Dear J,

It’s 2am and I just finished some personal writing. I’m taking a break and writing to you. Just fetched a beer from downstairs. A little late for my first beer but I had been putting it off to avoid breaking my rhythm, and now I feel I owe it to myself for a job well done, even though it’s late.

It’s Blue Moon. Not something I normally buy a whole case of, but many brewers are having “spring samplers” right now, so the variety makes it interesting enough to try. Watch as my writing gets progressively better (or worse) as the alcohol parties with my blood.

(By the way, that was an example of a promotion. The core components: “Spring” is the timely excuse, “Spring flavors” is the scarcity+urgency element.)

Now you might be wondering why the title of today’s letter about ABCs? That’s you singing ABCs in full up top. I’m going to take credit for coaxing it out of you. (By the way, according to you, X is for Xcavator.) Since you’ve mastered your ABCs, I figured today’s a good time to introduce you to something as basic and fundamental as your ABCs. And if you’re smart and “get it”, this will change your life forever…

… but I should mention that it might also curse you forever… because you will never look at anything the same way again. It’s not necessarily bad. You’ll just have clearer eyes. You’ll see everything and everyone exactly as they are… and not as you want them to be.

So that’s my warning. If you’re up to it, here’s to living dangerously 😉

Many moons ago, I started on a journey based on a gut feeling. I felt that I was missing something important — a crucial piece of knowledge, and without it, there was a thick fog between my side and the happy side, and I couldn’t see how to cross it.

I remember having long conversations with my colleague Dave. I told him, “I’m going to learn how to Sell.” He thought I was crazy. After all, we had spent most our lives investing in advanced degrees in science and engineering. “If you build it, they will come”, he said. I knew that statement was false. But no way was I going to change his mind, so we parted ways, and I continued alone.

Now I know it for a fact. Selling is the single most valuable knowledge you can invest in. Not just because it’s the backbone of any successful business, or your ticket to never being poor… but also because it is the root of everything worth knowing. Selling leads you do why we make the decisions we do. Why we buy. Ultimately, the science of Human behavior.

Let’s be clear now. I’m not talking about the repulsive sleaze the most people think of when they think of selling. It’s a shame that there’s no barrier for slimy scum to brand themselves salespeople, because most of them care about nothing except scripts, quotas or bullying people into a sale. All they care about is the wallet in front of them, rather than the lifetime value of a customer to a business (or a business to the customer). But such is the factory of big business, where everyone’s role shrinks to cogs and sprockets.

The negative image is fair, since most salespeople don’t care about ethics, improving lives, or even the impact of the product or service they sell. They’re mercenaries working to pay the bills. So, once again, the rule applies: The majority is always wrong.

At its core, selling, is a study of humanity. It is also a by-product of free will. (If people had no freedom, there would be no need to sell or persuade – because they will be forced.)

Because of that, when you study selling, advertising and marketing, you’ll notice that the whole world turns into your classroom. And the best “teachers” will pay YOU to deliver the culmination of their life’s research right to YOUR mailbox. But the sad fact is, you don’t know what you don’t know. Your whole life can pass you by, and without the right perspective, most of the world will be invisible even when it’s right under your nose stomping your toes. Without these “eyes”, you will be angry at things you don’t understand, mystified about why people do what they do, and stumped about why things are they way they are.

But once you start down this path, you will be instantly transformed into the most humble student. Because there will be lessons for you in everything you care to lay your senses on. And because every waking second becomes a learning opportunity to you, you will get many lifetimes’ worth of education to the average person’s one.

In a free world, everything is governed by the decisions we make. And the world as you know it today is built upon the our decisions to Buy, because that’s where all the money flows to:

Money flows to create what people will pay for.

I hope I’ve impressed upon you that even if you don’t care about business, there is no better food for your intellect or craving for meaning than learning to Sell. A good book to start with is Robert Cialdini’s “Influence”. Then Dan Ariely’s “Predictably Irrational”. Then, if you’re so inclined, Scientific Advertising.

Alright, that should keep you busy for a while.

You were sick over the weekend, so you got to spend a lot of time with us again. You became so sweet after a few days. Very cuddly and snuggley. Every time you get to be with us instead of daycare, your learning accelerates and you get so attached to us. Of course, now that you’re better, you’ll be going back to school tomorrow… and that always worries us because after getting attached, you’ll scream when you realize we can’t be together and you have to stay at school. We try to soften the blow by mentally prepping you with what’s going down leading up to the drop-off, but it’s never easy for you or us.

Your favorite song is now the “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. Specifically, this video. We don’t let you watch TV because these days shows are edited down to nothing but Pattern Interrupts, so they rot your brain and transform you from a naturally-curious active-problem-solver into a passive-entertainment-seeker. Anyway, that Lion video just has a static picture with the song, and you love staring at it while swaying with the song. Each time the song ends, you ask us to replay it by saying, “Again?”

