43 Folders

Back to Work

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

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

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

"Back to Work" - Merlin's New Thing with Dan Benjamin at 5by5.tv

[update 2011-01-18 @ 16:07:40: We're up!]


5by5 Live

Before Christ was a corporal, Dan Benjamin was already a bit of a hero to me.

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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.

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Resolved: Stop Blaming the Pancake

In a classic bit from an early Seinfeld, Jerry and Elaine are at the airport, trying to pick up the rental car that Jerry had reserved. As usual, things go poorly and get awkward fast:

Seinfeld - "Reservations"

JERRY: I don't understand...I made a reservation. Do you have my reservation?
AGENT: Yes, we do. Unfortunately, we ran out of cars.
JERRY: But, the reservation keeps the car here. That's why you have the reservation.
AGENT: I know why we have reservations.
JERRY: I don't think you do. If you did, I'd have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation--you just don't know how to hold the reservation. And, that's really the most important part of the reservation...the holding. Anybody can just TAKE them. [grabs chaotically at air]

And, how weirdly similar is that to our conflicted relationship with New Year's resolutions?

In Seinfeldspeak?

See, you know how to make the resolution, you just don't know how to keep the resolution. And, that's really the most important part of the resolution...the keeping. Anybody can just MAKE them!

Oversimplified? Probably.

But, ask yourself. Why this? And, why now? Or, why again?

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A Sandwich, A Wallet, and Elizabeth Taylor's Cousin

Poor, poor Sebastian

Being a Parable for the Edification of Independents Seeking Independence


THE OSTENSIBLE CUSTOMER enters a deli and saunters up to the counter. The deli is tended by its rakishly handsome owner, THE SANDWICH GUY.

"Hi," says The Sandwich Guy. "What looks good to you today?"

"Slow down," says The Ostensible Customer, as THE LUNCH RUSH starts trickling in. "Lots of delis want my business, so, first I need to really understand what you can do for me."

"Well," says The Sandwich Guy, "I guess I can try to do what I do for everybody here and make you a customized version of any of the 15 awesome sandwiches you see on my menu. What're you hungry for?"

"Easy, easy, Ricky Roma! Before I make any decisions here I'm going to need to know a lot more about my options. Why are you so obsessed with 'what I want?'"

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Video: "Broken Meetings (and how you'll fix them)"

A couple weeks ago, my pals at Twitter were kind enough to invite me in to visit with their (rapidly growing) team. The topic was meetings, so I used it as an opportunity to publicly premiere a talk I've been presenting to private clients over the past few months.

I hope you'll enjoy, Broken Meetings (and how you'll fix them).


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“Distraction,” Simplicity, and Running Toward Shitstorms

Dr. Einstein goes into a little more detail.

It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.

—Albert Einstein, “On the Method of Theoretical Physics” (1934)

Context: Last week, I pinched off one of my typically woolly emails in response to an acquaintance whom I admire. He’s a swell guy who makes things I love, and he'd written, in part, to express concern that my recent Swift impersonation had been directed explicitly at something he'd made. Which, of course, it hadn’t—but which, as I'll try to discuss here, strikes me as irrelevant.

To paraphrase Bogie, I played it for him, so now I suppose I might as well play it for you.

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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. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

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