The Crossover to Insecurity

The Crossover to Insecurity

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. Insecurity is just the seed of imposter syndrome, planted. Most people confuse the two…

Failure is a Force of Nature

Failure is a Force of Nature

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. I have a confession to make. I’ve never told anyone because it sounds utterly…

Idolization is Impotence

Idolization is Impotence

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. In their song “Cult of Personality,” the band Living Colour described the idolization of…

Tunnel Vision is for Trains

Tunnel Vision is for Trains

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. “A compass will point you true north from where you're standing, but it's got…

The Price of Indecision

The Price of Indecision

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. Indecision is almost always worse than making a bad decision. On the first day…

Be Grounded. But Don’t Dig In.

Be Grounded. But Don't Dig In.

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. Great leaders define the “what,” and leave the “how” up to the team. Steve…

The Cure for Imposter Syndrome

The Cure for Imposter Syndrome

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. For the cure for imposter syndrome, look no further than the blue Eurybia butterfly.…

Don’t See Luck. Seed Luck.

Don't See Luck. Seed Luck.

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. Luck is the tree you planted last week, last month, or last year. It…

To Ask is Human

To Ask is Human

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. To ask is not weakness. To ask is human. One of my deepest flaws…

Plant Your Flag Where No One Dares

Plant Your Flag

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. To establish yourself as a leader, one way to do it is to boldly…

Learn the Canon

Learn the Canon

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. Here’s a secret everyone knows but no one does: reading and learning from the…

Live the Long Game

Live the Long Game

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. Becoming a leader is a lot like squeezing toothpaste. You can’t put it back…

Hungry, but Not Starving

Hungry, but not Starving

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. Here’s the optimal setting for you and every individual you lead: hungry, but not…

Writing Makes You a Better Leader

Writing Makes You a Better Leader

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. My favorite college professor once said something that has always stuck with me, “great…

The Bystander Effect of Leadership

Bystander Effect of Leadership

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. Think you can’t be a leader? Think again. It seems that most people, in…

Think Like an Owner

Think Like an Owner

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. “If you think like the owner and you act like the owner, it’s only…

Finding Truth in a Hall of Mirrors

Finding Truth

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. Every truth reveals itself if you pursue it far enough. Except, in the 21st…

Eustressing?

Eustressing?

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. Hell Week is the infamous five-day period of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training when…

The Mimetic Theory of Leadership

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. “Man is the creature who does not know what to desire, and he turns…

Want to be an Effective Leader? Get a Dog.

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. When I tell people about my dog, Pearl, I almost always follow it up…

Wear the Purple Tunic

Wear the Purple Tunic

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. If you’re afraid to look bad, you’ll never be an effective leader. Tyrian purple…

Permissionless Leadership

This is an essay from my popular 100 Days of Leadership Series. If you would like to learn how to become a leader in your organization, your community, or in your personal life, sign up here to receive these short essays directly to your inbox. You don't need permission to lead. It’s often said that…

Why You Should Make New Year’s Presolutions Instead

It’s New Year’s Day. If not hungover, you wake up with a fresh outlook on life. Ready to start life anew and better than ever. You have your protein shake ready to go. You lace up your shoes to go running as part of a new daily routine. You threw out (or ate) all those…

Seek Optimism, but Thank the Pessimists

Thank the pessimists. Be an optimist

“The one guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat.”-Jean-Paul Sartre The pessimist lives a fairly safe and happy life. But not a fulfilling one. The pessimist goes in with low expectations, and often comes out not so disappointed when things don't go well. The pessimist prefers not to take chances, risks, or…

Site Update: September & October 2020

October 2020

This site update for September & October comes to you from my workstation overlooking a beautiful sea of Pennsylvania Fall foliage as far as the eye can see. I’ve been here, hard at work each day, building the foundation for joebalcom.blog and the Unparalleled brand. I've hit some pretty nice milestones recently since I started…

30 Directives from 30 Years: Advice for my 20-Year-Old Self

Live like Lincoln. Surrounded by foundational pillars

“It's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”Abraham Lincoln I recently turned 30 years old. Yikes. I remember turning 20 like it was yesterday. It’s hard to believe 10 years has passed in such a flash! I’ve been told that time seems to move faster the older you…

