Monthly Archives: January 2020

Reflecting with YearCompass Pt. 1


Introspection is a super power.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” -Albert Einstein

To become more conscious of the traps you fall into, it’s helpful to have a journal. When you read through your old journals you will likely notice that you still have some of the same problems you were dealing with then. This experience can be painful. But that pain might be just what you need to make a change.

After a couple years of sporadic journaling, I was open to the idea of a YearCompass. YearCompass has you review your calendar for the past year and pull out key events, good or bad. I would also recommend that you flip through the photos you’ve taken from the past year.

Afterward, it asks you a series of questions to translate all of these thoughts into concrete takeaways and plans for the upcoming year. This part goes by quickly, especially compared to the ~4 hours you might spend going through your calendar and photos.

The magic of the YearCompass comes when you enter year two and beyond. You can review and see which of the goals you’ve achieved, what you’re still working on, what you’ve abandoned, etc.

2019 was my second year completing YearCompass. It has been wild to reflect on everything that happened in 2019. I honestly couldn’t believe all of the events that happened in the same year.

And I still missed most of the aspirations I had outlined in the box labeled DARE TO DREAM BIG. At least no one can doubt my ability to dream.

Dreams that I planned for and realized in 2019:

  • Wrote and published a book
  • Went to Oktoberfest
  • Made friends while abroad (in: China; Warsaw, Poland; Sofia, Bulgaria; Barcelona, Spain; Tel Aviv, Israel…and more)
  • Invested a small amount of money in $BTC

And I didn’t:

  • Win the German Chancellor Fellowship
  • Spend a week skiing in the Alps
  • Get an A in my marketing class
  • Get 1,000 followers on Twitter
  • Write 20 blog posts
  • Meditate for 100 hours
  • Deadlift 315 pounds
  • Date many beautiful German women
  • Achieve near fluency in German (from all the dates mit schönen Frauen!)
  • and oh so much more…

I missed out on most of my big goals but 2019 still might have been my best year yet. I don’t know if the YearCompass played a role in that, but in the pursuit of a great 2020, I’m looking for all the help I can get.

If you have some time, I’d encourage you to complete your own YearCompass and consider inviting a friend by sharing this post. I’ll be writing up a few more reflections from 2019 over the next couple days.

Thank you for reading! If you want to support me on my current adventure, please consider purchasing a copy of Lead The Future, leaving a review on Amazon, joining my newsletter, or helping me to secure speaking opportunities in-person or on media platforms.


Take Control In 2020


2019 might have been the best year of my life.

If I’m going to have any hope that 2020 will be as good, I’m going to need to take control of my life and focus my energy and attention on what I truly value.

In my book, Lead The Future: Strategies and Systems for Emerging Leaders, I dedicate an entire chapter to the topic of habits. Personally, I am much happier and sane when I am successful in creating healthy routines for myself: exercising, journaling, meditation, not-eating-an-almond-croissant-every-time-I-order-a-coffee, etc. I don’t create these habits because “that’s what you’re supposed to do.” I create them because they make me feel good.

Last night, I set myself up for success. I put my phone in monochrome. I stopped using my phone at 8pm. I put clean gym clothes in my backpack. I filled my water bottle. I read for an hour before bed to tire my mind out. And I set my alarm for 5:30 am.

I made it to the gym at 6:40 am this morning. I didn’t even put up a fight when my alarm went off.

I’ve done this before but I’m not at all a ‘morning person’. In fact, I hadn’t been to the gym for the last month. It was closed for the last two weeks but before that I had been staying up past midnight binge-watching Hot Ones, going out drinking with my friends too often, and snoozing my alarm when it went off in the morning.

I’m not special. I’ve made all the excuses before. I might even make them again tomorrow.

But can we agree that they’re lies? A subtle self-deception telling yourself that there’s a good reason to not follow through on your routine.

What’s not a lie is this: if you wake up early to get after your new year’s resolution, whether that’s exercising, writing more, or practicing your Spanish, you will feel powerful. 

When it’s 8 am and you’ve already been awake and working towards your goals for two and a half hours, you will feel like a version of yourself that can realize your dreams. When people ask you how you’re doing, you’ll respond, “Living the dream.” When a little thing doesn’t work out for you, you’ll brush it off because you know you’re on your path.

I’m not special. I’m not even an above average athlete.

This was my routine this morning (I weigh 185 lbs):
Squats 5×5 145lbs
Deadlift 1×5 200 lbs
Overhead press 5×5 80 lbs
Pull ups 8-7-5
15 minutes of HIIT on the stationary bike

Start wherever you are right now. Set your daily goal at something that’s achievable and just focus on building the habit. If you can develop the routine, you’ll see that your gains will compound over time.

