Circular Action is NOT Action

Circular Action is NOT Action
July 10, 2024 Rob Artigo
In Podcasts

Running in circles pushing a cart full of goals will lead to two things. Exhaustion and a cart full of unfulfilled goals. In this Tough Things First podcast, Ray Zinn explores the difference between action for action’s sake and action with purpose. (Watch the Video Podcast here.)

Rob Artigo: Rob Artigo here, once again your host for this edition of The Tough Things First podcast, a special edition of the Tough Things First podcast. If you are listening to this and you’d like to watch it on video, we have it on Ray’s YouTube channel. And the link is right next to the intro for this at, so it is available to you. We try to do at least once a month. And it’s a great opportunity to see what we look like because we’re very handsome gentlemen. I’m an entrepreneur in California. Also, you may remember me as a radio broadcaster. I was at KGO in San Francisco, Seattle, and also in Sacramento I was a journalist on the air.

And Ray, it’s always great to be back here at Tough Things First to do another podcast with you. Ready for one?

Ray Zinn: You bet. Thank you, Rob. Good to be with you again.

Rob Artigo: And again to remind people, it is a video podcast so you can watch it if you want.

Well, Ray, I grabbed your book and here it is right here, one of your books. This is Zen of Zinn 3. This is the third iteration of Zen of Zinn. And you describe it as being a series of Ray Zinn original Proverbs, right? Isn’t that how you describe it?

Ray Zinn: Yeah, it’s like the thought for the day, how you can improve your life.

Rob Artigo: Well, I went through and I picked one out. And there is, and I’ll show people, there’s, this one’s illustrated. You can see pictures. And there’s also several of these sayings and proverbs that are on here on each page. So I picked out one on page 35 here that talks about, “Studies show that without clear goals and specific landmarks, we just walk in circles.” And I’ll read a little bit more of what that said, I’ve got here on my screen. It says, “While walking in circles may seem like we’re making progress, we’re obviously not. And if you want to not walk in circles,” it’s a little paraphrase there, “If you don’t want to walk in circles, you want to have clearly defined goals and specific landmarks to keep you moving in the direction you want to go.”

So let’s talk about clear goals for starters. To you, what is a clear goal compared to a goal that does not quite reach the level of the clarity that you’re thinking of?

Ray Zinn: Okay, well, it kind of goes to another podcast that we’re going to do. It’s like knowing what you want to do for a career and why you’re attending school, whether it be high school, or college, or advanced education. If you don’t know what you want to do for a career, you’re more likely to take the wrong classes or not get the most benefit from your education. And it’s hard to have a clear goal when you’re 17 or 18 years old, but the better you can define where you want to head in life, the less the reacting or circling you’re going to be doing as you progress. Because it’s the first five or six years of your formative life after high school as you would that really define who you are. And so you want to make sure that you have at least to some degree, an idea of really what kind of a career, where do you want to head? Where do you want to go?

I know that some people are spontaneous and they just go in whatever direction and they just live their life that way. It’s a little chaotic. There’s no rhyme or reason to do what they do or how they do it. They just go. And I have a friend who’s had seven different occupations in his life. He worked in construction, he was a plumber, he was an electrician, he was a salesperson. I mean, he just kicked around. Now, that may be where you want to be. Maybe you just want to kick around. Maybe you don’t have any clear direction in your life, but if you want to make the most of your life where you can definitely say that you’re on the right path, the path that you want, what we say right being right for you, then you need to think clearly what kind of education or experience you need, both education and experience are necessary to succeed.

So the earlier you can define that, the better off you’re going to be, so you won’t be walking in circles or having to just go from pillar to post as you would. So think through or be able to define where you’d like to go, where you’d like to be in 10 years, and then draft a plan to help you get there. So I know people that are in their fifties that still haven’t got a clear understanding of what they want to do, and so they think as long as they’re putting food on the table and paying their rent, that’s good enough. And fine, if that works for you, then that’s fine. Then you’re not walking in circles, you’re just walking. Maybe you’re not going any particular direction, but you’re just moving along. And unfortunately too many of us spend too much time just walking in circles or just walking without a specific landmark or goal in mind.

So think through clearly. Maybe you talk to your parents, maybe you talk to your friends, maybe you talk to your schoolmates, whatever. Get input from them. Ask them. There are studies that are done that you can look online and find out where you’d like to live because where you’d like to live also defines what kind of a career you’re going to have, or the career that you’ll need. So think it through. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and get other people’s thought. Look online. There’s lots of information, YouTube videos for different occupations. And so we don’t know what’s right for you, but you should, and determine that early on so that you’re not just walking in circles.

