The Stupidity Vigilante, or: How I Went From Eternally Pissed to (Mostly) Peaceful

You’ve never heard of the Stupidity Vigilante, and that’s ok. He was my alter ego, and I killed him slowly and quietly. The world is better off for it. Trust me.

Here’s the history. I am from the middle of nowhere, raised in an evangelical Christian home in the rural United States. We were not “poor,” I’d say we were lower-middle class if I had to guess. I’ll put it this way – the kids I thought were “rich” turned out, with some perspective, to just be normal suburbanite families with more than a few hundred bucks in the checking account.

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And how does that make you feel?


I’m a big fan of Danny Meyer. If you don’t know who Danny Meyer is, he’s the founder of Union Square Hospitality Group. He wrote a book called Setting the Table, which is an amazing book on, among other things, managing restaurants.

If you’re not in New York or in the restaurant business, he’s the guy who started Shake Shack.

Danny Meyer has said and written many wise things, many of which have influenced my management style. But there’s one thing that he wrote that really keeps coming back to me, and I’m paraphrasing here…

“Service” is the technical delivery of the product – speed, accuracy, etc. – but “hospitality” is how you make the recipient feel while you are delivering the product.

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The virtue of getting your hopes up


There’s a sizable contingent of the population that works very hard to negate any positive anticipation.

Stated in English: lots of people fight to keep from getting their hopes up.

They are waiting for a callback from a job interview. Waiting for a call from the person they just went out with. Waiting for an answer they desperately want to receive. Waiting.

But rather than waiting with positive anticipation, they fight hard against getting their hopes up.   Rather than envisioning what they’d look like in the role or mentally trying it on for size, they tell themselves that it’s unlikely that they got what they wanted.

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The story we tell ourselves.

Before you read this, jot down 10 characteristics about yourself, all from the point of view of an outsider – an employer, a parent, a sibling, a significant other. How would they describe you? Good, bad, ugly…doesn’t matter. Just write down 10.

Don’t cheat, just do it.  10 characteristics.

Everyone has their own self-told story. We define ourselves in “always” and “never” and “sometimes” and “rarely”. We hold ourselves steady on a path that is hedged by boundaries we created before we knew we were creating them.

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