23 Life Changing Lessons I Learned From the Tim Ferriss Podcast

This used to be my morning commute: I’d sit in bumper to bumper traffic in San Francisco trying to get to work. Out of boredom, I’d turn on the radio….static, commercials and that one Justin Bieber song I’ve heard a million times.

Ugh!

How have my morning commutes changed?

One word. Podcasts!

There’s only so much Justin one person can take (I know some of you strongly disagree), but I digress. The point is that I’ve substituted the radio with podcasts and it has been game changing.

The best podcast I’ve come across is the Tim Ferriss Show. He interviews top performers in various fields from athletes, celebrities to CEO’s. You can guarantee that if someone was on Tim’s podcast, they’ve accomplished pretty epic stuff.

Today I want to share 23 life lessons I’ve learned from listening to Tim’s podcast and how you can live these lessons NOW.

Before we get started, a quick primer. Each lesson includes:

  • “Who” – who Tim interviewed with a link if you want to learn more about them
  • “Why it matters” – more context around the lesson and why it’s important
  • “How to do it” – an actionable strategy you can use to start living this lesson, today
  • “Where” – a link to the podcast episode and Tim’s show notes

Lesson #1:  Being “busy” is cowardly.

 

Who: Tim Kreider, author of Lazy: A Manifesto

Why it matters: Everybody does this and I’ve never realized how ridiculous it is. When people ask how you are, do you always answer with

“Good…just busy”?

What a cowardly thing to say!

Kreider describes how “busy ness” is simply a boast disguised as a complaint, a way to make ourselves feel important because we’re addicted to being busy all the time.

Tim reminds us that idleness is important and good for the brain, it’s not something we should feel guilty about.

How to do it: Make a point of having idle time throughout your day. You can start off small. It may be a 10-minute afternoon stroll without your phone or perhaps it’s making sure you stop working by 6pm so you can have the evening to let your mind wander or hang out with your family without distractions. Take time for a respite.

BTW Your brain needs breaks. Studies show that your brain is still active at rest (in the default mode network) and that downtime is necessary to explore ourselves, our values and morals.

Where: Lazy: A Manifesto

 

Lesson #2: When making a decision, ask yourself is it a “fu** yes or a fu** no?”

Who: Derek Sivers

Why it matters: Making decisions is hard. But the most efficient and effective way to make them is to have clearly defined rules. And this is one of the best rules I’ve ever come across. 

Look, life is too short to not be 110% excited to do something.

How to do it: Whether it’s deciding to grab drinks with someone or choosing a new job, ask yourself how enthusiastic you are about it. “Is it a fu** yes or no?!” There’s your answer.

Where: Derek Sivers on Developing Confidence, Finding Happiness, and Saying “No” to Millions

 

Lesson #3: Value “working hard” over being “smart.”

Who: Luis von Ahn

Why it matters: In this episode, Luis talks about how his Mother used to compliment him as a child by saying “you worked hard.” Contrast that with some parents who praise their child for succeeding by simply being “smart” or “gifted.” That helped solidify his work ethic and allowed him to have a “growth mindset.”

Tim mentions the “growth mindset” pioneered by psychology professor Carol Dweck, it’s the fact that believing that your intelligence is flexible (rather than fixed or inherent), leads to better performance.

Dweck conducted a 1975 study of “helpless” elementary school kids. The takeaway was that experimenters trained the students to blame errors on insufficient effort, rather than on their personalities (i.e. they weren’t smart enough).

The kids who underwent the training ended up performing better in school compared to the control group, who declined academically.

How to do it: Rather than praising coworkers or your kids for being inherently “smart,” praise their process, hard work and critical thinking that got them to success. This will help them develop the “growth mindset.” By the way, our brains truly are flexible. When we learn skills and experience new things, our brains change.

Where: Luis von Ahn on Learning Languages, Building Companies, and Changing the World

 

Lesson #4: It’s okay to be grim.