Rob Artigo: You mentioned a friend of yours who is in his fifties and still operating that way. So you correctly identified college as one of the obvious goals you have to get into because this affects, and another podcast we’re going to do, talk about money that we spend on education and where it’s worth it. I mean, if you’re walking in circles in an academic environment, you could be burning a lot of funds.

But in other areas of our lives, in businesses that we start, in career paths we choose within a corporate structure or whatever we decide we want to do, those goals are important in those times as well. Correct?

Ray Zinn: Although the person I was referring to was an individual who went to dental school and then he didn’t like being down in the mouth as they say, and so he went and got a law degree and started practicing law. So that’s a huge waste of money and cost to start off in one thing and end up in another. So I can’t imagine the amount time, and energy, and money he spent getting that dental degree, DDS, only to end up as a lawyer. And so we got to define what we want, when we want it, and if we want to make the most efficient use of our resources, then we need to understand really what makes us happy. What do we want to do? What kind of career path do we want to have that’s going to lead us in the direction that’s going to help us be more successful?

Rob Artigo:

Yeah, I know that landmarks are those way stations in between the goal and the starting point. So when we look at, when we consider landmarks, when we have that goal in mind, how do we identify the specific landmarks that we should maybe put on a calendar or write it down, that we indicate. Okay, so the near term goal, sometimes, in my experience, identifying the goal is important and has to be clear like you’ve already described, but looking at say the four-year degree or then going on to getting a higher degree later on, and you might be in six years of college and beyond that, who knows depending on the level of study that you’re going for, but that seems insurmountable. If you think about, oh wow, that goal is down there. How far do I have to go? But the nearer term goals, if you take them into pieces, you might have a better chance of recognizing that it’s doable and it’s something that you can succeed doing.

Ray Zinn: Well, again, the whole purpose of landmarks is to give you some way points to guide you in the direction you want to go, whether it be marriage, whether it be family, whether it be where you want to live, define those landmarks or those way points and see that you’re on that path, that journey that will bring you the most happiness and success.

Rob Artigo: Well, I also know that the idea that you have to be somewhat flexible has to be part of your plan. I’m assuming based on my experience talking to you, but also knowing about your career and your successes with Micrel and other areas of the tech world that you have to be flexible, and you can make those goals and you can make those landmarks, but you have to think of them as not etched in stone in the sense that you can’t pivot if you have to. Am I correct in that?

Ray Zinn: Well, there’s a proverb, blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape. Flexibility is important. And again, it depends upon where you want to live. You want to live in Alaska. That’s a different set of way points and guidelines that you need to do that. Or if you want to live in Mexico, or in Europe, or wherever it is that you want to end up with your career, that defines also what kind of family, what kind of life and education that you’ll need. So again, being flexible is important.

I was very fortunate, I mean, coming out of school at the age of 21, or 22, maybe I guess I was. Yeah, 23 I guess. Then I just really didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do because we didn’t have YouTube and all the other great studies that are available to us online back when I grew up. And so I had to talk to my neighbors, my friends, and get an idea of really what kind of a career did I want?

I actually started out in the aerospace area and ended up in semiconductors because I was flexible, meaning semiconductors was a brand new field and that interested me, and thank goodness my education somewhat matched both those fields, aerospace and semiconductors. And I did well on both of them, but my true love or my final love was semiconductors.

Rob Artigo: Well, Ray, I want to remind our listeners that this is a special edition of the Tough Things First podcast. We’re doing it on video, available on your YouTube channel, Ray Zinn, and also by going to the website and finding podcasts, and clicking on the link that’s next to the intro for this podcast. And of course you’ll be able to find it because it refers to… And I’ll give you the title of it so people will know. Basically, Circular Action is Not Action is the topic here.

Ray, as always, our listeners can reach out to you at, continue their education, which as you’ve heard in this podcast, not only are goals important and those way points along the way that you have to be thinking about, but your education also. And it goes on and on. And you can get that here at and in the Tough Things First podcast.

Ray, you have your books. You have Tough Things First, your first book, and then you have Zen of Zinn 1, 2, and 3, which you’ve obviously heard an excerpt of that here in this podcast.

So great podcast, Ray. Thanks a lot.

Ray Zinn: Thank you, Rob.

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