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Create “No brainers” for the future

First, I have to share a personal story to set the context.

This is the “behind the scenes” story of how a book series and now a book imprint was created over a dinner with a long-time friend. A friend who I respect a lot.

If I look at the entire last year and reflect on all the events that I attended and decide to pick on one event that was a game-changing, it would be a talk by Charlie Rose at the Flint Center.

To be brutally honest, it was not the talk, but the dinner I had with my long-time friend Mitchell Levy before the talk.

So, it was really the “pre-event meeting” that was game changing.

For the ten or so years I have known Mitchell, I don’t remember a conversation that was less than insightful. I always walk away with one or two things that makes me think and reflect and become better in one way or the other.

So, I was not expecting anything less. We talked about a number of things and over that time, I shared about my crazy idea – a book that I had written on Twitter (not about it but about using it). The book was called THINKtweet. I shared with him the genesis of the idea and why the format would be increasingly relevant in the future.

Mitchell patiently heard me and by the end of the meeting, we had a plan to publish THINKtweet. We also agreed that we should partner on this book series and grow it beyond this first book.

Over the next few weeks, my friends at Stresslimitdesign helped us design and package the book. Long story short – the book was published on June 1, 2009.

Over the next few months, we got serious interest from MANY people to publish their work in this format. The general consensus was that these were books designed for the A.D.D. generation.

A couple of months ago, my super-smart friend Karen Kang helped us brainstorm the branding for the series. Over the next few days, we renamed the series to THINKaha (our books are designed to give at least a dozen “Aha Moments” in less than 30 minutes) and also finalized a tag line which is:

Bite-sized books for thinking people

As of today, we have close to 30 books in print and more coming. You can see the entire series here:

While this story was evolving, Mitchell and I realized that we had not finalized our business arrangement. I still remember that day when the arrangement was finalized. It was in a coffee shop (Roasted Coffee Bean) in Cupertino. It was at the end of a brainstorming meeting and we were just getting ready to leave. While heading back to our respective cars, we finalized the terms and the general roles we will play. It must have taken a total of two minutes to “negotiate” the business arrangement.

In essence, coming up with a “No Brainer” arrangement was a no-brainer for us.


The simple reason is that we both trusted each other completely; trusted that both of us will look out for each other more than we look out for ourselves.

Mind you, that this “No Brainer” mindset didn’t develop overnight. It was the result of a long friendship built over a decade.

That philosophy of creating “No-brainers for the future” has saved me a ton of time, energy and heartache over the years.

The rule, if there is any, is simple – build lifetime relationships where you care for the concern of others involved as if it’s your own concern.

Many of your current relationships can blossom into “No-brainers for the future” if you put enough care into it.

If you have many such relationships, congratulations. Life is better that way. If not, it is not too late to start building them right now.

I have found that it helps a big way to expand your footprint way before you deep dive into your adventure. One surefire way to do that is by choosing to give away some of your best work for free

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