A Memoir, Book Recommendations, and a Bad Joke

April 01 2015

I stopped paying attention to the Listerve emails months ago, because there’s just too many and quality is haphazard. Fitting that I should win now, instead of during the initial honeymoon phase.

I do remember that the Listserve entries that stuck with me the most were the ones that introduced something new to my life, whether it was sharing the life story of someone different, a passionate cause I hadn’t heard of, or even just a good book recommendation.

So that’s what I’ll do here - tell my story, share recommendations, and end with a bad joke.

I grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley, surrounded by the kids of dotcom millionaires and Stanford professors. This was all I ever knew, so I came to think the pervasive innovative/technologist thinking was the global norm, and it was only after living in Europe during college that I realized how special the San Francisco Bay Area is. I learned more in that year of travel than I ever did in a classroom, about the world and where I wanted to fit into it. I fell in love with entrepreneurship and writing, and resolved to pursue both, by writing regularly and immersing myself in startups.

After returning home I led the family effort to self-publish a book: Life is A Game: Group Games for Kids, Teens, and Adults. Buy it at 101groupgames dot com if you need answers to the question of ‘I dunno, what do YOU want to do?’. Writing that book was easy for our playful family, but like the SV upbringing, it’s not all universal.

I still believe that’s a fundamental truth - time spent playing with friends is some of the best time you can spend. That said, I have ambitions to accomplish something lasting and important in my life, so the happiness/significance dichotomy is one I struggle with. Would love to hear how you confront it in your life, if you're willing to share.

Right now I’m building a startup called Mailtime, a mobile messenger app built on top of email (think of Whatsapp’s easy interface but without its closed platform, mailtime dot com), interviewing entrepreneurs about daily habits (info at habitualhustler dot com), and blogging weekly on tech, life hacks, and fun at coreybreier dot com.

If any of that struck a chord with you please do reach out!

Book recommendations:

Shantaram by David Gregory Roberts - semi autobiographical story of a Aussie criminal who escaped and built a new life for himself in the slums of Mumbai. Every traveler’s favorite book.

Black Hole Focus: How Intelligent People Can Create a Purpose For Their Lives by Isaiah Hankel - PhD realized he would hate being an academic, set out to find what he really wants, and provides an incredibly actionable/inspirational road map for you to do the same. The only self development book you need to read.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky - HP fan fiction written by one of the foremost minds in artificial intelligence. Harry is raised by a biochemist to be the ultimate rationalist scientist, and sets out to figure out magic, with fascinating results. Great narrative and intro to rationality.

And the bad joke:

A man takes his dog to the vet for a routine checkup, and paces the waiting room getting increasingly worried as the ordeal takes longer than usual. Finally the vet comes out carrying the dog and says ‘Sir, I’m sorry but I’m going to have to put your dog down.’

‘WHAT?! Why, she was perfectly healthy this morning!’

‘…She’s just too heavy.”

Corey Breier
[email protected]
San Francisco, CA

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