Life Lessons Learned from Hang Gliding


As you may or may not know, I’ve been taking hang gliding lessons for the past few months. Because my time in Northern California is quickly coming to a close and it will be much more difficult to learn how to hang glide back in Michigan, I took a half day vacation this past Tuesday and headed down to Milpitas; I had two of the very best (and longest) flights that I’ve had to date. I was at the top of the 50 ft training hill all morning and learned a ton about steering and pitch! Being in the air for 20-30 seconds gave me much more time to try new things and to get feedback.

I was with two other students and while they were flying and hauling the glider back up the hill,  I considered some of the many parallels between hang gliding and life in general.

It’s hard to recover from a bad launch: When you launch a hang glider you’ve captured a lot of energy. Ideally a pilot uses this energy to navigate and stay aloft for a while (my instructor doesn’t even take out his glider if he’s not going to stay up for at least an hour). When I have launched my glider when it wasn’t balanced I always end up taking much shorter flights because I have to spend a lot of my energy correcting the glider in the air vs. doing it correctly on the ground. In life and business, I’ve found that doing something successful on your first time out of the gate is really important. When I bought my first house I paid fair market value. I also didn’t have to do much to the property except move in and get some house mates. This positive experience is responsible for my continued interest because it did something far more valuable than making money: it built my confidence such that I believed that I could do it successfully. Now when I purchase a property, it’s almost always below market value and has a 5 or 6 figure rehab budget. This type of project would be terrible property to start one’s real estate investing career one. Thus far I’ve been training on a 330 sqft glider. I’ll work my way down to a 170 sqft one. In life it’s important to aim for a perfect launch and to do that you should set yourself up for success by starting with training wheels.

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On Not Climbing the Corporate Ladder

If you want to see my first (and to date only) Kickstarter project that I’ve funded checkout I’m Fine, Thanks. The quote that resonated with me (and conveniently has to do with this article) is the following:

You’re climbing the ladder and you get the the top and you find out you have it leaned up against the wrong wall.

Old Synergasm Post

Originally published February 5, 2012

People are taught that if they prepare themselves well in college, they’ll be able to start the endless trek of climbing the corporate ladder. There are few common misconceptions, though.


  • The first rung can sometimes be quite high; while an entry level position allows one to grasp on, you have to be strong enough to pull yourself up…otherwise you fall off. Pulling oneself up is always where the most opportunity is; you’ll learn a ton! Embrace this change!
  • They don’t tell you that while you can climb up a portion of the ladder yourself, you’ll eventually reach up to grasp that next level and realize that there’s a missing rung! No matter how hard you reach for that elusive next rung, it’s impossible to get there…unless there’s someone that already resides above that rung and is willing to reach down and help pull you up! The extent of you climbing versus other people pulling depends on how many rungs are missing; which is dependent on your company’s culture.
  • The third big misconception is that it’s not really a ladder anymore; builders realized long ago that when working on a large project it’s much more efficient to use scaffolding vs. a ladder. This means that if a rung is missing above where you’re currently located, try taking a step or two to the right and then reaching up again. Vertical moves can be frustrating, but sometimes they’re necessary. Be careful though, sometimes scaffolding isn’t very stable and you certainly don’t want to fall down!