➡✉FORWARD: Are we one nation under a groove?

🚫🙈 TL;DR:

America is struggling through an identity crisis. Good thing we have new ethnographers exposing us to other viewpoints. Good thing we have incredible musicians to unite us as “One Nation Under a Groove“. Still overwhelmed with the reality of our situation? The Oatmeal and I recommend you outrun it.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I earn commission if you purchase.

😢🏃‍♂️Must Read: (5 min)

The terrible and wonderful reasons I run.. (It’s multi-part so make sure to click next)

The Oatmeal echoes the wisdom scarred into my soul from distance running. I have a long held belief that if you never run more than a 5k, you’ll never enjoy running. The first 3 miles always suck. Everything after that point is exercising your birthright. My success in life is built on the discipline earned while training for my first marathon.

Show up, do your best. Sometimes you win; you’ll definitely fail. So what? Do it again tomorrow.

🔙📝Must Try: (1 hr)

Publish a retrospective on your last project. Some of the best mentors are peer mentors. If you don’t publish your mistakes and teachings, you’re slowing humanity’s progress. Analyzing your approach reinforces your personal learning and helps others avoid your mistakes.

Last weekend I built a video game with my children in 48 hours. You can read my retrospective here: A Tale of Ash The Pirate!

🎤🥁Must Watch: (13 min)

Rapping, deconstructed: The best rhymers of all time

A historical overview and analysis of some of the greatest rappers of all time. Vox breaks down their rhyme schemes, approaches to writing, and dissects how styles compound and diverge over time.

If you’re not a fan of rap music, I challenge you to watch this video.

Bonus: Here’s a playlist composed of the songs they reference. #RIP #MFDOOM

Fun Fact: I was a Teaching Assistant for a class called Hip Hop and Social Issues when I was in Undergrad. Big ups to Professor B., Adia, Mallard, and our students.

⛽🚫🛑Must Subscribe: (8 min)

All Gas No Brakes

Andrew Callaghan giving two thumbs up in an American Flag shirt - The cover image of All Gas No Brakes

Andrew Callaghan is a spiritual successor of Hunter S. Thompson. Crisscrossing the United States in a RV interviewing Americans in-situ at fringe events. Every episode is an adventure in Americana. Proud Boys, George Floyd Protestors, or Furries – he connects with his interviewee and they let their identity shine. Some interviews brought me hope, some raised questions, others concern. All were intriguing.

🤍🐃Must Listen: (4 min)

The White Buffalo – The Highwayman

Jake Smith - The White Buffalo walking in a field in an all black outfit.

Jake “The White Buffalo” Smith is an Alt-Country/Cowpunk songwriter and musician. You’ve heard him play on Sons of Anarchy, Shelter, The Punisher, This is Us, and Longmire. This cover is a masterpiece carried by his soulful voice and simple acoustic guitar.

In Conclusion:

“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” – Bilbo Baggins

We’re approaching the one-year anniversary of COVID shutting down parts of the US. A year filled with systemic failures. A year full of traumas that have fragmented our national identity. A year of personal challenges that you’ve overcome.

Take a few minutes and reflect on your accomplishments. This hasn’t been easy for you and it’s not over yet. But you showed up every day, to the best of your ability. Remember that this will be over someday and today was probably pretty good.

If the burden ever feels too heavy, try strapping on your shoes and just keep running until you silence your inner monologue.

With Kindness and Respect,

✅Action Items:

🔲 Go for a long run in the cold and relish the suck
🔲 Forward to a friend

Subscribe to FORWARD:

Global Game Jam 2021 Hackathon Retrospective – Ash the Pirate

A retrospective look at the creation process of Ash the Pirate during the Global Game Jame 2021 hackathon.

Complete a hackathon every year. It’s a great excuse to leave your everyday problems behind for a day or two and force yourself to overcome new challenges.

Cover Image for Ash The Pirate

Last weekend, I built a game for Global Game Jam 2021. I brought my 4 year old son into the process. He’s great at videogames for his age (thanks pandemic). I wanted to show him that he could be a creator of those experiences, not just a consumer. It was a great opportunity to let him feel a part of a larger tribe of creative humans. You can download and try Ash the Pirate.

The theme for Global Game Jam was “Lost and Found”. During the brainstorming session that Buffalo Game Space ran for the event. My son piped up and offered this idea:

“How about you’re a pirate, that’s lost his parrot. You have a boat and there’s holes in the boat where sharks try and bite you. You have to press ‘A’ to jump over them.”