Who: Alain de Botton

Why it matters: What!? Isn’t that going against all of the self-help books ever written? Possibly, but the point that Alain was making is that the darker things in life make the small things in life brighter. Without that contrast, you may not be able to appreciate simple things like clean water or a great conversation with a friend.

I loved this statement because it flies in the face of “be happy/optimistic all the time.”

You can’t control everything that’s dark in life, but by acknowledging it you can be appreciative for what you do have.

How to do it:  By being realistic about the state of the world, you can increase your levels of gratitude for the small things in life that we constantly take for granted.

At the least, I’d encourage you to think in “neutral terms.” Rather than trying to judge the world as fair or unfair, realize that it just “is.” This will help you shed the judgements you may have about problems you’re facing and open up your mind to new ways of thinking.

Where: How Philosophy Can Change Your Life, Alain de Botton

 

Lesson #5: Stop making judgements.

Who: Naval Ravikant

Why it matters: This was one of my favorite episodes with so many nuggets of wisdom, but this one really stuck out to me. Although this seems super simple, it’s incredibly hard.

As humans, we end up making judgements all the time…it’s ingrained in our evolution as a species. Our ancestors had to make snap judgements about if someone was a friend or foe, it meant life or death. Because of that, we’ve been accustomed to constantly making judgements.

Think about it, we’re constantly judging ourselves, our friends…heck even strangers walking down the street! A lot of our self-talk is centered around judgements.

How to do it: In order to stop constantly making judgements, Naval recommends trying not to judge anyone for 24 hours. It’s freaking hard, but it will make you realize how frequently you make judgements about other people and yourself. Kicking this habit will help you feel more focused and present. 

Where: Naval Ravikant on Happiness Hacks and the 5 Chimps Theory

 

Lesson #6: Change your state when doing deep work.

Use a mantra or a “cue” of something totally out of whack to change your brain to get into the act of creation.

Who: Eric Weinstein

Why it matters: I work one and a half jobs. I work FT for a demanding startup, but I also blog part-time. It takes a lot of discipline, but to make it easier, I’ve developed a cue to kick me into “blogging mode.” After a long day at work, my cue is to go to a nearby Starbucks by my office, grab a latte, turn Spotify on to my favorite song and begin working. (I’m working on the mantra part 🙂

Once I hear that song playing, I get into a different mode. I’m feeling the rhythm of the music and somehow my brain shifts into “writing mode.”

In Eric’s case, he has a 7-second private mantra that he says out loud to get him into this “state.”

How to do it: Use a mantra or a “cue” to shift your brain into a state of creativity or flow. It could be your favorite song, a personal mantra that’s meaningful to you, or images you look at.

Where: Eric Weinstein on Challenging Reality, Working with Peter Thiel & Destroying Education to Save It

 

Lesson #7: When you’re scared, ask “what’s on the other side of fear?”

Who: Jamie Foxx

Why it matters: This question is a great way to transform a challenge into an opportunity. By digging into what is it that you’re really scared of, you usually end up with answers that can be overcome.

It’s a great “go to” question when you feel yourself becoming fearful or apprehensive. When you’re about to take a leap, ask yourself “what’s on the other side of fear?”

Remember, when you define a situation as a “threat” rather than a “challenge” your anxiety increases and you lose your personal power. (Source)

Tony Robbins also teaches that the questions that we ask ourselves form the foundation of our mindset on life. This is a powerful question to have in your arsenal.

How to do it: The next time you want to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and are feeling hesitant, ask yourself “what’s on the other side of fear?” You’ll likely realize its something that can easily be defeated.

Where: Jamie Foxx on Workout Routines, Success Habits, and Untold Hollywood Stories

 

Lesson #8: Take initiative first and good things will follow.

Who: Jimmy Chin

Why it matters: If you think about some of the most “successful” moments you’ve had in your life, it was likely preceded by some sort of action you took to move towards a goal.

Perhaps you asked someone to coffee and ended working for or with that person a few months later. Perhaps you made the first move to get in touch with someone you liked romantically that led to a relationship.

