Updated on 01.27.11

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #4

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. George Bernard Shaw on playing
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
–George Bernard Shaw

I try very hard to live by this idea and include some play in my life every day. I play with my children. I play games with my friends and, sometimes, by myself. It keeps me conscious of the fact that life doesn’t have to always be deadly serious and refreshes me to take on the things that life throws at me.

2. A certain expression
Every time I look at this picture of my oldest son, I get a big smile.


There is something about his facial expression that just gets me every time I look at it. This picture has probably cheered me up more than any other over the past few years.

3. Atul Gawande’s New Yorker article on health care targeting
Few articles as of late have made me think as much as this one, in which Atul Gawande argues that the people with the highest medical care costs are the people receiving the worst care. There are a lot of thought-provoking things in this article, but the image that really stuck with me is the idea that a city can have multiple hospitals where one has almost no one waiting in the emergency room and another has more people than can fit in there. Something’s wrong and inefficient in that picture.

4. Thomas Jefferson on trends and values
“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
– Thomas Jefferson

The specifics of society change all the time. Things unimaginable fifty years ago are commonplace today. Societal behaviors of eighty years ago would be completely out of place today, as would the behaviors of today if dropped back in the 1930s.

What matters is the central values we hold. Love. Frugality. Human relationships. Respecting others and their freedoms. Those are things that I value now and will always value, regardless of what happens with society and technology.

5. Georges-Pierre Seurat’s Sunday afternoon on the island of La Grande Jatte
Since I’ve been assembling a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of this painting, I’ve had more than adequate time to study it in great detail.

Art Institute of Chicago

Many thanks to Bert Kaufmann for taking this photo of the original painting at the Art Institute of Chicago.

6. Laura Cantrell’s “When the Roses Bloom Again”
I’ve been listening to a lot of music by Laura Cantrell this week. This is the best one I’ve heard, in my opinion. Her voice just tears me up.

7. David Shields on memory
“Anything processed by memory is fiction.”
— David Shields

I find this so completely true in my own life that it’s thrilling to see someone else put it so succinctly. So often, I juxtapose my own memories and more than once that juxtaposition has gotten me in trouble. I tend to rely on my memory with too much confidence and, as I get older, I’m beginning to understand that no one’s memories are perfect.

8. Grooveshark
I can’t believe this service is free. Grooveshark may have supplanted Pandora as my single favorite way to listen to music for free online.

9. FoodWishes videos on YouTube
I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube cooking videos recently for a potential post idea, but for me the real joy of this has been discovring the videos of Chef John on the FoodWishes channel. Who needs Food Network?

Here’s one of my favorites.

This is just solid food instruction, combined with a healthy dose of entertainment. I liked these videos because it all looked like it came from a real kitchen.

10. Cervantes on friendship
“Tell me what company thou keepst, and I’ll tell thee what thou art.”
– Miguel de Cervantes

You are very much a synthesis of your closest friends. Think about the people you surround yourself with. When you look at them and think of yourself as a mix of their attributes, is that something that fills you with a positive feeling? If it doesn’t, you might want to think about a change in your social circle.

Cervantes wrote the wonderful novel Don Quixote. I love the antiquated words of his expression of this idea.

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  1. Hope D says:

    Love it!

  2. Tammy says:

    Chef John ROCKS!!

  3. Sam says:

    I’ve been watching Chef John’s videos for a couple of years now and they are great! I love the style of his videos and his sense of humor.

  4. kristine says:

    OK, these have been the meatiest posts of late. Great photo.

    What you have in these can be used to improve the regular entries. For instance- where do you find all the good music videos? I know- YouTube, but how do you search them out? Groove Tube, and other low-cost music resources would make a good post. What kind of style is featured where? Is there a bulletin board with good recommendations? What is the time/return on searching for good stuff- do you waste a lot if time, or is it easy? Is it better to have a music subscription, or to own CDs, which you have forever, and supplement with sties like Pandora? How do you get decent sound out of a laptop?

    The chef videos- how about lo-cost places to find great food prep and recipes? Frugal recipes/ Rather than giving multiple takes on what goes on in your kitchen, point us to the best! What about wood stove cooking? Are people with wood stoves doing it to save money?

