Fantastic Lives & Where to Find Them – Tips from a Comedian (Chris Gethard)

I confess the (first half of the) title was inspired by Ms. J.K.Rowling’s awesome “Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them“. And I also confess I loved how Johnny Depp portrayed Grindelwald in the 2nd movie of the series.

P.S. If you guessed the 1st sentence above or agree with the 2nd sentence, I feel like we’d become good friends! Write to me at or on LinkedIn.

Otherwise, I feel like we’d potentially have a nice debate! Also write to me please.

Okay, enough starry eyes 😀 – it’s Friday, time for some FUN! Why don’t we look at tips from a fun comedian on Fantastic Lives & Where to Find Them? Below are my takeaways from the interview of comedian Chris Gethard on the James Altucher Show podcast.

Hack #1. How to Be Bulletproof

Me: Drink bulletproof coffee. HAHAHA! #dry-laughter#

You: Lame joke. BAHHH! #throw-eggs#

Lesson learnt: long way to go before I qualify as a comedian. Here’s what Chris Gothard actually suggested: “Whatever field you’re in, the bar has been set…and when you get there, what you get is a pat on the head – great, so you’ve learned how to do this thing that other people have figured out, but the sooner you can find these alternate avenues or those things nobody sees coming that you can weave into your version of it, this is how you super-cede the bar…when that becomes a comfortable thing, you become a little more bulletproof.

To sum it up:

You are bringing things to the table that they don’t have and they haven’t seen elsewhere. THAT makes you bulletproof.

Chris Gethard

So don’t just aim to reach the bar others have set for you. Aim to super-cede the bar and better still, set a whole new bar that is defined on your terms. And people will start to measure themselves against your terms. Isn’t that more bulletproof than adding oil & butter to your coffee (I think that’s the standard recipe for ‘bulletproof coffee’ – not saying it’s mutually exclusive to being actually bulletproof)?

Hack #2. How to Make Others Jealous of You

This piece of advice technically comes from Chris’ dad, who once said to Chris that he was jealous of his own son. Chris was shocked by one of the rare emotional statements from his usually-tough-no-BS-style dad.

His dad explained the source of his jealousy – and this is one of my favorite quotes from the interview:

When I take a step back and look at you, you’ve never accepted money for a thing you didn’t believe in. And I’m really jealous of that.

Chris Gethard’s dad to Chris

Let that sink in for a moment. It is so important that it is worth repeating – “you’ve never accepted money for a thing you didn’t believe in“. I love this quote – I think it is a much more specific, measurable saying than cliches in the likes of ‘follow your passion’ or ‘do what you love’.

Ask yourself bluntly and answer yourself truthfully: can you say that about yourself? Can you declare that about yourself, to the whole world, with pride and without shame? Can you shout at the top of your voice: “Yes, this is who I am?”

It is okay if you cannot. Most people cannot. Some people have never been able to reject money for something they did not fully believe in.

Make sure you are not taking the money and selling a piece of you.

Hack #3. You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do for the STAGE

Why are you here? Why are you on the stage – the stage of stand-up comedy and the stage of life?

Here is advice from two comedians:

You gotta do what you do for the stage. The seats owe you nothing.

Chris Gethard

Brian Regan (comedian) said when the audience is silent and not responding how he would like, he reminds himself he’s on stage for himself. He wants to make himself laugh and have fun, and then he pictures himself in the audience, because at least he seems himself laughing.

James Altucher

This reminds me of what US former president Roosevelt said about “the man in the arena”: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and bloodif he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

And be in the arena for the arena itself. Picture yourself patting yourself on the back for the best blow you’ve given out and feeling proud. Because you are here to grow strong.

And be on the stage for the stage itself. Picture yourself sitting in the audience and laughing. Because you are here to have fun.

To conclude, I leave you with these motivational lyrics from the you-know-which-song:

Buddy, you’re a young man, hard man
Shouting in the street, gonna take on the world someday
You got blood on your face, you big disgrace
Waving your banner all over the place
* * *
We will, we will rock you
We will, we will rock you

Happy Friday everyone – go ROCK & ROLL!

