Session 1 Podcasts

Session 1 is to listen to the Tim Ferrris Show. I actually got inspired to pursue this SDMBA after listening to some of the Tim Ferriss Show podcasts.  Each bullet is an episode and some quick thoughts/takeaways. the first couple are not as detailed since I listened to them prior to being intentional about compiling this:

  1. Kevin Rose-  First ever episode of the show, very interesting guest
  2. Joshua Waitzkin- talked through philosophies on learning. Chess prodigy and later world champion at Tai Chi Push Hands. Takeaways: spends a lot of time with his son, the most important person in his life. Pick up his book “the art of learning”. takeaway – to practice regular meditation
  3. Kelly Starrett and Dr. Justin Mager – Takeaways- meditation, they talked about the blood testing and next generation of tracking health information on gadgets (phones, watches, implants, etc.) Building a health profile
  4. Ryan Holiday – Intelligent young guest – only 26 at the time of this podcast. Talked a lot about reading add Marcus Aurelius- Meditations to the reading list. Talked Stoicism. Keep people with a lot of drama and pathological problems out of your life as much as possible. Keep people you are trying to impress out of your group of friends. On mentors- mentors are not typically as straight forward and structured as you would think. It is more of a person that there is a give or take and someone you look up to enough to be able to say “what would _____ do if they were confronted with this issue”. You also shouldn’t just ask this person to mentor you, let the relationship grow intentionally, but it isn’t as structured as you would think. If you could give yourself one piece of advice what would it be = Relax. 
  5. Jason Silva – Modern day working philosopher is what TF called him. Host of Brain Games. Go into a flow state when you are in a “no mind” state when you are hyperfocused but not all there. Jason’s “sport” is his speaking what he is thinking. He is timid and reserved unless he is engaged and passionate on a topic, then he is a situation specific extrovert. Jason talks a lot about this flow state throughout the podcast. This relaxed state of mind where you can optimize yourself in a nearly trance-like stat is a thread i have found common in several of TF podcasts and books on the topic. Other stuff from the podcast: traveling a lot, reluctant to settle down (lives like a nomad right now), big time film junkie- one of the times where he can get completely immersed. One last thing is his biggest regret was also what he would change about himself if he could: not worrying so much and not being as anxious. Anxiety and worry are crippling, how can we systematically overcome anxiety? TF brought up a Mark Twain quote about worry: 

    “I Am an Old Man and Have Known a Great Many Troubles, But Most of Them Never Happened”

