The Art of the Interview — 3 Takeaways from Cal Fussman

Why are Questions Important to Me?

I studied psychology because I was fascinated with what this whole human thing is about. What I am about. What you are about.
I was curious why some people are happier than others.
The most fun way I could think of to find this answer was to travel the world and find real human beings and ask them: What is happiness for you?
I asked all sorts of persons, in all sorts of places. One weirder than the other.
I loved it.
A little bit like the book Hector’s Search for Happiness but in a pg 18 style.

I interviewed silicon valley entrepreneurs, poets from Syria, fisherman from Laos, prostitutes from Thailand, Australian scuba divers, MMA fighters from Alaska, voodoo wizards from Ghana, and monks from China.
The crazier the better.
I received many incredible answers and met many incredible people along the way.
But I found out that in order to truly touch someone’s soul it’s not enough to just ask them any 1-2 questions out of the blue.
I felt that I missed out on an incredible portion of wisdom and knowledge.
I  realized however that If I want to become a better psychologist I need to master the skill of asking good questions. 
Through this process of global investigation of the mind, I fell in love with asking questions.
I thought that if I want to continue asking and interviewing amazing people for my podcast, why not do it right?
The first thing I did was to google the heck out of my browser in order to find the best interviewers in the world and masters of questiology. And one of the first people that popped up, again and again, was Cal Fussman

Who is Cal Fussman?

Cal Fussman is a New York Times bestselling author, world-renowned interviewer, and podcaster. Cal Fussman interviewed hundreds of the world’s most extraordinary individuals. He was a writer for Esquire, Esp, GQ, and many others. He interviewed many of the most important people of the last half-century. His list of interview guest includes; Mikhail Gorbatschow, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Jimmy Carter, Serena Williams, Quincy Jones, Jack Welch, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Muhammad Ali and hundreds of others. His interviewing skills were described by the Austin Chronicle as “peerless”. So if somebody knows how to ask questions then it would be Cal Fussman.
I like Cal Fussman Personally because he is also is a crazy guy. He was born in Brooklyn and he spent years traveling the world, swimming over 18-Foot tiger sharks, rolling around with gorillas in Rwanda and searching for gold in the Amazon. He even had a boxing match with the world champion Julio Cesar Chavez. Click here to listen to listen to Tim Ferris interviewing Cal Fussman.

 

How did Cal Fussman Become so Good at Asking Questions?

There is one story from Cal Fussman that really made me fell in love with this guy. The following story from Cal Fussman is an example of how one question can change your life. The story he tells in the video below describes in my opinion very much how he fell in love with asking questions.

Storytime :
The story begins with the 23-year-old Cal Fussman in new york. He was a writer and interviewer during that time for a startup magazine. For a young writer to be in new york and write for a cool magazine it was heaven. He was living his dream, interviewing amazing successful people every day hanging out with other cool writers in new york, this was the life he dreamed about.
Then something happened: the magazine he worked for went out of business. And Cal Fussman was completely shaken by this.
“What am I gonna do now, Where am I gonna go?” He was in a life crisis. He was living the life he wanted to live, in the place where he wanted to be, doing the things that he set out to do. And it was taken from him. He lost it.
After that, he decided that it was a wise move for him to take a little time off. He wanted to do so by traveling. This little time off turned out to be a 10-year trip!
He traveled all around the world and it taught him a different take on how to view questions. Why so?
Well for starters, he didn’t have any money!
So what Fussman did was genius. He went for example to a bus station where he would buy a ticket to the next destination. Once in the bus or train, he was looking for an empty seat. An empty seat next to someone who looked interesting. An empty seat next to someone who he could trust, and someone who looked like they would trust him.
Once that train started a conversion would emerge. And by the end of the conversation, the other person needed to invite Cal Fussman home because he did not have enough money for hotels! Otherwise, he would not have a roof over his head for the night. He took that approach so seriously that one time when he was on a train in Hungary that he walked past a beautiful supermodel that was smiling direct at him! To sit next to an old Hungarian grandma! Why so you might ask? Because he thought the supermodel would never take him home, but the cute little grandma would. So he sat next to the old Hungarian woman and asked her “What makes a great goulash?”
There was a small problem, the old toothless grandma did not understand a word of English. To the luck of Cal Fussman, there were a group of young teenagers on the train who observed the conversation with curiosity so they translated. “What makes a great goulash? ” they asked the old lady in Hungarian.
And the old toothless grandma changed her posture and with a swollen chest full of pride she answered      “ You ask what makes a great goulash? I tell you what makes a great goulash!”
Then with help of the young curious teenagers who translated everything the grandma was saying to Cal Fussman she began with pride to explain how to make a great goulash.
She describes how its the little things that count and that you need to put love into the details and every ingredient. Then she turns to the group of teenagers and says: ” I have been taking this train for years, and never in my life has anybody asked me about my goulash! This man comes from thousands of kilometers away to just to know about my goulash!” I’m taking him home to make goulash for him! And all of you are coming with me!
So they all go to the grandmas House. And the toothless grandma invites all her family and friends. The entire village wants to see if the American likes grandmas goulash. And Call Fussman sits in the living room of the old toothless Hungarian grandma and the goulash is served. Silence in the room, everybody is watching if the American likes it. And Cal Fussman tastes the goulash and he smiles from the bottom of the heart. The entire room bursts out into joy and they yell: “He likes grandmas goulash!”
A 4-day party breaks out! 
My personal take away from the story: you are always just one question away from having the best day of your life.

5 Takeaways From Cal Fussman on How to Interview

1. Aim for the heart with your first question

If you are interviewing a very important person you will most likely don’t have all the time in the world to talk to them. This is a problem, it takes normally hours to really get to know someone, to get to know what they are about, what their soul and heart is like.
So how do you get access to the soul of the other person when you only have very limited time?
In the video, Cal Fussman describes where he got to interview Gorbatschow. But his publicist tells him that he only has 10 minutes with him!. If you consider that all of the questions had to be translated than he at best had 6 minutes total! How can you capture the true essence of a man in such a short amount of time?
Cal Fussmans begins the interview with Gorbatschow. And he asked him the first question: What’s the best lesson your father ever taught you?
Gorbatschow was expecting a typical question about the cold war or about something political. This question caught him off guard, and he smiled and told Cal Fussman a story with his heart.
In this story, Gorbatchow describes how he was having a trip with his father and his entire family was having some ice cream. And to Gorbatschow, this cup of ice cream was one of the reasons why Gorbatschow was able to end the cold war and make peace with Reagan.
How so?
The cup of ice cream reminded Gorbatschow of how it was like before his father went off into the war. And this feeling of easiness helped Gorbatschow to make peace with Reagan.
In consequence of this connection between Fussman and Gorbatschow, Gorbatschow overdraws the interview by almost an hour!
So my personal takeaway here is that if you interview someone special and famous, don’t ask them questions they were asked before. I wrote an article about how to ask questions like Tim Ferris which also deals with this subject, click here to read it.

2. Make the Interviewed Person Feel Safe

Cal Fussman had a speech about the art of the interview at the summit at sea. There he tells a story how he got to interview Robert de Niro. He heard that De Niro hated interviews. De Niro canceled the appointment many times, and when Cal Fussman was finally at Robert De Niro’s house they told him that Mister De Niro only had time for one answer. 
Call Fussman then told Robert De Niro that he was not there to conduct the interview, but to break bread. In consequence, De Niro let his guard down because he felt safe.
Then when the interview started, he also said to De Niro ” I know you hate interviews, if I get to close tell me and I will back off”.
One he began the interview he began with a question straight to the heart: ” What was the first moment you knew you would be an actor?”.
My personal take away :
Interviewing is similar to psychotherapy. If you can not make the other person feel safe and comfortable therapy is useless. You won’t be able to get anything out of it. If you give the other person the feeling that they can trust you, then the magic happens and you can really get something real out of the other person. The best interview and the best therapy, in my opinion, is the one where you totally forget that you are being interviewed. A good interviewer makes the interviewed person forget all about the mic and the cameras.

3. Ask “The” Question at the End

When you interview someone, don’t start with the biggest question. People need some time to trust you, if you ask someone the most important and difficult question first they will shut down. In my other article about questions, I emphasize that you have to build up with easy questions. In my article “How to ask questions better” I show how inside the actor’s studio host James Lipton builds up from easy to hard questions. Think of it as a warm-up.

How Changing your Questions can Change your life.

I believe that we all carry a supercomputer on our shoulders. The main function of this supercomputer(our brain) it is to solve the question that we give him. And no matter what questions we ask ourself our brain will give us or enable us to find the answer.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

I believe that if we take control of the questions that we ask ourselves daily we take control of our life.
When I was working in a psychiatric facility many of the traumatized persons where asking questions like “Why me?” Why do I deserve this?
And since our brain believes that we live in a just world, it comes up with reasons why we deserve to be in this state. A traumatized boy, for example, believes that it deserves the physical abuse from his parents because he was a bad son.
Healthy people ask different questions. Or at least so it seems to me.
They ask questions like, how can I transform this tragedy into a resource? Into something positive? How can I deal with this situation and become stronger through it? How can I change my attitude towards this situation where I have so little control over?

For example, I decided one day that my own depression was not a detriment but a resource. I felt that because I was depressed I would be an amazing psychologist because I could show people how not to do it. To this day the sceletons in my closet are one of the reasons that I am emphatic because I knew what its like to walk in the shoes of a patient.
I highly recommend that you check out Cal Fussman. After all the quality of questions determines the quality of our life.
So next time you see an interesting person in the subway, ask them something because you are always only one question away from having the best day of your life.
As always thank you for reading and go kick ass in life.

Call to action

Grab a piece of paper and answer the following questions for yourself.

  1. What is the most important question you ever asked someone?
  2. Click on the link an watch more of Cal Fussman interviews
  3. Write down 3 empowering questions that you ask yourself sometimes? ( for example: What can I do to make today great?)
  4. Write down 3 disempowering questions that you ask yourself sometimes? ( for example: Why is everybody leaving me? Why am I not attractive? Why is everybody around me happy but me? Why is it that the good girls always prefer my friends over me?)
  5. Write down what it cost you to have those questions in your mind ( financially, emotionally, socially)
  6. Write down 5 answers to the question ” Why I deserve everything this world has to offer”?

 

Sources!Want to read more?

  1. https://medium.com/@loic/the-art-of-the-interview-by-cal-fussman-aa108d267140
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t57zCjieDQQ&list=PLW8Huf6royrWmMMiU3LRN5b9KOo6Xf5Mc
  3. http://www.calfussman.com/

4 Tips On How To Find a Mentor — Why You Should Take People Out To Coffee

I was asked recently what the best investment was that I made this year.
And by a margin, I think it is taking people out to coffee.
After failing spectacularly for years I thought it was time to move the needle of my life in all areas that have been frustrating me.
And what better way to do it than to approach people awkwardly who are kicking ass in life and plainly ask them how they do things and how they got there.
This year I met with CEO’s, entrepreneurs, professors, professional painters, digital nomads, athletes, best selling authors, and world-class psychologists. And all to often it started with me asking people out to coffee.
My life’s mission right now is to dissect and investigate the routines, habits, and characteristics of successful and happy people in order to model my own behavior after them.
In my pursuit of decoding successful people, one thing popped up very frequently in my interviews. People who are kicking ass often seem to have had a mentor. 1.

Don’t believe me? Nice! You shouldn`t! After all who the fuck am I right?!
In the following passage, I’m going to name a few successful persons who had a mentor. 
Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs served as a mentor to Mark Zuckerberg. The two developed a relationship when Facebook was still a baby, Mark often asked Steve for advice on business and management questions.
The famous Talk show host Oprah Winfrey was mentored by poet and author Maya Angelou. When asked about her, Oprah said that Maya guided here through the most important years of her life.

Mentors are important and I don’t think anybody makes it in the world without some form of mentorship” – Oprah Winfrey

Even billionaire Richard Branson had a mentor in Sir Freddie Laker who is a British airline entrepreneur. The Idea of a beast like Richard to be a Mentee is stunning to me. But it also shows that successful people are not made by themselves. Successful and happy people represent an entire network and ecosystem of amazing people behind the scenes that contributed to that person’s growth. Click here to read my Book review of his autobiography losing my virginity which is a must-read.

It’s always good to have a helping hand at the start. I wouldn’t have got anywhere in the airline industry without the mentorship of Sir Freddie Laker” Sir Richard Branson.

What is a mentor?

A Mentor is a trusted advisor that is willing to spend his or her time to guide the development of another person.2
A mentor does not need to be famous. A mentor should be a person who is already at the stage that you are aiming for. Somebody who has already figured out the way and is willing to show you the steps. A mentor can be a friend, a family member or a world-class expert. If you want to be consulted on finances, for example, you should have somebody who already is at the financial level you aim to be in Everybody has its pros and cons. A world-class expert, for example, might be extremely knowledgeable but is not available most of the time because he is so busy.

Why do I write about Mentorship?

A couple of months prior I was listening to my favorite Podcast, and in it, I overheard a conversation between Ramit Sethi and Tim Ferris. Inside the Interview, Ramit and Tim talked about How to find a great mentor.

You don’t know who Tim Ferris is?!

Tim Ferris is an American best selling author, entrepreneur and self-proclaimed“human guinea pig“.
He is most famous for his self-help books. You might have heard of his book „The 4- Hour Workweek. But what he is most famous for is his Podcast the Tim Ferris show which has over 80 million downloads. In his Podcast, Tim Ferris interviews world experts and masters in any field imaginable. Guests like Peter Diamandis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Fox, Dave Asprey, and other incredible high achievers.

 Who The Fuck is Ramit Sethi?!

Ramit Sethi is an American personal advisor and entrepreneur. Ramit Sethi is the author of the bestseller „I will teach you to be rich which is also the name of his personal finance blog. I highly recommend his blog. I was first very skeptical towards his blog because of the scammy name, but https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIG-UhCRDGAhis material is really good. Click here to check out his blog.

How to find a Mentor! A conversation between Ramit Sethi and Tim Ferris

In the video below you can listen to Ramit and Tim talk about what it takes to find a great mentor. I feel that this is shareworthy because both Tim and Ramit get approached daily by people who ask them to become their mentor. So the two of them are brutally honest about do’s and do not’s on how to find a mentor and how to approach a mentor. Also, both of them have been in the shoes of the mentee and tell secrets of what they did in order to be mentored by elite performers such as Seth Godin. Watch the video below its gold.

Tim: What is the best 100 $ you spend on the last year? 
Ramit: Back when I was first starting off, the best 100 $ that I ever spend was always taking people out to coffee. Always. Emailing a lot of people, that’s in fact how you(Tim Ferris) and I met
You emailed me and we went on to coffee and it turned on into a very long friendship that was a thing and I can not encourage that enough. Just take people out for coffee, its the best investment you can make.
Tim: What was your Pitch? Because you and I have both commiserated about the lack of focus in the most request we get via email.
Most of them are like: ” Heyyy,  I know you are really busy would you like to come to a few hours of coffee where I can pick your brain and maybe you become my free full-time mentor for the rest of my life ?” 
That type of undirected email very seldom gets a response. So what were the emails that you send or in retrospect a good way to have coffee with people and what folks should you actually aim for? 
Ramit: Great question! Both of us had to go to the fire to learn this. If you are trying to meet President Obama or some famous NFL star that not going to happen. If you are trying to meet someone who was profiled a couple of months ago in the fast company or an author or a blogger you admire, that is eminently achievable. What it takes is being direct and making it clear what you want. 
The classic mistake people are making is they say: “Hi I make this short…” And 18 pages later they say ” well I guess that was long hmm bye!”.  And I’m like uh ok and I click on delete.
Or they are very transactional: ” Ramit, I buy you lunch and you get me advice about A, B, C, D,E“. 
I can buy my own lunch dude!
What are the things the best people do? 
They introduce themselves, they find some sort of commonality, and then they are making it clear what they are asking for. So it might go something like this: Hi Tim, My name is Ramit Sethi, I’m a student I just graduated from Nyu and I have been following you for the past 6 years. And the best thing you ever wrote that made a huge difference in my life was the article on going from geek to freak. Here is my before and after Foto and I did that all because I followed your protocol. I’m going to be in town for 6 days. I’m looking to decide between x and y jobs. And know you worked at x. I would love to get your feedback. If you have the time I will come to you wherever you are even if it is for 10 minutes ( even skype or phone) and I will promise you I will take your advice and follow through and will follow up on what I decided.

 
You have a chance with an email like that and I even wrote an ebook about this: 50 proven email scripts. Click here to read the ebook.
And think that the ability to write a good email is a huge advantage and a huge differentiator.
Tim: Definitely, I would add two things to that, the first thing is that I genuinely feel that you get a higher response rate from people if you do these two things.

  1. First is, do not go after people who are currently in the limelight. They don’t have much time and they get approached by too many other people. Find somebody who was in the limelight some time ago but is still very good at what they do. Maybe that’s not a public figure at all. Don’t aim for Michael Phelps if you are trying to get better at swimming. Find some who was a bronze medalist at the Olympics a couple of years ago. Guess what they are still very good at what they do, and they are probably a lot better than you are. So if you don’t aim for the very top your response rate will improve.
  2. Give people an easy out. For example, If I would want to approach Arnold Schwarzenegger directly I would not write at the end of the email ” looking forward to your favorable response, Tim Feris” That shit drives people nuts! Don’t assume anything. Other than they are busier more important and more successful than you are. A better way to end it would be to say: ” I understand that you have tremendous hands on your time and if you don’t have time to response; no problem. If you do, an answer would mean a lot to me. This would demonstrate a level of empathy and that you understand that their inbox is more of a war zone than your inbox.

