FASTer - Issue #126

You loose some races even when you win 🐎

On June 4, 1923 at New York's Belmont Park, the 22-year-old won the only race of his career on the horse Sweet Kiss.

Brooklyn's Hayes, a stable hand turned stand-in jockey, achieved the unthinkable and rode the 20-1 shot to a surprise victory over fan favorite Gimme. While that in itself shocked the crowd, what was to come would be even more shocking.

After Hayes crossed the finish line, he tumbled from the saddle. He also became the only man to ever win a race despite being dead.

There were conflicting reports at the time surrounding the cause of the jockey's death. While some said it may have been from the excitement of the race, other reports pointed to heart failure as a result of having to reduce his weight to 130 pounds.

"He was confronted with the task of taking off nearly 10 pounds in 24 hours," the Buffalo Morning Express wrote. "This morning he spent several hours on the road, jogging off surplus weight. He strove and sweated and denied himself water and when he climbed into the saddle at post time he was weak and tired."

Moral of the story, what ever you are training for, in life and in business, make sure you don’t loose even if you win. Make sure you weigh the risk with the rewards, make sure you think about the journey vs the destination only. If the journey is not worth the destination, re calibrate, pivot. The attitude of winning at all costs can some days be counter productive and destructive. The sooner we learn this the happier we will be.


The Many outcomes of one man. The Remarkable Journey of Felix Dennis: Triumph over Adversity, Entrepreneurial Genius, and Literary Legacy

Felix Dennis: From Kung-Fu to Computer Empires

In the dynamic era of the 1970s, when kung-fu movies were captivating audiences worldwide, Felix Dennis found himself at the crossroads of opportunity and innovation. While already entrenched in the realm of publishing through his involvement with a popular magazine, Dennis astutely recognized the potential within the burgeoning fascination for martial arts films. With an entrepreneurial spirit that would come to define him, he embarked on a journey that would lead to remarkable accomplishments.

Seizing the Moment: The Birth of a Vision

Amidst the kung-fu fever, Felix Dennis channeled his insights into the launch of a kung-fu magazine, a venture that proved to be an instant success. In its inaugural year, the magazine amassed an impressive $60,000 in revenue, a testament to Dennis' keen understanding of market trends and his ability to cater to emerging interests. Undeterred by initial challenges, he took his creation to international heights, expanding its reach to 17 countries and sustaining its influence for an impressive 13 years.

Parallel to the kung-fu phenomenon, the technological landscape was also undergoing transformative changes. As the 1970s heralded the advent of personal computing, Dennis once again demonstrated his forward-thinking prowess. He launched publications like "Personal Computer World" and "MacUser," publications that not only chronicled the rise of computers but also played a pivotal role in shaping the discourse around this burgeoning industry. Ultimately, Dennis capitalized on his endeavors, eventually selling the rights to these publications for substantial gains.

The Meteoric Rise of MicroWarehouse and Overcoming Personal Struggles

However, it was in 1987 that Felix Dennis embarked on a venture that would redefine his legacy. In an era when computers were becoming an integral part of everyday life, he established MicroWarehouse, a marketing company that harnessed the power of catalogues and magazines to propel computer sales. This pioneering effort skyrocketed, culminating in a valuation of a staggering $2.5 billion. Dennis had not only harnessed the spirit of innovation but had also demonstrated an innate ability to navigate the complex landscape of technology and commerce.

Amidst the soaring heights of his business endeavors, Felix Dennis was beset by personal challenges that would have broken a lesser individual. Battling a harrowing addiction to crack cocaine and a penchant for a hedonistic lifestyle, he faced a tumultuous period marked by excessive spending on drugs and indulgence. Yet, Dennis' story takes a remarkable turn as he emerged from the grips of addiction in the late 1990s, proving his resilience and indomitable spirit.

Literary Legacy and Beyond

Having conquered the tumult of addiction, Dennis went on to secure his financial future by selling MicroWarehouse in 2000. However, his journey was far from over. From 2001 until his passing in 2014, he undertook a remarkable shift, turning his attention to the realm of literature. In a surprising departure from his business exploits, Dennis authored 11 volumes of poetry, showcasing his profound artistic sensibilities and multifaceted nature.

