A Million Joels

Imagine walking into a vast room, set up sort of like the Imperial Senate in Star Wars:

Image result for star wars senate

The room stretches away further than the eye can see. There are millions of seats surrounding the central podium in every direction, each occupied by someone staring down at the current speaker.

This is my philosophy. Every human being changes a little bit every day, sometimes we change a lot. Through the course of a lifetime, we can recognize unique people. For myself, the person I am today is very different than the person I was at 23, and the person I was at 23 was very different than the 17 year old, who was very different from the 13 year old, who was very different from the 10 year old. I think that even day to day we are different people, just very slightly changed. Even inside of the same day, we are different by a tiny amount. It is an illusion our brains create that there is continuity of consciousness. Scientists have run experiments suppressing certain parts of the brain and what happens is people have many different voices from different parts of their brain at different times all competing.

All of the seats are occupied by different versions of myself. Countless past versions of myself that have had their time in the sun all watch down on the Joel of the present at the center of the stage. There are other versions of myself who are yet to be – these are enormous in numbers as there are many branching possibilities and opportunities open for different versions of me to come about. For example, there’s the potential versions of Joel who start drinking heavily and doing drugs every day till they die a few years down the line. There are the potential versions of Joel that work 16 hours a day every day for fifty years and make every lucky decision possible and build the largest company on the planet. And there are countless version in between including ones who die in a car accident tomorrow.

The person who is the Joel of the present is not just doing his own thing… he has responsibility to the millions of different people that were the past Joels (some of who sacrificed for the future, some of who were hedonistic in their presents). The Joel of the present also has responsibility to the future versions of Joel. Every decision I make today will close off doors and pathways that could have happened.

My philosophy is that when I make good decisions in the present that make past Joels proud and provide for a better life for future Joels, there is a massive arena filled with very happy and very proud Joels cheering me on. When I make bad decisions, there are countless Joels who are disappointed.

My goal is to do things that lead to a good life, balancing family, work, colleagues, lifelong learning, and things like that.


There is a very popular idea being pushed in America right now that success is really just being lucky. The idea claims that LeBron James was just lucky he has his genes… Not that he trained hard every day for a lifetime. The idea also claims a successful entrepreneur just got lucky to have perfect circumstances to lead to where they are.

I think this idea is clearly false. But I can debate that another day.

The question I wonder is what is the motivation of people pushing this idea? I have a feeling it is people who have failed in life not wanting to take responsibility for their actions. Or worse – it’s people who want to take from those who are successful and need a justification for their theft… 


Smartphones are incredibly addictive. I played a game with Laurel on the freeway when we went on a longer road trip a few weeks ago: Look in each car and see if the driver is on his phone.

Shockingly, probably 1 in every 3 drivers we saw driving on the freeway had their phone in one hand with the screen on and would check it frequently. When we hit slowdowns, probably 1 in every 2 LA drivers had their phone in their hands.

Smartphones and the apps on them like Facebook, Snap, Instagram, Pinterest, the games, etc are all getting more and more addictive all the time.

Traffic deaths have spiked because of smartphones and I think traffic deaths will continue to escalate rapidly until fully self driving cars are here.

Why is it easier to comparison shop restaurants then doctors?

You are suffering from chest pains. You go to the ER and are told that you have advanced heart disease and that you need to find a doctor to help you. What do you do next?

There are not many options to help you research and find the best doctor. You can’t see a history of success, there are not great review sites, there is no trusted large brand.

If you are looking for a restaurant (a $10 food purchase perhaps… compare that to $500,000 for heart surgery), you will find highly detailed reviews of prior experiences, public health department reviews of the cleanliness, etc. You will also have major brands like McDonalds which will provide you exactly the same burger every single time anywhere you go and ensure quality control is held to ridiculously high standards.

Your heart surgeon could be a terrible surgeon who kills 10x more patients than the average, but you will never know it. You can’t get any information or statistics comparing doctors. You will have a very hard time comparing hospitals.

Why is this? It is purposefully done by the doctor’s unions and hospital groups. It allows them to protect their profits at your expense.


Manchester by the Sea Movie

Laurel and I just watched Manchester by the Sea, a indie film about a troubled uncle and his nephew brought together after the brother / father dies.

I really like it and would recommend it. Laurel thought it was too depressing.

Laurel Is The Perfect Wife!

Tomorrow is Laurel and I’s one year wedding anniversary. We were married at the beautiful Altadena Country Club where her family has been a member for around twenty years.

The last year has had many ups and downs, and fortunately our marriage has been the source of the ups and has helped us through the occasional downs.

We have had lots of fun times together in the last year:

  • Going to Mexico for Jeremy and Dorothy’s wedding a week ago
  • Watching great shows like Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, Rick & Morty
  • Our honeymoon in Kauai
  • Reading great books like “When Breath Becomes Air” and “Rising Son”
  • Talking about where to live long run, and what work Laurel wants to do

Laurel is very hard working and does an enormous amount to make my life better. She does all of our grocery shopping, she cooks me dinner every night, she helps keep the apartment clean, and she helps plan for the future.

I feel like she provides me the stable grounding so that I can continue to work hard every day to build my business.

I am even more excited today about the future of our marriage than I was even on our wedding day a year ago!