The point Jimmy was trying to make is that the first step is the most important step because it builds positive momentum.

The truth is, if you don’t take that first step there’s nothing positive to be had.

How to do it: When working towards your goals, make sure you take action first. In the podcast Jimmy talks about how he drove across the country to visit the office of a photographer he greatly admired. He ended up waiting in the lobby day after day with an assistant who kept on making excuses for her boss.

Finally, he was graciously invited to his role model’s office and ended up meeting with him for hours!  This man became a mentor of his and inspired him to go on his first rock climbing/photography session in a prized and remote location.

Where: The Athlete (And Artist) Who Cheats Death, Jimmy Chin

 

Lesson #9: Befriend yourself.

Who: Tara Brach

Why it matters: Do you constantly talk down to yourself? Call yourself dumb for making a minor mistake? I think we’re all guilty of this to some degree. The sad thing is, we rarely show ourselves compassion.

If you overheard a friend telling herself how dumb she was because of a tiny mistake, wouldn’t you tell her to show herself some compassion?

You probably would… So why do we treat ourselves this way!?

In this episode, Tara shares how her spiritual awakening was rooted in realizing the importance of self-compassion. It’s important to show yourself some love.

How to do it: The next time you catch yourself getting into “negative self-talk” mode, develop a mantra or a cue to snap out of it. It could be something like, “I’m a work in progress” rather than saying something like “I’m so stupid.” You can steal a line from the “growth mindset” idea we talked about and say something like “I’m still growing and improving.” Be good to yourself. There’s only one you.

Where: Tara Brach on Meditation and Overcoming FOMO

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4 Action Steps to Build Unshakeable Confidence

Confidence. What a weird thing.

It seems simple, but it’s not. For some people it’s one of those things that ebbs and flows, you feel super confident one day and not confident the next.

For others, it’s a struggle to even feel an ounce of confidence…ever.

But here’s one thing we can all likely agree on– we all want to be more confident than we are today.

Confidence seems like one of those things people just “magically” have, but it’s not that simple. Confidence takes time, practice and a strong belief in yourself.

I’ve heard many of ya’ll talk about how confidence is something you struggle with. If you’re one of them, I think the post I’m sharing with you today will be helpful, it’s called: 4 Action Steps to Build Unshakeable Confidence.

In it I cover:

  • 4 actionable strategies you can use to start improving your confidence
  • How to start stepping out of your comfort zone–without all the anxiety & emotional baggage
  • Why defining your life values will make you more decisive & confident (& how to do it)
  • The scientifically proven #1 mindset that will help you improve your performance
  • The right way to view “time” & how to get over regretting the past & worrying about the future

It’s a guest post I wrote and there’s also a great video from my friend Antonio who shares some of his own personal struggles with confidence and how he overcame them.

What was your favorite action item? Let me know in the comments below!
 

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How to get your inner-voice to SHUT UP!

Do you constantly hear that voice in your head that second guesses everything you say and do?

 

It may sound like this:
  • Ugh, did I really just say that?
  • I forget everything that person just said, now what do I say?
  • Why is she looking at me like I’m an alien?

That voice tells you you’re not good enough, it makes you feel like absolutely everyone is judging you (even though they’re not), and it tells you this is just the way you are… Yes, that’s the negative self-talk I’m talking about.

Contrary to what that voice is telling you, it doesn’t have to be “the way you are.”

The reality is that the things we tell ourselves dictates our moods, our outcomes and ultimately…our life.

Today I want to share three ways you can beat negative self-talk so you can start living your best life.

1. Transfer the guilt

Do you ever do something silly or make a mistake and say “Jeez, I’m so stupid”?

You may think this is something really minor, but it’s not. You are creating a generic label for yourself based off of one tiny mistake or comment. Sometimes it’s not even a “mistake” that triggers this, it’s a reaction from someone else or something in your external environment that you’re not consciously aware of.

You are the story you tell yourself.

Next time you make a mistake, try changing your narrative from negative to empowering. So rather than telling yourself you’re dumb, change the narrative to something like “Oops that thing I did was silly, next time I’ll think through it.”

