It’s Not My Job To Save Your Life, But I’ll Try Anyway

(I didn't know what would happen next)

(I didn’t know what would happen next)

I was 22. It was Christmas, 1999.

My high beams reflected off of her back.

Turned away from me, her hoodie up, one hand raised to her face.

Two passersby stood next to each other, facing her and facing me, the blood drained from their blank faces. Something was very wrong.

The hooded girl turned around, light revealing her face slowly, evenly, left to right.

Blood ran down the right side, dripped into both eyes and the ear where she held the stranger’s cell phone:

“Mom, Mom I was in an accident! I’m bleeding! I can’t see!” She was yelling into the phone.

Her forehead was split with a gash 6 inches long running diagonally from just above her right eye back into her hairline past the center of her head. I could see her skull.

I was driving home from family Christmas in Springfield, IL. It was about 2:00am on I-55. I passed two cars on the shoulder with three people standing outside, a car with its flashers on, another running idle. A third was out in the field between the off ramp and the overpass, headlights dim and windshield spiderwebbed; the door was open.

I was still a trained First Responder from the Western Montana Mountain Rescue Team and it looked like they needed help. I was in derivatives finance now, not on a rescue team. It was not my job to help.

I U-Turned twice and rolled up behind the hooded girl. I turned my emergency flashers on.

(she used the white line as a guide but it didn't work)

(she used the white line as a guide but it didn’t work)

The girl was so drunk she was using the white lane marker on the right edge as her guide. When the line curved off onto the exit ramp, she followed the line until she realized it was an exit. She jerked the wheel back to the left and the car launched off the exit ramp, crossing about 100 yards of field before hitting the bridge embankment head-on.

Her head hit the windshield.

(her head hit the windshield)

(don’t let your head hit the windshield)

Rule #1: When you come across an accident the first thing you do is make sure the scene is safe, under control and determine how many people are in the accident. If it is not safe, under control or you’re not sure, leave it to professionals. If you must park your car, park it out of the way with the flashers on.

“Have you called 911?” I asked

“No, she wanted to call her mom so I gave her my phone” the woman said

She was on the phone with her mother.

Never give your cell phone to a victim to make a phone call. They cannot think straight. Call 911.

I took the phone “I’m a first responder and I’m going to help your daughter. Your daughter has blood in her eyes from a cut; she’s not blind. I have to hang up now so we can call 911”

I hung up.

“Call 911” I said to the woman

I told the man to go get something for the girl to sit against. She was going into shock.

I always carry at least 1 pair of rubber gloves with me and a first aid kit in my car. I grabbed a roll of paper towels, a big blanket and the kit.

I put on the gloves.

Rule #2 – Always carry rubber gloves with you. You can protect yourself from blood, but they also make great water balloons, inflatable turkeys or can be used to flush the toilet you don’t want to touch.

I sat her down and leaned her against a cardboard box from the man’s car.  I covered her in a blanket and pulled her lacerated skin back together with my hands, then pressed a big square block of gauze to her head, keeping the skin together with pressure. The gauze bled through quickly, so I packed paper towel on top of that until it bled through again, and repeated, stacking bandage on bandage. The best way to treat non-arterial bleeding is by applying direct pressure.

Head injuries bleed a lot.

Once the bleeding was covered up I treated her for shock and assessed further, keeping my hand pressed against her head.

The woman was behind the girl bracing her head and neck.

I could smell the alcohol in her blood seeping from her head.

In a car accident, body parts fly everywhere. Injuries aren’t always obvious. If victims are not treated at a hospital within an hour, their likelihood of survival goes down, especially when the head is involved.

Rule #3 – Never move a victim unless you have to (like a car is going to explode). More injuries can be caused by moving victims than by keeping them in place.

With head injuries a lot of other things can happen. Things can break, hemorrhage, pop, slice, and dent. Frequently it takes hours, sometimes days, for the injury to present itself. People have died from simple head trauma thinking they were okay.

Sometimes it takes awhile for damage to show up. When it does, it’s too late.

The girl sat under the blanket. The ambulance was on its way.

The emergency road guy showed up but he didn’t get out of the truck. We asked him for gauze from his kit. The sheriff showed up, but he wouldn’t get out of his car. “It’s not my job.” they said.

Rule #4 – Don’t expect anyone except the ambulance to do anything medical at the scene of an accident. “It’s not my job” is a ubiquitous phrase and people are afraid of being sued for wrongful harm. It is a risk.

I was asking questions and taking measurements. The man was writing down the answers to the questions and the woman was doing everything else.

The three most important questions are used to determine alertness:
A. What is your name?
B. Do you know where you are?
C. Do you know what day it is?

I used more questions to monitor alertness and distract her from panic. I ran through more checks like heart rate, breathing rate and pupillary response. Everything seemed good but she wanted to sleep –  an alarming sign of shock and other larger problems.

Rule #5 – once the area is secure/stable, assess the victims based on the ABCs: Airway, Breathing, Circulation (and then C-Spine)
Airway – is the airway clear or obstructed?
Breathing – is the victim breathing?
Circulation – is there a heartbeat? is the person bleeding? From where?
C-Spine – stabilize the cervical vertebrae (the vertebrae of the neck); the c-spine is most vulnerable to accident injury.

The ambulance arrived. The first medic approached.

(don't expect anyone except the ambulance to give medical help)

(don’t expect anyone except the ambulance to give medical help)

I told him “I’m a first responder. This is a single intoxicated 26 year old female who was in a single car accident and is the only victim involved. She has a 6″ laceration on her forehead and is nearly in shock. Here is the information we have (handed the note)”

He looked at my hands covered in blood, and the clotting pile of gauze and towels on her head. He thought my hands were bare.

“I’m wearing gloves. Do you have antiviral wash?”

I went in the ambulance, rinsed the gloves in solution that kills everything and peeled them off. Somehow my thriftshop-found cashmere sweater and white pants (yes, I broke that rule) were blood free.

She was loaded in, doors closed and driven away. She was taken to Loyola University Medical Center, the hospital where my mother was a nurse.

The blanket and box were covered in blood and the man and woman were still silent, in shock.

We carried on small talk as they explained how they saw the accident and the girl walking across the frosty field to the road, flagging down help.

They had never seen an accident or an injury like that before.

I’ve seen too many. The unharmed drunk man ejected from his pickup in Montana after rolling it 3 times into a field. The Mexican family of four t-boned in a West Side Chicago intersection cut by glass from the shattered windows. A family of two in Chicago driven off the road into the cement median on I94 North near Touhy Avenue. The speeding motorcyclist who hit the pickup truck in Portland, Oregon packing a 9MM in his waistbelt and a ball of cocaine; most of his upper body and a leg were broken, probably his skull too; the helmet was dented. The cyclists I saw after they were hit by cars in LA, more than a few on Wilshire alone. And more.*

At night sometimes when I close my eyes I see these things flash by: Split skin, dead bodies, injured kids crying, broken glass, my own arms bent at impossible angles, my family hurt and in pain.

