FASTer - Issue #144

The Puzzle That Rewrote Motivation 🧩🧩🧩

"Why Paying Your Team More Might Be Killing Their Drive!"

In the vibrant landscape of the 1970s, a psychologist named Edward Deci posed a question that would forever change our understanding of what drives us. With a simple experiment involving a Soma cube puzzle, Deci uncovered a truth that defied conventional wisdom. He found that those who weren't paid to solve the puzzle actually enjoyed it more than those who were. This revelation was the seed that grew into Self-Determination Theory (SDT), a theory suggesting that our deepest motivations are not tied to external rewards but to the satisfaction of intrinsic psychological needs.

As we stand at the threshold of 2024, this insight is more relevant than ever for entrepreneurs. Imagine shaping your business goals not around the traditional carrots of bonuses and promotions, but around nurturing an environment that feeds the core elements of SDT: competence, autonomy, and relatedness. This means encouraging your team to acquire new skills, empowering them to make decisions, and cultivating a sense of community and connection. This applies to you too.

By embracing this perspective, we can redefine success in the entrepreneurial world. Let's stride into 2024 with a renewed focus on what truly motivates us, creating businesses that are not just successful in the traditional sense but are also cradles of innovation, passion, and personal growth. We stop growing as businesses when we stop growing as people.

Happy New Year, and here's to a transformative 2024, fueled not by external rewards but by the intrinsic joy of our pursuits! This does not mean you don’t get financial rewards, it means you align them with what enhances your outcomes.


P.S. Remember, it's the joy in the journey and the thrill of the challenge that truly motivates us.


Forget Billion-Dollar Unicorns: Meet the Llamas of Innovation Spitting Brilliance!

Tired of the same old tech bros droning on about "disruptive platforms" and "synergistic value chains"? Well, buckle up, buttercup, because we're taking a detour to the wacky side of the entrepreneurial highway, where the guardrails are made of bubble wrap and the fuel is pure, unadulterated passion.

Here, you won't find any run-of-the-mill suits peddling the next "world-changing app." No, sir/maam. We're talking about the mavericks of the mundane, the pioneers of the peculiar, the entrepreneurs who are changing life's outcomes with a wink and a side of guacamole (because why not?)

1. Mosquito Milk: The Bite-Sized Business from Colombia 

Entrepreneur: Natalia Orejarena Problem Solved: Dengue fever, a mosquito-borne illness, plagues rural Colombia. Natalia saw a unique solution: mosquito milk, a cheese-like protein supplement produced from mosquito larvae. This sustainable food not only combats malnutrition but also reduces mosquito populations.

2. The Dung Beetle Ball: Rolling in Luxury from South Africa 

Entrepreneur: Charl Pauley Problem Solved: Elephant dung pollutes and creates sanitation issues in South Africa. Charl turned this into an opportunity. He collects and dries the dung, crafting luxurious jewelry and accessories. His company, Dung Beetle Ball, promotes sustainability and empowers local communities.

3. Coffins and Conversation: Death-Positive Design in the UK 

Entrepreneur: Zoe Cremona Problem Solved: Death, a taboo subject, often leaves bereaved families struggling. Zoe founded Death Positive, a design studio creating eco-friendly, personalized coffins and hosting workshops on death and dying. Her work normalizes conversations about end-of-life, offering comfort and closure.

4. Rent-a-Chicken: Urban Egg-citement in Japan 

Entrepreneur: Maki Kawazoe Problem Solved: City dwellers crave backyard experiences but lack space. Maki's "Rent-a-Chicken" company delivers hens and a portable coop to customers' doorsteps. They enjoy fresh eggs, learn animal care, and add a touch of nature to their urban lives.

5. The Library of Trees: Reading Beyond Pages in India 

Entrepreneur: Pradeep Krishnamurthy Problem Solved: Rural India lacks access to books and green spaces. Pradeep planted "libraries" of native trees, each labeled with a book's title and summary. These living libraries not only promote literacy but also restore habitats and combat climate change.

6. The Dog Photographer: Capturing Canines' True Selves in Germany 

Entrepreneur: Tina Pfotenhauer Problem Solved: Traditional pet photography often misses dogs' playful personalities. Tina captures their authentic selves through action shots and playful interactions, creating stunning portraits that celebrate the unique bond between humans and their furry companions.

7. The Recycled Sari Project: Weaving Empowerment in Bangladesh 

Entrepreneur: Sofia Akhter Problem Solved: Discarded saris create textile waste and environmental burdens. Sofia's project upcycles these into unique and vibrant fashion accessories, providing income for underprivileged women while promoting sustainable fashion.

8. The Singing Barber: Harmonious Haircuts in the US

 Entrepreneur: Anthony Williams Problem Solved: Haircuts can be boring and stressful. Anthony combines his barbering skills with his passion for music, offering singing serenades while he cuts hair. He transforms his barbershop into a joyful experience, leaving customers relaxed and entertained.

