Personal Development

You Are The Sum of The 5 People You Associate With The Most

When I look at my favorite authors, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders- all of them have at some point echoed “you are who you associate with”- and that used to trouble me. What do I do when most of my friends work 9 to 5, are married, and live for the weekend, only to get shitfaced and then repeat the cycle? I’ve come a long way in the last 3 years- it was around 3-4 years ago when I first heard Tim Ferriss say that you are who you associate with.

At this point, I feel I’ve climbed out of the rut, and am a little past zero. I’m walking towards the people I want to be at. I hang out with my favorites, in theory. Their readings, teachings, strategies, and recommendations- I read and question all of it. I adapt what I can, apply it, and eliminate the rest.

My new real life friends are amazing, and I feel it’s reading that’s gotten me this far. They are humble, kind, some of the best rock climbers and athletes I know- though not the brightest, and hardly ambitious. Which is completely fine- nothing wrong with that. But I need apex predators around me. Innovators who create and challenge the status quo- people who I can bounce ideas off of and talk them out when I’m unsure that I’m onto something. I want co-conspirators, not people who want comfort and stability. I need people who are’t afraid to go after what they want. I want people who ignore the media instead of consume it, create it instead of react to it.

Ryan Holiday has written extensively about killing off past versions of himself to make room for growth- and I’m internalizing that. I’m killing this version of myself to make room for a better one. Hopefully along the way, I can make peace with my insecurities too.

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Plans for PR Launch, Book Launch, and Mitigating Fear

I am my own harshest critic, my biggest detractor. If I have an idea validated and ready to go, I’ll find a way to convince myself that it won’t work. In the last few months, however, I’ve been reading and researching what thought leaders my favorite thinkers respected- I thought I might find clues as to why these men thought the way they did, and why they weren’t held back by fear or anxiety.

Well, a few months ago, I found a guy. Turns out that Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Tim Ferriss, Tucker Max, and Ryan Holiday were all fans of Seth Roberts- noted personal science pioneer. Even Taubes, our favorite Santa Clause doctor, was a fan. I haven’t read much on him. I didn’t even take his reading all that seriously, as his books were added to my “books to read” pile, which is well over 200 books long at the moment, and growing every day.

I did however watch this video- a talk on experimental design, and found it extremely helpful.

My biggest takeaway from this video is that “the best way to learn, is to do.” And that’s a huge difference from just thinking about doing things, or reading about them. He also says that taking measured, small steps, will provide much better results and growth than jumping into massive projects with huge margins of error. Mind you- I don’t call this advice, because these are findings from his own experiences. This is what has worked for him- no hypothesizing or armchair professoring involved.

Seth passed away very suddenly last week- so I’m approaching his work with the utmost respect and care. I am curious about how he passed though- his last published article was about how he ate half a stick of butter everyday. If his cause of death is related to any of his work, then it’s important that they are not blindly accepted, but methodically looked through and tested. Lemmings follow blindly, and we are not lemmings. But I digress…he is gone too soon and the world is worse off for it.

I’m getting ready to do my first large scale media manipulation stunt since reading Ryan Holiday’s book, “Trust Me, I’m Lying.” I’ve done two before reading the book, and both went well, receiving national coverage. But I didn’t do it methodically. Last time I traded up the chain by fluke, my only thought being “let’s see how big we can get this.” This time around I have a timeline, a list of people to email, when to email, where I’d email, how I’d trade it up the chain, from what fake email/twitter address I’d send it- a lot more planning has gone into this.

I’m going to be creating a controversy about a product and a company that doesn’t exist. Well- a company that I created with a website, and one custom designed dress, and a bribed student. So…maybe $200 investment. The rest of my investment will be in time.

The other piece of information I’m implementing for this campaign is, funny enough, from Ryan Holiday again- one that he’s written about a few times, most recently this morning, in fact. His article on the importance of negative thinking provides another helpful piece of information- the importance of premeditating all possible negative outcomes. He writes more about this in detail in his new book, The Obstacle is The Way. His book is out today on amazon.

So for this campaign, I’m sitting down and listing everything that could possibly go wrong, how things could backfire, and how I’d mitigate these mistakes. I’m drawing from my imagination as well as from his book.

Finally, I found a video through Charlie Hoehn- it was a short animation by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, narration an excerpt from an Alan Watts speech. You can see it below.

