Advice for New Teenagers

Quora is a fantastic website and I highly recommend membership. Imagine Yahoo Answers, plus about 50 IQ points and a coalition of smart kids getting adult advice about the rest of their lives, and you have an intellectual Eden based on life experience and upvotes.

Anyway, this question recently appeared in my stream: “Life Advice: What habits would you tell me (a 13-year-old male) to start building because they proved the most useful to you?” I wound up typing a small essay for the questioner; it is replicated below. (Not that I’m an authority on life, but I try to keep to my own advice, and it has worked out decently so far).

So far, this guidance has a sample size of one; if it works for my 11-year-old brother someday, I will claim a bit more authority. Eli, you’ve been warned.

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The Floodgates Open: Variety Show Edition

Most of the rest of my widely-available online work. Some pieces available only on paper, or whose links have broken, will be published later, in full.

Topics include Michael Grunwald’s The New New Dealmy weightlifting routine, potential trespassing, and how I wound up mentoring a stranger in China.

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The Beginning

2012-02-14 19.02.03

Someone once told me that the best way for college students without appreciable skills to woo employers and attractive strangers was the creation of a special website to display their “interests” and “projects”.

Employers? Attractive strangers? This one’s for you!



Aaron Gertler, age 19, Yale sophomore, Psychology major, journalist, “funny kid” (source: friends, enemies, both of my kindergarten teachers), erstwhile consultant, mentor to the youth.

Also a Renaissance man who doesn’t paint, sculpt or play the lute and who would be a terrible Renaissance man.



Bridgewater? McKinsey? Kiera Knightley? My girlfriend?



Cognitive and behavioral science and how human beings really operate.

History people tend to forget and statistics they tend to ignore.

Metafiction and long-form journalism.

Electronic music of almost any form.

Happiness, with or without dark chocolate but preferably with.

Weightlifting, general fitness, and shoes with toes on them.

Self-improvement, problem-solving, and large-scale optimism.



Journalism, creative nonfiction, creative fiction, and derivative fiction, but not derivative journalism.

Design, coding, research academic and otherwise.

Whatever else keeps me adding notes to my iPhone when I should be sleeping.


Why “Learning All the Things?” (Note: Title later changed to “Alpha Gamma”)

Because what you don’t know can’t hurt you, and I’m a masochist.

Because the first step to wisdom, per Socrates, is knowing that we know nothing, but the second step is doing something about it.

Because I don’t like being tricked by people who know things I don’t, and I’d like to stop those people from tricking others.

Because the world becomes more interesting the more you know about it.

Because learning all the things is impossible and will only lead to more questions besides, and as we’ve already established, I’m a masochist.


Sounds marvelous! How can I contact you about any of the topics above, or anything else that’s been running through my head?

I can be reached via email!

I also have a Twitter!

Or you can post a comment to this very website! I love messages from strangers, especially when they are human beings and/or computers who can pass a Turing Test and are not trying to sell me things.