  6. 6 Formulas for more output and less overwhelm: the paradox of choice- why more is less. this is a short format podcast that goes through a list.
    • the more options you consider, the more buyers regret you will have. or regret in general
    • the more options you encounter, the less fulfilling the outcome will be
      1. too many choices = less or no productivity, appreciation, and promotes a sense of overwhelm
    • Here are the 6 rules below:
      1. set rules for yourself so you can automate as much decision making as possible
        1. bills on autopay, etc.
      2. Don’t provoke deliberation until you can take action (don’t scan the inbox on Friday night if you cannot get to them until Monday)
      3. Don’t postpone decisions (open loops) just to avoid uncomfortable conversations
      4. Learn to make nonfatal or reversible decisions as quickly as possible – if the risk is low, make decisions then move on
        1. set time limits for certain decisions, consider no more than (3) options, if the potential damage is less than $100 do not contact me (from a business standpoint). do not waste your
      5. Don’t strive for variation in thus increased options, routine enables innovation
        1. Daily rituals of most productive people on TF book list
      6. Regret is past tense decision making
        1. it is water under the bridge, so minimize complaining to minimize regret.
        2. 21 day no complaint experiment- snap your wrist with a rubber band every time you complain
    • Let’s assume you cut your average decision cycle time by 40%, you spend more time on revenue generating decisions, and you have better satisfaction and quality of life. Embrace the choice minimal lifestyle. Most decisions are not that risky, make them faster.
  7. Podcast 7 is with Stephen Dubner, co-author of Freakononomics. This was an interesting discussion since they talked more about his background, writing process, parenting, favorite documentaries etc. Sounds like an interesting guy, but there were not as many actionable items i could find in this podcast. Might add the book Freakonomics to the reading list.
  8. Chase Jarvis- professional photographer and entrepreneur.Main inflection points in his life/career that led to his success: the camera his grandfather passed down to him. He was able to learn in an environment that the stakes were low and he was able to figure it out. he was able to play and put himself in the situations. Then he was able move to Steamboat where the market and opportunities for this photography were. after you master your craft, the rest is VISION and EXECUTION. The way he hacked the system was at several thousand dollars per day he charged pretty much right away. He had the portfolio and understanding of the market place. Negotiating is extremely important- put yourself in those positions. Go to a state fair and negotiate for items to practice. Being great at your craft matters a lot- if you are going to charge that amount you better be worth it. Just because something is great doesn’t mean it will be successful. Be able to sell and tell the story successfully. Do not think “i do not have that gift, therefore i cannot do it.” you need to do that crap. What books/ resources helped you become better at photography? Read several books, studied the guys that started it all in the 50’s, 60’s 70’s- Warhol etc. read a bunch of autobiographies. How do you Zig when everyone is Zagging? He ended up being different by sharing his work and chronicling himself. Study other industries- do not get stuck in your own because the principles almost always apply across your field. Saying no has a strong effect on the other person (this is a bit of a luxury, so you cannot do this all the time or before you have built up a base so that you have to choose). Everything should ladder up to your main goals. There is always a market for the highest quality product (vs. competing on price). What do you prize more/less: health, longevity, and ability to enjoy it. Sleep and meditation are two of the other things: transcendental meditation. He sits down between 15-20 minutes at least once per day, observe thoughts. Mentions the FLOW STATE- clarity of everything happening in slow motion. Being able to tell the story is incredibly important for your success.
  9.  The Not to do list: 9 habits to Stop now
    1. Do not answer phone calls by unknown or unwanted callers. You do not want to be surprised
    2. Do not email first thing in the morning or last thing at night. It scrambles your priority list for the morning or causes insomnia.
    3. Do not agree to meetings or calls with no agenda or end time. If the desired outcome is defined clearly, no meeting or call should last more than 30 minutes- if agenda is known you should be able to prepare and complete in 30 minutes
    4. Do not ramble, small talk, etc. You cannot afford the interruption
    5. Do not check email constantly, TF checks his twice per day. Email is everyone else’s problem. Check it at set times
    6. Do not over-communicate with low profit, high maintenance customers.
    7. Do not work more to fix overwhelm- PRIORITIZE. Define the most important item for each day. Let little bad things happen.
    8. Do not carry a digital leash 24 hours per day- phone, etc. I am not the president of the united states, you do not need to get ahold of me at 8 pm
    9. Do not expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships and activities should. Schedule work and important activities like they were important business items.
  10. Brian Koppelman- screenwriter. Biggest takeaway is to try not to get blinded by conventional wisdom. TF makes the comment “nobody gets fired for buying IBM”. There are a lot of self preservation tactics in the industry that shuts down good ideas, talent etc. Things that were shut down: the illusionist, Tracy Chapman, etc. because they were not in the cookie cutter slot the major labels were looking for. Try free writing. Recommended book- Morning pages by Julia Cameron.
  11. Drugs and the Meaning of Life- 20 minute essay by Sam Harris. Discussion of his experiences on psychedelic drugs. The merits and  pitfalls of the drugs such as LSD. How he was able to expand his mind through the experiences.
  12. Dr. Rhonda Patrick on Life Extension, Performance and more… Discussion about healthy living and the lack of vitamins most Americans aren’t getting. There are a bunch in this podcast, and what she says is that the damage is incremental. what she means by this is that what we consider “aging” is really just the accumulated damage from the last 50-60 years of deficiencies. Our bodies naturally prioritize available resources in a triage method. So while we have a measurable deficiency, you will not see the negative impacts until later in life when the damage is too late. Answer is to eat all of the “colors” Dark greens, berries, almonds, avocados. Eliminate processed carbohydrates. TF compares it to a Paleo diet, which she seems to agree with however she does not specifically subscribe to it. Mentions that there is much lower inflammation in people that cut out these carbs.
  13. Productivity tricks– here is the list directly copied over from Tim Ferriss’ site. the whole podcast is transcribed here:
    1.  Wake up at least 1 hour before you have to be at a computer screen. E-mail is the mind killer.
    2. Make a cup of tea (I like pu-erh) and sit down with a pen/pencil and paper.
    3. Write down the 3-5 things — and no more — that are making you most anxious or uncomfortable. They’re often things that have been punted from one day’s to-do list to the next, to the next, to the next, and so on. Most important usually = most uncomfortable, with some chance of rejection or conflict.
    4. For each item, ask yourself:
      – “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?”
      – “Will moving this forward make all the other to-do’s unimportant or easier to knock off later?”
    5. Look only at the items you’ve answered “yes” to for at least one of these questions.
    6. Block out at 2-3 hours to focus on ONE of them for today. Let the rest of the urgent but less important stuff slide. It will still be there tomorrow.
    7. TO BE CLEAR: Block out at 2-3 HOURS to focus on ONE of them for today. This is ONE BLOCK OF TIME. Cobbling together 10 minutes here and there to add up to 120 minutes does not work.
    8. If you get distracted or start procrastinating, don’t freak out and downward spiral; just gently come back to your ONE to-do-TF also has this advice: If you consistently feel the counterproductive need for volume and doing lots of stuff, put these on a Post-it note:
      • Being busy is a form of laziness–lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.
      • Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable

      -Not 100% sure what podcast it was, but it was an early one the comment was that our time is our most valuable, but least valued resource. Example being willing to stand in line for 30 minutes to get a free $5 stainless steel kitchen tool.