You’ve done two things here:

  • First you are removing your SELF from the equation. You did something that was a silly mistake rather than equating the mistake to mean you’re dumb
  • The second thing you are doing is deciding how you will take action if that happens again. You have gone from making yourself a victim of “dumbness” to empowering yourself

2. Use mental habits to gain control

Do you close the bathroom door even when you’re home alone? How much mental power does it take for you to brush your teeth as soon as you get up? Not much right? That’s the power of habit.

In the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, he discusses the habit loop which consists of the cue, routine, and reward.

Start identifying the cues that make you think negatively about yourself. Is it when you make a minor mistake? Is it when you first sit down behind your desk at work when you don’t want to be there?

Identify these cues and note them down. The next time you’re “cued” become aware of it and actively change the routine of negative self-talk.

Once you identify that cue, you can change the routine. Rather than allowing your negative self-talk to kick in commit to a “plan B.” It may be that you leave the office for a 5 minute walk or pick up the phone and call a loved one. Remember, changing habits is all about trial and error.
Neuroscience has shown that you can program the brain to make automatic habits. Habits take anywhere from 2- 4 weeks to solidify so start taking action today.

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The Secret to Charisma

Let me tell you a story about "Charismatic Casondra."

Strangers, my family members, and mutual friends tell my BFF Casondra everything.

Here’s how a typical conversation between me and Casondra goes:

Casondra: “Hey did you know Jackie is going through a nasty divorce?” or “Did you know your brother is dating a new girl?"

Me: “Umm. No I had no clue. That person hasn’t told me a word about any of that! Are you for real?!"

I won’t bore you with the rest of the gossipy details, but suffice to say that people weirdly and inherently just trust Casondra and she gets to know people on a very deep level. Even strangers!

The point is Casondra is charismatic. You know those people who are so damn charismatic that it almost bothers you to see them socialize? People love them, confide in them, and they always seem to get ahead in life.

While they're getting ahead, you're sitting there thinking "how the hell did they pull that off when they're not as smart/nice/good as I am?"

Well you don't have to wonder anymore. The deal is charisma is a skill that can be learned, adjusted and practiced. Scientific research has proven this time and time again.

So much so, that in a controlled lab experiment researchers can increase or decrease people’s charisma ratings based on telling them to do certain things. Crazy right!?

Here's the #1 way to instantly become more charismatic: be present.

See when you talk to Casondra, you feel like you’re the only person in the room. She listens attentively, she’d never look away, she’ll ask about you to make you feel important and you’ll feel like you’re sharing the same exact moment in time.

You may feel this way when you’re talking to a charismatic person perhaps a friend, your boss/CEO, or a time you’ve met a famous person. You may describe these people as having a "presence."

You can start cultivating this skill too.

Here’s how to get started:

Next time you have a conversation, rather than letting your mind run around about how the other person is judging you or what you’re going to make for dinner, focus on the conversation at hand.

Observe your own mind the next time you’re in a conversation and figure out if your mind was wandering or if you were listening attentively.

Catch yourself.

If your mind was wandering, draw your mind back to the conversation at hand. Focus on the words the other person is saying, listen to your breathing, take in the moment and hold the mental chatter.

Do this during your next conversation, regardless of who it is with. Take a mental pause and check-in to make sure you’re “in the moment.”

You may be thinking okay, this is some new age non-sense.

It's not. See, being present is an internal tool that directly affects your external body language and behavior. Your external behavior is how people perceive whether or not you're charismatic. That's why this skill is important.

So give it a shot and share your results in the comments below.

I know this isn't easy. That's why in the next post we will cover ways to shut your “mental chatter" up and transform negative self-talk. It will make being present much easier. For now, get started on observing your mind. Next, we’ll work on changing it.

Do you have someone in your life who is super charismatic? What's the #1 thing you notice about how they act? Comment below!