The Digital Gold Rush Is Near

If you’ve ever dreamt of starting your own business, start building it online now, before the gold rush ensues. The gold rush was a common occurrence during the 19th century. From North America to South Africa to Australia, miners came in search of gold and in search of fortune. But at the heart of it,…

Print Your Own Golden Ticket to Success

Print Your Golden Ticket

What stands between you and your golden ticket to success isn't lack of opportunity, but the lack of action when opportunity presents itself. To live well, you must be willing to make the hard choice. And often, the hard choice is deciding to get out of your own head, getting off the couch, or getting out…

Site Update: August 2020

Coming to you from a new apartment, new environment, and new beginnings. August was my fourth month on this blog, and perhaps the most eventful. There were lots of ups, downs, and everything in between in August. I wrote five essays that meant a lot to me personally, I moved with my girlfriend to a…

The Impermanence of Life: A Heuristic for Handling Loss

Impermanence in sand

The moments of deepest contentment in my life have come in moments when I am forced to accept the impermanence of it. I knew it was coming. That text or that phone call would come, and I wouldn’t know how to handle it. Then, at 2:00pm on Thursday, the dreaded text came through: my grandfather,…

Mamba Rules: Defining (and Living by) Kobe Bryant’s 10 Guidelines for Greatness

Kobe Bryant 10 Rules for Greatness

Greatness is a nebulous word. Greatness is not tangible. You can’t hold it, you can’t touch it, you can’t transfer it. It’s a word you know, yet cannot neatly define. It’s only when you see someone embody greatness that you get a sense for what it really means. For me, that somebody has always been…

Why You Need to Bet on Yourself Now, More Than Ever

Bet on Yourself

“Prioritize your life, or someone else will.” -Greg McKeown You are replaceable. According to your employer, that is. If there is anything pandemics and technological advances have taught us in modern times, it’s that the above statement is truer than ever. And even if it weren’t true, you have to ask yourself why you are…

Disrupting Higher Education

I’m calling it now: I’m not sending my future kids to college. Instead, they will learn useful skills they enjoy, identify problems, and build solutions through online businesses to solve those problems. Instead of burying themselves in soul-crushing debt, they will be building a better world, with a four-year and debt-free head start. This is…

10 Principles of Unparalleled Live

In preparation for the upcoming launch of my Unparalleled Live course, I will be publishing a series of principles that form the foundation upon which it is built. Over the next few weeks, these posts will include additional principles on my philosophy, as well as my principles of running the course itself in an effort…

Growing Up with Two Mentally Ill Parents

Growing Up with Two Mentally Ill Parents

No one is watching. No one is listening. No one cares. It’s funny, when you want to send something out to the world, those words are among your greatest fears. But when you want to keep something in from the world, those words can bring you the greatest comfort. So, what happens when those two…

Site Update: July 2020

Site Update: July 2020

Greetings, all! July's site update comes not from a new location, but from a new perspective. My outlook on the world and on the future has become much more optimistic over the past month, which is astonishing given the times we live in.  It’s incredible how far a simple internet connection and daily determination in…

The Irrational Fear of Vulnerability

If you want to free yourself from the past so you can fully move forward into the future, come to terms with vulnerability. Discuss your fears and insecurities with the world. Or at least with a friend. Growing comfortable expressing yourself with vulnerability, with full authenticity, will open an entire world of possibility that you…

How to Make Time to Reinvent Yourself

Be kind to your future self. If you feel stuck, the best thing you can possibly do for future "you" is to make time to reinvent present "you." Six months ago, I was totally out of answers. It was a chilly, dreary January day in Denver, Colorado. I had just left my job at a…

Crossing Your Rubicon: Give Yourself Permission to Write History

On January 9th, 49 BC, Julius Caesar stood at the north bank of the narrow Rubicon River as a Roman general and former governor of Cisalpine Gaul. Julius Caesar’s skills as a general and a leader were displayed in such brilliant fashion over the preceding decade, that the Roman Senate had grown uneasy. Threatened by…

