Announcing My New eBook: How To Find Your Passion

I’ve written an eBook called “How To Find Your Passion.”

This 25 page book covers my decision to drop out of graduate school to pursue comedy and how you can use the lessons I’ve learned to find your passion before it’s too late.

This book wasn’t something I wanted to write, it was something I had to write it.

If you’re gonna read the book as embedded below, I recommend viewing it in full screen mode.

Or you can download the pdf here.

If you find this useful, please pass it along to anyone else you think it might help. Comments, as always, are welcome.

If you like my eBook and have a group you think would want to hear me present this message as an hour long talk please contact me. (The talk will be more interactive than the book, I’m a stand up comedian after all.)

Book Quotes #1 – When All You’ve Wanted Isn’t Enough – Harold Kushner

I read a good amount of books (last year I averaged one every two weeks). I also underline any passage I find interesting and later type it into a large spreadsheet. I’m not sure fully sure why I’m doing this other than a feeling that this will save me lots of time later or help me in some way.

I’ve decided to start sharing the quotes from each book I read.

I read this a few months ago, but just got around to typing in the quotes, and I like them a lot, so I’ll start with it:

When All You’ve Wanted Isn’t Enough by Harold Kushner:

“Oscar Wilde once wrote, “In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wnats, and the other is getting it.” ” (16)

“About a third of my cases are suffering from no clinically defineable neurosis, but from the senselessness and emptiness of their lives. This can be described as the general neurosis of our time.” (18) (quoting Carl Jung in Modern Man in Search of a Soul)

“What we miss in our lives, no matter how much we have, is that sense of meaning.” (20)

“There is an old Yiddish saying, “To a worm in horseradish, the whole world is horseradish.” (22)

“You don’t become happy by pursuing happiness. You become happy by living a life that means something… It is always a by-product, never a primary goal.” (22-23)

“We overlook the essential fact that the achievements which society rewards are won at the cost of a diminution of personality.” (23) (quoting Carl Jung)

“Like hunting dogs who have been trained to bring back the game birds in their mouths without taking a bite out of them, we have become useful to society by denying our own healthy instincts.” (25)

“Having fun can be the spice of life but not its main course, because when it is over, nothing of lasting value remains.” (39)

“If the wise man does in fact see more clearly, what he sees is the futility of life. The wiser he is, the more he sees unfairness, injustice, tragedy.” (41)

To what purpose then should one exert oneself to be wise? The rich man loses his wealth when he dies, but the wise man may lose his wisdom even sooner.” (41)

[Fit American tourist cant climb steep mountain while woman with babies and old men can, asks why] “It is because you have the typical American habit of seeing everything as a test. You see the mountain as your enemy and you set out to defeat it. So, naturally, the mountain fights back and it is stronger than you are. We do not see the mountain as our enemy to be conquered. The purpose of our climb is to become one with the mountain and so it lifts us up and carries us along.” (50)

“Nothing around him has changed but something inside him has changed, and he can look forward to his remaining years in the active ministry as being productive and gratifying ones.” (51)

“The quest for wealth and power, and the exercise of that power, tends to separate you from other people.” (52)

“If you love someone because he always tries to please you, because he does only what you want him to do, that is not love.” (52)

“Love can be generated only between people who see themselves as equals, between people who can be mutually fulfilling to each other. Where one commands and one obeys, there can be loyalty and gratitude but not love.” (52-53)

“Hell is not “other people.” Hell is having worked so hard for success that it corroded your relationships with other people, so that you learned to see them only in terms of what they could do for you.” (53-54)

“Nietzsche once said that morality is a conspiracy of the sheep to persuade the wolves that it is wicked to be strong.” (59)

“Sam Levenson used to say, “When I was a kid, they told me to do what my parents wanted. When I became a parent, they told me to do what my kids wanted. When do I get to do what I want?” (61)

“To view the human body and the whole natural world with disgust or mistrust is as much a heresy as to view it with unqualified reverence.” (85)

[on Hinduism] “I will not let you hurt me. I will experience the worst that can happen and triumph over it. I will learn the art of detachment and transcend the pain.” (87)

“Nobody suffers in this world except people who want things they cannot have. When you learn not to desire, you will rise beyond suffering.” (88)

“The way to keep from going through life in constant pain was to lower your expectations. Do not expect life to be fair, and you will not have your heart broken by injustice. There have always been crime, corruption, and accidents, and there always will be. It is part of the human condition.” (91)

“A teacher of mine used to say, “Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is like expecting the bull not to charge you because you are a vegetarian..”

