet a second time) that might create another viral and possibly habit forming product.

The Morality of Manipulation | Product Design | Udacity:


If you can keep your head when all about you   
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

– Rudyard Kipling

Peter Thiel

I wrote about my YouTube Education here in this previous post.

Peter Thiel is one of my favorite YouTube teachers. He is most famously known as the former Founder & CEO of PayPal, Elon Musk’s former partner (through the merger of PayPal & Elon’s, and of course, as the first VC investor into Facebook.

His talks, interviews, and teachings are full of thoughtful observations, great stories as well as interesting ideas. I find Peter Thiel to be one of the smartest and most successful operators in Silicon Valley.

Here are some of his content that I find to be useful and/or interesting:

Why did Boston and East Coast based VCs miss investing in Facebook? Because they did not want someone younger to be more successful than them.

On secrets, education, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) And, how & why the current university system is extremely corrupt.

Peter’s thoughts about too much debt, low interest rates, and socialists. And his thoughts on Marx’s theory of “The time for communism comes when interest rates go to zero”.

My YouTube Education

Since the beginning of the pandemic, my media consumption has gone up in a noticeable way. Over the past year and a half, while many people spent countless hours binge watching Netflix and Hulu shows, I have found myself watching YouTube more often than any other medium.

I am quite impressed by the quantity and quality of generally useful, deeply educational, thought-provoking, and entertaining content on YouTube, so much so, that I even curated a “Solar Entrepreneurship” course on with 100% existing free content on YouTube.

Here are some of my own YouTube teachers:

  • Charlie Munger & Warren Buffett (Investing)
  • Yuval Harari (Philosophy, Life, Technology)
  • Peter Thiel (Tech & Startups & Investing)
  • Ray Dalio (Finance & World Politics & Life Philosophy)
  • Naval Ravikant (Startups & Life & Philosophy)
  • Daniel Schmachtenberger (Life & Philosophy & Civilization Design)
  • Eric Weinstein (Economy, Investing, Science, Tech, Investing)
  • Reid Hoffman (Tech Startups)
  • Chamath Palihapitiya (Tech Startups, Investing, Finance)
  • Fabrice Grinda (Tech Startups & Marketplaces & Investing)
  • Jordan Peterson (Psychology & Philosophy)
  • Russell Brand (Comedy, life, philosophy)
  • JP Sears (Satirical comedy, life, philosophy)
  • Esther Perel (Relationships)

While it is nice to see so much YouTube content from so many tech & finance industry leaders, my heart wishes to see similar quantity and quality of content about sustainable living from the leaders of emergent fields of alternative health, education, and energy.

I have no doubt this will happen. And, I think it will happen fast.

As this is happening, I believe we will also see an emergence of education focused services and businesses organized around curating content and directing students to relevant content.

The First $20k is Always the Hardest

Back in the dot-com era, I remember reading this novel called, The First $20M is Always the Hardest by Po Bronson where the author talked about the gold rush days of Silicon Valley and founders’ dreams of making their first $20M and the twisted stories around that pursuit.

Having been a two time “bootstrap” entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, I’d like to modify that title as “The First $20k is Always the Hardest“.

Yup. The first $20k per month of revenue (or gross profit in some cases) is the hardest. Once you get there, you are the captain of your ship and life gets much better.

When the startup team gets to that approximately $20k of monthly income (or gross profit) where it can sustain a small team of founders and early team members, then everything becomes fun & easy.

So how to get there? Here is what we did in my two startup journeys:

  1. Create your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) while not re-inventing the wheel completely. Don’t turn your idea into a science project. As Warren Buffett says, starting a proven franchise branch is a much safer bet than trying to be next Steve Jobs. So pick a concept that is not too far off from existing proven models. My first company was an adaptation of Friendster/Myspace for international markets. It took off in Turkey (my home country). My second company was a Solar Equipment Distributor with an amazing e-commerce website and no warehouses. What is yours?
  2. Don’t give shares to investors but give shares to co-founders. Give shares to early team members who believe in you so much that they are willing to work for shares instead of cash. Negotiate with your people so that they work for half the going rate for similar jobs in a regular company. And give them shares. Even better if they take zero cash and all shares. Do the math. Instead of getting 100’s of thousands of dollars from investors and giving them a big chunk of your company (mostly to pay employees with it), give 5% or more to each of your early people and have them work for zero (or some) cash and all (or more) shares. In both of my startup journeys, the original founder shared generously with co-founders (20-50%). And also shared generously with other early employees (1-5%).
  3. Get to cash flow positive as soon as possible. Focus on costs and revenue. In both my startup journeys, my team got to cash flow positive in less than a year. How did we do it? We got paid close to nothing (in cash) for the first year and focused on serving the customer, getting a fair pay for our services, and growth.