    What about leading us to dueling links, such as that great link here, on healthcare? What about some excellent research on the top minds takes on what is most cost effective for the consumer in the long run? Are there a people out there buying dental tools to do their own cleanings to save money? (I certainly can’t be the only one who ha thought of this- you can buy them on Amazon. How are people cutting med costs other than forgoing care? Is it working? Is it safe? Are there sites that give home or traditional remedies? You can research and present sans endorsement, naturally

    While I loathe that Seth Godin (who sells common sense like he invented it) is on TED, TED is still a great resource for interesting ideas, and forward looking. You may want to check it out. Or even mention it to your viewers! A ticket costs 100K for the afternoon, but anyone can attend for free, and get the same content online. How is that for frugal!

    It is easy to tell that your inspirations are what you find most interesting. Rather than overthink a routinized “cycling” of different topics you cover, how about going with that flow, and expanding on some of the better inspirations! With the exception of the quotes, actually- that length assigned to them here is just right.

    How about the online banking related fact that Egypt turned off their internet? How are the Egyptians, many of whom must online bank, coping with no access to their money, indefinitley? Could that ever happen here with civil unrest? Is it possible? (Yes, it can happen anywhere). Is it wise to have every cent internet based? Should people be printing out their online statements/ Or having some money in a traditional bank? Or under a mattress? Given Tunisia and Egypt, is social unrest contagious? Is Mexico’s unrest dangerous to our personal finances?

    One reader’s opinion.

  5. Mari says:

    I’m really enjoying this series. I find something to think about every Saturday (and have discovered some great music). And kudos for the Cervantes quote. In Spanish, there is a saying “Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres” (Tell me with whom you walk and I’ll tell you who you are). That is something I often think about.

    I agree with Kristine–some of these could really be developed in longer posts and I would enjoy reading them.

  6. Kathleen says:

    I have to say it: you play with yourself? :-)

  7. Janis says:

    Thank you for mentioning the article in The New Yorker by Atul Gawande and including a link to it! Your previous mention of Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto caused me to seek out and read that book (I practically devoured it!). It’s a wonderful discussion on simplifying complexity to achieve consistently good results – I’ve recommended it to all of my friends and colleagues. I remember reading a newspaper article the day after Rep. Danielle Giffords was almost fatally shot, that her team at the hospital had referred to a checklist that was described as “like ones used by pilots.” It made me think of Dr. Gawande and the possibility that a checklist might have helped save Gifford’s life.

  8. Shannon says:

    Kathleen – who doesn’t :)

  9. Liane says:

    I, too, am cheered up whenever I look at a photo of my kids – they remind us of what’s really important. And in regards to your #10: I have a friend who frequently says “If you’re gonna run with dogs, you’re gonna get fleas!”

  10. kjc says:


    Thanks for the link to the “Food Wishes” channel on YouTube; I was unaware of it, and the videos do indeed provide useful info.

    As for the picture of your son -(grammar police alert)- he is your oldest child, and your older son, but he is NOT your “oldest son,” as you only have two sons.

    In any event, thanks, and happy weekend!

  11. Julie says:

    That picture – the dimples are adorable! That is one cute kid :)

  12. David says:

    And don’t forget – always put your better foot forward.

  13. Lou says:

    “Sunday in the Park with George” is Steven Sondheim’s musical based on the creation of this painting. Your library probably has the DVD. If they don’t I’ll lend you mine. Not as good as a live production, but worth it just for the “Putting it Together” number i8n Act 2. Barbra Sreisand’s version of PIT on one of her Broadway albums would give you a tasty sample.

  14. Michelle says:

    Thank you for the quote by Cervantes! Looking at the truely wonderful people that I have as friends casts a pretty darned good reflection onto myself.
    That said, I have been struggling to think of life goals to motivate myself since I reached a comfortable place in life – since I really respect your work/family/life balance – would you consider writing an article on how to decide what’s next when life is already pretty great?

  15. M E 2 says:

    I loved Grooveshark, for about an hour. Since then, everytime I try to get on it, I get viral intrusions so no more Grooveshark for me, ever.

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