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I realize that I have had huge advantages that make it easier for me to live this way. Like, I'm neither trying to stop a terrorist or trying to survive despite oppression.

But I have seen many people do things they don't believe in to accomplish some career goal, to grow their business, or to make a bunch of money. They convince themselves of the good things that will allow them to do, but in the end they often seem quite sad.

I know this will not be the case for all people, and it is likely more the case for me because I'm a rich white guy, but I have found that being kind and thoughtful and empathetic is a fantastic way to create successful art as well as successful business. And I'm tired of seeing small business owners trying to learn their lessons from Fortune 500 CEOs like Steve Jobs.

Don't be Steve Jobs, he was amazing, but he was a dick. Be a human and treat humans like humans, because that's where the real work gets done.


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Good morning, John. You might notice several videos that there's this big empty area. Do you know why that is? It's because over here I was making a video for Wizard School and that was my tripod. Ten years, John! You'd think I'd have bought a second tripod.

There it is; lots better.

So John, I think it is important for us to talk about the things that we disagree with our old selves about. So I wanted to talk about this train that I used to be on called the Machiavellian Train. I don't know why it's a train; I decided just now.

And the idea is that good people have to be willing to do all the same stuff that bad people are willing to do in order to get a good outcome, because otherwise the bad people are gonna do all their bad stuff and they're gonna get their bad thing done.

This was a very appealing idea to me as a younger man, partly yes, because it allowed me to excuse me doing things that maybe weren't in concert with my values. I think it was mostly because it played into this thing that I wanted to believe about myself: that if I could only use my brain enough, I could manipulate other people and the world to an eventual positive outcome.

Like I was the protagonist in a lot of the books that I liked, like I was Ender Wiggin or Frank Chalmers or Paul Atreides. If you don't know what things are, that's fine. We don't read the same kinds of books.

As I have gotten more power (you hear people in social media circles call this "influence", but let's call it what it is), I've gotten way more wary, and even sort of afraid of that perspective. So I want to give you some reasons why I think, like, the Machiavelli Train is made of B.S.

So first, healthy societies rely on trust. And if we are all seeing each other as pawns, that trust will never exist. And when I saw people more as pawns to be moved to my will, I was able to trust other people less because I thought they saw me that way too. And then, among all of the other bad stuff that comes with that, is just a bad feeling.

Second, you are never 100 percent that the thing you are trying to accomplish is actually going to have a positive effect on the world. There are lots of examples of people having big revolutions against really oppressive things, and then it getting even worse afterward. There are also examples of people having revolutions, and the outcome being good.

But you never really know. So if you're headed along to this eventual goal, and you're just destroying everything on the way there, if this turns out to not have the intended effect, then you've done a lot of bad stuff to get to a bad outcome.

Third, you gotta remember that there's a really high chance that you're not gonna get to the desired outcome. You're never gonna get there. So you could do a whole bunch of bad stuff on the way to trying to get there, and then fail. And that happens all the time!

And lastly I have come to realize that this thing doesn't exist. There is no final end goal. Every single decision along the path of your life is an end in itself. And if the entire world lived as if the ends justified the means, then the means in themselves are gonna be a terrifying end.

So I jumped off that train, and now I do not see an idea as a good idea if it requires me to defy my values or my ethics. It doesn't matter how good it's gonna be in the end (or all the stuff I could do with that money if I got it), and I kinda needed to be okay with discarding ideas because I couldn't figure out how to do them and still be living the right way.

And that was surprisingly hard, because I think throughout my life I praised ideas above reality in a kind of way. I don't know if that made sense. And I needed to get over that.

And it's kind of been a liberation for me because for one, limitations are actually good for ideas. Like being able to do anything to get to your desired goal can be really paralyzing. And two, it means that when I fail, which I will do over and over and over again (and we all will do), at least along the way to that failure, I did a bunch of things that I believed in.

And honestly, I've come to accept and believe that it's those millions of tiny, sometimes invisible, actions (more than any huge accomplishment) that really makes humanity work.

John, in the last ten years of doing this with you, and with this community, this is one of the best and most helpful, most important lessons I've learned. Thank you for that. Memento mori. And I will see you in Boston.