  14. Sam Harris – Spirituality, Neuroscience, Meditation, and more. Sam Harris wrote the essay in episode 11 about drugs and the meaning of life. He starts by talking about his research in beliefs people have. His research shows that physiologically, a belief is the same whether it is the belief that 2+2=4 or religion. Talks about meditation being a way to get into a deeper state of consciousness. Talks about the use of psychedelic drugs as a way to expand and open the mind. One of his more controversial topics is on “blaming” Islam for terrorism. He makes several very good arguments and says that even if it is only 1% of the people who practice Islam- it is still well over a million people who believe it is good to die a martyr.
  15. Neil Straus-Author of The Game and several other books. Metaphor he uses is feedback is a catcher’s mitt. The first thing you do is say “is this true” if yes, put it in your head. If not, then you want to discard it. If it is a “Maybe” have a couple people look at it and reevaluate it. If there is feedback you get that keeps coming back to you you need to reevaluate it. Also – do not take it personally. When you are doing a big project rally to get it completely done, then go back and polish it several times to get it where it is in a usable state. The first rev is just getting everything out there. Best program is Freedom– which shuts down your internet for X amount of time so you are not tempted. The biggest problem is that when something is challenging you are going to try to find something else. You need to build systems to protect against yourself- Create your sacred space. When interviewing you should always sell yourself, not what you are trying to actually sell. Don’t go on to sell, go on to represent. Books to gift to other people: Seneca- on the shortness of life, 100 years of solitude, The painted Bird- Kozinski. The biggest mistake you can make is to accept the norms of your time.
  16. Joe De Sena on Grit, endurance, and Building Empires – Joe’s greatest ability is that he has the fire in his belly to get stuff done. He is just completely relentless. He won an entrepreneurship award because he was they appreciated his relentlessness. The guy is crazy when it comes to endurance events and created the Spartan race and Death race- which they basically just end when there are 15% of the initial participants remaining.
  17. The power of negative visualization – TF had a sense of urgency after seeing two close people with cancer pass away. Borrows some of this essay from Stoicism.
    1. Defining your fears instead of your goals is a key to doing anything uncommon or anything big. Preparation in practical pessimism.
    2. Take out a piece of paper and list out all of the horrible things that could happen if you if you went through with an action. in the second column- what you can do to minimize those things from happening. in the third column list all of the things you could do to get back to the status quo. Back into the industry you were in.
    3. set aside a number of days each month where you set aside all of your luxuries and comforts to ask yourself: is this the condition i feared? you can innoculate yourself from the things that you are afraid of. many of the fears you have are easily attainable.
  18. James Altucher- Really interesting guest who also has his own Podcast (session 3 podcasts). Gained and lost millions of dollars several times. He has started 20 businesses and a couple of them have been successful. “They say you are the average of the five people around you”. Do not take your abundance for granted and take risks with your abundance. Entrepreneurship is to reduce risks – if you look at titans of industry- the vast majority of top performers are experts at quantifying and mitigating risk. To be vaguely correct and not precisely wrong. Routine is a way to mitigate risk, here is his morning routine- Sleep at least 8 hours a day, then read to get inspired, then start writing. Goal to improve 1% per week.  He said it feels like his life has changed 100% every six months. It is really good to read fiction- the best writers are writing fiction. This is the style he tries to write his books in. (Power of No, Choose Yourself. Uses fiction to “prime the pump”. Saying No- it is in the valley of failure that you sow your seeds of success. you wouldn’t buy a book on how to pick up girls from Brad Pitt. It has to be someone who struggled, studied and figured it out. Be able to say no to even the myths and societal norms that your parents and other people put on you. How do you define success on your own merits? “No” allows you to conserve your energy for the things that you care about. Time is not money- time is infinite times more valuable than money. Just say “NO” you do not need to give them a reason or excuse why, or say “i can’t”. Why do you have to give an explanation- your time is valuable. He outsources his email to India. You need to understand when you need to say “no”. people are very hard on themselves- and easy on others- learn the situations you need to say no. When you provide an explanation you are bound by the explanation- the less justification. If you loan money to someone, you just inherit all of their problems. There is a huge opportunity cost to saying yes- because of the time you can lose. Every tomorrow is determined by what you do today. Dennis Johnson- Jesus’ Son short stories.
  19. Top 5 Reasons to be a Jack of All Trades-“Specialization is for insects”.
    1. It is a false Dichotomy- the 80/20 rule applies to most skills 20% of a study gets you 80% of the results. You can intentionally become in the top 5% of something in 9-12 months. Lack of urgency from something that takes a lifetime to master.
    2. In a world of dogmatic specialists, it is usually the generalist that runs the show- if you have a broad range of skills you will be able to see the interconnectiveness.
    3. Boredom is Failure- in a first world economy you have all of the survival bases covered. you get pushed higher up Maslow’s hierarchy of success to intellectual pursuits that are not as easy to satisfy. The most successful people are not typically the ones that do not have their identity invested in one skillset.
    4. diversity of intellectual playgrounds instills confidence instead of fear- how much you exude confidence vs. fear. on the extreme xenophobia and smugness that is extended from overspecializing. Example is that one engineer’s whole life worth was wrapped up in one skillset, one perspective, he was more concerned about being proven right than getting results. You want to avoid this myopic behavior.
    5. It is more fun: the Jack of all trades maximizes his number of peak experiences in life. You can be the jack of many trades and pursues specialties in specific areas. At a high level you will see larger leaps vs small incremental improvements in specializing. Do not try to please everyone. Be too complex to categorize, specialization is for insects. If you could specialize in 12 skills, what would they be? 
  20. Dan Carlin- hardcore history. Definitely a podcast that I should check out. really long and well researched historical podcasts. reads a ton of books and puts a ton of information before making the podcasts. While it is an interesting podcast, i would say that Carlin seems to be more of a natural storyteller. He mentions he is not very good at being productive, fast at reading, etc. probably the best item in the whole podcast is that he says you need to capitalize on your strength. He was an excellent storyteller and loved history. The internet allows you to be able to put information out there that is more like “narrow-casting” vs. broadcasting- there is an audience out there for this sort of thing. The other thing he mentions is that you have to be true to yourself and be happy- that is the key.