Once your team gets to that $20k then all you have is upside. It is in a way some of the most fun times. You are not needing investors. They are – possibly – wanting you because they are thinking “Oh wow if this thing scales up fast, we might be missing on an amazing opportunity.”

Of course, not all startups will scale to the moon. Only few will do. So not all will attract investors. And even if yours does not, you are your own boss making a living, having fun, creating something new… which you can grow at a modest rate without the stress of pleasing of investors… And that peace of mind might be worth much more than $20M.

I see many early-stage teams talk about how they need capital to do X, Y, and Z. And only if they had capital, then they could build a prototype, etc.

My response to that is: Well, show me how you are already providing that service without your prototype. What does it look like today? And why don’t you charge your customers to pay for the product development to turn that into a more scalable process/product…

Once you get that formula nailed, then revenue and profit will follow. And then, Capital, too. But only then. And then, you get to decide whether to take investors’ Capital or not (which comes with its own set of burdens).

In a sense, Capital is a lot like Love… only when you generate it within you (e.g. within your company and its processes) then you will attract more of it. And if you accept that Capital, then you might also be giving up some of your freedoms to please the expectations of your Investors.

RC Sailing

When I was about 12 years old, my dad gifted me what became my favorite toy of my teenage years. A remote control sailboat. In my late forties now, my favorite toy is again the same.

In 2015, shortly after we moved to San Diego, I found out about the existence of San Diego Argonauts (remote control model boating club of San Diego) and San Diego’s beautiful Model Boat Pond located right in the middle of Mission Bay. Since then I have been addicted.

I raced sailboats, windsurfers, and even kiteboards through high school, college and afterwards. I always enjoyed competitive sailing. To me competitive sailing symbolizes men’s struggle within nature and against each other. Sailing races integrate the probabilistic elements of nature with geometry, physics, as well as strategy and tactics, like no other sport.

I enjoy competitive sailing with dinghies and other types of boats, yet I find competitive sailing with remote control sailboats so much more rewarding. RC Sailing combines all the mental challenges of competitive sailing with more socializing and cardio as you walk up and down the pond, condensed into a shorter time frame.

Another thing I like a lot about RC Sailing is that – you are not so consumed with your own drama – instead you are seeing the whole fleet, all your mistakes, and others’ moves in one big clear picture. Imagine 10 starts and 10 finishes in just 2 hours with olympic and national level sailors. No better sailing practice than that for tactics and strategy. It is like playing speed chess at Washington Square Park in New York City with world class chess players. And, I really enjoy hanging out with older friends most of whom are 60 to 95 yrs old.

Furthermore, the San Diego Model Boat Pond’s setting is probably the best in the world. Below are some videos and pictures from the San Diego Model Boat Pond, and some links to relevant websites for those interested in learning more about RC Sailing.


American Model Yachting Association –
San Diego Argonauts –
San Diego Model Boat Pond YouTube Channel:
Collection of San Diego Model Boat Pond videos:

Dragon Sailing – (Complete Boat Kits – starting from $189.95)

Various Facebook Groups:
DF95 –
DF95 USA –
DF95 Region 6 –
SD Argonauts –
RC Sailing –

On Wealth

What is wealth? To most people, it is material goods and lots of money. To others, it is deep and meaningful relationships and experiences.

To me, it is really time. Time for me. Time for my own reflections and choices in life. Time to do meaningful contributions and time for meaningful relationships and experiences.

I recently came across this Scott Galloway clip about wealth, how to get it, how to keep it, and how to grow it. As he says it, the trick is not so much in “making the money” but it is in “keeping the money”.

As he shares his life story and many of the mistakes that he has made, he also shares why his dad making $50k a year from his pension is so wealthy, and his investment bankers friends making millions and living lavish lifestyles are so poor.

My interpretation of this wisdom, can be simply summarized in a few of my favorite quotes:

  • The Master does nothing, yet he leaves nothing undone. The ordinary man is always doing things, yet many more are left to be done.
  • Less is More.
  • Chi va piano, va sano, va lontano.
  • I can think. I can wait. I can fast.

So many people in this world are running on a hamster wheel, or other paths, so fast, with so much pride, greed & impatience, that it is kind of sad to see them not savor time or the relationships around them.

