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Stuff & Things

April 24 2013 – 02:07pm

The world is just stuff and things. They sound similar, but they’re very different. To be effective, you have to be really good at turning stuff into things.

To me, my business is just a bunch of stuff. There are a bunch of cells in my body that work together to turn stuff into things, sometimes for reasons I understand, sometimes for reasons I don’t. (“Reasons” are just stuff anyway)

But, to my accountant, my business is a bunch of things: dollars, time periods – months, quarters, years. All of the dollar things that I spend and make have to go into these things, and also into category things.

To the government, my business is its own thing. It’s even an “S-Corp” type of thing. There is stuff inside the thing, and stuff outside the thing. You don’t want to mix stuff outside the thing with stuff inside the thing. That’s bad.

The world moves forward when people turn stuff into things. It’s all just a nebulous collection of atoms, but they comprise “customers,” “markets,” and “technology.” You have to turn stuff – whether it’s raw materials, bits of code, or even thoughts – into things to create a “product.”

I really just want to do stuff all day, but no, I have to turn that stuff into things. That is, if I want to keep doing stuff.

My thoughts are just a bunch of stuff, and I have to turn them into word things. Then I package them up into something with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Stuff doesn’t have bounds like that, but things – like this blog post – always do.

One time, I even turned my thought stuff into a book thing. All of my thought stuff had to be put into word things, into paragraph things, into chapter things, and so on, like a bunch of Russian dolls inside one big Russian doll.

The cool part of turning stuff into things is that when you’re done people can put the thing in their brain with all of the other stuff in there and it gets mixed all together and sometimes even turns into other things. That’s how the thing you made came to be anyway: you mixed things in with your stuff and then it became things again.

It’s kind of brilliant, because people can then say they made that thing, and they can get things for that: “recognition,” “money,” “cred(it).” This is part of the fuel that gets people to turn stuff into things.

The challenging thing about this system is that some stuff is way easier to turn into things. Numbers, for example, they already are things. Since the number things represent the dollar things that represent all of the stuff, it only follows that people who control the number things representing dollar things get more dollar things.

Then there’s the other stuff that’s pretty easy to turn into things: like house things, car things, and ham sandwich things.

At some point in time, each of these was brilliantly transformed from stuff to thing. Now it’s just stuff that’s easy to make things out of. Some of it is important, but not that interesting.

Then there’s big piles of other things that are just made of stuff: degree things, marriage things, insurance plan things to protect your stuff things from unexpected appendicitis things. Then all of the law things that make things out of all of these stuff things; and the public office things of the people things that turn stuff things into law things.

Damn, there’s lots of things in the world. Things are easy to see. Things command your attention. You have to be looking hard to really see the stuff.


There’s the challenge: with all of these things in front of you, how can you ever see the stuff well enough to make things out of it?

You have to see the things for the stuff that they are. Call their bluff things! You have to see the stuff for the things it could become!


Most people, once they have things in front of them, it’s game over. They’ll smack their alarm thing, drink their coffee thing in their car thing, go to the job thing, then watch the TV thing or comment on the Facebook thing. It’s so easy.

But it’s also so hard. These things are robbing them of their stuff.

If you learn to see the things for stuff and the stuff for things, suddenly the things won’t overpower the stuff so much. The supposedly urgent email thing from the boss thing, and the oh-my-god-buy-this-stuff-thing-or-you’re-ugly-fat-and-stupid-thing on the TV thing will just look silly.

Suddenly the what’s-this-thought stuff will become the look-at-it-this-way thing, and the what’s-this-feeling stuff will become the here’s-what-I’ll-do thing. Suddenly the line between stuff and things starts to blur.


This is how really interesting things are made. When people start to see stuff: untapped desires, cultural trends, the very thoughts in their heads, human interactions, etc., and realize they can make things out of them: groundbreaking mobile devices, musical acts, books, social networks, and other stuff things that you can’t even dream of.

Don’t let all of the things make you lose sight of the stuff. The stuff, well, that’s the good stuff.

Go out there and make things out of stuff:

— ? David Kadavy (@kadavy) April 24, 2013

P.S. I’m teaming up with some all-stars to make something that will help you manage your mind. Stay tuned. You’ll learn about it in early 2014.

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This post is filed under Entrepreneurship.