Froggy the Turtle - Lessons from a two year old

Most people believe the parent-child relationship is very much one of master-apprentice, with the parent spending the majority of their time imbuing their children with their hard-earned life lessons. Or perhaps dictator-subject, with the parent focused on imposing their specific rules for life onto their offspring under the assumption of knowing best.

But I believe it's a little more balanced than that.

Sure, with 30+ years of experience in this world I have a few things I can teach my daughter but the reality is that all too often I find that she is teaching me. The big difference is that she probably doesn't intend to teach me anything, and in most cases is simply playing out the thoughts in her head, but somehow her actions manage to highlight important life lessons for me.

Let me introduce a little friend of my daughter. His name is Froggy.



Yes that is a picture of a turtle.
No that is not the wrong picture.
Yes that turtle is called Froggy.

Let me explain how this situation went down...

On a recent holiday my wife and I took my daughter to Underwater World - a magical place for children everyone to explore and learn about sea creatures.

My daughter loved it and particularly enjoyed pointing out the turtles so, as we exited through the gift shop, we bought her a soft stuffed toy turtle. As she strutted back to the car with the turtle firmly tucked under her arm we had a conversation about the turtle.

Me: Do you like your soft toy?
Her: Yeah.
Me: Do you know what animal it is?
Her: A turtle.
Me: And what do you want to name it?
Her: Froggy!

Pretty cute. But being the lesson-giving parent that wanted to make everything a boring learning experience I decided to step in and correct her mistake and help her make a better choice of name for her turtle...

Me: No darling, it's a turtle. Do you understand?
Her: Yeah, turtle.
Me: We can't call a turtle Froggy.
Her: Ummm
Me: How about Tony? Tony the Turtle?
Her: Froggy!

She's persistent huh? But I didn't like the name Froggy because it didn't make sense to me. I was gearing up for another round of convincing her to pick a new name when a simple thought occurred to me - it doesn't matter.

The name my daughter choses for a soft plush toy literally does not matter. It has such a negligible effect on my life that it is not worth me worrying about. Not even for a second.

It got me thinking. How many other things in life are like this? How many other things do I care too much about, or try to impose my own view on? How much of my energy do I waste on things that are literally so inconsequential in the grand scheme of my life that they are not even worth a second thought?

That was the first lesson I learned that day - things do not matter as much as you think they do.

The second lesson dawned on me a little later on when I was introducing Froggy the Turtle to other adults. The name was always met with a raised eyebrow, a burst of laughter, or any other demonstration along the lines of "What an odd name for a turtle."

Everyone seemed to agree, even if they didn't actually say it to my face, that naming a turtle Froggy was a little bit weird. You probably even had that thought before when you were reading the story.

But why? Why is it weird? Where is the rule of life that says you cannot name a turtle Froggy? When Moses descended Mt Sinai with the commandments did he accidentally leave a 3rd stone tablet behind that had rules like "Thou shalt not call a turtle Froggy"?

Why is Froggy the Turtle so weird?

The answer is simple. It's not weird. We are weird. Us adults - we are the weird ones.

My daughter chose Froggy the Turtle without any preconceived notions of what she 'should' do, or what was expected, or what other people wanted. She had a (nearly) completely unconstrained set of options for naming that turtle and she chose Froggy. She chose Froggy the Turtle and she did it with a beautiful beaming smile.

The only weird thing about that is that we find it so odd.

It made me realise how much of my creativity I have lost as an adult - how my quest for money, success, and other adult concepts has resulted in the quietening of the child within. I used to love to run around, screaming loudly, inventing stories, or imagining I was saving the world by beating badies with my magical powers.

I feel sad writing that and remembering how much crazy fun I used to be able to have with nothing more than my mind. But it also inspires me to try to bring out that crazy little fella inside me more often. I know he's there and dying to get out, but he needs me to loosen the shackles of adult-thinking and let my mind run free.

And that's the second lesson I learned from my daughter that day - enjoyment comes from thinking with a creative and unconstrained mind.

How often do you free yourself from adult constraints and allow yourself to think and act freely?

Making Decisions: My Way, Your Way, and the Right Way

Throughout life, whenever you are looking to choose your next step, there are always different options or paths you can take. Whether it be in business, relationships, career, travel, friendships, or creativity - everything has a series of choices you need to make in order to progress and every decisive moment in life can seem like a make-or-break moment, a point in time where you need to make a critical decision that shapes the future, a time where you feel that you must make the 'right' decision.