“learn to say… “I am truly sorry that this is the way the world is, but I won’t change it by being aggravated by it, so why be aggravated?” (91)

“The Talmud says, “Who is wealthy? He who is content with what he has.” (92)

“And yet we have to grow. Any woman who has had a baby knows how much pain is involved in giving birth to a new life. In a sense, it is almost as painful to give birth to a new self during our lives, to outgrow the person we used to be, shed the skin which protected us so well, and take on the risk of a new identity. Being an adolescent was a painful experience for many of us, because we were giving birth to a new self, a new sense of who we were. And changing our habits later in life can be an equally painful, and equally necessary, ordeal.” (93)

“Ecclesiastes… read all the books, heard all the learned lectures, and what he learned was that the meaning of life is not to be found in philosophy.” (104)

“We use our intelligence not to figure out the right thing to do, but to make clever excuses for having done the wrong thing.” (107)

[Erich Fromm on how cultured Germans could have let Hitler into power] “The problems of life become so overwhelming that we despair of ever solving them. Should someone come along and say in a loud, confident voice, “Follow me without question, do everything I tell you to, and I will lead you out of this,” many of us would find that a very tempting offer. When life becomes difficult, we want someone to say to us, “Don’t worry your little head about it. Let me do it for you, and all I want in return is your gratitude and total obedience.” (129)

“True religion should not say to us, “Obey! Conform! Reproduce the past!” It should call upon us to grow, to dare, even to choose wrongly at times and learn from our mistakes rather than being repeatedly pulled back from the brink of using our own minds. For responsible religious adults, God is not the authority telling them what to do. God is the divine power urging them to grow, to reach, to dare. When God speaks to such people, He does not say, as one might to a child, “I will be watching you to make sure you don’t do anything wrong.” He says rather, “Go forth into an uncharted world where you have never been before, struggle to find your path, but no matter what happens, know that I will be with you.” (132)

“Religion is not a nagging parent, nor is it a report card keeping track of our achievements and failures and grading us for performance. Religion is a refining fire, helping us get rid of everything that is not us, everything that distorts, dilutes, or compromises the person we really want to be, until only our authentic selves remain. God’s first words to Abraham, “Go forth out of your land, your birthplace, your father’s house, to the land which I will show you,” can be understood to mean, “Follow Me and obey Me without question.” But they can also mean, “Leave behind all influences that keep you from being the person you are capable of being, so that the real Abraham can emerge.” (134)

“We accompanies Ecclesiastes on five well-traveled paths that turned out to be dead ends, the way of selfishness and self-interest, the way of renouncing all bodily pleasures, the way of wisdom, the path of piety and religious surrender.” (139)

“If logic tells you that in the long run, nothing makes a difference because we all die and disappear, then don’t live in the long run. Instead of brooding over the fact that nothing lasts, accept that as one of the truths of life, and learn to find meaning and purpose in the transitory, in the joys that fade.” (141)

“Trying to find one Big Answer to the problem of living is like trying to eat one Big Meal so that you will never have to worry about being hungry again.” (142)

“There is no Answer, but there are answers: love and the joy of working, and the simple pleasures of food and fresh clothes, the little things that tend to get lost and trampled in the search for the Grand Solution to the Problem of Life and emerge, like the proverbial bluebird of happiness, only when we have stopped searching.” (142)

“Corita Kent says, “Life is a series of moments / to live each one is to succeed.” (143)

“We never solve the problem of living once and for all. We can only deal with it day by day, a constant struggle to fill each day with one day’s worth of meaning.” (143)

“The key to our happiness, to our being able to find pleasure in our work, is the sense that we are using our abilities, not wasting them, and that we are being appreciated for it. “Whatever it is in your power to do, do with all your might.” (149)

“We become whole people, not on the basis of what we accumulate, but by getting rid of everything that is not really us, everything false and inauthentic. Sometimes to become whole, we have to give up the Dream.” (150)

“I sometimes think of this [regret] as the “instant coffee” theory of life. When you open a jar of instant coffee, you dole it out in generous, heaping spoonfuls, because after all you have a whole full jar of it and you see that you are only using a little at a time. By the time you get down toward the bottom of the jar, you realize that you don’t have all that much left, and your portions are more carefully measured. You reach after every last grain in the corner of the jar. I think we tend to treat time that way.” (159)

“It is a sign of maturity when we stop asking, What does life have in store for me? and start asking, What am I doing with my life?” (159)

Horace Kallen wrote “There are persons who shape their lives by the fear of death, and persons who shape their lives by the joy and satisfaction of life. The former live dying; the latter die living. I know that fate may stop me tomorrow, but death is an irrelevant contingency. Whenever it comes, I intend to die living.” (161)

“What are the things you absolutely must have and do so that you can feel that you have lived your life and not wasted it?

