The story of David Phillips and his bizarre pudding heist.

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The best civil engineers are systems thinkers.

They weigh variables against resource constraints. They are methodical and patient. They listen. They have a sharp and creative mind, with a great eye for detail.

When they are younger, they might let you cheat off their math homework. When they are older, they build awesome buildings and bridges.

Long ago, they orchestrated the Temple of Hera, Parthenon, and the Roman Colosseum.

Today, they buy pudding.

Sometimes.

A grocery run evolves into a hustle

David Phillips is the VP of Engineering at the University of California. He is focused on sustainability and green energy.

But on this day, he was a grocery mule, stocking up on food on a busy Sunday. …


Racism & Equality

A look into the social effects of racism on those who can’t see it.

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Imagine an alternate world, where humans live, and the vast majority possess six senses. You are born into this world, missing that sixth sense. All you’d have for reference is other people’s description of it. People would ask you lots of stupid questions about how you function without it.

Imagine further that a major social issue, something as significant as racism, was most commonly perceived through that 6th spectrum.

How well do you think you’d understand it? Would most people write you off and assume you didn’t get it? You probably get where I’m going with this.

So much of human interaction is affected by race. Meanwhile, race is mostly a hollow concept in science. More plainly, it’s just another label, a made-up thing we use to sort each other into boxes. Perhaps, like blind people, we shouldn’t see race at all. Yet even that assumption is problematic, in more ways than one would think. …


And what so many older folks are still missing.

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When people make these list articles, they often overstate the obvious:

  • Work hard.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail.
  • Believe in yourself!

These things might be good reminders, but they don’t really add to the conversation.

Even further, they don’t really produce meaningful insight for people to better their future.

If more people understood these eight things sooner, they’d be happier, more efficient, and endure a lot less pain.

1. Don’t back yourself into a corner that’s hard to get out of.

I knew their relationship was trouble from the get-go. They never got along. They had nothing in common. There was always drama, complaining, and tears.

And here they are, sixteen years of suffering later, with three bandaid babies, and a messy divorce to get through. …


How ambush marketing was taken to a new level at the Olympics

Image of Usain Bolt projected on a building.
Image of Usain Bolt projected on a building.

Promoting at the Olympics is safely guarded. After all, the keys to sponsorships sell for more than a billion dollars every four years.

Outside of that, no shenanigans are permitted.

When the clearly-defined rules are tampered with, the IOC gets very angry. They impose steep sanctions on those who transgress.

Meanwhile, with marketing, the brilliance often occurs at the edges, the tiny, hidden grey area between what is allowed and what isn’t. It is in this small pocket, that guerilla marketers unlock fortunes.

This is why this story is so brilliant.

The Setup

Usain Bolt owns the word ‘fast’. He is sponsored by internet companies. …


Self Improvement

Some quick strategies to reclaim your time and motivation.

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Time leeches add nothing. They latch on and take. If you remove them wrong, they cause more problems.

High performers are time assassins. They burn off leeches without a second thought or any sign of remorse.

I’ve never disagreed with another writer more than when he said, “Never say no to a podcast.”

Podcast appearances and TEDx presentations: two things that aren’t that special anymore. They’re mostly misallocations of energy.

Time leeches.

Most people are laughably wasteful and generous with their time.

It reminds me of Dumb & Dumber when Harry & Loyd find a suitcase full of cash and start spending recklessly. …


The mastery of a remote Italian sunglass company.

A man and woman smile while wearing sunglasses.
A man and woman smile while wearing sunglasses.

At a sunglasses store, you’ll often see competing brands stacked next to each other, positioned for easy comparison.

For example, Oakley:


History

The story of Gaius Appuleius Diocles, his money, and where it went.

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This year's list of top-earning athletes was full of the usual suspects: Roger Federer at $106 million, Cristiano Ronaldo at $105 million, all while Lionel Messi earned a mere $104 million.

We often assume that modern athletes, even with inflation accounted for, earn more than athletes in the past. Markets are bigger. We have sophisticated sponsorship channels. Yet it's very possible our assumptions are wrong. One man, from thousands of years prior, might have them all beat.

However, his story couldn’t have been more different.

The beginnings of a megastar

For many, charioteering is an ‘escape the coal mines’ type of job. They were slaves or indentured servants and didn’t want to be. Charioteering was seen as a better escape than fleeing or gladiatorial combat.¹ …


Life Lessons

Why it's important to monitor the energy you put into the world.

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Our lives exist in a string of vivid moments, strung together by darkness, gaps lost to time. You can’t remember what you did yesterday, but you remember everything about an experience from twenty years ago.

This is particularly true of my childhood, where there are many periods I remember with photographic detail. Then I scratch my head wondering what happened in the year before the next memory.

This was a blend of both, a string of detailed moments that were interrupted by a bully, followed by more darkness.

How the bully came into the picture

I spent my summers in sunny Merrit Island, Florida. My fondest memories were formed in those rainy summers with my grandparents. It was the 80s and 90s, and neighborhoods were mostly safe. We ran wild and free, doing as boys often did, getting into mischief, roughhousing, and tracking in dirt, much to the chagrin of our grandmothers. …


Science & The Environment

Conservationists are faced with a complex problem that has no easy or affordable solution.

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Colombia’s Magdalena River has an arterial quality, being the nation's largest river, cutting straight through its heart, pumping water into smaller channels, and eventually flowing into the Caribbean sea.

The river gives life to the nation. If you sailed down its smooth waters, as Columbus once did, you would see all levels of commerce, from massive freight ships from distant lands, to tiny family fishing boats chancing their luck.

If you continued further down its calm waters to a particular junction and arrived at the wrong moment, you’d see male hippos jousting for dominance.¹

They are the only wild hippos outside of Africa. They are also the largest invasive species on the planet. It is Colombia’s latest and most interesting ecological problem. There isn’t a consensus on how to deal with the hippos. There is even a growing argument that they aren’t a problem in the first place. …


How ‘The Cat Lady Effect’ nearly destroyed one of P&Gs biggest brands.

A woman sits at a desk smiling at her laptop, with a cat on the desk.
A woman sits at a desk smiling at her laptop, with a cat on the desk.

One of P&G’s chemists was working on a new chemical at the lab. The vapor had spritzed on his clothes before heading home.

When he walked through the door and hugged his wife, she said, “Did you quit smoking?”

“No? Why do you ask?” he said.

He’d stumbled onto an idea. He tested the chemical out on various, horrible smelling products — cat urine, oil stains, cigarette smells — proving the substance was remarkably effective at hiding stenches.¹

Proctor and Gamble’s management loved his pitch. They were certain of the product’s success. Their customers said they loved it during testing.

And thus, Febreze was born. …

About

Sean Kernan

Quality over quantity. That guy from Quora. Enjoy? Follow for more. https://seanjkernan.substack.com/ Open to gigs seanjkernan@gmail.com

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