Ramit: Let’s dig into this. When I used to email Seth Godin. I used to write him long beautiful emails. And he wrote me back a very short response often only 1 line. And I thought “Hey that’s kinda rude”
In retrospect, I get about 1500 emails a day, knowing that he even gave me a response I’m actually humbled that he even gave me a response. Tim what you are talking about is knowing the power dynamic. If somebody emails me for a meeting and tells me ” I’m free at this or that time”  I’m like ” What?! If you are meeting with someone who is busier than you, you have to work around their schedule, not the other way around. You have to meet where they are, at the time they are free.
So you have to know your power dynamic.
Secondly, there is something we call Close the loop technique. Once you meet someone, so many people disappear forever. If somebody has taken the time to meet with you they are invested in your success. So follow up with them 2 weeks later after you met with them. Tell them: ” Hey I took your advice and I just wanted to thank you, I will keep you updated on how the job is going. 
Tim: I  think one of the common mistakes is that after you met with someone you reply with a lot of following requests. Ideally, wait a day or two and follow up as you described. Don’t hump they leg for a while. Don’t keep in touch just to keep in touch! Those people are to busy for that. You don’t have to write just so they don’t forget who you are. If I had a good experience with you, I will remember you. Just following up for the sake of it repels people in my opinion because you are growing there inbox with zero substance emails. If you follow up 12 times even though my assistant told you that I cant response I assume you are a dick and I won’t continue the relationship. 
A good example here is something I had with Jack Canefield cocreator of chicken soup for the soul. I invited him to be on the show and I volunteered at an organization called silicon valley association of startup entrepreneurs and invited him as a speaker for an event. Through this, I developed a relationship with him. Over the years, once in a while when I had a legitimate problem I would write him a philosophical question via mail. I would write the mail, shortly reintroduce myself, then tell him the problem and the options I’m thinking about and my thinking ask him for advice and that even a short reply would mean a lot fo me. and then he responded in a very short way, very Seth Godin like. And every once in a blue moon I would ask him a life question. He later introduced me to the person that later turned out to be my book agent, who helped me to sell the 4-hour workweek after it got rejected 28 times.
 
This is very sensitive subject to me to be because so many people feel like a) keeping in touch just for the sake of keeping in touch is the right way because crowding their inbox is the right way to endear yourself to them. It is not! And secondly, they think that if someone says no, you should ping them another 30 times. and you need to recognize because your pitch isn’t right when someone says no because the timing isn’t right. I think it is very important to discern those things right? For example, I have lime disease right now. And many people just spam my inbox because they think it shows persistence. But what it really shows is a lack of empathy. if you want to listen to the entire episode click here.

4 Tips On How to find a Mentor

1. Do not go after people who are in the limelight.

Tim made a terrific point that your mentor does not need to be the number one in the world. If you want to have Obama as your personal mentor that’s a great thought but that’s probably not going to happen. Tim made the example that if you want to get better swimming for example rather than approaching Michael Phelps, you should approach someone who won a bronze medal 3 Olympics ago. They are still amazing at what they do and they are far better than you are. Mentors like that are far more available.

2. Know the Power dynamic.

Ramit made a brilliant point, he said that it is key to know the power dynamic. The other person is probably much more busy and much more important than you, so you should get wherever they are and work around their schedule and not the other way around.  A great way to show your motivation is to tell them that you will come wherever they are at whatever time they are free.
Don’t waste the time of your mentor! Don’t send them more emails than is necessary, don’t crowd their inbox with zero substance email. Those people are to busy for such shenanigans!

3. Close the loop technique

Here Ramit and Tim don’t share the same opinion. Ramit believes that the other person actually wants you to follow up. Tim, on the other hand, believes that it is futile that you spam the other person and fill their inbox with unimportant stuff. I believe that Ramit is more close to the truth. If somebody takes the time and mentors you, they are invested in your success and they want to see the results at the end. So following up is very important. I believe that good mentor-mentee relationships should at least have the possibility of becoming a friendship. When you don’t follow up you respect the time of the other person, yes, but you also miss out on someone amazing. And even the most successful people in the world can not have enough friends.

4. Work for free.

Work for free?! Yes, that sounds crazy. But to learn from the best is actually much more valuable than money. If you, for example, want to have an internship and you offer to work for knowledge you are actually far better off then getting a low salary. Also, you show your mentor that you are motivated and serious about getting better, and winners love to help other winners. As you can see with Charlie Hoehn you can even get a mentor like Tim Ferris if you have a strong pitch, provide some value and show that you are willing to learn.
I still remember the goosebumps that I had when I talked to Stanford Professor Bj Fogg, who is the world leading expert in habit formation if I could work for him for free in order to learn more about behavior psychology.  This to me was the equivalent of asking Tiger Woods for golf lessons.

5. Don’t forget to look to your right and left.

Yes having a famous mentor would be amazing. But before you start looking for strangers look around you. Who is already is amazing around you? Do you know a friend who has a friend who is a total badass?
I bet you have!
It’s always easier to reconnect with people than to approach someone out of the blue.
For example one of my teammates from my basketball team, Matt Van Hove is totally kicking ass in life and is selling Airplanes worth hundreds of millions of euros for Airbus. Besides him being a close friend and teammate, he became somewhat of a mentor to me. To this day I reach out to him if I need advice on negotiation, leadership or networking.

What Would A Good Approach Look Like?

Charlie Hoehn was a former reader of Tim Ferris and he reached out to him in order to have a mentorship/Internship with Tim Ferris. 10 years later Charlie and Tim are friends and Charlie is working for him. So how did he do it? In the following passage, you can see the original email exchange between Tim Ferris and Charlie Hoehn.3

Example From Tim Ferris on How To Find a Mentor Via Mail!

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Charlie Hoehn
Date: Wed, Jul 30, 2008 at 11:25 PM
Subject: Re: Response requested
To: Ramit Sethi
Hi Ramit-
Below is the email I wrote up for Tim Ferriss. Thanks again so much for your insight on how to approach this, and for your willingness to pass it along. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. Also, I’d be willing to help you out in any of the ways I outlined below.
Mr. Ferriss-
After visiting your site countless times since May ’07, I’ve come up with a few suggestions that could improve your readers’ experience. Here are two of the things I think you need…
1) A network for your followers: Right now, you have a lot of passionate and devoted readers who comment on your blog. These are people who are likely to spread your ideas. You need a place where your loyal readers can interact with each other more freely, and share their stories about how your book has inspired them.
What it would take: A micro-network. You could frame it as “a crusade against the 9-5 workday.”
How I could help: While I was interning for Seth Godin, I learned how to create micro-social networks for very specific niches. I could easily set this up for you, making it a more exclusive “invite-only,” if you wish.
What the benefits are to you: Allowing your most devoted readers to share their lifestyle design stories will provide you with even more case studies for blog posts (or for a follow-up book). It will also serve as a spot for your readers to get to know one another, and they’ll appreciate that you’ve given them that opportunity.
2) A more dynamic “About” page: Currently, this page starts off with a quote about you from Albert Pope, followed by three thumbnail pictures of your face and a great deal of text outlining your achievements. While your credentials are impressive, this page doesn’t really capture your personality or the lifestyle you’ve designed for yourself.
What it would take: You need a video, between 2 and 5 minutes, that captures the excitement that comes with lifestyle design. The video would showcase exciting things you’ve done (skydiving, tango, motorcycling, etc.), and would be a great way to show your readers that you are the real deal.
How I could help: I can make this video for you for free. I’ve been editing video for more than four years and started a business in creating movies for special events. All I would need to make your video are great pictures and videos of you. The more they show the human side of you, the better.
What the benefits are to you: Reading something is fine, but an image is far more powerful. This video will establish an even deeper credibility with your new (and old) readers. Even if you end up deciding that it’s not right for your site, you’ll still be getting a great video about you that would normally cost several hundred dollars. If you like my work, we can discuss other ways to implement videos into your site (including higher quality and more exciting videos for your blog).
In exchange for these things, I hope that you’d consider taking me on as an intern (real-world or virtual). I would love to help you out on future projects. Let me know what you think, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Charlie Hoehn
http://www.charliehoehn.com/
MY RESPONSE:
“Charlie! Thanks very much for the suggestions. I currently have the forum and other Ning sites, so I’d be eager to hear how what you propose is different, as I’m always interested in fostering connections between my readers. Last but not least, can you please elaborate on what you mean by “intern”? Would you expect this to paid or unpaid? How many hours per week, etc.? What do you hope the pay-off to be for you during or after the experience? Thanks for letting me know, and for writing. -Tim”
HIS RESPONSE:
Tim- Thanks so much for your response. Here are my answers to your questions:
What I suggest that’s different – I’ve looked at your message boards and Ning sites (I don’t know if you started any of the Ning ones or moderate them). They’re pretty good but they are just places where your readers connect and idly discuss your ideas. The boards and Ning don’t have any call-to-action, really. They aren’t places for your troops to rally for an assignment, so to speak – that’s mostly what you’ve used your blog for. I think you need an exclusive network that has some hurdle to get in (e.g. invite-only).
This could be a group reserved for the people who have actually used and implemented your ideas to create unconventional and extreme lifestyles.
With these people, you compile their stories together and sell it as an ebook (all money going to “Room to Read” or some other good cause). Or you could create a video of the top 3-5 unique lifestyles, following them around and filming them to get a feel for their daily life. This is much more ambitious but something that could turn out really cool. I’d definitely be willing to help you execute these ideas if you’re interested.
What I mean by “intern” – Non-paid virtual internship for two months, then possibly discussing a real-world internship at the end of the year. For a virtual internship, you could delegate tasks to me, or I could help you with executing ideas you have.
Paid or unpaid – For virtual, unpaid. For the real-world, I’d work for cheap.
How many hours per week – Varies, depending on how busy you are. Five (5) or more for a virtual internship.
What’s the pay-off for me – I would learn firsthand about your methods for extreme productivity and efficiency. Reading has given me a solid level of understanding, but actually seeing it would help me comprehend it more fully. Second, you’ve already done what I want to become: an entrepreneur who travels a lot. Working with you would allow me to really mentally shift gears and help move me towards my goals faster.
That being said, I have a great deal of respect for you and the things you’ve done. I think it’d be brilliant to work with you in some way, but if it doesn’t work out, no hard feelings. Thanks for your time, Tim, and I hope to talk with you again soon.
Charlie
For the full article click here
Call to Action

  1. Find 3 famous People you would gladly change your position with.
  2. Write down 3 areas in which you think you would need a mentor
  3. Exercise: Imagine you already have your dream mentor: What email would you write him? What questions do you have in your mind/ heart that you need guidance with? Write down 10 questions that in your opinion if answered will change your life dramatically.
  4. Write down 3 mentors you already have, and ask one of them a question about life. Often we already have mentors in our life but we call them friends, teachers, bosses, parents or grandparents.
  5. Reach out to 3 persons that are 10x more successful than you in your field and ask them out for coffee!

Want to read more? Here are the sources!

  1. https://chronicle.umbmentoring.org/top-25-mentoring-relationships-in-history/
  2. https://mentorscout.com/about/mentor.cfm
  3. https://tim.blog/2014/10/09/ramit-sethi-on-persuasion-and-turning-a-blog-into-a-multi-million-dollar-business/
  4. https://tim.blog/2011/03/10/12-lessons-learned-while-marketing-the-4-hour-body/
  5. iteachyoutoberich.com

 

Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning {Book Review}

I First heard about Viktor Frankl when I was listening to an Interview with Tony Robbins and Tim Ferris. Tony Robbins was asked about the 2 Books that had the most impact on his life.
One of them was Man’s search for Meaning. At the Time I was studying successful people.
And Tony Robbins definitely qualifies. For those of you who don’t know him; Tony Robbins is an American success coach, entrepreneur, philanthropist and best selling author who has a net worth of over 500 million dollars.

I believe that when we emulate the habits of high achievers we will eventually get similar results. And in my investigation of the successful one habit popped up over and over: They read a lot! 
You might say, no shit sherlock, everybody knows that?!
Well, I did not.
So I started a little self-experiment: How would my life change if I would start to read a 1000books recommended by people who are kicking ass globally.
So I made it my mission to find out what these books were and read as much of them as possible. Thus the 1000 Book challenge was born.  In my book club, you find my latest favorite books that helped me to upgrade my life. Click here to check it out.
Viktor Frankl’s Man`s Search for Meaning is to this day the psychology book that I have recommended most often.
I don’t say this about many books, but this one has truly changed my life.
Being a lifelong student of human behavior I was particularly interested in Viktor Frankl’s Man`s Search for Meaning because I was looking for an answer to the question :

What is the difference between people who overcome hardship, suffering, problems and those who are not?

Viktor Frankl’s Man`s Search for Meaning gives you the answer to this question. So let’s dig into this! But first, let’s see who is the author of Man`s Search for Meaning.
…Who is Viktor Frankl

Who is Viktor Frankl? (1)

Viktor Frankl lived from 1905 to 1997, and he was a psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor.
He is the founder of Logo-therapy and wrote multiple best sellers. His mother, father, and sister all perished in the gas chambers of Nazi concentration camps. His book Man `s search for meaning“ is one of the most important and famous pieces of literacy ever written.
Viktor Frankl received his MD and Ph.D. degree from the University of Vienna where he studied psychiatry and neurology, on the areas of suicide and depression.
After treating thousands of people Frankl became the head of the neurological department at the Rothschild Hospital.
In 1942 during the Nazi Regime Frankl and his parents and his entire family were arrested and sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
His father died there within six months. Over the course of three years, Frankl and the rest of his family were moved to Auschwitz. His brother died there and his mother was murdered.
In the camps, Frankl studied how humans behave in the face of extreme hardships and he helped other inmates who faced severe depression by encouraging them to reflect on positive memories, scenes and thoughts of their loved ones or something that gave them a compelling vision of their future. Frankl thought that during extreme hardships people can use meaning and spirituality to survive even inhuman circumstances.

What is Viktor Frankl’s Mans Search for Meaning about?

The book starts with Frankl sitting inside a train to Auschwitz. A death train.
Passengers, all of Jewish origin, forcefully being deported to their imminent and unavoidable death. The deported are fully aware that they won’t come back from this trip. Just imagine the absurdity of it! Having a gun held to your head and being fully conscious that your next stop is going to be a place where you are either murdered in a gas chamber or worked to death as a slave.

How does a man cope with such odds? How does a man put sense into this amount of misery and horror?
How can one find meaning in difficult times?
Frankl was in a unique position, as a psychiatrist, he was a student of human behavior. And as gruesome as this situation was for him, he created a meaning for his suffering. His meaning was to observe the behavior of other concentration camp inmates. 
He wanted to research which humans were going to fall into despair and which humans found ways to survive under such horrible conditions.
Which humans were committing suicide and which were not?
Ask yourself this: Why are you not committing suicide right now? 
Frankl wanted to know what inmates were surviving the longest. And he wanted to write a book about it. That was his why. To share his finding with the entire world.
Frank’l argues that it is impossible to avoid suffering. But we can choose how to cope with it.
Frankl believed that even in the midst of the most horrific, atrocious, dehumanizing conditions life had meaning and that suffering can have a purpose.
He observed that those concentration camp inmates who had a meaning, a purpose were less likely to fall into despair and depression. Less likely to commit suicide.

An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior — Viktor Frankl

He believes that it is up us to put meaning into our suffering. He thinks that it is possible and necessary for us to put a sense into our misery.
And that it is necessary to form a new purpose out of it.
His Theory is called logotherapy; which comes from the Greek word „Logos“ which means, meaning.
Frankl believed that the sense of life is that we discover what is personally meaningful to us. So take a sec of my article and really dwell into what gives you meaning, why are you here, what brings you joy, what is important to you?

What did he observe in his time in Auschwitz?

  1. To his surprise, he found out that those who survived longest in concentration camps were not the physically strongest, but those who kept a sense of control over their environment.
  2. He found that the inmates who were surviving the longest all had a why. The why can be your family waiting in America, or your fiancé for example. For example, Victors Why was the love for his wife. The thought of being united again with his beloved helped him to endure the hardships in the camp, even if they were unrealistic and unfounded. Because after all his chances of surviving were slim to none. He also had the dream of writing his book. He visualized himself with his published book in New York. Giving lectures to hundreds of students. He had a dream. He linked a why to his pain and suffering. And it made the hardships bearable for him.

3. He noticed that prisoners who lost their why quickly lost their life as a result.
He also noticed that prisoners who had a why were able to endure atrocities and hardships that most of us cannot even imagine. Inmates had to work for 20 hours a day, mining and laying railroads and doing heavy labor. Most only had one small piece of bread to eat the entire day. The moment you looked weak, they were killing you because they did not saw any use for you anymore. If people with a why can thrive under these conditions, imagine how you could blossom when you have nothing holding you back, but yourself. And no matter what your hardships have been, just the fact that you can read this article right now means that you belong to the most privileged 5% people on this planet.
4. You can get used to anything
This was one of the most inspirational takeaways for me. Our Body is way, way tougher than we think.
Frankl reports about the absurd conditions in the camps. How he and other inmates were stripped naked shaved completely. Had all their passports and belongings burned. For Frankl his lifes work ( the papers of his logotherapy books) were burned as well. 
Jews ahd heir names were taken from them in the camps. They were given numbers and the numbers were tattooed on their skin. Treated like animals. If you looked weak, fragile whatsoever you were sent straight to the gas chamber where they would murder you.

