Relentless Resourcefulness

On developing High Agency behavior

Hi friends,

Today we’re talking about high agency behavior, what it means and how it can help us during these trying times.

Let’s start with a quick trip to relentless.com, see where it takes you… Jeff Bezos is probably one of the most exemplary exhibitors of “high agency” behavior. Despite being conscious of people like Bezos, Musk and Jobs, it’s easier for me to point towards fiction when describing a characteristic like high-agency since we’re all on equal-footing to know the full story of that character.

That’s why I choose the following three characters as examples of high agency when presenting a keynote on building a personal brand in January:

Fast-forward through what seems like a lifetime of three months, and it’s easier to empathize with these characters now than ever before. Perhaps more reason to look to high agency behavior and try to adopt it into our own lives.


So what is high agency behavior?

George Mack has a great Twitter thread on defining it, but it’s best summarized by Eric R. Weinstein:

"When you’re told that something is impossible, is that the end of the conversation, or does that start a second dialogue in your mind, how to get around whoever it is that’s just told you that you can’t do something?"

Person A is low agency, person B is Tom Hanks in Cast Away:

Even @JeffBezos has a framework for identifying high agency friends/romantic partners. He asks:

"If you were stuck in a third world prison and had to call one person to try to break you out, who would you call?"

That’s likely the person you identify high agency behavior with.


How can this help us?

With the extra time home, the lack of a boss breathing down your neck, and the freedom to stay in bed later than normal it’s easy to start giving up routine and free-fall into a low agency spiral.

Instead, now’s the time to double down on those distant memories of New Years Resolutions or that bucket list of unchecked goals. For most of us knowledge workers, we have more free time than ever before, and less fear of missing out. How will you make use of this gift?

Personally, I’ve been:

  • Renovating | While I cannot control when quartz goes back into production, I have created an alt universe where I use 1 inch plywood + contact paper for temporary countertops.

  • Working Out | No equipment, no problem! While I mostly create my own routines, this 10 minute ab workout from Jake Dupree is one the best I’ve found. He defies conventional workout which aligns to 30/60 sec blocks and that makes the 10 mins fly.

  • Keeping In Touch | Sometimes the best thing we can do is laugh and make other laugh, so it’s been fun to celebrate two birthdays and host multiple dinners & cocktail parties via video conference. While I have my reservations with Zoom given their privacy problems, I’ve found that FaceTime and Google Hangouts with this plugin, make for safer and easier alternatives. Another great find has been this online version of the board game Settlers of Catan.

  • Learning | There’s a backlog of books to read and re-read, but my most recent reading has focused on personal finances. First, understanding new tax law and implications before filing, and would highly recommend this guide from Stessa for any fellow real estate investors. Second, thinking about investment opportunities and while I’m not making any major moves, I have been developing a framework for choosing companies as I look forward. Happy to chat more about that as a one-off, in particular to welcome you to a investors monthly roundtable, be sure to reply if you’re interested in joining!

George Mack summarizes his High Agency thread with three takeaways:

1. Question everything
2. Bend reality
3. Never outsource your decision making

While those err on the extreme, I hope you can takeaway the following:

1. Be openminded to new solutions
2. Seek answers on your own before accepting the most convenient advice
3. Given the increased time at home, now is a great opportunity to experiment with your daily routines

The last thing I want for you or myself is to feel like COVID-19 is preventing us from progressing. There’s plenty of progress to be made from home, and instead it should be seen as an opportunity for that.

Stay safe, wash your hands, and reach out to someone who you haven’t spoke to in a while with your only goal being to share a laugh. We could all use it.

Talk soon,
Armand