Scared Shitless

Merlin Mann – “Scared Shitless: How I (Mostly) Learned to Love Being Afraid of Pretty Much Everything”

Download MP4 Video of “Scared Shitless”

This is the video of a talk I did last month at Webstock in Wellington, New Zealand.

It’s pretty different from a lot of stuff I’ve done. It’s about being scared.



As I mentioned on Back to Work, Webstock is—what? Well. Webstock is unique. Truly. If you get the chance, you should go. Really.

I could not and would not have done this talk in this way had I had not been so inspired (and, frankly, so terrified) by the awesomeness of the other speakers, by the quality of their talks, and by the astounding graciousness and empathy of the audience that this particular event attracts.

Tash and Mike and their crackerjack team have made something really special here. I’m honored that they even invited me, and I’m insanely grateful for the care and hospitality that they showed to the speakers and to the attendees at every step of the way.

Seriously. Thank you.


So, yeah. I did something really weird at Webstock. Weird for me and, honestly, just plain weird for “a talk.”

I’m not sure if it succeeded. But, I did the best I could to make myself (along with some really heroic friends and fellow speakers) into a legitimate guinea pig for a concept that means the world to me:

You can be scared and still do it anyway. Regardless of whatever it is.

And, you can. No. Really. You. You can do this.

You can run toward the shitstorm, let it cover you with shit, but, still never let it stop you from running.

Because, like Crazy Bob says:

They can’t eat you.”

And, they can’t. And, they won’t. Okay?

Well, okay, then.

43 Folders icon
Scared Shitless” was written by Merlin Mann for 43Folders.com and was originally posted on March 28, 2011. Except as noted, it’s ©2010 Merlin Mann and licensed for reuse under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0. “Why a footer?

Merlin Mann – “Scared Shitless: How I (Mostly) Learned to Love Being Afraid of Pretty Much Everything”

Download MP4 Video of “Scared Shitless”

This is the video of a talk I did last month at Webstock in Wellington, New Zealand.

It’s pretty different from a lot of stuff I’ve done. It’s about being scared.



As I mentioned on Back to Work, Webstock is—what? Well. Webstock is unique. Truly. If you get the chance, you should go. Really.

I could not and would not have done this talk in this way had I had not been so inspired (and, frankly, so terrified) by the awesomeness of the other speakers, by the quality of their talks, and by the astounding graciousness and empathy of the audience that this particular event attracts.

Tash and Mike and their crackerjack team have made something really special here. I’m honored that they even invited me, and I’m insanely grateful for the care and hospitality that they showed to the speakers and to the attendees at every step of the way.

Seriously. Thank you.


So, yeah. I did something really weird at Webstock. Weird for me and, honestly, just plain weird for “a talk.”

I’m not sure if it succeeded. But, I did the best I could to make myself (along with some really heroic friends and fellow speakers) into a legitimate guinea pig for a concept that means the world to me:

You can be scared and still do it anyway. Regardless of whatever it is.

And, you can. No. Really. You. You can do this.

You can run toward the shitstorm, let it cover you with shit, but, still never let it stop you from running.

Because, like Crazy Bob says:

They can’t eat you.”

And, they can’t. And, they won’t. Okay?

Well, okay, then.

43 Folders icon
Scared Shitless” was written by Merlin Mann for 43Folders.com and was originally posted on March 28, 2011. Except as noted, it’s ©2010 Merlin Mann and licensed for reuse under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0. “Why a footer?

Nerdiest Interview Ever: MPU Workflows Part II

MPU 046: Workflows with Merlin Mann II « Mac Power Users



I have the life that I have because I’ve made a lot of weird decisions, and they’ve worked out well.


Not gonna lie to you. I’m a huge nerd. Surprised?

Yep. I can recite big chunks of The Big Lebowski from memory. I can argue for an hour on the merits of Dick York over Dick Sargent. And, I can—and frequently do—catch myself thinking Catwoman, Batgirl, Princess Leia, and Emma Peel should have a light-hearted pillow fight that ends with an hour of genial french-kissing.

Pretty much like you, probably. I dunno, maybe your version includes Kitty Pryde. Po-tay-to/Po-taht-o, right?

Perhaps most saliently, by virtue of having spent a solid 2,399 days as a Fake Productivity Guru, I have been provided with an unquestionably Janusian monkey’s paw of a gift; I now know a lot about workflows. Nerdy, nerdy workflows.

I can tell you a few things that almost always work, I can tell you a handful of things that almost never work, and—best or worst of all—I can tell you thousands of things that might work. Sometimes. Maybe. Kinda. For some people. For now.

And, at the risk of gay-marrying my arrogance to my hypocrisy, I can tell you that I also know enough about the unholy diarrhea of potential options for Theoretical Productivity to share two big patterns:

  1. Getting your workflow right matters.
  2. Getting your workflow right to the exclusion of the actual work is a fool’s game.

But. Managing to get the most useful and most elegant and least fiddly mix of 1 and 2 right is super-hard. Especially for nerds. Especially for me.


So, as I type this today, I believe there can be no greater testament to these claims—or, at least, no greater place to test the veracity of these claims for yourself—than in this TWO AND A HALF HOUR-long interview for Mac Power Users.

It is reeeeeeeeally nerdy. Almost intolerably nerdy. Just…overwhelmingly nerdy.

But, man, is it ever really good, and really fat with the most insanely granular details of How I Work.

Lo, even these 928.5 days after officially retiring from productivity pr0n, my desire to not “vend stroke material for your joyless addiction to puns about procrastination and systems for generating more taxonomically satisfying meta-work” is tempered by a (widely under-reported) practical streak.

