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Why Weston McKennie would be a great signing

First I'll start off by stating that I am the most biased person for this discussion. I'm an American from Dallas that used to play against Weston as a kid. I've been a blue for 7 years (god bless our mental health going forward). Ive watched every Schalke game that Weston and/or Jonjoe have been involved in. I follow Weston's life on social like I'm living vicariously through him. So yes, I'm extremely biased.
But I'm here to give solid reasoning with reports and stats to back me up. It would be a really cool story if someone from the club saw this post and we actually ended up signing him, but I expect nothing to come out of it.
Let's get into some reasons why Weston McKennie would be a solid signing for us.
1) Weston as a player: Mckennie is a defensive minded box to box 8. He is aggressive and hard working player that will make the 50 yard sprint in the 75th minute to get back into position. He's a commanding player that has worn the captain band for both Schalke and US Mens team and he's only 21 years old. His play style is captured in a nutshell by this video put together by on twitter and posted by u/SungTongs10 of his performance against Bayer Leverkusen last weekend.
We have great aerial threats in DCL, Richie, Keane, and Yerry. Weston would certainly add to our already great set piece and aerial threat. Here's a goal he scored about 30 minutes ago in their 2-1 loss vs Eintracht Frankfurt
The EPL requires players to be tough, we already know that. Weston is the toughest kid I've seen in a while. He's got a fantastic attitude and he's a hard worker. Future captain for any club.
2) Why this signing makes sense for us right now: Gbamin why you gotta me made of glass? We want you healthy! The obvious answer is that we need depth in the midfield due to injuries and some players just not making the cut (cough cough). As aggressive as Weston is, you'd think he'd have consistent injury problems. Nope, the kid is tough.
Schalke is in a terrible situation financially. Here's some articles supporting the weight of this statement.
My guess is that Schalke will have a fire sale of players that they can get some value from. Weston will probably be the toughest to get hands on as he has been their best player since the restart of soccer. I'm thinking negotiations could end up in our favor if the club were to pursue Weston.
Weston is currently valued at just below 20m Euro according to TransferMarkt:
I'd bet we could get him at that price or lower and here's why that price would be justified. I won't post stats of how much revenue young exciting Americans have brought to European clubs, but the name Pulisic comes to mind. It's been wild living in the states and seeing Americans react to pulisic's professional journey. SO MANY Pulisic Chelsea and Dortmund jerseys. I've never seen an american player become that popular so fast. I became a blue because of Tim Howard, and I will never look back. I'd imagine Weston would have a similar effect on a new wave of American fans (maybe not at the same weight of Timmy). Some people here might not like that, but I think all things considered overall it would be a positive thing.
Other than the moot point that Americans bring revenue to big clubs (can be said for any nationality), I think his contribution to the club would justify that price on its own.
3) Some additional reasons (why would Weston like this move as a player): It seems as though Weston has taken a liking to JonJoe. It seems like they've become close based on social media. Having a friend and a familiar face at a new club would be very helpful for Weston's transition (depending on our plans with JonJoe). Weston has publicly stated that it's a dream for him to play in the EPL.
His best friend is Pulisic and I'd imagine he'd love the competitive rivalry of playing against his best friend in top league in the world.

All in all I think this would be a great signing. The time is now. What's some thoughts from others? Does my consensus have flaws? someone play devils advocate with me because I've fully convinced myself that this would be an incredible signing. Thanks for reading. Some extra stuff:
Analysis of Weston as a CM vs DM
Weston Goal from Kenny Assist a few months ago
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How to build a soccer betting model

I started betting on the 1X2 markets long ago but I never had much success. Then in 2016 I decided to start playing with available data on the top European leagues. I am a Data Scientist and I was able to apply many of the techniques I use in my day to day job.
I built a model that predicts expected points of each team in the league and I learnt a lot along the way. I applied the model to my weekly bets, had some wins and some disappointments but above all I started to enjoy the betting experience much more and was able to analyze matches much much faster.
I realized that the strength of a model is that it summarizes teams strengths and highlights opportunities in the coming fixtures. It is not an end to itself and I believe the best recipe is to use a model as a support in the match analysis. This approach gives the best results in my experience.
In the last months when there was little opportunity for betting I decided to write down the detailed steps I went through to build my model, together with the working code examples. This naturally turned into a small book. I believe that by learning a little coding anybody can create a model that predicts expected points, expected goals, corners and more, in a short time. The possibilities and applications in the betting market are huge.
You can read here the first 3 chapters of the book for Free.
Hope you enjoy it and if you want to dig a bit more the full book is here.
Best of luck and happy betting!
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[Translation] The Libero's murderer: how Arrigo Sacchi revolutionized tactics and built the best team of all times.

-"How was Italian football before Sacchi?" -"Like now."
Just two words are enough for Arrigo Sacchi to disarm your face-to-face strategy and leave you out of the game like a beginner. Three words that, however, do not strictly correspond to reality. They are only half true. Only by digging deep into his footballing imagination can one discover how the man who built one of the greatest teams of all time is able to disregard his legacy and blur it in the timeline of the evolution of the beautiful game in Italy. Despite his modesty, there is no doubt that Arrigo Sacchi and his Milan team mark a turning point for Italian football, although from the manager's point of view it is not a turning point but a mere parenthesis. Italian football changed during his time on the bench, but recovered its natural course as soon as he stepped off the pitch and into the offices. "Clearly there has been some change, but not like in the rest of Europe. The televisions have made us see that a different kind of football is being played. 'They've changed all over the world except in Italy,' Costacurta told me a few years ago when we were watching the Italian U-21s against Denmark," explains Sacchi. What are the reasons for this lack of evolution in Italian football? Sacchi is able to recite them with the confidence with which a surgeon points out the ills to be removed. "In Italy, you don't know what the merit is, you just want to win. The fans and the journalists don't ask for the show or the fun, they ask for the victory. -And then how do we seek this victory? -We seek it in the way we know best, through cunning or the art of achieving what we set out to do. Then, our football is a football that costs to be updated and to evolve". Like a wharf which, however much you stretch, returns to its original form, Italian football always tends towards its most primal concepts. And to find the origin of those concepts, you have to do some archaeological work until you get back to the embryonic stage of football in Italy.
World football is roughly divided into four schools. First we have the direct style which was born in England and is still representative of British teams nowadays. Then we have the cheerful, colourful and lighthearted way of life that the Brazilians have been able to bring to the pitch to the height of artistic movement. Thirdly, there is the Dutch philosophy. The so-called total football with which Rinus Michels overtook Herbert Chapman's WM team to surprise the world, generating an idea of play that still has imitators, as is the case of Barcelona in recent times. Finally, we find the Italian style, baptized under the term of Catenaccio, which means lock in Italian. A nomenclature, by the way, quite illustrative of the ideals of the game. In its most basic concepts, the Italian is a football mostly defensive and disciplined, where the result prevails over any commitment to aesthetics. In line with Niccolò Machiavelli's 'Prince' ("the end justifies the means"), Italian football has always assumed that anything is permissible as long as victory is achieved.
Ironically, Catenaccio has no Italian parents. It is not clear who invented this style, but none of those who claim paternity were born in Italy. According to the accomplished historian Brian Glanville, the Catenaccio was invented by the Austrian coach Karl Rappan during the first half of the 20th century. In the 1940s, Rappan developed a tactic that the press christened Riegel (lock, in German) and consisted of having one of the five men on the WM front line move in behind the three defenders. The job of this sweeper would be to keep an eye on the opposing forwards who were running away from their marker. Helenio Herrera, however, not only proclaimed himself the inventor of the Catenaccio but claimed to be the first player to play the role of a sweeper. "It occurred to me when I was playing in France," explains the Argentine coach, as Simon Kuper relates in Football Against the Enemy. "We were playing with the WM formation then," continues Mago Herrera, "and in a game where we were winning 1-0 with 15 minutes to go, I left my position to get behind the defense. I had these ideas in my time as a player and when I became a manager years later I remembered them." Glanville believes Rappan invented the Catenaccio, Nereo Rocco introduced it to Italy and Helenio Herrera perfected it. Whether it was one or the other who invented it, both versions agree that the key piece of this style is the figure of the Libero. Without it, there would be no Catenaccio.
The success of the ultra-defensive Inter Milan during the 1960s, which razed Europe to the ground with two consecutive European Cups (1964 and 1965), made the Catenaccio the book that rested on the bedside table of any self-respecting Italian coach. Anyone who wanted to win had to resort to defensive football. Nereo Rocco's triumphs with Milan in the late 1960s and Giovanni Trapattoni's triumphs with Juventus in the 1980s did not invite the idea of an alternative. That was the context in which a discreet footballer who had not managed to get out of the lower ranks of Italian football decided to hang up his boots to become a coach. At just 26, Arrigo Sacchi sat on the bench for the first time. At Baracca Lugo, a team in the neighbourhood where he worked as a shoemaker. "I was 26, my goalkeeper was 39 and my striker was 32. I had to win them" It was the start of a rise to the elite with stops at Bellaria and Rimini and the youth teams of Cesena and Fiorentina. But fate awaited him at Parma, with whom he would achieve promotion to Serie B in just one season and leave him three points behind the top flight of Italian football. During that season, a 1986-1987 Italian Cup play-off would change his life forever. He would beat AC Milan by the smallest of margins, playing a game that caught the eye of the Rossoneri's top executive. It was on that night that Silvio Berlusconi was enthralled by Arrigo Sacchi.

01. "The birth of Sacchi's Milan"

Silvio Berlusconi had recently became the owner of Milan. After a failed attempt to take over Inter Milan, he ended up buying the Rossoneri on 20 February 1986, ready to build the best team in the world. Although Milan did not seem to be the most suitable club to do so. The golden years when Europe was painted in red and black had already long survived only in the history books. In the early 1980s, Milan was going through its most traumatic period. Former president Felice Colombo, members of his board and some players were involved in the 'Caso Totonero' (blackjack), the illegal betting and match fixing scandal that rocked Italian football in the 1979-1980 season. As a result, Milan were administratively relegated to Serie B and began a dark period from which they could not escape. Despite the arrival of stars such as Paolo Rossi, top scorer in the 1982 World Cup in Spain, or the hiring of symbols such as Nils Liedholm to the bench, Milan did not get off the ground again. Berlusconi would become the end of Rossoneri's troubles. He took over from Giuseppe Farina in the presidency, brought optimism to the stands, millions to the coffers and, above all, a new philosophy for the team. He set himself the goal of becoming the best club in the world by always opting for attacking football that would be attractive to fans. To achieve this ambitious goal, he relied on the coach he had fallen in love with when he faced him in the Italian Cup. He trusted Arrigo Sacchi.
An unknown, with no past as a footballer, he was in charge of one of the most successful teams in Europe, making front-page coverage in the Italian press. The headslines that considered Berlusconi's gamble to be wrong were multiplying. They accused him of losing his mind. It was too shocking that someone who had not previously been a professional footballer should take over one of the giants of Italian football. That was the first obstacle Sacchi encountered in his promotion to the elite. It was a rare thing at the time. Ottavio Bianchi coached Napoli, Rino Marchesi coached Juventus, both of whom had a history with the Italian national team, and the illustrious Giovanni Trappatoni, who was a European champion in Rossoneri colours, sat on the Inter Milan bench. However, Milan's fate was in the hands of a rookie who was not known for his footballing skills. Replacing a myth like Liedholm didn't make things any easier either. Sacchi defended himself as his Milan would later, knocking out the critics with a simple phrase: "I didn't know that to become a jockey, you first have to be a horse".
Despite the doubts of the surroundings, there was total confidence in Arrigo Sacchi at the club. Silvio Berlusconi gave his new manager full powers to build a team to suit him. "My work at Milan is made possible by a great club. A club that was positively impressed by what I did at Parma, that believed in a few things and followed me completely. They even threw out some players who were undoubtedly valuable, but who were not functional and others who were not professionally as I wanted them to be," says the Italian coach. Sacchi does not give out any names so as not to reveal the identity of these non-functional or unprofessional players, but to draw your own conclusions you need only look at the list of players who left Milan that summer in 1987. Agostino Di Bartolomei set out for Cesena despite being the player who had played the most matches the previous season. Dario Bonetti, Ray Wilkins and Mark Hateley, among others, followed the same path.
But the key of that summer was not in the departures, but in the arrivals. Sacchi marked a clear line in the transfer policy. "I believed in ideas and work," says the Italian coach, "and to do this I needed to have reliable people, people who were enthusiastic, generous, a culture of professionalism, perfectionists, and we looked for these kinds of people. Then, that they were functional to the technical project we had in mind and that they were complementary to each other." It was within these parameters that Sacchi brought Walter Bianchi and Roberto Mussi with him from Parma, requested the signing of Carlo Ancelotti and was given two top stars by Silvio Berlusconi's checkbook: Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit. The former arrived from Ajax in exchange for 1.75 million euros. For the second, 13.5 million was paid to PSV Eindhoven. Both would become the totemic symbols of their Milan. "Van Basten was the best, but Gullit was the emblem. Without being the best he was the one who helped me the most", Sacchi confesses. Together, they formed the basis of the team along with promising youngsters such as Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi and Roberto Donadoni. Frank Rijkaard, the Holy Trinity's companion from the Rossoneri tulips, was not due to arrive in Milan until the following summer.
After a summer of avoiding criticism and disdain while transmitting to some heavyweights that they should make the suitcase, Sacchi managed to build his Milan and this had its first test in official match in the Coppa d'Italia against Bari. The business card could not have been better. The Rossoneri won 5-0 with goals from Donadoni, Virdis, Van Basten, Gullit and Massaro, and that 23 August 1987 has become a holy day in the history of Milan. It was the moment when the team that changed the destiny of the entity was born. Three days later it would beat Como, then Monza, and then make its Serie A debut with a win over Pisa. Milan had become a machine, from the beginning, that was very difficult to stop. Disappointments such as the early elimination from the UEFA Cup against Espanyol and some unexpected results injected doubts in Berlusconi, who even flirted with Johan Cruyff to give him the Rossoneri bench, but negotiations with the Dutchman did not bear fruit. Sacchi held on to his position and ended up building one of the best teams in history.

02. Milan's tactical analysis.

Sacchi's avant-garde ideas were the reconstruction of tactical values not only in Milan and Italian football, but also had a great impact on the world stage. His tactics marked a complete break with the style that was being imposed in Italy and, therefore, also in Europe. It was a tactical revolution and, as such, it required some sacrifice. Marat's death set fire to the French revolution and the assassination of Martin Luther King accelerated his 'dream'. For his own revolution, Arrigo Sacchi murdered the Libero. The Libero represented the icon of the Catenaccio, the figure with which the hitherto unquestionable WM formation was overthrown to create a new style in which defensive concepts were varied. "Italy has a defensive mentality in general, not just in football. For centuries everyone was invading us. When I arrived, most of the attention was on the defensive phase. We had a libero and a line of markers. The offensive phase was left to the intelligence and common sense of the only creative element in the team, the number 10," he says in 'Inverting The Pyramid'.
Sacchi changed everything. He abolished the law of the sweeper to form a very forward four-man defensive line that was perfectly synchronised to zonal marking and managing offside when necessary. Franco Baresi was in charge of the back line and marked the line over which the rest of the defence was to be deployed. Such a forward defensive line meant that spaces were reduced, providing a key safety net for the other two lines to push the opposition's ball out of their control. Thus, if an opposing player crossed a line, he immediately crashed into the next one. "We wanted to get the ball back as quickly as possible," says Sacchi, as if it were the simplest thing in the world. However, every move of that pressure was totally studied. To the extent that there was a false pressure, like the striker: "Sometimes we practised a false pressure. We pretended to put pressure, but in reality we used that time to recover our strength".
That kind of defensive work was the first necessary condition for a footballing bet that depended solely and exclusively on ruling the game through possession. Without the ball there was no plan. So it was necessary to get it back as soon as possible. In a way, it was a reinvention of Rinus Michels' total football. "We had the presumption, also the hope, of knowing how to do everything. We wanted to get the ball away from our opponents quickly and when we had it, we wanted to know when to have possession or when to play a vertical game. We defended by attacking, by running forward," explains Sacchi, "and when we had the ball we knew when we had to play upright or, on the contrary, when to pass backwards, change sides." As he talks about his tactical ideals, Sacchi seems to have moved into the dressing room for a moment. He looks down, forgets about the camera, the focus and even the journalist in front of him, and stands in front of an imaginary team he's coaching before a game or during a training session. He speaks without resting. Having a tactical conversation with Sacchi is the perfect metaphor for the game that Milan played on the field: he takes possession, monopolises the words and leaves hardly any space for the interlocutor to interact. He is the unequivocal master of the dialogue and one can only shut up, listen and learn. "We trained believing that pressure was important because it allowed us to grow our self-esteem and personality and impose on others a rhythm of play they were not used to. We also tried to condition them when they had the ball. But when we had the ball we had to know how to manage it and understand if it was time to play vertically or start again with the ball, change the game or change the zone. It was a team that I think knew everything and was played by excellent performers, with a great club behind them. We had the interpreters and they were all functional. For me, they were the best players in the world, all 18 of them. I knew that wasn't the case, but I wouldn't have swapped them for anyone else," he concludes, before taking a breath. By way of false pressure, we intuited.
Paradoxically, that Milan that needed the ball so much to represent their football ideas on the field, often worked out without it. The ball was not a usual assistant in Milanello, training center of the Milan team. Sometimes, Arrigo Sacchi designed purely theoretical work sessions in which the players did not even need to jump onto the field. At other times, he encouraged positional play and Sacchi forced his disciples to show him where they should be on the pitch depending on where an imaginary ball was. The coach would walk around the pitch and the players would have to correct their position with millimetric precision. His tactics revolutionised Italian football to the point where the foundations of the game were called into question. Italian teams were divided internally according to the characteristics of their players. Some had the responsibility to defend and others were in charge of attacking, being exempt from running backwards. With Sacchi, although this had already happened with Michels, both parties merged to reward the block. They all ran to get the ball back and they all represented basic pieces in the creation of attacking football. With Sacchi came the supremacy of the group over the individual in the Serie A.

03. Opera Prima

Sacchi's Milan reached its peak in the European Cup. During his time on the Rossoneri bench he gave Silvio Berlusconi a Scudetto, an Italian Super Cup, two European Super Cups, two Intercontinental Cups and, above all, two European Cups. But, above the titles, key moments are remembered, matches in which Milan was consecrated as one of the best teams of all times. Probably one of those matches was the one that pitted them against Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the 1988-1989 European Cup. Sacchi was facing his second season at the head of Milan. After winning Serie A, he had to export his success to Europe, where Berlusconi's most coveted ambition lay: the European Cup. After beating Bulgaria's Vitosha Sofia (2-7 on aggregate), Red Star on penalties and Werder Bremen with a solitary goal from Marco van Basten in the second leg, he would face Real Madrid in the semi-finals. Although the Merengue players barely remembered those European Cups that Di Stefano won in black-and-white television, they had brought together a generation that had been thrilling the stands: the Quinta del Buitre. The Butragueños, Michel and company were joining international stars like Hugo Sanchez to dream again with the trophy with big ears. There was plenty of talent in Madrid and it was, along with Milan, the fashionable team in Europe. It was unquestionable that the Spanish capital smelled of the Seventh, but the first leg generated doubts. After 90 minutes, the score was a 1-1 draw, but the feeling was very different. Sacchi remembers it clearly and confesses that even Butragueño recognized to him years later that he did not know how they had obtained that draw in the Bernabéu. "Butragueño told me when I was at Real Madrid - when he was vice-president and had been a great player since he was little and therefore knew everything about Real Madrid - that he had never seen in his life, having followed football and having played it, "a team that came to the Bernabeu to do what you did. We managed to recover a draw not knowing how. You looked like twenty and we looked like ten or eleven. You attacked even Buyo", recounts the Italian.
The key to Milan's dominance in Madrid was once again pressure, the hallmark of Sacchi's Milan. Such was the superiority shown by the visitors that, when adding up an insufficient result, the Milan players went into a state of depression. Sacchi had to work as a psychologist to lift the spirits of his team and show them the way to seal their qualification for the European Cup final. "I remember that in the following 15 days I was telling the players: 'Remember that at certain levels, when you have to win and you don't win, you lose nine times out of ten. So either we make a masterpiece or we lose here". That work of motivation was the first stone to build what later has been considered the Opera Prima of Milan. Milan has given three artistic jewels to the world: the Scala, the Duomo and the Manita to Real Madrid. Milan came back with a 5-0 win at the San Siro, although things did not start off well. So much that as soon as the match got underway, Sacchi considered removing his main star Marco van Basten from the field. "When they came here, Madrid started well, we didn't start so well; van Basten was static, so much so that I immediately got a striker warming up. I remember Ramaccioni saying to me: 'Arrigo, calm down a bit'," said Sacchi. Then came the stroke of genius. All it took was a tactical move and the game changed in favour of the Rossoneri. Carlo Ancelotti was the embodiment of the strategy. To find the origin, you have to go back a few days before the meeting. "Carlo unlocked everything," analyses Sacchi, "and that's how I see football. On Tuesday, Evani had been injured in a clash with Albertini; because we trained on Tuesday as if it was already the match, with that strength. I had many solutions to replace him: to put Donadoni as a winger, who although many journalists put him there, we didn't use as a winger. We used him as a midfielder, the fourth central player, because if he ended up on the right or left wing, he bothered the wings, which were Evani and Colombo. Or putting Virdis in attack with Van Basten and Gullit as a midfielder in Donadoni's place, but Gullit didn't guarantee me on a tactical level what Donadoni guaranteed me... In the end I played the player least likely to replace Evani, who was Ancelotti, but he was the most available and gave me his 100%."
The gamble proved to be perfect: "The prize was that the first goal was scored by Ancelotti. And then he played the final in that position too. What did the Steaua coach do? He put Hagi in that area, but he didn't know that we never had a marker, we had two or three, because our team was, in that way, compact, short in that period of time compared to the others, but we were always going to mark with two or three men. And this happened against Real Madrid, where we had a numerical superiority in the pressure on the ball." Sacchi believes that the basis of the victory over Real Madrid was, as it was throughout his career, the importance of the team over the individuals. "They had players with great technique, probably better than us, but we were a great team. They had a group, but less of a team than we did. And in football the collective achieves more than the individual. You have to know this," says the Italian. That victory marks the definitive explosion of Milan, who went on to become the dominant force in European football.
After that, they won the Intercontinental Cup against Nacional de Medellin and went on to reach the footballing heavens. However, that match also represented the change in the way teams faced Milan. The Colombians were the first daring ones who forced Arrigo's thoughts to change. "With Nacional of Medellin they were the ones who made things difficult for us because for the first time we were up against a team that attacked us a lot. Then, of hunters we became hunted. It took us tranquility, security. This requires patience, which is a virtue I have not always had, but at that time I had it. I remember that at half-time Van Basten said to me: 'We are not well, we are not in shape, we have to have patience'. It wasn't a pretty game, but I was amazed at how many people said it was bad. Those people never understood that Milan were playing great football. I have to say that it was a game similar to reading a Kafka book: heavy, difficult," says Sacchi for El Enganche about that 1-0 win for Evani in the last minute of extra time, which represented the club's second Intercontinental and the first one to be shown in his living room. Milan, however, were already a despotic side who had challenged the previously dominant footballing laws and turned them to their advantage.

04. Gullit vs Van Basten, angel vs demon.

Despite the successes achieved with his Milan, Arrigo Sacchi was not lacking detractors. His style was so far removed from Italian traditions that some were unable to digest the change. "Even now it is said that when Milan played well it was because they had good players and when they played badly it was because Sacchi was there," joked the Italian coach, seeking complicity. Gianni Brera, the legendary Italian sports journalist, was one of his fiercest critics. Brera, an exquisite connoisseur of football and tactics, professed admiration for a doctrine that was antithetical to that represented by Sacchi's Milan. His attacks on the ideas of the revolutionary coach were commonplace in the Gazzetta dello Sport. Although Arrigo was intelligent to take advantage of these criticisms and reverse them in his favour. Before the 1989 European Cup final against Steaua Bucharest, he used an article by Brera to motivate his players. "I remember before the final with Steaua, that the greatest Italian sports critic, the poor Brera, an excellent writer, very good indeed, but with footballing ideas very distant from ours, said: 'Milan will play against the champions of dancing football, against the champions of possession of the ball, they will have to wait for it, defend it and go on the counterattack'. On Tuesday before the match the best Italian sports journalist wrote this and I read it because I needed to know his convictions. You cannot say 'do it because I say so'. According to him, we had to use that strategy. Gullit stood up and said 'we'll attack them from the first second until we have the forces. Okay, everybody? And we did."
However, Sacchi's most surprising enemy was not Brera, but was hiding in his own dressing room: Marco van Basten. Known to all, the relationship between the two was not good. So much so that the Dutchman often questioned him in front of the group. Sometimes he found it hard to see the logic in his coach's approach, and so he let him know. "Van Basten asked me why the others were winning and why we had to win and convince them. He also told me that we worked too hard and didn't have any fun. I always told him: 'You're a clever boy and you have to have fun in a different way. We're here to make sure the audience has a good time. He never understood that you can't get a lot without giving a lot. Van Basten has been an extraordinary player for me, not easy to manage, but extraordinary," says Sacchi. Years after their paths diverged, Sacchi and van Basten crossed paths again and the Dutchman acknowledged his mistakes: "When World Soccer recognised not too long ago that Milan had been the best team of all time, from when football existed, I said to him: 'Did you understand why we had to win and convince? And he said: 'I understood. And I understood something else too. Now I am a coach and I understand how many problems I created for you". And I said to him: "If I can console you, I didn't solve many of them." Nevertheless, Sacchi admits that he wouldn't have swapped van Basten for any other player, either of the time or of the present. "When they tell me 'between Ronaldo and van Basten who would you have signed,' I have no doubt: van Basten. But not because van Basten was more talented than Ronaldo, but because he was more functional in terms of our style of football and was a professional who gave more guarantees than Ronaldo, who was an unimaginable talent."
While the estrangement with Marco van Basten was evident, Sacchi had a close relationship with another Dutchman in the team: Ruud Gullit. He was his main support in the dressing room and the player through whom he injected his philosophy to the rest of the players. "Gullit was considered the emblem, for me he was a phenomenal player and an extraordinary person; probably the one who helped me the most without being the best, because the best was van Basten, but he had personality while van Basten hid himself, he was discontinuous. Gullit helped me a lot in making Italian players who always ran backwards run forward. He was the most convinced of this," he says. Sacchi changed the philosophy of Italian football, but Gullit transformed the philosophy of the Milan dressing room. The combination of the two Italian players made Rinus Michels' total football a success, building a Milan that would go down in history.

05. Revolutionary without revolution

After winning everything with Milan, he took over the reins of the Italian national team with whom he was second in the 1994 World Cup. He then went through an erratic career with a brief return to Milan and a few stints with Atletico Madrid and Parma before making the jump to the offices. With the perspective of his entire career, it's time to ask the same question as at the start: what was Italian football like before Sacchi? How have things changed since his revolution? Sacchi himself answers: "There has clearly been some change, but it is not linked to globalisation. Capello said it: 'We've rediscovered the Libero'. Most teams play with a fixed sweeper in the back." With Sacchi, Italian football learned that everyone must defend and attack as one, as a whole, without the previous attack-defence division. But it has forgotten everything else, and that takes its toll in Europe: "More and more we are getting slapped around and then we say: 'Why don't we spend? Why don't we use more start-up money? Then it happens that Borussia Dortmund reach the final and spend less than most of the big Italian teams or that Atletico Madrid reach the final of Champions and spend less. Our clubs are full of foreigners, full of fear, full of an eminently defensive football, playing with a sweeper. Then the result when they play at international level, where they find themselves with one less player in midfield or in attack, with the rival having players of level and leaving the ball and the initiative to them... well, they put you in difficulties".
"Also because outside the country, in general, they're much better at attacking than defending. So, if you want to put them in trouble, you have to attack them, not stop their attack. But all this requires work, organization, time, planning, programming and less improvised teams, teams that make some sense. What does a sense mean? Putting each value in its place. Since we are talking about a team sport, let's start with what unites the team: the game. What is the game about? From ideas and work. And without ideas and work, you don't have the game. If you don't have the game you rely only on individuals, and no individuality will ever have the power of a team. In some teams, this tendency to improvise - which we call fantasy - causes total disorganisation, with the consequence of losing the team," he adds to close a precise X-ray of the ills that Italian football is suffering from. Three decades after the birth of Sacchi's Milan, Italy has forgotten everything it has learned. There is no trace of the game with high pressure, offside is just another resource and even the sweeper, whose assassination triggered everything, has come back to life. Sacchi is a revolutionary without revolution. No one has been able to pick up on his witness. Italy has forgotten him, but football hasn't. Football just cannot forget the creator of one of the best teams in its history.
by Massimo Callegari & Francisco Orti for El (2016).
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I'mma head out

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OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – Just take a hard left at Daeseong-dong…11

That being handled, I leave a wakeup call for 0430 as I want a shower and a couple shower-sunrisers before we leave. It takes me about 10 minutes to pack. I call home to let Es know what’s going on. She’s not in, so I leave a message. Same for my friends Rack and Ruin of the Agency. They’re thrilled so far with my reports.
The security forces here are absolutely going to freak if they reverse-review my phone records once we leave.
Covert? Schmovert. I’m too old for playing such games.
The next morning, after a sudsy shower and a couple of vodka-infused shower-beers; I’m in the lobby with all my kit, checked-out, and waiting on the tour leader. My passport was stamp-stamp-stampity-stamped here at the hotel, which I thought was weird, but after spending time in this here country, not all that unusual.
At 0545 on the dime, the tour bus pulls into the lot. Without a word, bellhops grab near all my kit and escort it out to the waiting bus.
After tipping each extravagantly, I fire up a huge cigar, and wander around outside, loitering by the bus. I see members of my team at the front desk, checking out. Everything’s been paid for already, they just have to sign documents that they’re not secreting hotel towels or televisions or errant nationals in their luggage.
It’s a weird country.
I see them loading box breakfasts for us as well as box lunches on the bus.
Hell, they’re actually doing ‘field trip’ correctly.
If the bus us fueled up, we can go for days at this rate. There are several coolers bearing the hotel’s brand and I sidle over to see what they’re carrying.
Case after case of iced-down beer and a couple of cases of various high-octane potables; and over there? A couple of boxes of mixers…ah, soda…pop…carbonated citrusy goodness.
“OK”, I sigh, “All is as it should be. Now the field excursion may begin.”
My teammates filter outside as does their luggage. I suggest they get out and keep what is necessary for preliminary outcrop excursions; such as a backpack or knapsack, hammer, acid bottles, field notebooks, Brunton compass, lighters, cameras, personal tobacco products, and the like in the bus. That way, we don’t have to go tearing through all the luggage at every stop.
I pull out a bundle of 100 Hubco™ large geological dual-sample bags. That’s right: ‘dual’ sample…
I distribute these to everyone on the team. I ask that they devise their own numbering system and make absolutely certain I have a copy of it when we’re done. I’ll be correlating and curating all the samples when we get back to the world.
I ask that a cooler of drinks are left on board the bus, rather than in the hold. It’s humid, sticky, and muggy today. We must expend valiant effort in remaining hydrated and this will help.
Luckily, the bus has on-board lavatory facilities.
We are seated on the bus, my 10 collective team members, myself, our 4 ‘guides’, ‘Yuk’, ‘No’, ‘Man’, and ‘Kong’; our driver, relief driver, one incredibly shy national geologist, Myung-Dae Soo, and four of the shiny suit clan.
The hotel wheels out a large cart laden with pastries and a huge coffee urn. A bit of a “Bon Voyage” from the casino and bar crowd, as they put this together for us when they heard we were leaving.
“Hey. That’s really nice of them.” Dax notes.
Dax handed over our raw “elevator waiting” funds as we didn’t have time to run it through the casino-machine before we left. We donated over 75,000 won to our friends at the bar, casino, and massage parlor. The ones delivering our going away present assured us it would be divided equitably.
“It best be”, I laughed, “You never know when one of us might be back!”
There was a collective horrified look on their faces for the merest moments. Then they all laughed and said that they hoped we would return someday soon.
“Nice folks”, I thought, “Stupid as shit country, but nice folks.”
We had all separately left tips for the room maids, bellmen, and matrons back before we checked-out.
There was a flurry of handshaking and goodbyes. Not a bad hotel experience here in the so-called land of Best Korea.
Serious dark coffee was passed out amongst the riders, but Ivan, myself, and Dax were already giving one of my emergency flasks a workout.
Ivan smiled and said: “We drink our coffee the Russian way. That is to say we had vodka before it and vodka afterward. HA!”
Ivan and I are cut from the same bolt.
Faux-doughnuts, pseudo-bear claws and fake-long johns all distributed; the bus is fired up, and rumbling. We are exhorted to watch our drinks as we pull away from the hotel and into the wilds of Northern Korea.
I’m humming away:

On the road again -Just can't wait to get on the road again,
The life I love is bashing rocks in the field with my friends.
And I can't wait to get on the road again
On the road again.
Goin' places that we've never been,
Seein' things that we may never see again…
“Rock?”, Dax inquires.
“Yes?” I reply.
“Do please shut up.”
“Music hater”, I muse and comply.
We’re rolling down the highway, as it were, headed generally north. We all have cameras of one kind or another; and rather than relieve us of them, they quietly and without much fuss, slowly darken the windows.
They claim it’s to keep the sun out and temperatures down, but just before things go all black, we’re seeing sights and scenes of the true North Korea. They’re trying to keep us from seeing that en route to the outcrops.
This new bus has some sort of electronic tint-control gizmo for the windows. However, if one has a pair of polarizing sunglasses, as all good field geologists do, you see right past that and can view the passing scenery unencumbered.
I return from a quick beer-recycling loo trip and am amused to see 10 Western scientists, sitting in a blacked-out bus, all wearing polarizing sunglasses.
It was just the surreal note this trip needed as we left the confines of the capital city.
We traveled north, and the empties pile began to grow. We had a few trash bags we had liberated from the hotel, but the shiny suits were very insistent that every empty can, bottle, and bag, yes they had beer in bags…had to be repatriated to a box in the far back of the bus.
Evidently, they either were paid a bounty on each container or were accountable for each vessel. They were soon to realize just the capacity for drink that a group of 11 seasoned very Senior Field Geologists, and one stowaway geologist-in-training can amass.
As we ply our way northward, we see the agricultural side of North Korea. The contrast between rural areas and the capital was striking. There were miles of rice paddies being harvested by people with sickles in their hands. And no cars on the highway. It was most destabilizing for this Westerner.
I think we saw a maximum of three tractors, as most of the work was done with ox power, there was very little evidence of rural electrification. Oh, hold on. We saw many more tractors, I should correct that: we saw three running and not rusted into oblivion tractors.
The farmers we see are using equipment that is quite literally medieval - single-share plows pulled by large, cranky bovines; sweeping sickles to bring in the harvest, and twin-engine, bilateral, botanical-fired ox-carts to transport it. It’s hard to believe that this third-world level of poverty exists in the same country that’s capable of building rockets, nuclear weapons, and tall, well-appointed hotels.
But when we stop at a motorway service station for fuel - a bizarre alien spaceship-like building squatting over the empty carriageways - we do encounter a jangmadang, or semi-official market. Here they are selling cans of knock-off Vietnamese Red Bull and Malaysian-made King Cobra™ Cola.
It reminds me of Russia right after the wall fell. Off the Trans-Siberian Railway in Krasnoyarsk, the Gateway to Eastern Siberia. You can buy Chinese hams, Chinese sodas, Chinese knock-off liquor, and those bloody delicious little bullets of Vitamin-C, Chinese mandarins.
Here, it’s similar. You can get most anything you desire, except it isn’t of Korean manufacture. That stuff is even too shitty to pawn off on tourists.
Instead, it’s knock-off Malaysian, Chinese, or Indonesian beer, wine, or soft drinks.
“Tiger-brand energy drink. Now with 40% more real tiger.” Here? I believe them.
Vodka from everywhere not known for its vodka distilling prowess. Rural hotel shops sell nastily stale crisps, gummy gummies, filling-ripping ‘chewy’ taffy or caramel, and biscuits with a severely limited choice. Rural hotels do not have full electricity so beer is warm and often tossed on the table, waiting for tourists to arrive - as is the food. We were warned to be prepared for cold rice, cold fish, cold potato – and plenty of kimchi and tofu.
Back on the road again, we’re passing small burgs that are not on any of our maps; even the ones we traded for back in the hotel that are specially marked: “For Internal Use ONLY!”.
They were amazingly the same. Clean. Bright. Uncluttered. And attended by cadres of prim, uniform-clad, though non-military people. They were all doing a day’s work keeping everything neat and clean.
There were no cars, trucks, forklifts…only rickshaws and ox-carts. However every one of these ‘towns’ were identical, and exactly, as Ivan pointed out, ‘X’ number of minutes apart.
“Watch! Is so!”, Ivan said. We passed one of these villages, and exactly 3 minutes later, an exact copy. Three minutes later? Another one. 3 more minutes? Xerox-city.
“What the fuck?” Dax asked.
“Potemkin village.” Comrade Dr. Academician Ivan replied.
A Potemkin village is any construction, literal or figurative, whose sole purpose is to provide an external façade to a country which is faring poorly. It is for making people believe that the country is faring better, although statistics and data would suggest otherwise.
“Russia pioneered the process,” Ivan noted with no small amount of pride. “During Cold War with West, entire cities were built, moved, raised, and razed. Ever hear of Krasnoyarsk-25? Atomic Research City? Supposed place of weapons study and manufacture. Huge ‘accident’. Entire city demolished, total populace relocated supposedly, after massive nuclear calamity.”
“Is that true? Cliff asks.
“No. Not at all.” Ivan smiles, “Deliberate misinformation. At least for K-25. It was diversion for actual towns where accidents; nuclear, biological, or worse, had happened. West so concerned about K-25 because it was big, near big capital city of Krasnoyarsk and suitably located out in the taiga. Easy to spot, easy to watch. Kept Western satellites busy while real towns of I-33, U-10, and AR-13 out in the forest were quietly demolished and people relocated or mass buried after some horrible, horrible accidents...”
“You think it’s the same here?” I asked Ivan.
“No, Dr. Rock”, Ivan smiled, and helped himself to my freshly constructed, but untouched, Yorshch, “This is all fake and bluster. Make West think everything is all A-OK, is that right idiom?”
“Yep.” I reply, “Precisely.”
“Make West believe all is OK and green”, as he winks at me, “And bustling and growing. Cover up what is real case here. We all see it and we see right through. Shoddy even for Asians.”
We all had to snicker and smirk as the shiny suit squad, who sat up at the front of the bus, and were not supposed to be listening; reacted like every cell in their bodies were just hit with a drop of pure lemon juice.
“Comrade Dr. Academician. Decorum, please.” I snickered.
“Oh, fuck them!”, Ivan replied, “I am old Russian. They try and pull burlap over my eyes? St. Petersburg? Moscow? Krasnoyarsk.? I’ve been there, seen them. They think this display of tawdriness…Even goofy American and Canadian can see the fakes they are. Britisher? I’m not so sure…”
“Damn, Doctor., I said to Ivan, “You’re just making friends all over the planet today.”
We all knew it was in jest; but the shiny suit squad certainly had their feathers ruffled and either didn’t care or wanted us to know we were under their observation.
“Fuck them twice”, Ivan said, “Ask them for bottle opener. I’m too lazy to search for my field jackknife.”
I hand him my pocket Leatherman and he pries the top of another bottle of ‘Budveiser’ beer.
“They can’t even make fake the name correctly”, he smirks and drains the bottle.
‘Town’ after ‘town’ and even that parade gets uninteresting. We’re headed north and finally come to a crossroads.
The bus driver, who must be a regular paranoid-maniac because he actually stopped to look for oncoming traffic, which we have seen precisely none since leaving the capital city, made a hard right. We’re heading back and up into the hills, leaving the bright lights of the big city far behind.
After an hour or so of driving, we pull off to the left-hand side of the road.
“Rock, Ivan, Cliff…holy shit, look at this!” Dax was uncharacteristically excited.
It was an open field that leads to a series of low outcrops of polychromatic, obviously sedimentary rocks. Magentas, greens, purples, rust-reds, browns, blacks, olive greens…holy shit. A real sedimentary pile.
We filed out of the bus with our field gear. The shiny suit squad started in with a bullhorn.
“You will wait for tour guides!”
“You will listen to group leaders!”
“You will not stray from the designated paths set up…”
No one heard them as the group of 11 remaining Western geoscientists were already across the highway and hieing for the exposures like outcrop-seeking multiple-warhead re-entry vehicles.
“You must wait!” we heard from exasperated voices back at the bus. “You must stop!”
“You must piss off!” Cliff said, “This is what we’ve been waiting over two weeks to see!”
“They are very angry with us”, Myung-dae the young Korean geologist said. “I find that just too bad.”
“And you are?” I asked.
Myung-dae Soo, the young Korean geologist, introduced himself.
“Well”, I said, “Welcome aboard. I’m Dr. Rock.”
“They are very, very angry”, he repeats.
“So? Are you tagging along to give them internal reports?” I asked.
“No, Doctor”, he replied, “I too am a geologist. I want to get away from those assholes and see some real rocks.”
“Who are you with?” I ask, “What group?”
“I am 5th-year student at Pyongyang College. I am not officially here. We were told in class that you were coming. I decided to see if I could join you. This morning, I was standing by bus and they thought I was hotel worker or orderly. I was given cooler full of beer and told to find place for it on the bus. I did and after that, just stayed in the back. I am stowaway. I am ashamed, but I had to see for myself. But, I like Western field trips so far!”
“No shit? Well, then”, I said, “Double welcome aboard. None of this ‘I am ashamed’ shit. You’re a geologist, but you haven’t even worked through your first field-evening get-together with us. But this is no pleasure cruise. It’s real work, real geology, real serious science shit. You savvy?”
“Yes, sir, Doctor Rocknocker from Sultanate in the Middle East.” Myung-dae smiled.
“And you fucking stay close to me”, I smirked.
I fired a couple of BLAAATS! from my portable air horn.
“Field Meeting! Field Meeting! Assholes & Elbows!” I called aloud.
Everyone gathered within earshot.
“OK, guys, here’s the deal. We do not know how long we’ve got here. So, let’s split up into teams. Geophysicists, go do your structural thing. Stratigraphers? Field relations. Geologists? Let’s go talk to some ronery-rooking-rocks. No offense, Mr. Myung.”
Myung-dae was laughing up a storm. He got that reference. He later told us all around the campfire he thought ‘Team America’ was a “fucking hilarious movie.”
Oh, we are going to be a real bad influence on this poor kid.
The groups spontaneously broke up into 4 or 5 sub-groups. They headed for areas they thought were important and they were photographing, measuring, pounding on rocks, and arguing within minutes.
“No, you idiot! It’s continental. Look at those adhesion ripples.”
“The fuck you know. It’s only a little low-level eggbeater tectonics. Where the fuck would you get continental collision-size energy around here?”
“Oh, the fuck you say. It’s non-marine. Those are mud cracks. Look at the sandy aeolian infill, fer chrissake.”
Formal? Proper? Detached Doctors of Geology?
Not when you’re in the field. It all goes out the window when different opinions collide like subducting plates.
“The music of my people!” I said to Morse.
“I thought that was the ‘Safety Dance’?” he chided.
“We’re a big family. We can have more than one.” I snickered.
We’re wandering around the site, with individual purpose.
We are looking for or looking at items of interest.
We’re hacking at the outcrops.
We’re all looking at…things.
It’s hard to describe. Get a load of geologists or geology students out of the office, lab, or classroom; stick them out on a bare expanse of heavily weathered rock and it’s simply…numinous.
We’re rebuilding worlds here.
This rock says this.
This rock says that.
And you’re not fluent in that dialect. Here, let me interpret for you…
We’re at each other’s throats, in the academic-metaphorical sense. Tempers have been known to run hot. There has been the occasional bloody nose or rocks sailing down an outcrop without the obligate “HEADACHE!” call. Hammers and Marsh Picks have ended up swimming without the owner’s knowledge.
But once we’re back; settled in the hotel room, tavern, or around the campfire, we’re all a Band of Brothers again. It’s an odd thing to watch; as if you’re not of the clan, you’d need an interpreter. It defies all boundaries: political, sexual, educational, geographical, linguistic, social, et cetera.
We’re all geologists first. We share the common scientific bond of Geology.
That’s why Geology is the First Science.
Plus we tend to drink a serious fucking whole bloody awful lot.
We’ve all been on that ‘crawlin’ home puker’.
We’ve also been to the ends of the earth: the deepest depths, the highest heights, we deal with the greatest pressures, the hottest temperatures; we’ve been to the mountain, we’ve seen the elephant, and we’ve held a bear’s nose to dogshit.
We wear the scars attained in our travels like badges of honor.
We’re God-Damned Scientists.
Back off, man. Geologist comin’ through.
Anyways, I’m looking at the bedding-plane boundaries between the purple unit and the underlying olive-green unit. The upper unit it looks, to me, continental in origin. Fluvial, perhaps. The lower unit is much finer-grained. Marine mudstone, perhaps? But what age?
The cadged Korean Geological maps are worse than useless. They never would go down to the outcrop scale. Consulting them, they don’t even note these exposures in a field sense.
Myung-dae, who is working about 35 meters down-section from me calls out, “Doctors! Sirs! Look here! I’ve found something!”
We all wander over as he is hacking away at the dusty, eroded rock. He stands and dusts off his find.
It’s a very large, nearly 1-meter diameter, coiled fossil cephalopod.
I wander over for a closer look. Dax, Cliff, Morse, and Ivan do as well.
“Blimey! Will you look at that? Outstanding, Mr. Myung!” Cliff says.
“Well, that confirms it. This layer, at least, is marine. Look at that suture pattern”, I say, dusting off an unweathered bit.
“Look at the radius of coiling.”, Cliff joins in.
We’re slowly wresting information out of this silent witness.
“Ornamentation?”, Dr. Ivan asks. “Knobs, bosses, and excrutions?” Oh, yes.”
In unison, we declare: “Hyphoplites!”
Morse adds, “And therefore…these rocks are middle Cretaceous. Marine. Not bad…”
“Need to get some samples for geochemical analysis. Dig deep, gentlemen, we need unweathered samples for TOC (Total Organic Carbon) content.”, Dr. Erlen Meyer notes.
With that, we have a relative age of the rock, a good idea of its depositional environment, and therefore extent, ideas of field relationships, and an indication of some of its fauna.
Could it be source rock worthy?
Samples? Best get diggin’, Beaumont.
That unit is right smack in the middle of this pile of rocks. Dax and I will work up-section and Ivan and Cliff will work down-section. We’re going to see what lies above, what lies below, what trends we can discern, and develop an idea of what happened here some 100 million years ago.
This is what happens when you get geologists out in the field with the proper amounts of field gear, outcrops, and alcohol.
Overall, the deeper down-section, and therefore, earlier in geological time you go, the more marine the rocks are. Conversely, the higher you go in the column, i.e., up-section, into younger rocks, the more continental it appears.
We find fragments of marine fish fossils, sea-crocodile scutes and teeth, heaps of mosasaur coprolites, i.e., fossil shit piles, and other indications that the lower, older rocks are Lower Cretaceous ocean basin-fill.
But up higher; we find mud cracks, rain prints, land turtle shells, land-snails (Bellerophontid gastropods), and what may actually be a fossil feather. All indications of a more continental, i.e., fluvial (river), floodplain, lacustrine (lake), and paludal (swamp) deposition.
That’s my particular bailiwick.
I’m ‘elephant walking’ along the upper outcrops looking for fossils. You basically bend over at the waist and sweep from left to right as you take exaggerated step after step, scanning the ground looking for…well…it takes years, but once you see it, you never forget it.
“Fossil sign”.
A disjunct endemism. Something not in situ. Something out of place. A bit of a different, out of context color. Out of context texture. Out of context size. Out of context context.
Something that looks like it shouldn’t ought to be there.
I’m picking up 1 cm. square hunks of what look like an ordinary rock. I taste them. Well, I stick them to my tongue. If it liquefies and runs away, it’s ordinary mudstone, shale, or the like.
If it sticks…well, it might just be fossil bone.
“Damn right, Rock”, Cliff says from behind me, “Fucking North Korea tastes terrible.”
“Still, it’s the best way I know to…” I paused.
“Got something?” Cliff asked.
“Look here.” I said, “Anthill. Big, nasty buggers. Look around the edges. Pieces of flat, cream-colored rock on this gaudy purple stuff. Tongue test? They stick like cockleburs. Let’s look upslope, see if there’s a drainage…”
There it was, a nice little drainage incised about 1.5 meters deep into the nearly horizontal rocks we were walking on.
“Any float?” I asked.
“Not yet,” Cliff said.
We followed the weak, little drainage that was cut into the outcrop, up another couple of meters.
There were very scrappy, very small, very scattered pieces of that same cream-colored rock. Some were ornamented with a scroll-work or some sort of striations. Most un-geological. More biological. We followed the trail, up here, around here, over there.
Cliff noticed it first, a soccer-ball sized lump of completely out-of-place crème-colored ‘rock’ working its way out by gradual erosion of the variegated pastels of the continental rocks upon which we were treading.
I got there first and began to clear the area with my Estwing.
“Careful. Careful”, Cliff admonished.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Mind your Mincies. [Mince pies = eyes]”, as I’m swinging away at the reluctant, reticent, rocks.
The excavation grew, slowly. From the rounded dome, we could see small sutures that had developed…
Then condyles, fenestrae, then more ‘bone’. Then a jaw, teeth, vertebrae…
“HOLY DOUBLE-DAMN SHIT!” I tootled my air horn. We needed the group to see this.
It was a skull. A dinosaur skull. A small, non-avian dinosaur skull.
Everyone has crowded around and looked at the small quarry we had just built.
“Whatcha got, Rock? Cliff?” Joon asked.
“Fuck me, but I think we’ve got us a dinosaur skull,” I said.
Professor Doctor Academician Ivan walked over and cleared the area.
As Professor Emeritus, he had pole position priority.
“I agree.” is all he said.
I cleared the area and let others take a whack at opening up the quarry.
We may have been low on power tools, but we had a surfeit of opinions.
“OK,” I said, “Let’s look at the facts…”
  1. Age? Cretaceous. Probably lower to lower-middle Cretaceous.
  2. Continental deposits. That’s very fine sand we’re hacking away. Fluvial, without a doubt. Or, possibly aeolian; there’s no such thing as a geological certainty. Dunes? Ephemeral creeks? Low floodplain? Geo-talk… .
  3. Small size. Potentially a juvenile?
  4. Nope. Not a juvie. Sutures are closed, fused. This is, well was, an adult; perhaps a subadult, given its size.
  5. In situ? In place? Or washed in?
Hard to tell when all you’ve exposed is half the critter’s brain box.
“Look at that!” Myung-dae exclaimed, “Squamosal bones and the inner parietals…temporal fenestrae. It had a frill; a small one.”
“OK,”, I said, looking closely at the exposed scrappy remains, “Fucking-A Bubba. Nailed it.” I said, giving him the thumbs up.
“Ceratopsian. Look at those greens-grinder molars. There’s some small osteoderms on the skull; knobby old bastard. Early critter.” I continued.
Others looked around and confirmed my observations.
“Reminds me of Protoceratops from when I was back in Mongolia,” I said.
Dax chimed in with, “Looks something like Psittacosaurus from back in the Cretaceous Belly River of Canada.”
Drs. Ivan and Morse agree. “Most assuredly. It is definitely proto-ceratopsian. Young adult, as Dr. Rock notes by the cranial sutures. Do they have a record of proto-ceratopsians here?”
Myung-dae replies, “I have read reports of Korean proto-ceratopsian found in South Korea. Not long ago, 2019, it is called…ah… Auroraceratops. It is a genus of bipedal basal neo-ceratopsian dinosaur.”
“Bipedal?” I query. “Well, there’s a fine how do you do. All the proto-ceratopsians I’ve known were obligate quadrupeds.”
“Well”, Ivan, Dax, Cliff, and Morse agree, “That should give the shiny suit squad something to report. That’ll keep them the hell out of our hair for a while.”
We photograph each step as we excavate the critter. It’s more or less in situ, buried where it fell. Probably killed by a sand slip off a dune, or a river sandbar slip and burial. It’s not complete, but we do have the skull and a good portion of the post-cranial elements to about just before the pelvis. A good pectoral girdle, skull, jaw, frill, forelimbs, forefeet…easily half-a cute little herbivorous dinosaur. About the size of a smallish Highland Coo or large Great Dane.
We flag it with the team particulars, it’s GPS position, and carefully rebury the animal. We don’t have any of the equipment nor time to excavate it properly, but we can conserve it. Of course, we’ll be informing the proper authorities of our discovery.
I have an absolutely ancient Polaroid instant camera. Before re-internment, I take several pictures of our “Koreasaurus”, as we’ve dubbed the animal, with items for scale; like a hammer, cigar, and oddly enough, a photographic scale. Then I get a photo of the whole crew standing around, drinking warm beers from their individual day packs, smiling about the find ‘they‘ made.
We hear the melodious tootle of the bus’s horns. We make sure to pack out all our trash and wander back to our terrestrial transport.
“You were gone too long!” the chief shiny suited character goes all ballistic on me.
“Watch yourself, Herr Mac.”, I calmly said, “You’re going to burn your nose on my cigar.”
“You left without your handlers…err…guides!” he fumed.
“Hey, Scooter. Cool out. We’re geologists. We never get lost.” I said.
It sometimes just takes us longer to get back than it took us to leave…
“Your impertinence will be reported.” He smoldered.
“Report this, Mother Chuckler”, I observed and held out the pictures of our newly discovered Koreasaurus.
“Show those photos to your handlers,” I said in a mocking tone. “We found a brand new species of God-damned dinosaur for you geezers. It took us less than two hours. You can spin it that it’s a new, never-before-seen species of very specialized dinosaur found right here in beautiful Korea del Norte. Be quite the scientific coup, don’t you think? Trust us. We won’t say anything.”
He immediately shut up and went into conference with the rest of the shiny suit squad.
“Doctor”, one of the clan covert asked, “This is a new dinosaur?”
I had a thunderbolt of an idea.
“Oh! Yes, it is. I’d stake my reputation on it. You’ve had no concerted search here for the beasts and well, with the normalizing of relations between your country and the world, it allowed your specialists to perform real science. In fact, on the bus is the young North Korean geoscientist who made the discovery.” I said. “Give me a minute. I’ll go and get him. I think he was off taking a shi…ah, using the lavatory. Just give me a minute.”
I did have an idea. A wonderful idea. A wonderfully evil idea.
Back on the bus, I ordered the doors closed.
“Gentlemen! Ears and eyes! Please.” I said loudly.
“The shiny suits have their knickers all a-twist because we don’t want to listen to them; the assholes. Fuck that. I’ve got an idea. Let’s make our young acolyte here, Mr. Myung-dae Soo, a national hero. He would probably get his ass in a crack for sneaking on board the Western bus today the way he did. Well, double fuck that. Let’s all say he found the dinosaur. Let him take the glory for the homeland. No one else will ever need to know.” I said smiling.
“Fuck Yeah! You bet! Замечательное! Ihmeellisiä! Maravilhoso! Geweldig!”
Good to know we’re all on the same page. Geologists. You can always count on them…
“Mr. Myung-dae Soo? Front and center. Time to go and become ‘Hero of Best Korea’.” I smiled.
He was absolutely terrified.
“Doctor…I …don't…wait…no…” he stammered.
Cliff, Dax, Ivan, and I trotted him out to confront the shiny suit squad.
“Don’t worry, Myung. We’ve got your back. Trust us.” I said in a low conspiratorial tone.
The shiny suit squad turned as one and gave Mr. Myung the Stink Eye treatment.
“Here you go. The man of the hour. Mr. Myung-Dae Soo, young geologist and up and coming paleontologist.” I say loudly and with the utmost honor.
They look at him and the Korean erupts in rapid-fire staccato bursts.
Cliff just wanders in and interjects, “Yes. Righto. Top form. Found the float. Tracked down that dino like he was on safari. Highest marks. Good man!”
Dax adds more fuel to the fire. “Like he knew where to go, knew where to look. He’s a natural.”
Dr. Academician Ivan blustered forth: “Excellent scholar. Excellent field man. Banner geologist.”
I couldn’t have added more. The shiny suit squad was gobsmacked.
I asked Myung-dae what they were saying.
“They were talking about reprisals. Reporting to authorities. Then, they stopped. You have them completely confounded.” He said.
“How so?” I asked, quietly.
“Between an international incident where we don’t listen to our handlers and this potential important scientific discovery.” Mr. Myung-dae reported, trying hard to parse the evolving situation.
“Yes”, I added to Ivan’s bluster.
To the shiny suits: “I’ve worked as visiting Dinosaurian Vertebrate Paleontology Curator at all the major American museums. This is a find quite unlike anything known. It is a watershed discovery. It will help unravel the evolution and distribution of the clan Dinosauria for the whole Korean Peninsula. Perhaps, even with international impact on the recent finds in China.”
I laid it on with a trowel.
I hit all the buzzwords.
“Yes. Yes, perhaps.”, the head shiny-suiter said. “I will report this bit of very good news to the proper authorities. Myung-dae, with us. We require more information.”
“Ah, we’d prefer him to ride in back with us if you don’t mind. Scientific courtesy, old man. He needs to be classically de-interviewed after such a find.” I insisted, making certain I stand as tall, wide, and menacing as possible while smiling like a damned Cheshire cat, one smoking a very large cigar.
“Very well. We are not far from our evening stop. We can talk later.” He agreed.
We all moseyed, laughing silently, back to the bus; literally supporting our young hero Mr. Myung-dae as he seemed to have gone all wobbly of late.
Myung-dae was ashen-white. He looked like he had just given birth to a basketball. He was visibly shaking.
We get on the bus and I whip up a stout Yorshch for the young hero of the hour.
“Here! This is for you. If you’re going to be a world-class geologist, you’d damn sure better start acting like one.” I smile broadly.
There were hoots, cheers, and cat-calls.
Beers were popped, bottles uncorked; cigars, cigarettes, and pipes lit.
“Damn Skippy!” some anonymous reveler added.
Myung-dae slurped a good half the drink. I offered him a cigar. He stopped shaking enough to accept the novel offer.
Remember “crawlin’ home puker”? He’s taken his first step into a larger world.
OK, just to recap. Here are the dramatis personae left on the bus…
Bus driver (Kim) and his relief (Won).
My team and I. That’s 11 Western geoscientists: Morse, Cliff, Volna, Ack, Viv, Graco, Erlen, Dr. Academician Ivan, Joon, Dax, and myself.
Then there are our guides: Yuk, No, Man, and Kong.
Our stowaway hero geologist-in-training: Myung-dae Soo, aka, “Mung”.
And the four members of the shiny suit clan: Pak, Mak, Tak, and Jak. At least, that’s the names we used when we addressed them.
The bus was rumbling down the deserted highway. We were headed more or less due east, passing the occasional Potemkin Village. They knew we cracked their code long ago, so they didn’t bother with darkening the windows any longer.
We are passing a series of highway road cut outcrops. We’re only going approximately 35 or 40 miles per hour. Suddenly, Morse jumps out of his seat and runs up to the driver.
“STOP! STOP! Back up! We almost missed it!” he barks in heavily Russian inflected English.
The driver, shaken to the core, just slams on the brakes. The bus grinds to a stop. Good thing there’s no traffic out here.
Or anywhere else, for that matter.
Jak of the suit clan jumps up and asks “What is the problem?”
“How could you miss that?” Morse shouts. “Huge fault. Mineralization. I saw that from a glimpse. We must return to investigate.”
“Is not possible. We have appointment at the hotel.” Jak replies.
“Fuck that!”, Morse shouts. I guess he’s just really into faults…
I wander up and try to defuse the situation.
“OK, guys, cool out. Let’s be reasonable. Do it our way. Go back to that road cut. We spend a half-hour there then we go on to the hotel. The hotel will still be there when we arrive, won’t it? Even if we’re a bit late?” I ask.
Jak looks to Pak, who converses with Mak and Tak. They know they’re outgunned.
The driver shifts the bus into reverse and we back down the luckily deserted highway over a mile to the outcrop in question.
We had to admit, it was a mother beautiful normal fault. In perfect, textbook cross-section.
Morse and Joon were on it like white on rice; given the mineralization along the fault plane. All sorts of implications for the thermal and geological history of the area. But with just one exposure like this, more or less just a real interesting geo-oddity.
We spent precisely 30 minutes at the exposure, and when our handlers requested we re-board and head to the motel, we complied like nice, normal sort of folks.
I believe the appropriate maxim here is: “Lull them into a false sense of security…”
Once more down the road we travel. Beers popped, bottles uncorked; you know, the usual.
Forty-five minutes later, we pull into, I kid you not, a replica US of A 1950s Motor-Inn.
“Mr. Myung”, I ask, “What the hell is this?”
To be continued…
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Would anyone want to read the rest of this story? Should I turn this in to a book?

How would I expand this? I want to write a book.

Junior year of University, I was approached by M(atty)M(oe) he was goading me to apply to a community service organization, the Bonner program, which rewards students accepted with a $5,000 check. Reluctantly, I applied and shockingly I was accepted into the program, which also included the aforementioned scholarship. Upon receipt of the scholarship check I stood at my mailbox for about 10 minutes $5000 seemed like a small fortune to me, a check of $5000 was almost license to drink myself into oblivion, or throw my fraternity a party completely funded by yours truly.
Nervously, I walked over to the registrars office of Stetson University and said; "Ummm I believe you’ve made a mistake, this check does not belong to me…" They tell me in return, "No that’s your award for being accepted into Bonner."
My head was spinning from the absolute good fortune of doggedly pursuing the philanthropic streak in me, and heeding MMs advice. I was trying to decide what to do with the money; "I could throw my fraternity a party…I could invest it, but any investment right now is suicide…I could buy a motorcycle…" I decided to go with motorcycle, not immediate suicide, I would at least get an dopamine rush on a daily basis. I might even attract a few girls!
Side note: the 'investment option" would have been the best option, I was presenting the equity: SNA, to the board of trustees for purchase into the school endowment portfolio, at time of check receipt, SNA (Snap-On), the equity I was presenting, was trading around $30-35/share (it touched $29/share on the day I made my presentation). At time of writing SNA was trading at $183.59/share. Upon receipt of the scholarship money that was gifted to me, for my good deeds towards humanity, I could have bought 5000/35 = 142 shares of SNA, 142*183=~$30,000. Though no (not) sane 20 year old kid would want to lock their money up for eternity and buy stocks and bonds, that is for old people… like 25 year olds.
I went down to Deland Motorsports with my best friend to browse a few insane 'crotch rockets,' Id learnt that an I-4, or inline 4 cylinder, motorcycle would be vastly overpowered for a 'squid*. Accepting this, I decided on a , very powerful Suzuki SV650s, a sane choice for a "noob."
*squirrely kid
With the final signature of some loan document (stupidly I wasnt not paying very close attention to the verbiage, or amounts - pretty incredible for a finance major) a sudden Dopamine wave went through my body. Holy shit, I thought, do I own another motor vehicle? Im going to get so many girls(!) but I am dating JL… Perhaps her friends will badger her incessantly, and she'll cave and bring another girl into the mix.
None of that happened. Though I did hook up with one if the 'hottest' girls at Stetson, MC, and she specifically said: "you look so 'hawt' riding your motorcycle back from intramural Soccer games, shirtless." Which I interpreted as a flirtatious vote lauding the purchase of that death machine, exactly the type of thing I had in mind when making the purchase. Then there was CZ, Im fairly certain she didn’t have a sexual motivation activated by the motorcycle, this was just a girl who was 'thirsty.' The summer between Junior and Senior year I was selected (incredibly) for an internship with Morgan Stanley, I remember getting the call, in April 2007:
"Hello, could we speak with Nicolas Uppal?"
ohhhh shit what did I do now? "Speaking" I said
"Congratulations Nicolas! You’ve been selected to be a Junior Financial analyst with the GWMG group at Morgan Stanley! You have two options: Beverly Hills or Downtown LA"
All my friends and family can tell you how I was constantly professing to 'adore city life,' and how 'I felt empty if I did not see anything in the sky.' However, the option laid out in front of me required some deliberation, time I did not have. "Uh uh uh Beverly Hills" I blurted out.
"Excellent choice we will send you a confirmation email with the next steps included. Welcome aboard."
Holy sh!t, I thought, im a rising Senior and I already have employment plans.
I immediately called my mother, and let her know the great news.
"I hope you & BPJ approve of this." Quickly explain the Morgan Stanley tale.
"Bien sur que il va etre excite, et mois aussi!"
"Awesome, I have class, talk to you soon, love you."
And with that I thought my future was coming together. I putted around campus for the remainder of my Junior and Senior years, occasionally riding out to Daytona beach, thinking: "this is so cool thank god for this helmet though, I didn’t have the cash to buy one there! Im glad the dealer included one with the sale." That call came at the perfect time to fully let loose over spring break.
For Spring Break; I went to Key West with GA, EM, CF, and DS - we had a blast. I don’t think there was a 5-minute space when all 5 of us were not drunk or high. Then, GA and I had the brilliant idea of renting 49cc scooters and terrorizing Duvall St. We were wrong, Duvall St. terrorized us, EM got into a fight with a bouncer at some popular bar on the strip on Duvall St. EM destroyed him, he just sat on the entrance steps as all 5 of us stumbled in, then 10 minutes and 5 drinks later, we stumbled out, mounted our scooters and safely made it back to our motel, this episode only reinforced my feeling of being invincible.
The next day GA and I were racing on the mopeds around Key West, seeing some traffic up ahead I decided to ramp on to the sidewalk and ride on the sidewalk and 'bunnyhop' down off the sidewalk, thus ensuring my victory. GA pulled up next to me laughing his ass off, from that point forward it didn’t matter if we were drunk, high, or both - we were jumping off sidewalks. Amazingly, none of us went down, except for CF who gave the scooter too much throttle on the sand, lost the rear end and the scooter fishtailed out from underneath him in some sand. Schadenfreude, I thought. Good thing im (slightly) more skilled at riding scooters.
We then had our final night out, just got really drunk didn’t do anything to prepare for the ride back up to Dea(d)land, and await the final 2 months of school.
In the final 2 months of Senior year I attended Ultra Music Festival, I was so in to progressive house and was known around campus for my love affair with House music. In fact DS and I hosted a radio show called "Techno story time," where we would 'drop' the sickest track we had heard during the previous week, and between tracks I would tell an 'R'/'X' rated story of the debauchery. Looking back on this, I must've seemed like such a douchebag, literally kissing and telling whoever had the misfortune of tuning in. Ultra (UMF) was in Miami a 7 hour drive, too pusillanimous to take 'Brutus,' (I wanted to keep him in excellent condition, keep the mileage low) I decided to take the motorcycle.
I recall that going to Miami on a motorcycle was so draining, but as always I was able to overcome that challenge and arrive in Miami with time to spare. I crashed on JLs brothers couch at UM, what an awesome guy for putting up with a smelly, dirty guy who was banging his sister. Damn, in retrospect, I cant really forgive myself for breaking up with JL a year later
At Ultra Music Fest had an awesome time, I didn’t do any drugs, get drunk, or makeout/flirt/hookup with anyone else or smoke Cannabis (although you could smell the cannabis smoke 2-3 miles away). On the drive back, I decided to go as fast as I could (actually I just really really missed JL and wanted to get to Stetson sooner) I remember having the bike at 135 MPH (engine speed limit, were it not for that or I wouldve gone much faster - so that speed limiter was a good thing) for ~30 minutes on the long and boring interior highway FL91. 91 to I-4 to US 17 to JLs arms!
The final 2 months until graduation were essentially a self-imposed retirement; I had no projects due, no finals and before leaving to Ultra Fest '09 I had just given my bond presentation. I was a free man - with no employment lined up. The drawbacks of going to a small, unknown and not-well-connected-outside-of-Florida school were beginning to become apparent
During graduation, I don’t know why I was so somber, I stuck around after graduating for a few nights to party with the boys and be with JL before I departed towards the unknown of adulthood. Upon returning to Atlanta I just assumed that I would be able to 'crash' in my old room, without having a job. Luckily, about 4 months in to my joblessness my great friend from school KD was able to hook up an interview for me with his company, AT&T. I interviewed well, but I really think KD had it already arranged to have me hired, they just wanted to vet me. I interviewed and was subsequently hired to do some business analytics/data cleaning. While working at AT&T I did great work making fun of my superior AM, however, I was not entirely clear on my task. I know I was supposed to measure the times from product purchase to online implementation. Beyond that, However the work was a sinecure until I was hired by MS. We moved buildings, 1 block to a massive, wide open cubicle farm, there may have been ~1000 cubicles in that room - and my cubicle was positioned so that the screen of my computer was visible to everyone who walked in.
Despite being assigned to a less than desirable spot. I worked, not hard but I made sure I completed all my tasks. About 2 months into my 'shafting' I decided to fly to FLL, Ft. Lauderdale, to visit JL, I missed her so badly. I didn’t just miss the sex, I missed the affection, I missed the unconditional love. I had no idea what it was that drew me so close to JL, but I kept going to her. While I was visiting JL she suggested that we go to a dog racing track, having only been to one before, I went to a dog racing track in Daytona Beach with AGs dad and my BFF NB, I agreed the event was not too memorable. However, on the drive back from the track I received a call from the connection I made during my internship with MS, the Managing Director of HR, CNG.
CNG informed me of a position in Coral Gables, Miami FL working with one of her friends JFG. Since I was already in Naples, 90 miles from Miami, I replied with: "I can be there to interview in two days…" With that I experienced another endorphin rush, I ffelt like my future was being laid out in front of me, I just had to secure this job, work my ass off, endure a few years of menial pay until I am promoted to 'Associate' and pay for JL to move in with me. This was especially alluring to me because it seemed like my best friends were getting amazing jobs; RL (my best friend) was working at a PE shop in ATL, and my good friend MS was consulting with McKinsey in Dubai, then again they went to awesome schools Emory and Wharton, respectively.
After my interview with JFG I drove back to Naples for a night before flying back to Atlanta,. It finally felt like I was entering adulthood. I got the position in Miami, I then attempted to put in my two weeks at AT&T when I tried to put in my two weeks my supervisor, AM, said: "No need, you don’t need to come back tomorrow." So with that I was a free man for 2 months, it felt eerily similar to finishing Stetson. I set about organising my departure and move to Miami.
I quickly realised that I was too poor to remotely make a down payment on a condo sight-unseen, so I meekly implored JL to ask her brother, RL, to allow me to crash on his couch for '1 week at most.' I felt like such a bum, living in the UM dorms, working for MS but not having a place to call my own. I had to make a change, so I went around my office asking if anyone needed or knew of anyone who needed a roommate. Luckily, a friend of my then boss, JFG, also had an analyst on his team, RM. We met and quickly agreed to cohabitate an apartment.
Living with RM was fairly easy, he was a very agreeable roommate, I think I pulled the best hand out of the deal,I made sure I got the master suite of the apartment while paying 10% less than RM, I feel like an asshole thinking back on it - but capitalism makes you do things against your human nature. We got into an ok apartment if it were not for the recession of 08-09 we would have never been able to afford it.
About 2 months after I finalized living with RM, Ultra '11 was gearing up, knowing that I was not earning enough to afford a $230 ticket, I begged JL to buy the ticket for our 2 year anniversary. She did! I thought; oh man I love this girl so much, I cant wait to spend the rest o my life with her. My friends GA and DS also were at UMF '11, we had a blast. None of us got too high, drunk or messed up, and strangely I never got GA or EM back to my apartment even though it was 2 blocks from Bayfront park.
I recouped for 12 hours, slept off the alcohol and cannabis, and showed up for work that Monday, probably looking like shit. A few months later, I decided to look up my Boss during my internship, GD. When we connected he was so glad to hear from me, he was unsure if I had been hired. Two calls later he gave me two things: a task to test a Mercedes E55 AMG(we were both gearheads), a job offer in Beverly Hills. Having just the task to test drive the car wouldve been enough, but a job offer in LA? My mind began racing, I had a flexible start date so I was able to gradually close things out and speak with my portfolio manager. Although a favor was called in to get me hired, JFG had no qualms about letting me go.
A month later I went out for my birthday with KG, we werent dating but she had an enormous crush on me, infact she came to Stetson to visut me, much to the chagrin of Jenny. We went to a few small bars, and ended up at club LIV, it was there I met the most beautiful girl I ever laid eyes on, Viviane G. from Rio, much to my amazement she was in to me as well (probably because at the time I had a head of black hair, this made me look like a Brazilian model). Vivi (as I called her) and I hit it off we spent the rest of my time in Miami together, we never kissed, this is why I felt ok staying with Jenny.
Then, a car and yacht show, 1 block from my apartment spurred the motivation to call and break up with Jenny, strangely. I thought Vivi was the woman of my dreams, I didn’t take in to consideration everything Jenny, and her family, had done for me
I took 2 months to finish up in Miami, going out every night to get the last feel of Miami nightlife before I ventured out to the great unknown west. Once again, like in Miami, I arrived in LA and had to 'crash' on my moms good friend LDs guest bedroom, until I got my situation squared away. I was able to quickly secure an apartment 2 blocks from Hollywood Ave., with a view of the Hollywood sign. "Oh man," I thought "I must be the flossiest Stetson graduate right now." I soon came to learn that DS was in LA too, we linked up and I found my smoking/drinking partner while I was in LA.
Work in the Beverly Hills branch of Morgan Stanley was not overly intense, I was just working with a few extra figures. This increase in amount magnified any mistake I made, and I made quite a few mistakes, luckily these were only mistakes on internal reporting documents my managers (one in Beverly Hills and the other in Boston) were pretty cool with it, but still pointed these mistakes out. I remember the team assistant, AT, being so gorgeous, she was taken, or I wouldve been all over that, I wanted to marry her. There were three women that I wanted to marry: 1 - Vivi, 2 - Jenny, 3 - AT
About 2 months in to living in Los Angeles AT, told me about the website Thrillist. I thought "wow Thrillist is so cool, all these awesome events…wait whats thus 'Rental Car Rally?'" The more I read about it, the more I became supremely interested and thought, oh man my friend GA would be PERFECT as my co pilot. I kept thinking about all the hijinks we would get in to, and the speeding, and the (name your debaucherous activity here). GA flew out to LA, we secured a rental Camaro SS coupe and headed for the rally.
We get to the staging area and we see a flood of other cars, buses, and people dressed in ridiculous outfits "this is going to be too much fun!" we said to each other. As the staging process moves on we see some incredible car decorations, and at the end of the pre-rally warm up we are given the option to race on a circle track, being the speed demons that GA & I were, we A B S O L U T E L Y took full advantage of that option. There was no passing allowed, and a quarter track length between each racer. We stage in line - our turn comes up and I bury the throttle, the rear tires barely having grip as we rocket onto the track, I didn’t dare to go above 125 MPH sine I was unsure about the condition of the tires. As we finished what was essentially a penis-size competition, I decided to do an enormous burnout in the middle of the track. After that burnout we were off to the races.
The rally was set up as a series of checkpoints, you have to take a photo at each checkpoint for proof you were there. First checkpoint: LA Zoo. Going to a zoo during the day is interesting, and smelly. At night however, its frightening different sounds and screams from other ralliers in the distance, we took a photo and drove, withi the speed limits, o course, to the next check point. This checkpoint was an abandoned ski lodge, perfect for messing around on abandoned ski lifts. After the ski lodge, we vebtured out into the desert, we only had 1 checkpoint between the LA Zoo and Vegas, and that checkpoint was on the very western edge of Nevada, a brothel - GA said he had no interest in buyin their "product," I remarked to GA how sad I as that I didnt "dip my pen in Dutch ink" while I was in Amsterdam with KD, yet I too was leery of getting some western Nevada 'strange.' We terorized a few trailer parks, doing insane burnouts and leaving the trailer parkhood in dust.
GA and I get to the strip, our rental Camaro SS was filthy, but we gave no fuc*s. We pull up the crappy little off-strip motel, a motel that was likely used by the hookers around Las Vegas, toss our bags on the floor and crashed for about 4 hours. Our room was right be the Lima Bean shaped pool so we could hear the fellow ralliers horsing around by the pool. Greg gets up, looks out the window, tosses me a Natural Light and says; "the only way to detox is to retox muthaf*****!"
To which I replied :"that’s excellent, but first pack a bowl beforeI shower to get this wester Nevada hooker scent off me…"
We both get out to the pool and EVERYONE rom the starting line is there, they were all really really drunk. Since I was a little tired, and wanted to be on my game for gambling that night, I didn’t drink or smoke. The night rolled around and we rustled up some grub on the strip, then we went to MGM to gamble: "Im not putting more than $50 down for chips…"
"Cool, imma do $100, you broke bitch" GA said.
We decide to play some slots (yawn), some Roulette (yawn), then I said I wanted to play some BlackJack. We walked up to the black jack table, waited for the dealer to reshuffle, and jumped in. I felt really smart so I thought I could count cards, after a few hands I started to turn a $5 to $10 to $20 profit, leaving me with $50, the exact same as I started with I thought: "ok, I can quit now, or go for glory, and put 80% down…" Me being the dumb kid I was, I decided to put $40 down and risk it all.
"ohhhh the little piker thinks hes got game!?" The dealer said
"Ehhhh" I replied
The cards come out and I get a 9 and a King.
"I bet you want a hit…"
"Nah, the only hit im taking will be the hit of Cannabis I take after I win this hand"
"Ok kid"
The dealer got a 5, Queen. "I bet you want a hit…" I said in a snarky tone
He took a card, a 7.
I said: "Id like to close out, please"
"Awwww poor kid cant play!?"
"Id like to close out, please"
"Ok tough guy"
I take my chips, get them cashed, and wound up with $95. I turned to GA: "I see how this can get addictive, I turned a 90% ROI!"
"We both laughed, piled into the Camaro, and GA drove us back to LA. GA hung out with DS for an extra day in LA while I was at work - about a month went by before my portfolio manager GD told me I needed to get to Boston to meet the other half of the team, I had only spoken to AS & SG on the phone, trying to explain how to use my messed up spreadsheets. Upon the meeting I figured: "Im already in the North East, I will swing down to NYC to visit RL, RN & MS.
The first night we were itogether, we just went out, got drunk, went to MS' friends apartment, but she wasn’t home yet. So MS and I decided to sleep, on the loor, in front of her door in a fairly swanky Upper East Side apartment. Early that morning MS and I were both awoken by a securoty guard kicking our feet: "uhhhh whats goin on here?"
"oh, sorry we got locked out by our friend she didn’t come home last night, do you all have a lounge?"
"yep, to the right of the front desk"
"Awesome, thank you"
MS and I slept on couches (what a luxury until JP came home. We got cleaned up and I grabbed my bag and went to MS, RN, and RLs apartment. Except it was a 2-bedroom. RL has converted a narrow, but very tall closet into a bedroom/loft. RL and I had been friends since high school, so I felt ok asking him if I could toss my stuff in his room. It was Saturday night, so we all got cleaned up, grabbed a pizza ate in, and got hyped for Saturday night.
"Where should we go?" asked RN.
Me:"I really wanna go to Pacha near westside highway! I get a podcast every week by them, and they have awesome music!"
RN asks:"Ok, everybody cool with Pacha?"
MS:"I wanna hit a college bar, maybe we go there to pregame, then Pacha?"
Me: "yeah that sounds splendifferous"
We set out, at the college bar, I ended up taking 3 shots and I was done for, I cant remember a thing. I stumble up to the bar and ask or a Heineken. "Ohhh is that for me?" An unseen girl asked
"Sure, if we go home tonight."
Not being able to believe my ears, I turned around and I see this really cuteAsian girl with her hand out.
"hmm youre pretty thirsty huh?"
"Like you wouldn’t believe" as she snatched the beer out of my hand
"Well maybe you can give me some private tutoring, so I do believe."
"Im a great teacher"
"Well, I kinda suck at school, anything you can do?"
"Well as far as sucking, I think we can work something out"
"well, Ill be sure to get you an extra juicy Apple"
"Sounds delicious"
We danced, occasionally kissing, and made our way back to RL, RN & MS' apartment. When we got there I realized I had no bed to sleep on, only a couch, but RL being the good friend he is said: "Y'all can sleep (wink) in my bed."
"The dungeon!? Yesssss. Thanks man."
So, this girl (didn’t and still don’t know her name) amble up the ladder, she was wearing a skirt and wanted to go first. "Ok I know where this is going…to the bed!"
"Aww cant we play teachestudent first?"
"Only if I get a taste of that Apple I brought you..."
The next morning was my flight out to LA at 4:56 PM, so I had time to grab brunch with the guys before I left. We ate on Chelsea Pier, I felt obliged to 'kiss and tell,' and extol them with my heroics. In retrospect, they probably didn’t want to hear it, I banged some random, probabky nasty girl on RLs bed. We finished lunch had some fun on Chelsea pier, and I flew back to LA. While back in Beverly Hills I was incredibly tire, but I took pride in recounting every detail to DV, knowing AT could hear. I stupidly thought: "if she hears how much fun im having, she might get jealous and want to hangout with me." I was such a devious little shit.
I finish telling DV just as GD walks in to hear the punchline; "…so I brought her back and got her on my friends bed!" GD walks to his station, with four screens (I used to think the ore screens you have the more of a boss you are, now I think the less you have to involve yourself with day-to-day, and intraday moves the more of a 'boss' you are) I can feel him staring at me smiling my ass of, he says "I WANT TO FU*KING HEAR!" So I launch into my tale (or should I say tail).
Later that week I called my father while biking to the gym. I called him because I made an error In the execution of a large fixed income trade, the price of the underlying security moved away from the price quoted, normally this would not matter since we had discretion over trading - meaning we would not need client approval. However, this was a trade for our largest client making a large fixed income purchase, so $.01 makes a big difference when the quantity purchased is in the millions. My father recounts this story to me as an almost emblematic admission of previous of apprehension towards him, and my subsequent of rectification.
As theNYC buzz began to wear off, I started going to bars around LA; SkyBar, and Viper Room one night my two buddies DS & DS, and I all agreed that we should go to Club Avalon, I was a huge electronic progressive house music aficionado so going to world famous club Avalon was *almost* as sweet as NYC with my bros. DS and I cohosted 'Techno Storytime' on the school radio, so we were super pumped to hear some much in the 110 - 130 BPM range.
Still feeling the nightlife buzz from NYC, I found myself able to easily to talk to girls. Doug and I were kinda wall flowers/club explorers, neither one of us has been to Avalon, but upon exploring it we both agreed, DS would love it too, we should start meeting there monthly. The night wore on, I found myself uninterested in paying $12.00 for a bottle if Heineken, so I started to hit on some women, DS and I had explored too much and I only had 30 minutes to seal the deal. So I got to work, quickly scored the number, but we got sidetracked talking about a subject I really, really enjoy; political analysis.
We talked political analysis I wish I could remember what she was saying, she was so on the ball, that awareness only increased my attraction to her. We talked for a bit, we went to the outside portion of the club, seeing her in the moonlight I thought; "shit, she is magnificent, screw AT if I land her. Her looks combined with her intellect make her a superwoman, exactly the type of woman I want carrying my seed. By this point 20 minutes had elapsed, and the club began emptying, "oh shit better seal th-"
"It was amazing talking to you, but I have to find my friends."
"Wait, maybe we…"
She was gone from my life, at least I had her number…
I moped back to DS, he asked me: "Howd it go man!?"
I started yelling that 'I couldn’t seal the f$%^ing deal!"
"Its cool man, this is a big city, im sure youll have other shots, lets catch a cab back to my crib, smoke a bowl watch a movie and forget about all this."
"Aight dude that sounds awesome."
So, we go out to the taxi area, DS and I just bullshitting, and he stop talking: "…so DS has this sick fader on his turn tab…. Wait, what was the name of the girl you were talking to?"
"Why? K(atie)A(ltman…)
"D what the…."
"Oh Shit that’s Katie!"
He yells -"KATIE!!!!!!"
She turns around as she is getting in to her cab, with her buddies. I sprint over to her cab wrench the cab door open, and ride with the back to their apartment in Laurel Canyon. From here, I don’t have a clear memory of what happened but I woke up in my bed the next morning. "Shit" I thought, did I walk back to Franklin from Laurel Canyon? Guess I don’t need to work out today! So I rolled back over and dozed for another 45minutes until I get a text from the girl who was sweating me at the gym, CS.
A little back story on CR; I was always checking her out, so was always pushing her massive chest out when I would walk by and she was on a machine. Then one day she walked up behind me while I was doing pushups, waited for me to finish me set… "ninety eight…ninety nine…one hundered, I don’t know I you were listening there I did 100 pushups, ha ha ha
"Is that rom a movie???"
"Ohhhh, well lets see how you do with me riding yourback!"
"Wait what?"
CR straddled my back and plopped down. I pretended to not be able do any with her on my back. "Come on muscle man, make me ride you!"
"Um, im not sure I feel comfortable announcing to the gym that you want to fuck me"
"Who said that, that wishful thinking man…"
"How about we compare our wishes, what is a good night next week to take you to dinner?"
"Sunday night"
"I am a nurse so I work weird hours, but next Sunday night, lets get take out, a bottle of wine and some…youre from India right?"
"Ok, some Hindu Kush, sit on the beach in Santa Monica and share dinner."
"Whoa, yes ma'am!"
"Southern thing, I tell you about on Sunday night."
"Can't wait" She said with a smile
I left the LA Fitness on Hollywood BLVD. next to the Chinese Theater in a dream state. Then I realized that Sunday night was 2 nights away! Shit I need to get wine and a ton of Hindu Kush! I secured the Hindu Kush (too much), but not the wine, I wanted to get Red, and White to give her the option. Since I has just moved into my new apartment, I didn’t have time to set everything up, so I didn’t have time to buy a cooler to chill the white wine; "I will have to buy it the night of."
I searched my room and couldn’t find any more bud, so I decided to Meet DS and DS for dinner, we wound up going to a bar too - oops! Needless to say I didn’t get to pick up the wine, or the Kush, id have to pick it up before the date, tomorrow. "Hey do you guys know I any dispensaries are open on Sunday??
"They arent, but our friend owns one, he'll sell to you."
So, I contact DS and DS' buddy; I meet him and buy absolutely too much bud, and buy some gummies too, I swing back by my apartment on Franklin, drop off the dry bud" CR and I wont need that much, and get a call from DS, Ds and crew: "Yooo nuppal, were gonna go catch a movie, you down?"
"Yeah man lets do it!"
I quickly grab my backpack, remembering that I needed to pick up the wine, and knowing I needed to bring some bud. I hopped on my bike and roade over to East Hollywood to catch a flick with them. I pull up, get off the bike as theyre rolling up, I swing my backpack across, thinking im going to light up. I open the back pack… "Hey guys lets do this before…" Open the back pack a but more and reach in feeling for my bowl and the tupperware with the dry kush, and realizing that I hadnt unpacked the edibles that id bought. So, I skipped the dry bud and said: "hey guys I just bought these edibles, lets each grab some gummies and watch the movie…"
"Alright dude, but Edibles will hit when the movie is ending, but yeah man!"
So we take some gummies, and watch the movie. DS was right, the gummies did begin to take effect as the movie ended: "shit" I thought "Im gonna have to ride to Santa Monica while pretty high…no big deal, I hate riding high though." As Im riding down Sunset BLVD, heading west towards Santa Monica I happen to look up at the sky during a red light. The magnificence of a South-Western Southern California sunset is something everyone must enjoy, similar to the colors a Monet painting. I stared up at the sky for longer than the light was red, so people behind me became agitated. I quickly moved down Sunset blvd. at the famous (or infamous) intersection of Sunset Blvd. & Larrabee St. in West Hollywood.
Still mesmerized by the sunset, yet trying to focus, I see a clapped out For Expedition come from Larrabee, turning left onto Sunset the intended turn was in my path. I took a second to process "this is my path what the fuohhhh," going from euphoric joy to life saving maneuvers is not something they teach in MSF school, good thing I never went. After processing his intended trajectory I slammed on the brakes,
A part-time bartender at the Viper Room "didn’t see his red light due to sun" and was under assume every light is 'Green' for him. So he decided that even though there is traffic on Sunset, he would rather turn o make sure there was no traffic going in his intended direction on Sunset. I knew that grabbing too much front brake would send me headfirst into the pavement and his car, and into my coffin. So, I decided to overapply the rear brake, lay the bike down and hope for the best, I guess 'the best' of an inherently shitty situation did occur, I lived! However, while sliding through the Sunset & Larrabee intersection my back connected with the end of his passenger-side running board, my brand new Scorpion Exo-1000 hit the running board as well. Instantly knocked out. According to the report filed by the ambulance driver I was 'unresponsive' at the scene, but no external blood, save a bit of road rash were my jacket bunched up underneath my left arm, I suffered a 'severe' DAI brain injury (Diffuse Axonal Injury) and 26 brain bleeds.
Luckily, the ambulance ride was at most 8 minutes to Cedars-Siani Beverly Hills, this hospital was on my commute path to and from work, on Maple Dr. I always wondered what the building was, so much property in the heart of Beverly Hills however, this was NOT the method I intended to find out about this building. Must have been a funny scene in the office the next Monday. "Looks like Nick is late again" said AT
My dad gave me my first laugh post injury, we agree that laughter is the vanguard of healing mental and physical ailments.
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John Mayer: Connector of Worlds

Several weeks ago I read a piece from Packy McCormick’s great newsletter, Not Boring, in which he wrote, “There are two ways to predict the future: you can call it or you can build it.” He smartly outlined two archetypes of leadership and entrepreneurship: Shotcallers versus Worldbuilders.
To paraphrase Packy:
Muhammad Ali was a Shotcaller; he announced he would knock you out, and then he did. Jeff Bezos is a Worldbuilder; he recognized the massive opportunity in eCommerce, started with books as the “first best product” to sell online, and then ruthlessly executed on his vision until he parlayed a bookstore into an empire of video streaming, grocery stores, cloud computing, and more.
In his essay, Packy crowns the Worldbuilder as the better archetype, particularly in the context of consumer tech. I loved the framework and it got me thinking: who would be on my Worldbuilder list? I started to jot down some names and added examples throughout the week as they popped in my head. When I scanned my list a couple of days later, though, I realized most of them didn’t really fit the Worldbuilder profile, but represented some other persona. I DM’d Packy.
“What do you think about the idea of Worldconnectors?”
“Write it,” he said. Here we are.
I’m introducing Worldconnectors not in opposition to Shotcallers or Worldbuilders, but as another archetype for consideration.
Why should we care? Where the Worldbuilder accomplishes feats of ambition and engineering, the Worldconnector is a master of authenticity and connection. They find a way to say and create what they want, preserve their independence while doing it, and prosper along the way. I believe that’s important for the culture and society, important for business, important for our wellbeing. And it’s important we see how all of those things are connected too.
Ok, let’s introduce a Worldconnector. Our first example is...John Mayer.
Let me explain. Maybe you love his music, maybe you loathe it. Maybe he frustrates you because he’s a guitar virtuoso who makes straightforward pop tunes. I know people with very strong Mayer emotions. The dude can be polarizing. But it’s undeniable that he possesses a type of genius.
Let’s break it down:
Mayer has Millennial fans who grew up with him, he has Gen Z fans who love his music and his collaborations with emerging pop artists, and he’s got their parents, late Gen X Dead Heads who’ve totally embraced his unlikely role in Dead & Company. The guy who wrote “Your Body is a Wonderland” is now welcomed by the jam band faithful as Jerry Garcia’s successor. That, my friends, is reaching across the aisle.
He collects vintage timepieces and is an authority among the watch-obsessed community. He’s a stealth fashion influencer, suffusing personal style through all of his projects and appearances. He is both a connoisseur of classics and a notorious hypebeast. As my friend @euko noted, the web gets more interesting the further you follow each thread: “Even his fashion interest alone connects him to everything from japanese forms to blockbuster movies. Mayer loves Acronym, a technical apparel brand inspired by functionality and martial arts, whose founder designs pieces for the Fast and the Furious franchise as well as Death Stranding, one of the biggest video games of the last year.”
Mayer is bros with Dave Chapelle and tours with him, performing hybrid concerts and comedy shows. And one of his best friends is Andy Cohen, the maestro of Bravo, which is extremely on-brand as far as friendships go, given Mayer’s lengthy history of tabloid exploits and celebrity drama.
As he settles into his own brand of maturity, Mayer’s most intriguing quality is ambiguity. He has one foot cemented in gossipy, plasticized mainstream culture, while another dances in and out of various niches, most notably the cult of “The Dead,” whose dancing bears and stealie skull are some of the strongest symbols of counterculture in American history. There are four generational cohorts who care about John Mayer. He’s a kind of portal from Gen Z back to the ‘60s, a link from the acid tests to Insta stories.
All of this coalesces in his homespun variety show on Instagram, “Current Mood.” I think it’s one of the most interesting new media projects of the last couple years.
There are a lot of Mayer data points here. Let’s visualize it:

John Mayer

Wolrdconnector nickname: “The Celeb Everyman”
Network type: Sparse Clustering
Platform of choice: Instagram

What makes a Worldconnector?

Now, let’s look at some other examples.

Sam Harris

Worldconnector nickname: “The mind guide”
Network type: Vertical Integration
Platform of choice: Podcasting
Working from a background in neuroscience, Harris branches into various intellectual pursuits and commercial projects that all tie back to theory of mind. He publishes books, talks at events, hosts a podcast, and created the Waking Up App. He’s a member of the “Intellectual Dark Web” but speaks to a growing audience of 1.3M Twitter followers right out in the open. In any venue, he can go into politics or spirituality or tech, and it all feels integrated and authentic. For a guy that seems to be in many places all at once, he’s a master of non-duality (must be all the meditation).

Megan Rapinoe

Wolrdconnector nickname: “The Most Vocal & Valuable Player”
Network type: Gradual Grower
Platform of choice: Instagram
Rewind a few years. When you thought of women’s soccer, you probably didn’t think of politics. When you thought of the LGBTQ community, you probably didn’t think sports. And when you thought of the women’s national soccer team, you probably didn’t think about the next generation of boys idolizing them.
Megan Rapinoe makes you think again.
With her amazing performances on the big stage, her primetime personality, and her activism and irreverence off the field, she’s connected fans across genders and interest profiles. And her ambition and crossover of worlds now leads her into entrepreneurship - she is cofounder of re-inc., a gender-neutral lifestyle brand.

Action Bronson

Worldconnector nickname: “The Cultural Savant”
Network type: Fractal Flywheel
Platform of choice: SVOD
This guy manages to be all over the map but makes perfect sense while doing it. When you zoom out, his profile seems a bit scattered, but zoom in and you’ll find the connections are pretty tight. You could spend a day with him (IRL or watching Viceland or on Instagram) flicking through vintage records, watching 1980’s action flicks, talking early aughts Yankees, or debating the nuances of truffle species and natural wines. Each one of his interests feeds the next and his audience flywheel picks up speed accordingly.

Worldconnectors are entrepreneurs of the intersection, and intersections are the new mainstream

Whereas Worldbuilders bend the world toward their vision through impeccable planning and execution, Worldconnectors deftly navigate opportunities with a sort of finely tuned echolocation. They send out signals, detect where there’s most resonance, and apply their most compatible talent or knowledge to thrive in those spaces, at least for a while.
Those spaces tend to be cultural intersections: where hippie meets hypebeast, where Michelin stars meet psychoactive plants, where mindfulness meets tech. Conscious or not, the Worldconnector approach is basically a whitespace strategy:
The mainstream, as we knew it, is gone. That old mainstream, reliant on the mass media model, was killed by the internet. In the new mainstream, we invest much of our attention along the long tail and check back in with the masses when something compelling enough forms a new homepage for the culture. It’s a combinatorial mainstream now, and it seems to shatter almost weekly, then reform with a new mix of components. Algorithms surface deep cuts or pop-adjacent stuff that feels made just for us, and only steer us back toward the Consensus Content™ when there are enough signals that a thing is reaching a critical mass of interest.
A version of the new mainstream might look something like this:
Or it might feel like this:
In this mainstream, we enjoy more freedom and fluidity in our consumption identities. Demographics don’t dictate behaviors and tastes anywhere near as much as they used to.
In the old model, saturation was achievable. With the right exposure and enough media spend, one could penetrate a very high percentage of the mainstream. Set a crude plan to reach American women 25-44 and, voila, you’d probably get your money’s worth. But the center could not hold. Now, any given piece of content, cultural event, or celebrity might register with multiple sub-communities - but it’s highly unlikely to capture a majority of public awareness.
With mass media corroding and audience fragmentation on the rise, the Worldconnector is a force for coherence. They save niche communities from becoming islands and show the rest of us how certain stuff on the fringes is actually hyper-relevant to “the now.” While Worldbuilders and Shotcallers predict the future, Worldconnectors consolidate the present.
How? By reaching people directly and immediately. New media trends make this possible (and scalable).

Worldconnectors force us to rethink influence

Worldconnectors don’t necessarily set out to build. They set out to think, to create art or synthesize information, to infect others with ideas and feelings. They are highly generative and prolific. But their power is not a matter of top-down impact; they don’t make things go viral at will. Worldconnectors are experts at setting the conditions for organic virality.
Studying Worldconnectors can help shake us free from the lazy assumption that follower counts and impressions = influence. We like these metrics because they are a short cut, an abstraction from the living, breathing, sometimes very messy network that underlies any system where people are involved. But - as the Worldconnector shows us - we’re glazing over a lot of sociological and mathematical meaning by being so obsessed with pure reach.
A quick look at social network analysis and graph theory. Here, Worldconnectors are unique, highly valuable nodes in a network.
Earlier, we looked at the qualities that make a Worldconnector. What’s cool is that Worldconnectedness is actually measurable, through quantities like density and centrality:
A Worldconnector is super well-connected
A Worldconnector is highly interactive
Consider high density and centrality combined with unwavering authenticity and advanced zeitgeist synthesis, and you can start to sense how much magnetism and leverage a Worldconnector has.
Literal thinking might lead you to apply Worldconnector concepts to influencer strategy. But I find it more interesting to use Worldconnector thinking as a mental model to help solve problems around growth, scaling, and branding. How could you transpose Worldconnector qualities from a person to the brand you’re building?
When you boil it all down, what are Worldconnectors really good at? Closing the chasm. In the new, combinatorial mainstream, someone’s gotta help us connect the dots, and fast.
Honorable mention. Other potential Worldconnectors who came up while brainstorming (in no particular order). Who would be on your list?
Packy again. Who’d we miss? Throw your Worldconnectors in the comments.
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