When the Australian and American Samoan football clubs met in a qualifying match for the FIFA World Cup in 2001, Australia broke a world record for the largest victory in an international game, winning 31–0.

Not only was the American Samoa team seriously outmatched, they faced passport issues so only one member of their original 20-man senior team was eligible to play.  They had to recruit youth players, including three 15-year-olds, to form a makeshift team. Some of them had never played a full 90 minutes before the match with Australia.

Yet the American Samoans showed their fa’asamoa—the Samoan way—by not losing their spirit and even singing and embracing the audience as the match ended.* Goalie Nicky Salupsa said that he enjoyed the match and “wasn’t embarrassed because we all learned something from it. If we had all our players, maybe it would have been only five or six goals, because I was without my best defenders and there was nothing I could do.” Coach Tony Langkilde also stated that “now we are recognised by FIFA, it has really helped spark an interest in football on the islands.”

What’s more, the American Samoa team that got crushed is now celebrated in two movies, one a documentary that revisits the historic loss and shows them 13 years later, still the worst team in FIFA:

And now there’s a fictionalized version coming out this year with the same title that puts actors like Michael Fassbender and Elizabeth Moss to work replicating the 2014 story. So who are the losers now? Put your fa’asamoa to use and see what happens when you fail next. Hollywood might just come calling.

*Other examples of fa’asamoa are:

  • Asking for permission before taking photos, using the beach, or doing other activities in a village.
  • Sitting down on the floor and covering your legs with a mat when you enter a traditional house (fale).
  • Respecting Sunday as a day of church, rest, and quietness.
  • Speaking politely and saying “tulou” when you walk in front of someone who is seated.
  • Honoring your family (aiga), your language (tautala Samoa), your genealogy (gafa), your chief (matai), your church (lotu), and your obligations (fa’alavelave).

Whether it’s a stalled career, the end of a relationship, or recurring doubt raised in one’s spiritual practice, people consider having to start over to be a truly crummy experience.  Going back to the beginning is considered the mark of failure in a world that celebrates winning, victory, and happy endings.

But we’re here to tell you that square one is a super place to be!   For that square is your square. And your square, by definition, is perfect, with each side equal to the other 3 sides.

Some of the most noble professionals in their fields are constantly scrapping their work in order to begin anew. Scientists are always having to confront their failure to prove a theory and start afresh. Buddhist masters talk about starting over with every breath, to be in the moment with each exhalation and inhalation. For them, square one is actually the enlightened place to be. And let’s not forget all the wonderful artists who have spent a career working with, around, and into squares. Mr. Albers among them.

Besides, if being at square one was so bad, why would Square One Parachutes use the name for their business? If ever there was a pursuit you want to feel positive about, it’s leaping out of plane at 12,000 feet.  If this skydiving accessories manufacturer can proudly announce their comfort with being at square one, surely you can!

So the next time you curse the gods for hitting a dead end, frustrated at having to reinvent the wheel yet again, remember that starting from scratch is something to embrace and celebrate. Congratulations and welcome back to square one!

back to square one t-shirt

*The origin of the phrase “square one” originates from radio broadcasts of European football games. To help the listener visualize the action, the field was divided up into a grid of imaginary squares, with square one centering on the goalmouth. Interesting that square one is actually closest to the goal.

Elvis in "No Plan B"

Frequently, you’ll hear someone say: “And if that doesn’t work — we’ll proceed to Plan B.”

But isn’t this simply preparing for failure? Fear that Plan A won’t work. Fear that something may go wrong.  

When other people sense that you doubt your course, they, too, become afraid. Imagine you’re a passenger in an airplane and the captain comes on the intercom and says:  “We’ll be landing soon at O’Hare International Airport — unless I can’t get the wheels down — and if that’s the case we’ll go to Plan B.”  Nobody really wants to hear someone say that. 

The SuperOptimist is of the mind that all energy down to our very last molecule should be focused on achieving the primary goal — and that any time spent planning for failure, setbacks, or humbling defeat only activates fear. Our conclusion: any Plan “A” is superior to every Plan “B.”

We feel so strongly about this maxim, we’ve created a t-shirt in its honor.

NOTE: If you don’t have a “Plan A,” go get a darn good one.  With a solid plan, karmic forces will line up behind you and see that you have good luck on your side. We’re with you.

Democrats, take heart.

Sure, you’ve had a lousy week (to go with a lousy three years), with the Senate acquittal of your most hated foe coupled with the Iowa caucus debacle making you look like the political equivalent of the New York Knicks.

One might argue that this week we hit extreme Republicanism, with the Donald’s triumphant victory lap contrasted by Nancy Pelosi “tearing up” at the conclusion of Tuesday’s State of the Union.

So why is this great news for every blue stater out there? Take a moment to consider the “pendulum effect.” Also called the pendulum law, it was discovered by Galileo in 1602 and describes the regular, swinging motion of a pendulum by the action of gravity and acquired momentum. 