Then I wake up. It’s a new day. Someone else will be hurt today. Maybe physically, maybe emotionally. Someone needs you to save them. Will you do it?
*More than 31 percent of traffic fatalities involve alcohol. The numbers are higher if you include other drugs. In most of the cases I’ve seen, drugs or alcohol were involved.

Apple Goes Thermonuclear On Themselves

Cupertino, CA- In an unprecedented move Monday, Apple announced that it is suing itself for patent infringement.

“We looked at our operations and it was clear we were violating our own intellectual property, so we are being very aggressive in our actions” said Bruce Sewell, Apple’s General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Business and Government affairs. “As soon as we uncovered the first stone, it was clear this would be monumental. We are basically going thermonuclear on ourselves because there is no one else left to sue.”

Sources say it was during the preparation for the launch of the iWatch when Apple began considering suing themselves. Apparently Apple has violated every one of their own patents going back to the early days of the company.

(carl icahn thinks the lawsuit is brilliant)

(carl icahn thinks the lawsuit is brilliant)

“It would have been nice for Tim to disclose this to me in our call” said legendary investor Carl Icahn “he said he was going to innovate innovation, but I didn’t know this is what he had up his sleeve. It’s quite brilliant, actually”.

(tim cook is innovating innovation)

(tim cook is innovating innovation)

The lawsuit was filed in Federal Court and covers every employee and every office under the Apple umbrella, totalling tens of thousands of individuals and hundreds of sites and actvities, including the deceased Jobs who was the worst offender according to Sewell.

The reaction in Silicon Valley is that of shock and awe.

(mr. ellison can't wait to see how this suit plays out)

(mr. ellison extended his life to see the suit play out)

Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO and longtime Apple proponent, said he was not surprised “I’m not surprised. It’s just a shame Steve Jobs isn’t here to see this. It’s what he’d have wanted. I’m working on technology to extend my life so I can live long enough just to watch this battle.” Apple’s move may be the first in a series of similar self-lawsuits.

Sources said Sergei Brin and Larry Paige are discussing whether or not they should pursue the same course of action against themselves and Google. Calls to Samsung and Facebook were not immediately returned, but Mark Zuckerberg reportedly took an unplanned trip to Switzerland with his new wife, a goat and 17 suitcases loaded with cash and little blue “thumbs up” stress reliever squishies.

(do you like this? I hope you do)

(do you like this? I hope you do)

Reports located Al Gore in a Mexican airport en route to Panama where he keeps a compound once owned by drug lord Manuel Noriega. He recently resigned from his seat on the Apple board. Some say his timing was too close to the announcement of the lawsuit to be a councidence, and he is likely named in the lawsuit.

(al gore was last seen in a mexican airport)

(al gore was last seen in a mexican airport)

If all goes according to plan, trials will begin within a few months, qualifying for fast-track treatment under a new Obama bill signed into law September 19, 2012.

Calls to Federal and Circuit courts were not returned, likely due to confidentiality of the case, but an anonymous source within Federal District Court said he believed it would be near impossible to recruit jurors given the exposure this case has received. “We’ll be looking for people in the woods of Montana, Idaho and Colorado that have never heard of Apple. They are our only chance for an unbiased jury selection.” Calls to the White House were not returned.

“We’ve basically sued the pants off of everyone and my team is unstoppable. There’s no one left to sue. We’re looking forward to representing both plaintiff and defendant in this case to see just how good we are. Personally, I think we are brilliant and we will triumph no matter the outcome.” Sewell said.

[I made this story up. if you believed it, please call the apple jury hotline at 212-660-2245. no, really, call.]

(i wanted the onion to publish this article but they wouldn't respond to me)

(i wanted the onion to publish this article but they wouldn’t respond to me)

When The Building Has Cancer You Renovate The Shit Out Of It

(we took over floors 5-14 for almost a year)

(we took over floors 5-14 for almost a year)

I used to party in Chicago when I was 16 – 18 years old. I was attending college living at home, just before I went away.

My brother attended Loyola University and my friends and I would trek into the city to party.

We did almost everything kids shouldn’t do; everything you don’t want your kids to do.

There is a building on the campus of Loyola, right at the big S curve in Sheridan Road. It used to be Mundelein College. A private Catholic women’s college. Built in 1929 of the art deco style, the building hadn’t been changed since it’s construction. It was purchased by Loyola and was closed from the 4th floor to the top (14th) in the mid 90s, scheduled for renovation.

The exterior was surrounded by scaffolding.

Scaffolding was our open invitation, so we broke in and kept going back for about 6 months.

(we would spend all nights in here; it was creepy)

(we would spend all night in here; it was creepy and awesome)

The elevators would not take you up past the 4th floor from the ground, but they could be called up. Security never knew and couldn’t follow: They would have to climb stairs, find keys and track us down. We could see and hear them coming if they ever did. There were only a few close calls.

We adopted it as our own 10-story private penthouse. Floors 5-14 were ours and ours alone.

We got in after hours and would hang out exploring the cloisters, abandoned closets and classrooms all the way up to the massive, black attic housing the elevator machinery. The best part was the all-glass greenhouse with a working fountain and some old ferns among the flaking paint and crumbling marble. There was a volleyball/badminton court on one of the roofs.

(if these windows could talk; this greenhouse was crumbling when we found it, nothing like it is today)

(if these windows could talk; this greenhouse was crumbling when we found it; nothing like it is today)

We invited friends, sometimes staying in the building all night on the top floor where we had windows on all four sides with 180-degree views North, East and West looking out over Lake Michigan all the way to the Wisconsin border. The plumbing still worked.

We looked out our private windows and laughed at people living normal lives. Down there.

We were urban hackers and we were in the mainframe.

Nowhere was off limits.

My brother mapped the building and we took unexpecting visitors on tours in the dark after hours, tiptoeing past the silent angels and religious statues guarding the doors and the chapel.

My brother’s roommate recruited his crew from Indianapolis and we’d tear the night up like teenagers do. Skinny dipping off the rocks, hanging out in our adopted building and living as closely to our literary heroes as possible: Thompson, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Cassady, etc. We glorified and emulated their disgusting lives out of aggravation and boredom. Alcohol was usually involved.

We wanted everything exaggerated, from our adventures to our relationships.

The Indy crew was convinced, and convinced me, that my soul mate was in Indianapolis.

(susan hodgin, 2011, oil on canvas)

(susan hodgin, mountain, oil on canvas, 2011)

The daughter of a doctor, a fiery redhead intellectual with an artist streak, living in a big house with a big red door.

We met and the spark burned.

