BVC #19: Get Towed Twice A Year [VIDEO]

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Taking calculated risks and not being afraid to fail is a hallmark of every successful person. You know this, I know this, but it’s difficult to translate that into our every day life. Sure, we hear stories about Bill Gates dropping out of Harvard to start Microsoft, but how does that isn’t helpful to the everyman or woman working their 9-to-5 job.

How about this analogy, one that I read from Larry Chiang, author for a forthcoming book What They Don’t Teach You At Stanford Business School:

If you’re not crashing and burning twice a year, maybe you’re not reaching high enough. Similarly, if you’re not getting towed twice a year, maybe you’re not parking aggressively enough.

So many times we’re too afraid to fail and so we don’t make that leap. Don’t let fear make decisions for you.

{ 21 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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21 Responses to “BVC #19: Get Towed Twice A Year [VIDEO]”

  1. Erin says:

    All I know is that I am not showing this to my husband. We live in downtown Philadelphia without parking and he holds fast to the towed twice a year rule. He doesn’t need to get any ideas that he’s doing something right, LOL.

  2. somster says:


    I lived by the parking aggressively rule back when I worked in downtown. People thought I was crazy, but I stuck with it. Heck, I even applied this to refilling gas. I usually like to fill gas only when my tank is almost empty. Reason? The longer I drive between refuels, the fewer stops I need to make at the gas station (average of 4 mins per pitstop). So, as a result, I’ve probably saved 420 mins in the last 10 years, and have only run out of gas – once!

    • Andrew says:

      How are your fuel injectors? I believe it’s a good idea to never go below 1/4 tank if you want them to work properly and last a long time, but that could be BS. Also, get a life. 🙂

  3. Andrew says:

    I think this is ridiculous. Getting your car back when it’s towed costs hundreds of dollars where I live, and that’s if they don’t damage it in the process. I’ve been towed twice in the 23 years I’ve owned a car, and both times were a costly, time-consuming mistake. I hope it never happens again. As for “parking aggressively,” what does that even mean? I park where it’s legal and free, and if that’s not available, I park where it’s legal and pay for it. If I couldn’t afford to do that, I’d move or sell my car.

  4. Andrew says:

    Where I work, people definitely hold it against you if you take on a project and fail. If the project needed to be done, they’re going to assign it to someone who can succeed.

  5. jim says:

    I hope that the ‘get towed twice a year’ thing is meant as an analogy rather than advice for people to act on literally.

    Getting towed is pretty expensive. Its hard for me to see how that can be worth it financially to take that risk. Seems to me that parking illegally will usually just get you a pile of tickets that would exceed the cost of paying for parking.

  6. MoneyNing says:

    This brings back college memories. Back then, no one ever paid the parking meters because the tickets were seldom issued and when they were, it was only $7 (worth about half a day of paying for the meter).

    Towing is probably a weak analogy for the reasons mentioned. A better one might be buying those extended warranty protections for electronics. Everyone probably at least bought it one time, and all we really paid for was those people that intentionally break the unit right before warranty expires so they can get a new one.

  7. Neil says:

    Getting towed is a risk/reward calculation. If you park illegally (in a major city centre) every day and only get towed twice a year, it’s probably a good risk/reward ratio. It costs $200+ to park close to where I work, so the towing costs might come out to less. (I bike instead…on top of the free parking it’s also lower stress and good for my health).

    If you park illegally and get towed twice a year because you don’t want to park a couple blocks away from your destination, then you’re an idiot.

  8. Fairy Dust says:

    Then my son should be on his way to a remarkably brilliant and successful career considering how many times he’s been towed just since he got his license… 😉

  9. Kirk says:

    Okay, I think we’re getting distracted by the analogy. The towing one isn’t one that people like — especially since the risk/reward is very high for little benefit, when you could park a block away for the same benefit of parking. Sorry Jim, bad analogy here.

    So, back to your original point, should we step out of our comfort zones to push ourselves beyond the boundaries that we artificially place on ourselves to see if we can succeed or not. Absolutely. Should we just do it for doing it sake… I’m not quite sure I buy that logic. I still believe in calculated risk. The question that bears in mind, is how does one calculate a risk for an unknown reward (or failure). What’s the worse that could happen if you fail? If you can live with it and the reward is greater than your current status quo, then that’s a calculated risk. I think the point here is that people are afraid to take risks or they are afraid of failure, and we’ll never succeed if we’re afraid of either.

  10. The Other Schmitty says:

    I also don’t like the towing analogy. In my experience the difference between getting a ticket and getting towed is defined by how much your parking is messing things up for other people. In more rural places the only way you can get towed is by doing something exorbitantly douchey, like leaving your car in the middle of an intersection – something I wouldn’t recommend.

    Maybe a better rural rule would be, “If your not getting your car towed out of a ditch twice a year you’re not driving aggressively enough.” 🙂

  11. Great video. I’d also recommend this link for evaluating risks:

    It’s from Robert Greene, author of 48 Laws of Power, and it describes difference between a risk and a gamble. Good reading for figuring out whether a risk is acceptable or not.

  12. eric says:

    hahah. yeah i hope people don’t take the towing thing seriously. it’s just a way of illustrating the point. 🙂

  13. Nathan says:

    Getting my car towed twice last year cost $500 and 6 hours each time. And really, $1000 is nothing. After all, purchasing a $12 parking ticket and then having to find a valid spot is way too much of a hassle.

  14. Reagan says:

    Many business travelers follow a similar risk/reward strategy for flying. If you fly almost every week, then plan to arrive at the airport to where you will be at the gate no earlier than when the plane has already started boarding (the closer to takeoff the better). You will probably miss a few flights a year, but the extra hours on those occasions are much less than say arriving 30 minutes early times 60 flights a year. Of course I wouldn’t recommend using this strategy if you have a very important meeting close to your arrival time 🙂

  15. ChristianPF says:

    Good Video Jim – I think it is funny that this has turned into such a literal discussion of towing, but the point is a great one. Failure is our friend – if we let it be!

  16. Michael says:

    Parking at South Beach can be a real problem sometimes but I thought I found a nice solution tucked away between two buildings.

    Sadly, I was mistaken and when we came out of the Movie Theater the car was gone. Luckily for us the Towing company was only 10 feet down the road! Worst $180 I ever spent.

  17. Patrick says:

    This is a really great video. It’s hard for most people to take that risk because of security. Getting into a comfortable situation where you have a good job and you live a certain lifestyle that you don’t want to give up by taking a big risk. Also, failure makes you stronger. Most people come out of a situation strong and learning so much from it.

  18. Stella Reid says:

    Thank you for that. I have learned that fear is good as long as I do not allow it to make my decision on how I do things.

  19. FlyFisher says:

    Great point. We as people are typically risk averse, and so we miss out on the benefits we would otherwise net if we were risk neutral instead.

  20. Traciatim says:

    I like the way “The Other Schmitty” describes this advice: Douchey.

    This seems to boil down to advice of “Be as douchey as possible to other people and trample over other people as much as possible and you too can be successful” . . . but if that’s the cost I’ll just stay with the crowd of respectable people thanks.

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