Reminds me of two recent conversations I was having with friends. Each of them called various people poor. One of those people was doing their life’s work. So in my book that is not being poor as long as one is in control of their time and making conscious choices about how to balance their time while doing their life’s work.

The other called the people of a third world country poor in making a point that life is not fair. Having grown up in a country that was not quite third world yet still significantly less wealthy than most western countries, I question that statement.

I wonder if those cultures that value relationships, traditions, time with family, and community more than westerners do, are really any poorer for it…

My SolarAcademy Vision

I first got the inspiration for my passion project, SolarAcademy, when I discovered Khan Academy more than a decade ago.

Since then, and especially during the days of working at CivicSolar, I have been thinking about creating systems that accelerate the sharing of useful knowledge through new methods and ways, to help create a more equitable, connected, healthy, and balanced world.

That is the main reason I created SolarAcademy. Our initial focus is on the Solar Industry and in accelerating the dissemination of solar know-how.

What is to follow, who knows? I have a sense it will be other knowledge related to sustainable living on the planet. Knowledge that is wise, timely, and necessary for others to know.

I was invited to talk about my journey of entrepreneurship and my SolarAcademy vision with Zeynep Erden Bayazit of Istanbul Technical University’s (ITU) Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center. Established in 1773, Istanbul Technical University is the 3rd oldest Technical University in the world. Unfortunately, this content is only available in Turkish at the moment.

P.S. I am wondering when YouTube/Google or others will come up with automated English subtitles for Turkish content. My guess, it is probably 3-5 yrs away…

Yuval Noah Harari

I find Yuval Noah Harari to be one of the most impressive philosophers / historians / anthropologists of our time. 

I heard other intellectuals put down his works arguing that he does not introduce anything new to the realm of social sciences.

What makes Harari special for me is the way he conveys and packages those facts and ideas in a easily digestible format and story. That is his magic.

His views shape my world view in a significant way. And I agree with most of what he says.

His Books:
– Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind
– Home Deus – A Brief History of Tomorrow
– 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

1) This TED dialogue: Nationalism vs Globalism – the new political divide  is a great summary of the ideas from his books.
2) And his recent talk at WEF Davos is eye opening, scary, and timely.

I use frequently for my SolarAcademy project.

I first heard of Canva from Emily Kirsch of Powerhouse. I think it was back in 2017. I complimented her on the simple and elegant designs of the graphics they were using in Powerhouse’s twitter posts. Emily shared with me that they were creating those graphics with Canva.

And then maybe a year or so later, I heard that one of my favorite VC’s, Bill Tai, had invested in Canva and that he was helping them grow from being a small startup based in Sydney, Australia to become a major player in Silicon Valley.

Canva is a very easy-to-use and powerful graphical design platform that combines elements from traditional graphical and illustration tools like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, as well as various other platforms which would host stock photos and unique fonts.

Canva’s founder Melanie Perkins started Canva with her boyfriend in her early twenties while working as a graphical designer and an instructor teaching graphical design. She created a solution to her own problem. Her problem was “having have to go to too many different platforms and desktop software tools to create an end-product of design to communicate ideas”.

This video from 4 years ago explains her story in detail.

And it is impressive to see the kinds of problems that the company is now working on now, in this more recent video.

The 8 C’s

I met Mark Nicolson when I attended his conscious leadership workshop at Esalen Institute in November 2018, titled “Conversations on the Edge: The Leader of the Future”. Since then we became friends and had the opportunity to work together.

I first heard the idea of “being successful in one’s intimate relationship is what is usually required to be a good leader in other areas of life” from Mark.

In his TED talk, Mark talks about how connected moments of vulnerability become critical in seeing the truth. Mark also talks about how good marriage therapy actually helps us to transform our deepest negative feelings like anger into fierceness.

Mark says the best way to transform negative feelings like fear into courage, shame into humility, and grief into compassion, is by turning towards our pain, rather than away from it.

Mark recently shared with me a great book. “You Are The One You’ve Been Waiting For” by Dr. Richard Schwartz. In this book, Dr. Schwartz shares the process of therapy that he has developed, called Internal Family Systems.

Internal Family Systems (IFS)  is a therapeutic technique aimed at helping us to recognize various beliefs and the “Parts” associated with us.  