11 Modern Books for Revolutionizing Your Life

Read books

"Reading books is the real-life version of collecting mushrooms in Super Mario.” — Random guy on Twitter Ever walk down the aisles of a bookstore and feel an intense FOMO on all the books you want to read? You realize that time on Earth is finite, and when you combine the fact that you need to…

3 Powerful Tactics for Hacking Procrastination

Hacking Procrastination

I’m taking a 30-minute procrastination break by writing this. Odds are, if you are reading this, you are procrastinating as well. Let’s just be real, we all do it in one way or another! We drift off into a habit, a crutch, or a comfort in order to avoid what we know we really should…

12 Favorite Problems: A Practical Framework for Discovering Your Purpose

12 Favorite Problems

If you are having difficulty discovering your purpose in life, start by defining your favorite problems. We often feel lost in life when we lack purpose. Traditionally, we have been trained to rely on our ideas, our passions, and our skills to find direction. While this puts us on track to find something, this mindset…

Standing Out at Work: Solve the Principal-Agent Problem

If you’re looking for a hack that will put you on the fast track to success at work, I have something for you. You might not like it. You might hate it. You might even despise it so much that you do the opposite. But sometimes we all must take our medicine and do what…

16 Vital Lessons from 60 Days of Writing Online

If you are like I was just two short months ago, with no idea how to establish the habit of writing online, where to start, or what to expect, then this post is for you. I’ve learned so much over that span of time. I could literally write hundreds of lessons I've learned about online…

Site Update: June 2020

Site Update: June 2020

Live from Amish Country Greetings from the farmlands of south central PA, where I’ve been reacclimating to the Eastern time zone and sedentary life after a three week cross-country road trip in June. Each month, I look back at what’s happened with JoeBalcom.com over the previous month. If you’ve missed any articles, you can check…

Work On Purpose, Not By Default

Work on Purpose

If you are unhappy or dissatisfied with the work you do, you are working by default. Jobs in the 21st century can be summed up into two distinct camps: work by default, and work on purpose. Work by default (WBD) is by far the most common, and is characterized by the absence of passion, purpose,…

Excuses Become Habits. Habits Become Destiny

Your success is inversely related to the number of excuses you’ve made in your life. Let’s face it, we all make excuses. Excuses are a part of life. But do they really help? Of course not. There is a fundamental imbalance in the economy of excuses: everyone likes to make excuses. Nobody likes to listen…

Driving Coast to Coast (to Coast): How to Take the Road Trip of a Lifetime

A word of caution before driving cross country: This post is being written during the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept across the United States and the rest of the world. Before taking any action on the information provided in this post, please be prepared to take the proper precautions: wear a mask, wash your hands,…

Road Trip Across America: Reflections from a Week of Vagabonding

Vagabonding

Last week, I wrote about my first 11 days on a cross country road trip that took me and my girlfriend from the Pocono Mountains in eastern Pennsylvania to the arid desert of northern Arizona. I also discussed the value of meaningful travel, the merits of a road trip, and why you should set aside…

The Unfinished Jigsaw Puzzle: Solving Life One Piece at a Time

The Jigsaw Puzzle of Your Life

In this post, I’m going to take you to a jigsaw puzzle table, into a forest fire, and to (but not on!) a roller coaster. This short journey you are about to experience will take some sharp turns and tangents, but by the end, I promise that the essence of this post will not be…

Skip the Vacation. Take a Road Trip Instead

Vagabonding

Take a vacation, and you'll be bored after a week. Take a cross-country road trip, and you'll never want to come back. It's interesting, and even mesmerizing to look at the contours of the map, watch as the deep green forests of the east yield to tan mountains of the west and red rocks of…

Pencil Paradigm Shifts: Small Moments that Make a Big Difference

Paradigm shifts are fundamental changes in our thinking and are powerful influences in what become our habits. They can fast-track our formation of new habits, unlike any other experience. So, what if I told you some of your good habits can be formed in the blink of an eye? Habits are the building blocks of…

Writing Will Redefine Your Life

Writing Will Redefine Your Life

Writing is where all human action, connection, and persuasion begin. When they say “the pen is mightier than the sword,” it’s not just because it sounds good, sounds contrarian, or that it is a rallying cry for all introverts and nerds. It is because it is true. There is a deeper, visceral, intrinsic value to…