I would drive to her in Indianapolis at 2am from the Chicago suburbs and climb her chimney to her bedroom window.

Nights were cold but we wandered around checking out stuff, talking until her parents woke up and the bells for homeroom rang.

I’d drive back to Chicago just in time for class, my mind still processing the first taste of true love.

I did this frequently. Sometimes I’d recruit friends for the long drive and make them sleep in my car while we hung out.

Usually I’d go alone.

One time an Indiana police officer questioned me at 3am because I was parked behind a butcher shop and “looked like an angry vegetarian”. I told him I loved Steak & Shake. He left me alone.

(susan hodgin, rotation, mixed media on canvas, 2010)

(susan hodgin, rotation, mixed media on canvas, 2010)

It was constantly romantic, exaggerated by our youth and the opening of our newly enabled hearts.

As summer approached we drifted apart, enjoying our last warm days with our local friends before again meeting at the University of Montana. We coincidentally chose to attend the same school.

As first loves go, it caught fire again in Montana, where things catch fire easily, and we spent nights living dreams around Missoula for a couple months. We found a tree fort in an alley, climbed a couple stories up and kissed in the glittery frost. Found a lookout point where the lights of the Missoula Valley looked like the outline of the United States of America. Slowly drifted apart as we pursued our separate passions, never losing respect nor nostalgia for the first young love we felt so strongly.

(the lights of missoula looked like the outline of the usa)

(the lights of missoula looked like the outline of the usa)

She was always a gifted artist and though we went out of touch awhile, remained friends. It was no surprise. She became one of Indiana’s, perhaps one of America’s, best modern artists.

Always connected by our days of exploration – within our minds, our hearts, and the cities, towns and beaches of the Midwest and forests of the Pacific Northwest. We remain ever connected in memories.

(susan hodgin, cumulonimbus, oil on canvas, 2010)

(susan hodgin, cumulonimbus, oil on canvas, 2010)

In 2011, 3 years after her wedding, she was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer that spread to her lymph nodes. They induced her first labor to a healthy baby girl and undertook surgery followed by chemotherapy.

Being the strong woman she is, she powered through. Ever grateful for her friends, and the help they gave during her recovery, like the breast milk donations to feed her newborn.

When you are old enough that you’ve been through love more than once, seen split skulls, hugged dying loved ones, watched friends marry and divorce and marry again, welcomed children into the world and dealt with losses you are sure killed something inside you, the world becomes more real and sweet moments must be savored. You know the moments.

When I heard the cancer came back I was hit by memories. Memories of our visit to the old building together and remembering that we’re all vulnerable to life. It hurts to watch people we love go through fear and pain.

Workers spent a year in the Mundelein College renovating. They found hundreds of incoherent pages from Joe’s 36-hour-nonstop typewriter marathon taped to the walls. They found the 8-foot tall super-glued sculptures we made from found objects, framed by lights in the supply closets where they were erected. They would never know the whole story.

(susan hodgin, lawns, oil on canvas 2010)

(susan hodgin, lawns, oil on canvas 2010)

They tore out the carpets grimed by thousands of feet including ours, wiped the glass of our fingerprints, replaced old walls with fresh, white ones, relegating to our memories the happenings of that time. They got rid of the crap.

The past was gutted and the framework given new purpose for new people.

The building stands today on the US Register of Historic places, looking down on Sheridan Road where it watches history and where we watched cars and students like toys, moments lingering for minutes.

We’re all full of old crap. Psychologically, physically, emotionally; renovation is necessary to get it out of our bodies and start fresh. When the crap is gone and we are healthy again, the world is lighter and we are as meant to be.

(susan hodgin, cumulus, oil on canvas, 2010)

(susan hodgin, cumulus, oil on canvas, 2010)

In the next few weeks, when she goes into surgery, I’ll be remembering the past warmly and looking forward to seeing what she creates next, after her renovation is finished and she is again herself as she deserves.

The cancer will be cut out of her liver like the insides of the old building, making way for the new, shiny life beyond so she can share her gift with us, because fiery redheads don’t go down that easy.

She has always been a visionary converting the dirty experience of life into transcendent art.

And I know one thing for sure: Cancer picked the wrong fucking girl to mess with.

Please join me in saying…

(let's all say it together)

(let’s all say it together)

…and get well soon, Susan.


p.s. I’m sorry I heisted your work; I couldn’t help it; they’re amazing; see more of her work here:


Hack College: Save $50,000 Or More And Graduate With Lots Of Job Offers

(I wanted to be Judd Nelson but was more like Anthony Michael Hall)

(i wanted to be judd nelson in high school but was more like anthony michael hall)

I am a high school dropout.

I figure dropping out of high school saved me about $200,000, and if you pay attention to what I did, it can save you $50,000 or more.

I went to a private high school in Mundelein, IL that I (not my parents) paid for. Tuition was a few thousand dollars each year.

I dropped out after sophomore year and went to college at 16, in 1994. I graduated 3 years later in 1997. My friends were starting their second year of college when I was starting my career. I made money, started a business and traveled the world before my friends graduated college in debt, with limited job prospects.

I was 20 when I started working at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and began trading full time about 18 months later.

(my first career was in this trading pit at the chicago mercantile exchange)

(my first career was in this trading pit at the chicago mercantile exchange)

Peter Thiel says “…what important truth do very few people agree with you on? To a first approximation, the correct answer is going to be a secret. Secrets are unpopular or unconventional truths. So if you come up with a good answer, that’s your secret.”

His point about secrets is that secrets are keys that can lead to successful ventures. A few secrets:

1. Zuckerberg believed coeds in colleges would find social networks valuable
2. Systrom believed people wanted an easy way to improve their photos
3. Page & Brin believed search would be more powerful if it ranked pages by links-back
4. Bezos believed the future of commerce was in the web with books as an entry point

Secrets are non-obvious truths that few other people see until they are introduced to them.

I have many secrets. I’ve shared secrets about learning how to walk, how to get through a breakup, how to be a movie guru, and how I became a bestselling writer.

College is a big secret everyone is talking about. The trend right now is for rich guys to diss college. Peter Thiel is renowned for paying kids $100,000 not to attend college. A lot of other people, like my friend James Altucher, have written about how college is a scam.

(peter thiel does not want you to go to college)

(peter thiel says don’t go to college)

At what price does college become “worth it”. It can be argued that it may never be worth it – you pay more money in than you can ever get back and end up in a black-hole-of-no-return. This is what happens to most people but there is another way. This is my secret to hacking college.

College is a bet. You are betting 5 years of your life and hundreds of thousands of dollars on an outcome that occurs after those 5 years. You have to have an expected outcome in order to know how much to bet. Five years is a lot of time and you shouldn’t bet 5 years and all that money on something that will not propel you forward.

The real question is one of cost versus value.