Belong to people.
Accept pain as part of your life.
Know that you have made a difference.” (162)

“All the things in our lives, all the complicated structures we spend so much time and energy creating, are built on sand. Only our relationships to other people endure.” (166)

“The Talmud says there are three things one should do in the course of one’s life: have a child, plant a tree, and write a book.” (172)

“It may be hard to be good, given all the distractions and temptations of the world, but it is a lot harder to be told that you don’t have what it takes to be good, so you are excused from trying.” (178)

How Not To Ask For Help

So I’m registered on the Rutgers Career Services website as a resource for students to contact if they have any questions about consulting. I typically receive one or two emails a semester from students with questions and am happy to talk to them through phone or email. However, I will not be responding to the following letter:

Mr. Rosenfeld,

I was put in touch with you through the Rutgers Alumni database.  I am a recent MBA graduate of Rutgers and will be relocating to Fairfield County, CT.  I have interest in the Management Consulting industry and wanted your opinion of the field, your company, the compensation, and the type of work. 

Any information you can provide is useful. 

[name redacted]

Rutgers MBA

Let’s pick at some of the issues with this…

  • No greeting. “Hi Mr. Rosenfeld” or “Dear Mr. Rosenfeld” would be nice, I’m not a robot. While this already put me on guard, if this was the only issue, I’d still setup some time to talk.
  • The first three sentences start with “I”
  • There is no “thank you” anywhere in the letter
  • There is no “please” in the letter
  • No acknowledgment that it will take some of my time to respond to the request
  • He wants to know how much I make in an introductory letter
  • “I was put in touch with you through the Rutgers Alumni database” just sounds awkward and robotic. “I found you through the Rutgers Alumni database” would sound more human. As a side note, I’m still not certain this is a real person because the email’s domain address forwards to another domain, so this can just be a robot spamming for information on consulting or just trying to find live email addresses.

Now I’m not that important of a person, I think this is just basic human courtesy. I could’ve sworn MBA programs had required business writing courses. Shouldn’t some sort of persuasion class taught this guy how to add value instead of steal value?

A humble student seeking my opinion and caring about what I say makes me want to help them. I gain value by feeling good about helping nice people. This guy is all “me me me”. I don’t want to help him. But I wanted to help people who may not know better, ergo this post.

The Economy as a Prisoner’s Dilemma

The current economic crisis can be modeled as an iterated (multi round) prisoner’s dilemma between firms and consumers:






Keep Workers

Layoff Workers





Don’t  Buy




In the chart above, 1 is the worst outcome and 10 is the best outcome. The best mutual outcome is for consumers to keep buying merchandise and for firms not to layoff workers (this is economic growth). However, individually, if consumers think they may get laid off, not get bonuses, or not get a salary raise, they will stop buying things. This will be better for them in the short run as the worst outcome is for them to keep buying things and then get laid off, but the same “saving money” behavior will hurt them in the next round of this model, when firms lay off workers. The reverse is true as well, where a firm would benefit by “trimming the fat” even if its competitors keep their workers for the first round, but if all firms lay people off, consumers will stop spending (they won’t have jobs) and more layoffs will be necessary as purchasing power drops.

Going Against the Grain: Job Perks Edition

Besides mass layoffs that have started in the economy, there have been reports of job perks being cut back or eliminated. This of course lowers morale, which lowers productivity, which leads to less profits (or more losses), which leads to more layoffs and more  job perk cuts….

It’s easy to be good to employees when times are good, but it’s also not as valued. If every company has a free breakfast and lunch, and free massages on Wednesdays, then it becomes expected instead of appreciated. Employers right now have the ability to win loyalty and boost morale by increasing job perks as everyone else is eliminating them (without being frivilous of course). This is also the best time to poach other company’s best workers (assuming you can identify them), especially by convincing them you keep your word.

You should institute enhancing job perks even if you need to lay people off. It might be a bit Machivallian in the “do all the bad things at once, and spread out the good things” sense. You can layoff a few more employees then you need to, and increase perks gradually for everyone else. As long as those that are let go are the worst performers, the ones that remain will become happier and more loyal.

A New Revenue System for TV Shows

What if advertisers stopped buying TV spots? What if they decide to spend their advertising budget exclusively in other mediums? How would television shows be funded? Here’s my proposal, which might also be best if television shows (instead of television networks) wanted to maximize the amount of money they make:

Have each user pay $X a month for unlimited video. A cable box-like device would measure how many M minutes you watch each show (or network, although I don’t think we need networks anymore, but that’s a different post).

That show’s income would = M (minutes of show watched) / T (Total Minutes of Video You Watched) * $X (the monthly service fee)

For example: The service costs $40 per month, I watch 5 episodes of The Office with each episode being 20 minutes long, and I watch 800 minutes of TV in the month. The creators of The Office would receive (20 * 5) / 800 * 40, or $5. With 9 million viewers, these numbers add up quickly.

Of course, the company (most likely cable or satelite provider) that creates and adminsters such a system would charge an administrative fee (I’d imagine it around 10% – 20%).