“Ash” Age 4

Scope Tightly

It sounded like a well scoped hackathon project. It had a theme, a win condition, and a game mechanic. Now it was time to make it Testable, Usable, Loveable.

Ash The Pirate - In-game screenshot.
Ash sizing up his zombie nemesis who is guarding his captured parrot.

Invest in the experience

You need art, music, and sound effect to make a game immersive. Stephen Petoniak composed an awesome Sea Shanty for the game. But it still needed sprite sheets, tiles, and sound effects. Investing $30-40 in those assets from artists on Envato Elements and Graphic River was worth it. The really made the Game look much higher quality and allowed me to focus my energy on learning Game Maker 2 and writing code.

Ash the Pirate - in-game screenshot of ash freeing his parrot from the treasure chest.
Ash frees his parrot after jumping over the pirate zombie!

Play Test Repeatedly

The best part of the experience was watching my kids Play Test the game. Every few hours, I would take a break and explain the work I was doing and let them test it out. If you want your software to be bug-free, only use it yourself. If you want to make rock solid software, have other people test it. Your assumptions about how your software should work are rarely congruent with theirs.

Ash The Pirate - Global Game Jam 2021

Collisions Happen Every Frame

My biggest takeaway as a newly minted Game Developer, was that collision detection happens once a frame. I repeatedly created bugs in my code by not realizing that a statement would be executed more than the first time it happened. I hacked around the issue of triggering things multiple times using if-statements and Booleans. I’m not sure if that’s a design pattern or an anti-pattern, but in the context of a hackathon – it doesn’t matter.

Ash the Pirate, in-game screenshot of Ash preparing to join the zombie hoard after being bitten.
Ash preparing to join the zombie hoard after uttering his haunting last words “It’s the pirates life for me.”

Ask for Help at Hackathons

As a Hackathon organizer, I’m always disappointed by how participants underutilized mentors. People volunteer their time to help novice developers, but they rarely get asked to supply their expertise. Instead of asking for support, folks spend 4 hours on a bug or an error that a Senior Developer will crush in 5 minutes. As an experienced developer, I didn’t make that mistake. I pinged the mentors and they debugged my code incredibly fast (thanks John, Kendall, Matt, & Jared). This rule about asking for help applies to all domains of expertise. Find mentors, ask questions, you’ll be more successful in life.


  • Design some levels using graph paper with my children
  • Replace the sound effects with recordings of the kids (so they can be in the game)


Ash The Pirate was playable after 48 hours. My kids learned a little bit about how games are built. I’m pretty happy with the results. This happened because my son tightly scoped the project. I invested in assets to speed up and improve the quality of production. My children play tested the game repeatedly while in development. I didn’t let perfect get in the way of good enough. I asked for help.

If you read this far, you should sign up for my newsletter:

➡✉FORWARD: Do you know about the perfect grind?

🚫🙈 TL;DR:

Grind your beans too little, their coarseness will leave your coffee under extracted (sour, acidic). Grind too much, over extracted (bitter, hollow). The same thing happens in life. If we seek the perfect grind, we get work done – but feel good about it. Extracting the best flavors.

🏋️‍♀️♻ Must Read: (5 min)

Greasing The Groove: How To Make It Work For You

Greasing the Groove (GtG) is doing the same exercise frequently, with every set performed without going to muscular fatigue. Instead of lifting heavy, you lift light and do more sets.

Gaining strength without soreness increases your likelihood of sticking with your workout habit.

😈🏃‍♂️ Must Try: (Eternity)

Hades - Game Cover Art featuring Zagreus

Hades is a roguelike game. You are Zagreus, immortal son of Hades. Your quest: escape from the underworld. When you die — again, and again, and again. Death is a mere inconvenience for you. You return to your room in Hades’ palace to reflect in the Mirror of Night then start anew. Aided by the gods of Olympus, you collect treasures that make future escape attempts more successful.

Regarded as 2020’s Game of the Year, you will love the grind.

⚛💫 Must Watch: (10 min)

James Clear on Atomic Habits

Every action you take is a vote for the kind of person you want to become. If you can master the right actions; you can cast votes for this new identity. The person you desire to be!