Benjamin Graham said and Buffett popularized: “Price is what you pay, value is what you get”

Graham is popular for inventing value investing: buying things intrinsically undervalued, which limits risk and improves probability of reward. The challenge with value investing is finding undervalued things – because these are non-obvious and hidden.

What if you had a formula that helped you find the secret value in college so you could graduate debt-free with many job offers? Kind of like value investing in your education?
That is what I did, and this is what you can do, too: unlock the secret value in college, propelling you ahead into an insanely successful career instead of convicting you to a life of slavery. Do you want to be a master of the universe or a slave to everyone?

Everything is a scam. Your car dealer, your coffee shop, the house you just bought, your job, taxes, blogs, facebook, google, stocks, commodities. All scams set up to take advantage of you.

But you are not a scam. You are an opportunity. Everything – all choices – flow through you and you have the power to choose your future. Choose to avoid scams and be successful.

Use the scam to your advantage; hack the system, and you can give yourself the best chance for success. This is how Buffett invests, how Thiel advises and how Altucher has rebuilt himself too many times – by following a value-based formula.

Most people get scammed by college because they are comfortable getting scammed by college. When you went to college how many of your friends said “I’m totally getting scammed right now”? None of them. Instead, they said “where can I get the cheapest slice of pizza tonight because I am literally dead broke paying my life savings to an institution that doesn’t guarantee I’ll have a way of earning it back when I graduate and I have a final exam tomorrow in Georgian Literature so I’ll see you later.” They may as well have said “I am learning to live a life of slavery

I graduated with no student loan debt and a full time job where all the money came straight back to me and not to student loans. My first job taught me the lessons in an industry that I then used to build my own business.

The financial freedom I gained allowed me to take more risks. I quit jobs and traveled the world more than once. I started trading from a home office when I was 22. I paid cash for my cars and never made a single car payment. I wasn’t wealthy, but I was free, and I’ve always lived below my means, enabling more freedom.

(i spent a lot of time climbing at smith rock with my freedom)

(i spent a lot of time climbing at smith rock with my freedom)

I almost got scammed by college but I figured it out just in time.

Scams are situations where you get taken advantage of. Why is college a scam? Where else in the world do you pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to read from books and listen to professors talk about topics irrelevant to making a living? Most people are getting taken advantage of.

Let’s look at the numbers:

2013 average college loan debt: $35,200 (and we all know people with much more)
Average starting salary of 2013’s graduating class: $44,928 (after tax and 401K your take home is ~$30,596)
US Gov’t Student Loan Interest Rate: up from 3.4-3.9%
Average graduate salaries: down 5.4% in 2013
Average Annual Tuition: up 5.4%
Tution and living costs at Harvard: $64,954/year
Tuition and living costs at University of Illinois: $29,594-$48,896/year
Tuition and living costs at #1 ranked Walla Walla Comm. College: $11,415-$17,976/year

At these prices, education is a major cost. If you attended University of Ilinois with in-state tuition you pay $30K/year. The average student graduates in 5 years, not 4, total cost is $150,000 + you have to remove the money you could have made if you were in a job for 5 years. Let’s call that $30,000/year for a whopping total college cost of $300,000 over 5 years. Wow. THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS for in-state cost of going to college.

How to Hack College Rule #1: Reduce the amount of time you spend in college. This will reduce room & board and tuition. If you went to U of IL in-state for 3 years instead of 5 you’d save about $60,000. SIXTY THOUSAND DOLLARS! If you attend Harvard I just saved you $130K. If the average graduate finishes with $35K in debt, they could wipe out the debt and have $25K extra in their pocket plus the money they make in the lucrative job I’m going to show you how to get.  The way to reduce your time in college is by cramming in more hours per semester. I was taking over 21 credit hours per semester. Next, you attend school year round. No summer jobs, no internships. Finish fast. When you graduate with a degree in a trade, you don’t have to worry about interning anywhere. People will give you job offers all over the place. Take lots of hours each term and go to school year round. This will make you finish college up to 2 years early.

Would you rather have a couple hundred grand in your pocket and show your date a good time in style, or would you rather take her to Buca-di-Bepo and split entrees and the bill? Either could be fun, but at least you’d have more choices if you had a lucrative job and didn’t have enormous debt after college.

How to Hack College Rule #2: What really matters to people is the focus of your degree and where you graduated, not where you went to school all 5 years. When was the last time someone asked you “well, I see you graduated from Stanford but where did you go the other 4 years?” Never. No one cares. Start your education going to a less expensive school, finish your prereq’s, and if you must go somewhere that “looks better” on your resume, transfer there for the last few terms so you can get the degree from that school. Is it risky? Not as risky as spending $130K on two years of basic college courses, frat parties and coeds. When you transfer into your graduating school, finish fast. Finish as fast as you can to limit the expense. Walla Walla is $17K out of state. Much better than $30K or $65K/year! Two years at WW saves you easily $26K. Go somewhere inexpensive the first 2 years, live at home if you have to, and save the extra cost of living expense and tuition expense. Many schools look favorably towards transfer students and make it easy for students to transfer in.

(from harvard's website. what is college worth?)

(from harvard’s website. is it worth it?)

I spoke to Christine Mascolo , Harvard’s Director of Transfer Admissions. Harvard looks favorably on transfer students. They look for students with a sincere concentrated focus combined with other interests outside the classroom showing how they can contribute to the community while pursuing their academic passions. Though Harvard only accepts a small number of transfer students per year, transferring into a good school is not only possible, but a solid option that can save you a ton of money.

If you are average and you graduate today you will have $35,200 in student loans.

A $35,200 loan at the current gov’t rate of 3.9% is $355/month in loan payments for 10 years. That’s a lot of money! This means that before you have a job, you are in the hole $355 per month! But wait, it’s worse. 10 years is 120 months. You will pay 120 payments of $355. This is $42,600 you are paying, not $35,200.

Before you get a job, you owe almost $43,000 for your “education”, and these payments won’t stop if you lose your job. What are you willing to bet 5 years of your life and $43,000 on? Don’t you want to bet it on the best possible outcome?

Since you got an average job out of college, maybe you make $44K/year, you take home about $30,000 in cash. After rent, groceries, a few dates every month, car payments and costs…you have nothing left. This isn’t to mention what happens if something goes wrong – accident, health problem, job loss, etc.

It’s no wonder that the average US Household credit card debt is $15,325 – people use debt to supplement income, and it’s only getting worse.

And that’s “average”. We all have friends that graduated from a good school and have over $100,000 in student loan debt on top of mortgages of $150K+ and more than $15K credit card debt. This is not freedom. This is slavery. This is the scam.

Tuitions are increasing faster than just about any other cost in the U.S. The return on the S&P 500 index is about 4.8% per year for the prior 10 years versus an average annual tuition increase of 5.42%. Forget what the S&P 500 is. Tuitions are going up super fast and you can’t keep up.