  21. Mike Shinoda- Linkin Park Interview. habits of effective people – one thing is that he looks at the things he does every day that makes him better. He barely watches any TV. You do not need to respond to every email. Rapid fire questions- favorite movies: the godfather, seven, fight club. Anime- Akira. Wall-E. Books: Tipping Point, Blink. Successful – Rick Rubin – grew up practicing transcendental meditation- you make better decisions and are more productive when you have a clear mind. If you could change something about yourself, what would it be? – Not expecting people to do things the way you would. It is good to remember to give people their own room to do how they would. Most frequently played music- heavier rock stuff: Doom riders, Royal Blood, etc. If you could give your 20 year old self advice: Stick with your gut- pay attention to your intuition. Always ask: would you be willing to quit your job for this idea and would you put all of your money behind this idea? If you scratch your own itch you will always have an audience of one.
  22. Ed Catmull- Co-Founder of Pixar. Let me start with saying this was a pretty difficult episode to listen to. I don’t know if it was Ed’s 4 minute answers or Tim’s “mmhmm…….mmmhmmmm……….mmmmmhhmmmm…….right…….mmhmmm..” during the 4 minute answers but it drove me nuts. Tim is typically a great interviewer, but this one had much too long of answers. Wrote Creativity Inc. which should be a very good business book (added to list). On Steve Jobs, he mentions that Steve was able to go back and change himself. When you think of successful: in terms of happiness- when. He meditates between 30-60 minutes per day and has for many years in the style of  Vipassana? If you could change one thing: can i take on a different perspective so i can review things a way i hadn’t  before. Advice to 20 year old self:  If he gave his 20 YO self that advice, he doesn’t think he would have understood it: you cannot sidestep things, you will have to go through them to come out and understand them. If something was painful, you cannot say “avoid doing that” because it helps create the person you are.
  23. Homeopathic remedies or Medicine- Homeopathic medicine. Short in between-isode. 30C is 10^-60 dilution that is the potency he is talking about:basically less than 1/3 of a drop in all the oceans of the world. they display no ability to heal other than placebo. Tim talks a lot about the placebo effect. You can misattribute the healing to regression to the mean. Basically if you look at symptoms as a bell curve, you are willing to take the wackiest stuff when everything is at its worst and nothing is working. but when it naturally courses back to the mean, you may attribute feeling “better” to the homeopathic Hail Mary you threw. He puts a disclaimer in there saying that there could be some unexplained outcome
  24. Kevin Rose is back- TF has Lyme disease. Kevin talks about going gluten free and mentions a lot of the benefits he has had. They discuss “next chapters” in their lives, what is coming up etc. Mentions these three apps:
      • Lift – The app that help you reach your goals
      • Headspace meditation app
      • Calm meditation app
    1. Kevin talks about meditation and some of the benefits he has seen even after just 93 days. Mentions books by Nassim Taleb: Antifragile and Black Swan. 
  25. – 27 Kevin Kelly – This  was a 3 part podcast that was really interesting. One of the big things right off the bat was that he mentioned he didn’t have a ‘real’ job until he was 35 or something like that. He traveled for many years and learned how little you can survive on: Contentment in minimalism and “volunteer simplicity”.  Writing actually creates ideas. Why you do not want to be a billionaire: it doesn’t get you anything. Money is extremely overrated. He says travel when you are young, then you will see these rich people on their one-week trips saying “i wish i had more time”. He also talked about the Amish and Amish assimilation- how they only accept technology if it maintains the core community aspect that they have. Everything they accept or deny is to maintain their community. It takes them longer to get to town, they travel together, they support their neighbors, they eat all meals with their kids. A very strong community. He also talked about having a technology-free sabbatical every week. It is good to unplug so you do not get jaded by the technology.
  26. Peter Tiel- author of Zero to One. Started Paypal. What do you wish you would have known 20 years ago: there is no reason to wait. if you have a 10 year plan, why can’t you do this in 6 months. is it just a story you tell yourself? Failure is overrated, people do not learn much from failure, you think you failed for reason 1 but it was reasons 1-5, the next business you start will fail for reasons 2, 3…. Zuckerberg, Bezos, or Musk are different because they are so relentless. They wake up and they keep going and pushing the envelope. Biggest tech trends defining the future? doesn’t like tech trend, you don’t want to be the nth company of any trend. you need a sense of mission that you are working on a unique problem that nobody else is working on. problem he faces every day that nobody is dealing with: aging and death. We are doing very little extending life (typically from “old age”). What would you say to the 9.6 million Americans without jobs? there is no one size fits all, we need to find more growth in our economy. Technology is the key driver for growth. For education we are at a point where the Catholic church was during the reformation. Overpriced and. Have sustained conversations with people that are smarter than you. What one thing would you like to change about yourself- he was insanely tracked/competitve, but lost out on other things. He has become more conscious about becoming less competitive so he can be more successful. Writing Zero to One he wanted to spread a broad word. We need to innovate more, but there is still a ton of low hanging fruit out there. He tried to take everything he has learned int the last 50 years and distill it into 200 pages.
  27. What I learned Losing a Million Dollars-Brendan Moynihan. They spent a lot of time talking about the story. There are different kinds of “investors”: traders, betters, gamblers, investors, etc.. Talks about groupings and how we understand information, condensing perceptual data into a representative value. TF talks about a book called “the checklist manifesto” -flight list, etc. There are two stock positions you can hold: not long or short, but rather too much or not enough. I have too much if it goes down, not enough if it goes up. you need to have an emotional detachment from your investments. It would be good to read his book on how you lose money. Two books that got him interested in investing: The Money Game: Adam Smith.
  28. Episodes 30-32 were a 3 – part interview with Tracy DiNuzio. Tracy started Tradesy, which is an online exchange like an ebay but more related to designer fashion. TF pitched it as an interview with someone more people that are “in the trenches” can relate to. He typically interviews more of the people that have been successful 15 years ago and have written about their successes, while she is still writing her story. She mentioned she was a traveling artist that used to do a lot of trading, bartering, etc. to survive. This led her to start a site called The Recycled Bride, which she bootstrapped by renting out a room through Airbnb, bartering, and renting one of her rooms to a programmer in exchange for work. This episode was pretty packed with good stuff. The transition from The Recycled Bride to Tradesy was interesting. One of her strengths is that she isn’t afraid to jump into something she doesn’t know a ton about. Talked about the capital procurement process, they raised capital through Launchpad- the first $50k cost them 6% i believe. Which was interesting because she said that it is easy to look back and say “i gave up 6% for only 50k when that is work X now” but she doesn’t. She believes it is the best 6% she has ever spent because of the resources that were made available as well as the investment. As they grew and capital demands increased they had to seek further capital. She talked about terms sheets: basically a formal investment offer with all of the details. Another interesting point she made was about the “pitching” process. Basically how you have to have a solid pitch and you want to practice on the VC firms you are not as interested in first to see what works and what doesn’t. There were a couple of interesting points that came up in the discussion: watch TED talks to hear the structure and draws that people use to pitch their ideas, Read Yahoo headlines to see what ‘grabs’ your attention and analyze why. Listen to really good pitches, figure out what the key components are that make it a great pitch: don’t get caught up in the details, you want to get more excitement around the “vision”, end with the ask, have a very clear plan for what should be included in the pitch.  The third round of funding that they went through netted them around $13M and included a rockstar list of investors including John Doerr, Richard Branson, TF, and a bunch of other investors that I don’t remember their names. Recommended books: Good to Great (specifically the new version including social sectors) and The Everything Store- about Jim Bezos and I missed a ton of content in this overview, it would probably be worth another listen/transcript read if I was looking for VC funding.