💵🎧 Must Subscribe:

NfX Logo

NfX is a fount of information on technology and startups. Great articles, a well curated podcast, and a venture marketplace for matching Founders with Investors.

☠🕰 Must Listen: (<51 min)

Dethklok: The Dethalbum - Cover Art

The Dethalbum by Metalocalypse: Dethklok

If you need to go heads down to decimate a deadline. Enjoy the driving beats, excellent guitar work, and ironic-absurdist lyrics of an animated band (that occasionally tours).

💞☕In Conclusion:

In video games, you’re often confronted by enemies that seem insurmountable at first encounter.

But through the game loop, you acquire more strength, better weapons, stronger defense. You gain more mechanical skill and pattern recognition as a player.

Pretty soon, the tables turn – you’re able to “one-hit” that previously unbeatable foe.

Your reward is soon received. You’re quickly dispatched by a new boss that has an order of magnitude more power than the last one.

The cycle begins anew.

This happens in all areas of your life. You may not have consciously recognized it. But the problems that thwarted you as a teenager are mere background noise as a functional adult.

Embrace the grind and keep leveling up.

With Kindness and Respect,

✅Action Items:

🔲 Embrace the grind
🔲 Forward to a friend

You can subscribe here: http://www.clarkdever.com/forward

➡✉FORWARD: Have you broken your New Year’s resolution?

2021 appears to be off to a rough start. How will you make it the best year of your life? Consistent incremental improvements and by simply beginning again.

🚫🙈 TL;DR:

2021 appears to be off to a rough start. How will you make it the best year of your life? Consistent incremental improvements and by simply beginning again.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I earn commission if you purchase. If you no longer want to receive these e-mails click the unsubscribe link below.

🎌🚗 Must Read: (8 min)

Kaizen: The Power Of Incremental Improvement

Consistent incremental improvement will change your life.

Math Geeks: 1.01^365 = 37.8

Bonus Read: Ed Tierney replied to my comments on Time Distortion in the last FORWARD with this very educational article from Reuter: Why Time Feels so Weird in 2020

⏲⬛ Must Try:

The Complete Guide to Time Blocking

“A 40 hour time-blocked work week, I estimate, produces the same amount of output as a 60+ hour work week pursued without structure.” – Cal Newport, Author of Deep Work

🌄🌅 Must Watch: (3 min)

Simply Begin Again – The secret to long term success. Forgive yourself and start over. You are human, you are fallible, but you can refuse to quit.

💵👨‍💼 Must Subscribe:

Painting of Fred Wilson

Fred Wilson’s Blog – AVC.com
I’ve been reading Fred’s blog since 2014 when I was founding Heads Up Display. I was googling “What’s a VC?” and his blog was the top result. 😝  

The 3 letter domain name certifies that he’s an early adopter. So enjoy his thoughts on the future of technology and startups.  

Less interested in tech? Check out Wilson’s MBA Monday archives. 

(Bonus Link: Paul Graham’s Essays – another archive of a prominent VC’s wisdom) 

🧘‍♀️🧘‍♂️ Must Listen: (7 min)

Presence by Ty Burhoe, Bill Douglas and Amy Ippoliti

My favorite song that the downdog algorithm plays during śavāsana. You don’t have to be in Corpse Pose to enjoy it, but I wont blame you if you stop reading and assume the position.

In case you want to sing along, here are the lyrics:

ॐ नमः शिवय गुरवे

सचिदननद मुतयै

निसपपचय शनतय

निरलमबय तेजसे

🎉🎇 In Conclusion:

I spent the last 2 weeks reflecting on 2020. The year consisted of a lot of forced change, challenging me to assess my needs and my wants. Showing me how little control I actually have over my life.

My take away from 2020?

Consistent incremental improvement unlocks life goals.

You might want to do the research, to plan, to wait for the perfect time. Instead I encourage you to: Just start.

Commit to putting in 15 minutes of work today. Then do 15 minutes of work tomorrow. Keep showing up, again, and again. Until one day you’re there.

I set my 2021 goals, I started the work.

Then this week happened.

Civil Unrest in the capital, a culture war cleared hot.

I broke my resolutions about food (“Honey, lets order a pizza.”), drink (“Do we have any beer?”), and fitness (“Why is my knee clicking?”).

So tonight I forgive myself and tomorrow — I simply begin again.