9. The Mushroom Mafia: Cultivating Community in Australia 

Entrepreneur: Jodie Fried Problem Solved: Social isolation plagues many communities. Jodie fosters connection through "mushroom circles," workshops where people learn to grow gourmet mushrooms together. These shared experiences cultivate community, environmental awareness, and delicious results.

10. The Tiny House Trailblazer: Living Large in Small Spaces in Mexico

Entrepreneur: Natalia Penchasova Problem Solved: Rising housing costs and environmental concerns necessitate innovative solutions. Natalia designs and builds stylish, eco-friendly tiny houses, offering affordable living options and inspiring a minimalist lifestyle.

These are just a taste of the quirky brilliance brewing in the minds of unconventional entrepreneurs. They're not just building businesses, they're redefining reality, one mosquito milk latte and dung beetle bracelet at a time. They're proof that you don't need a million-dollar VC fund to make a difference – all you need is a spark of creativity, a sprinkle of audacity.

So, the next time you think innovation is a snoozefest reserved for Silicon Valley suits or tech bros, remember the llamas of the entrepreneurial world. They're the ones spitting fire (and maybe a little bit of guacamole) on the status quo, reminding us that sometimes, the most transformative ideas come in the most unexpected packages.

So, get out there, embrace the weird, and let your own inner llama loose! Who knows, maybe you'll be the next one to turn dung into diamonds (or at least a decent compost heap).

P.S. Don't forget to share this with your friends and spread the word! The more people who know about the llamas of innovation, the sooner we can build a world where everyone can have their own "singing barber" moment. And that, my friends, is a world worth living in.

One New Thing (That you should know)

How the Chrome browser was invented…

Boring Stuff That Scales

The Anti Brand. Not seeking attention. The Quiet Luxury. This is the most un assuming thing you will read that will help you build the most brilliant brand strategy you can imagine.

What You Should Be Watching- esp today

On July 25th, 2020, people all over the world filmed their lives and shared their stories to be part of a documentary film. When all the submissions were tallied, the filmmakers had received over 300,000 videos from 192 countries.

The result is a stirring film about love, death, heartbreak, and hope that looks beyond geography and circumstance to explore what connects us as humans.

Directed by Academy Award® winner Kevin Macdonald. Produced by legendary filmmaker Ridley Scott. And filmed by YOU.

Monetize your time - at any age

By learning from the rich.

The super rich have their own version of e-Bay & Craigslist When you've reached Uncle Scrooge levels of richness, you don't wait around for discount deals or great bargains on eBay.

Ever since I found out about "The Varian Rule" (attributed to Google's chief economist Hal Varian) which holds that "A simple way to forecast the future is to look at what rich people have today; middle-income people will have something equivalent in 10 years, and poor people will have it in an additional decade." has fundamentally re-wired my mental model for outcomes.

Let's rewind – we all know the wealthy don't play by the same rules. Automation runs their homes, personalized experiences bend to their whims, and flexible work models are practically their birthright. Now, imagine that tech trickling down, like molten gold from Mount Silicon. That's the 2024 we're about to navigate.

So, how do we, the risk-taking pioneers, play this hand?

Here are 5 predictions for the entrepreneurial landscape, straight from the Varian vault:

1. Automation Avalanche: Robots aren't just for sci-fi. Expect a surge in demand for accessible automation solutions for the middle class. Think smart homes that manage themselves, AI assistants that handle the mundane, and self-driving cars that liberate the daily commute. Time to innovate beyond the billionaires' playground and make automation work for everyone.

2. Personalization Explosion: Forget one-size-fits-all. Data-driven personalization is about to hit middle-class lives like a personalized tsunami. This isn't just targeted ads – we're talking custom-curated entertainment, dynamic retail experiences, and travel itineraries that read your mind (almost). Get ready to cater to cravings the average consumer didn't even know they had.

3. Work Flex Revolution: Remote work isn't just a pandemic perk anymore. The 9-to-5 grind is loosening its grip, and flexible schedules are becoming the new black. We'll see office spaces morphing into collaboration hubs, results-based evaluations replacing presenteeism, and side hustles becoming the norm. Get ready to build businesses that thrive in this agile, outcome-driven world.

4. Knowledge Divide Deepens: The Varian Rule has a dark side. Access to specialized knowledge is a rich man's game, and that gap is widening. We need to bridge the divide with accessible educational resources, upskilling programs, and platforms that democratize expertise. Invest in solutions that level the playing field, not exacerbate the imbalance.

5. Ethical Tech Tango: As tech's tendrils reach deeper, the ethical debate gets louder. Automation anxieties, AI bias concerns, and data privacy nightmares will be front and center. Embrace transparency, prioritize responsible development, and build tech that empowers, not exploits.

