Identity Theft: The Cure for the Common Mugging

This morning, I was awoken by an automated text asking if I had tried buying $20 worth of gas. The gas station was seventy miles from where I was sleeping. I replied “no” to the text, and my bank deactivated the card.

This is the second time that I’ve been the victim of identity theft in the past twelve months.

The first time that it happened was after having the same card with the same PIN for about twenty-five years. No skimming, no theft, nothing for a quarter century! And then somebody hacks a major American corporation and steals my payment information. It wasn’t the antiquated technology of a magnetic strip that failed; it was the state-of-art server security.

This second time, happening less than a year after the first, was again not the result of the physical technology failing. After all, this new card has a super special chip embedded in the plastic. My bank has faith in the protection of microcircuitry so, obviously, that wasn’t the problem.

Sarcasm aside, it would seem that, in this day and age, it isn’t physical technology that poses the greatest risk. The most common point of failure is a typo in a line of code. I may never know exactly where or when the breach in security occurred, but at least identity theft is less dangerous than getting mugged.

Gary Vaynerchuk, Sawdust, and a New Pedagogy

Gary Vaynerchuk is starting to get to me. At first, I was enamored with his electric belligerence against sloth. Every fiber of my being would cheer as he raged against the forces of excuse-making. And then, as I continued watching video after video of his riffs on entrepreneurship, I grew tired of the profanity. But that’s not why he’s getting to me.

Recently, he started talking about micro-content or sawdust. From what I’ve gathered, he uses the metaphor in two ways. The first and most-Vaynerchukian way is as a reference to creating thousands of small bits of content. The second way is by extending out the metaphor to mean that these bits of content can be collected together and used creatively in the way that a proactive entrepreneur will collect the waste of a sawmill and sell it as pet-pillow filler (or something).

Gary “Vee” is getting to me because the sawdust is working. It’s sinking down through the cracks of analysis—where I might likely overthink the content and reject it—and settling into the foundation of my worldview. All of those bits and pieces of content, that granulated insight, is changing the way I see the (business) world and my relationship to it.

It’s a fascinating process for sharing and acquiring knowledge. As a teacher, I want to explore how the sawdust can be used in lesson delivery. Attention spans are shortening, and the technology responsible for it is not going away. Sawdust seems like a new manifestation of Zen aphorisms. A master imparts a pithy insight or two, and the student must meditate on it for days or years in pursuit of transcendence. Oftentimes, it’s the little profundities we retain from our time in school. Perhaps the sawdust approach is a way to amplify the number of them.


  1. Expect success
  2. Create a clear plan
  3. Work hard (hustle)
  4. Avoid debt
  5. Be teachable / life-long learner
  6. Exercise self-control, persistence, and delayed gratification
  7. Accept personal responsibility
  8. Keep good company
  9. Opportunity conscious
  10. Enjoy the present, but plan for the future

Welcome to part six in a ten-part series explicating Dan Miller’s list of characteristics common to successful people. It’s been a while since I attacked this list of behavioral traits. My attentions have been on learning how to produce a vlog on YouTube. You can check out the carnage here.

We’re now on the downhill side of this litmus test for success readiness. (It’s important to remember that “readiness” is no promise of success, just like training for a marathon is no promise that you won’t be tripped up at mile seventeen by a meandering toddler.) So, let’s hit the ground running (see what I did there?).

I would first point out that number six is necessary for number five to be viable. Learning takes time and diligence, and without self-control learning is impossible—unless you’re only interested in trial and error in which case you don’t need any elevated cognitive or emotional abilities. Just keep sticking that fork in the power socket until your heart’s content . . . or stopped.

I see delayed gratification as a subset of self-control, but it takes more than self-control to understand the importance of delayed gratification. One must possess wisdom. One must know why ignoring that cavalcade of daily desires is good thing. One must understand that our hearts are fickle and don’t actually know or care anything about what’s good for us. Our hearts are the stronghold of the little tyrant we (hopefully) grew out of. The tyrant never really died; it was only locked up in a prison of maturity. Good self-control is a sign of a strong prison.

Without maturity, none of the characteristics on the above list will materialize. Without the above characteristics, you will not enjoy meaningful and long-lasting success.

(At least, that’s Dan Miller’s implication. Results may vary; direct refund requests to Mr. Miller. —Ed.)