With Kindness and Respect,

✅Action Items:

🔲 Simply begin again
🔲 Forward to a friend

Did someone Forward you this e-mail?
You can subscribe here: http://www.clarkdever.com/forward

➡✉FORWARD: Will you reconcile with 2020?

FORWARD Newsletter Logo

🚫🙈 TL;DR:

I expose you to art, writing, and music from Northern Europe. You try a new tool to reconcile your year. And — Oh yeah — biological robots built through machine learning and biotech.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I earn commission if you purchase. If you no longer want to receive these e-mails click the unsubscribe link below.

👨🐦Must Read:

In Norse mythology, Huginn (“thought”) and Muninn (“memory” or “mind”) are a Odin’s Ravens. Daily, they travel the world and report what they have seen to him.

Odin with Hugin and Munin on his shoulders.

O’er Mithgarth Hugin and Munin both
Each day set forth to fly;
For Hugin I fear lest he come not home,
But for Munin my care is more.

From Grímnismál

📅🧭Must Try:

YearCompass YearCompass helps you close your year and plan the next one. In the routine of everyday life it’s easy to lose sight of your true goals and aspirations. YearCompass works simply. Using questions and exercises rooted in psychology it takes you through the past year, then helps you turn your dreams into achievable goals.

(h/t: My brother, Grant Dever’s newsletter. If you know a student leader, you should buy them a copy of his book: Lead The Future)

🤖🧬Must Watch:

Xenobots - Simulation and Reality side by side.

Meet the Xenobot, the World’s First-Ever “Living” Robot

🧠💲Must Subscribe:

Andreessen Horowitz - The a16z Podcast Icon

a16z Podcast – Andreessen Horowitz (aka “a16z”) is a premier Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm. The a16z Podcast brings in amazing analysts and business owners to discuss tech and the future.

💀🎶Must Listen:

Heilung | LIFA – Full Show Heilung (a German word for “Healing”) describe their music as “amplified history from the early iron age in northern Europe.” They’re an experimental neofolk band. They rank along side Rammstein and The Glitch Mob on my list of experiential shows to attend.

⌛⏳In Conclusion:

I spent long hours with Odin’s ravens this year.

Reviewing all 12 months on my calendar, I was shocked by the time distortion.

Some weeks felt like months (*cough* March and April *cough*) and some months went by in a week. I experienced both extreme novelty and mundane routine.

Stress, novelty, sleep deprivation, all change our perception of time and the world around us. Which isone reason you should keep deeply exploring the human experience. Through trying new things, you’re extending the perceived duration of your life.

Now you can enjoy your bacon and eggs, guilt free, as long as you listen to new music while you eat them.

Reply and let me know one action you take to invite new experiences.

With Kindness and Respect,

✅Action Items:

🔲 Reconcile with 2020
🔲 Forward to a friend

Did someone Forward you this e-mail?
You can subscribe here: http://www.clarkdever.com/forward

➡✉FORWARD: Who will tell your story?

At his wake, hundreds attended. The wealthy and powerful, the poor and the meek, the innocent and the guilty.


🚫🙈 TL;DR

I share some thoughts on personal legacy. We explore luxury and values. I’m testing a more succinct format. Please reply and let me know what you think.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I earn commission if you purchase. If you no longer want to receive these e-mails click the unsubscribe link below.

🩸😢Must Read: (1 min)

Theodore Roosevelt

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 blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if 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.

― Theodore Roosevelt

💰🚘Must Watch: (8 min)

Why Rolls-Royce Cars Are So Expensive.

🤝🤗Must Try:

Stop being nice, start being kind. Niceness appears virtuous, but is vacuous. Kindness exudes from genuine caring for another human.

🗽📝Must Listen: (3 min)

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story (Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton)

👮‍♂️👴In Conclusion:

When I was 15, my “Grandpa Chuck” passed away. A humble man, he was kind to those he met. His career included being a U.S. Marine, a Police Officer, and a long time Detective for the Rochester Police Department. His capability as a Detective was built through decades of treating those he met with respect. This accrued social equity provided information that other detectives could never attain.

At his wake, hundreds attended. The wealthy and powerful, the poor and the meek, the innocent and the guilty. RPD escorted him to his burial; shutting down a major highway to keep the procession uninterrupted.

This fundamentally shifted my understanding of success. I will never know how successful I was in life; I won’t be at my own funeral.

Legacy is more valuable than currency.

