Homeless Billionaire Nicolas Berggruen Prefers the Simple Life

Ran across a refreshing story today about Nicolas Berggruen, a billionaire who sold off his homes, car and many possessions years ago and lives a simpler life than most people with a fraction of his net worth. Granted, it does appear that he isn’t slumming it by any means, preferring to live in 5 star hotels instead of his own homes, but his comments are insightful:

“Everybody is different and I think that we live in a material world. But for  me, possessing things is not that interesting. Living in a grand environment to  show myself and others that I have wealth has zero appeal. Whatever I own is  temporary, since we’re only here for a short period of time. It’s what we do and  produce, it’s our actions, that will last forever. That’s real value.”

On why he doesn’t get that much enjoyment from owning things:

“First, I don’t need it. Secondly, maybe in a bizarre kind of way, I don’t want  to be dependent on it or have the responsibility. I don’t get that much  enjoyment out of saying ‘I own it.’ “

Oprah’s Lifeclass

I have always been a fan of Oprah.

I never really liked her show (the topics didn’t resonate with what I cared about), but I did like how she acted as a person. In a TV world full of fear-mongers and drama-queens she held court during her afternoon talk show hour in a more upbeat manner. Now that her Oprah show is over, she’s been spending more time doing other things, and talking about topics that I do care about.

Her Lifeclass is really great. She’s had Tony on several times, Deepak Chopra and others. Worth tuning in to online. They have posted the full episodes along with notes for each class.

U2 and Sticking with Unconventional Ideas You Believe In

Artwork from U2's "Joshua Tree" album. Source and copyright: U2.

I’m a big U2 fan and enjoyed watching “Classic Albums: U2, The Joshua Tree.” This one hour documentary from 1999 has interviews with the band members as they join their producers in listening to tracks from the album and reliving their creative process. It’s a pretty amazing thing to watch as Bono, The Edge and others re-live classic tracks and tell the stories around how they were created.

I particularly like the part where Bono talks about “Still haven’t found what I’m looking for” and “With or without you” and how unconventional the songs were at the time to perform. They were really new sounds and out of step with everything else that was around. Very unconventional and ecstatic music that was alive in a new kind of way.  Now, of course, we’ve all heard the songs a million times and they sounds like they totally just “fit,” but when they were being created this was not the case.

It struck me how so many new ideas at first seem foreign but later seem familiar. It takes confidence to stick with new ideas that you believe in, even if they at fist don’t seem to fit. I’m glad U2 did.

Farewell Caballo

In loving memory of Micah True "Caballo Blanco"


It saddens me to hear this evening that Micah True – “Caballo Blanco” – has been found dead after being missing for almost a week in the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico. Search and rescue along with many ultra-runners participated in the search…..his body was found today.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Caballo on several occasions, and spent over a week with him during my own trip to Mexico to participate in the Copper Canyon Ultramarathon in 2011.

He was a man who truly followed his bliss, and gave everything he had to support the Raramuri “Tarahumara” people and their way of life.

Run free Caballo, we will miss you.

Getting Perspective on Your Problems

Sometimes I hear or read something that makes my jaw drop and puts all the problems and nagging things in my life in complete perspective.Today was one of those days.

Driving home from work today, annoyed at the traffic on my short 5 mile commute – and dreading my impending 5 mile run in the cold pouring rain…… NPR played a story about Shin In Geun.

He is, as far as we know, the only prisoner to escape from the horrid (and rarely talked about) political prison camps in North Korea. He was born into the camp, and lived there for 23 years…under the most extreme conditions.

He has been free for 7 years now, and The Guardian has an amazing story about him. It boggles my mind that these camps have ever existed…but is even more disturbing to think that in this modern-day and age…they STILL EXIST. The US State Department estimates ~200,000 people are in North Korean labor camp prisons right now.

Blaine Harden, an author and journalist, has just published a book about Shin’s ordeal – “Escape from Camp 14“. You can find articles and interviews about it on his website and get it on your Amazon Kindle now.

Tony Robbins Interviews Concentration Camp Survivor


Tony Robbins is a masterful interviewer, and this is one of my favorites.

If anyone has a reason to be angry at the world it is 108 year old Nazi holocaust concentration camp survivor Alice Herz Summer.

She lost her family. She suffered incredibly at the hands of her captors. However, what is so remarkable is that she isn’t angry. Not at all. She considers herself as “optimistic and laughing from the beginning of my life.” She lives by herself, plays the piano daily and has an outlook on life that we can all learn from. For her, life is never terrible…it is a gift.

What I took away from this video is:

  • Be grateful for everything – a smile, the sun, “everything is a present”
  • Never hate, we are all sometimes good and sometimes bad
  • Things are not so terrible, no matter what you might think
  • Focus on the good and learn from the bad
  • Learn, learn, never stop learning
  • Music is her food, her religion…and her medicine…”Bach is better than 100 pills!”

