Informedly Opinionated About the Right Things

It helps to have strong opinions.

Hey friends,

Apparently "opinionated" often carries a negative connotation, but for the sake of this newsletter issue – and since I couldn't find a better word to replace it with – I'll pretend it doesn't and use it to describe the quality of holding strong opinions.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about assertiveness and opinionatedness. As I see it, there are two main ways to be opinionated (or to have strong opinions):

  • Ignorantly opinionated. You have strong opinions that aren't based on facts or relevant experience and aren't grounded in reality.
  • Informedly opinionated. Your strong opinions are based on facts or relevant experience and are grounded in reality.

You don't have to be opinionated to live a good life, but if you want to live a life where you make things happen instead of letting things happen to you, you need to learn to be informedly opinionated about the right things.

I went through a few stages of opinionatedness in life:

  • As a kid, I had few strong opinions, if at all. My childhood and most of my school years saw me going through life on autopilot doing (or not doing) whatever I was expected to do by peers and adults.
  • Around college and in my early 20s, I was incredibly ignorantly opinionated and had strong but dumb opinions about pretty much everything. The issue with these is that while they give you a certain impulse to get you moving through life more actively, you'll often be moving in the wrong direction.
  • By my late 20s, I ended up realizing how dumb and ignorant I had been all these years and for a while lost the capability to hold strong opinions again.
  • Lately, I finally rediscovered this capability, and have learned (and am still learning) to use it to my advantage both personally and professionally.

And it's not just a selfish trait. Being informedly opinionated about the right things makes you more likely to make a difference not just in your own life, but also in the lives of those around you – people you care about, interact with, work with, etc.

What are the right things? I see it as areas where doing things right vs wrong can make an outsized difference. To me, these are things like (in no particular order, personally and professionally) personal development, money management, political awareness, health and wellness, user experience and product design, communication, and many others. Your right things might be different.

Being informedly opinionated isn't straightforward. You'll be ignorant while considering yourself informed. You'll come off as arrogant, selfish, and a jerk while trying to be assertive. You'll be assertive about the wrong things. You'll say dumb stuff. Impostor syndrome will be your friend and partner.

But I almost want to say that being ignorantly opinionated is better than not having any opinions at all, the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil being for good men to do nothing (apparently a misattribution) and all that. Almost, because ignorance, the root and stem of all evil (Plato). Tough choice.

What I can say is no one ever praised me for not having an opinion about something I should have had one about, and I never felt I was getting ahead in life because of not having an opinion. Not sharing it – yes. But that's another story.

What are you informedly opinionated about?

Have an assertive week,


A few thoughts

Movement is life. No matter how tired or down I feel, even the most basic exercise (let alone a more intense one) never fails to make me feel better, even if just a little bit. Works even when I absolutely hate the idea of doing it. I regularly keep thinking about how much better so many people could be feeling if only they could overcome their aversion (or disinterest) towards exercise.

What are you doing wrong by default? There are things you are doing wrong for no other reason than that you learned it from someone and then never spent any time thinking about whether or not it's the right way. Lifting weights (bad form), brushing teeth (too much pressure), walking and running (bad form and shoes), sitting (bad form), breathing (too shallow), eating (obviously), and a hundred other things – simple or complex – easily come to mind.

Enjoyed this

Run more. Seriously. "I’ve recently started running every other day. Nothing crazy. Just a 20 minute session on the treadmill in the gym at a tempo that leaves me sweating heavily at the end. But the impact this tiny change has on my wellbeing is nothing short but insane."

#30: Escaping the Inter-generational Dick Measuring Contest "An Intergenerational Dick Measuring Contest is when siblings compete for their patriarch’s approval not only through their own actions, but through the improvement, refinement, and perfection of their own family units. Children of competing brothers are thus unknowingly born into a contest which they have no choice but to participate in. More than caught in the crossfire, they become child soldiers in the war. It’s hard for them to see any other way. It’s the fabric of their reality, the very water they swim in."

Photo finish

A good friend of mine is apparently the best (undercover) mixologist in town. I only drink cocktails once in a blue moon (literally my first time in years), but his were so good this is the only photo I can share where we all still look presentable.