But what is the right decision?

Be right for right now

There is no single right decision. No decision that will always be the right decision. There is only a decision that is right for right now.

You cannot pick a perfectly right option that will hold true forever. The more time that passes the more likely that decision will look incorrect. Experience, and hindsight, is like that.

Whatever is the most correct in the current moment is the best choice. The future will change and with it your decisions can change too. There is no point spending time trying to get every decision right for every part of the future. You can only make the right decision for right now.

But 'right' is still a matter of perspective.

Your way versus my way

I do things my way because I've seen that work before. You do things your way because you've seen that work before. But what worked for me does not always work for you and vice versa.

Both choices have been right in the past and both choices may be right again in the future, but only if we continue to work in isolation.

But if we want to work together then neither option is right.

Our way

When we start working with others our perspective needs to change.

Your way is not the right way. Your way is one possible right way.
My way is not the right way. My way is another possible right way.

What we need to come up with is our right way.

Together we need to discuss and decide on our best course of action. Together we make the choice on what is the right way for us for right now.

The moment we make that decision together it stops being your way or my way and it starts being our way.

Making better group decisions - check your ego

Check your ego at the door when making decisions with other people. It doesn't matter whose idea it was, who did what in the past, or who said something first. The only thing that matters is getting the right outcome for everyone involved, not what your precious ego feels.

In summary;

Make your decisions based only on what you know right now, don't be prejudiced by your past ideas, and choose options that maximise positive outcomes for all parties. 

Easy to say, much harder to live by.

How I Built My Passion Project


UPDATE: Several months after writing this I changed direction with this side project and it is no longer publicly available. So the links below will not work but the story and lessons learned are still relevant.


Life is meant to be pleasurable. Life is meant to be fun. Life is meant to be enjoyable. But sometimes it is easy to forget that. It is too easy to get caught up in the rat race, using bullshit phrases like “time poor” as excuses for inertia, and just plugging away in a boring and monotonous life in the hope that we can get to the fun stuff later.

Often “later” never comes. Often we put our hopes and dreams off further into the distance. We hope that a short-term sacrifice will lead to a better future but then when that future arrives we just sacrifice it again for another future hope.

It does not have to be this way. It is possible to enjoy yourself now and not just in some rose-coloured future dream. All it requires is to find something that excites us – find a passion project that makes us jump out of bed every morning raring to go, an idea that gets us so pumped up that we have ideas flowing out quicker than we can write them.

But passion is only part of it. You also need to be dedicated, to work hard, and drive towards a specific goal. Be focused like a laser. Harness the excitement of your project and guide it towards your desired end-state.

The result? Happiness, fulfillment, and general sense of feeling freaking AWESOME!

At least that is what has been going on for me over the past few months. Here is my personal example, a case study if you like, on exactly how a bit of focused hard work combined with passion can yield success. Here is the story of Arb King.

Arb King

Arb King is a new product/website I recently launched. Technically it was a soft launch but I’m still counting it because I’m super product of my effort and everything I have achieved, especially while balancing work and family commitments.

Arb King is a sports betting arbitrage alert system. It retrieves odds on sporting events and identifies opportunities to setup an arbitrage to take advantage of differing prices on offer by various bookmakers with no risk. I wont go into detail here as this post is not about shamelessly cross-promoting (and I doubt there is much crossover in the audience here) so if you want to know more then head over to the Arb King website.


The Arb King project is definitely classed a passion project. Right now it is a free service and I’m not really thinking too much about monetizing it. Instead I built the product because I thought it would be useful and because it combines so many things I enjoy.

The Arb King project utilised (and enhanced) the skills I love using (programming, web design, database design) and was focused in subject areas I have a deep passion for (sports, betting, data, and maths). A true passion project!

But it takes more than just passion to succeed. I first had the idea for Arb King in 2012 and I even built an early prototype but the idea never came to fruition. There was always some excuse. Another project to finish first, waiting for XYZ to happen first, or blah blah blah. I had the passion and interest but I did not have the direction. I needed a proper goal!

