Steve Jobs: Breaker of the Rules That Don’t Exist

Who said computers were too complicated for regular folks?

Who said an electronic device can’t be powerful and beautiful?

Who said no one would pay for digital music?

Who said Grandma couldn’t make her own movies?

Who said a single person couldn’t change the world? [Read more…]

Thou Shalt Always Remove Thy Nametag Immediately After An Event

You’ve been there. You’ve attended a conference, a retreat, a networking meeting or some other event that required you to wear a nametag. And then, hours after the event is over, you look down in horror to find that you are STILL wearing it. It clings to your shirt, mocking you like a group of middle schoolers laughing at your generic bargain buy shoes from KMart.


You shamefully reflect back to calculate how many people must have seen you wearing your idiocy on your shirt, but count yourself fortunate that you didn’t have to undergo death by embarrassment from someone actually pointing out the faux pas to your face. [Read more…]

Thou Shalt Wait 30 Minutes to Swim After Eating

No doubt you’ve heard the cautionary tale.

If you jump into a lake or swimming pool immediately after eating, there is a very high probability that you will cramp up and drown or get sucked into the pool filter or get eaten by lake sharks. Or something equally terrible. [Read more…]

The Lesson of Lucy’s Doughnut

This is what a doughnut with chocolate frosting and sprinkles looks like when my daughter Lucy is done eating it.

I’ve never seen an adult eat a doughnut like this.

Clearly, she doesn’t know the proper way to eat a doughnut. Yet. One more thing we’re gonna have to teach her, I thought as I snapped this photo.

Funny thing, though. [Read more…]

Thou Shalt Not Jump In Puddles (or Dance in the Rain)

Several years ago, Kim and I were hanging out at the Memorial Union on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison. Overlooking Lake Mendota, it’s the perfect place to sit in one of the trademark yellow, orange or green chairs and people watch.

Madison attracts a lot of interesting people, that’s for sure.

On this day, my eyes were drawn to a small family — Mom, Dad, and a little girl with pigtails — walking along the shoreline. The girl was a few yards ahead of her parents when she spotted a puddle, a remnant of the rain storm that had drenched the city the day before.

Like the Millennium Falcon being pulled toward the Death Star by its powerful tractor beam, the girl was drawn to the pool of water. [Read more…]

Thou Shalt Not Blow Bubbles in Thy Milk

Kim and I had a big parenting test the other night.

At dinner, Lucy got to drink out of a “big girl cup” with a straw. And for the first time ever, she discovered how to blow bubbles in her milk.

In our household, this is on par with first words, first steps, and learning how to dunk cookies in milk.

It’s kind of a big deal. [Read more…]

Thou Shalt Get a Job With Benefits

Many well-intentioned parents, grandparents and teachers urge kids to get a job with good benefits.

I couldn’t agree more.

Except. [Read more…]

Thou Shalt Always Wear Clean Underpants Upon Leaving Thy House

Moms everywhere seem to be united in their desire to make sure that if we leave the house, we do so with clean underpants.

In case we get into an accident. Naturally.

Because if you get into an accident, and you are rushed to the hospital, and the emergency workers are required to remove your underwear, and they discover that your tighty-whiteys are not as white as they should be, your mother will be notified immediately about her automatic induction into the Bad Mom Hall of Shame. [Read more…]

Thou Shalt Not Eat Dessert First

Pretend that you are five. And it’s dinner time.

Now, if I were to ask you, “Would you like to have dessert first tonight?”, what would your reaction be?

Kind of a no-brainer, right? You’d probably wonder if it was some sort of trick question because the answer would be so freaking obvious:

YES! [Read more…]

Thy Shalt Work First; Play Later (After the Work is Done.)

Bob Keeshan, also known as Captain Kangaroo, said, “Play is the work of children.”

Most adults I know use play time as a reward for getting work done. Play becomes an incentive. It’s like a carrot. It works well for racehorses, and often works well for humans as well. For many, to play before the work is done often brings a great deal of guilt. Sound familiar? [Read more…]

Thou Shalt Not Dream Too Big

During my speaking programs, I often give the audience a chance to complete an Adultitis intake. They are asked to answer a series of multiple choice questions about themselves in order to determine what stage of Adultitis they currently have (yes, there are multiple stages!). On a question that deals with dreams, the statement most people self-identity with goes like this:

“I do have dreams, but I try to keep them realistic.”

No one likes to admit they don’t have dreams. But no one likes to be called a fool, either. Or worse yet, a failure. After all, the bigger you dream, the more likely you are to fail. [Read more…]

Thou Shalt Not Wear White After Labor Day

This is a real doozy. Break this rule, and the fashion police will hunt you down and dress you in a baby blue butterfly-collared leisure suit with matching neckerchief.

The so-called “rule” that one should never wear white after Labor Day has been with us for many years. Interestingly, even fashion world experts can’t agree on where this rule came from — and yet many people still abide by it. Ridiculous! [Read more…]

Thou Shalt Color Inside the Lines

Ever since you were able to hold a crayon, you’ve been instructed to color inside the lines.

If you consistently color inside the lines, you are heaped with praise and judged to be a budding artist with tremendous upswing. The kids who regularly color outside the lines? Well, we’d rather not talk about them. [Read more…]

Thou Shalt Act Thine Age

Of all the rules that don’t exist, perhaps the most widespread is the notion that you are supposed to act your age.

I’m guessing that this quip originated from a woman who caught her husband throwing things at the television while watching a football game. Or perhaps a high school teacher who was tired of her students firing spitballs across the classroom.