With kindness and respect,

✅Action Items:

🔲 Strive valiantly
🔲 Forward to a friend

Did someone Forward you this e-mail?
You can subscribe here: http://www.clarkdever.com/forward

➡✉FORWARD: Why didn’t ancient Greeks see the color blue?

🚫🙈 TL;DR

I share historical ephemera. Who invented Christmas Cards? Why didn’t ancient Greeks see the color blue? How come in 1984 a 100 year old ballad from the United Kingdom was being sung in Appalachia? Why do we all have the “Legacy of Kings”, where everything we do online is saved in Utah?

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I earn commission if you purchase.

🎄💳 Must Read: (5 min)

The First Christmas Card

While preparing my family’s Christmas Cards. I started wondering about the history of the tradition and how many cards are sent in the US. My guesses were pretty accurate. The tradition started by a Postman. Over 1.3 billion cards a year are sent through the USPS.

To guess the number, I used Fermi estimation. I know there are 330MM people in the US. The average size of a house hold is 3 people. I estimate 90% celebrate Christmas (at least the secular holiday). I estimate 30% of those households send cards and on average they send 30 cards.

Estimate: (330,000,000/3) x .9 x (.3 x 30) = 890,000,000

Simplified: 100,000,000 x 1 x 10 = 1B

I learned this skill through the techniques taught in Cracking the PM Interview. I use it frequently to help Founders estimate their TAM SAM SOM.

FACT: My favorite Fermi problem is the Drake Equation.

🙏🍴 Must Try: (1 min)

Every day, we start dinner by telling each other 3 things that we’re thankful for. My pre-school age children get really into it. It makes you pause and think about your day. My personal goal is to appreciate new things each evening. It’s increased our happiness as a family of four. Inevitably, I end up thankful for all 12 things.

💙📘 Must Watch: (6:30 min)

Why The Ancient Greeks Couldn’t See BlueAncient cultures never mention blue in their texts. They describe the ocean as wide, stormy, silent, but never blue.

“Black and White are all I see in my infancy; red and yellow then came to be.” – Tool, Lateralus

👴🎶 Must Listen: (9 min)

Young Beichan is a ballad (circa 1884) from the UK, with Norse, Spanish, and Italian variants. 100 years later it’s sung in the Appalachian Mountains. The meme crossed the Atlantic through the power of oral history.

If that past paragraph intrigued you. Read American Gods AND Snow Crash, they both highlight the power of oral traditions. They are two of my favorite novels.

🎭🖼 Must See: (1 min)

The British Museum Galleries are available in high resolution for free. Take a break and enjoy some of humanities finest creations from the past.

I’m thankful to have seen some of these artifacts in person. But I’ve never seen the details so clearly.

Check out the Rosetta Stone, The Younger Memnon, Pectoral, a Mask by the Tetela, or The Sloane Astrolabe for starters.

🏠📲 Must Subscribe: (15 min)

imageI’ve been a subscriber to Home Screens since the edition featuring Jack Greco. The newsletter reminds me of looking at a friend’s music collection on their iPod back in the early 2000s. You can learn much about someone based on the apps they use and how they organize their smartphone.

Jason Bartz interviewed me in this week’s edition. We covered building Startup Communities, ASTP, why you should use encrypted messaging (Hint: Utah Data Center), and of course – the coolest apps on my phone.

😓⏩In Conclusion:

Writing FORWARD is scary for me. I spend about 5 hours a week crafting it. Then every time I click “Schedule”, I get really nervous.

What fact did I get wrong? How many errors are there? Should I have shared something that personal? Will I offend someone?

Knowing that it’s read a few thousand times gives me anxiety.

But I ship it!

I ship it, because of the kind replies I receive each week. We’re all indebted to the people who take the time to write back. FORWARD wouldn’t exist without them.

My hope is that this newsletter inspires you to explore more. To push out of your comfort zone and create something out of love and share it with your community.

Reply and let me know what you’re researching and making!

With kindness and respect,

✅Action Items:

🔲 Start that personal project you’ve been putting off
🔲 Forward to a friend

Did someone Forward you this e-mail?
You can subscribe here: http://www.clarkdever.com/forward

➡✉FORWARD: Do you want a B.S. in Business from one e-mail?

🚫🙈 TL;DR

This week I introduce you to my biggest mentors, Grove, Dalio, and Ferriss. We’ll also explore the works of J. Cole and Alex Grey. Last but not least, we meet the man who survived The Snappening!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I earn commission if you purchase.