Much like Signor Galilei’s pendulum experiments, trends in politics have swung back and forth between opposite extremes for the last few decades. From George H.W Bush to Bill Clinton. From Clinton to George W. Bush. From W. to Barrack Obama. And from Barry to Don.  Man, that pendulum swings more than Benny Goodman ever did.

While we can’t predict the exact moment the pendulum will swing past the median point and deliver a victory for the left, the move away from DJT very well could have begun yesterday. It will only be in hindsight that our political scholars will pinpoint the timing exactly.
But we can posit based on the latest Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient,  our next president will be as liberal as Rush Limbaugh is conservative.
As for swings of momentum in your own life, it helps to have a physical object to be reminded of the power of physics to revise your own course on a regular basis. It also can act as a soothing escape during moments of stress and tension.*
*For those with heavy stress over the current political situation, a life-sized outdoor pendulum might be required.

The lame duck mayor of New York? “Why him?” you may ask. He’s a politician who is disliked by his own city, his own state, his own party, and probably every single person who’s reading this right now.

And that’s exactly the reason we’re naming the sanctimonious, arrogant and annoying Bill de Blasio as our SuperOptimist of the Week!

For even though everyone who comes in contact with Bill de Blasio winds up thinking he’s a giant a-hole, he keeps forging ahead. Undaunted by hecklers.  Undeterred by the polls.  Unapologetic for spending taxpayer dollars commuting to a gym in Park Slope when he could join a New York Sports Club two blocks from his Manhattan office.

In a world where the average person is desperate for validation and heavy “likes” on facebook, how does Bill do it? How does he ignore the fact that he’s a punchline for pundits, late night comics and even his wife Chirlane?

Bill has a special superpower that few humans have. He has succeeded in overcoming his negativity bias to accept and embrace himself without exception. And so, despite the carping of his critics, Bill de Blasio continues to like, respect and celebrate the most important person in his life: Bill de Blasio!

We should all enjoy our own company as much as “the Blas”. After all, there’s no other person we’ll spend more time with during our stint on Planet Earth. So why not start today by giving yourself a deck of affirmation cards to remind yourself just how beautiful you are.

Now maybe Bill de B. goes home to Gracie Mansion at night and cries himself to sleep. But we doubt it. According to Chirlane, he’s up late trying to restore heat to a constituent’s apartment in the Bronx.

Here’s to having that same sense of self-worth that Bill de Blasio has.*

*Without having to actually be Bill de Blasio, of course. No one would wish that upon themselves.


In 1927, Charles Lindbergh received acclaim for piloting The Spirit of St. Louis across the ocean — the first non-stop transatlantic flight between New York and Paris.

Yet two weeks before,  French aviators Charles Nungesser and François Coli also attempted the journey in an effort to win the Orteig Prize. Strapped into their byplane L’Oiseau Blanc, they took off from Paris for New York, only to disappear before arrival.  The remains of their plywood and canvas-covered plane have never been officially recovered.

A sad story of failure? The tragedy of a near-miss? On the contrary. To this day, the disappearance of L’Oiseau Blanc is considered one of aviation’s great mysteries.  Creating a great mystery is an amazing accomplishment in anyone’s book, and 80 years later their attempt continues to be the source of investigation and conjecture.

And how many pilots from yesteryear are celebrated with a rooftop restaurant in Paris named after their doomed byplane, featuring a delicious “pâté en croûte” complemented by artichoke and foie gras from Aveyron?  Further proof that bad outcomes do not equate with failure, but lead to fine dining opportunities in the world’s most romantic city.

As the SuperOptimist knows, it’s in the attempt that life is best measured.  All hail Nungresser and Coli, true heroes who tried their best!

“I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.” – A. Einstein

Sure, we all know the classic E=mc2. But did you know Albert worked with with fellow physicist Leo Szilard to develop a more energy efficient refrigerator (shown above)?

At the time, traditional ice boxes were being replaced with modern machines that ran on electricity. Unfortunately (for the people able to afford them),  they relied on poisonous gases like methyl chloride, ammonia, and sulfur dioxide as refrigerants.  When newspapers reported the death of an entire family in Berlin due to toxic fumes from a broken refrigerator seal, Einstein and Szilard set out to find a better solution to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

The need for irrational thinking helped them circumvent the standard wisdom of the day and use a heat source to provide coolant, with thermodynamics driving a combination of gases and liquids through three interconnected circuits.

Unfortunately, none of Einstein and Szilard’s alternative designs for refrigerators ever became a consumer product due to the expense of manufacturing them.*  It was the introduction of freon in 1930 that propelled refrigerators from death traps to non-toxic storage units for cold cuts, ice cream, and leftover Chinese food.

*The good news? Today there is renewed interest in their designs due to the impact of freon and other chlorofluorocarbons on the ozone layer. The need for alternative energy sources means humanity may yet benefit from the Einstein-Szilard Fridge.