The first episode of The Hawthorne Effect with Sam Killermann and Ian Tennant, where Ian & Sam discuss something that’s on everyone’s mind during holiday season: consumerism.

Intro track by Rustik Jamz. Check them out: @rustik-jam

I’m really excited, y’all. Ever since starting the podcast, I’ve been wanting to get one of my favorite people in the world slash friend, Ian Tennant, to record a conversation with me. You know back when I wrote that catalytic friends post? He’s who I was talking about.

Well, we finally made it happen. It will be the first of many, and I think it’ll be a treat for those of you who have been tuning into the Thought of the Week podcast. Remember, you can subscribe on iTunes and Soundcloud, and if you appreciated hearing from Ian let him know (maybe we can convince him to be a regular fixture).

Here’s the quote Ian mentions:

“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”
– Mark Twain

Intro track by Rustik Jamz. Check them out: @rustik-jamz

Also, let me know if the coffee shop background noise is too much — we wanted to have some ambience, but I don’t want it to be distracting.

Subscribe to Sam’s Thought / Week Podcast on iTunes

Follow my Thought / Day site as I expand on these stories, or the lessons I’ve learned from them, every day for the next forever:

If these strike your fancy, here’s a site I just found that has a ton (101, to be exact) of zen

And huge thanks (as always!) to Rustik Jamz for the music. Check them out: @rustik-jamz

Looking for a Transcription of the Stories?

If you’re hearing impaired, or otherwise podcast-averse, here are the stories in old-fashioned cyber-text.

On Learning and Unlearning – “Cup of Tea”

Nan-in, a Japanese master, received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself.

“It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

On Fabricating Obstacles – “Other Side”

One day a young Buddhist on his journey home came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier. Just as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river.

The young Buddhist yells over to the teacher, “Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river”?

The teacher ponders for a moment looks up and down the river and yells back, “My son, you are on the other side”.

On Emotional Baggage – “The Burden”

Two monks were returning to the monastery in the evening. It had rained and there were puddles of water on the road sides. At one place a beautiful young woman was standing unable to walk accross because of a puddle of water. The elder of the two monks went up to a her lifted her and left her on the other side of the road, and continued his way to the monastery.

Hours later, the younger monk came to the elder monk and said, “Sir isn’t it true, as monks, we cannot touch a woman?”

The elder monk answered “yes, brother, that is true.”

Then the younger monk asks again, “but then, sir, how is that you lifted that woman on the roadside?”

The elder monk smiled at him and told him ” I left her on the other side of the road, but you are still carrying her.”

On Rest and Revitalization – “Sharpening your Saw”

A woman was walking through the forest when she came upon a man who was furiously sawing at a tree with a very thick trunk. He was covered in sweat, exhausted, and didn’t seem to be making much progress.

“Young man, you seem to be in quite the hurry to cut through that tree, but it appears your saw blade is dull.” She said. “Why don’t you take a moment to sharpen it?”

Barely looking up from sawing — sawing away — the young man said, “I have to fell this tree, and two after it, by the end of the day. I don’t time to sharpen my saw.”

On Knowing – “Maybe”

Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

On Faith and Religion – “Blind Men and the Elephant”

Several citizens ran into a hot argument about God and different religions, and each one could not agree to a common answer. So they came to the Lord Buddha to find out what exactly God looks like.

The Buddha asked his disciples to get a large magnificent elephant and four blind men. He then brought the four blind to the elephant and told them to find out what the elephant would “look” like.

The first blind man touched the elephant leg and reported that it “looked” like a pillar. The second blind man touched the elephant tummy and said that an elephant was a wall. The third blind man touched the elephant ear and said that it was a piece of cloth. The fourth blind man held the elephant by the tail and described the elephant as a piece of rope. And all of them ran into a hot argument about the “appearance” of an elephant.

The Buddha asked the citizens: “Each blind man had touched the elephant but each of them gives a different description of the animal. Which answer is right?”

On Anger Toward Others – The Driverless Boat

A zen teacher and student are rowing a boat through a narrow channel. An empty boat that had come untied from the shore crashes into theirs. The student steers their boat around it, and continues rowing unaffected.

A few moments later, another boat driver, who was rowing in the opposite direction, crashes into their boat, causing the student to be angry. “Watch where you are rowing! You aren’t the only boat on this channel” the student yells at the other boat driver.