The medical men among us learned first of all: “Textbooks tell lies!” Somewhere it is said that man cannot exist without sleep for more than a stated number of hours. Quite wrong! I had been convinced that there were certain things I just could not do: I could not sleep without this or I could not live with that or the other. The first night in Auschwitz we slept in beds which were constructed in tiers. On each tier (measuring about six-and-a-half to eight feet) slept nine men, directly on the boards. Two blankets were shared by every nine men“

4 Important Lessons I learned from Viktor Frankls Man`s Search for Meaning

1) Existential Vacuum

Viktor Frankl’s answers one of the questions that I had for a long time in his book Man`s Search for Meaning: How come that with rising resources people seem to live more and more in psychological detrimental states?

The existential vacuum is a widespread phenomenon of the twentieth century. This is understandable; it may be due to a twofold loss which man has had to undergo since he became a truly human being. At the beginning of human history, man lost some of the basic animal instincts in which an animal’s behavior is embedded and by which it is secured. Such security, like paradise, is closed to man forever; man has to make choices. In addition to this, however, man has suffered another loss in his more recent development inasmuch as the traditions which buttressed his behavior are now rapidly diminishing. No instinct tells him what he has to do, and no tradition tells him what he ought to do; sometimes he does not even know what he wishes to do. Instead, he either wishes to do what other people do (conformism) or he does what other people tell him to do (totalitarianism).”
Viktor Frankl
Mans Search for Meaning.

Frankl believes that due to modern civilization we have been neglecting some of our most basic, primal needs and live in insecurity and purposelessness in consequence. Many years after Viktor Frankls death this still seems to be the case.
One of the main causes of depression and psychological pain, in my opinion, is the disconnection of humans from their true needs. We seem to be living in a world that is unfit to satisfy our true desires.
In history, it was never so normal for humans to live a life in isolated from our tribe, from nature, from meaningful work.
The consequence is that we have millions and millions of people suffering from loneliness, anxiety, and depression. It reminds me of what happens to wild animals after you put them in little cages; they die.
A tiger who can not hunt anymore, reproduce and wander through the jungle and eat the food he is supposed to eat will eventually pine away.
I call this the Panda Problem. Taking pandas and other animals out of their natural habit, and away from their other specimen equals the burglary of their very purpose and meaning. This is one of the reasons why they do horrible in captivity and why they don’t reproduce in zoos good.
It’s a classical depression. In order to hack this social phenomenon, we must reconnect to nature, to our tribe and radically redesign the way we live.
Working 9-5 in small office boxes doing a job that we hate, detached from our natural environment will result in a cultural depression.
This book has encouraged me more and more to live as a digital nomad. Connecting modern technology with my nomadic nature and travel the world and find and search for the lifestyle that I feel most happy.

2) Logotherapy

“considers man as beeing whose main concern of fulfilling a meaning and in actualizin values, rather than in the mere gratification and satisfaction of drives and instincts.” Viktor Frankl. Mans search for mearning

Like everybody, I asked myself often: What is the purpose of life?
I was particularly interested in this question because for myself for a long time when I was not happy. Nothing had meaning. Meaningless is a sure ingredient of depression and psychological suffering in my opinion.
If nothing makes sense, why even try right?
So what drives humans?
One of my favorite psychologist and perverts Siggi Freud believed that humans are driven by the pursuit of pleasure. Another Psychologist during that era, Alfred Adler believed that we are being driven by our hunger for power.
Frankl thought a litterbit different about this.
According to Frankl, the primal motivational factor in humans is the pursuit of meaning.
Only when people fail to pursue meaning they fall for the darker drivers of behavior like pleasure and power.

Logotherapy is based on different assumptions about the psychology of a human being. (2)

  1. Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones.
  2. Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
  3. We have the freedom to find meaning in what we do, what we experience, or at least in the stance, we take when we face with a situation of unchangeable suffering.

According to Viktor Frankl, there are three different ways to experience meaning.

  1. Creating a work or doing a deed.
  2. Experiencing something or encountering someone
  3. By the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering

Viktor Frankl in his psychotherapeutic counseling often asked his patients “What stops you from committing suicide?
Dissecting the meaning of the patient.
I personally love this approach. Because often people think they have nothing to live for.
We all have things to accomplish, books to write, journeys to undertake and families to love or to build. Sometimes it seems that our meaning and purpose in life is just not present in our perception of our reality anymore.
One of the main tasks of my blog is to change the perception of a reader, showing them a different perspective, in order to allow them to see things they should have seen a long time ago.
Auschwitz Case Study
“Once, an elderly general practitioner consulted me because of his severe depression. He could not overcome the loss of his wife who had died two years before and whom he had loved above all else. Now how could I help him? What should I tell him? I refrained from telling him anything, but instead confronted him with a question, “What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive without you?:” “Oh,” he said, “for her, this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!” Whereupon I replied, “You see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her, and it is you who have spared her this suffering; but now, you have to pay for it by surviving and mourning her.” He said no word but shook my hand and calmly left the office.[1]:178–179 (2)
Showing people in extreme horrific situations that there are still things to look forward to, that there are still things they can control is one of the most powerful lessons I ever learned from a psychological book.

3) Stimulus-Response Gap

Frankl argues in Mans search for Meaning that there is a gap between trigger and response. Meaning that you are in charge of your behavior and with it, we decide how we react, even in face of most dire circumstances.
This is interesting to me, because for a long time I thought our behavior is a direct product of our environment, and that we can do little about it.
Frankl believes in free will and in our ability to implant meaning in even the most horrific, unbearable situations.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. Viktor Frankl

Frankl empowers personal decision and repairs peoples lost self-efficacy with this belief.
Even with most undesirable addictive behaviors there still is a necessity for the person to act. Meaning we are not powerless.
And although society may let it appear that people just get fat magically, I never saw a person eat a big mac by accident. So we still have to take some responsibility for our behaviors.

4) Gaping Abyss

This is one of the most interesting concepts of Viktor Frankl is the gaping abyss in my opinion.
Viktor Frankl believes that depression occurs at the 3 levels.

  1. psychological
  2. physiological
  3. spiritual

One of the drivers of depressions seems to be the discrepancy gap of undertaking tasks beyond our abilities.
If there is to much tension between what a person actually is, in relation to what he in his opinion should be can result in depression.
If we set goals for ourselves that are unreachable we live in a constant state of failure, and this will result in a lowered believe in our own abilities in my opinion.

This contradicts the public opinion that one should shoot constantly for the stars. I think we must segment our goals and dreams and moonshot projects into achievable pieces.
Instead of having a dream where the reward is all the way on the other side of the rainbow we must celebrate each and every little step on our way to our vision.
Because of that, I ask myself segmenting questions.
After visualizing a dream or a goal I ask myself ” “hat 3 things can I do today in order to make this dream come true TODAY, THIS WEEK, THIS MONTH, THIS YEAR.
And I am happy over the tiniest steps forwards towards my dream, because growing is a sure antidote to despair and unhappiness.
We need to have atleast the feeling of being control, or the feeling that are moving towards something.
Otherwise we are lost.

5) Despair is suffering without meaning.

In an interview, Frankl was asked what he witnessed in the concentration camps. And one of the questions was if he spotted any patterns in inmates that were prone to not survive.
Frankl argues that people who have no meaning in their suffering are prone to fall into despair and even suicide.
In the concentration camps, the inmates faced unspeakable circumstances. And many inmates became depressed and killed themselves.
In war, this is a common, logical phenomenon. Suicide is a self-protective mechanism where one has lost all faith that things will get better in the future. In Germany when the Russians were invading Germany, after Nazi Germany committed thousands of war crimes against Russia, entire villages committed suicide.
Frankl was in a unique situation as a therapist in a concentration camp, and his observations are of incredible value and give extreme deep insight into human psychology.
One thing he witnessed was that inmates who survived had the ability to see meaning in their suffering. Frankl even took his predicament and turned it into a personal triumph, a resource even.
In Auschwitz, Frankl counseled countless inmates who fell into despair in order to save their lives. Because if you are observable weak in a concentration camp you are of no use to the Nazis anymore, and you get gassed.
So in order to survive, they needed to shave daily, and pretend that they are strong and capable of doing hard work.

If one person was limping this was enough of a reason sometimes to gas them.
Frankl observed many people who gave up. The concentration inmates used to trade with cigarettes. If a person would start to smoke all their cigarettes themselves and not use them as a currency anymore for food or something else you could predict that that person has given up already.
When you face a dire situation, a problem, or a hardship ask yourself; What is great about this problem? What can I learn from this situation? How can I become stronger through this hardship? Will I be able one day to help somebody else who is going through this right now with my experience?
I took this principle into the extreme. Do you know the statement that everybody who studies psychology has some problems himself?
Well, for me this was quite true. And being the crazy fucker that I am, I failed more often than others and I experienced a whole lot of not awesome.
Struggling with depression was for a long time a predicament. I mean being in pain and unhappy does not quite seem like a blessing from the sky. But when you study psychology you basically are living with a case studies 24/7. Yourself.  So for me learning about behavioural psychology and clinical psychology became an intrinsic endeavor.
I realized that being unhappy as an aspiring psychologist is not a detriment but a resource. I thought that in order to cure others, I first needed to learn how to cure myself. Suddenly my mental predicament was not solely about me anymore. It became also about helping others. I thought that it was a selfish thing for me to stay depressed, because of all the people I was missing out on that I could help.
I created a why. A why that was bigger than myself.  My suffering became meaningful to me. Even more. When I saw people in my inner circle in pain, I spotted patterns quicker and quicker and I was able to help more and more. This resulted in me always being in learning mode and also always giving me a reason to frame suffering in my family as a learning and an opportunity to get better at my craft. Becoming a pain in the ass full-time extreme psychologist.
I believe that by transforming myself from a total fuck up into an epic version of myself, I will be able to duplicate this transformation in others. By showing them a blueprint that change is possible. If I can do it, so can you.
Viktor Frank’l believes that suffering is inevitable. And it is, but it is your decision whether you want to perish due to your trauma or if you want to put meaning into it and thrive because of it.
If you are in pain anyway, one might as well use it. Once you defined your why you are prepared to face any how.
So go all out and kick ass.
Thanks for reading.

Call to action

So what is yours why? What is your meaning in your life?? Do you see your suffering as a curse or as a chance to grow?

  1. Write down 10 reasons why you are not killing yourself. What is important to you? Who do you love? What is fun for you? What are things you want to see and achieve?
  2. Grab an empty cookie Jar
  3. Write down 3 Hardships of your past on a small piece of paper.
  4. Now write on the back of the paper what you did to overcome it.
  5. Write down three problems that taught you something or turned out later to be a skill or a resource
  6. If you would die today, what tasks, projects, dreams would die with you?
  7. Ask yourself every evening: What did I give today?

Want to read more? Sources!
(1) https://www.goodtherapy.org/famous-psychologists/viktor-frankl.html
(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logotherapy

How to Remember Anything – The Memory Palace Technique

This is article is going to be my second meta-learning article. Click here to read the first article on how to speed read.  This article is going to introduce you to a memory technique that will enable you to basically learn anything. The Technique is called the Memory Palace Technique. And it is one of the simplest and most powerful learning techniques you will ever come across.
For example, Eight-time world memory champion Dominic O’Brien used this technique to remember 54 decks of cards in a row ( that’s 2808 cards)

Why do you write about meta-learning

One of my main goals of this blog is to study high performers of various fields and dissect why they are so good at what they do. I want to decode their excellence and break it down into stealable chunks that you and I can learn. What are the habits, routines, strategies, and techniques, tools of the successful or in this case the ultra smart? I believe those skills and techniques should not only be reserved to the ultra-privileged who went to elite schools but to everybody.
The first Education I received was in my local neighborhood which educationally and socially wise was rather poor. In this kinda ghettoish school, the focus was not to inspire or to thrive but to give us an education at all. The minimal dose of education. In consequence, I inherited dysfunctional learning habits and techniques in that school that caused me major problems in my academic career. It Climaxed when I got kicked out for the first time of my university (It shouldn’t be the last one x).
At a certain Point, I was just tired of fucking up in university and I sat down and really asked myself: Why am I failing academically? Why are my learning efforts so fruitless? What is the difference between me and a straight A scholarship student from Harvard for example?
I took a really, really long honest look at myself and my results. And I took full responsibility for my failures. After all, blaming wouldn’t get me anywhere. I realized that if keep doing the same old approach my life is going to be really painful.
Why was I so bad at learning?
One of the simplest answers that I came up with was a realization: I didn’t know shit about learning! Like How does my brain store memory? How do I take in information? What can I do to accelerate my memory intake? What can I do to become a better learner?
I’m a guy who is very extreme in everything he does. This habit of going down all the way into the rabbit hole has its pros and its cons. A big Contra is that I am very susceptible to self-destructive stuff like alcohol or drugs (or even cake x) for example. If I try something, I will go all the way usually.
The good side of having this extremism about me is that I asked myself a very demanding question regarding the topic of learning. I did not just want to become a better student, I wanted to be an elite, straight A level student.  So I asked myself: How can I transform myself from a college drop out to an elite A level Student? 
In order to answer this question, I began to research books, articles, webinars and tried to learn from the best learners in the world. In order to do that I needed to know where they are actually.
Where are the best learners in the world?
In Harvard? In Oxford? Yale? This is what I thought and I was dead wrong.
Turns out that learning and memorization is actually a sport, and that there are memory competitions worldwide. So my thought was; If I am somehow able to steal the techniques and mental approaches of the memory champions in the world, I would be able to completely rock every University in the world. In this article, I’m going to write about the second meta-learning technique that I have acquired. If you apply this technique completely and invest some practice time in it, you will be able to learn any topic and any language in a fraction of the time.

What is a Memory Palace?

The Memory Palace technique is based on the fact that we are surprisingly good at remembering places we know. A “Memory Palace” is a metaphor for any place that you know super good. A place that is extremely easy for you to visualize would qualify for a memory palace. This can be your Home, or the route you take home, or your way to the gym, or your university.
My first memory Palace was my home. Of course, you can have more than one memory Palaces. The Idea is that you build a route, and on that route, you always visit some locations in the same order. Those locations are called loci, this comes from the Latin locus which means location. Very easy loci could be your front door. The idea is now that you visualize at those loci a mnomic.(2)
A mnemonic is any memory technique that helps you remembering something easier.
For example, you want to learn the word freedom, than you imagine a miniature version of the statue of liberty in front of your front door. Studies have shown that our brain is actually terrible at learning stuff by just reading words over and over again. Since I come from psychological background this seems very plausible to me, because our brain evolved thousands of years before there was any written language. So in order to learn effectively, we have to translate information back into the format that our brain can process.

How do I Build a memory Palace?

 

1. Choose Your Palace

Pick a place you are extremely familiar with. My first Palace was my home.  But you can choose any place you want or you can create a fictive place as well. Any place where you can see visualize yourself to walk around with ease, is fine.

What I did in order to make this easier for me was to take a picture of every loci (the different route stops in your memory palace) in my memory palace and put a number on it. Then you can create a blueprint for your room and draw the route that you are walking. Remember Goal is that you visualize yourself walking through your memory palace from loci to loci.
Tipp for memorization: If you don’t want to draw the route with a pencil, go to tinycards.com.This is a side project from duolingo where you can learn with flashcards. There you can create a flashcard deck of your memory palace. Create a Deck with let’s say 50 Locis in your memory palace and on each flashcard you put a picture of a loci. Now you can combine the flashcard technique with the memory palace technique.

2. Chose your Locis.

Remember: Locis are the Distinctive route stops in your memory palace. If you visualize yourself walking through your memory Palace, whats the first station you would find noticeable? If you are as creative as me and you have chosen your home as your first memory palace, the first loci is probably going to be your front door.
Now you make a route through your memory palace to the next distinctive loci. Maybe you are the kind of person who takes a dump first thing when you get home, then a good second stop would be your bathroom.

3. Burn the Palace in your Mind

In order for this technique to work, it is essential that you know your memory palace and the route 100%. I would suggest that you really overlearn it until it is really burned into your mind. Physically walk through your memory place over and over in the same route. Put small notes on the locis in your house with numbers on it until you really remember it. I suggest that you take photos of each and every loci and put a number on the photo and learn it via flashcards.
Once you have imprinted the memory palace in your mind you are ready to go!! You have your memory Palace, congratulations! With this palace, you will be able to learn any topic whatsoever for years to come. This may very well be the difference whether you speak 1 language or 5, or if you fail an exam or pass it with flying colors.

4. Now use Visual associations!

The memory palace system works with visual associations. We now know that our brain is not perfectly suited for learning vocabularies for example by just reading them over and over. In fact trying to remember abstract symbols, such as words or numbers printed on a page is extremely unnatural for our brain.
What we want to do is to transform the information into a format that our brain can remember much faster and much easier.  How does our Brain think?