Among his literary contributions, the most notable remains his autobiography, "How to Get Rich." In this candid and insightful work, Dennis distilled his life experiences into invaluable lessons, imparting wisdom gleaned from the dynamic worlds of business, adversity, and self-discovery.

Felix Dennis' life story encapsulates the extraordinary journey of a man who harnessed the currents of changing times to achieve remarkable success. From his trailblazing ventures in publishing and technology to his conquest over personal demons, Dennis' legacy is one of resilience, innovation, and the unwavering pursuit of excellence. His transformation from a kung-fu magazine entrepreneur to a computer industry magnate, overcoming addiction, and ultimately leaving behind a literary legacy, cements his place as a true exemplar of the human spirit's potential to triumph over adversity and to shape the course of history. Net net, only you hold the key to your outcomes.

One New Thing (That you should know)

A smartphone is millions of times more powerful than the Apollo 11 guidance computers. In 1969, humans set foot on the moon for the very first time. It's really difficult to imagine the technical challenges of landing on the moon more than five decades ago if you're not a rocket scientist, but what's certain is that computers played a fundamental role - even back then.

Despite the fact that NASA computers were pitiful by today's standards, they were fast enough to guide humans across 356,000 km of space from the Earth to the Moon and return them safely. In fact, during the first Apollo missions, critical safety and propulsion mechanisms in spacecraft were controlled by software for the first time. These developments formed the basis for modern computing.

Boring Stuff That Scales

From Liberia and Sierra Leone to the streets of Harlem, to $850 million! Wow! The incredibly inspiring entrepreneurial journey of the Shea Moisture founders. Mother and son. Some times products, services stare us in the face, they can be centuries old and boring, till such time some one decides to re-package and re-introduce them to the world. This is one such story!

What You Should Be Reading/Watching

Stories.. Learn to tell them for better outcomes.

In 4 minutes, (video below) Kurt Vonnegut explained stories better than anyone I’ve ever heard.

“The shape of the curve is what matters. Not their origins.”

He plots stories on 2 axes:

X: Time

Y: Good fortune / ill fortune 

He goes on to say, “Somebody gets into trouble, then gets out of it again. People love that story. They never get tired of it.”

Point 1: Stories have defined patterns. In Joseph Campbell’s Hero of a Thousand Faces, he makes the case for the Hero’s Journey. Since then, it’s become the most famous storytelling structure in the world. Vonnegut argued stories could be divided into 8 shapes. Each story, he said, fit one of the 8.

Point 2: Vonnegut says, “Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — so the reader may see what they're made of.” To see who your characters really are, you have to make them suffer. Only then does your audience have someone worth cheering for.

Point 3: End on a high note. Vonnegut says, “It’s not accidental that the line ends up higher than where it began. This is encouraging to readers.” The way a story makes people feel when they finish is how they remember it. It’s called recency bias. Lift people up and they will love you.

Monetize your time

By discovering the art of discovery. Internet rabbit holes as a source of inspiration for your next business idea or venture.

One Last Thing

With a staggering 40 million adults in the United States, constituting 19% of the population, grappling with anxiety disorders, and with younger generations being even more susceptible to mental health issues, the endeavor to alleviate stress emerges as a lucrative pursuit for various brands.

In the face of this pressing challenge, companies are embracing it head-on. A plethora of innovative solutions has emerged:

A diverse array of offerings, including coloring books, weighted blankets, and an assortment of fidget toys, are marketed as essential diversions for individuals seeking respite from their stressors. So is there a big market in the anti-anxiety space? What are some local, traditional remedies from your market, culture or region? Can they be monetized for better outcomes?

Do you think you have something that can be packaged with an authentic response to these issues. Many products assert their efficacy as remedies for both sleep disorders and anxiety-related issues and they are big business, can you think of something to tap this space?

Bonus! Thought of the week

10k$ Micro consulting(Do I have your attention?).

Not so micro to enhance your outcomes. I came across the definitive guide to setting up your own micro consultancy and how others have done so to monetize their outcomes. Read this if you always wanted to charge for your time/expertise, but did not know how. This is the best resource I have found on the internet for some one looking to build their consulting practice or service offering for 1-to-1 work. If you snooze you loose, this is your best chance to $ize your time.