For me, the most powerful insight comes 10 minutes into the video…..”living ones life backwards.”

Take 12 minutes out of your day and watch this video. I’ve watched it several times already since this morning. It is guaranteed to shift your perspective in a positive way.


Why Did Steve Jobs Die?

I think this is an incredibly important article to read, especially in light of Job’s passing and his authorized biography illustrating what an impact his diet had on his persona.

According to Dr. McDougall, Job’s plant-based diet was not at fault for his cancer. On the contrary, it surely did enable him to live longer than would have been ever thought possible with such a disease.


Ashtanga, NY

led intermediate class with guruji NYC 2001
Image by gbSk via Flickr

Just watched a nice documentary, Ashtanga, NY on Netflix (streaming) regarding Ashtanga yoga as taught by Sri Pattabhi Jois (“Guruji”).

The documentary takes place during a 1 month intensive in which Guruji and his grandson led several hundred students in daily Ashtanga practice in the heart of Manhattan. What makes it even more powerful is that the teaching occurred in September, 2001.

I have not taken a formal Ashtanga Yoga class despite having practiced yoga asana for almost 10 years. I now want to check it out!

A Week in the Life of Ravi

I had a recent conversation with a friend around the captivating nature of reality TV. How it is so interesting to get a glimpse into how others live their lives, whether the lives are boring or a total train wreck. Given that some of you have been reading this blog for a few years now, I figure it might be interesting for you to get glimpse into my day-to-day life. I’ll warn you up front my routine is fairly straightforward. If you still want to know what I do…read on:


I am a team leader at Microsoft and have been there for almost 10 years. My job is that of a Principal Product Planner Lead. I lead a team of eight incredibly talented and ridiculously bright Product Planners that work on the future of our Windows Live products. This includes Hotmail, Messenger, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Mesh and many other services that make up Windows Live. As part of this role, I work super closely with the Windows and Internet Explorer teams as well (we are all in the same division). My job is all about making sure that we have a compelling vision for our next “wave” of services and software, and that we are able to build and deliver on a plan to achieve that vision.

In a day-to-day capacity, my team seeks to understand customer needs, what the competition is up to, and then works with engineering teams to figure out the right end-to-end scenarios to invest in. It’s a super-fun job, and something I’ve been doing for most of my nearly 10 year career at Microsoft so far after a few years doing business planning and strategy in the finance team (I joined straight out of college).

  • 6:45 am is when I wake up on most days, and after using the rest room, sit down to meditate. I do this every day no matter what. Right now, I just sit for 10 minutes, setting the timer on my phone to beep when the time has elapsed. I get up and then return to the bathroom to get ready.
  • 7:15 am I’m in my kitchen (I live in a small but nice 1 BR apartment) making a vegan power smoothie. Usually it has a bunch of bananas (anywhere from 2-4) and frozen blueberries or whatever other fruit I have around. Sometimes I throw in some kale for good measure. Occasionally I add in some vegan protein (I make custom blend of hemp, brown rice and pea proteins). I eat a crap load of fruit. Sometimes 10 or more bananas a day, a bunch of apples and other fruits.
  • 7:30 am I am in my car and drive 20 minutes to work at the Redmond, WA Microsoft Campus. It’s a great place to work.
  • 8:00 am I am in my office sorting out my schedule for the day, checking in on technology news (I like Techmeme). Lately I’ve also been drinking some coffee in the morning while I do this. I also figure out one big thing I need to get done during the day. I’ll write this down on a slip of paper or Post-It and stick it in my pocket and look at it a few times during the day.
  • 8:30am I start working on whatever the most important thing is to get done during the day.
  • 9:00am – Noon Let the games begin! If I am lucky I will have just 1-2 meetings before lunch. Often, I’ll have back-back-back meetings straight from 9am to lunch. This will include 1:1 meetings with folks on my team, meetings with other Planning Leads and meetings to review progress on projects to meet with folks on other teams regarding some sort issues that arise. It can actually be an endurance event to make it through!
  • Noon-1 pm I will walk to our cafeteria (5 minutes away) and get something for lunch. I’ll bring it back and eat at my desk while I either read e-mail or browse the web aimlessly 🙂 (MSN’s Wonderwall is a brilliant way to totally kill time!)
  • 1-5 pm Usually 1-2 more meetings happen. In general, I have around 20 meetings a week, usually half of them are 60 minutes long and the rest are 30 minutes or so. A few might be longer. Every now and then we’ll have all-day checkpoints to projects that spans a lot of teams. Given my role as a team lead – a big part of my job is collaborating with other teams and helping to coordinate projects. Before I was a manager, I had half as many meetings.
  • 5-6 pm With no meetings after 5pm (usually not at least!) I will get work done in peace until 6pm or so, and then head out for the day. Sometimes I’ll leave work at 5pm (usually to catch a yoga class), but that is rare right now. Monday’s I leave work at 4:30 pm since I teach 3 hours of yoga in the evenings on Monday.
  • 6-6:30 pm Drive home
  • 6:30-7 pm Putz around at home! Prepare for whatever workout I’ll be doing and generally procrastinate. Running is what I’m into now. I also practice a ton of yoga (and also teach).
  • 7-9 pm Workout of some sort, and then come home and clean up and get ready for dinner. Sometimes I’ll workout in the morning instead, which shifts my whole schedule a bit, but 80% of the time I train in the evening.
  • 9-10 pm Prepare and eat dinner
  • 10-Midnight at the latest I don’t own a TV (sold it years ago) so I will browse the web, blog, read books and get work done until midnight or so. I’ll often respond to e-mail I didn’t get during the day in the evening, or finish reading messages and prepare for meetings the next day. While working I’ll usually have some kind of music playing, or an audio book. If I am wiped out from my workout, I will just go to sleep at 10pm, but that usually only happens a few times a week.


My weekends are focused around an adventure of some sort. Since I am starting to get into ultra-marathons now, I try to get in an epic long run on either Saturday or Sunday (2-4 hours long). I’ll also get in 1-2 yoga classed and I teach yoga on Sunday mornings (and Monday nights).

I’ll wake up at the latest by 9 or 9:30am at the latest. I don’t set an alarm on the weekends, this is just when I end up waking up. After my training, I’ll usually eat some nice vegan food somewhere and then find a coffee shop where I can read for a few hours (I try to power through one book a week).

I’ll head home in the afternoon and then write a blog post and read other blogs. During the winter I’ll deviate from this schedule and go snowboarding on Saturdays.

In the late afternoon I’ll see what my friends are up to, and usually have kind of social thing going on in the evenings. A music concert, movie, dinner, or something. Last night I went to a Warren Miller ski movie with a friend. A few weekends ago I went to the Ballet (they performed “Dracula” believe it or not!). There is always something interesting happening around Seattle.

On weekends I’ll usually go to bed a little later, often after Midnight (again, unless training kicked my butt!). I sleep when tired and don’t worry about forcing myself into some kind of routine on the weekends.

On Sunday nights I’ll work for 4-5 hours. If a big project is looming, I’ll work 5-10 hours spread across Saturday and Sunday. This will basically replace my reading time for entertainment and some of my training time.

Over the course of the week I spend around 55 hours a week working, with some weeks bursting to 80 hours (when I travel for work, or when a big project is looming near). I spend about 10-12 hours a week training (mostly running and yoga right now) and the rest just hanging around doing whatever I want to do.

So that’s it, my weekly routine! If you want to know more about anything in my routine, drop a note in the comments and I’ll get to it in a future post. Thanks!

Create a Movement

Creating a movement is not easy. It requires that you do things that others seem as unnatural and maybe even weird. People will say you should stop doing whatever it is. They may think you are crazy and even laugh a little. Most living things feel safer as a member of a crowd, not out on their own. We are no different.

How are we supposed to create any positive change if we always remain part of a crowd? The answer is simple but definitely not easy to put into practice. This  short video by Derek Sivers breaks it down very well, with a story about a shirt-less dancing guy.


The lessons:

  1. A leader needs the guts to stand-alone and look ridiculous.
  2. A movement must be simple and easy to follow.
  3. A leader embraces followers as an equal, it’s about the movement not the leader.
  4. Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership.
  5. New followers emulate followers and not the leader. Movements must be public and transparent.

The best way to create a movement doesn’t require that you create one on your own. If all everyone did was create their own movements, there would be no movements! Instead, be an early follower. Find something you believe in, and have the courage to support a movement that is already underway, no matter how obscure it may seem at first.

Trust me on the sunscreen….


I’ve heard this twice today on two totally different radio stations. Good to see it is making the rounds again after first hearing it so many years ago. What an amazing song!

Wear Sunscreen or the Sunscreen Speech are the actually an essay called “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young” that was written by Mary Schmich. It was originally published in the Chicago Tribune as a column in 1997 and then remixed into a song by Baz Luhrmann in 1998.

The lyrics are awesome. Here they are:

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be
it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by
scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
than my own meandering experience…I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and
recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as
effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blind side you at 4pm
on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with
people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes
you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you
succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your
life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they
wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year
olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe
you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky
chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t
congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your
choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. Enjoy your body,
use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever

Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for

Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the
people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you
should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and
lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you
knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live
in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will
philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize
that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were
noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund,
maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one
might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you’re 40, it will
look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the
ugly parts and recycling it for more than
it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen…

The Inspiring Story Behind Stallone’s “Rocky”

Rocky, an inspiring movie - but the story behind how Stallone got it made is even more inspiring!