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7 Tips to Beat Fear from a Man who PURPOSELY Gets Rejected

This is the second post of a two-part series about Jason Comely, someone who faced crippling social anxiety and his remarkable story of how he got over it. To read the interview, click here

It always helps to learn from the best. If you want to achieve something spectacular, wouldn’t you want to learn from those who have hit it out of the park?

Some of the most successful people constantly do this. When Tony Robbins (whose businesses are worth over $6 billion) wanted to write a book about personal finance he interviewed and learned from the best in the finance industry like Paul Tudor Jones and Carl Icahn.

Tim Ferriss the NY Times best-selling author, TV show host, and entrepreneur has made a career off of interviewing and studying people who are the best at what they do.

You can do this too and I want to help. Interested?

I want to share a remarkable story about Jason Comely.

It’s a true story of someone who suffered from crippling social anxiety and beat it by doing something someone with social anxiety would never even imagine doing.

Let me paint you a picture of Jason’s former life:

  • He would retreat back to his apartment that he felt was “a cage” on a Friday night because he had no friends
  • He would have to walk away from social situations because his body would feel numb and he’d be short of breath
  • He felt hopeless, frustrated and angry when he’d try to talk to people
  • Jason said he “was mad at himself, with God and the world”

This is Jason’s current life:

  • Let me put it to you this way, you’d never guess he used to struggle with social anxiety
  • He is an active part of his community and is working to help people beat their fear of rejection by a card game he created called Rejection Therapy
  • His story and card game landed him interviews on NPR, numerous blogs and Marie Claire Magazine!

So how’d he do it?

Jason beat his social anxiety by getting rejected on purpose…over and over again.

If you’re interested in hearing the whole story, click here for my 1-1 interview with him.

Modeling people who have achieved what you badly want to achieve is a great way to improve. so today I want to share 7 of the best takeaways from our interview along with actionable tips you can use to beat ANY fear you’re facing in your life.

1. Use “small wins”to propel your success

Small wins are met by setting “micro goals.” Using small wins helps you build momentum and motivation so you can build upon each of the small achievements and start creating larger goals for yourself.

Jumping

In Jason’s story he was terrified of getting rejected but knew the only way to get over this was to turn it into a game. He started off by asking for small favors like a piece of gum or handing out a flyer and then he made his asks even bigger and more audacious. Starting off small gave him confidence to begin asking for medium and larger sized asks to achieve his ultimate goal of rejection.

Small wins can be attained by setting micro-goals. They must be:

  • Specific
  • Have a deadline
  • Have a small reward tied to the action (not the result)

How to get started:

Come up with 1 or 2 micro goals that you can achieve in the next 10 days. Write them down and be specific. Make them achievable, specific, set a deadline and have a small reward tied to the action itself rather than the result.

Here’s an example:

  • Greet 5 co-workers as soon as I walk into the office in the morning within the next 10 days. If I achieve this I’ll treat myself to a latte on Friday. It doesn’t matter if they greet me back or not, as long as I greet them I’ll achieve my goal

Getting specific will prevent you from making excuses when you want to go after your goals because you’ll know exactly what you should do. It also makes it really easy to measure, you’ll clearly know if you achieved the goal or not.

Giving yourself a deadline will force you to do it sooner than later. Making these goals achievable is vital to boost your confidence and to reduce your fear of failing.

 2. Get to your “aha moment”

Man Reflecting

Have you taken the time to reflect lately? I know this sounds really cheesy, but it’s so necessary. Jason credits self-reflection when he talks about finding his “aha moment.” We always seem to have the music or TV going to distract us and we fail to ask ourselves simple questions that can change our lives.

The questions we ask ourselves shape our lives. If you ask yourself questions that are based in fear you will be afraid. If you ask yourself empowering questions that help you take action, you will be able to make great change.

How to get started:

Just spend 10 minutes this week to write out some answers to these questions:

  • What are you afraid of?
  • What is the biggest “problem” in your life?
  • How can you start taking action NOW?
  • If you solved this problem, what would your life be like?
  • What’s one tiny action step you can take right now?