A reminder that no matter how far outside of my comfort zone I think I’m going, it’s not that big of a deal. It’s a first world luxury, what I call a problem. Superficial, rat race stuff. I have to remember to not forget the big picture, to not get to anxious about things that haven’t happened yet/probably won’t happen, and have fun along the way. Charlie writes about this in his new book, Play It Away which I’ll do a review of on here as soon as receive it and read it thoroughly.

Anyways. Between this launch and the book launch proposal that I’m working on, I’ll be busy for a while. And that’s good. Really good, because like Charlie said in his first book, Recession Proof Graduate, it’s about doing fun, exciting, fulfilling work. About growing and learning and becoming a better person. No doubt in my mind that both of these projects will be difficult, but definitely satisfy all of those criteria.

Everyone mentioned in this post gives lessons based on experience. They don’t prescribe solutions to problems they’ve never experienced, or talk about stuff they aren’t sure about. They talk about things which they have learned by doing…and that’s extremely important. And it makes sense. Why should I take financial advice from a poor person? Or business advice from an economics professor who never started a business? This is something I have to become militant about, and really cut out the time wasters.

RIP Seth Roberts, and thank you for sharing your work with us while you were here.

Time Will Make Corpses Of Us All, And That’s OK.

I’m on fire this week with these posts…two days in a row haha. Anyways- Death. That dark, shadowy, nebulous, unknown spectral one way mirror which we obsess over but cannot see through. One day, you, me, everyone we’ve ever seen, met, heard, smelled, loved, hated, vilified, made into a demigod- yes, every single one of us will die. Did you know that there are whales swimming about in the ocean that have been around since before Moby Dick was ever written? Wrap your head around that. But even that massive leviathan will one day turn to worm food. We can’t escape it. So why the stigma? Why do we fear it? Why do we spend so much time on trivial, mundane things that don’t matter? Time. I keep coming back to it in my posts- but humans are foolish. We know our time is limited. But we want to stay here forever because we fear death. Even people who want to go to heaven, don’t want to die to get there. We are strange strange creatures indeed.

I think a part of this has to do with the fact that we do not focus our energies on the task at hand. We are forever wondering about what will happen or what has happened. When was the last time you focused on right NOW? For me it was when a guy ran a red light and almost T-boned my car in the middle of an intersection. All mental chatter stopped. There was nothing except what I was doing in that very moment. Other times I’ve experienced that- snowboarding, driving spiritedly on a nice mountain road, riding bikes and ridiculous speeds on hills I’d never ridden on. Reckless? yes. euphoric? yes. Apparently, people who master living in the now are having a blast, simply by being. They are thrilled to be alive, on earth, in that very moment. I can’t fathom that.

What I can fathom, is this video. Sam Harris makes sense of all my ramblings. It’s a great message, even if it’s a long one at 1 hour. It’s a very inspiring one hour though, I will watch this one again.

On The Scale Of Worlds, Humans Are Inconsequential.

I’ll keep this one short. My social media feeds have been flooded today by the masses. From the party animals to the drama queens…everyone is posting about Easter. Most are going to church in new clothes, or looking forward hoard Cadbury eggs afterwards.

Occasionally, it’s nice to put things into perspective. To loosely quote Steve Jobs- Religions, after all, are dogma, which is the results of someone else’s thinking, which you’ve decided to follow blindly. I urge you to watch this video, and if you enjoy, pick up the book from which the narration was excerpted- “Pale Blue Dot,” by the brilliant Carl Sagan.

Having Religion is fine, but remember that we all live on a tiny little speck of space dust…we are humans before anything else. Can we afford to alienate ourselves from each other?

Blackmail is Better Than WillPower

Anyone that has ever asked me about what I like reading for non-fiction knows I’m a huge Tim Ferriss fan. I loved all of his books, and have given away copies many times. I loved that so many people practiced what he preached and changed their lives. I love that he backs up all of his claims with evidence and sources. I also like that he’s a bit of an asshole. Loopholes to kick ass in Martial Arts Championships? Exploited. Squeeze out every bonus you can out of a concierge service? Done. Train and manipulate your coworkers and bosses to never bother you while you’re working, or work while overseas? Check.

In case you don't know, this is Tim Ferris. Impressive, right?