(s&p returns cannot keep up with tuition increases)

(s&p returns cannot keep up with tuition increases)

But there are still opportunities.

Get to the light at the end of the tunnel. You can tan yourself in the sun while your friends get morbidly pale in the darkness of their slavery dungeon.

How To Hack college Rule #3: You may love Georgian Literature, but you have to study a trade in college. Georgian Literature is essentially useless. No one will pay you for your review of Defoe. A trade is anything that trains you for a specific type of career after college: finance, accounting, programming, engineering, environmental geology, law, medicine, nursing, etc. These majors will get you a job after college, and your grades hardly matter. I don’t care if you say “but I’m passionate about Georgian Literature”. Study academics as a minor. Your job at college is to learn how to create value or prepare to get a job after college: minimize cost and maximize return.

A friend just graduated from Univ of Colorado with his bachelor’s in computer science and his first job is a programmer at Apple making over $100,000. He had multiple job offers in several cities. His future is set for life and I am totally jealous. Win.

My younger cousin graduated from Saint Louis University recently with a degree in nursing and a great offer from a local hospital. She went straight from graduating into a great job while some of her friends struggled to find any kind of job. She can go to any city and be employed quickly. Her friends can’t. Win.

Another friend graduated from Univ of Colorado with an english degree. She moved back to her parents’ house in Maine and is working at a restaurant as a server. This is after 5 years out-of-state tuition + living expenses totaling around $125,000 + financial aid. I’m sure she’s academically enriched, but she’s in the financial and opportunistic hole. Loss.

When I was in school I worked on weekends at a company and started an outdoor sports product business from my apartment. People saved 20-30% off retail prices on outdoor gear by mail-ordering through me. I would take a 10% margin on all orders and had no inventory risk. The more orders I got, the more money I kept.

(i rented a room in this house where i started my first business)

(i rented a room in this house where i started my first business)

I limited my living costs – my room was in a 6-bedroom Queen Anne style house on the Missoula Historic register – 227 S Third Street West, Missoula, MT. Everyone else paid around $300/month and I paid $186/month for the smallest room. I budgeted carefully and spent less than $100/month on groceries. I ate a lot of peanut butter, granola and apples but I had dreadlocks at the time so it was appropriate. There was even a little money left over.

How To Hack College Rule #4: Be entrepreneurial by learning how to help people. You are around  a totally unique demographic. Facebook started as a college-based product. Would Facebook have ever started if not for its founder attending college? It’s a great market. What do these people need? Be creative. Start something on your own. Maybe it will grow and make you wealthy, maybe not, but it will teach you real keys to success. Go to the entrepreneurship center at your college. I was the Graduate Teaching Fellow  at the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship while in graduate school at the University of Oregon. Not only did that fellowship pay for my graduate business education, I also worked with aspiring entrepreneurs and founded a company through a relationship that began there.

The secret of real education is learning how to create value. If you can do that, you will be secure and free for life. Most of college is like tourism: fun experience but it’s all about YOU. This is not the way the world works. No one cares about your mind opening experience. They care what you can do for them. You have to learn how to help people: you must learn how to create value. This is another reason for negativity towards college: college is self-centered rather than value centered.

(add a comment below if you like her jewelry)

(add a comment below if you like her jewelry and think she should build this business)

Another friend of mine is a lifeguard in San Diego. She started a jewelry company in college and people love it, but she doesn’t see the opportunity. I beg her to focus on her business over her job. Here’s why:
1. She is young – No family, no rent, no overhead
2. She has customers – Lots of customers! Stores want to carry her products and the products sell. I am jealous. Everyone in business would kill for this problem. Give your customers what they want! If they want to buy, you sell!
3. It’s scalable – At her “job” she is stuck making an hourly wage. No matter what, she can only make that wage. Her jewelry income is theoretically unlimited: if she markets herself more she could get into big stores and create a million dollar company very quickly. Look at what Sara Blakely did with Spanx or what Charlie Chanaratsopon did with his concept Charming Charlie. Why not you? Why not her?
4. It’s dependable – She won’t fire herself
5. It creates value – It brings pleasure to lots of people and I personally love it
6. It’s valuable – If she stuck with it she could sell the company in a couple years for a lot of money and never have to work again. Then she could go surf in Fiji and be a lifeguard for fun rather than as a slave
7. It’s a real education – she’ll learn more about building something than school can teach; she could skip school

When you are in college it’s a great time to start a business. You have facilities, a customer demographic,  time to experiment, and limited overhead.

How To Hack College Rule #5: limit your expenses. This includes tuition, but also rent and other living expenses. With my little company I was paying rent with enough left to eat at Tipu’s Tiger and drink Chai Lattes at Second Thoughts a few times each week. I bought a VW bus with summer job money (before I knew enough to go to school year round) for about $3,500 and had no car payments. I traveled and lived in it on weekends so I didn’t have any camp site fees or hotel fees and my friends LOVED traveling all over the West Coast in my house on wheels (it had red chili pepper lights inside; we looked like a glowing red spaceship zooming down the highway). I was going through college fast, earning money, learning valuable business skills, and still having fun.

Thiel’s definition is that secrets are about value – something you know that others don’t see, but can help a lot of people. His interest as an investor is of course to create a return on the secrets of the founders he invests in.

The secrets I’ve shared with you follow Peter’s model:
A. you save a ton of money – reduce risk
B. they help you make a ton of money in the future – increase return
C. they are non-obvious – limited visibility
D. improves the economy – the more people that follow this advice, the better our economy becomes
E. long-term value – it creates value that compounds returns over time
F. it’s scalable – anyone can do this if they want

After I did this my younger sister used the same secrets and finished college faster than me. Today, she is a very successful litigation lawyer in Maryland.

If you compress your college career into fewer years, start at the least expensive school and transfer, study a trade, be entrepreneurial, and limit your expenses, you will save at least $50,000. You will graduate with more job opportunities and more years of income. You could probably make $100-$200K additional income in those extra years.

We haven’t even touched on fellowships, scholarships or other hacks that reduce the amount you would pay to your college.

In the meantime, what would you do with $50,000 extra, or more, in your life? Before you go to college, you should think about this. If you follow this advice I’d love to have dinner and hear your story. I’ll even pick up the dinner tab.

They Were All Dead When I Found Them Except For TJ Miller

(Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr knows how to live every day like it's his last)

(formerly known as cassius marcellus clay, jr, muhammad ali knows how to live every day like it’s his last)

“Live everyday as if it were your last because someday you’re going to be right. ” – Muhammad Ali

We don’t know when it will happen. I’ve seen it too many times, and many times it should have been me.

There were 9 10 people, TJ was almost 11.