If you haven’t done this exercise before, I can guarantee your answers will surprise you.

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3 Ways to Improve your Communication Skills, Charisma & Likability

Life is not fair.

People would rather work with someone who is more likable, but less competent compared to someone who is less likable but more competent.

The Gallup organization has conducted a personality factor poll prior to every presidential election since 1960. Only one of three factors – issues, party affiliation, and likability, has been a consistent factor of the final election result:

Likability.

Quote

People with more social capital happen to make more money, get promoted faster and have a better social life than those who don’t.

In this guest post I write about how you can start developing the skills you need to start taking advantage of these competitive advantages.

I also address:

  • How to increase your social confidence and charisma
  • How being “likable” can improve your income, job title and odds of getting elected for President!
  • Effective ways to use body language
  • An easy formula to elicit strong emotions, so you can have exciting and engaging conversations
  • A framework to come up with interesting questions for any conversation

If you want to read the full story, click here!

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How to STOP negative self-talk & START improving your social skills

Shy Yoda

I used to consider myself an introvert before I started my own business and had to put myself out there. To be honest, I didn’t really like making new friends, I was pretty quiet unless something really irked me enough to speak up, and I had a pretty small professional network. Starting a business and having to raise capital forced me to change all of that. But I’ll never forget how deathly afraid I was at the first few months of networking events and meeting new people.

But I was able to do it. I raised capital for our business, built a pretty deep professional network with awesome advisors, and now feel really comfortable in social situations. It’s great now but all of this took time, practice, and a strong commitment. I learned something:

Socializing and communication are skills, similar to learning a new language and it’s something you can learn, practice and improve.

Do you walk into a social setting and think any of these things?

  • I should leave now
  • I just don’t like people
  • I’m an introvert, I’m just wired that way
  • I’m going to say something REALLY dumb
  • Ugh, this is SO draining

Don’t worry you’re not alone. I used to think all of these things. Recently, I have spoken to people in my network, have dug around Reddit and read numerous forums. Trust me, you’re not alone. But the real question is do you want to improve this? The important thing to remember is that social skills are skills, meaning they can be learned, practiced, and perfected.

It’s tough to be committed to making a change and here’s why:

  • You need to go outside of your comfort zone– it’s easier to do nothing
  • Eventually, you will have to speak to people (oh no!)
  • It takes a long time and is something that you’ll continue to work on and improve for decades

Now, let’s consider some things that could happen if you don’t change:

  • You may miss important career or business opportunities
  • You could miss meeting really great people who can turn into lifelong friends
  • You could end up isolated and alone
  • You won’t have a professional network to learn, grow with and contribute to

Man reflecting

Now that we’ve gotten over the tough stuff, do you want to make a significant improvement in your social and communication skills? If so, read on.

I want to give you 3 actionable tips you can begin using NOW to start taking the baby steps towards improving your social skills. But before we dive into those tips let me preface it with a few caveats:

  • Failing is fine- These are things you will have to work through and it will not be easy. Be prepared to fail and when you do, applaud yourself for trying and try again!
  • Celebrate small wins- these are small, simple goals to set for yourself but taking action now and achieving them will give you confidence and motivation to keep on going.
  • You must want to change– please don’t bother setting yourself up for failure, only try out these tactics and read this if you’re committed to improvement. No whining, only trying, experimenting and improving. It may take weeks or months to perfect these things and that’s totally fine as long as you’re trying.

 

THE FIRST STEP- WORK ON YOURSELF

This may sound anti-climactic right? You probably thought I was going to tell you how to make someone laugh or how to get the business card of a VIP. Let’s start with the basics. Based on my research I noticed time and time again that people who struggled with effectively communicating developed debilitating stories about themselves or the way they were perceived by others. Things like:

  • “I can tell people don’t take me seriously”
  • “My coworkers don’t like me, but they like my peer who’s less capable.”
  • “When I go to social events all I do is worry about the way other people are thinking about me”
  • “At parties, I’ve just realized that I’m that guy. The awkward one who’s not talking”

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