Setting goals wisely

When I first built the Arb King prototype I was focusing on the efficiency of the service, mainly for myself. I figured if I could have my own personal alert system running 24/7 then it would be a handy way to make some extra cash. And it was but when my computer died I stopped working on the project.

But in a recent depression-driven soul-searching session I was pushing myself to get reenergised by looking at my passions and the Arb King project resurfaced. Here was almost the perfect thing for me to focus my attention on and I tried to remember why I had stopped in the first place? I figured out that I needed a better goal. Hell, I needed any goal

So I said to myself that I would make the Arb King arbitrage system available to the public, not just for my private use. I said that it would be a website with free signup and it would be available by the end of January 2014. I said "Holy shit, I need to get cracking…"

From that moment on I was driven to succeed. It was like a fog had been lifted from my vision. I had a clear and precise end-point in mind and I could see the little steps that were needed along the way. I could classify tasks as “mandatory minimum” functions or simply “nice to have” features and it was going to be very easy to determine if I had been successful or not - the website and corresponding arbitrage email alert system had to be ready by end of January 2014.

Not only did I meet the deadline, I crushed the deadline. The website was up for testing before Christmas 2013, I held a private alpha testing in the first week of January, and then I opened up the beta site to the wider community before mid-January.

Why did I do it with ease this time when I had previous started and never finished this project? What was the difference? The answer was pretty obvious – the clear well-defined goal was the difference. That goal gave me the direction and motivation to succeed, it gave me the push to get through the tough periods, and it gave me a quantifiable measurement of my success.

Your turn – follow your passion

Enough raving about myself. It’s time to turn the spotlight onto you. Are you really happy with your life? Are you following your passions? Do you even know what your passions are?

If you answered no to any of those questions then you need to take action. Here is what I recommend:

Discover your passion

Not sure what your passions are? Sit down and think back through past events (both recent and distant) in which you were happy. What were you doing in those moments? Or what about those topics that got you so worked up you could have deep conversations (or arguments) for hours? Or those moments in which you had a big smile just because you were doing something so simple that made you happy. Those are things you are passionate about. Use them.

Create your own project

Now create a project that aligns to your passions. Combine as many as you can even if you think no-one else will be interested in your whale-knitting stamp collection. Your passion project is not for them, it’s for you.

Don’t try to make your passion project economically viable before you start. Don’t try to second guess what the market will want. Just do something that makes you happy and you can sort all that other stuff out later.

Set a clear goal

Set a clear goal. Pick an end-state that is attainable, measurable, and realistic. You might not be able to become the first person to nude snowboard down Mount Everest but you could definitely push yourself to learn snowboarding quickly enough that you can handle the black/diamond runs at your nearest mountain range, nude or otherwise.


Don’t give up. Push through the resistance. There will be tough times when it feels like you have hit a plateau but just keep going. The next incline of productivity is ahead but you only get there by persevering. Giving up guarantees you will never get there. In case you don’t get it when I say “get there” I mean “be happy and fulfilled and truly enjoying your life”

Celebrate and share your success

And when you get there? Celebrate and share your success. Tell your friends and family. Hell, even tell that boring guy who cornered you at that party and told you about his dental work in too-much detail. Tell everyone who will be positive and share in your success. Be proud of what you have done. Make a big deal of it and enjoy it because that will give you the motivation to do it all over again – the next version or the next project. Because there should always be a passion project in your life.

So how is your passion project going?

Do What You Do Do Well (aka: Grandad’s Philosophy)

My February started in a sad way with the passing of my grandfather. Throughout my life he has always been there not only as my grandfather but also acting as a father figure, a role model, and a great mate. I loved him dearly and I will miss him greatly but I am not one to dwell on negativity, even in times like these. Instead I like to focus on the positives, to laugh at the good times spent with granddad and to remember the lessons he taught me. And as I walked out of the funeral, carrying his casket, a beautiful song played that summed up grandad, the lessons he taught me, and his philosophy for life. The song was “Do what you do, do well” by Ned Miller from 1965 and the chorus goes:

Do what you do do well boy Do what you do do well Give your love and all of your heart And do what you do do well

Grandad’s Philosophy

Grandad was a kind, funny, and witty man. He loved a good joke and always had a few hundred up his sleeve to tell whenever the right moment presented. But he was not only a joker. He was also a leader and a teacher, showing his kids (and later on his grandkids) how to do many things from cards to problem solving to playing tennis. He was a “doer” and whatever he did he always did it to the best possible way that he could.

