Playing Santa isn’t easy. (Credit: GarlandCannon)
I dislike shopping, but I love finding the perfect gift.
Finding that gift, though, gets harder with time. Those damn adults seem to already have everything. That includes me.
More salt and pepper shakers? Nah. Alternate versions of the shirts I got last year? No, thank you. In the eternal quest to eliminate clutter, I now give Santa a not-to-buy list instead of a wish list.
If you’re having trouble thinking up killer (in the good sense) gifts, here are 12 goods that deliver.
All of them have either changed my life or saved my ass…
#1 – Israeli SilentEar Ear Plugs – $17.90 for trial pack
I have tried almost every earplug and noise-canceling gadget on the market, from $1 throw-away pairs to Bose headsets. I wasn’t really satisfied until I ordered these SilentEar plugs, introduced to me by Andrew Rosca when we were traveling in Vietnam. Get the trail pack, which includes multiple sizes. It’s not fun to order the wrong size and have to re-order.
#2 – Zorba the Greek – $10.20
Zorba the Greek is one of the two most impactful books (the other is the short Letters from a Stoic) I’ve read in the last two years. It’s both Epicurean and Stoic philosophies wrapped into a laugh-out-loud story you will never forget.
#3 – Fujitsu ScanSnap S300 Color Mobile Scanner – $242.99
This is the only scanner I have ever liked. Like isn’t strong enough. I love this scanner and have used it to remove at least 90% of the paper from my life. No more binders and folders for records, no more stacks on tables and desks.
I’ve never had a single paper jam, and it’s small enough to throw in a backpack for travel.
#4 – YouBar Customizable Protein Bars – $15+
Forget the maltodextrin-laden candy bars masquerading as meal-replacement bars. Adding protein to a Snickers bar does not make it good for you.
Skip to YouBars and create your own from all-natural ingredients. I suggest about 12 grams of protein per bar for optimal texture. Delicious and unique to you. They will even label the bars with someone else’s name for gifts.
I have collected knives since taking pack trips through the Teton mountain range as a teenager.
This Kershaw knife with “open-assist” (basically a side-opening switchblade) is the most all-around convenient and beautiful knife I currently own. Fixed blade knives are awesome, but the balance and utility of this Kershaw blade is outstanding.
Be sure to get it with the serrated edge.
#6 – The 4-Hour Workweek Organic Yerba Mate Set – All profits go to DonorsChoose.org – $49 (only 250 sets available)
This is an exciting one for me. Samovar Tea and I have partnered to create an Argentine yerba mate set of three mate blends!
Here’s the bonus: All profits will go to DonorsChoose.org to benefit US public school students, and when you buy the set ($49), you get a $50 gift card to DonorsChoose! For obvious reasons, this is limited to 250 sets.
Yerba mate, with it’s unique nutrient and stimulant composition, is my favorite beverage on the planet. 3-4 hours of kick-ass zen productivity with no caffeine crash. Most people have never tried organic mate, and this is your chance.
I bought this Motor Trend device after getting stranded at the airport due to a dead battery. This compact powerhouse has prevented disaster on at least half a dozen occasions. From inflating tires to jumping the car without a second car, this is the Swiss army knife of fixing car trouble. I don’t take any trips without it.
Sidenote: The reason my battery was dead the first time? GPS plugged into the adapter. Even though it was turned off, it was draining the battery while I traveled. Unplug or be prepared.
#8 – Logitech Squeezebox Boom – $275.37
The Logitech Squeezebox Boom was my introduction to Internet radio streaming at home. Though I now use Sonos for higher-end playing, Sonos costs 4-6x as much as this simple and compact device. The Boom allowed me to listen to Pandora (here is my channel) and Rhapsody, the only two places where I now find and listen to music, while jamming on whatever needed jamming.
I haven’t seen anything better for the price.
#9 – Kindle with Global Wireless – $259
I resisted the Kindle for ages, as I like to take copious notes in my books. Then I went traveling with Matt Mullenweg and Kevin Rose on two trips. Then two things happened. First, note-taking became possible (which you can export as text files), and second, I was getting scoliosis from carrying a stack of books with me while Matt and Kevin sat pretty with their slim Kindles.
So I bought one. Now I won’t go anywhere without it, though I still prefer reading paper at home, so I often get both paper and digital copies of books I like.
#10 – Aqua Sphere Kaiman Swim Goggles – $11+
Some of you might recall how I conquered my fear of swimming. I went from a maximum of two laps to almost two miles in about two months. It’s still hard to believe.
In doing so, I logged a lot of swim time–I now love swimming–and tried every goggle out there. These are the bomb and elegantly seal the eye chamber without me feeling like my eyeballs are getting sucked out of my head. In world where it is rare, these puppies are comfortable and stay in place.
#11 – Sous Vide Supreme – $449
I first saw this French-inspired water oven, designed by Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades, demonstrated by the world-famous Heston Blumenthal, head chef at the Fat Duck restaurant in the UK, which was voted by his peers as the best restaurant in the world in 2005. This is the first device to allow the “sous vide” method (French for “under vacuum”) of cooking at home.
I had the single best chicken and steak of my life using this machine. It is possible to evenly cook just about anything while retaining all of the juices. From main courses to desserts, Heston called it the greatest home cooking innovation of the last several decades.
#12 – Dedicated Virtual Assistant Through AskSunday – $279
AskSunday is the personal outsourcing service I’ve used most in the last two years. Speed-dial a NY 212 number and get connected to someone in India or the Philippines who speaks English well and can do just about anything. For everything from fact-checking to travel on the run, it makes life infinitely easier.
#13 – The New and Expanded 4-Hour Workweek – $14.85 (Kindle $9.99)
First, let me apologize, as I know this is my book. But there is a good reason.
The truth of the matter is that since April 2007 when this book first came out, my life has changed dramatically. It’s hard to believe how much has happened. 100s of case studies have come over the transom from 35+ countries, I’ve found gaps in the material, more families have provided tips, and this new and expanded edition adds in everything I’ve wanted to add for the last 2.5 years. It quite simply applies to more people and provides more examples.
Don’t get me wrong: the older edition still works just fine. This version is just better, and includes the best updated resources as voted on by 60,000+ people.
If you order two copies, you can get free shipping, so why not give one to your friend or dog? Dogs love the 4-Hour Workweek.
I will also do a live 2-hour Q&A on Dec. 22nd for all who order now. Take a perusal through the new edition and think up some questions!
May you get what’s on your wish list, and give the same to your loved ones.
Posted on: November 30, 2009.
Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.
Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.