The zen teacher turns to the student. “You weren’t angry at the first boat, but you were angry at the second?”

“The first boat didn’t have a driver. It was simply pushed into us by the current. There was no cause for anger.”

The zen teacher replied, “Until we are enlightened, we are all driverless boats, being pushed by the current.”

On Making Change – “Starfish Story”

An old man walks down to the beach and sees it is covered with tens of thousands of starfish, as far as the eye can see. Far down the beach he sees a young girl who is picking the starfish up, one by one, and tossing them back in the ocean.

Amused, he walks to the girl to speak with her. “Little girl,” the old man says, “What are you doing?”

“I’m saving these starfishes lives,” says the girl. “If I don’t throw them back in the water, they’ll drown. They need the water to live.”

The old man laughs to himself. Näive girl, he thinks. “But you are only one person. There are tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. How can you possibly make a difference?”

The girl bends down, picks up a star fish, looks at it, looks up at the man, tosses it into the surf, then says, “I made a difference for that one.”

On Integrity – “Burnt out Lantern”

In early times in Japan, bamboo-and-paper lanterns were used with candles inside. A blind man, visiting a friend one night, was offered a lantern to carry home with him. “I do not need a lantern,” he said. “Darkness or light is all the same to me.”

“I know you do not need a lantern to find your way,” his friend replied, “but if you don’t have one, someone else may run into you. So you must take it.”

The blind man started off with the lantern and before he had walked very far someone ran squarely into him. “Look out where you are going!” he exclaimed to the stranger. “Can’t you see this lantern?”

“Your candle has burned out, brother,” replied the stranger.

On Perfection – “Cliffhanger”

One day while walking through the wilderness a man stumbled upon a vicious tiger. He ran but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Desperate to save himself, he climbed down a vine and dangled over the fatal precipice.

As he hung there, two mice appeared from a hole in the cliff and began gnawing on the vine. Suddenly, he noticed on the vine a plump wild strawberry. He plucked it and popped it in his mouth. It was incredibly delicious!

This week, I talk about internet activism, sometimes (not so kindly) referred to as hacktivism, slacktivism, or clicktivism. I also air my grievances with Upworthy, but I apologize if I was too harsh (y’all are sweet people).

Check out Dan Pallotta’s TED Talk about charity here.

Fear of Missing Out?

I publish sporadically, aiming for quality of quantity. Would you like me to send you an email every once in awhile with new entries to Better Humaning, and other tasty morsels?

Here’s a link to To Write Love On Her Arms’ founding story (bring tissues to that link).

As ever, huge thanks to Rustik Jamz for the music. Check them out: @rustik-jamz

I talk about the 25/25/50 rule, which is how I’ve learned everything I know, from web design/development to stand up comedy, German to animation, and other ridiculous things to know to other things I know.

Podcast is now available on iTunes, so check that out.

If you want to get a copy of my book, The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook: A Guide to Gender, go here:

Here’s a link to the No Excuse List, which gives you an e-version to learn just about anything you’d want to learn, for free:

Here’s a link to the United Gamers Coalition 2013 Gamerunning Marathon I’ll be participating in this weekend for GAB:

And huge thanks (again!) to Rustik Jamz for the music. Check them out: @rustik-jamz

After that dramatic and self-exposing post yesterday, there was no way this wasn’t going to happen. So here it is, folks: my first-ever podcast! And I only kinda blacked out from nervousness while recording it. If you use Soundcloud, you can subscribe to me there to get updates on future podcasts, or just subscribe to email updates here at the bottom of this page (I’ll be sharing all future podcast episodes here). I’ll look into making it and future episodes available on iTunes, and if anyone is well-versed in this let me know.

I write a lot about the Platinum Rule in my book, A Guide to Gender, which you can get from Amazon or pay-what-you-want on the official site

Huge thanks to Rustik Jamz for the music. Check them out: @rustik-jamz.

Double huge thanks to Dr. Milton Bennett for coining the term “The Platinum Rule” back in 1979 and having such a huge impact on my life before I was even born. Check him out here:


Oh, and that header image is taken from a Powerpoint I made for a keynote I gave recently, where I had comparison slides to visually depict the differences between the Golden Rule and the Platinum Rule. I made them on the plane en route. They might be my favorite things I’ve ever made. They are included  below for your viewing pleasure (:

Golden Rule drawing by Sam Killermann The Platinum Rule drawing by Sam Killermann