And he taught us to live with the same attitude. No matter what we were doing he always expected us to give 100%. He ensured that we took pride in our efforts, and not just in the results. He showed us the value in trying hard and focusing on our own development, and not to get caught up comparing ourselves to others. He instilled us with the attitude of doing everything as best as we could. Which is why the song, and particularly the chorus, was the perfect summation of my grandad’s philosophy which has now also become my own philosophy for life: Do what you do, do well.


This attitude applies to EVERYTHING in life. No matter what it is that you are doing you should be always striving to do it the absolute best of your ability. If you find yourself doing something in a less than fully dedicated manner then ask yourself why? Why are you holding back? Why are you not maximising your effort? Are you afraid? Or are you just not interested?

If you are afraid of committing 100% and pouring all your energy into something then maybe that something is not right for you. Or maybe you need to change your mindset and stop being afraid of failure and afraid to put yourself out there. If these don’t apply to you and you are just simply uninterested and unmotivated in the current moment then why are you even there in the first place? Why bother putting a half-arsed effort into something that you don’t even want to be doing?

No matter what it is that you are doing make sure you always do it to the best of your ability.

This is the principle to live by and it applies to all facets of life. If you are not fully dedicated to your partner or your relationship then there will always be a level of tension in your relationship, if you are unmotivated at work and keep turning in a half-baked deliverable then you will create a habit of poor performance and negativity that will permeate into other areas of your life, and if you keep finding excuses to avoid change then you will be stuck in your current life and will never achieve your dreams.

But if you turn your attitude into one of always putting in your best possible effort then some pretty amazing things will happen. You will pay more attention to every moment of your life because you won’t want to waste any opportunity, you will make conscious and empowering decisions to control your destiny, and you will have a lot more fun and laughter. That’s how my grandad lived and he was definitely onto something.

Helpful Tips

Here are some quick tips you can take away and start applying to all aspects of your life – relationships, work, friends, family, sports, and hobbies:

  1. Take notice of your effort level. When you are doing something just stop and take note of how much effort you are putting into the task and whether it has your full attention or if you are distracted or unmotivated. Are you really committed to it or just bumbling along?
  2. Make conscious decisions. If you realise you’re not fully dedicated to something then it is time for you to make a decision – you must either commit 100% or stop doing it. Don’t sit on the fence and don't string other people along.
  3. Don’t leave anything in the tank. Once you have decided to do something you need to throw every resource at it. Even if it is just having a laugh with friends you need to put everything into it - have the biggest possible laugh you can! Do not do anything half-arsed.
  4. The final result is not everything. Take enjoyment from using your skills to learn and develop, and remember that performing to the best that you could and making the most of every opportunity is what really matters. Remember that Paul H Dunn quote: “Happiness is a journey, not a destination”

No matter what it is that you are doing make sure you always do it to the best of your ability.

Over to you now. What things in your life are you not fully committed to? Where do you waste your energy by just “going through the motions”? Where could you benefit from being 100% dedicated and focused? How would your life change if you did everything at your maximum potential?

Never Apologise For Being Yourself

If you are living true to yourself and your inner drivers (and not purposefully trying to hurt others) then you never need to apologise for being yourself. If you are chasing your dream, doing what comes naturally, and being yourself at all times then others just need to accept you for you. If they cannot do that then they are simply not worthy of your time. People who want you to change, or want to belittle your thoughts and dreams, or just want you to stop being yourself are not healthy people to spend your time with. These attitudes are negative and poisonous and they will constantly degrade your life if you allow them to exist around you. Do not do this. Do not let these people and these attitudes in to your life. If people cannot respect you for being true to yourself then they need to be shown the door.

This is not heartless or callous. This is simple fact. Our lives are ultimately an individual experience. We share many of our experiences with others, form relationships and so on but ultimately we are all individuals who see and experience the world in our individual way. We are all individuals operating with our own set of ideas, thoughts and beliefs and as such we should never sacrifice that individualism to please others.

If you are willing to sacrifice your own identity for the sake of others then you are just letting their view of the world, and their ideas and thoughts, take precedence over yours. Why? Why should you take on their values or their set of rules for how to behave? Why does their view mean more than yours?