You’ve also figured out how cameras work, and you are fascinated with seeing yourself in a picture. Whenever we point a camera or phone at you, you run over and ask, “Joshua see it?” And if you happen to be doing something like sitting on a bike, one interesting thing I noticed is you seem to know what the scene looks like in your head, because you run over asking, “Joshua see Joshua sitting on the bicycle?” I don’t know the psychology behind that is, but whenever your mom relays observations like this to Abu Vicky, she rejoices over the phone and gets giddy at how well you’re doing.

You’re doing well. You have many new achievements to report. For example, you went *Pthpthpthpthpthhhhhh* and when I asked you what you were doing, you proudly declared that “Joshua’s making rain!” You’re a rainmaker now.

The soft spot at the top of your head has finally fused. You now not only have a massive head, but a hard one you use like a wrecking ball. You almost took mama’s teeth out once.

You’ve acquired a taste for style. Mom reports your conversation one morning….
“Joshua,let’s get dressed for school, here’s your red robot shirt.”
“No, not red robot shirt.”
“What’s wrong with red robot shirt?”
“Mama, put it back in the closet. Joshua wants to wear red monkey shirt!”

And both your feet leave the ground when you jump now. You were upset when mama took your fishing rod friends away from you (red crab, blue fish, orange fish and green star), so you shouted and jumped! Both feet were airborne and you landed with a splash in the tub!

You’re also really big on comparisons. Every time you learn something new, you try to make sense of it by comparing it to something you already know. The comparisons are logical, even if they can be absurd:
(while you were lying in bed…)
“This is the new blanket. Mama washed the old blanket”
“Joshua pull the new blanket?”
“Daddy put it on?”
(you point to your back to show me where you want it, then say:)
“Joshua has a new towel”
“Yes, the towel is soft”
(you repeat) “The towel is soft”
(then something clicks:) “LIKE A WAVE!”
(and then…) “Soft Like a BANANA!”
Yes… a towel is soft like a banana.

And of course, our customary eating update. It was a stand-off at dinner time again. You pushed away your pasta and vegetables. So I tried to make it about something else. I thought of trying “sound” this time.
“Joshua, see this carrot?”
(you looked up)
“Listen!” (I took a bite)
“Do you hear it? Crunch crunch! So loud! Do you want it? *Crunch*…
… YAY! Ready, Set, Crunch! One, two, three, Crunch!”
Soon, you wanted to make your own Crunch! too. First timidly, then boldly snapping away. You forgot you were eating carrots. They became Crunch! toys.

Then you concluded with raised eyebrows, “Crunchy like a Broccoli!”

Mama’s getting sneaky too. To get you to eat brown rice, she substituted it into Dr Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” book that you love. At the end, you were saying, “Thank you, thank you Sam I Am! I do, I do so like brown rice and ham!”

By the way, your birthday’s coming up next month. March is a rainy month, so your birthday will be indoors. Mama says that she wants to give you a birthday party, because it’s the last big thing we’ll probably get to do for you that’s exclusively for you. We’re thinking of having it at Gymboree.

What else… OH I have a new night-time routine. You see, putting you to sleep also tricks my body into thinking it’s time for me to sleep too. I doze off on the floor next to your crib, and when I wake up, I sometimes aimlessly stare at my computer while my brain refuses to wake back up. So here’s what I started to do to fix that. I call it the…

“Second wind workout”

After I sneak out of your bedroom, I go downstairs and pull the jump rope from the cupboard under the TV, next to the dusty PlayStation 3 Gran Turismo force-feedback wheel that I don’t touch anymore (I miss driving and I miss that game… I quit it to stop throwing my nights away).

My routine is simple. (All I want to do is get my heart racing.) 2 minutes skip forward, 1 minute backward (I suck at this), 1 minute forward. I catch my breath with 1 minute breaks between each set. Then I do some free weights and calisthenics, and jump in the shower. Works GREAT.

Although I didn’t do this for fitness reasons, not only does that wake me up like being chased by an angry dog, I’m getting a nice workout. My endurance has improved and my body recovers quicker. Bonus!

No, I’m not crazy. Don’t believe what your mom tells you. Although sometimes you ask yourself that question too. You point at your chest and look up at me and ask, “Joshua crazy?” We answer you, “No, Joshua’s not crazy.” Then you think for a while, and reply, “Only KIMI CRAZY!” Yes… only Kimi’s crazy…


P.S. After you fell asleep in mama’s arms on the couch, I put my ear near your nose to listen to you breathe. The antibiotics had cleared you up. Then I listened to your heart. It sounded like a kick drum thumping on my ear.

We also gave you your first haircut! We still haven’t taken you to a barber, because half your head still has new hair that’s just starting to grow out. But the longest ones hung down your forehead and started stabbing your eyes. I figured I’d seen my hair being cut enough times and I know how scissors work, so I decided to give you a trim. What could go wrong, right?

The first time I approached you with the scissors, your mama yelped with a terrified look on her face. I asked her what’s wrong and she said, “You’re cutting his hair!” After some bickering, she conceded that I clearly knew what I was doing and I took the first snip. Not bad. Your hair was very fine. We kept the baby locks for memories. Then the next day, I evened out your sides and back. You look pretty handsome if I may say so myself: