William Liao

Taiwanese American, daily blogger of ideas about impactful work in service of others, photographer (ephemera.photography)

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Scripting Magic

The magician Pete McCabe describes scripting magic as the art of ‘deciding how how you’re going to present a trick before you perform it.’.

Scripting exists because there’s an understanding that, on some level, presentation is every bit a part of the work itself. 

Book publishers understand this when they hire designers...
2021-02-25 16:25:48

Queue abandonment

On the eve of a gaming console release or the drop of a new pair of Yeezys, crowds queue on side walks and browsers for the chance to be among the first to snag the goods.

The emergence of a queue indicates an impressive heightened tolerance for friction: enough people are...
2021-02-24 15:36:37

Work worthy of the name

We routinely give our work the name we believe it is worthy of:

NASA’s Perseverance Rover (Curiosity, Opportunity, Spirit and Sojourner before that). 

The Apple Locally Integrated Software Architecture computer, a backronym invented to match the name of Jobs' first child LISA. 

7-Up’s better-than-any-cola-you’ve-ever-had Uncola.

There are two ways to go about naming: 

2021-02-23 16:57:26

Maiden Voyage

The first trip that a brand new ship takes is called the Maiden Voyage.

Voyage because it’s headed somewhere, Maiden because it’s never headed there before. 

The Maiden Voyage represents 100s if not 1000s of hours of effort and care spent putting together a vehicle that might not work but offers the...
2021-02-22 21:39:09


You probably have at least one thing that you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t: starting a project, catching up on a book, following up with a friend, finishing a project. 

Deferral is a sneaky species of inertia because it can string you along in perpetuity with the belief that the...
2021-02-21 00:16:00

How to actually uncover why

The first ‘why’ gets you to the proximate cause: there wasn’t enough time to complete the work.

The second ‘why’ uncovers what led to the proximate cause: Sally was expecting to get John’s portion of the work in 1 week but instead it took 2, which led to delays in her...
2021-02-20 00:36:50

C between B and D

French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre described life as being “C between B and D” — C as in the Choices we make between B-Birth and D-Death. 

“Life is C (choices) between B (birth) and D (death)” — Jean-Paul Sartre

There are several proposed mental models that may help optimize for Choice and by...
2021-02-18 16:11:03

26,718 Days

In 1983, cardiologist Robert Eliot offered some wisdom in a Times cover story: “Rule №1 is, don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule №2 is, it’s all small stuff…”.

The value of giving every day the full force of attention, energy, and grit that you have to offer can be found...
2021-02-17 16:24:41


Mike Massimino had plenty of opportunities to give up on becoming an astronaut: he’s afraid of heights, he was rejected by NASA — not once, not twice, but three times, and he had poor vision that medically disqualified him. 

When asked about how he dealt with rejection while remaining patient and...
2021-02-16 16:46:05