  29. Two part interview with Ramit Sethi on persuasion, negotiation, and turning a blog into a Multi-Million Dollar business. I should look into his Blog: I skimmed through a couple of the entries and it looks really good. Also take a look at his book. Not to derail this review too much, but I read one of his blog posts that called a guy out on his “i am cheap” script: The parts that struck me were where he brought it full circle and showed the categories this guy put himself into “I am cheap”. What are the scripts i tell myself every day? Everyone has them, the first ones that come to my mind are something like, “i am an introvert, i can’t start a conversation with a stranger”; “I am not a vocal leader”; ” I am not good at _______”. It is learned helplessness that also ties back to a Fixed vs. Growth theory of learning cited by many people before. This metaphor just hit home with me… anyways back to the Podcast Review…
  30. Tony Robbins and Peter Diamandis – Two powerhouse names are interviewed in this episode to talk about thinking big, what makes people tick, and how they have found success in thinking big. Diamandis has his X-PRIZE which is a $10M prize for solving  major problem: space exploration, environmental, learning and literacy, etc. Tony Robbins talks about how he has helped change people- it would be interesting to dig more into some of the things he has done. It seems like TR really just wants to help people and has done so for a seriously legitimate list of people. Look into his books, speaking engagements, etc. He says that biggest motivator for people is finding meaning in life. happiness isn’t tied to money, it is a combination of mind, body, growth, etc… If you aren’t growing, your dying.
  31. Alexis Ohanian- Alexis is one of the world’s most selective startup accelerators. People he looks up to – Oprah and Jay Z. Because they started at such a lower point and have gotten to such a high point. Looking up to Buffett and Gates, on how they make the world suck less. He is afraid of his own mortality. He struggles with saying “no” to people. but finds it interesting that he used to struggle to find people to listen to him, but now his inbox is full. When he looks at a startup he is looking for people that have a product market fit, do they have organic growth or are they paying for all of their growth (artificial). And he genuinely hopes they prove him wrong. 2-3 books for entrepreneurs: Founders at work- Jessica Livingston, Masters of Doom- the founding of id software. Talks about Meditation…Task Batching, an App called ScheduleOnce. Favorite interview questions for startups/founders: What is the stuff outside of assigned work that you have? What are you hungry  to learn, if anything? What about the world do you know to be true, that the rest of the world hasn’t caught up to. It is easier to build an experience that is special, jokes in the error messages, etc. Name something that is built into your service that you are really proud of, makes it more personal, etc. what is a response to your feedback email that you had. Go above and beyond and strive to make a greater experience. Determined vs. entitled/arrogant – it is a problem in The Valley, tech, etc. what you will hear all of the partners saying is that you have not yet arrived. people need to be thinking of themselves more as entrepreneurs. When are startups too expensive- more concerned about the burn rates than the valuations. there are a lot of opportunities out there, but really overpriced companies. There is a lot of FOMO out there, there are a lot of momentum investors out there.
  32. Tony Robbins- Life/performance coach. How to get out of a slump: if you do so well that you go past our vision (the astronaut syndrome). what do you do with the rest of your life? You need a ‘compelling future’ this is the nature of a high performer… Whe you meet your vision and it is not fulfilling, when you outrun your vision, it can show when something happens in  your emotional life, you need to trigger what used to make you so effective: Myelin. If you do something over and over again you will be able to do something naturally. Get back to that natural state. He does a breathing exercise which is his type of meditation. Richard Branson’s first question is “What is the risk and how do I avert it?”. Invest in a sure thing- A nickel costs 5 cents but it is worth 6.8 cents. Ray Dalio and the “all weather” investing principles. As much as you think you know you do not know. Always ask what you do not know. He built an alpha fund – you want to have different asset classes that is a more passive investment: there are 4 things that move the price of any investment (inflation, deflation, market increasing, decreasing) What is the right combination of these things to minimize the downside while maximizing the upside. The simple strategy Ray Dalio had laid out – Tony ran it back 30, 40, and 75 years and the losses were extremely minimal and he won 85% of the time. Averages just under 10% return. He says that losers react and winners anticipate. You have to hedge your bets: know that it your investments will drop.  I think the books sounds really worthwhile, as well as several other books he has written in the past- added to buy list.
  33. Maria Popova- Maria is really good at reading, distilling, and writing great summaries of books (sorry to simplify). The biggest thing that stuck with me from listening to it was that you have to write or do anything you are passionate about for that matter for an audience of one. Create something that you would want to experience yourself. Look at her “on the shortness of life – Seneca” post. Allen Watts as a major inspiration. Talks about living with idealism and conviction. It was a good podcast but i listened to it a bit segmented so I wasn’t able to take good notes as I went.
  34. Rolf Potts- Author of Vagabonding. I actually just created a whole blog post for this since it is that good. READ THE BOOK.
  35. Margaret Cho- I am not going to go into a ton of details, they talked about the slow carb diet and the importance of the cheat day. Her routines, struggles, etc. I didn’t have  a ton of takeaways from this one.
  36. How to avoid decision fatigue: an in-between-isode about how to avoid decision fatigue and some of the research behind it. Studies have been done where if you have to make too many decisions you get fatigued and lose willpower. Study about making a ton of decisions then sticking your hand in freezing water. This has been replicated to show that the control group held their hands in for about 60% longer than the fatigued ones. Ways to reduce the decision fatigue are to automate decisions whereever possible: email, what clothes to wear, etc. just take the decision out of your life. look at decisions as points, you start the day with 100 points and they are reduced as the day goes on. It needs to be seen as a limited resource.
  37. Nick Ganju- This was a pretty interesting one on a bunch of stuff- they jumped around quite a bit but there was some key takeaways i got. They talked about avoiding cognitive biases- The ones he mentioned are around sunk costs and anchoring, but there are a ton on the list above. Learning how to avoid them and utilize the biases in other people in negotiations, influencing people. I am hoping The Psychology of Persuasion – Cialdini will go into some of the details on this. How to write a hit song- 1-5-6-4 chord progression see the Axis of Awesome video. Secrets of power negotiation, Getting to Yes, getting past no- all books mentioned in the podcast.
  38. Haven’t done one of these in a long time. I am just going to touch on the second Peter Diamandis