Cathyann Simmons, a therapist who utilizes IFS in her work, says:

“When we can lead from Self (also called Core Self, Self Energy, or Spiritual Core Self), we can get some distance from all of the different messages that various Parts carry.  Utilizing what IFS refers to as the 8 C’s — Compassion, Curiosity, Calmness, Clarity, Courage, Connectedness, Confidence, Creativity — we can begin to understand and find the answers we need to care for ourselves and experience deeper relationships with those closest to us.”

Since reading Dr. Schwartz’s book, I have been making a deeper effort to utilize these 8 C’s to care for myself and those close to me.

When to launch?

Linkedin founder Reid Hoffman has a well known quote. It goes “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

Have a look at Linkedin homepage when they first launched in 2003.

Clearly, Reid did not wait to perfect the product. He had the key elements that defined Linkedin baked into the product, but in the most minimum viable way.

In the past week, I tried something similar with SolarAcademy. I have had a hunch for a long time that companies need to integrate mindfulness and awareness practices not only in their own operating culture, but also into the way they interact with prospects and customers.

We launched an event series called “CONVERSATIONS about POWER” where we integrated mindfulness/awareness practices into a solar energy webinar where we talked about benefits of solar energy for home and property owners.

The fusion of the two separate content areas, mindfulness and solar energy, was a bit confusing for some people. Partly because we did not communicate our premise in the most clear way. People need sustainable energy as well as more awareness and consciousness to lead sustainable and healthy lives.

Many people live blind to the fact that they go through life unaware and unconscious like the mouse depicted in the book “Who moved my cheese?”. And when they stop running in their running wheel, they feel more stressed than before. The COVID crisis is hopefully making these people realize this fact in a faster way.

In summary, I was a bit ashamed of the quality of our version 1.0 of this new event series, but I felt verified on my premise that the world needs both more solar energy and increased human awareness and consciousness.

Things will never be the same

I humbly predict the following changes in human behavior in the post-Corona world. It will be interesting to look back at this post in a few years.

  1. People will realize that slowing down is actually not so bad. We will realize that a slower life style with less commuting, less consumption, less travel, and more connection with close ones might mean less contribution to GDP, but more to our collective happiness.
  2. There will be a huge surge in the ways we connect with each other over tech platforms that enable video communication. AR/VR might follow soon after that.
  3. This means our 200-year old education system will change quite a bit. Major universities building fancy campuses with expensive buildings and conference rooms might go out of fashion pretty fast and instead unique, efficient, and online forms of teaching might take the stage. The content of these forms of teaching could also be widely shared with the entire world population free of charge equalizing the playing ground for all world citizens. This does not mean teachers will not be needed. We might need even more teachers, counselors, and advisors to help guide students in various paths of education and learning.
  4. The wealthy class might realize that they are not really separate from the rest of the population, no matter how much they separate themselves with their large mansions, gated communities, private planes, and large chunks of land in remote areas.
  5. Universal health care and universal basic income might become a thing in the US after many years of debate.
  6. The borders between countries will become more permeable. They will initially retreat inwards. But soon after that they will realize all nations depend on other nations, so they will become more united in the ways they create and execute policies. Travel between countries will be easier for the average world citizen.
  7. As video communication soars, the lines of privacy around proprietary information between companies will become more permeable. Workers will start recording and publishing video communication and we will be swimming in a sea of data.
  8. The real value-add of humans will be their service oriented time and their creativity around how to organize rapid learning and rapid creative solutions. Since being creative is more fun then worrying about protecting various know-how and IP, most people will focus on creating and getting paid a fair wage rather than monopolizing data for profit’s sake and building wealth for wealth’s sake.
  9. There might be a surge in living in nature outside of major metro areas. Eco-living 1-2 hours outside of major cities with contingency systems like independent power (solar + batteries) and vegetable gardens, yet still connected to the world via the electric grid and fast internet, might be the new happy medium to balance rapid technological advances with the health that nature provides.

Bear Markets

On March 16th, many people are wondering where does this market dip end?

I don’t know.

In the past century, bear markets lasted as little as 2 months and as long as 34 months. Average bear market lasted 11 months with a 26% dip.

At this point we are less than 1 month into this new bear market and S&P 500 index is down 30% from its peak on Feb 20th. If I were to guess, this one might last longer than a single month. But who knows.

The 1987 Black Monday crash was a 22.6% dip in a single day. And it took 3 months to bottom out. The dot-com crash took more than 2 years to find its bottom. 1929 crash took almost 3 years and a 83% percent drop before it bottomed out.

One thought that I have with conviction is that we will look at this crisis and be thankful one day.