What are some moments that inspired you? Please share with me at or on LinkedIn.

What motivational music do you listen to? I really like this workout remix of We Will Rock You. Drop me a comment on your favorites or write to me – let’s get the beats rolling!

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The Violinist and the Symphony: How Pieces Complete the Puzzle

What You Are Really Selling

A friend working in the finance industry was sharing his observations at work. “Investors are looking for a return like this for the overall portfolio,” he said, while making a gesture of an upward trend-line with his hand, “but the returns of a single investment (in the portfolio) could look at this (insert gesture of a zig-zag line), or this (insert gesture of a line of a random shape with no obvious pattern).”

The performance of a single investment, when viewed on its own, could take on different shapes. When aggregated together, the investments form a portfolio with a risk & return profile that shows the desired pattern.

By looking at one and only one stock a certain investor holds, we could not extrapolate on the investment style of this person – however, as more of his holdings are revealed to us, we start to get a better picture of what his preferences are like. I like the symbolic meaning of the phrase: “to get a picture of” – one dot alone does not paint a picture; you need the overlay of multiple dots before you could have a sense of what the subject of the picture is really about. A pattern takes many inputs to form.

Imagine you are an investment professional, trying to pitch your product to an asset manager. You are not just selling the product itself – you are selling how it fits into the overall portfolio, i.e., how it correlates with other holdings in the portfolio, and how it contributes to the desired overall portfolio performance. You are not just showing your client the “zig-zag” performance trend line of your own product – you are convincing the asset manager that your product helps him to achieve the upward trend line he envisions for the entirety of his holdings.

What you are selling is not just one item in and of itself – you are selling its relationship with other items, or a story about what relationship it will be able to cultivate with other items, and what overall result this will bring. If you were a violinist trying to join an orchestra, you are not just selling your violin skills (though they are important) – you are selling the promise that you will be able to create a great symphony together with all the other musicians.

Being Nuanced = Being Attentive to the Web of Relationships

My conversation with the learned friend above shifted from finance to politics. He said if we were to color each US state with red / blue mapping to the dominance of republicans / democrats, what we would get is not just two colors – we would not only get different shades of red & blue, but also see different shades of purple, when red hits blue. Political preferences are nuanced.

When we say an observation is “not very nuanced”, we often mean that the observer feels to appreciate other contextual factors, and how these factors influence the judgment. In other words, being nuanced means being attentive to the web of relationships. It means instead of seeing binary colors (red vs. blue), one sees a full spectrum of colors, as different doses of red & blue interact with one another.

Forks = Severing Some Relationships & Creating New Ones

I continue the conversation about politics with my learned friend. We go on to discuss “forks” of political parties, i.e., where a group of members break off from the party, and start a new party of their own, most often due to disagreement on philosophies or strategies. There are other types of forks – e.g., the Reformation is a fork of the Catholic Church; Bitcoin Cash blockchain is a fork of the Bitcoin network etc.,

The action of forking out a group is analogous to severing the relationships with certain “nodes” in your current network. The action of creating a new group (and finding new nodes to connect to) is analogous to extending the antenna to forge new relationships. Think of this as a “relationship reorganization / restructuring”.

Our identity is defined not just by what we relate to, but also by what we do not relate to. The existence of a connection could tell us as much as the lack of one. What we choose could reveal as much as what we give up.

A good violinist thinks about how to play the best tune.
A great violinist thinks about how to play the best symphony.

A good fashion designer thinks about how to create a stunning dress.
A great designer thinks about how to create a stunning collection.

A good writer thinks about how to write an insightful article.
A great writer thinks about how to build an insightful portfolio.

Listen for the symphony. Watch for the collection. Write for the portfolio.

P.S. On a final & related note, I encourage readers to kindly check out other blog articles in my portfolio. #self-promotion 😉