12 Lessons from Saying No to a Life of Mediocrity

Say No to Mediocrity

On In the last post, I gave you the cheat sheet on How to be Extraordinarily Ordinary. I wrote that post largely due to my own personal experiences and observations. It represents the path I have so desperately sought to avoid, and so desperately want you to avoid: mediocrity. Today, I offer the first step…

How to be Extraordinarily Ordinary

How to be Extraordinarily Ordinary

Follow these simple guidelines for an ordinary, dull, and monotonous life: Believe everything people tell you (especially those you agree with).Try your hardest not to stand out.Stay close to home or within a 20 mile radius (preferably less).Get a job for the money, not for the meaning it brings to you and others.Do something because…

Site Update: May 2020

Site Update

Live from a lake in the Northern Pennsylvania woods Greetings from my own version of Walden, where I've spent the entire month of May and most of my time during the COVID-19 era. Each month, I’ll be looking back at what’s happened with JoeBalcom.com over the previous month. If you’ve missed any articles, I've included…

Prove Yourself Wrong. It Will Always Prove You Right

Leave the hard climbing to the experts

Replace the need to perpetually prove yourself right, with an ingrained reflex to prove yourself wrong. Visualize climbing a thousand-foot ladder up the side of a steep mountain face. You desperately want to reach the plateau so you can rest, enjoy the view, and prove to everyone else that you are strong, determined, and superior.…

Writing Makes You Creative, Creativity Makes You Happy

Be true to your creative nature

Your ability to be creative is as much a part of your nature as playing and running is for a dog. When a dog trainer begins working with an upset or misbehaved dog, the first thing they ask the owner is “do you take it for walks?” This one question gets to the heart of…

10 Ways to Make Room for Work That Matters

If your goal is happiness and meaning in your work, you must make room for the work that matters to you. Pre-pandemic, focus was hard to come by. I used to be all over the place. Checking email here, texting a friend there, catching a glimpse of the TV here, checking the fridge over there.…

The Magic of an Orthogonal Mind

Orthogonal Mind

Orthogonal is an unusual word. Orthogonal is a unique word. Orthogonal is an orthogonal word. Here’s an easy way to think of this concept: Imagine one straight and narrow line on a graph (g), traveling in one rigid direction in perpetuity. Now imagine a line (P) branching out from your original line, like so: Another…

How to Cook Steak Like a Pro: From Novice to Chef in One Night

Learn to Cook

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook…

Learn Your ABCs: The Agony and Beauty of Creation

Creation

6 Lessons I Learned Through One Week After Hitting “Publish” “Pain plus reflection equals progress.” –Ray Dalio If you are a painter, a dancer, a comedian, actor, singer, or fellow writer, you know how hard it is, how humbling it is, how overwhelming it can be to put your work out to the world for…

Why I Left a Six-Figure Existence to Create my Own Destiny

Stop Chasing Money and Status. Build Wealth and Meaning Instead. You'll Never Look Back. I recently left my high-paying job as a restaurant manager with the intent on creating my own destiny. But why? Being in charge of such a large organization had all the trappings anyone might want: money, power, status, a comfortable two-bedroom…

The Power of a Forcing Function: How A Plane Ticket Transformed My Life

Forcing Function

Booking the flight was my forcing function. There was no time to regret what I had just done. There was no time to reason myself out of it. There was no time to give fair warning to family and friends. I just had to do it. So I took what I had: time constraints, money…

Why Gamblers Never Win in the Long Run

In life, there are two types of people: strategists and gamblers. Chess players and slots players. Only one wins in the long-run. 1:00am, Las Vegas, NV The casino floor is packed. 1 AM in one of the world’s busiest casinos is not the best time or place to be wandering aimlessly to look for two…

Turning Diamonds Into Water: If You Keep Your Soul, the World is Yours

Keep Your Soul

How to Keep Your Soul and Find Meaning Using the Paradox of Value "Everything in life is truly free, if you keep your soul.” This was the vivid and profound message in my head when I woke up from a dream the other morning. The message itself was engrained in my brain, no messenger. I…