Updated on 01.14.11

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #2

Trent Hamm

Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well.

1. The Social Network
I finally had the opportunity to see this movie this week and it was as good as I thought it would be, if not better. It’s about the founding of Facebook, but it’s not really about the founding of Facebook. It’s about how the nature of communication between people is changing. It’s about how young people who have never lived without instant communication with others are dealing with early adulthood. Even more relevant (in terms of watchability), the dialogue is incredibly crisp and the plot manages to have a lot of depth without losing the thread. I wish I could write a tenth as well as Aaron Sorkin. The Social Network is my favorite film since The Prestige came out in 2006.

2. Amy Dacyczyn on frugality and creativity
Frugality without creativity is deprivation.
– Amy Dacyczyn, author of The Tightwad Gazette

Frugality isn’t about going without things. It’s about constantly trying new things and seeing if you can find a better way of doing them rather than just using the first method that you stumble across. Let’s be honest – that first method is usually pretty inefficient in terms of money and in terms of time. Think about your professional field – are you not more efficient now than you were when you first started? That’s because you tried new things whether you wanted to or not. Use that willingness to try new things in your own life, with a recognition that spending less is a positive attribute, and you’ve got frugality.

3. Where I want to live

fair weather friends

This picture makes me yearn for spring and it makes me yearn to live in the country again. I want to live here. Many thanks to Ed Karjala for this wonderful picture.

4. A five year old’s dream
My son woke up a few mornings ago and told me about the dream he just had. I liked it so much that I wrote it down:

You and me and Mom and Katie and Matthew were at the park and there was a very tall slide and Matthew was scared to go down it. So I went down it with him and at the bottom there was a big pile of grass and all of us jumped in it and then we had ice cream

I hope I can always make things like that happen in their lives.

5. Duane Elgin on impact
“It is the example of each person’s life, much more than his or her words, that speaks with power. Even the smallest action done with a loving appreciation of life can profoundly touch other human beings.”
– Duane Elgin

Whenever you say something or do something, even when you’re alone, you’re affecting others. Your choice of words and choice of actions impacts the people around you. Think of all of the human behaviors and statements you’ve heard and witnessed today. How many have impacted you on some level? (More than you think, I’ll guarantee you.) How many of those actions and statements were done with the other person realizing you’d observe them or be impacted by them? Not too many, I’ll bet. Now, think of how often others are impacted by what you do, even the minor things.

We all have much more impact on others than we realize. The more positive signals we put out there, the better the world gets.

6. Steven Hyden on the moment of discovery
“I always hate that moment in documentaries about social movements where somebody insists that whatever incredibly exciting and revolutionary phenomenon they were a part of could never happen again, because the world has inevitably changed for the worse, and today’s kids are just too jaded or clueless to do what they did. What they’re really saying is that it will never happen for them again, because they’ve reached the age where they’re too jaded and clueless. When you’re young, whatever you’re doing feels revolutionary because the world is opening up for you in ways that will never be more exciting than they are right now, in this moment, forever and ever.”
– Steven Hyden, Whatever Happened to Alternative Nation

This idea, that the jadedness that people tend to describe younger people with as they get older is actually just a reflection of their own aging jadedness, made me think quite a lot over this past week. I think there’s some deep truth to the idea that nothing is ever as exciting as it is the first time you discover it. You just can’t replicate those great moments of discovery.

So how do you keep the world fresh? Keep trying new things and new ideas. To me, this quote ties in strangely well with the Amy Dacyczyn quote above.

7. PARK(ing)
I would absolutely love to share this picture with you, but thanks to copyright issues, you have to click over to Flickr to see it.

The image is a piece of street art by Banksy, in which he modified the word PARKING by nearly erasing the “-ING” to just leave the word “PARK,” then stenciled a girl swinging off of the bottom of the word.

The vandalism issues of street art aside, I admire well-done and thoughtful art, and Banksy typically manages to pull off both. This is one of my favorites.

8. “Wordless” children’s books
A few days ago, I picked up a few completely wordless books to read to my children. Each page has a piece of art that is in someway related to the page before it. This basically puts the onus of storytelling on the reader.

Because of this, I’ve been telling a lot of stories the past few days. I tell more complex ones to our oldest son and daughter and very simple ones to our infant son. The oldest has even started doing this himself, telling simple stories to his baby brother.

Writing and telling stories are wonderful things to do.

9. PianoReimagined‘s Youtube videos
His piano playing videos have given me a lot of inspiration. I’ve particularly enjoyed his piano-only takes on two songs I’ve been working on.

U2’s “Beautiful Day”…

… and Coldplay’s “Clocks”

I love his passion and obvious enjoyment of the music. Yes, he’s playing by ear, while I’m learning to sight read, but I someday hope to be able to sit down and play a few songs from memory halfway as well.