We don’t get to decide that 2020 will be as good or better than 2019. We only get to decide how we’re going to respond to our circumstances. I hope you’ll join me by taking control of what’s within your power.

Where are you going to start to take control? Let me know by commenting below or sending me an email at grantdever at gmail dot com.

Thank you for reading! If you want to support me on my current adventure, please consider purchasing a copy of Lead The Future, leaving a review on Amazon, joining my newsletter, or helping me to secure speaking opportunities in-person or on media platforms.


Why I Listen To ‘Controversial’ People


I enjoy listening to ‘controversial’ people. Even those who I do not admire or generally share values with.


  1. I am a person who is easily engaged by novelty. The same conversation and set of ideas bore me. I consume a lot of content and information. When I hear the same concepts and talking points said over and over, I find it boring, even if I agree with the speaker.

  2. I have personally changed my mind on many issues over the course of my life. I have been humbled and accept that, even now, I unknowingly believe fake things and have half-baked ideas and opinions that I will later abandon. Perhaps even some of the ideas in my book.

    Given that I have continually changed my opinions on various topics throughout my life, it would also be accurate to say that I disagree with myself. If that’s true, there’s no way that I agree with someone else on every single topic. If I didn’t listen to people I disagree with, I wouldn’t listen to anybody.

    Yes, this is accepting an extreme view of what it would mean to refuse to listen to someone with whom I disagree. However, it illustrates the point that I could agree with someone on all but 20% or .01% of things. If I don’t listen to what they think, I cannot know if we disagree on the margins, on means, or if we have divergent worldviews and values. I could trust others to filter for me but then I’m dependent on the people who influence them, people whose agendas, names, and values are a mystery to me.

  3. Furthermore, even if we did disagree on 20% or more of topics, this person might know something that I don’t know. That knowledge could be a fact that could change my perspective. Or they might be able to teach me how-to information that saves me time or frameworks that prevent me from making a costly mistake.

    I have incorporated systems and advice from ‘controversial’ (who decides?) people. The merit of a tool or a framework should not be measured by the person promoting it but by its utility in achieving a desired aim in practice. No one should avoid using a hammer because of its association with totalitarian communism. 

    Throughout Lead The Future, I share powerful ideas and frameworks from ‘controversial’ people to emphasize this point: John Mackey, Peter Thiel, Nassim Taleb, Kanye West…

    For some of the ideas, I could have found a similar idea from a person who is still controversy free, for now, but for others that’s simply not true. Omitting the most impactful ideas I’ve stumbled upon because of the current reputation of the person promoting them would’ve been a great disservice to my readers. If people whose values you don’t share get to scare you away from the best ideas, you’re reducing your chances of succeeding in realizing your vision for the world. That choice might be the difference between success and failure.

  4. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, if you wish to persuade those who disagree with you, it is critical to know what they believe and why they believe it. When listening to someone, you may realize that you share the same values but disagree about the way to advance and realize those values. You may not be able to change their mind in any particular conversation but it’s generally not a great strategy to make enemies with people who share your values.

    I believe that I am generally well informed on many topics and confident in my core values. In a conversation, I think it is much more likely that I would convince someone to reassess their prejudices than they are to persuade me to become hateful or prejudicial.

    In certain situations (not in the global online ‘discourse’), say when talking to a friend, someone in my community, or a family member, I feel a duty to share my counter perspective and ask difficult questions. If I’m not responsible for challenging extreme or unproductive beliefs among those in my circle of influence, who is? (another topic I touch on in my book).

    I want to enter those conversations prepared to engage in a way that increases my odds of successfully moving someone away from a position that I believe is immoral and dangerous.

As I begin to publish more on my blog, and explore podcasts and other mediums to promote ideas and develop partnerships, I am going to engage with people and books/ideas/content by people who are ‘controversial’. Beyond this post, I do not intend on going out of my way to explain why I’m doing that. As always, I will be open to criticism and accept responsibility for my actions. But unless you can convince me that my reasoning above isn’t solid, I wouldn’t expect to see me retreat from this liberal position.

My intention with this post is not to convince you that my frame is the only reasonable or acceptable one to have. There are many benefits to choosing to listen to and engage only with people who share your values. My intention is simply to explain the reasoning behind my position and how it’s resonant with my values.

I am going to engage with people and ideas considered controversial. I will do this because it’s entertaining. I will do this because my own opinions have and will continue to evolve over time and I seek to understand before I seek to judge. I will do this because controversial people shouldn’t be able to secure a monopoly on any of the best tools or ideas. I will do this because it will enable me to be a better champion for my values.

I hope that you’ll join me on this adventure by subscribing to my newsletter and holding me accountable for publishing more shorter-form content throughout 2020. If you want to support me in this pursuit, please consider purchasing a copy of Lead The Future, leaving a review on Amazon, or helping me to secure speaking opportunities in-person or on media platforms.