I saw his hand first, waving at me from between two large rocks, fluttering with the movement of water in a pool below a waterfall. It was easily overlooked.

His flesh was removed from his arm, his white bones mistaken for a bleached willow branch. The Missoula County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue thought it was and dismissed it.

But we were not the Sheriffs SAR and I recognized the white phalanges.

There he was. He used to be alive moving around and now he was there where we couldn’t see him, stuck between boulders in a pool below a waterfall, waving for us.

We used to jump from bridges in Illinois into rivers that were too shallow. I free-soloed climbing routes hundreds of feet tall in South Dakota, Wisconsin, Washington and Colorado. A car accident in 1988 almost killed my mother, sister and I, among too many other close calls; It doesn’t take much.

(this is me 250ft above ground, free-soloing in Boulder, CO)

(this is me 250ft above ground, free-soloing in Boulder, CO)

Nine months before his waving hand called to me, there were two more. A man and a woman, immersed in a preservative bath within stainless steel containers. Their platforms were cranked up, revealing their dissected bodies. We disassembled and reassembled every piece of them, a few times. They knew they would be there. They volunteered their bodies. But the guy was a smoker. If he knew we’d be all up in his ribcage he probably wouldn’t have been. It makes you ugly on the inside. Everything was tar black. If you smoke, you should quit. One day a kid is going to be playing with your liver and it should look good. Sexy Liver.

Five years prior I saw a dead guy on the River Neva in St Petersburg, Russia. It was a historic tour.  On a boat. You know the kind. Very informative and historical. With a dead body. He was lying on his back on a dock. His skin was grey and wore a blue speedo. Maybe he drowned. Maybe he was drowned. Maybe he died sunbathing. I don’t know.

He had extra weight in the middle, a little hairy. There was a bird on his forehead. The tour guide did not mention it. In 1992 in Russia it was probably better not to mention things. I was 14 and it was the first dead body I had seen outside a funeral home.

There was another one. It was November, a few months after the guy in the waterfall. He was on his back and we saw boot tips breaching the freshly fallen snow, the body otherwise camouflaged under a white layer. He had fallen cleanly backward, 30 – 06 rifle to his side, after shooting a bullet through his own head.

There was no explanation, just his boots poking up through fresh snow, and a worried family at home.

A few weeks earlier we ran into a house. Firewood strewn about the clean living room floor where all of time and furniture shopping stopped in 1967. His wife sobbed.

“He just brought in this wood for the fireplace”

He was around 83 years old, buckled over on the floor on his right side. No sign of life. His large body resisted our compressions, so everyone was sweating from chest-pumping and defibrillating until he was declared dead 45 minutes later. The Attending made sure we all had sufficient CPR practice before calling it. It was the Hoover Dam of heart attacks. His poor wife. Took them by surprise.

A few years later there was the guy that got hit by a garbage truck in Chicago. Dead. And the guy in LA carrying chinese takeout at 10am – fell over on the sidewalk. Dead. The assistant climbing guide high school kid that sleep walked off the cliffs in Wisconsin while working with a friend of mine. Dead (I wasn’t there). And TJ Miller, the actor & comedian, who had a massive seizure on the upstairs floor in LA Food Show in Beverly Hills where I was eating lunch…he didn’t die but his manager thought I was trying to rob him because I knew who he was. I was actually helping prevent him from biting his tongue. He was close to death and I wondered if he saw the other side. (TJ, if you’re reading this, we should have that dinner we talked about at the premiere of “Gulliver’s Travels”. Email or tweet at me). And now that I think of it, Ryan Dunn whom I sat near at the premiere of “Jackass 3D”, went up in flames at 100mph. Gone, but I didn’t see that in person.)

(tj miller touched the void and came back; what was it like?)

(tj walked the line; what was it like?)

Those dead ones were easy but waterfall guy wasn’t.

He died two months before I found him. We were on a recovery mission.

He was hiking to Lower Mission Falls off Highway 93 north of Missoula, Montana, July 4th weekend of 1996. He fell off the top. His friends didn’t see or hear it, but they knew it happened.

(lower mission falls)

(lower mission falls; he fell from the lip on the left of the gif)

The water was raging. Search and Rescue was called in but the water made it impossible. So we were there again in late August to find the body. His family sat anxious at home in pain every night knowing he was out there, somewhere.

A recovery after two months in the mountains in the summer is unlikely. The body decays in rushing water and the bears, cougars, lions and scavengers want a quick meal.

But we found him, me and the other Western Montana Mountain Rescue Team member, Matt. We were trained in high-angle rescue. This was very high angle, beyond vertical in some places. The Sheriff’s SAR was with us.

This is not a river. This is a steep canyon flow blocked upstream by MIssion Falls, descending through successive pools into a steep narrow slot of water for 600 vertical feet until it eases out of the canyon into the wide river valley and Mission Reservoir 1,000 feet below.

We set 3 anchors and lowered a guy down to the pool.

The body belonging to the arm was human, but we had to prove it the right human. SAR tore cloth from his shorts and confirmed a descriptive match. We called in equipment.

“We need a doctor with his black bag and a spare up here”, which is code for body bags. They use code to avoid triggering news agencies of a death. They inform the family first, then announce to the press.

(this is mission falls and a helicopter similar to the one we used)

(mission falls and helicopter like ours; the body was in the upper pool, barely shown)

The helicopter dropped the body bags, some dry suits, 600 feet of static line and four bear-sized men. We set more anchors and safety lines across the lower edge of the pool to prevent our team from falling off.

We tried pulling the body out of the boulders using a z-drag with rope around his waist. The rope could floss through his body and mess things up, so we aborted for an alternative. The biggest guy lowered into the pool on a safety line held by me, stood up in waist-high water, reached down bear-hugging the body and pulled against hundreds of gallons of rushing water.

(a z drag increases your pulling power)

(a z-drag increases your pulling power, but we didn’t use it)

The body popped free and rose above the surface, upright, with the burly guy leaning back at full strength. The flesh of his left side – from fingertips to head top – was peeled away. Visible trauma caused instant death when he fell. Decay converted to stench penetrating the canyon. The stench unmistakably thick and uniquely human burned our noses.

We dry heaved.

The Sheriff guy handed me Vapo-Rub, which I put below my nose. Had the water not been so cold, the decay and stench would have been worse.

“We have to watch for bears now. They know this smell.” He said.

But I wasn’t watching for bears. Strange things happen when you’re there in remote wilderness with a dead body of a guy your age that could be you if your foot slipped on a waterfall. Your brain goes haywire. Your eyes do not want to see dead people. They do not want to believe in death. Your mind races for answers. I fixated on his boots. Vasque boots. In perfect condition, still laced onto his feet over his wool hiking socks. I kept thinking “those boots look brand new; my next boots will definitely be Vasque.” I said to Matt “look at those boots” to which he responded “it’s amazing; they’re like new”.