Our Brain thinks in pictures.  Images are the real language of our minds. Let’s say you think of a Pig, what comes to mind? Is it the letters? P-I-G? No, if you are not a cyborg than your brain is going to create a picture of a horse. Want more proof?
What language are your dreams in? You guessed right Sherlock, they are in pictures as well. When I was experimenting with lucid dreaming, I found out first hand that when you dream you cannot see numbers or words. If you ever want to know whether you are dreaming right now or not; watch a clock, if you are dreaming than the numbers are going to be a fucked up mess. I believe that’s the case because it is so hard for our brain to project these unnatural symbols.
So How do you translate numbers and words into visual associations?
Actually, it is fairly simple if you know how. You take a picture you know, this image is called the memory peg and you combine it with the element you want to memorize. (1)
Example: let’s say your first Memory Palace is your home and your first loci is your front door. You want to remember a grocery list and the first Item you want to remember is a Jalapeno.
Now mentally visualize yourself in your memory palace. You stand in front of your Memory Palaces first loci, the front door. Now you have to imagine in a ridiculous, and crazy way a jalapeno in front of your memory Palaces front door. How about a 2-meter tall Jalapeno monster who has a mustache and a squirt gun that is shooting salsa everywhere and is screaming ” anus pain for everybody!!” Is that memorizable enough for you? I bet it is.
There is only one rule: if its boring, it is wrong. The more crazy, offensive, stupid, funny, ridiculous the better. The goal is to make the scene so absurd that it could never happen in real life.
And Unless you are tripping on shrooms and are attending burning man I highly doubt that you will encounter any jalapeno monsters at all.
Now you lets say the second item you want to remember is chicken. Your second loci inside your memory palace is the bathroom. You now walk visually step by step towards the bathroom. The next item is “chicken” and the second feature is ” picture of Colonel Sanders“. You can imagine that Colonel Sanders from Kentucky fried chicken is taking a huge dump inside the bathroom of your memory palace and is eating a bucket of wings while doing so! I think you get the idea, from loci to loci you keep associating images until there are no more items to memorize.

What distinguishes a great mnemonist, I learned, is the ability to create lavish images on the fly, to paint in the mind a scene so unlike any other it cannot be forgotten. And to do it quickly. Many competivie mnemoists argue that their skills are less a feat of memory than of creativity. Joshua Foer

 

5.  Visit your Palace

You are done memorizing the items. If you are like me and you are new to using your technique ( or your brain at all) you will probably need a little rehearsal. Rehearsal means that you repeat to walk through your memory palace and encounter all your crazy associations. When you are ready walking the route, just turn around and walk through your memory palace again.
 
 

Personal Take away

Coming from a psychological background I loved the technique from the start. I often wondered why It was so hard for me and for others to learn in school or in life. I now know that our entire educational system is not taking into account how our brain consumes information! To me, this is crazy, what a waste of time and resources and ultimately a wastage of human potential. I’m a very impatient guy I want to have progress and I want to have it fast. I believe that if we use techniques like the memory palace we will accelerate the process of becoming the best version of us exponentially.
One of the major problems I had with this technique was that it seemed strange to me. It contradicted years and years of classical education. But if you really give it a shot and invest some time and effort into learning techniques you will have incredible returns.If you are a person who has dreams, you should also ask yourself what kind of person do I need to become in order to achieve this dream?
Whatever this dream is of yours, I believe that if you master meta-learning techniques like the memory Palace you will get there much faster. And getting there means that you have more time for the things that really matter.

Our lives are the sum of our memories. How much are we willing to lose from our already short lives by.. not paying attention? Joshua Foer, former Us Memory Champion

Call to action

  1. Build your first Memory Palace!
  2. Take a picture of every Loci inside your Palace and create a flashcard at tinycards.com with the different locis inside your Memory Palace.
  3. Walk physically through your Memory Palace and put sticky notes with numbers on each loci. Rewalk the route until you mentally walked 10 times -mistake-free- through your memory palace.
  4.  Now its time for a game: In Germany, we have a game that is called ” Ich packe Meinen Koffer” which means translated I pack my suitcase. You play that game with a friend and you mentally pack your suitcase, each person gets to chose one random item. Let’s say the first Item is : shoes. Then you start the next sentence with: I pack my suitcase, and I put in shoes and then right after you get to chose another random item. You play until one of you guys misses out an item or messes up the order in which you put it in your suitcase. With the Memory Palace, you should from now on win every game with ease!
  5. Now put your Memory to the Test click here to get to a random word generator and practice using your palace.

Want to read more? Sources!

  1. https://litemind.com/memory-palace/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mnemonic
  3. https://www.fluentin3months.com/memory-palace/
  4. https://litemind.com/improve-memory-speaking-minds-language/

The Habit of Asking Good Questions

“Albert grunted. ‘ Do you know what happens to lads who ask to many questions? ‘
Mort thought for a moment.
‘No,’ he said eventually, ‘what?’
There was a silence.
Then Albert straightened up and said, ‘Damned if I know.
Probably they get answers, and serve’em right.'”
— Terry Pratchett, Mort
 

My life’s mission right now is to dissect and investigate the routines, habits, and characteristics of successful and happy people. And through countless hours of studying books, documentaries, interviewing high achievers in person I was able to identify some of the commonalities among them.
Clinical psychology always fascinated me, especially mood disorders, or in much more casual terms; unhappiness.
I constantly try to find patterns, habits, rituals, and strategies that lead to happiness and stay away from habits that will lead to unhappiness eventually. So I asked myself what is the difference between a happy and successful person and a person who suffers from depression for example?
One glaring thing I have found was that successful people ask themselves different questions. Instead of asking “why me”, they ask themselves “how can I use this problem to get stronger” for example. They all seem to possess the habit of asking good questions.
One of the differences between happy and unhappy people lies in the quality of the questions that they ask themselves.
If you ask yourself the right kind of questions every situation becomes a growing experience and you will find yourself constantly in learning mode.
And for me, I feel most happy if I get better if I grow because for me growth equals happiness. This is why I created this website, to constantly improve and change for the better and share my findings with the world.
 

How do you get better?

I only know of one way to get better; to learn.
But how do you learn?
In my mind, there were only two possible ways of learning.

  1. Try to find the solution by yourself
  2. Find people who already have the answer to what you are looking for and ask them.

Being the lazy bastard that I am, the decision was utterly easy for me. Option B it was.
When I was working in a psychiatric facility I investigated the problems of people and the causes of their unhappiness. And one of my personal takeaways was that peoples problems are not as unique as you might think.  With that realization in mind, my own problems became less special, I started to look for patterns, habits, rituals that one should avoid at all cost. A receipt for unhappiness so to say.
I thought that there have to be people who struggled with the same demons as I and who successfully mastered their problems. My answer to this problem was to surround myself with a network of mentors.
Very early in my childhood, my mother gave me very demanding and sophisticated books to read. While other kids my age were playing with pokemon cards I was reading Nietzsche, Shakespeare and Viktor Frankl.
Later in my life, I discovered that she did this to install a mental framework of mentors in my brain.
To me, reading was taking advice from the greatest minds in history. Advice that was bitterly needed, because I was failing on every level imaginable.
When I was a teenager and I struggled with self-pity she gave me a book from Nelson Mandela. When I wanted to become better at basketball she gave me a book from Michael Jordan. When I had problems with woman and love my mom gave me books from Shakespeare. And so on.
To me, all those authors became like guides and teachers for me. If I was in a quarrel, I asked my self for example ” what would Michael Jordan do right now?”
But Books also have their limits. I needed to ask real questions and get answers from real persons.
This is when I decided that I needed to find mentors and ask them how they became successful or happy, or muscular, or spiritual enlighted.
But what do you do if you find them? How would you dissect their knowledge? How do you ask better questions? How do you interview them?
In order to learn how to ask questions, I investigated the best psychotherapists, journalists, interviewers in the world. From James Lipton to David Letterman, to Tim Ferris. If you are interested in asking yourself and others better questions than stay with me here.

Who is Tim Ferris

Tim Ferris is an American best selling author, entrepreneur and self-proclaimed”human guinea pig”. He is most famous for his self-help books. You might have heard of his book “The 4- Hour Workweek. But what he is most famous for is his Podcast the Tim Ferris show which has over 80 million downloads. In his Podcast, Tim Ferris interviews world experts and masters of any field imaginable. Guests like Peter Diamandis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Fox, Dave Asprey and other incredible high achievers. What has this to do with questions?

„ The older I get the more time I spend – as a percentage of each day on crafting better questions. In my experience, going from 1 x to 10 x, from 10 x to 100x and from 100x to 1000x returns in various areas has been a product of better questions.“Tim Ferris

It is Tim Ferris mission to decode human greatness. He interviews high achievers of any kind in order to find emulatable commonalities among the top 1%ers of the world. He does so by asking questions. Coming from a psychological background listening to his podcast was a true game changer for me. For me, interesting people are case studies. And up to this point, I only knew about case studies that were in the unsuccessful part of the spectrum. Tim Ferris gave me 280 amazing human brains to dissect. And he did so by asking them questions. His questions were so good that he was called the “Oprah of Audio”. If you haven’t checked him out, stop reading this article right now and check out his blog. Click here to see his blog.

How to ask questions like Tim Ferris

In the following short video, Tim Ferris gives tips on how to ask questions better.

 

Here are his 5 bullet points

  • The question has to be answered quickly

If you are dealing with highly successful people time matters to them. If your question cant is answered quickly, change it. Questions like ” How can I be successful” are terrible. They don’t have the capacity to be your personal life coach.

  • Build up from easy questions

It is important not start right off the bat with the most difficult questions. Most of the times the first part of the interview is like warming up before the game. A show that is very famous for its high-quality questions is inside the actor’s studio with James Lipton.
In this show, James Lipton interviews the most successful actors in front of young aspiring actors in order to deconstruct their greatness. It’s a great show you should binge it. Guest include; Sir Ben Kingsley, Tom Hanks, Al Pacino, Robert Deniro, Brad Pitt, Robin Williams and many many more. At the end of the show, James Lipton asks every guest the same questions. Let’s see how they are structured. The Questionaire was originally used by Bernard Pivot who many people consider the greatest talk show host ever.

  1. What is your favorite word?
  2. What is your least favorite word?
  3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
  4. What turns you off?
  5. What is your favorite curse word?
  6. What sound or noise do you love?
  7. What sound or noise do you hate?
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
  9. What profession would you not like to do?
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?


As you can see James Lipton starts with asking very easy questions that are quick to answer. In the end, the questions become really complex and philosophical. If you want to ask those important questions you have to build up to them.
 

  • Give Examples

Very often the guys that you interview won’t have a quick answer when they are fishing for words its important to help them and give them an example.
Let’s see how Tim Ferris does this in his new book tribe of mentors.
Question from his book Tribe of mentors: What is one of the most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? Then he gives examples ( could be an investment of money, time, energy etc.)
Remember, these are some tough questions to answer and if you don’t want to experience awkward silence all the time it is important to help.

  • Don’t Ask Questions Google Could Answer

If you want to interview someone, you have the intention in mind that you want to acquire some sort of knowledge or information that in your opinion will help you and add value to others. It is only logical that you first do your homework and see if the person has answered the same question in the past. Again if you are interviewing highly successful people, you don’t want to waste their time or yours.

  • Don’t Ask Broad Questions.

Your questions should be as specific as possible.
Questions like “How do I get rich? ” are horrible questions. A better question would be: ” What three things/resources would you give to a young entrepreneur who is struggling with getting stuff done?. Or ask ” If you could give advice to your 30-year-old self, what would the advice be?
 

How to Ask Yourself Better Questions – 3 Personal Takeaways

 

The older I get, the more time I spend – as a percentage of each day- on crafting better questions. In my experience, going from 1x to 10x, from 10x to 100x, and from 100x to ( when Lady luck really smiles) 1000 x returns in various areas h
as been a product of better questions.” Tim Ferris

1. Before Asking Others, Your Frist Need to Ask the Questions Yourself.

There is a part of Tim Ferris new Book Tribe of mentors that really struck me. It deals with questions you should ask yourself. It is not enough to ask other people question, first you need to ask and define the questions for yourself. If they can not be answered then you go out and ask experts. Many people are aiming for mentors just because it is a thing right now, but you should define first what kind of problems you have and what kind of questions you can not answer by yourself or via google.

If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution “. Albert Einstein

If you want to have a major breakthrough, and you want that your career really to take off, if you want to become the 2.0 version of yourself, you first have to define how that vision, that breakthrough, that career, that 2.0, that next level would look like for you personally. One of the questions that Tim Ferris asks that helps here is :

“When you think of the word successful what Person comes to mind?” Tim Ferris

If you want to read a full article on asking yourself good questions from Tim himself click here.

2. Ask Specific Questions

Whether you ask yourself or an expert a question, your question should be as specific as possible. Let’s say you have the dream of becoming rich. The Questions how do I become rich is not a good question because it is too vague. Rather ask yourself what kind of person do I have to become to become financially independent. Be also specific about your goals, determine what financially independent is for you. What exact income do you need to become financially independent? Write the amount down to the penny, and now ask yourself, what 3 actions can I do today to get closer to this goal.

Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask”. Tim Ferris

3. Why Make it Hard When You Can Make it Easy

Since I was little I was always a grinder. My special super power is that I can work longer hours than everybody I know. For example when I played basketball my way of getting better was just to put in double the hours that everybody else on the team was putting in. And it worked, to this day I’m still known as a gym rat, which is a term for a basketball player who is always in the gym constantly working on his game. 
I was working hard, not smart. One of the side effects of working too hard, and not smart is that at a certain point you link pain to what was originally pleasure for you. I started playing basketball because it was my passion and I loved every second of it. But after some years of sickening work in the gym, basketball was more pain then it was fun. I was missing out on a lot of things, I suffered socially and educationally. It got so bad that I needed to stop playing for a while. Remember our brain does everything to avoid pain, and everything to get pleasure. Click here to read my article about conditioning.
To this day I feel that if I have not completely burned the candle from two sides I wasn’t working hard enough.  Tim Ferris asked himself the same thing. One question from him changed my approach here.

What Would this look like if it was easy?”

What if my unending-working-hard-in-the-salt- mines approach was not the way to go?  I began to link fun and easiness to my obsession towards work and progress. I was first fearing that I would lose my edge, that I won’t be able to grind as long or heavy if I would be completely happy and easy while working. But the opposite happens, I could work even more because being happy while working actually helps with procrastination. Why should you avoid for example learning if it was fun? Why should you skip a workout if it was easy and hilarious? So you should ask yourself from time to time :

Am I Making this Harder than it Needs to Be?

For example, I love learning languages, and it is one of my personal goals to become fluent in 3 new languages every 6 months. One of my takeaways from this is to make things that were hard before. When I started playing basketball I did not even consider it sports. I could play all day and would never consider it a workout. I wanted to transfer this approach towards learning languages.
For example, I’m learning Japanese and Spanish right now. Instead of only memorizing the vocabulary in a loveless cold way. I started watching my favorite anime “one piece” with Japanese dub and Spanish sub. With this method, for example, I have some quality time for myself and learn 2 languages at the same time.
 
 

Call to Action

  1. Define your 3 biggest Problems in your life. What Problems do you need to solve in order for your health, career, happiness to really take off?
  2. If you would be given 1 billion dollars by Bill Gates, what problem would you conquer that in your opinion would benefit the human race as a whole the most?
  3. If you could only work 2 hours a week on your projects, what would you focus on?
  4. Imagine you have an interview with an all known wizard, and you could ask him anything, what 3 questions would you ask him?

 
Sources :

  1. Tim.blog
  2. www.theactorsstudio.com

Vagabonding by Rolf Potts{Book Review}

One of my favorite movies of all time is Oliver Stone’s Wall Street with Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen. In this movie Charlie Sheen, a very promising talent in the stock market told his girlfriend about his dreams and why he is hustling on wallstreet so much.
“I think if I can make a bundle of cash before I’m thirty and I can get out of this racket, and I’ll be able to ride my motorcycle across China”.
This scene to me very much captures the essence of how the western world sees long-term traveling. We see travel as some kind ultra luxurious recurring dream that is only reserved for the ultra-privileged. Rolf Potts makes a brilliant calculation in his book Vagabonding. He shows that if Charlie Sheen would have cleaned toilets for 7 months he could have made his dream a reality and have enough money to start his adventure. And with 3 months more of cleaning toilets, he would have enough money to buy a new bike as well.
How is that possible?
We believe that long-term travel is something that we can only do after we have become super successful. Coming from a psychological background, I have a natural curiosity to find out what people really want to do and why their behavior differs so much from what they want. One of the questions I’m Asking people a lot is : “If you would be given 2500 $ every month of passive income, what would you do with your life”?
The answer that I got most often, is that they would quit their current job and travel the world. Growing up in Europe this mental fallacy is most manifested in our view of retirement. We kinda believe that we have to work our behinds off until we are 65 and then we can do whatever our heart desires. The idea that you invest and sacrifice the most valuable years of your life in order to do what you really want, in the least valuable years of your life is just a bad idea. If you are sick and tired of waiting for your life to start, then this article is for you.
As simple as this sounds, this really rattled my cage. The dreams of most people are accessible today! If you are resourceful enough and don’t mind eating some beans from time to time then traveling is constantly available for you. As a broke student, I managed to travel to travel to 50 plus countries so far, and I had a kick-ass adventure on every continent. And if I can do it, you can do it too. So who is the author of Vagabonding?
 

