Writing is the best way to discover what you think


Writing is the best way to discover what you think, and find some work life balance.

Building a career, business, family, and life that rises above daily task anxiety seems harder than ever. Or maybe all the tasks ARE The Life each of us is trying to build. Certainly doesn’t feel that way to me as Sunday night bears down, but below are three themes to chill myself out. May they chill out out as well. Speak your mind in the comments below!


I spent all day doing taxes just before the last corporate deadline 2 weeks from now. The lockdowns in March threw my (and everyone’s) filing schedule, then summer came, and here I am scrambling to study and tally everything I did in 2019 — which is an ancient civilization at this point.

Man was that exhausting — I budgeted 2 hours and it took all day. Looking through every line item spend, trip, meeting, etc. to piece together taxes made me realize how fast my family and I are running.

But we’re not special. Everyone is running fast. In pursuit of something better.

I’m beating myself up for not doing better on this designated Sunday work day, because my Fall rush starts fast and furious tomorrow. So before I dive headlong into a Sunday night marathon to avoid starting Monday on my heels, here’s something to lighten the mood.

This video of a young boy’s meltdown over Monopoly board game taxes is full of one-liners that we say in my house every time taxes are brought up.

I said it like 100 times today, and it was one of the bright spots.

You can hear the mom trying not to laugh as she eggs on her upset child, but it’s not mean spirited. She knew she had comedy gold on her hands.

Also, she was making lemonade out of daily strife, and that’s all we can do.

I tip my hat to this mom, all parents, and all of you out there pursuing something better.

Our to-do lists may indeed be The Life we’re building. The rest is now how we react.


Here’s some fun irony:

I’m leading a panel on The Importance of Agility In An Uncertain Time tomorrow morning, and going in cold for the first time in years.

Why? Because the event itself is pivoting to virtual in real time. I got the invite for what I thought was the prep call tomorrow, but it’s the actual recording to be broadcast during the event two weeks from now.

The good news is I know the panelists, their businesses, and I can do this theme with full stats and substance in my sleep.

The bad news is that corporate execs and their handlers need prep time to make sure they’re going to come off like they’re doing this in their sleep too.

So tonight I’ll put something together for them, and we’ll all meet the endgame of looking good together.

But I won’t resist my instinct to be real about this one when we go live in the morning.

How can you talk about the need to be agile in an uncertain time without kicking off about how this very session we’re doing requires full agility.

Work and life generally get more complex over time, and agility is the only solution.

Also for you fellow fintech strategists, we must evolve our thinking from digital transformation to digital agility. Here are a few notes:

-Digital transformation is how we sell sell a legacy-to-modern tech strategy

-This works for legacy orgs, but once the core stack is modernized, agility replaces transformation

-Agility enables you to add new products at any moment

-It enables you to change your marketing at any moment

-And it enables you to to not rebuild your entire org every time you need to swap some tech

I’ll be talking more about this with The Basis Point’s partners and industry collaborators as we move into the Fall. Reach out if you want to talk.


Many moons ago, my friend and mentor Barry Ritholtz taught me a writing adage he learned from historian and twelfth Librarian of U.S. Congress Daniel Boorstin:

“I write to discover what I think.”

I haven’t been writing enough lately and it’s no coincidence my thinking is scattershot.

Some people freeze up when they can’t process what they’re taking in fast enough. I’m fast, but I think I’m too fast. I offer fast decisions to clients, colleagues, family, and friends, but those decisions are clearer when I’m writing every day.

And I don’t mean writing emails. That’s not the same. At all.

We must have time to unfold our views, and not filter them through the machines we’re serving.

With almost every piece I write, I end up with different conclusions than I began with.

Like in the section above, I went on a jargon rant about agility because of the section heading I wrote.

Then I deleted the rant because as I wrote that section, I learned (or reminded myself) that people need jargon, and agility is a productive and important concept for the state of fintech right now.

But I did leave the section heading as a nod to fellow BS jargon police.

In addition to discovering what I think, I write to clear the rust out of the pipes.

This is what this post is about, so I’ll end it now and move onto discovering other things.

But speak your mind below if you have any thoughts about writing, taxes, to-do lists, corporate jargon, and fintech transformation. I mean agility.


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Comments [ 4 ]
  1. Bette Moore says:

    I started a blog on Feb. 5, 2009. A few friends subscribe and fewer comment. A decade later I realized that my blog wasn’t for anyone else- it’s for me to process my own thinking. I called it “Meanderings,” and that’s exactly what it is. Reading your piece made me realize that I need to catch more of my meandering thoughts … so thank you!

    1. Thanks for the note Bette, and agree that looking back on ones own work is incredibly useful. A few years back I decided that every post would have 2 audiences: (1) my future self, and (2) one other person I’m thinking about when writing the post. Sounds like you can relate well to item 1 🙂 Also I read a few of your pieces, including The Solution To All Our Problems (which I found because I like the Transitions category), and love this one from the list: “3. Stop tolerating in your leaders what you would not tolerate in your friends.”

  2. David says:

    Julian, I could not agree more. Writing for me in journal-like format is personal homework and while I’m well past the years of learning the basics we study in schools I am convinced that writing is essential to capture different ways of framing ideas using memories that may well be dormant but highly relevant to better thoughts (or not but try). Most of my old writing is never reviewed because just the act of composing ideas in proper language becomes a memory of its own. Sometimes, ok occasionally, the ideas produce multiplication and not just addition to your perspective. That’s my experience anyway.

    1. Thanks for the note David. Yes indeed the only way for me to capture ideas properly is writing. As (Hesse’s) Siddhartha said: writing is good, thinking is better. But I’m not quite that enlightened. I gotta write to work it all out 🙂

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