👑🤘 Must Survive:

After many weeks of split tests, a choose-your-own-adventure, and RNG guessing games. David Bachowski emerged as the sole survivor of “The Snappening”. Click his name to get introduced. Welcome home, David! Enjoy his autobiography.

David Bachowski's Headshot

David Bachowski is a habitual line-crosser. Sometimes funny, sometimes wincingly painful, sometimes just corny. He’s crossed organizational lines, state lines, international lines, emotional lines, and career lines. In general he tries to make the world a happier, less serious place. He just moved back to Buffalo after spending some years in some big cities. He’s excited to get back into the startup/tech community in a safe, socially distant manner.

🥚🥓 Must Read:

Cover of Andy Grove's High Output Management

High Output Management is a legendary business book. A synthesis of Andy Grove’s experiences building and leading Intel. This well worn book has a permeant place on my bookshelf. I reference it at least once a quarter. The explanations are simple, poignant, and timeless. After the first few chapters, you will never look at breakfast the same way again.

🙅‍♀️🙊 Must Try:

Don’t volunteer information. Information asymmetry is a huge strategic advantage in negotiation, defense, and life.

Make simple and concise statements and then getting comfortable with silence.

💱🍿 Must Watch: (30 min)

You’ll learn more in Ray Dalio’s video “How The Economic Machine Works” than I did in two years of B-School. Like many specialties, Economics can feel intimidating to outsiders due its vocabulary. This simple video describes the words and market forces that impact us daily.

👨‍👩‍👦‍👦🎧 Must Listen: (4 minutes)


J. Cole is a mentor and mentee wedged in between two generations of successful artists. MIDDLE CHILD has been in my heavy rotation playlist for the past few months. I hope you enjoy!

💕🌌 Must See: (1 min)

The most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received was a surprise from my wife on our wedding day. A signed print of “Love is Cosmic” by Alex Grey. Despite her more traditional leanings, she embraced my appreciation for psychonaut artwork. Understanding that the painting would live on our walls for the duration of our marriage.

What more can you ask for than acceptance, as you are, from the ones you love?

💲📈 Must Subscribe: (2 hours)


If you’ve never heard Tim Ferriss’s podcast, I assume that you don’t listen to podcasts. His episodes have over 500MM downloads. His reputation grants him access to top performing humans from around the world. I’m thankful for the impact his work has had on my life. Give it a listen, I recommend his episode with Jamie Foxx and Hugh Jackson.

🦃 Closing Gratitude:

This week I made my 500th introduction in the past 6 months. This milestone made me reflect on how thankful I am for you.

You’re part of a large community of people who help to lift each other up. I don’t know how many get to experience this level of mutual support, but I am grateful to be one of them.

I hope you have a wonderful week. Take a moment to appreciate the good in the world.

Reply and let me know what you’re currently thankful for.

With kindness and respect,


✅Action Items:

🔲 Feel Gratitude

🔲 Forward to a friend

Did someone Forward you this e-mail?

You can subscribe here: http://www.clarkdever.com/forward

➡✉FORWARD: Want a great investment tip?

🚫🙈 TL;DR

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.” Smart Investors study history, read books, understand strategy, and follow principles.

*Click linked names to ask for an introduction. Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I earn commission if you purchase.

💥📚 Must Read:

The Upstate Unleashed keynote featured Nasir Ali (CEO, Upstate Venture Connect) and Brad Feld (Partner, Foundry Group). The book recommendations were outstanding during their fireside chat. Zach Marshall (Head of Business Development, Accrete.ai) and I scribed so we could share them with you.

Interested in joining a Book Club focused on Startup Communities? Join the WNY Startup Community Slack and DM me! We’re reading The Startup Community Way and More Good Jobs is next.

⏪🕰 Must Try:

My yoga instructor says, “Stay on your own mat.


Comparing your life, financial situation, or career, to others is masochistic. Compare your current state, to your past state. Analyze how your principles and habits effected your results.

✈🔎 Must Watch: (6 min)

The Strategic Reconnaissance “Speed Check” by Major Brian Shul, USAF (Ret.) is a classic tale among aviators. If you’re short on time you can read it here.

The SR-71 is the pinnacle of manned, high altitude, high speed, aeronautical flight. It’s 35 year career helped to fend off nuclear war. Unmanned Systems might exceed its capabilities – but they will never create the same lore.