Planet and humanity needed this crash to slow down, become conscious of our unsustainable consumption and behaviors, as well as perceived disconnection from each other.

Most importantly, we needed a crisis like this to realize that we are all on the same boat called the planet and we have to take care of the planet and each other.

Best Marriage Advice

Relationships are the most important part of our lives. A marriage defines probably the most important relationship of one’s life (except the one with one’s self).

There are tons of good content out there on how to lead a successful relationship with a partner. Some of my favorites on this topic include the following:

Yet, sometimes the best advice comes from those who failed at the subject. 

In Tambourine, a one-hour stand-up comedy (available on Netflix), Chris Rock talks candidly  about the factors that led to the demise of his marriage as well as what to do and what not to if you want a successful marriage.

From minute 34 to the end, Chris Rock delivers the best marriage advice that I have encountered anywhere.

My single most important take away: When you are married, you are there to Serve. Period. Not to compete, not to satisfy your ego, but to Serve. To serve your spouse and your family. Remember that and you will have a happy marriage.

In Tamborine, Chris Rock talks about many things but the marriage advice section is the best in my opinion.

Knowing yourself with Enneagram

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” said Aristotle.

That must be why many business schools and corporations have their students and employees do the popular Myers-Briggs test during the orientation period. The business school I attended was equally famous at graduating some world class leaders as well as world class villains.

World class leaders get acknowledged for pushing the edge of envelope. They become villains when they lose themselves in the act, when ego takes over the ultimate noble reason of why they are doing what they are doing.

One of my favorite personality tests that analyze where one stands in their personal evolution is the Enneagram. I did an Enneagram workshop few years ago and learned a ton about myself. 

According to Wikipedia, The Enneagram of Personality has been widely promoted in both business management and spiritual contexts through seminars, conferences, books, magazines, and DVDs.

In business contexts it is generally used as a typology to gain insights into workplace dynamics; in spirituality it is more commonly presented as a path to higher states of being, essence, and enlightenment. It has been described as a method for self-understanding and self-development.

There are nine Enneagram types. Everybody has only one dominant type. And all aspects of all other types. Each type has 9 levels. Level 1-3 are healthy levels. Level 4-6 are average. Level 7-9 is considered mental illness.

The 9 types are:
1) The Reformer
2) The Helper
3) The Achiever
4) The Individualist
5) The Investigator
6) The Loyalist
7) The Enthusiast
8) The Challenger
9) The Peacemaker

Types 8-9-1 have the Belly as their instinctive center. Types 2-3-4 have the Heart as their instinctive center. Types 5-6-7 have the Head as their center.

My dominant type is Three – The Achiever.

Understanding my own type and the dominant types of people close to me has been very helpful. Enneagram helps to recognize when one is operating at non-optimum levels. So you know how to react.

There is no good/bad/ideal types or matches between the types. All is good as long as everyone is operating at healthy levels. For example, here is an example of what healthy to unhealthy range looks like in Type 2 and 3 – The Helper and The Achiever.

Type 2 – The Helper:

Type 3 – The Achiever:

A couple years after my Enneagram workshop, I came across this Enneagram book in a quaint bookstore in Santa Monica. I found it equally worthwhile.

I especially liked the totems used to explain the unhealthy versus healthy behavior of each type. Here are what the healthy / unhealthy totems are for some of the types.

Type 2 – The Helper:

Type 3 – The Achiever:

Type 4 – The Individualist:

Type 5 – The Investigator:

You can take the Enneagram test here for $12 (~30 mins) to get your detailed report.

What matters at the end?

Ric Elias was sitting at seat 1D on the famous US Airways flight that had to crash land in the Hudson River.

In this brief talk, he talks about the things he learned in the experience of almost dying, seeing into the future, and coming back to live differently.

He shares the three things he learned and the one most important that matters to him now:

  1. It can all change in an instant.
  2. Savor each moment.
  3. Don’t let ego to get in. Don’t try to be right. Choose be happy.

Dying isn’t scary. It is sad. The only thing that truly matters at the end is being a great parent.

Life is Easy. Less is More.

In the West, we value ambition, accomplishment, progress, competition, productivity, civilization, order, and innovation. These are noble values.

In our quest for achievements along these values, we frequently, or should say I frequently, find myself overwhelmed by the activities, decisions, and options that I have to consider and choose from.

In those moments, I find it helpful to slow down, breathe, and choose to do less rather than more.