(vasque makes great boots)

(vasque makes great boots)

I couldn’t help but think about the morning he laced them up. Did he have a girlfriend? Had she spent the night? Did they argue? Was he happy? Did he have a feeling he would die that day? All of his worries were gone now, but ours were not. We had to get him out. People still cared. We cared.

His slacken, exposed jawbone clacked its teeth and the sound echoed off the canyon wall as the two guys wrestled him into the body bag; his legs flopped loosely, banging the boots around.

Matt and I secured the bag.

We loaded the bag into the net at the end of the tow-line. He was lifted away. The chopper blades cut the air in a thop-thop-thop, the water rushed over the boulders in a loud shhhhhhhhhhhhh, but we were silent and I hardly remember the sounds. We watched the chopper elevate and descend along the valley out of sight.

We looked at each other somber and relieved; exhausted.

We bushwacked to a clearing where the chopper put down a single skid and opened its doors. We were barely in when they  lifted off.

We could see above the valley, peaks and as far to the West as was possible. It was beautiful. We dropped just above the reservoir at the temporary base.

(mission range with mission falls, as seen on google earth

(mission range with mission falls, as seen on google earth)

We exchanged congratulations, offered condolences, declined counseling, and got on the road back to Missoula.

It was the the first-ever successful mission of the University of Montana’s Western Montana Mountain Rescue Team (the rifle suicide was the second successful recovery that year).

The veil of life is thin.

It is a small rock at the top of a waterfall. A speeding car from the opposite direction. A neurological problem that seizes our body. A thin rope protecting a fall. The unknowns we come across each day.

We do not wake up knowing the future.

We are vulnerable and one day we will die.

But not today – not right now. Right now we are alive, together. There are clouds moving over the Front Range and stars brightening in the night sky of Colorado. Waves lap at the shore in California. The sprinklers just went on in Portland. Another case shipped in Wisconsin. A soft-shell crab was eaten in Maryland, cancer treated in Florida and a mango slayed in Costa Rica.

Taste the air today, see the sun, feel your pillow and how the sheets are warm in the morning when you wake up. Climb a tree. A solid tree. This is life, and it is fragile. You are lucky.

Think of someone you are at odds with and wish them the best, if only in your mind. Feel the freedom you have to do so.

You can do anything today. I am going to start by drinking some coffee. It’s STUMPTOWN coffee from Oregon. You should try it.

(i'm drinking this right now and it is good)

(i’m drinking this right now and it is good)

I’ll be bugging TJ on twitter today. I’m glad he didn’t die. I think he’s glad too, but I’d like to have dinner and ask him. Maybe you can join us?

How I Relearned How To Walk And Almost Became A Professional Athlete

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” – Fred Rogers

We were in a white, 1985 Chrysler LeBaron convertible. It had red pinstripes, chrome door handles and a burgundy pleather interior. It was the height of 1980’s commuter cool.

(we were so cool in our LeBaron Convertible)

(we were so cool in our LeBaron Convertible)

The top was down on a warm evening in June, 1988 as we cruised Route 120 westbound toward McHenry, IL.

My left arm, broken during a backyard neighborhood-record attempt was plaster casted up to my left shoulder and hung in a sling resting on my left thigh.

My mother twisted her hair, I twirled two dollars in my free hand thinking about the cast coming off in a week, and my younger sister floated her hands in the wind while we listened to music.

The other driver and her passengers were also carefree, after drinking for six hours. They had just left the bar and were speeding along in her cream-with-faux-wood-panel station wagon.

At five o’clock, drunk and frustrated with rush hour traffic, the woman accelerated to 65 miles per hour and moved out from behind a box truck in a no-passing zone.

The car appeared right in front of us. My mother swerved but we were trapped.

Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect the dots looking backward.” The dots of what happened next took years to connect.

The cars hit head on and spun to opposite sides of the road.

The seat belt shredded my organs as I folded over it.

The cast on my left arm flew up into my face, breaking my nose and snapping my left humerus near my shoulder.

My right arm punched the dashboard, breaking above the wrist into a ninety-degree angle.

Blood gushed from my nose onto my cast and pumped out from my broken bones, torn muscles and damaged organs into my body.

Steam spewed from the busted radiator; coolant and gasoline seeped from the engine as the cars came to a halt.

Before drifting into shock, I opened my eyes. My sister commanded our mother:

“Mom, sit down. Sit down, Mom, you’re bleeding.”

Her head was lacerated by the rearview mirror, but she checked the cars for flames anyway, more concerned about our safety than her own.

My sister’s pelvis screamed with pain and seemed broken, but she sat calmly scared after confirming Mom and I were alert.

A crowd gathered. A boy peered over my raised window asking if I was ok. My broken arm sat tweaked on my lap with nowhere to hide. He stared at it.

Unable to move, my casted left arm hung loose from the broken shoulder.

One person put paper towels to my mother’s head while another pried my door open with a crowbar. The Jaws of Life were en route but the paramedics didn’t think I had time to wait. I was fading out.

After hours of surgery I awoke in intensive care. I blurred in and out for three days, recalling muffled voices and only still-picture memories until a massive blood transfusion woke me up.

This began the longest recovery of my life with steep physical ups, downs and a mental battle with PTSD.

It was like a f%$^&*g dot machine spewing dots across my universe and I had no connections. Just pain, agony, fear and anxiety.

After five days I was released from intensive care and could start eating a little bit again, mostly liquids. I spent six weeks pronate, double-casted, in traction with sutures pulling half my upper body back together.

My world was 18 square feet in a double room: a bed, two pillows, a remote control and a window overlooking central Illinois wetlands dotted with oak trees and the Flight For Life helipad.

(this was once my home and where I relearned how to walk)

(this is where I relearned how to walk)

I crushed on the nurses. They held my food, helped me pee, wiped me and gave me baths via sponge. I was embarrassed at my helplessness and my infatuation. I cried quietly at night after my parents went home. I was in pain, mentally and physically, and could only wait. It was too much for a ten-year old.

(I was in love with all of my nurses. it was embarrassing)

(when I was 10 I thought my nurses looked like this and I was in love with them all; It was embarrassing)

But Mom and Dad were always there for me. Head stitched, she was with me in the ICU. Dad was in the emergency room standing over me after I arrived, waiting for surgery. Sometimes at night he brought me Oreos from the vending machine and chalky, boxed hospital milk. The snack tasted like golden angel tears and birthday cake and I felt normal for a minute.

I had a lot of time to watch old movies and think. I felt totally alone surrounded by people in Northern Illinois Medical Center, McHenry, Illinois, Room 736 Bed 2.