By changing yourself to suit others you are essentially saying that your own view of yourself is wrong and that others know and understand you better than you do. But it is you, and only you, that lives with yourself 24/7. No-one else sees or experiences the world in the exact same way as you and no-one else is inside your mind, observing and responding to your experiences within the world. That means that no-one else is in a position to ever fully understand you as much as you can understand yourself.

That is not to say that people will never understand you. The basis of forming healthy relationships is that you connect with similar people on various levels and this connection implies a deep understanding of each other. But, as close as you can become with others, and as much as they can learn to understand you, it will never be to the full amount to which you understand yourself. Only you see the world through your eyes, so only you know exactly what is happening within your world.

The point I am pushing here is not to say that you should be a loner with no friends and no relationships, and never letting anyone into your close inner circle. In fact I recommend quite the opposite. I believe that we absolutely need these types of relationships in our lives. We need to connect with others, we need to form close bonds, and we need to experience love. But we need to do this while being true to ourselves.

We must always choose being true to ourselves over being fake just to please others. Being true to ourselves is the only way that we can be truly happy in our lives and this is obvious for two reasons:

One, if we are not operating in a manner that is 100% congruent to our inner thoughts, feelings, beliefs, drivers, and desires then how could we ever expect to become fully happy? We would always know deep down that we have not been living completely true. We would always have things to regret, things to wish we had or had not done, and things to resent others for. That is not the recipe for happiness.

The second reason for living this way is that it means we start attracting only good, positive, high quality people to form relationships with. We attract people who accept us for who we are and people who are not worried about changing or judging us. These people are naturally happier, more positive, and also more understanding of how relationships work. These are great people to have in our life.

But if we spend our life being fake to please others, changing ourselves to project whatever image we think others want to see, then the quality of people we attract in to our life will not be high. And besides that, we will be attracting people based on whatever fake version of ourselves we have portrayed to them. That means we will have to maintain that façade forever in order to maintain that relationships. Or, as normally happens, we would eventually start showing them the real us, to which they will react negatively because it feels like we have changed from the person they first met and connected with. This is the main reason why relationships break down.

In the past, I have been the fake people-pleaser in my romantic (and platonic) relationships and guess how they all ended? Not well. Deep down I hated the fact that I was putting on an act rather than being myself and that caused me to slowly resent the other people in the relationship even though I was essentially blaming them for something that I had chosen to do. And when I started “opening up” and showing more of the real me the relationships degraded - we did not get along as well, we argued more and loved less, and I heard “you’ve changed” countless times.

It took me a long time to realize that I was causing the problems in my relationships by not being true to myself but when I finally did it was an amazing shift of perspectives. I started being completely upfront, honest and true to my inner drivers whenever I met someone new and the results were fantastic. I now have a great group of close friends and a wonderful wife that I love very much. This is not gloating, just me recognizing that this would not have been possible without me learning to live my life for myself.

Which is why you need to always be living true to yourself and never apologise for doing so. Not only does it create a much healthier and happier life for yourself, but it also attracts people who actually like you for being (the real) you.

### This article is an excerpt from a book I am currently writing. If you loved it, hated it, or want to provide any feedback please do so in the comments section or by email directly. Also, I will be contacting my subscriber list over the coming months for ideas, reviews, and chances to obtain pre-release versions of the book. If you are interested to participate then please use the newsletter sign-up form below to register. Thanks - Zac Sky

Why Work Efficiency Should be Judged on Output not Time

The current system of measuring, and judging, the efficiency of most office-based work is wrong. By requiring staff to be in the office for a specific number of hours each day, and even going as far as limiting them to a specific window of time within the day to fulfill this requirement, the emphasis is on being at work longer rather than achieving better results. Focusing on time-based judgment of work is not productive. It does not allow people to work when they produce their best results, it assumes every person takes the same amount of time to do their job, and it fosters a negative psychology and atmosphere at work.

The solution is simple: the efficiency of our work needs to be judged on output, not time.