As with any rule, there usually contains within it a kernel of common sense. In this case, it is, “Quit acting like an idiot, you moron.” [Read more…]

Dumb Laws and the “Rules” of Motherhood

art by jason

In New York, women may go topless in public, providing it is not being used as a business.

In Fresno, California, no one may annoy a lizard in a city park.

In Elkhart, Indiana, it is illegal for barbers to threaten to cut off kids’ ears.

Although impossible to track, there are probably hundreds of thousands of federal, state, and city laws in the United States, with new ones being proposed all the time. That doesn’t count any of the rules enforced by schools and businesses. Interestingly, with all of the laws and rules on the books, the ones we often cling to most fervently are the ones that don’t actually exist. [Read more…]

The Adulthood Worth Escaping From

art by jason

Escape Adulthood!

That’s our rallying cry.

Maybe it’s obvious, but we’re not actually calling for everyone to ditch their responsibilities. We’re not advocating strict diets of chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. And we’re not suggesting that we all quit our jobs to muck around with Play-Doh all day long.

There are actually some sweet benefits that come from being an adult. (Ordering strawberry margaritas at a Mexican restaurant is just one of them.)

The “Adulthood” we encourage people to escape from is the one they create for themselves when they assume childhood is nothing more than a stage of life, a hermetically sealed portion of their past. It is the Adulthood with all the stupid rules, the one that demands we always do the safe and prudent thing, that we earn play through hard work, and that we must always, without exception, take ourselves way too seriously. [Read more…]

Break The Rules – EA Show #54

We’ve been watching the History Channel series, “America, The Story of Us,” and have learned a few lessons from our founding fathers, especially the rebels who fought for our independence. In this episode, we talk specifically about rules, and why your future depends on you breaking them.

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Share Your Thoughts…
What do you think about this month’s show? Do you have a review of “America, The Story of Us?” What rules do you often find yourself inadvertently abiding by? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or in the video itself by clicking the little plus sign in the player. Got photos or videos? Send ‘em to

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The Danger of Cartwheels and Car Dancing

It wasn’t long after she learned to walk that Lucy started dancing. It began with little head bobs and knee bends. Now, when a fast beat is bursting from our living room stereo, Lucy is the first one to come running. Spinning, twirling, and bouncing, she’s a whirling dervish of dance moves.

I hate it that we lose that free-spiritedness as we get older. Most of us, anyway. Me included. [Read more…]

A New (Really Old) Way to Create Calm In Your World

Meetings. Recitals. Soccer practice. Grocery shopping. Day care drop-offs and pickups. Birthday parties. With all the busyness that is running rampant in our lives, wouldn’t it be awesome to have one day a week just for you and your family to lay low, sleep in, hang out, and pretty much do nothing?

Does it sound like the perfect antidote to all of the stresses that keep you perpetually running on fumes?

Does it also sound as likely as waking up tomorrow morning with your head stapled to the carpet? [Read more…]

What Is Your Word for 2010?


When our world officially admits it’s another year older, lots of people come up with resolutions.

“I resolve to lose 90 pounds.”

“I resolve to quit smoking once and for all.”

“I resolve to win the lottery.”

Considering how many resolutions are upended by the consumption of an entire bag of Doritos in one sitting or how many gyms look like ghost towns on March 1st, it’s amazing that we go through the trouble of of making them in the first place.

Indeed, the mandate that we should all come up with some sort of New Year’s Resolution is a rule that doesn’t exist. [Read more…]

What Business Card Design Has to Do With Making Your Life Better

car_business_cardHow many business cards have you collected over the years? A handful? A hundred? Enough to wallpaper the bathrooms of every house on your block? Even if you’re not involved in “Business,” chances are you’ve received a number of business cards over the years, from the auto mechanic to your neighbor who sells Mary Kay.

Most business cards are, frankly, forgettable. [Read more…]

Are You Living By Rules That Don’t Exist?

Life is filled with countless rules that need to be broken. No, I’m not talking about running red lights or robbing banks. I’m talking about simple assumptions that we live by in order to fit in and stay comfortable. Kids like to break the mold and a great way to stay childlike, leaving Adultitis in the dust, is to follow their lead. Here are a few thoughts about the rules that don’t exist.

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How to Experience More by Doing Less

photo by limonada

photo by limonada

We live in a culture of more. We are conditioned to want more stuff, sure, but also to be involved in more and more activities. Our schedules are bursting with everything from meetings, extracurriculars, and charitable activities to projects, practices, and parties of all kinds, including birthdays, baptisms, weddings and showers.

And of course, we can’t say no, for fear that we will appear selfish, offend somebody, or cripple our children’s chance of getting into Harvard or the NBA. Sometimes it’s as simple as not wanting to miss out on something fun. Having to say yes to all of these things or be crushed under the weight of our own guilt is a rule that doesn’t exist.

I get caught up in it myself. I’m prone to wonder (and often doubt) if I’m sucking all the marrow out of life, saying yes to enough things, and collecting enough experiences.

Am I living my life to the fullest? [Read more…]

Rules That Don’t Exist

no_rulesI love this picture. The boy’s name is Henry, the son of a blogger named Sabra, who explained the photo like this:

Because some days you should get what you want.  That’s my explanation for this picture.

Henry is wearing the PJ bottoms he begged to keep on, the shoes he insisted on (one a rain boot and the other a pair of sandals).  He’s eating peanut butter from a spoon and enjoying his binky.

Throughout our lives, starting at the very beginning, we are bombarded with rules.

Many of which don’t exist. [Read more…]

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