In this TED talk, a farmer from Northern Thailand talks about how “Life is actually Easy” and how he simplified his hectic life by making a few big changes that resulted in doing less and getting more out of life.

While we do not want to be slothful, I think in today’s rapidly evolving high-paced life, it helps to remember what the ultimate goal is of our busy and hectic lives, and that in many areas of our lives, Less can be More.

Brings to my mind this quote:

The Master does nothing, yet he leaves nothing undone. The ordinary man is always doing things, yet many more are left to be done.
– Tao Te Ching

Shades of Grey = Free

Many people like to think of the world in black and white. “I am this therefore can’t be that.”

Best example of that for me was growing up. I was born in Turkey. So I was born a Turk. The prevalent way of thinking around me was – you are Turk, therefore you are to live and die in Turkey.

That is how most people live. They don’t change cities, countries, nationalities, or god forbid even religions. Sadly, they don’t change their ways of thinking that come from older generations.

Albert Einsten has a good quote on this way of thinking.

“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”
– Albert Einstein

But then there are some people who think out of the box. They see the shades of grey in every situation. They know nothing is absolute and nothing is permanent. There is a nuance to almost everything. And everything changes and shifts.

There is a great quote for that as well.

“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great…”
– Maya Angelou

I believe one has to be able to see the shades of grey to be truly free. The more shades one sees, the freer they will feel.


The dirty secret of capitalism

Almost everyone likes whistle blowers, unless the whistle blower is ratting out a system that benefits them.

What I like better is when powerful insiders talk transparently about how a broken system is benefiting them more than it should. In this talk, entrepreneur/investor, Nick Hanauer is doing exactly that.

Some people find this act hypocritical and populist. I don’t. I think what makes us human is our ability to think critically and to display acts and instincts of compassion and self-control.

I especially like the garden vs. jungle analogy that Nick Hanauer makes at minute 12:30. What make us human is that we can tend to our world like a garden, instead of seeing it as a jungle.

Relationship with Self

“Relationships” and “Time” are two of the most important things we have in life.

Most of my life, I was quite efficient with how I managed and protected my time, but I had relationship challenges with the people closest to me. With about 50% of marriages ending in divorce in the west, and many people having issues with close family relations, I know I am not alone.

I have read, watched, consumed a ton of content on the topic of relationships in the recent years. This video is one of my favorites.

In this talk, the late Mariah Fenton Gladis, an amazing woman with whom I had the privilege to work with, explains how it all starts with relationship with one’s self.

Are you aware of how your mind talks to your body everyday? Is he/she nice? Or is he/she repeating some old thoughts and statements you grew up around that are not healthy or even true anymore?

When you neutralize that negative speak, you will truly love yourself. When you truly love yourself, everything becomes better.


I did some reading up on fractals and fractal geometry today. Fascinating subject.

Fractal is defined as a curve or geometric figure, each part of which has the same statistical character as the whole. Fractals are useful in modeling structures (such as eroded coastlines or snowflakes) in which similar patterns recur at progressively smaller scales, and in describing partly random or chaotic phenomena such as crystal growth, fluid turbulence, and galaxy formation.

What if everything in universe was explainable with a single mathematical formula?

Love vs. Power

Most of my life, I struggled with the question of how to balance Power with Love.

How to be powerful yet kind, without giving away one’s power?

And then, one day I came across this great quote by MLK which helped frame the issue for me.

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

And recently, I was at a workshop with some very accomplished business leaders. One of them summarized the answer to the dilemma best for me.

“Love is my best friend and protector. Whenever I am in my heart, I will be OK.”

Mindset Shifts

I recently came across this graphic which summarizes the mindset shifts that are necessary to compete in today’s business environment.

I would add to this list one more shift:

Competing > to > Creating

In the west, we are conditioned to compete. Just compete on the tracks that are presented to us. Many of us don’t question the rules and just become cogs in the wheel of life, supposedly competing, without challenging the whole.

We compete like rats and feel despair. Meanwhile, there is so much abundance and opportunity on the paths less traveled.

The strongest emotion that drives this blindness is almost always fear. We fear that we won’t belong, we fear that we won’t be secure, we fear that we won’t be liked. So we end up competing like horses with blinders on.

Unfortunately, this is not only the reality for most individuals (whether they work for corporations, the government, or non-profits) but also the reality for most corporations, governments and non-profits.

Competition is great to build discipline. Yet, best results happen when discipline is coupled with creativity. For that to happen, one needs to take the blinders off. And that means, overcoming your fear and getting off the common track.