Guest Recommended books. One of TF’s rapid fire questions is always “most gifted” book. here are some of the more interesting ones I have on my list to check out:

  1. Vagabonding
  2. Fight Club
  3. Creativity Inc.
  4. The Painted Bird
  5. The Power of No
  6. Jesus’ Son
  7. Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values
  8. The Artists Way Morning Pages Journal
  9. 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
  10. Business model Generation
  11. The art of the Start 2.0
  12. Blue Ocean Strategy
  13. Freakonomics
  14. Meditations – Marcus Aurelius
  15. On the Shortness of Life- Seneca
  16. So good they can’t ignore you- Cal Newport
  17. The Adventures of Johnny Bunko- Daniel Pink
  18. What i learned losing a million dollars- Moynihan
  19. The Everything Store- Brad Stone
  20. I Will Teach You To Be Rich-Ramit Sethi
  21. Tony Robbins – check out several of his books
  22. stanford y combinator how to start a startup- this is a free series
  23. Founders at work- Jessica Livingston
  24. Masters of Doom- the founding of id software
  25. Getting to Yes OR Getting Past No


The Art Of Learning – Book Review

First book review… we will see how this goes. My goal here is to get 3 main sections: summary of the book and underlying theme/philosophy; main takeaways that stuck out to me as i was reading – whatever they are; and most importantly the actionable items that I took away from the reading and how I can incorporate them into my life.


Josh Waitzkin was introduced to me on the Tim Ferriss Show, episode 2. What really struck me was how he breaks down the things he is trying to master. The Art of learning starts off at a critical moment in Josh’s life, his childhood where he became a chess prodigy. He takes an almost obsessive approach to chess. Most importantly, what makes him a great chess player as a child is that he becomes completely comfortable with the game. He talked about his first chess coach Bruce, and his teaching style to start at the end game. Starting with just two kings and a pawn on the board and working backwards from there. It  allowed him to break the game down into its simplest form without the distraction of all the other pieces. Josh becomes extremely successful even after a very short period of time he starts competing at a high level. On the Nationals final table he lost his first major game against another child. Up until this point he had been invincible, his confidence had been at an all time high. When he lost, this was one of the defining moments in his life. He took a complete break, then cam back more passionate about it than ever.

