Dedicated to my grandmother

I recently decided to write a series of Lessons pieces for the people who are closest to me and who are still here. After all, they’ve taught me the most important lessons I’ve learned. This is the second piece of that series. The first piece was on what my Galician grandfather has taught me about personal finance.

My grandmother is one of the few geniuses I know. Growing up, I knew she had written books, I knew she had earned a graduate degree in Spanish Literature with a full scholarship at the University of Chicago’s prestigious Department of Romance Languages…


Dedicated to my grandfather

I have written two of these Lessons pieces as tributes to great people who had sadly passed away. This led to me being asked the following:

Do I need to die for you to write a Lessons piece about me?

To which I responded:

Donald Trump? Why are you in my house?

He ran away, and I haven’t seen him since…but he had a point: I should write about those who are still here and the lessons I’ve learned from them. Thank you, Mr. Trump.

Moreover, I’ve realized that some of the most important lessons I’ve learned haven’t come from…


Dedicated to Professor Anders Ericsson

Source: Florida State University News¹

Professor Anders Ericsson was an earned genius, and his research on learning and expertise changed my life.

I used to have countless limiting beliefs about my abilities and potential, all of which have disappeared thanks to Professor Ericsson’s work.

So, when I learned of his passing, I decided to write this piece as a tribute to him, and so that perhaps his work could also change someone else’s life.

Here are five lessons in learning from Professor Anders Ericsson:

Lesson 1: Forget about talent. Focus on the work. Lesson 2: The only practice that counts is deliberate practice. Lesson 3…


I try not to date what I write, but I must mention that I’m writing this in the year 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, which people in the future will call by the same name I first used to refer to the 1918 H1N1 pandemic: “There was a pandemic?”¹

I mention this because the COVID-19 pandemic has all but eliminated the possibility of travel, which has caused me to reminisce on past travels and realize that some of the most important lessons I’ve learned, I owe entirely to travel.

So, since many of us can’t (or shouldn’t)…


Much is written about the powers of what I call external language, or language that is used to have an effect on external reality, mainly on other people.

This has left me wanting for a resource that explores the powers of what I call internal language, or language that is used to have an effect on our own internal realities.

After all, what is the point of being able to use language to have an effect on others if we don’t know how to use it to have an effect on ourselves?

Since I couldn’t find said resource, I decided…


Dedicated to Kenny Rogers

Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries.

When I learned that Kenny Rogers had passed away, I wasn’t sad. That came later. First, I picked up my acoustic guitar, and I played “The Gambler”, one of the most iconic songs he recorded.

I sang the first few lines with my eyes closed:

On a warm summer’s evening
On a train bound for nowhere
I met up with a gambler
We were both too tired to sleep

As I sang these lines, I saw myself on that train bound for nowhere, enveloped in a warm summer’s evening, meeting a gambler.

The next moment, I saw myself as a…


Having already written an article on lessons I learned at SXSW 2019, I was more aware than normal when I arrived in Park City, UT for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, knowing that I wanted to learn as much as I could, so I could then distill what I learned into another set of lessons.

For some reason, my brain gives the number nine the same color as it does to Park City, UT, so here are nine lessons from the 2020 Sundance Film Festival:

Lesson 1: Stay for the credits. Lesson 2: Talk to strangers. Lesson 3: Make your…


For all the romanticizing of mobility, globalization, travel, remote work, and “freedom,” the truth remains that moving is challenging, not only logistically, but holistically.

Moving involves much more than choosing whether to drive or fly. It involves letting go of part of your identity, some meaningful relationships, a sense of homeostasis, and a sense of community.¹

I’ve moved about twelve times at this point due to educational opportunities, professional opportunities, and even health issues, so never solely because of, “hey, wouldn’t moving here be awesome?”

In my experience, though moving gets easier, it’s never easy.

That said, here is some…


This year, I had the opportunity to attend the SXSW Conference & Festivals in Austin, TX. Though it would be difficult to plan an unsuccessful event in Austin, which might be the most fun city I’ve experienced, SXSW exceeded my expectations. I learned a lot, met creative people I’ve admired for years, and gained admiration for creative people I hadn’t heard of before.

So, in honor of ten days of SXSW, here are ten lessons from SXSW 2019:

Lesson 1: Listen to everyone. Lesson 2: Get off screens and blink. Lesson 3: “Disruptor” is not an occupation. Lesson 4: Default…


This post is part of my final project for Carnegie Mellon University’s Designing Narratives Across Media course, taught by Professor Ahmed Ansari.

Welcome back, Professor Ansari, or other person who stumbled into this post; this is my last Process Post documenting the process of bringing a cosmology of my own creation, Selfism, into the real world!

If you have no idea what’s going on, and you want to have an idea, reading Process Post 1 and Process Post 2 of this series will definitely help.

That said, picking up right where Process Post 2 left off, here is more on…

Manny Vallarino

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