After six weeks, hundreds of cards, tens of bouquets, balloons, a 1988 LA Rams signed team football, countless visits from my brother and sister (who’s pelvis luckily was not fractured but horribly bruised), I was unshackled.

But I couldn’t sit up.

I couldn’t stand.

I could no longer walk.

My muscles atrophied. I was like an amoeba.

(amoebas are shapeless organisms that do not walk)

(I felt like an amoeba)

Learning to walk again changed my life. It changed how I learn and connected some dots.

The desire to move comes from the innate desire for freedom. Freedom is choosing our own path. Choosing our own path means having strength.

Sometimes getting stronger just hurts.

But you can’t really lose it all unless you give up. Never give up. There are always little things you can do to get stronger, or ways you can help build others’ strength.

The secret to learning how to walk, getting stronger and bolstering the breadth of choice in your life is this: short, brief, difficulty followed by recovery. This creates a foundation from which all else can build.

20 seconds of insane courage is all it takes to change your life for the better. It is the same for walking, or climbing, running 50 miles or getting off the couch and starting. We each have our own obstacles. All of life’s big goals and overcoming surly obstacles starts with short, difficult movements – mind and body.

First I sat up in bed, then laid back down. I repeated this for a day, then moved to a blue vinyl chair. I sat for a few hours, then went back to bed. We repeated to exhaustion. It hurt. I grew stronger.

In the beginning, forget the rest and focus on the small, really hard things. Practice those. Attack those. Pour your courage into those insanely hard efforts and the foundation will set.

After a day of sitting in the chair, I stood. I felt what a baby must feel: exuberance, hope..and almost fell over. Sit-stand, sit-stand, repeat. I did this for hours until I couldn’t. Short, hard work that slowly retrained my legs.

Once I could stand, wobbly, I stepped; just one step.

After a couple more days: two steps.

On the fifth day: across the room.

Then we ventured out around the nurse station, using visitors seats along the walls to rest. Twenty pounds of plaster made my muscles burn.

Once the base was built a little bit,  progress improved.

I was finally walking again. It only took short, fantastically hard effort and insane amounts of courage to face the pain.

The dots began connecting.

(3 weeks after I was released, my right cast was shortened and would be fully removed 2 weeks later)

(3 weeks after I was released, my right cast was shortened and was finally removed 2 weeks later)

All my future training endeavors were based around the lessons I learned when re-learning to walk. I created interval training programs that helped me become an elite athlete and almost a professional.

I became a semi-professional climber, ultra-marathon runner, XC mountain bike racer, triathlete and surfer. I logged over 300 SCUBA dives in two years, climbed the Three Sisters in Oregon with my friend Chuck in 19 hours, 42 minutes and the North Ridge of Mt Stuart in Washington in 24 hours, 32 minutes non-stop. I did things and pushed myself beyond my assumed capabilities.

(I took this picture of my friend Chuck on the 16th pitch of Mt Stuart, about 2,500 feet up)

(I took this picture of my friend Chuck on the 16th pitch of Mt Stuart, about 2,500 feet up)

But as we get older, we get busier. Careers, kids, relationships, life takes precedent and we lose our edge.

Whether I was training for climbing or running, I came up with a simple, hard, fast, secret interval system that builds strength and fitness based on how I relearned to walk.

If you want to stay on your couch and tell yourself you’ll get off next year – that’s fine, this will wait, but you can have it now. If you want to get stronger, look better and feel better, this secret is for you.  Do this for a couple months and your body, maybe your life, will change.

(the couch looks innocent, but it's eating you)

(the couch looks innocent, but it’s eating you)

The first thing you need is 20 seconds of courage. Then all you need is less than 15 minutes every day.

If you do this every day for 30 days you will notice a difference. You will get stronger, leaner and fitter. Your goals will get closer. Do it every day and you’ll become powerful.

Most of us have learned how to walk at least once. This is for those of us that want to take back our freedom – of choice (what we can do), of health (how we look and feel), and of power (what options we have), so we can walk our own path forever.

These small hard workouts you can do anywhere; just four exercises combined together.

I call them PushSquats.

It will work out your whole body.  Whether you’re just starting or are a professional athlete, this system can help. It helps me every day.

My good friend Sylvie, a professional trainer and model, produced a few short videos of these techniques just for us.

First, The Upper Body (The Push) will get your arms, back and chest stronger.

Do as many of these as you can. AS MANY AS YOU CAN IN ONE REPETITION.

If you’re strong you can maybe do 25, but maybe you can only do 10 or 15. That’s fine.

If you can’t do a full push-up, that’s okay. Do it in the half push-up position. The idea is to challenge yourself enough and build strength.

Right now I can do 100 pushups in a row because of this program. I feel and look strong.

Next, The Lower Body (The Squats)

Jump Squats

Do three sets of 40 jumps resting 1 minute between sets.

Split Jumps

Do 3 sets of 40 jumps, resting 1 minute between sets.

Gunther Hops

Do 100 in a row

If you can’t do this all at once, cut it in half or less. Start small and build. Everything starts small. This is a first step that will make you stronger, you just need to start.

And if you did it, congratulations! You’ll feel these tomorrow. You can do Pushes and Squats in the same session or break it up and do pushes in the morning and squats at night or vice versa. Whatever works for you as long as you do it consistently and as long as you don’t get stressed about it. The goal is: no stress, start small, get strong.

Here’s the summary:


drop and do one set of as many pushups or half push-ups as you can


120 jump squats (3×40 if you’re in decent shape) (3×20 if you’re in ok shape) (3×10 if you’re just starting out)

120 split jumps (3×40) (break it down same as above if you’re just starting out)

100 gunther hops (50 if you’re in ok shape) (30 if you’re just starting out)

=340 …or whatever you can do to get started

Feel easy? Make it harder:

1. Don’t sit down between each set

2. Add 20 more jumps to each rep

3. Reduce the rest time between reps

It sounds easy but it’s not.

I do this a lot when I get to my hotel room in the evening, or if I don’t have enough time (or am feeling tired or too anxious) to run.

Whenever I do this I think of the first day in 1988 when I stood up again for the first time and how lucky I am now to be doing the things I love. Twenty seconds of insane courage.

If you think this plan will help someone else, please share it.

It was a long, hard road back to health for me. I suffered physically and emotionally. But I made it. My PTSD was treated and I let go of the anxiety, became a stronger person, and almost became a professional climber. I experienced epic moments of a lifetime. It took a lot of helpers and a lot of 20-second courageous moments.  The dots make a lot more sense.

I wish you the best on your journey. Whether you’re recovering from an accident or starting a new phase of your life, it’s a new beginning. You’re not too late to get started and you’re not too early to get better.

Start now and tell me how you feel in the morning.

(thanks to Lacey Sadoff for editing this post, Sylvie Patrick for recording the short videos and Chuck Thomas for originally introducing me to jump squats)

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