Who is Rolf Potts?

Rolf Potts is an American travel writer. He is best known for his Book Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel which was translated into several foreign languages, and Marco Polo Didn’t Go There ( Tavelers Tales, 2008). Potts rarely stay long in one place. He feels at home in Bangkok, Cairo, Pusan, New York or anywhere on the six continents. He is a true traveler and I highly recommend that you check him out. Click here to get to his blog

“The value of your travels does not hinge on how many stamps you have in your passport when you get home — and the slow nuanced experience of a single country is always better than the hurried, superficial experience of forty countries.” — Rolf Potts
 

 

Whats does Vagabonding mean? What is the book about?

Vagabonding is a term for taking time off from your normal life,even from yourself, this can be 4 weeks, or four months or four years. The goal is to discover the world on your own terms. A Vagabond is not a tourist but a traveler. It is a philosophy of life that you are a curious observer who explores whatever is desirable to you.
According to Rolf Potts Vagabonding consists of 3 things.

  1. The act of leaving behind the orderly world to travel independently for an extended period of time.
  2. A privately meaningful manner of travel that emphasizes creativity, adventure, awareness, simplicity, discovery, independence, realism, good humor and the growth of the spirit.
  3. A deliberate way of living that makes the freedom of travel possible.

 

A tourist does not know where he has been. A traveler does not know where he is going” — Rolf Potts

Watch this video to get a short summary of the book.

In the book Vagabonding Potts writes about :

  • financing your travel time
  • determining your destination
  • adjusting to life on the road
  • handling travel adversity
  • coming home from travel and re-assimilation back into ordinary life.

3 Lessons I learned from reading Vagabonding

  • Become a stoic

Being a Vagabonder starts a long time before you reach the airport. It starts at home. Every trip starts at home. If you have declared to yourself that you want to travel long term it starts with changing some of your habits. In the video below Tim Ferris explains how to apply stoic philosophy to your life.       
 

From this hour I ordin myself loos’d of limits and imginry lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searcing, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself
of the holds that would hold me.
— Walt Whitman

  • Stop expanding.

There are only two ways to have more money. First is to earn more and the second is to spend less. If you radically reduce what you are spending, you will earn the required money for your trip much faster. I started, for example, to stop buying new clothes. I have 8 jackets, I don’t need a 9th one. It is ridiculous how much people are obsessed with making more money and how little they care about handling the money they already have. Click here to read my article about money management. 

  • Start saving.

Instead of going to the club every weekend, stay at home and have an amazing time playing games with your friends. Instead of being lazy ( and unhealthy) and ordering a pizza, cook for yourself. For example in Germany ordering a pizza costs about 15 euros. For that amount of money, you could live for 3 days if you cook yourself some minimalistic food. Make some sacrifices that enable you to live your dream. Find out what you spend your money on, and cut out some of the bullshit you don’t need. Sell everything you don’t need. Old video games, old clothes that second laptop you are never using.

  • It changed how I viewed work

As a student, I had a lot of shitty jobs. Working in construction, distributing pizza and so on. By far the most shitty job I ever had was a job for the biggest Bank in Hamburg as a mascot. I was dressed as a mouse and needed to dance for children in this costume. Being a 2-meter tall giant basically, every child was afraid of me. My coworker was an old Chinese hag that continuously gave me hell that I need to dance more and better. Looking back at it it was hilarious, but at that time it was the worst!
But what kept me going, and motivated me was that I had booked a flight earlier that month to Asia. So that humiliating job was the first part of my adventure, and viewing it as such made it not only bearable but also fun for me.
This is why I believe that everybody should have a Why. And if you why excites you enough you can do bear almost any how.
I believe that in order to grow, travel is a necessity. Humans are explorers, and I believe that the world would be a better place if we all would travel more and explore the world, and within that explore ourselves.
So start vagabonding!
 

Call to action

  1. Create a Bucketlist with 25 things you want to experience in the world
  2. Identify 3 areas in your life where you could save money.
  3. Write down 5 things that you could make money within a different county.
  4. Write down 3 things that you would do if there would be no money in the world?
  5. Write down 5 positive things that might happen to you if you start vagabonding.

How 6 Jars Can Make You Financially Free

Why am I writing this article?

 
( caution soul striptease ahead)
I was struggling with money for years, and my lack money of it was causing me major pain. 2 years ago I hit financial rock bottom. I was struggling big time. I could not pay my rent anymore. Because I was technically still a student at that time, welfare would not cover for me. In order to pay my rent, I out rented my own apartment on Air BnB. Becoming technically homeless for months. It was bad. I was crashing at my friend’s places and I had a 24/7 gym I could sometimes sleep at.  Years later it still gives me the shivers in what a poor, broken mental state I was in during that time. I began to live off my credit card and indebted myself badly. My poor financial state was making my causing me major pain and I was in a vicious circle. I needed to do something. I was in a downward spiral.

If you want to change the fruit, you have to change the roots. If you want to change the visible you have to change the invisible first”. T. Harv Eker

I realized that in order to get out of this state I first need to take ownership of my situation. I was the problem. I was spending more than I was making. My financial habits were dysfunctional. And in order to find a solution, I needed to become the solution myself. I started changing everything about me and around me. I switched bad habits for healthy ones. I changed my appearance, throw away all my clothes and everything that reminded me of my old broken me. I realized that I had built by accident a completely dysfunctional ecosystem of people around me. So a lot of my friends had to go. And I began to look for ways to accelerate my growth and escape forwards. Since my lack of money was a big cause of pain in my life, I started to look at how I did things.
I realized that I knew nothing about finances! So I began to deconstruct my own financial psychology. What habits and beliefs were governing my financial behavior? What is the money software that is running on my brain? What was my relationship towards money? Who put it there? How can I change it
 
Since the software in my brain was giving me horrible results, I began to view it as flawed. So I had to look for updates. I needed a new brain. I needed new financial habits.  And I needed them fast because staying broke, was causing me so much pain that I needed to escape. I felt like my behind was on a hot plate, and my only thought was to get away from it. Every action, every interaction I had was in order to get me somewhere else. Somewhere safe. Somewhere forward.

Where do you get a new brain?

I started to read books, listened to podcasts, ted talks, I went to seminars, took classes, drove to start up conferences and slowly things were starting to change. I was in an upward spiral. In this article, I am going to show you a money management habit that I have found that completely changed my financial world, a free money management system. I learned about this technique when I was taking a webinar at Mind Valley Masterclass by T. Harv Eker.

Study Harv’s work as if your life depended on it because financially it may ” Tony Robbins

T. Harv Eker is the author of the bestseller “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind which I highly I highly recommend if you want to buy it click here. Harv taught over 1.5 million people through his online courses on how to create financial freedom through his different financial online seminars.

Harv is a self-made millionaire, I first stumbled over one of his courses when I was surfing on Mind Valley. Harv has devoted his life to studying self-made millionaires, and he has identified replicable commonalities from the ultra-rich that he teaches in his course ” the spiritual millionaire”. I was first super skeptical, because of the high cost (250 $) and the scammy title.
I love the Mind Valley guys and I trust them and their products, and I was in desperate need to find some answers that would help me get control of my finances.

One of my major takeaways was that all successful people had some kind of money management system. I did not have any system at all. And I was spending more money than I was earning. I did not even look at my bank account because it was frustrating me that I had so little, and so I used my credit card until it would not work anymore. T. Harv Eker introduced me to the 6 jar system. And ever since I had no money problems, and I know that I will never have money problems again in my life. So what is the 6 Jar method?
The 6 jar method
Basically, in the 6 jar money management system, you split your money up into six different accounts. You have a certain percentage of your money to put into each account. You can use bank accounts or actual jars. Think of it as self-induced tax system.

So what are the 6 accounts that you split your money into?

“The single biggest difference between financial success and financial failure is how well you manage your money. It’s simple: to master money, you must manage money.” T. Harv Eker2

 
 1. Necessities Accounts (NEC – 50%)
This account is to manage your everyday expenses. This includes your rent, debt, food, clothes, gas etc.
This was a gamechanger. Because before I only had one Jar. All my necessities were coming out of my one bank account, whenever I was traveling around the world I depleted that one bank account completely. The Idea that I need to give 50% of my income away was super radical to me, but I made the decision to do everything this course was teaching me.
 
 

2. Play Account ( PLY- 10%)

Money that comes out of the Play account you use to have fun.  T Harv Eker believes that in order to become financially free your soul needs to be happy. The whole purpose of this account is to bring joy to yourself. An expensive bottle of red wine? a massage? An epic road trip with your buddies? Use the play account for everything your heart desires. But don’t use 1 euro of this account for anything else than fun!
 
 

Financial Freedom Account ( FFA – 10%)

This is your golden goose. This jar is your ticket to financial freedom that will make you rich eventually.
The money that you put into this jar is used only for investment and building passive income streams. YOU ARE NEVER ALLOWED TO SPEND THIS MONEY. NEVER!
The only time you are allowed to spend this money is once you become financially free. You are financially free when you make your desired yearly income without having to work. And even then you are only allowed to spend your returns. Never the principal.

Education Account ( EDU – 10%)

This Jar is to sharpen your Saw. Succesful people all have in common that they sharpen their saw(their brain). Therefore in order to emulate the results of successful people, we copy their behavior. Click here to read my article about 7 habits of highly effective people. This account is to educate yourself and make yourself better. This can be books, online courses, tickets to online courses, language apps etc. If you are a student, your tuition fees do not go out of the education jar but out of the necessity jar.

“Rich people constantly learn and grow. Poor people think they already know.” T. Harv Eker

Long-term saving for spending Account (LTS – 10%)

Money in this Account is for bigger purchases. This Jar is for your next vacation, your new car etc. This jar is like your play jar, but for things that are more expensive and take a bit more to save.
I use this Jar mostly for my vagabonding expenses. But if you want to get some more expensive toys like a new watch a playstation or a new gaming computer god bless you, but you need to wait until you have enough in your LTS Account.
One thing that causes people a lot of problems it to mix the Jars. If you spend your entire money on your new car, holiday or luxury you will experience major discomfort. When I was traveling the world I was always dead broke when I came back because I depleted all my jars. If you choose to manage your money like this you will have to deal with constant worry and you will start to question eventually the trip itself.
Having a different Account system frees your mind because the System is doing the thinking for you.

Give Account ( GIV- 10%)

The Money in this jar is for charity. Use the money to do some good. Send it to a charity organization you respect, or buy with it some food and cook food for the homeless. This is up to you. T. Harv Eker believes that by giving away money the universe will reward you by giving you back more. I believe however that as long as you are a charity yourself that you can use these 5% on your own family if you have poverty inside your circle.

“The mark of true wealth is determined by how much one can give away.” T. Harv Eker


 

What do you do if your income is not enough to split it? ( Trick question

A lot of people say ” I would love to have this money management habit, but I cannot do it! I don’t have enough money coming in to split it“, or statements like ” My expenses are too high, there is no way I can afford to split my money into different accounts“.
Harv would get infuriated! I usually say to those persons: “Shut it!“. You tried your system for years. Did it work? If you are broke then it did not work!
 
So you have to switch your old money management software to a better one. Nobody said that you had to put 1000$ into your account every day.

“If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you are going to keep getting what you’ve always got. You gotta switch it up!” T. Harv Eker

Do not fool yourself with statements like “ I don’t have any money to manage“. That is losers talk.
It does not matter if you make 10,000 $ a week, or 1 $ a week. The habit is possible for every person. Because it works with a percentage and not a fixed amount.

The habit is much, much more important than the amount” — T harv Eker

How does the 6 jar method work?

The Idea is that you let the 6 jar system do the thinking for you. And T. Harv Eker believes that the fastest way to become financially well is to manage the money that you have well.

Storytime <3:

Imagine you are a Parent and you go to the shopping center with your beloved child. It is a beautiful sunny day and on the way out you buy your child a scoop of ice cream. Your child looks excited. But your child is a goofy one, and it drops the scoop of ice cream on the floor. Your son now asks you to buy a new one. Your child is sad, and it asks you to not only buy you a new scoop of vanilla, but it wants a second scoop of chocolate ice cream.  
What do you do? Do you buy your child 2 scoops of Icecream after he just dropped the first scoop you bought him?
If you would buy your child 2 scoops after he just dropped the first one T Harv Eker would probably slap you right across your face.
The correct response would be to say: ” I love you son, but before I buy you 2 scoops you first need to show me that you can handle 1″.
 
 
 
 

This is where I go all spiritual on your ass.

If you show the universe that you can handle the amount of money that is given to you right now, it will give you more. If you mismanage your money, you will not get any more.
Why the heck should the Universe give you more if you can not even handle the money that you have right now. Show the universe that you can handle what you have and it will give you more.
To this day I can’t really explain how this principle works, but it does. Since I started the 6 Jar method magic started to happen. And I went from borderline homeless to living a life on my terms in a big ass apartment where I live with my best friends. And I feel like the Universe has my back.
Decide right now: Are you going to get 6 jars and start managing your money today?
 
 
 

Call to action

  1. Go out and get 6 jars( or 6 bank accounts)
  2. Start splitting your money
  3. Write down what your money blueprint is (what is money for you, what is your relationship with money, how do you feel about money)
  4. Write down what your parent’s money blueprint is/was
  5. Write down 25 answers on how you can make more money. Then take a micro action and do one of the answers today!
  6. Write down 5 reasons why you deserve to be financially independent

 
 

Want to read more?

http://6jars.com/
www.mindvalley.com
http://blog.harveker.com/6-step-money-managing-system/

How To Use Electro Shocks To Get Rid Of Bad Habits

 
Do you struggle from time to time with bad habits? Do you want to quit smoking? Do you hit the snooze button when you wake up? Do you eat sugar? If you are the kind of person that wants to get in charge of his life and his habits, then the gadget that I am presenting in this article might be of value to you
We humans spent more than 50 % of our lives on autopilot. Or as I prefer to say inhabit. Whether we have good habits or bad ones determine what kind of person we are. Think about it. In my opinion, the difference between a millionaire and a broke person lies in their different habits.
 
I think of your brain as your iPhone. Habits are apps that you can download. If you have too many bad apps on your phone, your iPhone becomes slow and dysfunctional. If you have good apps on your iPhone your phone becomes an amazing device that is capable of helping you in major ways. A good habit could be for example the habit of learning languages daily, or an exercise regiment, or a meditation practice. This would be the equivalent of a good app such as Evernote or Duolingo
A bad habit could be for example the habit of smoking, or overeating, procrastination or doing drugs. This would be the equivalent of bad apps. It robes your iPhone of its precious memory, that you could use for something productive.
Therefore it is essential that you learn how to delete bad apps from your brain phone and replace them with better ones. I wrote an article about habits.

 We are what we REPEATEDLY DO. Succes is not an action but a Habit ” Aristotle

I am a bit geek when it comes to behavior-changing technology and biohacking devices. The following article shows you one gadget that helps you to get rid of bad habits. Humans are horrible when it comes to self-discipline. We all know that smoking is not good for us but we do it anyway. We know that snoozing is a bad habit to have but we do it anyway. We all know that procrastinating with social media robs us of precious time but we do it anyway. We all want to go to the gym daily but we dont do it.
As a behavior designer, it is now the focus point of my work on teaching people how to design against undesired behaviors. Relying on willpower and motivation is not enough, because if that would be the case we all would have 6 packs and would speak 8 languages. Somehow our lazy brain always goes the most comfortable way to immediate gratification. We must actively design our environment against behaviors and habits that we don’t want to have and we must change the very things that we link pain and pleasure to. Our brain will always want to get pleasure and avoid pain. If we hack this pain and pleasure system we can guide our behavior and become the person that we want to become. So what is pavlok!

What is Pavlok?

Pavlok is a biohacking bracelet that you wear around your wrist that is designed to help you break bad habits. It does so by giving you mild electric shocks when you perform a behavior that is undesired.  First, you identify the habits that you want to break. This can be for example that you have the bad habit of smoking. Every time you succumb the temptation of a smoking you receive an electric shock from the wristband!

  1. First, you identify the bad behavior that you want to eradicate
  2. Then, Pavlok will monitor your behavior. It monitors your behavior with sophisticated sensors and algorithms.
  3. Now when you perform the bad habit, Pavlok will give an electric shock/ Or you give yourself a shock with pavlok.

Pavlok also has automated features where you combine for example a plugin for your browser with pavlok. And every time you go to facebook you get zapped.
 

If you want to buy the device click here 
If you want to know more about the product click here

Whats the theory behind Pavlok?

The device was named after a Russian physiologist who was mainly known for his work in classical conditioning of the most famous and important psychological contributions ever made. 

So what is classical conditioning?

You might have heard of Ivan Pavlov as the crazy scientist who trained his dog to produce spit overtime his dog heard a bell.

The idea is easy: to create an intended response, pair it with a trigger and repeat it until the stimuli alone creates the response.

In his experiment, Pavlov rang a bell and gave his dog some delicious dog food.

