Biographies Can Mislead Us About the Path to Success

I published an article on LinkedIn about John Quinn and his winding path to creating the Quinn Emanuel firm:

During law school, I was a voracious reader of biographies. I saw them as road maps to success. My takeaway from reading the hundreds of detailed profiles of successful people was that if you were smart and worked hard, massive success would directly follow.

I had no idea how completely wrong I was.

Feel free to read the rest of the article here.

Get Lucky By Knowing Your Industry and Knowing Yourself

Over the past few weeks I’ve had a several conversations with my friends about risk, finding the right place for your personality, and how to get in early on emerging trends. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts in this post.

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My Business Has Failed. Here’s What I Learned.

My business has failed.

It feels weird to type that out. It took a really long time for me to admit that simple fact to myself. And even longer for me to write about it.

A year ago, I launched my law firm and publicized the good news with great fanfare. I suppose it’s only fair that I also share the bad news publicly too.

I have absolutely no regrets about starting my own firm. I made many mistakes, and learned a lot of difficult lessons. But I also received some huge unexpected benefits. For my next move, I’ll be joining a tech startup in San Francisco. I’ll give you more details at the end of this post.

Continue reading “My Business Has Failed. Here’s What I Learned.”

Tough Times Will Lead to Personal Growth

When you’re going through difficult times while you’re in your 20s or 30s, it’s easy to fall into a downward spiral and end up depressed. It’s difficult to see past your own challenging circumstances. You might think: Maybe if I didn’t encounter this setback, my life would be so much better. It doesn’t really matter what realm your setback is in. It could be your career, your romantic life, your personal relationships, or something else.

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It’s not easy to recognize this but usually your difficult challenge comes with silver linings. For example, you may discover that you’re stronger than you thought you were. (See Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth) You may realize what you really, actually want out of life. You may learn that your friends/family are there for you. Or you may find out who’s not there for you–which is incredibly valuable information.

It’s really hard to take the long view when you’re going through tough times. But if you make it through you’ll become a stronger and wiser person. A lot of success in your life involves knowing what your weaknesses are and being aware of your limitations. Someone who has never encountered failure, disappointment, or despair won’t have the necessary strength to get through difficult times when the stakes are higher.

When you’re young–say, in your 20s or 30s–you can bounce back from the worst failures. But when you’re much older, it’s a lot harder to overcome your mistakes. Although not impossible–some continue to experience personal growth well into their 80s and 90s. (See Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study by George Valliant)

I try to tell myself all this whenever I encounter obstacles. It’s hard to really see when you’re going through difficult times, and feel that there’s no end in sight. So it’s always good to keep reminding myself that no matter how bad things get, there’s always a silver lining.

Eight Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Michael Jordan

Those of you who know me know that my favorite basketball player is Michael Jordan. A couple years ago, I read a comprehensive biography about Jordan called: Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby. What fascinated me was not his college-level or NBA-level stories, but those from his childhood and teenage years. It’s easy to say now that Jordan was destined for success. But the path to success can be winding and uncertain.


Achieving audacious goals isn’t easy, and it’s difficult to see a path to success while you’re going through it. It’s especially hard if you haven’t selected a path or vocation that suits your natural personality and gives you a competitive advantage.

Hopefully these eight facts about Jordan’s formative years will inspire you to overcome setbacks and give you the patience to achieve your goals.

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