Quora Saturday: Starting projects, morning habits, heartbreak, German writers, and leaders

September 10, 2016 by Joshua
in Quora

Continuing my Saturday series on posting my answers to questions from Quora, here are my next questions answered:


Q: How do I start a successful project?

A: The number one most important element is to know the problem you want to solve and the community feeling that problem that you want to serve.

My Princeton talk gives my best answer in depth. It’s an hour and tells you how to start a successful project, which can be a new venture, but also an in-house project at a firm or other projects. The entrepreneurship course it’s based on works and the talk tells you how to do it yourself.

Good luck!


Q: What are the best morning habits?

A: Burpees, without a doubt. I never used to have a morning habit. Then I started these and they’ve been one of the best habits I have. In fact, they’ve led to create many others.

Get to know me and you get to know I do burpees—over 70,000 so far, daily, without missing a day in over four years. I do one set in the morning and one before going to sleep.

I started doing them daily with a friend and they quickly became one of my top daily habits—my first daily habit I simply started from scratch and never stopped doing.

Why burpees?

Top thirteen reasons to make burpees part of your daily routine

  1. They put me in the best shape of my life Over 40 years old After a lifetime of athleticism including playing Ultimate Frisbee at the Nationals and Worlds level and six marathons
  2. Zero cost
  3. Zero equipment
  4. Negligible risk of injury
  5. Can learn to do them in seconds
  6. Documented by fitness experts as single best exercise
  7. Under five minutes per day
  8. Can do them anywhere, any time, in any weather
  9. Don’t interfere with any other workouts
  10. Can work at any level—just do as many or as few as you want
  11. Many variations can work specific parts of body
  12. They make you feel great
  13. Teach discipline, dedication, drive, and focus

If you know of any other exercise with these advantages, please tell me. In the meantime, I don’t see how you can beat daily burpees.

Since our behavior defines so much of our identities to others—that’s what they see of us—our habits form the foundations of our identities. So twice-daily exercise like burpees, which get your blood pumping and lungs working, keep you fit, force discipline, and motivate eating healthy (for me at least, who wants to eat junk after exercising?), influence how the world sees you a lot, despite taking only a few minutes a day.

Since behavior affects how we feel, burpees help create a baseline of health, confidence, calmness, capability, and so on. It’s hard to start each burpee set, but it’s harder to feel listless, lazy, or depressed after. They jump-start my physical and emotional state every time. There is nothing like a tool you can rely on to do that that needs no equipment, works in any weather, has almost no risk of injury, and, … you can click through the posts to see the other benefits.

I wrote a lot more about burpees as a daily habit here.


Q: Is it normal to not ever want a relationship again after a heartbreak?

A: Yes. It’s like asking if you burned your hand on the stove, is it normal to stay away from it, or even out of the kitchen. Or if you fell off a horse, is it normal not to want to get back on one again.

Some people say you should get right back on the horse. Others say you should take time to heal. There’s no best strategy for everyone in such cases.

My perspective is like the Buddhist perspective that since we know we’re going to die, which sounds sad, the best we can do is live life as best we can now. Same with relationships. You know you’ll experience pain from them. The best thing to do is enjoy them as much as you can while in them.

Good luck!


Q: Who is the most influential writer that came from Germany?

A: Johann Wolfgang Goethe.

Witness just the introduction to his Wikipedia page:

Johann Wolfgang (von) Goethe; 28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a German writer and statesman. His body of work includes epic and lyric poetry written in a variety of metres and styles; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; treatises on botany, anatomy, and colour; and four novels. In addition, numerous literary and scientific fragments, more than 10,000 letters, and nearly 3,000 drawings by him exist. A literary celebrity by the age of 25, Goethe was ennobled by the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Karl August in 1782 after first taking up residence there in November 1775 following the success of his first novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther. He was an early participant in the Sturm und Drang literary movement. During his first ten years in Weimar, Goethe served as a member of the Duke’s privy council, sat on the war and highway commissions, oversaw the reopening of silver mines in nearby Ilmenau, and implemented a series of administrative reforms at the University of Jena. He also contributed to the planning of Weimar’s botanical park and the rebuilding of its Ducal Palace, which in 1998 were together designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

His first major scientific work, the Metamorphosis of Plants, was published after he returned from a 1788 tour of Italy. In 1791 he was made managing director of the theatre at Weimar, and in 1794 he began a friendship with the dramatist, historian, and philosopher Friedrich Schiller, whose plays he premiered until Schiller’s death in 1805. During this period Goethe published his second novel, Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, the verse epic Hermann and Dorothea, and, in 1808, the first part of his most celebrated drama, Faust. His conversations and various common undertakings throughout the 1790s with Schiller, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Johann Gottfried Herder, Alexander von Humboldt, Wilhelm von Humboldt, and August and Friedrich Schlegel have, in later years, been collectively termed Weimar Classicism.

Arthur Schopenhauer cited Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship as one of the four greatest novels ever written, along with Tristram Shandy, La Nouvelle Héloïse, and Don Quixote, and Ralph Waldo Emerson selected Goethe as one of six “representative men” in his work of the same name, along with Plato, Napoleon, and William Shakespeare. Goethe’s comments and observations form the basis of several biographical works, most notably Johann Peter Eckermann‘s Conversations with Goethe. There are frequent references to Goethe’s writings throughout the works of Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Oswald Spengler, Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung. Goethe’s poems were set to music throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by a number of composers, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Charles Gounod, Richard Wagner, Hugo Wolf, Felix Mendelssohn, Hector Berlioz, Gustav Mahler, and Jules Massenet.

The Influences section of his Wikipedia page is too long to quote, but it’s a click away.


Q: What are the differences between leaders in business and leaders in academia?

A: People in academia who research and teach leadership generally know about leadership.

In business there is a greater chance, though no guarantee, they know how to lead.

Read my weekly newsletter

Lsbs book

Subscribe for a weekly update of musings on leadership, the environment, and burpees.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Leave a Reply