And the dog produced saliva. After some time the dog began to salivate when Pavlov entered the room. The Dog was anticipating the delicious dog food and produced salvia in advance. Amazing right?!

In order to test the theory, he created an easy experiment. To prove that the dog was producing salvia in anticipation of the food, he rang a bell every time he gave his dog some delicious dog food.

After a while, he rang the bell without giving his dog the food. 

And the dog produced salvia just as a result of hearing the ring!

Pavlov and his experiment with his cute salvia producing dog are way more than just a classical psychology lesson. Classical conditioning can be used as a tool to get rid of undesired behavior. 

Remember Operant conditioning is best suited for forming new habits. Meaning that our brain wants to repeat what is rewarded. 

Classical conditioning is there to get rid of bad habits. By pairing a behavior with a negative stimulus( pain or discomfort for example) you can weaken bad habits.

Do you have bad habits like eating junk food? Skipping workouts? Being depressive? Playing video games instead of following your dreams? You can weaken them all!

So whats the link between bet classical conditioning and getting rid of bad habits?

I mentioned earlier that in order to create a new habit it is best to add a reward at the end of the behavior.


If you want to get rid of a bad habit that alone, I found adding a reward is not enough. You have to add a negative stimulus to the bad habit. A tiny punishment.

In psychology, this is called aversion therapy. It means that you add a negative consequence to your behavior. 

It is a famous practice in the military. If you are interested in that you should read the book „ Living with a Seal: 31 Days with the toughest Man on the Planet from Jesse Itzler and Tony Goggins. Click here to buy the book

Think of your brain as your dog. And that you train him either by giving him food or punishing him a little bit. If your dog pees on your couch again and you immdiatly show him that you are not happy with his actions he will link discomfort to that behavior and will try to avoid it. Humans and animals learn very simular when it comes to behavior.

3 Takeaways from the Pavlok

It is fast

Pavlok promises that with their device that you can break a bad habit in 5 days, in only 5 minutes. It forces you to basically zap yourself everytime you want to have a cigarette. After only 5 days your brain does not link cigarettes to pleasure anymore. Your brain associates the cigarette with the electric shock. This may sound crazy and radical, but the speed is amazing.
Yes, training your brain by inflicting little trauma is extreme as well, but so is smoking for years. If you can stop a bad habit like smoking and you manage to substitute the emotional reward that you were getting in a healthy way you have won.

 Pavlok uses aversion therapy

Pavlok uses proven psychological mechanisms out of Aversion therapy that was developed in the 6o-90ties. It sounds super harsh to use punishment as a form of changing your behavior. But the makers of Pavlok have found that even minimal punishment works. And it works ridiculously good. Due to social reasons, punishment and aversion therapy have a bad reputation. But I am quite the extreme guy. And I understand the concerns. It is basically training the dog by kicking him. But the pain that one receives from pavlok is so minimal that it does not cause any harm.

 It is expensive

170 dollars is a fucking lot. But in my opinion, it is a worthwhile investment. Think of the possibilities you have when you are in charge of your behavior. Let’s say you have the bad habit of Netflix binging. Think of the time you save if you could eradicate this habit in 5 days. Let’s say for example you want to stop smoking. With this device, you not only prevent yourself from getting lung cancer thing you save a whole lot of money because you don’t have to buy cigarettes.. 170 is a lot yes. But the possible return of being fully in charge of your life is a bargain in my opinion.

Lifehack: What do I do if I don’t have 170 dollars for buying Pavlok?

I totally get it, 170 dollars for Pavlok is a lot. And if you are not a psychology geek like me you will probably hesitate. If you want to condition yourself; starting today I would recommend that you use a rubber band and snap it every time you succumb to the bad habit.
 

What I don’t like about Pavlok

The idea that habits simply can be broken sounds almost too good to be true. And in my opinion, it is. Just using aversion therapy is not enough. Each and every behavior that we have has an emotional reward that we get from performing that behavior. If we take a bad habit away we must first analyze what the bad habit was giving us. What was the reward that this behavior was giving us, or what was the promise that this habit was making?
Identifying the reward can be a complicated process. But in order to really change our behavior, we must also look at the needs of humans. Let’s take for example the bad habit of smoking. We want to quit. And with pavlok we will be able to run the fun in smoking and we will stop eventually. But smoking was important for us because it was giving us relief, and company and coolness even maybe. Often we are not even aware of what a behavior is giving us. In order to completely get rid of a habit, we must find a habit that gives us the same kind of emotional reward. A habit that gives us what the previous habit was giving us but in a more healthy way.
If smoking was giving you a stress relief you can, for example, form a meditation practice. If drinking gives us self-esteem than maybe an exercise regiment can boost our self-esteem in a similar way. I think pavlok does not emphasize enough that there are reasons why we have bad habits and that we have to substitute in order to fight them.
If you break a bad habit but you don’t substitute for it the person will find a different behavior that is scratching the itch. It is essential that we face what our true needs are and what pleasure we are getting out of a bad habit.
Also, I think it is understated that in order to design against undesired habits we must change our environment.
We are all products of our environment and if we want to form positive habits it is essential that we don’t live in toxic environments.
Finding an environment of hungry, inspirational positive people is key. It sadly also works the other way around if you are surrounded by toxic people you will most likely learn their dysfunctional habits almost by accident.
Call to action
1. Get a rubber band that fits tightly around your wrist.
2. Now take a piece of paper and write down 10 habits that you want to get rid of.
3. Make a circle around the habit that you believe holds you back the most.
4. Now every time you perform the bad habit, snap your rubber band.
5. Write down daily how often you snap the rubber band. In order to see your progress.
6. Tell everyone you know that you have stopped with the bad behavior, this can be for example that you tell all your friends that you have quit smoking.
 

Read more about Pavlok

  1. https://pavlok.com/
  2. https://blog.bulletproof.com/heres-how-to-change-your-habits/

Stephan R. Coveys "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" {Book Review}

The book: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a self-development book by Stephan R. Covey. In his book, Covey Identified 7 Habits that world-class performers have that in his opinion are responsible for their effectiveness. It was sold more than 25 million times and is one of the most influential books in Us history. To this day this book helps millions of readers to become more effective in their personal and professional lives.
This Book was recommended by presidents, CEOs, educators and has helped people all over the world to improve their business.
 

Who is Dr. Stephen R. Covey

Dr. Stephen R. Covey (1932-2012) was a world-renowned authority on leadership and family relations. He held a Bachelor of Science from the University of Utah, an MBA from Harvard, and a Ph.D. from Brigham Young University. Dr. Covey served as Vice Chairman of FranklinCovey Co. and was an in-demand speaker, teacher, and organizational consultant. Throughout his career, Dr. Covey brought new insight and understanding to millions of readers and students. (1)

7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is a self-development book. It is written by Covey’s Idea that we there are universal patterns and commonalities among highly successful people which we can mimic.
 
A habit is a routine or a ritual, a pattern of action or thinking, a behavior that do over and over again. By observing highly effective people Stephan R Covey identified habits that are responsible for their effectiveness.
In my opinion, it is also a book about effectiveness and it could easily be labeled the 7 habits of highly ineffective people. Because while reading this book you will catch yourself totally doing the opposite and you will deconstruct in many areas why you are not as effective as you want to be.

Why did I read the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The focus point of my interest right now is to find habits that lead to happiness and success and habits that one should stay away from.
One thing that in my opinion is a major contributor to unhappiness is to be ineffective. Progress and growth equal happiness in my opinion. Conquering the dreams and visions is mandatory to create a compelling future and gives us a sense of movement and control. People who are highly effective are in charge of their lives and they possess something that is necessary to be happy and successful: self-efficacy.
On the contrary, in my investigation of unhappiness, I tried to deconstruct the habits and mental pattern of unhappy people and people with mood disorders in psychiatric facilities. Also, I had huge academic problems because I was constantly not getting the results that I wanted.
One thing that unhappy people and people with depression have in common is that they all seem to have very low self- efficacy. They don’t believe that they have the means themselves to change their situation and because of that, they lose faith in their future. If you lose the ability to change and to grow than if you experience pain, this pain feels like it will last forever and you will lose all hope and you become lethargic.
People who are successful and happy on the other side seem to get the things done that are necessary for them to become the person that they want to be. They maximize their resources and they have high confidence in themselves and in their ability to find the answer to whatever problem will face up.
Yes, this book is called the 7 Habits of Highly effective People but if you think one step further it is also a guide on how to “not” do things. And how to be unsuccessful and ineffective.
I am interested right now in comparing extreme spectrums of human behavior with each other. I believe that often people who are outliers when it comes to happiness or unhappiness do almost the opposite.
For example, people with depression seem to avoid things while happy people more often face their fears and act in spite of fear. While successful people have a system that does the thinking for them unsuccessful people seem to be really disorganized.
I believe that nature is fair if we mimic the habits and mental patterns of highly effective people we will eventually get similar or at least better results. This was one of the reasons that I created this blog. I wanted to have an excuse to become a full-time student of human behavior and deconstruct the habits of people who are kicking ass in life and mimic my behavior after them.

What are the 7 Habits of highly effective people?

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with End in Mind
  3. Put First Things First
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Seek first to Understand, then to be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw

The Book starts with an explanation of how many people who are successful still struggle with an inner need for developing personal effectiveness and creating a balanced life where they have happy relationships with other people.
He believes that the way we view the world is based on the perception of ourselves. In order to change how we see the world, we must change.
It is not about finding shortcuts to success and finding short-term solutions, it’s about changing our values and becoming the person that we need to be in order to constantly create the results that we want to have and be in the mindset of our choice.
Covey calls this a paradigm shift. We not only change our behaviors on the surface but we must change ourself fundamentally.

  • Habits 1-3 are focused on moving from dependence to independence.
  • Habits 4-5 are focused on collaboration and creating a network around you with the necessary communication skills and moving from independence to interdependence
  • Habit 7 is focused on continuous growth and improvement (2)

Habit 1: Be Proactive

The first habit of the 7 habits of highly effective people is being Proactive. This means that highly effective people have in common that they don’t just sit and wait for problems to happen. They are in control, and if they want something they don’t just wait till the universe magically gives it to them. They make it happen. This habit for me means taking ownership of your life. When I worked in a psychiatric facility I analyzed the language of people with depression in order to find patterns to stay away from. One of the commonalities that I have found (in other patients and myself when I was depressed) was the lack of ownership of your own life and destiny.
From unsuccessful people, I often heard sentences like
“There is nothing I can do”, “That’s just the way things are”.
They feel like they are not in charge of their life. Their self-efficiency is super low. They are not proactive. Humans need a sense of control in order to feel happy. If you live in a mindset where you believe that life is happening to you and not for you, you think there is nothing that you can do. You don’t think solution orientated, every problem that you have seems to be final. I think humans need the illusion of being in control over their future and that things are going to get better because of the effort that we put in. Losing this hope for the better results in my opinion that we give up universally. Because we are subconsciously resigning from the fight because we lost so many times that at this point all we can do is to lay down in defeat and wait for another catastrophe happening to us. Of course, this is no place to stay in. I am not saying that horrible things happen to people but I have found that people who are happy and successful focus less on the problem and more on what they can do about it. Even if something horrible has happened to you in the past, you still have the options of how you deal with that traumatic event. Will you let it burden you or will you free yourself from it and maybe even transform it into a resource?
Now let’s look at the other extreme. How do successful people see this?

“any team, in any organization, all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader. The leader must own everything in his or her world. There is no one else to blame. The leader must acknowledge mistakes and admit failures, take ownership of them, and develop a plan to win.”  Jocko Willink

Jocko is a retired United States Navy SEAL who received the Silver and the Bronze Star. He is a podcaster, author, and martial artist. And he lives his life on his own terms; which is my definition of being successful. He wrote the book extreme ownership. And he is an example that people who are successful are proactive and take ownership of their life. He does not wait for other people to hand him everything. He wants to develop a plan and he has trust in himself that he is able to solve whatever obstacles the world is putting in his path.
 

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Envision what you want to have and who you want to be in your future and plan towards it. Now ask yourself daily, how can I make this future a reality? What can I do today to become the person that I want to be?
Critically analyze what you do. We are often so trapped in the matrix of staying busy that we don’t realize that we move in a direction, and become a person we don’t want to be.
Once you created a vision, a dream, a compelling future for you want to make it a reality. I think one of the most important ingredients for happiness is the Idea that things are going to get better in the future. When I was investigating unhappiness and I was interviewing people with major depression one sentence often popped up: “Things are never going to get better”.
From personal experience, I can tell you that it is really dangerous and unhealthy to play with those kinds of thoughts. When you are in a bad place and you feel like the pain is leaking out everywhere one thing that determines in my opinion whether your symptoms are going to get better or worse is the anticipated quality of your future.
I think that if you have a why that is big and compelling enough you endure almost any how. No matter how shitty your day is, or how tough the circumstances are if you have a why you say to yourself “yes this is a bad day, but my life is not bad, things are going to get better”.
On the other hand, the most extreme form of internalizing that things are never going to get better is to commit suicide. One of the driving forces in my opinion of ending your own life is the perception that things are never going get better. If you are always in pain than ending your life is a logical self-protecting mechanism. A mental fallacy that in my opinion is only in the rarest cases true.
So get yourself a dream. It can literally save your life.
Once you have a dream you want to adjust your life according to making this dream, this version of you a reality. You want to activly design your life. How do you do that?
 
What really helped me to implement his habit of Beginning with the End in Mind was to journal. I believe that questions are the best tool to guide or focus. And what we focus on we become.
I use a personalized variation of the five-minute journal, in which I start each day with a question:
1. What can I do today to make my dream future a reality?
2. And what can I do today to become the person I want to be?
3. What should I avoid today, what action would sabotage my mission? Click here to read the article.
This habit will change your life. Because you consciously understand that you are the engineer of your life. One of the biggest enemies of happiness is the realization that your life is not yours. That you are trapped and your life is not going anywhere. To go to a job you don’t like, so you can buy shit that you don’t need in order to portray a person that you are not really are.
Covey states that it is also important to identify our center. Our center is the source of our perceived security. Another antidote to feeling unhappy is to feel safe. The more insecure we feel the more anxious we are. Covey differentieates different sources of security.
 
7-habits-highly-effective-people-center-summary-sidekick-content-1.png
3
It is interesting to see what center you fit in. I believe that the most dangerous, unhealthy source of security is when you gain security and happiness from external validation. When you are money-centered and possession centered you are going to feel strong ups and downs. There are always people who have more, people who are better. Over the years and through my basketball upbringing I was being taught that being the weakest person in the room was a good thing to be because then you learn the most.  My big brother who was a basketball professional always used to tell me that if I am the best player on my team, I am on the wrong team.
 

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Covey here states that there is a difference between what is important and what is urgent. Think of important as something that is bringing you closer to your long-term goal. Urgent is, for example, something that is is important for you in the short term and may not be important for you in the long term at all!
Covey says that you should first focus on :

  1. Whats important- and urgent
  2. Whats important and not urgent
  3. Not Important and Not Urgent
  4. Not important and not Urgent

time-management-matrix-7-habits-highly-effective-people-summary-sidekick-content.png
Quadrant 1
Here you focus on managing a big crisis, problems, and issues that if you don’t treat them right now they just gonna snowball into something bigger. Not handling your pressing problems is a psychological catastrophe because you at a certain point problem create other problems and in no time you catch yourself playing whack a mole when you attack one problem another one pops up. Killing problems in their early stages when they are still manageable is key here. It is similar to treating depression for example. If you don’t take a look at the causes and unsatisfied needs of a person you find yourself only treating the symptoms and the person is not going to get better.
 
Quadrant 2 
If you focus on Quadrant 2 you are at the center of personal management. Here you focus on dealing with building connections, planning, exercising, preparation the things we know we should be dong but very rarely actually do. We don’t give as much time to these things because they are not urgent. You do not have to spend quality time with your family, your friends, your teammates, your spouse but if you neglect those things for too long you will be unhappy. Life is not all about work guys. We are humans and we need our tribe and connections are just as important as business and thriving.
 
Quadrant 3
In this sector, you focus on things that are neither urgent nor important. This is the area that is the enemy of productivity and happiness. We live in a world now where we want to constantly react to everything, our emails, our Facebook feed, Instagram… the list is long. We can spend literally our entire life on Facebook, for example, the feed will never stop. Always ask yourself when you get distracted by meaningless things if there are more beautiful and important matters that you could direct your focus on. Otherwise, you might never be able to achieve anything because you are constantly out of flow and sabotage your own endeavors.
Quadrant 4
If you are living you need to get your shit together. In here you focus on time wasting activities. Netflix binging, endless youtube marathons, mindless scrolling through facebook are all wrong to focus points that you can find in this quadrant. At work, you focus on trivial business work that won’t help you win in the big picture. Also, you focus on sensations seeking because your life because of your terrible priorities is not enough for you. Focusing on neither urgent nor important matters is a safe formula for feeling unfulfilled but being busy enough so that you won’t be able to take care of the important relationships and connections in your life. If you focus too much on this quadrant you are wasting your life, in fact even worse. You do a disservice to humanity because you don’t capitalize on the incredible potential that was giving to you. If you catch yourself fall. into this behavioral pattern get up and live the extraordinary life that you were born to live.
 