Josh talks about Entity vs. incremental theories of intelligence. These are terms I had never heard of but I can instantly relate and understand the concepts completely. Entity theory of intelligence is can be summed up by something everyone has heard someone say at some point: I am not good at ______ (math, science, reading, throwing a ball, etc.) It is basically a cop-out as these individuals see the discipline in the blank as a fixed entity, “I am just like that”. An incremental learner associates success with hard work, and tend to have a “mastery-oriented response” to challenging situations. This section was really fascinating (chapter 3) as it talked about the parents role in these theories of intelligence. My main takeaway was to assess the areas in my life where excel through hard work and what areas I have given up on. I am definitely in the incremental learner camp, but there are areas of my life that i have given into my natural tendencies. One that comes to mind right away is a strong dislike for public speaking and really voicing a controversial opinion or point of view.

Chapter 6 talks about psychological advantage- “momentum” in a sporting event. How do we regain presence and clarity of mind after making a serious error vs. getting flustered and giving up the psychological advantage? Do not let one error lead to a downward spiral. A bunch of good examples in the book, but one about a woman who almost got hit by a biker, so started cursing at the biker then walked in front of a taxi and got hit. One small error of not looking both ways for the biker led to a life threatening injury whereas if she kept her cool and regrouped she would not have made the second, much more serious mistake.


Part two enters Josh’s journey into martial arts, Tai Chi, and his path to learning push hands. Chapter 10 is a really good one to revisit one day. It deals with the concept of “investment in loss” – basically that you have to take pride out of the equation and lose… a lot in order to learn something completely. Allow for the times when you are not at peak performance state because this is is where you will grow the most in your incremental approach. The most interesting thing I took from this chapter was the anecdote about one of the better students at the gym named Evan in the book. This story starts on page 110. Evan was much more skilled and larger than Josh was- this was a significant investment in loss. After months of getting manhandled, Josh stopped fearing the impact, he was able to slow down in his mind and sense his attacks before it began. He became much better at neutralizing Evan’s attacks. Soon Evan stopped wanting to work with Josh as they were becoming more even. Eventually, the tables had turned and Josh was able to toss Evan almost easily and Evan stopped working with Josh completely. Josh’s takeaways were that Evan provided him with a priceless learning opportunity – if in the beginning he needed to look good to satisfy his ego he would have avoided practicing with Evan and all the pain and opportunity that came with it. As for Evan- he was held back by his forceful approach that he wasn’t able to learn the subtleties. Even further, he wasn’t willing to invest in loss himself and didn’t raise his game to Josh’s level. Another note was that Josh was fine with investing in loss from a chess standpoint until the movie about him came out. After the movie he felt he needed to win to maintain his elite status in front of his fans. The problem is that it became paralyzing and didn’t allow him to go through his natural progressions of learning from mistakes.

Part III

Part 3 is about how you create these extreme moments of clarity that Josh talks about at several points in the book. Where time slows and you are in a flow state that is hyper-focused and calm. An out of body experience that is triggered by a high stress event. One of these stick out for me personally- driving home in a snowstorm one day there was a car spinning out in front of me in my lane. I hit the brakes, but the road was icy and i didn’t even slow down, so I had one of these sensations of Hyper-focus. I actually hit the gas and turned sending my self into a fishtail which i was able to narrowly miss and regain control of my vehicle. This whole 5 second incident was controlled by my subconscious. Getting into the book, he talks about how when he would go into this flow state he would play his best chess ever, but afterwords he would be emotionally and physically exhausted. In a major tournament, if he had a match after the one he spent all of his emotional coins on it would not go well. Needs to learn how to run the marathon.

Getting into this “Zone” can be difficult, but there are ways to condition yourself into it. Josh worked with a guy to do this on demand. Here were the steps: identify what triggers the moments of complete bliss for you: his example was playing catch with his son. Where time seemed to disappear. Then they put together a routine to go through prior to playing catch -stretching, meditation, listening to a specific song… followed by the activity he loves (playing catch). Think Pavlov’s dogs, except you are the dog and the bell is the routine, and playing catch is your “food”. After you condition yourself to do this, you can start taking time out of your routine: if it starts at 40 minutes, cut section out so it is only 35, then 30, then 20, then 10. This can take months or more.

Controlling anger in competition. At high level competition there will always be people who want to play outside the rules: in chess a guys that would kick him under the table, in Tai Chi a guy that would headbutt, target the neck or other spots. Getting angry will throw you off your game, get your mind in a “that’s not fair” mode that, while righteous, will distract you from your goal of winning the match. What Josh did was purposefully pair himself up with these individuals to learn how to handle the attacks and not get angry. Dirty players were his best teachers. The best competitors in the world turn anger and fear into powerful tools.

Making sandals: “to walk on a thorny road, we may cover its every inch with leather of we can make sandals”

How to play your best when there is no one around for inspiration? “Cultivate the “soft Zone”- sit with your emotions, observe them, work with them, learn how to let them float away. Then turn our weaknesses into strengths until there is no denial of our natural eruptions and nerves sharpen our game, fear alerts us, anger funnels into focus. then “make sandals” – become your own earthquake, spike lee, or tailing fastball- Build condensed triggers so you can pull from your deepest reservoirs of creative inspiration at will.”