Why judging work based on time is wrong

There are many inherent problems with organising work to be solely a time-based operation. Most of these I am applying to a “standard” office-based job. There are examples in society where certain industries and organisations have deviated from the time-based assessment, but for most of the world, the norm is still to judge workers by how long they spend at work, not how much they achieve. Here are some problems with that kind of thinking:

People work better at different times

I’m a morning person which means that I am most productive in the wee hours of the morning, normally when no-one else is around and I can focus on my tasks without distraction. If I could start work early (say 6am) then I would be much more productive in my time at work. I would get at least two hours of ultra-productive work while everyone else was at home sleeping, and my overall output would improve drastically.

I’ve actually proven this in a previous job where flexible start times were allowed. It was so good for me that I was achieving more in those first few hours than I was previously doing in an entire day. By the time the rest of my team had arrived, made their coffee, and were ready to start work, I had knocked off all my critical tasks and I could attend the boring meetings without getting too frustrated.

Flexible work arrangements can go the other way too. Someone else might prefer to start at midday and work on into the evening. Maybe they are young and like to go out partying most nights, or maybe they just prefer being up a night. It doesn’t matter what the reason is, but if these people are forced into turning up to work early just to fulfill a silly time schedule then they will never bring their A-game.

Why not let people start work when it suits them? At least that way you’d be getting the best out of each employee.

Every person does not need the same time for their job

Why is it that every person in the office needs the exact same time to perform their job? Is everyone actually just robots that work at the exact same speed all day?

Even workers doing the same jobs with the same levels of responsibility within the same company can perform at very different speeds and skills. Instead of giving these workers a default amount of time to work, why not judge them based on their achievements and the quality of their work?

Judging based on output is a more accurate measure of efficiency. If you have a situation where two employees perform the same role but at different speeds then forcing them to work the same hours actually has a negative impact on the overall work environment. The more skilled, and thus more productive person will eventually reduce their output to match the lowest common denominator because there is no incentive for them to excel.

There is no incentive to excel

When everybody has to be at work for the same amount of time it creates the attitude that everyone just needs to do the bare minimum to get by. If a worker knows that they could complete a task early and then spend the rest of the day doing something they find interesting (like researching new technology to apply at work, or coming up with innovative ideas to improve their results, or even given the afternoon off) then they are likely to work harder and produce better results.

But instead of rewarding employees like this we tend to “punish” them. When someone finishes their work early the norm is to give them another (boring) task to ensure that they are working (or at least sitting at work) for the expected number of hours. The result is that the normally productive and efficient worker becomes less motivated to work harder and less motivated to produce high quality output.

When a person realizes that no matter what they do (work harder, work faster, or call in sick and go to the beach) their workload does not deviate from the expected number of hours at work then they have no motivation to produce high quality work. Because they are being judged on a time-based scale they will appropriately perform their work on the same scale. If they are given a week to do a task then you can assume that they will nearly always take a full week to do it. Even if you gave them a month to do the same task they would only finish it just before the deadline.

The employee who realises they are judged on time realises they can exploit the work environment to their favour.

It is easy for employees to exploit time-based work

At some point, all employees in a time-based environment will exploit the system. Some will do it purposefully and others will not even be aware they are doing it, but I guarantee that everyone will eventually do it.

Exploiting the time-based work environment is easy. You can continually over-estimate the time it takes to do work, you go out for “meetings” which are really just you catching up with friends, you spend half your time having coffees with colleagues, you have a long lunch because your boss is busy and wont notice, you call in sick on important days so other people get stuck with the tough work, and so on.

In a time-based work environment the employee is judged just on the amount of time between when they arrive and when they leave. In this environment there are many, many, many ways for the worker to exploit the system so that they are doing the least possible work in their allocated time. The sad part about this exploitation is that sometimes a great worker can head down this path simply because they realise that no matter how well they do their job or how much extra effort they put in, they still have to sit in that chair for the exact same time every day.


This essay could go on and on. There are many more examples of why judging work on a time-basis is wrong but these are just subsets, or combinations, of all the above points. The idea is always the same: the more a worker is judged solely on the time they spend at work, the less productive and efficient they become.

I’m speaking in generalisations here and there are always exceptions. For example, it is obviously better for an NFL team to keep playing for the entire match and not just score 40 points in the first half and then go home. But for most of society, and predominately those office workers that are bound to the desk and chair all week, this is not the case. An environment where the focus is to just work for a specific number of hours is negative and ultimately flawed. It creates the wrong attitude towards work and it fosters a culture of inefficiencies and time-wasters.

How do you judge your employees?