 
This habit has helped me to not get caught in the busy trap. Humans are wired to react to matters that are urgent, even though often urgent matters are not important. The problem is that there are often so many urgent things that you never get to the matters that are really important to you. Remember the second habit? Begin with the end in mind?
This habit is about deciding what you focus on. Often I ask myself in my journal was I busy today, or productive? This quadrant system has helped me to understand what I should focus on.
One of the biggest problems with today’s world is that there are endless possibilities to get distracted and waste your time. We all can spend an entire day only checking emails.
For example, I am writing a book at the moment. When I am in flow and my phone is ringing technically I could afford the time to take the call, however, what I can not afford is the distraction.
If it is some random call that is just interrupting my flow I am not taking it.
 
Again it is all about focus.

The key is not to priotize what`s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephan Covey

 

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

Good deals and agreements in relationships should be of value for both parties. For me, this habit is more of a way to go through life. If one party loses while making a deal, that person will feel ill towards you. So you may have gained something in the short run but have lost a human in the long game for me. In order to be happy, we must create long-lasting interdependent relationships that are win-win orientated.
Most people go through life with a scarce mindset. They think that life is a game and that when somebody wants to win somebody else has to lose. If you get it, its gone, therefore I can no longer have it.
Having a win-win mindset will not only allow you to be successful because you crush your goals, but you help others to success aswell and on the way you form powerful and fruitful connections.
If you are making business with someone and you make an unfair deal with that person yes you technically win, but you lose a future partner, customer, friend maybe even spouse. I suggest that you focus on business that you emphasize that you are in the building connections business.
Having the win-win mindset will help you to overcome every obstacle because your network is constantly growing and getting stronger. So even if you don’t know the answer to a problem, people around you might. And if treated them with respect they will surely help you out.
So having a win-lose mindset is only good for the short term. But eventually, your way of going through life is going to catch up with you.
Imagine you are a Ceo of a big company, you have everything in life from the outside, money, status a high position and you conquered your dreams.
However, your entire career is based on doing win-lose deals. You are not well respected and liked by your employees because you climbed the ladder of success at the cost of many other people. Eventually, you will be not only unhappy because you will experience loneliness but you will also be fired out at some point because you represent the wrong values for the company. We are humans and not machines. Creating nourishing connections with people who work with you and creating an environment where you grow together is a necessity for happiness and progress.
Covey has defined that there are six paradigms of human interaction: 

  1. Win-WIn: Both people win. Agreements and solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying to both parties.
  2. Win- Lose. ” If I win, you lose.” Win-Lose people take advantage of people and play their position, status, and personality to get their way, and only their way.
  3. Lose-Win: “I lose you, you win.” Lose-Win people seek harmony and quick appease because they seek social validation and seek credibility to social acceptance.
  4. Lose-Lose: Both people lose. When two Win-Lose people get together and both want to have their way, without the other one getting what he wants their ego will make sure that the deal will result in a lose-lose.
  5. Win: People with the winning mindset don’t care about if somebody else has to lose or win, to them it is important that they win first and foremost.
  6. Win-WIn or No Deal: If you can`t reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial, there is no deal.

 

Habit 5: Think First to Understand, Then to be Understood.

Be empathic. Listen. There is much more value in what other persons have to say. The best way to really understand the person in front of you is to listen to them. If you only talk about yourself, for example, the other person will think you do not care about them. Also, highly successful people do not have the need to constantly talk about themselves. People who only talk about themselves have often a problem with their self-worth. They talk so much because they want to impress the other person and hide the fact that they think of themselves as not enough. Succesful people don’t talk endlessly, they listen more, and talk less. Also, you know what is inside your head, but by listening really. You constantly get new input and you can’t help but grow.
Before we tackle obstacles, we must first have a deep understanding of the situation. Before we give advice or suggestions, solutions we first must listen. Listening is part of the solution in my opinion. Also, empathy is such an underrated skill.
As a guy who studies behavior for a living this part was really difficult for me to understand. I am very quick when it comes to seeing pathological patterns in people. When friends of mine are unhappy you are always tempted to just vomit psychological suggestions on them and give them a formula on how to do things. But this very rarely helps as the first reaction. Often it is quite the opposite and people feel judged and they won’t open up again in front of you. If your strategy aims for validating yourself as the smartest person in the room this might be a good approach but if you want to deepen the relationship towards another human being listening is essential. First, understand then be understood.
Also, there seems to be something really healing and productive about the idea of a person telling you a problem and you listen to them without you rejecting them, judging them, or seeing the other person with different eyes. Were all afraid of rejection, and if you give a human the impression that their problem is stupid they will feel exposed because they are a person who cants handle such a stupid problem. And the next time this person has a problem they won’t seek your guidance because they are afraid of being perceived as weak or stupid. This is a sure way to implement very bad habits in companies and in relationships.
So Listen first, be emphatic, take people seriously and then speak.
Most people don’t listen at all, they wait till they can speak again.
 

Habit 6: Synergize

The true power of humans lies in their ability to team up. Team up with positive people so you can achieve bigger results faster. If you like Covey suggest become a proactive emphatic listener you have the opportunity to create synergy. If you start to work with amazing people and implement other habits and you, for example, want to start a business 2+2 becomes 5 suddenly. We humans are not made to create alone, our true power lies in our ability to cooperate with other humans in order to hunt great things.
Having a win-win mindset will encourage you to seek the psychology behind disagreements with other persons. What was the motivation behind the last confrontation? How can we as partners together overcome this obstacle? How can we learn from a situation and what can we learn about ourselves from this?
If you have any aspirations of conquering your dreams and making your vision come true you need people around you that help you and you need to help them. The quality of connections that we have in our life equals our happiness and our progress in my opinion.
 
 

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Create a lifestyle for yourself in which you improve yourself constantly. Work out, read books, go to seminars once a month, visit conferences twice a year. Try to get better physically, mentally and spiritually. Highly effective people sharpen their Saw. And their Saw is their Mind. Almost every successful person I met had the habit of sharpening their saw. There are studies which say that when you invest 90 minutes daily in your aspired field, that you will belong to the top 5% experts in the world.

If I had six hours to chop down a tree, i’d spend the first four hours sharpening the axe — Abraham Lincoln

This was one of the reasons why I created this blog. I asked myself what would happen if you spend your entire time learning?  What if your job would be to learn? To get better, stronger, smarter constantly? Would you not be happier and be able to give more back?
The habit of sharpening the saw means that you understood that graduation never happens and that the more you learn the more you are able to contribute. And for now, this way of designing my way towards growth and working on my craft full time gives me a level of fulfillment beyond imagination.
I think humans have a deep need for security, and the habit of sharpening the saw gives you hope. Hope that even though your day today was total dog shit your life won’t be always like this. You start to believe more and more in yourself because you are growing. You start to process your traumas, and failures because you learned from your mistakes and you are laying the foundation that those things won’t happen to you again.
Lastly the habit of sharpening the saw will enable you to give more back. More money, more love, more happiness.
A metaphor captures the essence of this habit very well. When you are on an airplane, and the oxygen masks drop what do they tell you?
That is right, to put them on yourself first. Only then you are able to help the other passengers.
The idea is to get strong first, then have a bigger reach and then give back and contribute.
This is in my opinion where true fulfillment lies, in the realization that you are giving your all and that you are doing what you want and that your existence is good for others. That your life is amazing and that makes other peoples lives also better.

Sources

1.https://www.amazon.com/Habits-Highly-Effective-People-Powerful-ebook/dp/B00GOZV3TM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1527752746&sr=8-2&keywords=stephen+a+covey
2.https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/habits-of-highly-effective-people-summary
3. https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/habits-of-highly-effective-people-summary

Call to action 

  1. Write down where you would see yourself in 3 years if failure was not an option.
  2. Now Look what you have scheduled this week, is it serving your bigger goal?

 

How I Managed To Read 30 Books In One Month — The Speed Reading Habit

One of my favorite Movies of all Time is The Matrix. And one scene, in particular, stands out for me. The scene where Neo fights Morpheus in a Test Program. In the Scene Prior to that epic fight, Neo gets plugged in with a wire and one of the Techies on Board of the Nebuchadnezzar uploads a kung fu data in Neos brain. Seconds later the upload is completed and Neo opens his eyes and is a master in Kung fu and says „ I know Kung Fu“.


 

After watching that scene for the first me, I thought how badass and useful it would be if you could learn any skill that fast. To bad that it is impossible in real life. But is it really? What if we could 10 x or 100 x our reading speed? What would happen to our life if we could accelerate our learning exponentially? Isn’t the life that we are living right now a direct reflection of the things that we have learned up to this point. 

 

I always enjoyed learning. What I didn’t enjoy were the hours you had to put in to learn something complex.

Sometimes reading a book took me forever. Being the lazy bastard that I am I always look for shortcuts. Shortly after I found myself fascinated with accelerated learning and speed Reading in particular. If you have read my other articles than you know that I have the superpower to fail spectacularly. I got kicked out of multiple schools and I failed so many exams that at a certain point I began to question my very self. Maybe school just wasn’t for me. Maybe I was not smart enough. Luckily for me, I started studying psychology. I began to study the ways of how our brain processes information, how we store memory and how we learn. I also learned that our school system was founded like 100 years ago, and that during that time we know very little about how humans learn, and that the entire system sucks. 

This to me was a revelation and the lifting of a burden. It was not that my brain was not capable enough,  I was not too stupid, it was a combination of bad habits and a system that didnt understand really how our brain learns. We get taught basicly that and intelligence is a fixed entity. When I learned how our brain really works, I also learned that I didnt have to stay stupid. That I can get smart, and that I can get smarter fast.

In the following article, I describe an easy hack that allowed me to up my book total from 1-2 books a year to 200 plus. In my past, I had tons of learning disabilities and problems in general with my education. Eventually, I became tired of fucking up and started to really research what learning is about. I studied memory champions, speed readers and read tons of books about accelerated learning. Have you ever started a book and it took you forever to finish it? Then this article might be something for you.

 

The Px Project —How to improve your reading speed by 300% 

 
What is the Px Project?
The Px Project
is a cognitive speed reading experiment. It is based on the human visual system and works with mechanisms that eliminate eye movement inefficiencies that we have while reading. The improvement rate of this experiment is bananas.  In a 3- hour cognitive experiment the average increase in reading speed was 386%. I tried the method for myself, and within 20 minutes I doubled my reading speed. A 20-minute Investment and you read 100% faster for the rest of your life? Fuck Bitcoins, now this is what I call a return! Tim wrote an amazing article on the topic and highly recommend that you check his blog out. click here

Who is Tim Ferris

Tim Ferris is an American best selling author, entrepreneur and self-proclaimed“human guinea pig“. He is most famous for his self-help books. You might have heard of his book „The 4- Hour Workweek. But what he is most famous for is his Podcast the Tim Ferris show which has over 80 million downloads. In his Podcast, Tim Ferris interviews world experts and masters of any field imaginable. Guests like Peter Diamandis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Fox, Dave Asprey and other incredible high achievers.

How Do we read?

We do read in saccadic movements. That means we read in jumps. I always thought for example that we read in a straight line, but that’s wrong. Our eye jumps to a certain point and stays there for a millisecond. Imagine your eye like a camera rather than a video recorder. Your eye camera takes different, separated pictures and your brains binds them to a holistic picture together.
 

So what are the 3 Bulletpoints of Speed Reading?

We must minimize the number of jumps and the duration of the fixations per line.
We do not read in a straight line.
 

  1. We must eliminate jumping in the wrong direction.
  2. if we increase our vision ( think of it as getting a better and wider camera objective) we can increase the number of words in our focus.

So speedreading is not about skipping content, it is about implementing information of how our visual system actually works. Think of your eyes as your car, and the word lines in a book are your streets. So far you always took the long route. Implementing knowledge about how our eyes move is basically taking a shortcut or the most efficient way to your goal.

Call to action

1. Hold your hand in front of your left eye, and now read the last sentence again. Now you can see how your eyes jump from fixation point to fixation point.
So what is the technique to double my reading speed?!

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it — Oscar Wilde

 

3 Steps Of The Habit Of Speed Reading–Self-experiment!

Have you watched Tim Ferris video? No? Here a short summary.
First, take out a book a book that is fairly standardized. Meaning a book that has mostly text in it and not many bullet lists for example.
 

Step 1 Determine your reading speed

First, we need to look how we can measure reading.

  1. Take out a book
  2. Now count all the words in 5 lines of your choice.
  3. Now divide this number by 5. This is your average number of words per line. In my case, I was reading a tony robbins book and I had 58 words/ 5 lines = my average number of words per line for this book is 11.6 ( round it up to 12)
  4. Next, count the number of the text lines on 5 pages and divide them also by 5. This is your average line per page.
  5. Now read with a timer for 1 minute. After 1 minute multiply the number of lines you have read by your average words- per- line. This is your reading speed. Your words-per-minute. Your wpm. Now write down your wpm!

 Step 2 — Pacers!

Awesome you have determined your reading speed. Now it is time for the second hack, and it couldn’t be more simple.
Now grab a pen. Take the pen and slide along the lines and focus your eyes on the tip.
The second enemy of reading fast is regression and back skipping. Have you ever caught yourself reading and then your mind wandered off and you had to read the line again? When you use a pen or your finger or a pacer you solve this issue.
It is super hard for our eyes to focus without a focus point. It is impossible for us to see words and not read them. By artificially creating a focus point with a pen we create the tempo of how fast we want to read and also we minimize back skipping, therefore saving tons of time. Imagine you are taking the bike to school and you have to write the way 3 times instead of one time only.
Speed Reading exercise 1 – Tracer 
You already know how to measure your reading speed. Now do it again but this time uses a pen. Underline each sentence with your pen, focusing your eyes on right above the tip. Take no longer than 1 second for each line! DO NOT CONCERN YOURSELF WITH COMPREHENSION AND RETENTION. This exercise is for your eyes to get used to reading faster. Do this for 2 minutes.
Speed Reading exercise 2 – MORE SPEED
Repeat the technique, but double the speed. Now you have half a second for one line. So 2 lines per second. Do not worry if you don’t comprehend anything, this is expected. You are training your eyes to become faster.
Our Eyes can be trained very quickly, and we want to focus our eyes to adapt and make our visual system more powerful
Focus on this exercise and try not to daydream while reading. Do this for 2 minutes.
 
 

Step 3 – Expand your vision  ( 9 mins )

The third step is about expanding your perceptual Expansion, meaning how big your focus point is. Focus on the middle of your computer screen, or smartphone, you can still see the sides of your screen right? You can train your eye to have a bigger focus point. Imagine that you are at the moment need 5 jumps with your eye to read a sentence. If you train your perceptual expansion you only need 3 jumps to read a sentence, hence you read faster.
Let´s illustrate this with a joke from Woody Allen:” I took a speed reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes, it involves Russia”.
If you be able to start with your eyes at reading and end at minutes you would eliminate 7/17 Words. Almost doubling your reading speed. Combine this hack of starting at the 3rd word with using a pen for speed and you really accelerate your reading speed. Let’s put that to the test.

Speed Reading exercise 3 – Combine 
A) “Use the pen to track and pace at a consistent speed of one line per second. Begin 1 word in from the first word of each line, and end 1 word in from the last word.
DO NOT CONCERN YOURSELF WITH COMPREHENSION. Keep each line to a maximum of 1 second, and increase the speed with each subsequent page. Read, but under no circumstances should you take longer than 1 second per line.”
B) Begin at least 3 words in from the first word of each line, and end 3 words in from the last word. Repeat the technique, keeping each line to no more than ½ second (2 lines for a single “one-one-thousand”).1
C) Begin at least 3 words in from the first word of each line, and end 3 words in from the last word. Repeat the technique, keeping each line to no more than ½ second (2 lines for a single “one-one-thousand”). Some will comprehend nothing, which is to be expected. Maintain speed and technique-you are conditioning your perceptual reflexes, and this is a speed exercise designed to facilitate adaptations in your system. Do not decrease speed. ½ second per line for 3 minutes; focus above the pen and concentrate on technique with speed. Focus on the exercise, and do not daydream. 1

Now Calculate Your New Reading Speed!

Congratulations you have just found a gold nugget. If done correctly your reading speed has improved drastically, and all this without money or gadgets! All you need is a pen and a book.

Sources

1.https://tim.blog/2009/07/30/speed-reading-and-accelerated-learning/

Richard Branson — Losing my Virginity {Book Review}

When do you think of the word successful what Person comes first to mind?
For me, success means that you live an extraordinarily adventurous life. A life on your terms. That you have successfully monetized your passion and that you add massive value to others while doing so. That you work with fun and amazing people and solve together big problems for the world.
To me, nobody else personifies these ideas more than Sir Richard Branson.

Who is Richard Branson?

Richard Branson is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world today. He is the founder of the Virgin Group and with he has a net worth of over 5 billion dollars! Damn, that is a lot of money right?! Normally I am reluctant when It comes to equating networth with success. Think of bankers for example who are only in their office their entire life. Words like boring or clockwork come to mind.

Boring is a word you would never associate with Richard Branson. And he is not your typical billionaire(if there is anything as such).

