Monday, October 8, 2007

Don't hedge your bets.

Now, this post, if you need to Cliffs Notes version, is all about why you should just quit hedging your bets and throw your whole damn self into something.

Buster McLeod is actually a guy named Erik, who started a very cool social club here in Seattle called The McLoed Residence (this link is temporarily down...), a place where members can drink together, enjoy the art at the private club he bought and fixed up, and even run a tab and get billed monthly (that, along with my new Mercedes, will make me feel uber chic, for sure).

Anyway, Erik (Buster) decided to do a whole bunch of crazy you-only-live-once shit, and he documents a lot of it on a very cool website he co-founded, called

Here is his treatise on NOT hedging your bets in life. If you make it through his VERY long essay, you will be rewarded with his 6 answers to any problem, which I know Decorno readers will love.


A very good strategy in life is to hedge bets. I think this strategy has been one of my greatest strengths… to consider and pursue multiple (sometimes incompatible) options until one surpasses the others in obvious value. Then taking that, until something else surpasses it in obvious value. This will get you through high school, college, and well into your adult life. Old age even maybe. Keep lots of friends, consider lots of jobs, anticipate a variety of possibilities. If one ship starts to sink, shift your weight into another. And be sure to get your foot in another door quickly. Balance balance. Mix metaphors, thrive in ambiguity, make many bets. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Hedging bets is common sense.

I think bet hedging is a good beginner and intermediate strategy. It works immediately, even on very little information. By being invested in a number of things, there’s a good chance that at least some of them will carry you through. The pattern of things that carry you through become your personality—your preferences and tastes. At some point, you might abandon the hedge bets strategy for the more specific pattern of success that you’ve discovered from trial and error. Or you might not.

The McLeod Residence.

You will win some, and you will lose some. It’s almost a universal fact of life. The strength and the curse of the bet hedging strategy is that you’ll never be fully invested in any of your pursuits. You’ll always have a fall-back. With a fall-back, you will never be fully invested (in the metaphorical sense of the word) in any of your pursuits. The difference between hedging your life and hedging your bets is that life is impacted by your investment in it. The more invested you are in something, the more likely it is to become a reality. Imagine if this were true in gambling. Imagine that the more you bet on something, the more likely you were to win. Wouldn’t we bet quite differently then? And, therefore, wouldn’t we live quite differently if we truly believed that the amount of investment we have in life were a critical factor in the chances that the desired life will come to be?

Over the last year, I’ve stumbled backwards onto this counter-intuitive life strategy. The strategy of being 100% in the game, all or nothing, going for broke. In it to win it. This is an advanced strategy that, executed at the right time, can beat bet hedging a thousand-fold. No more dilly dallying. No more hedging bets. I’ve found a couple bets that I want to be 100% invested in. It could of course also lead to rock bottom. No good friend would recommend this strategy, but good friends don’t expect you to win big. To their credit, they really just want you to be happy. More than they want you to succeed, they want you not to fail big. Who will egg us on to a wild and extraordinary life if it requires that we risk ruin? Who will demand that we go out with a giant bang and stretch ourselves to crazy unheard-of limits? Only I can take the responsibility for giving and taking that advice for myself. And that’s what I’m notifying you about here. What I’ve found, is that once people see that you’re in it to win it, and see that you’re acting accordingly, they loosen up their hedges on you and are able to, in return, invest more of themselves into you. It’s a virtuous cycle that leads to everyone living a more extraordinary life.

To repeat, being in it to win it isn’t a risky strategy. The non-intuitive part of this is that hedging all of your bets is risky in the long term because you’ll never put enough of yourself into your life to really get the most out of it. The act of being 100% invested in your life and your projects and your friends will by its nature make it a safer bet, and people will feel safer having you on their side, and might even be inspired to help. If this is all there is, you should make sure that at least once in your life, you are 100% invested. Intuition understands this. In movies, or in stories, where everything is threatened, it is understandable that then it is appropriate to act in this manner… but in daily life our lives and everything we know are rarely threatened on a tangible and immediate level. Instead, the slow molasses of time threatens only small parts one at a time, never raising our alarm that this entire ship is slowly sinking all the time! It’s really a reason to celebrate, relax, and stop dilly dallying.

This is what my new life has become. My name change, my new business, my old business, my friends, everything and nothing, all of this will be wrapped up in a new strategy for living an extraordinary life, rallying people, and creating a bigger idea about what life can be that we can then all step into. Starting, officially, now.

6 universal answers to any and all possible questions, according to Buster McLeod:

drink more

break up



dress better

consider getting a pet fox


Jordan Cappella said...

fantastic post food for thought.

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

I like him; we could be friends.

Habitually Chic said...

Fabulous and thought provoking! I'm going to share it with all my friends! Thank you!!! said...

:) Glad you guys like this post. I worried about posting since he sounds like a hipster Tony Robbins (Awaken the Giant Within!), but this guy is pretty inspiring.

Habitually Chic said...

I think it's inspiring in a non-preachy way but now that I see he has blue hair, I'm a little freaked out ;-)

fashiongirl said...

Fucking brilliant!

d.Sharp said...

Wonderful post,thanks.

Suzy said...

So true! Very sage words from someone so young. We should all go for it - we only get one life so make the most of it. I once read a quote that has become a bit of a mantra for me - "I'd rather regret something I did do, than something I didn't do".

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Cote de Texas said...

Decorno: Haven't been able to read this post because I can't quit listening to Fake Empire, GOD - thanks! Addicted, totally. Is he cute? I'm imagining all kinds of obscene images. A million thanks. This reminds me of the time someone casually mentioned the name Ani DiFranco to me. Changed my life.


franki durbin said...

you have to live one life with passion or go home. My barometer of happiness if often recognizing that I'd not want to be anywhere else with anyone else doing anything else at that exact moment. An I'm doing that. I, too, used to spread myself too thin. Now I'm fully invested in my life and I adore it. I wouldn't trade shoes with anyone.

High five, baby! Glad you had the same discovery.

beachbungalow8 said...

I'm a big subscriber to creating possibilities for yourself. I dont even think its that big of a gamble ( watch "what the bleep" sometime) Oh that and pet foxes are choice.