Yes: I continue to despise empty advice about rearranging deck chairs on The Titanic. But, yes: I do also still very much enjoy talking about how all the tips and tricks can or can’t work in the context of work you care about. That matters. It really does.


So. Here goes. A one hundred and forty six minute-long, Joyce-ian amble through the Big Stuff and the Little Stuff. David and Katie were very patient.

How I name text files. Why I break iOS apps. Why I love the letter “x.” Why I won’t row out to islands any more. How a 115,000 word book manuscript is “like a house full of confederate money.” How “The Cloud” broke in New Zealand. How I use MultiMarkdown, Scrivener, TextExpander, OmniFocus, TextMate, Notational Velocity, Dropbox, and an explosive combination of Elements, Notesy, Nebulous, Simplenote, CF Outliner, iThoughts, Instacast, Good Reader, and wow wow wow.

How I try not to fiddle—how I sometimes succeed and often don’t. But, how I try.

Anyhow. There you go. A perfectly nerdy bookend to last year’s first Magnum Opus MPU interview on these same topics, Mac Power Users Episode 46 is just insanely nerdy. And, what have you.

I hope you like it. I hope it’s useful. I hope you don’t use it to replace real work.

And, as ever, I really hope Batgirl starts having more sexy pillow fights.

Enjoy. And, God save you.


MPU 046: Workflows with Merlin Mann II « Mac Power Users

43 Folders icon
Nerdiest Interview Ever: MPU Workflows Part II” was written by Merlin Mann for 43Folders.com and was originally posted on March 27, 2011. Except as noted, it’s ©2010 Merlin Mann and licensed for reuse under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0. “Why a footer?

MPU 046: Workflows with Merlin Mann II « Mac Power Users



I have the life that I have because I’ve made a lot of weird decisions, and they’ve worked out well.


Not gonna lie to you. I’m a huge nerd. Surprised?

Yep. I can recite big chunks of The Big Lebowski from memory. I can argue for an hour on the merits of Dick York over Dick Sargent. And, I can—and frequently do—catch myself thinking Catwoman, Batgirl, Princess Leia, and Emma Peel should have a light-hearted pillow fight that ends with an hour of genial french-kissing.

Pretty much like you, probably. I dunno, maybe your version includes Kitty Pryde. Po-tay-to/Po-taht-o, right?

Perhaps most saliently, by virtue of having spent a solid 2,399 days as a Fake Productivity Guru, I have been provided with an unquestionably Janusian monkey’s paw of a gift; I now know a lot about workflows. Nerdy, nerdy workflows.

I can tell you a few things that almost always work, I can tell you a handful of things that almost never work, and—best or worst of all—I can tell you thousands of things that might work. Sometimes. Maybe. Kinda. For some people. For now.

And, at the risk of gay-marrying my arrogance to my hypocrisy, I can tell you that I also know enough about the unholy diarrhea of potential options for Theoretical Productivity to share two big patterns:

  1. Getting your workflow right matters.
  2. Getting your workflow right to the exclusion of the actual work is a fool’s game.

But. Managing to get the most useful and most elegant and least fiddly mix of 1 and 2 right is super-hard. Especially for nerds. Especially for me.


So, as I type this today, I believe there can be no greater testament to these claims—or, at least, no greater place to test the veracity of these claims for yourself—than in this TWO AND A HALF HOUR-long interview for Mac Power Users.

It is reeeeeeeeally nerdy. Almost intolerably nerdy. Just…overwhelmingly nerdy.

But, man, is it ever really good, and really fat with the most insanely granular details of How I Work.

Lo, even these 928.5 days after officially retiring from productivity pr0n, my desire to not “vend stroke material for your joyless addiction to puns about procrastination and systems for generating more taxonomically satisfying meta-work” is tempered by a (widely under-reported) practical streak.

Yes: I continue to despise empty advice about rearranging deck chairs on The Titanic. But, yes: I do also still very much enjoy talking about how all the tips and tricks can or can’t work in the context of work you care about. That matters. It really does.


So. Here goes. A one hundred and forty six minute-long, Joyce-ian amble through the Big Stuff and the Little Stuff. David and Katie were very patient.

How I name text files. Why I break iOS apps. Why I love the letter “x.” Why I won’t row out to islands any more. How a 115,000 word book manuscript is “like a house full of confederate money.” How “The Cloud” broke in New Zealand. How I use MultiMarkdown, Scrivener, TextExpander, OmniFocus, TextMate, Notational Velocity, Dropbox, and an explosive combination of Elements, Notesy, Nebulous, Simplenote, CF Outliner, iThoughts, Instacast, Good Reader, and wow wow wow.

How I try not to fiddle—how I sometimes succeed and often don’t. But, how I try.

Anyhow. There you go. A perfectly nerdy bookend to last year’s first Magnum Opus MPU interview on these same topics, Mac Power Users Episode 46 is just insanely nerdy. And, what have you.

I hope you like it. I hope it’s useful. I hope you don’t use it to replace real work.

And, as ever, I really hope Batgirl starts having more sexy pillow fights.

Enjoy. And, God save you.


MPU 046: Workflows with Merlin Mann II « Mac Power Users

43 Folders icon
Nerdiest Interview Ever: MPU Workflows Part II” was written by Merlin Mann for 43Folders.com and was originally posted on March 27, 2011. Except as noted, it’s ©2010 Merlin Mann and licensed for reuse under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0. “Why a footer?