43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

No One Needs Permission to Be Awesome

Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

No one wants to die, even people who want to go to Heaven don't want to die to get there.

And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.

And that is as it should be. Because death is very likely the single best invention of life.

It's life's change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new.


Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

None of us should ever have to face death to accept the inflexible and, too-often, novel sense of scarcity that it introduces.

In fact, it'd be great if we could each skip needing outside permission to be awesome by not waiting until the universe starts tapping its watch.

A simple start would involve each of us learning to care just a little more about a handful of things that simply aren't allowed to leave with us--whether today, tomorrow, or whenever. Because, I really believe a lot of nice things would start to happen if we also stopped waiting to care. A whole lot of nice things.

If that sounds like fancy incense for hippies and children, perhaps in a way that seems frankly un-doable for someone as practical and important and immortal as yourself, then go face death.

Go get cancer. Or, go get crushed by a horse Or, go get hit by a van. Or, go get separated from everything you ever loved forever.

Then, wonder no longer whether caring about the modest bit of time you have here is only for fancy people and the terminally-ill.

Because, the sooner you care, the better you'll make. The better you'll do. And the better you'll live.

Please don't wait. The universe won't.

About Merlin

Merlin's picture


Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

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This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »