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Travel Tips, Core Values, & Metagaming

By: Michael Blankenship |

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

– Thomas Edison

Greetings from LA and Oahu!

This week we’re reviewing the core values that got us started here at The Tonic, sharing some travel tips for 2022, and explaining why “metagaming” is almost always a waste of time. 


Our Tribe

With The Tonic being just over one-year old, we thought it’d be appropriate to take a quick look at the values that got us started. 

Our goal was to create a newsletter that would challenge, inspire, and motivate its readers, that would stick to old time-tested truths as well as remain unbiased in the face of life’s great nuances. 

We took a lot of inspiration from stoic philosophy. 

We also took a lot of inspiration from what we thought of as life’s most important values. 

Here’s what we came up with one year ago — these tenets still hit home for us today.  


“In every game there are always two games being played. One is the game itself. The other is the game about the game. This is called the metagame,” Nick Maggiulli explains in an article titled, Why You Should Ignore the Metagame.

Here’s an example of what a metagame is…

My friend Sahil Bloom demonstrated this wonderfully after creating and organizing a collection of informative Twitter threads that amassed him over 400,000 Twitter followers in less than 18 months. The key to his success was recognizing the metagame (i.e. write good Twitter threads) and then taking it to the next level (i.e. organize your threads to keep people engaged longer).

The problem? 

This reveals a harsh truth about the metagame—early players get rewarded, but later players may not. Or as Warren Buffett once said, “What the wise do in the beginning, fools do in the end.”

His argument is that — particularly, as it relates to investing time and money into something — you must either become obsessed with the metagame in order to win… or better yet, forget the metagame altogether. 

If you want to get good at the metagame you will have to work hard and outcompete all of your fellow players. But both of these conditions are undesirable. After all, who wants to work hard playing someone else’s game? And who wants to do it against the best and brightest out there? Not me.

This is why I agree with Peter Thiel’s argument that competition is for losers. Competition faces you off against others in a game where you may not have any particular advantages. Therefore, wouldn’t it be better if you ignored the metagame altogether and built a personal monopoly based on your relative strengths instead? Doesn’t a career (and life) uniquely suited for you sound better than one that others have chosen for you?

Travel Tips

Dream of traveling the world? 

Here’s a list of countries that currently have their borders open to tourists (most of them require proof of vaccine). 

And for those of you with a bit of wanderlust, here are 50 travel tips from 10 years of traveling the world (by Matthew Karsten).

Below are some of our favorite tips…

Patience is important — Patience is my top travel tip. Don’t sweat the stuff you can’t control. Life is much too short to be angry & annoyed all the time while traveling. Did you miss your bus? No worries, there will be another one.

Get Lost On Purpose — If you want to see the parts of town where real people live & work, you need to go visit them. The best way to do this is on foot — without knowing exactly where you’re going. Write down the name of your hotel so you can catch a taxi back if needed, then just pick a direction and start walking.

Don’t worry too much about stumbling into dangerous neighborhoods either, as locals will generally warn you before you get that far. And you never know what amazing things you’ll find around the next bend…

Go On Free Walking Tours — One great money-saving travel tip is to join free city walking tours when you first arrive. These tours allow you to orient yourself in an unfamiliar city, scope out some good photography locations to return to later, learn facts about the city, and maybe make some new friends too.

Just keep in mind that the tours are free because the guide is expecting a tip at the end, so don’t be cheap and make sure to thank them for their time with $5-$10. It’s a wonderful way to save some money while traveling!

Eat Local Food Frequently — Taste a bit of everything when you travel, especially if you don’t know what it is. Ask local people for recommendations. Eat street food from vendors with big lines out front. Eating street food is an awesome way to save money while you travel!

I’ve only been very sick twice in 9 years of constant travel. Don’t be scared of the food. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with popping into McDonald’s if you’re feeling homesick, but why fly across the world to eat the same stuff you can get at home? Live a little!

Don’t Be Afraid Of Other Countries — The corporate news media loves to report on tourists getting killed or kidnapped. Because it’s sensational and gets clicks. However, the world is not nearly as dangerous as the media makes it out to be. Keep an eye out for sketchy situations but don’t let that be the focus of your whole trip.

Use common sense and you’ll be ok. Understand that “if it bleeds, it leads”. Most people in foreign countries are friendly, trustworthy, generous, and willing to help you out. This goes for women too. I realize I’m not a woman, but I’ve met plenty of experienced female travelers who agree.

Extra Stuff

Here is some other random stuff we found interesting this last week!

This Week’s Photo


“Weather Watcher Scotty said the beautiful aurora at Findhorn beach in Moray lasted three hours.” via BBC

This Week’s Riddle

Here’s this week’s riddle — the answer is at the bottom of the email!

Only one color, but not one size,

Stuck at the bottom, yet easily flies.

Present in sun, but not in rain,

Doing no harm, and feeling no pain.

What is it?

This Week’s Question

Answer this question — either privately or by replying to this email. If your answer inspires us, then we’ll ask for permission to include it in a future email!

What core value would YOU add to The Tonic’s core values? See the first section of this email for our core values. 

This Week’s Challenge

We talked about our core values at The Tonic. But what are YOUR core values? Make a list of them this week to see what it is that you really care about in your life.

Until next week, 

Mike & Alec

Riddle Answer: A shadow.

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