In case you don’t know, this is Tim Ferris. Impressive, right?

The guy is selfish about his time, and he ruthlessly cuts down people who want to squander it. I bet he laughs at people who wait 3 days in line in front of best buy for Black Friday. “Poor sods, look how they fart away their time.” he thinks, as he rides by on his Ducati.

I have a caricature of Tim in my head, of all his Ferriss army unwittingly being a part of his social experiments while he’s behind a computer analyzing the experiment data; hunched over like gollum, laughing maniacally with a bottle of Red Wine in one hand and a head of half eaten cabbage in the other.

Enough about that. The main point is that he challenges the status quo and does it without seeming like a how to infomercial guru.

And yet, for how much of a fanboy I am, I haven’t applied jack. I’ve done a few half assed attempts at slo-carb, and then binged on 15,000 calories of everything I felt like, and ended up 2 lbs heavier than where I started. Essentially, reading his books have been mental masturbation. I’ll read real hard, ejaculate some notes into my journal, and then it’s off to eat a lard sandwich(ok not that bad). But why the disconnect?

I signed up for Tim’s new fatloss app thing, and put $50 on the line. I couldn’t get motivated. I finished, but it wasn’t motivation enough. Basically I didn’t care that I’d lose $50. I bet if I put a grand on the line, I still wouldn’t care. (A grand is so much money to me, but it’s just money. It doesn’t light a fire under my ass.) How the hell do I get motivated then?? Willpower? The law of attraction? (the secret is a rubbish book by the way, I’ll do a book review soon.)

Willpower is the biggest lie I’ve ever heard. There’s no such thing as willpower. Not in my reality. What works is consequences. Willpower is when you go “hell yea, lets do it!” and 4 days later you’re sitting on the couch watching A walk to remember, eating a tub of ice cream and chinese takeout. If losing a bet meant that I had to eat a grub, or let a tarantula sit on my bald head- Holy shit. I will put a picture of a tarantula on my fridge, in my car, in my wallet, and I will terrify myself into getting shit done. I hate hate hate loathe spiders. The thought of a fat taranjalasaurus rex gripping away at my head makes my testicles crawl up and cower in terror somewhere behind my lungs…..ugh. Now that’s motivation.

That’s my conclusion. To look a fat spider in its many many eyes and say, Fuck you spider. You’re not sitting on my head, not today. The motivation to avoid pain/ridicule/terror far outweighs my motivation for short term pleasure (cake, candy, tv, whatever.) That’s what I have to exploit to make this work.

That’s why I’m living at home. If I fail to start a business that makes great money, I’m going to be stuck at home longer. At my age, that’s shameful. Almost as bad as a tarantula scheming imminent disaster on top of my head.

If you have stuff you need to get handled- find out what your leverage point is. What is your equivalent to a tarantula? Once you find it, set measurable steps to achieving a goal. Let people know so you can be held accountable.
And then go do it.

Everything is Amazing and Nobody’s Happy

Everything is Amazing and Nodoby’s Happy from Ed Burton on Vimeo.

The video is horrendously out of sync- just close your eyes and listen. Louis dispenses some amazing wisdom.

Don’t be an entitled noncontributing zero. There is nothing crappier than someone who complains alot and produces nothing of value.

Don’t be that guy.

Broken America

The whole concept of working is screwed up in this country- everyone is so adamant that working long hours are necessary and expected. When schools and media feed you this crap long enough, you start to expect it. You assume that’s the right way to go.

That’s a whole lot of faith being put into a broken system.

If the system worked, we would be qualified to do more than flip burgers after finishing 13 years of schooling.

If the system worked, we would know how to do taxes and how credit cards work by the time we finished high school.

If the system worked, the government would spend more on educating its youth than on its incarcerated.

It’s time to question everything. Why do you need a PHD/MBA/ that computer/ that car? Will they really make you happy? If so, awesome. Or is it just the next thing on the list to keep you mindlessly working way? To me, watching the news, crappy tv shows, busy work, video games, and organized sports are all dangerous. They are distractions. They keep you from thinking. They let you waste away time without having to think critically. There is nothing more insane than pissing time away- it’s akin to burning money, except you can make money back if you lose it. Your time is gone forever.

Instead of trying to fit yourself into a system that doesn’t provide you adequate room, perhaps it’s smarter to build a system which works for you.