If the “Speed Check” made you chuckle, dig deeper. Unfortunately, the wildest stories are lost to history. They were only whispered to other squadmates in the ready room.

👨‍🎤🎧 Must Listen: (>1 hour)

When I need focus, I put on my headphones and instrumental mixes. YouTube creators often segment their videos to highlight track and artists names. It’s a great way to expand your musical horizons.

👑🐕 Must See: (1 min)

/r/historymemes sorted by Top – All Time.


Pro-Tip: Use Reddit Enhancement Suite, ‘x’ expands the thread, ‘j’ moves you down, ‘k’ moves you up.

💲📈 Must Subscribe: (~60 min)


Patrick O’Shaughnessy sources outstanding investors and thinkers for Invest Like The Best. The conversations are informal but information dense. I’ve never made it through an episode without forwarding it to someone in my network. There are great show notes on his blog. 15,000,000 downloads and counting.

🧠💬 Closing Thoughts:

You’ve rehashed and rehearsed your personal narrative many times. That doesn’t mean it’s true. Stories and behaviors useful at one point in our life, are not always the ones that allow us growth in the future.

In other words, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

Take a moment and think about your autobiography. Is there a part of it that limits you? Can you reframe your retelling in a way that encourages your growth?  

Block some time on your calendar, sit with your history (or a therapist), apply an analysis framework. Based on what you find, what strategy can you invest in to carry you FORWARD?

With kindness and respect,


p.s. Which format do you prefer, last week’s “vertical theme” or this week’s “horizontal theme”? Please reply and tell me why.

✅Action Items:

🔲 Get comfortable being uncomfortable

🔲 Forward to a friend

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➡✉FORWARD: Do you cherish the pale blue dot?

📏😚 TL;DR

Let’s reframe the discussion, zoom out from the stress inducing myopia of the last week. My favorite accomplishments of Humanity involve our struggle to understand the Universe. Lets take a few minutes to explore.

🥔💧 Must Read: (~6 hr 22 min)

The Martian by Andy Weir is a glorious survival story. A modern retelling of The Old Man in the Sea. The protagonists monologue is clever and humorous. The science is real. The value humanity bring to the Universe is on display throughout.

Mark Watney’s indominable spirit inspires me to rally against the odds.


🤹‍♀️❌ Must Try:

The Commutative Property means that X percent of Y is equal to Y percent of X.

For instance, if you want to find 8% of 50, but are struggling. Instead solve the simpler problem and take 50% of 8, which is 4. So, 8% of 50 is also 4.

🔭🔵 Must Watch: (4 min)

Pale Blue Dot

“The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate.

Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.

To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” – Carl Sagan

🌑🎶 Must Listen: (3 min)

Released in 1964 — as the Apollo program was first achieving its stride. Five years later, Buzz Aldrin allegedly put on Sinatra’s Quincy Jones-arranged take on ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ just before stepping out of the lunar module.

Whenever I hear it, I feel a part of history.

🌎🖼 Must See: (1 min)

Pro-Tip: Hold CTRL or Command when you click links to open them in new tabs.

👩‍🚀👨‍🚀 Must Subscribe: (15min)


JP Burke’s incredible labor of love, The Space Above Us. A retelling of the stories behind every NASA mission from Freedom 7 to STS-135.

Through JP’s dedicated research and story telling. I gained a deeper love for NASA. It increased my appreciation for the herculean effort and bravery that drove the early space program.

🤘🐒 Closing Thoughts:

We’re strange monkeys in a weird cosmos. Put two random people together and there’s a good chance they’ll disagree on something. Three people will split into teams. But, if we do agree, we become unstoppable.

The USA invested $152B (in 2019 dollars), which roughly equals 56,300 lifetime earnings. To land a spaceship the size of a Volkswagen Beatle on the closest off-planet rock. The three humans who volunteered to go, knew they were the payload on a repurposed missile. The Moon was 238,900 miles away. The missile-powered-love-bug travelled at an average speed of 3160 mph. When we got there, we spent 21 hours, and 36 minutes taking in the sights and scooping some dirt into our pockets. Then we got back in the ship and flew home.

I’m proud of being a strange monkey. You should be to.

Per aspera ad astra,


✅Action Items:

🔲 Watch “The Right Stuff”

🔲 Forward to both

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