Richard Branson was born in 1950 and he had a very happy childhood. In his book, he describes how his parents always challenged him.
Richard Branson Parents were in the upper middle class, so he was not born super rich.
In school, Richard Branson was everything else than outstanding. He was dyslexic and failed hopelessly in math and other sciences. However even there seemed to be an aura around him.
When Richard Branson graduated the school’s headmaster said to him: “You will either go to prison or become a millionaire.” Little did he know that he was right with both.
Branson’s first entrepreneurial endeavor was to create a student magazine that included interviewing Mick Jagger and John Lemmon among many others. One of the things that fascinated me with this magazine was that the goal was not primarily to make money but to have fun.
Branson gang of friends was obsessed with music and they decided to sell records via mail. This project later became Virgin music business.
The first singer Virgin signed was a young musician called Mike Oldfield. This was an odd choice because the Virgin music was a rock music label, and Mike Oldfield had no vocals in his album Tubular Bells.
This song was one of the biggest- selling albums of the 1970s. Later they collaborated with big bands like Sex Pistols, Phil Collins, Human League and many other stars.  They became really big and were floating in cash.
What surprised me was that he went form the music business into founding an airline.  He was always a big-time investor and eventually through some weird circumstances, he received a proposal to establish a new airline that would compete with British Airways.
So Richard Branson negotiated to rent a boing 747 for a year. This to me was crazy that he would try something this big on a whim without being afraid just to see if it works.
 
 

So why did I choose to make a book review about losing my virginity?

Being a millionaire with 22? Flying over the Atlantic in a balloon? Being knighted by the Queen?  Buying your own Island? Trying to make free wifi for the entire world? Writing a bestseller when you are dyslexic? Founding “Virgin Interplanetary” in order to make space travel possible for everyone? Those are all crosses on his Richard Branson’s bucket list.

For me doing a book review about losing my virginity was a must. He personifies the perfect case study for success in my opinion. The sheer amount of impact that he had on the world, the brave business endeavors that he started, the adventurous expeditions that he undertook is just mindboggling.
And it deeply inspired me and showed me what is possible inside of one life on this planet.
As humans we have a beautiful ability that is unique to our species: We can read a story and relive the adventures and experiences in our head like we were the protagonist.
I think to soak in Richard Branson life journey is a must for every hungry men or woman. And to me it was super fascinating to see how different he thinks towards business, traveling and trying new things.
One of the cornerstones of my philosophy is that when you start to think like people with extreme results it will eventually rub of on you and you yourself will get better.
Emulating the thinking patterns, habits, tools, and life hacks from highly successful people is one of the focal points of my work right now.

3 Takeaways from Richards Branson’s Autobiography

  • Problems are gold nuggets

In his autobiography, you can see that Richard Branson thinks in a unique way. For him, problems are gold nuggets. He searches for markets that need a shakeup. Is there a way to do it better or cooler or more customer orientated?
This was the Idea behind virgin Airways. He did not like the way British Airways were exploiting their monopoly position. The prizes were going up for the customers and the quality and comfort was going down. Richard Branson saw this problem as a business opportunity. I believe we all should think this way.
What does the world need? Where does a shakeup need to happen? In which market do people deserve better? Where is my expertise needed the most?
Ask yourself bevor starting a business if this endeavor is scratching your niche only or if you are actually are adding value and creating something new for other people.
Fusing a problem with your own talents will bring out the best in you in my opinion because you are driven by more than your personal needs. You think that the thing that you are building has to exist. And that people deserve better and that if you don’t do it nobody else will, so you almost have no choice but to create this startup, company or product.
 

  • Follow your dreams.

As cheesy as this sounds, one of my major takeaways was that you need an exciting vision for your future. A dream. Something that you never get tired of talking about. A vision that keeps you up late at night and wakes you up early.
In order to become successful, let alone a billionaire you need to excel in your field of expertise. You won’t get there if you don’t feel fun and excitement for the thing that you do. If your dream is as big as becoming a billionaire you gotta eat it, sleep it, breathe it and develop a total obsession that you love it.
I believe that what is rewarded is repeated. And if you associate sacrifice and stress and discomfort to your work you won’t be able to put in the extra hours. On the other side if you love what you do then why should you stop after 8 hours? This enables you to work longer and harder than someone who has to do it.
I believe having a dream is a necessity for humans in order to be happy. A compelling goal that gives us a goal that requires our absolute best version of yourself. I found through my investigation of unhappiness that people who have depression, for example, don’t see a future for themselves at all. They think that they are going to stay in this painful place forever. This, of course, makes the situation worse.
Having a compelling future and a dream gives us the impression that even though we may have a shitty day, our life will not always be shitty. This gives us the courage to move on and take the next challenge because our dream is worth not giving up. Furthermore, a dream stops us from sabotaging ourselves in my opinion. If you want to become big in any niche it is much harder, in my opinion, to get shit faced every weekend because you are directly sabotaging your dream.
So find something that deserves your absolute best version of yourself.
What job would you want to have if you would not need a job?

  • Don’t give up

Again this sounds cheesy. But one of my personal takeaways from Richards Branson’s Book and other super high achievers was that they share one habit in particular: The habit of Perseverance.
They all seem fucking batshit crazy when it comes to giving up. There is something infectious about just going through hardships in business or Life. The ability to push through no matter what the odds are and no matter how unrealistic their dream is.
To me, it seems that super high achievers seem to live in their own world sometimes. And that they have the ability to march forward even if they are laughed at or ridiculed. They don’t give up, and this enables them to inspire others to march with them. I believe that the combination of kindness and sheer strength is something that is important for people when they choose their leader. and Richard Branson personifies both traits. I don’t think it is a coincidence that amazing people share around guys like him. Richard Branson is so outspoken about what he wants to do that people get caught up in his dream as well and they start to collaborate and make things happen. Big things.
 

  • Don’t Give A Fuck

Richard Branson seems to have the ability to be less stressed than others even in the face of extreme pressure or uncertainty. So there seems to be something crazy involved in the way he perceives things. To keep your cool even in the face of extreme situations is really a skill for itself. Being threatened by entire countries because he flew accidentally with his ballon over a war zone or being sued for millions by British Airways or founding an airline or trying to make space travel affordable for everybody are just project normal persons would never attack. Richard Branson however just simply does not seem to give a fuck about what is normal or not.
To have this playfulness when it comes to thinking big and actually going out and trying new things that are totally not in his expertise is, in my opinion, one of the reasons why he is successful. Sometimes in life, you just need to throw things against the wall and see what sticks. I think one of the best ways to live a boring unhappy life is to stay always in your comfort zone. By constantly tying big things you fail a lot, yes, but failing also brings opportunity with it, after all without trying you newer realize what you are capable of.
So I would encourage you to be delusional and unrealistic sometimes and shoot for the stars and try adventures or business endeavors that might 100x your life, even though you might fail hard.
 
 

On every adventure I have been on — whether setting up a business, flying around the world in a balloon or racing across the ocean in a boat — there have been moments when the easy thing to do would be to give up,”

 
 

My personal Take Away from the Book

I was fascinated with Richard Branson’s personal journey. Starting at age 17 with a student Magazine and being 6 years later a millionaire and 20 years later a billionaire. And that he had a shit ton of fun along the way doing so! I loved the fusion of business and adventure that Richard Branson embodies.
 
My biggest Take away from the book was that I needed to think bigger. Like a lot bigger. Most of my dreams were centered around me. Things I wanted to have. Milestones I wanted to achieve
Richard Branson thinks of Problems in the world as potential business opportunities. And that you should choose a market that is fun and brings you joy and that is compatible with your skills. He believes that you get rich by solving peoples problems. And the more problems you solve the richer you get.
So I asked myself :
What major Problems do we have in society?
Are there some big problems that I could help solve?
My expertise lies in clinical psychology and behavior psychology meaning that I help people to form new behavior and get rid of undesired behavior. A psychologist normally works with one person at a time. So being inspired by Richard Branson habit of thinking big I thought of ways how to help more persons.
So did two things after reading this book:
1)I multiplied the number of people that I wanted to help by 100. I asked myself how can I help 100 persons at a time instead of only 1? So thought about scaleable ways to create behavior-changing products like books, masterclasses and writing articles, creating a podcast and generally helping people at scale.
 
2)The realization that If I wanted to contribute on attacking big problems such as depression and addiction I needed to become an expert in those fields first. Otherwise, I would not be adding value. This was a big part of deciding that I wanted to become a nomadic psychologist and professional learner. The Idea of traveling the world and interviewing outstanding scientists, spiritual leaders, biohackers, successful entrepreneurs in order to find habits, patterns, behaviors, tools, and hacks that make other people better became a necessity for me. Also, I needed to create a system around myself where I am constantly forced to stay in learning mode. I believe that the more I learn the more value I am able to give.

If people arent calling you crazy, you arent thinking big enough — Richard Branson

Call to action

Grab a sheet of paper and write down

  1. If failure were not an option where would you be in 3 years?
  2. What amount of money do you want to make then?
  3. Now Multiply your dream and your dreamed income by 10 x!
  4. What would you have to do if you want to achieve that 10xed dream and income in 6 months? Write down 10 answers
  5. What can you do today to make your 6-month plan a reality?
  6. If you die tomorrow what would be things that you would regret the most? What Ideas would die with you?

 

The Five Minute Journal

Why Journaling?

As a student of human behavior, I am particularly interested in what behavior results in happiness, and what behavior creates stress and worry.

One of the focal points of my interest right now is to find tools, tricks and ways to guide our mind away from stress and anxiety and towards fulfillment and happiness.
But how do you direct your brain? What habits create worry and what habits help us to guide our mind towards gratitude and joy.
What habits create worry?
I got this part covered. Since I never shied away from failure and fucking up in a big way I by accident made my Ph.D. in how to feel like horsecrap.
My monkey mind was non stop in problem-solving mode. Always stressed, super imbalances and totally not happy. This provided me with a manual on how to feel worried all the time. This in combination with me being a psychology student put me In a perfect position to deconstruct unhappiness and chronic stress.
After spending years on finding patterns, mindsets, and behaviors that resulted in worry, anxiety, and depression I got curious about what the opposite would look like.
What was the opposite of worry? Of anxiety? I needed a group of people who did things radically different. So I looked at the other side of the spectrum of happiness. Of people who were kicking ass in life.

What were the habits, routines, and patterns of pro athletes, stars, millionaires or even billionaires? Are there commonalities to be found among them? 

I was curious what would happen if one straight copied the behaviors of successful people. What would happen to a person who was prone to despair and depression if that person started to emulate habits of high achievers and happy people?
Would this result in them getting better results and more happiness eventually?

Sounds easy right? Wel,l there was one problem.

As a broke psychology student, I didn’t know many millionaires.

This is when I stumbled over the Tim Ferris Podcast.

Tim Ferris is a silicon valley Tech entrepreneur who made it his life mission to deconstruct world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, sports, business etc).

He does so by interviewing high performers in order to extract the tactics, tools, routines, and habits of the super successful.

This means that he asks them about their favorite books, their morning routines, exercise habits their time- management tricks and so on.

His Guests include people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Foxx, Edward Norton, Tony Robbins, Peter Thiel. 

This show for me was A good nugget. And as you can hear I am a big fanboy of this show. Since at that time I didnt have enough leverage to interview successful case studies myself this show was the next best thing for me.

One habit popped up over and over: journaling.

Apparently, the perfect antidote to stress and worrying is to take our thoughts and put them on paper. There seems to be something highly therapeutic about guiding our brain by asking the right kind of questions. Our brain is, in my opinion, a big, grey answering machine. It can not help itself but answer the questions we ask ourselves.

But I was not into writing at that point, where do I start when I want to implant the habit of journaling?

Tim Ferris pitches a product that is exactly that; journaling for starters.

The Five Minute Journal. 

 

So what is the Five-minute Journal…

Morning Routine

The first part of the Five Minute Journal is about your Morning Routine. The first few minutes after waking up are crucial.

“If you win the Morning, you win the day” Tim Ferris

You have the chance here to prime yourself positively for the rest of the day.

Best way to finetune your brain is by asking quesitons.
The quality of questions that we ask ourselves on a constant basis decides about our mental state more than anything else. Click here to read my article about how to ask questions better.
 
 

The morning section asks you 3 questions.

  1. What are you grateful for …
  2. What would make today great …
  3. Daily affirmations, I am …

 
 
 

Gratitude

Starting your day with gratitude is a habit that I heard many high achievers mention. I believe that happiness is a habit as well. Click here to read my article about gratitude and meditation.

One thing that unhappy people have in common is, in my opinion, their inability to see the small good things that are in our life. I believe that humans are first and foremost designed to survive. Happiness is secondary. Our brain is hard-wired to look for danger, and in my opinion, it does not give a fuck about happiness. We can hack this by asking our brain questions consciously in order to guide our emotions. It is very hard for our brain to separate words, thoughts, and posture from emotions. When we jump around and think about the awesomeness of life, it is much harder to hold depressing thoughts and vice versa.

Starting to ask yourself what you can be grateful for, emphasizes that there are amazing things around you. This can be as big as having a loving family or as small as seeing a bird that you like or feeling a cold refreshing breath on your face.

Happiness is a learnable skill. Gratitude is training that very skill, by giving us conscious control over our perspective. I believe achievement is overrated and that it is really about how we experience, and perceive achievement and our pursuit of the things that matter to us.

“The first thing I do every morning is make my bed. It gives me closure from the night before, and starts my day off in a clean, tidy and organise

d way. The second t

hing I do is an affirmation of gratitude, whether it’s for my immediate fortunate surroundings [such as] family, friends, health, home or gratitude for unknown people and unforeseen situations that come my way. Every person that enters your life and everyt

hing that happens to you has some greater meaning. It’s up to you to dig deep and ask why.“

 

—Angela Mavridis, founder and CEO of Tribal Foods, a company that produces organic grass-fed protein patties.

What can I do to make today great?

In this part, you basically force yourself to think about what you need to do today in order to feel like crap in the evening. What tasks have I been postponing that will cause me guilt today when I am in bed?
What do I have to do in order to feel tonight that this was a nice, productive, fruitfull exiting day? This means for everybody something else. For me, it is here about balance. I need to have the feeling that I got holistically better. This can mean for me going to the gym and lift heavy, or go to the library and work on my dream.
It also means doing something that is fun. Have an exciting date, make the life of someone around you a little bit better. It also means doing something just for you. Maybe watch a movie, get a fly new shirt. The idea behind this questions is to feel out what your idea is of a perfect day and how you can design a life that aligns with your true values and wishes.
 

Daily Affirmation

In here you write down how you are. What are you feeling, what is going on inside your brain? In my opinion becoming an expert on your inner life is a necessity when you want to achieve anything and if you want to have the chance of living happily.
Beeing unclear about why you do things, will result in you doing completely the wrong things. For example, if you feel undervalued, and un appreciated you might take completely different career choices.
Maybe you become a doctor in order to become validated by society and not because it is your heart’s desire, instead of doing pottery. The point I am trying to make is that by listening closely to your emotions you are able to avoid habits and decisions that are bad for you.
Not listening to your pain and your needs makes you very vulnerable to bad habits such as alcoholism, avoidance, or distraction. If you face your true feelings however you can maneuver your behavior consciously and you can make conscious decisions for your life.
Also, a great advantage is that you can look back in your journal to darker, or happier times and reread what you did differently back then. Either to realize what new behaviors are not good for you or to see what you have stopped that was giving you happiness and fulfillment.

Night routine

What was awesome today?

The night section asks you to reflect on 3 things that were amazing that day.

Again life is not so much about actual results, but about perception in my opinion. The amount of what we have and what we are is less decisive than in what way we evaluate our pursuits. Forcing yourself to write down 3 things changes your perception of your life, each day, a little bit.
In our society, we are motivated to only pride ourself with big achievements. But celebrating even the tiniest of our successes results in my opinion in much more happiness.
Often people with depression think they have nothing good in their life. Here you are forced to write down three things. This can be as small as that you saw a nice butterfly or even that you made your bed. Click here to read my article why making your bed results in more happiness.
Furthermore, you are asked about something that you could have done better.

Two things that The Five Minute Journal helps you to do in the evening.

  1. You end your day with positivity.
  2. You evaluate your day

Often we are caught in the business of life, without really moving forward. The feeling of being stuck, of not moving is a sure ingredient of worry and unhappiness.
This part of the five-minute journal forces you to think about the positive things that life gave you this day, and also lets you think about ways to make it better, more richer, more fun and more productive.
For me this part was important. I think I am naturally a very motivated person. That’s great. But also very dangerous. Because when I don’t keep it in check I work for months in the wrong direction, inefficiently without a plan or strategy. Asking myself every night, how I could have given more, planned better, enjoyed more fully lets me go to the bed with the feeling that tomorrow is going to be even better.

Final Note

I am always on the hunt for behavior changing products. I believe that this product is really great when you want to start to journal. Later you can create your own journal with questions that are more fitting to your personal unique values.
But for starters this is a beautiful product that will train your brain to become more aware of all the little beautiful things in your life.
I have been journaling for about 2 years right now, and I can honestly say that this habit has made me happier and more productive. And if you don’t want to spend the money, just create a journal for yourself. But the simplicity, and that it only takes 5 minutes makes it perfect to implant it into your schedule, and then later build more positive rituals on top of it.
 

Call to Action

  1. If you want to check out to check out the five-minute journal on Amazon? Click here!
  2. Write down 3 things that you can be grateful for
  3. Write down 3 things that are amazing about you
  4. What is one area in your life that is still holding you back?

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