Josh’s ability to identify, master, and capitalize on his strengths is a huge takeaway from this books. He says he was not the most athletic, experienced, technical… etc. Tai Chi competitor by a long shot. But he was a master at strategy from his experiences in chess. His greatest strength is being able to identify and take advantage of his opponents current weakness. Ask how can I turn this weakness of mine into a strength, or how can I turn my opponents strength into his weakness?

The rest of the books is not necessarily strategy, but it ties the story together on his training and how the world championships went in 2004 when he won both of his events.


  • If you are going to be a master at something you need to really peel back all of the layers and put in the hard work. The stuff you do not want to do because it is boring, repetitive, time consuming etc. Big area I struggle with since I am typically a generalist: I am pretty good at a ton of different things, but I have mastered nothing.
  • Start at the end game
  • Losing can be a defining moment
  • Entity vs. Incremental learning: I am definitely in the incremental learner camp, but there are areas of my life that i have given into my natural tendencies. One that comes to mind right away is a strong dislike for public speaking and really voicing a controversial opinion or point of view.
  • There is a careful balance between pushing yourself relentlessly, but not so hard that you melt down.
  • Investing in loss- and chapter 10 in general.
  • Create a routine to get you in your “Zone”. Then they put together a routine to go through prior to playing catch -stretching, meditation, listening to a specific song… followed by the activity he loves (playing catch).
  • Learn how to neutralize something that would take you out of your zone/frame of mind. Pair yourself up with the adversity that throws you off your game. (part 3, page 205).
  • Josh’s ability to identify, master, and capitalize on his strengths is a huge takeaway from this books

Actionable Items:

  • Start at the end game- start with what you want to end with in its simplest form. You do not get distracted by all of the other “pieces”
  • Find something to master. Regardless of what it is. What can I become “World Class” at?
  • What is the “hard work” that I need to put in to become more comfortable in public speaking and voicing a controversial opinion or point of view? This is something that holds me back personally and professionally.
  • What aspects in my life can i invest in loss? Yoga, relationships, leadership, starting a business? Need to set the ego aside and not look at the loss as something people will judge you on but a way you can succeed.
  • Create a routine to get you in your “Zone”. Then they put together a routine to go through prior to playing catch -stretching, meditation, listening to a specific song… followed by the activity he loves (playing catch).
  • Pair yourself up with the adversity that throws you off your game
  • What is my greatest strength? How do I use my unique set of skills to do X


Overall the book was entertaining, and I was able to get some good actionable items out of it. It was a good storyline that integrated the points Josh was trying to drive home very well. I would be interested in more methods and examples of how to get into the “Zone”. It seems like Josh is extremely talented to begin with.


Reading List

OK – I know this is my third post and all three of them have a list of books. I just want to get the whole list out there. The timeline is very roughed out, but on average about 2 weeks per book

Session 1- Soft Skills – March through June

  1. The Art of Learning – Josh Waitzkin. I started this book 3/22/2016 after hearing about it on the Tim Ferriss show podcast-finished 3/31/2016
  2. Getting things done – David Allen -Started 3/31/2016. Finished 4/20/2016
  3. Getting Results the Agile Way – JD Meier – Started 4/22/2016, Finished 5/2/2016
  4. Curmudgeons Guide to Getting Ahead- Charles Murray -Started 5/3/2016, Finished 5/9/2016
  5. Never Eat Alone: and Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a time – Keith Ferrazzi- Started 5/10/2016; Finished 5/24
  6. How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie. Started 5/25; Finished 6/1
  7. The 4 Disciplines of Execution- Sean Covey et al. – This book is part of my company’s “offsite learning” but it ties into this section really well. Started 6/3- Finished 6/13
  8. Hope Is Not A Strategy- Offsite book #2 is based on the complex sales function. it is something I want to grow in and fits into this curriculum so I added it to this list- started 6/14- Finished 6/20
  9. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert Cialdini Start 6/21- Finished 8/25
  10. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing Finished 9/5
  11. The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking – Dale Carnegie Start 6/27

Session 2- Mindset – July through September

  1. The 4 Hour Workweek- Tim Ferriss – this one will actually blend into part of the curriculum. Each chapter ends with an exercise – I will be doing all of these exercises. Started 8/29
  2. Choose Yourself – James Altucher
  3. Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
  4. Seven Habits of Highly Successful People – Stephen Covey
  5. Five Dysfunctions of a team – Patrick Lencioni
  6. Start With Why-Simon Sinek

Session 3- Business Classics – October through December

  1. Good To Great – Jim Collins – I read this several years back, but it will be a worthwhile revisit
  2. The Effective Executive – Peter Drucker
  3. Security Analysis – Benjamin Graham
  4. Competitive Strategy – Michael Porter
  5. Essays of Warren Buffet- Warren Buffet, Lawrence Cunningham. 3 editions, all 3?

Session 4- Thinking Like a Startup- January- March

  1. Hackers and Painters – Paul Graham
  2. Zero to One – Peter Thiel
  3. Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson
  4. The Lean Startup – Eric Ries
  5. Elon Musk – Ashlee Vance

There it is… 1623 24 25 26 27 books. This list mostly came from the Thumotic post on the alternative MBA with a couple of books I added.