10. Mario Cortes on personal growth
“You can get sympathy or you can get better but you can’t get both. You can be in your comfort zone or you can have growth, but you can’t have both. You can be interested or you can be sold-out-committed, but you can’t entertain both. You can have excuses or have results, but you can’t do both. Choose the path that develops your visceral fortitude.”
– Mario Cortes

Sympathy and excuses are just ways to keep you from having to face a challenge. Avoid them like the plague.

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  1. Gregg says:

    Wonderful post, thank you! What is the wordless book that you read to your children?

  2. chuck says:

    very nice list thanks.

  3. brooke says:

    I just watched “Exit Through the Gift Shop” and LOVE Banksey!

  4. Kathy says:

    This was a great post – thanks Trent! #6 struck me as a sentiment I resonate with but have never put into words

  5. Bill says:

    @3. Where I want to live

    I grow up on the plains (central Illinois), now I live 45 minutes from the ocean and 45 minutes from a mountain with skiing 10 months of the year. I live on the edge of a city where I can buy any ingredient you you can find on the internet and any kind of entertainment you could imagine.

    I love where I live, I would like to here why you stay in Iowa.

  6. Gwen O. says:

    I am loving this series.

  7. Gwen O. says:

    Wow Bill, where do you live? That sounds wonderful.

  8. Kat says:

    New Jersey is like what Bill described, and yet is often the butt of many jokes.

  9. Sarah says:

    This is a really nice post Trent, thanks for sharing.

    The very first one I disagree with your assessment about what it is about. It is certainly about young people coming into adulthood, but how money and power influences them seems to be much more prevalent than the how young people “have never lived without instant communication”. Mark Zuckerberg is what, 26? About the same as me. Instant communication even 10 years ago was nothing like it is today. Anyway, just my thoughts on the movie. I enjoyed it, but didn’t find it as phenomenal as you did. :)

    Bill… 45 from mountains or ocean… california? I have lived in Iowa and Cali, and am much happier in Cali!

  10. kjc says:

    I would guess that Bill lives in California, Oregon, or Washington. New Jersey? Not so much. Not knocking Jersey, I just don’t think the “45 minutes from a mountain with skiing 10 months of the year” works anywhere in Jersey.

  11. Rachel says:

    I am a huge fan of Amy Daczyn. She is responsible for putting me on the frugal lifestyle. Although all her ideas don’t work for me since I live in Florida, not Maine, and I cook for a family of three, not eight. But I think more than anything she has inspired me to think outside the box. And that seems to be so scary to so many people. One thing I heard recently is to use what you have. I have really been working to stick to this, and it does force some creativity. Today my grandson and grandaughter had a birthday party. I did not have any kids gift wrap on hand, so I used what I did have. A pattern of fruits and veggies (no clue where that came from) for my grandsons presents, and some baby shower paper with rocking horses on it for my grandaughter. Honestly, the gifts were torn into so fast I don’t think they even noticed the wrap. I saved time and money by not going to the store for gift wrap. I’m trying to find more creative ways to use what I have on hand whenever I can. I use my mind and that is such a positive thing.

  12. Bill says:


    I live in Portland Or,

    I love to ski, most of the mountain(Mt. Hood) is open by Thanksgiving, we love going to the beach, my only complaint is how cold the ocean the water is

  13. Carol says:

    I really enjoyed this post. It was just what you said it would be…10 pieces of inspiration. Thank you. I, too, am just hooked on Amy Dacyzyn’s ideas, not every method works for me, but the general ideas have pushed me to think outside the box.

  14. Terry says:

    I just saw Social Network last night and have a different take on it: Facebook was founded a by a boy with a very intelligent yet emotionally immature, juvenile, vindictive mind who likes to make fools of people, to trick them, to invade their space, and apparently has no sense of morality or personal integrity. That’s what FB was founded on, all of that is in its DNA. Zuckerburg may be Time’s person of the year, but that only reflects the level at which emotionally the people who picked him (who are they anyway?) are operating. It’s clear I’m sure that I don’t like FB, took myself off of it after I realized that all the changes of the privacy settings and all of that are just a game that Z. plays with people to keep them engaged and off balance and revealing more than they mean to or should. It’s an insidious business. I love my privacy and find FB disturbing and Zuckerburg’s ex-girlfriend was right.

  15. Ruth says:

    HI trent, please please please share with us what the wordless books are. I’be been looking for some to share with my 13mo daughter. Thanks!

  16. Sonja says:

    I am also interested in the wordless books – would love some recommendations.

  17. Amy B. says:

    re: wordless books: we always liked “The Snowman.” Also, a near-wordless favorite is “Goodnight, Gorilla.” My 3 y.o. son just turns the pages back and forth for many minutes before bedtime.:-)

  18. Char says:

    Great post, Trent! You always have something worthwhile and eminently useful to offer!

  19. T says:

    Thank you for posting the piano videos. Oddly enough, listening to this video, I finally figured out the deeper meaning behind why I love Clocks.

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