Remember, the Varian Rule is a compass, not a script. We, the entrepreneurs, get to write the next chapter. Let's build a future where automation empowers, personalization elevates, work liberates, knowledge thrives, and tech serves everyone, not just the fortunate few. Time to unleash your inner visionary and ride the Varian wave, fellow pioneers. The future is ours to code.

Call to Action:

  • What Varian-inspired opportunities excite you the most?

  • How can we ensure tech benefits all, not just a privileged few?

  • Share your thoughts and predictions in the comments below!

Let's turn the Varian Rule into a playbook for progress, together. Here is the original post.

One Last Thing

The Hero's Journey: More Than Just a 12-Step Process

The Hero's Journey is often oversimplified as a simple 12-step process that guarantees a great story. But as Joseph Campbell explains in his seminal work, Hero of a Thousand Faces, the Journey is much more than that. It's a powerful psychological framework that can help us understand ourselves and our place in the world.

Better Understanding of The Hero’s Journey. This theme is commonly used in movies, books, tv, and stories. Broken down as such:

1. The hero has a problem

2. The hero overcomes a challenge

3. The hero gets a reward for overcoming this challenge.

Rites of Passage

When we look at the steps of the Hero's Journey, we can see them as points of initiation, transition, and change. The Hero is "Called to an adventure," "Crosses a threshold," and "Returns with an elixir."

These are experiences that we all go through in our own lives. Graduations, weddings, births, promotions—these are all Rites of Passage that mark our progress and transformation.

Campbell frames the Hero's Journey as an extended Rite of Passage. The Hero departs from the known world, faces challenges in the unknown, and returns transformed. That's why we relate so much to stories told in this fashion. They resonate with our own experiences of growth and change.


Carl Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst, introduced the concept of archetypes—universal, recurring symbols that come from humanity's shared collective unconscious. Campbell built on Jung's work by identifying recurring character archetypes, such as:

  • The Hero: Often an unlikely candidate who rises to the occasion.

  • The Mentor: A wise figure who guides the hero.

  • The Shapeshifter: A character whose loyalties or identities are uncertain.

  • The Shadow: Represents the darker aspects, often the antagonist or the hero's inner conflict.

  • The Trickster: A mischievous figure that challenges the status quo.

These archetypes are more than just stock characters. They represent fundamental patterns of human experience. When we use them in our stories, we tap into a deep well of meaning that resonates with readers on a subconscious level.

Inner vs. Outer Conflict

The Hero's Journey isn't just about fighting external enemies. It's also about facing our own inner demons.

The Hero often "Refuses the call" because they have doubts about themselves. They don't believe they're up to the challenge. They're afraid.

"The Ordeal" is the Hero's confrontation with their greatest fear. It's the moment when they must dig deep and find the courage to go on.

And "The Resurrection" isn't just about the Hero coming back from the dead. It's about being reborn, both physically and emotionally.

When we overcome our fears, we feel a sense of triumph and renewal. That's why we cheer for the Hero when they overcome their challenges. We see ourselves in their struggles, and we celebrate their victories.

The Power of the Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey is a powerful tool for entrepreneurs. It can help us understand the challenges we face and the resources we have within ourselves to overcome them. It can help us create stories that resonate with our customers and clients. And it can help us live our own lives as heroes, facing our fears, achieving our goals, and making a difference in the world.

So as you reflect on the year gone by and look ahead to the year to come, I encourage you to think about your own Hero's Journey. What challenges have you faced? What have you learned? What are you still afraid of? And how can you use your story to inspire others?

The Hero's Journey is a reminder that we all have the potential to be heroes. We just have to take the first step.

Bonus! Thought of the week

The best book for entrepreneurs.

This book is at the intersection of crime, economics, entrepreneurship, online retailing and law enforcement.

Happy New Year's Eve! 🎉 We've been on this hyperlinked journey together for 1000+ days – that's a whole lot of swiping, tapping, and zooming through 144 editions of our shared digital saga.

Launching this newsletter felt like dropping a pin on an uncharted map. Now, with 1000+ days under our belts, we've GPS'd our way to a community that's lit up with engagement and innovation.

Each week, I've hit 'send' on a burst of pixels packed with the latest, hoping to brighten the corner of your screen.

Your likes, your DMs, and your story shares have been the glow-up of this journey, turning every newsletter drop into a collective high-five.

As we slide into the new year, let's keep our feeds filled with bold moves and brighter futures. Let's show the world that with a little hustle and a lot of heart, the next 'big thing' could be just a scroll away.

Massive thanks for double-tapping on this adventure with me. Here's to loading up on more memories and milestones in the year to come.

Stay awesome, stay unstoppable,