Some Consequences / Impacts:

  • The more popular your show, the more money it makes, instead of going to the TV Network.
  • Built in residual income — if your show gets popular five years after it comes off the air, you still get paid and can turn a profit. This is basically The Long Tail effect.
  • Contracts structure might be changed so that more actors / directors / writers are paid a percentage of the total income, instead of a one time fee. This better aligns everyone’s incentives for a successful series.
  • Instead of pitching an idea to a TV Network or production company, you could pitch it directly to a venture capitalist (Sillicon Valley Style). You’d just need one (really rich) person to believe in your project.
  • This same cable-like box could also incorporate an Amazon / NetFlix like recommendation system for TV. Users can rate and review shows, and receive recommendations on what shows they may like based on how they’ve rated shows to date.
  • Would there be a need for television networks anymore? This could turn into a Yahoo! Music type stream, where everyone has their own customized channel(s) with the shows they like to watch.
  • Everything but news and sports might become on demand
Opinions? Any obvious consequences or impacts that I missed?

Financial Mania

“I knew it was time to sell my stock when the taxi driver was giving me investment advice.” Said one of the robber barons during the great depression. (A google search failed to give me a more specific citation.)

I came across this article today while reading about Rutgers Football:

“I’m broke,” he shrugged, while munching on a tuna sub earlier this week in the Hale Center. “I realized this could be a way I could make some money.”

“I roomed with him and he was watching all that stuff,” Silvestro said. “I’m in an accounting class, so I guess I should be paying attention. All the time he tells me what he’s going to do (investment-wise). I listen and it sounds good what he’s saying. I think he knows what he’s doing.”

When he’s not digesting Rutgers’ defensive playbook, Tverdov is searching for investment tips on the internet.

“I read some articles on CNN Money, MSN Money, and then I’ll buy a book here and there when I have time,” Tverdov said. “It’s something I’d like to do when I graduate.”

Problem is, Tverdov majored in criminal justice.

“Coach Schiano told me I could guard money, that’s about it,” Tverdov quipped.

I love the football team and am not trying to make fun of them. I’m glad they have other interests and are eager learners. This is just more of an example of  when anyone and everyone starts to think they can get rich off the market, that’s when a you have the makings of a bubble.

If you’re interested in why this is happening (and why it’ll happen again) you must read The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb.

Can targeted advertising lead to cable free for everyone?

Would you be willing to give marketers your demographic information in exchange for free cable and the ability to watch ads that might actually interest you?

The technology exists to create a Google/Amazon-eque interactive television which would combine demographic focused commericals with user ratings and system recommendations.

Advertisers would pay more for a direct-cast (the commercial is only seen by the exact demographic target) instead of a broadcast (where 90% of viewers don’t care about your product).

Some features / details:

  • If you watch and rate enough commericals, you don’t have to pay for cable. It would be the same concept as currently occurs on sites like, but with better (digital cable) quality and on demand delivery.
  • The amount of your cable bill ajusted based on how much advertising you watch. Pay a regular cable bill price (or higher) if you fast forward all commercials. The more commercials you watch and rate, the more your bill goes down, until it’s free.
  • You can rate TV shows and episodes that you watch as you watch them. These ratings go into a database similiar to Amazon and NetFlix. The system then recommends other shows you might like based on other users’ behavior.
  • You can rate commercials so that the system eventually can predict which commercials you’ll actually like and which products you may want to know about. Perhaps I want to know about all new Will Ferell comedies that come out, but never want to see an Adam Sandler movie while you want to hear about all new electronics gadgets that come out and action movies.

Is this desirable? Feasible?

The Economic Downturn’s Effect on the Net Gen

As much as I’ve heard about how the economic situation (shhhh don’t call it a recession) is affecting baby boomers who are getting ready for retirement, I’ve seen very little if any talk about how it will affect the Net Generation (those born somewhere between 1981 – 1994).

If this keeps going as it is, here are the circumstances many net genner’s may find themselves in:

  • Unable to find jobs after 16+ years of school work in the system
  • Losing jobs that they just started
  • Realizing how nonexistent job security is before they’re dealing with mortgages, marriages and other things which make you stay on the treadmill

When this is combined with the quick realization that most of the jobs they do don’t really matter, what will occur? My thoughts:

  • A large proportion of Net Genner’s will learn to hustle — they’ll make money by working free lance and starting their own small business
  • Corporations will be ever more hard pressed to find the next generation of leaders, as most of the true leaders will be creating their own company and not relying on others
  • Since big money jobs are no longer seen as secure, more and more people may start taking jobs doing something they believe makes a difference

Am I being too optimistic? Are net genners less likely to be laid off than older workers? Are there different effects I’m missing? Discuss.