The story behind Rocky is something that I first heard first hand from Tony Robbins, as part of a training he was conducting several years ago. The story was one of the most inspiring tales I’ve heard. I’m a big Rocky fan and had no idea that it was not only created by Stallone, but of the ridiculous courage (some may say massive obsession with a sprinkle of craziness) it took to stay true to his belief in his work and in his vision for how the movie could best be made.

The best revenge is massive success – Sylvester Stallone

Luckily, I’ve  found the story recorded in full on YouTube. I highly recommend listening. If you are going through a tough time. If you are having a challenge staying true to a vision you really believe in. If you are facing rejection in any part of your life. You must listen to this story. It might just make your day – it might just change your life.


Pandora Town Hall Meeting Notes

Pandora Town Hall (photo courtesy of ashwinrao1)

Last week I went to a Pandora user talk at the Seattle Library. Pandora founder Time Westergren has been doing these since 2007 (I actually went to one of the first ones back then – check out my notes) and he’s done over 250 since. He shared some stats about the service, and spent most of the Q&A with the audience.

Pandora has almost gone out of business several times (first during the dot-com bust and then due to licensing litigation), but is now doing well in terms of user growth (unclear about profitability, but looks close to it). Their core asset is their music genome, where they hire trained musicians to laboriously score songs along 400 dimensions (takes 20-30mins per song!). This asset is then used to build custom “stations” and target on-air advertisements based on user feedback.

I’m amazed at how they’ve built such a passionate fan-base in short order (the talk was overflowing yesterday, and they are packed in every city). They have strong conversion/engagement on their website (1 in four songs are “thumbed up or down”) and great breadth across connected devices (Pandora is available across cars – through Ford Sync, radios, PCs, iPhones, TVs, etc.). Also, they are laser focused on simplicity. They have seen first-hand that adding features lowers overall site engagement. In fact, their lead designer used to make exhibits for a children’s museum ?, that’s how much they care about simple UI.

Tim’s personal story is also quite amazing. He spent 10 years touring the country as a struggling musician, and brought Pandora back from the brink on several occasions to make it what it is today, quite a household name. There is something to be said for endurance and sticking with something you truly believe in. Since some of you are probably Pandora fans (like me), wanted to pass along my notes from the town hall meeting:

  • Launched Pandora 4 years ago as a streaming radio station, before that the Music Genome Project was active from 2000.
  • $50m in revenue and pays $30m in royalties for music
  • Almost went bust a few times! (dot com bust and then licensing litigation)
  • 50M registered listeners
  • 2M new users join the service every month
  • 180 employees
  • Genome started in 2000 – started online streaming in 2004
  • Hires 20 musicians to classify songs along 400 attributes
  • 5Billion thumbs so far, 1 out of 4 songs are thumbed!
  • 750K songs in their genome adding 10k new songs a month
  • Songs are played in 3-4 song sets within a given station
  • 70% of artists not on major label – goal is to help the underdog
  • Half of their music not on major label compared to 5% of radio being not on major label
  • Big challenge is to not be too repetitive – that is their challenge
  • Their lead designer’s previous job was to make exhibits for a children’s museum! They care that much about simple UI ?
  • “Disocverometer” is one dial they think of adding (choose how much you want to hear new stuff vs stuff you know)
  • When u add extra options, u lose more than u gain – it’s been proven for them…..less features is best
  • iTunes and amazon are fulfillment methods for buying songs you like, when they added a third fulfillment method the overall conversion drops!
  • Pandora sells more music on amazon and iTunes than anyone else and most of their stuff is ranked 100k (long tail artists)
  • Commission they get is in single digit percentages
  • They get commissioned on entire shopping cart from amazon – so if you click to buy a song and then buy a TV…they get a cut of that!
  • 80% of stations launched from typing in artist names
  • Audience mirrors population of US
  • Vision is to build infrastructure to enable matching musicians and people, to help live acts find and serve their audience
  • Pandora is 1% of all of radio – they want to be more of that!
  • Only serves US market
  • No prereqs for new artists, just need to be avail on amazon – they have a submission process
  • They pay $.02/hour in licensing costs
  • No API anytime soon – otherwise monetization would be tough since small changes in the interface have large impacts on conversion
  • iPhone is a huge success, 35K users a day are added on iPhone added
  • Half of radio listened in-car – they see huge potential there
  • Pandora is on over a 100 devices, from cars to TVs
  • Game consoles are big target incl Xbox – they want to get in that market

Related posts:

  1. Pandora…the best music site on the internet!

Powerful Beyond Measure|Our Deepest Fear

“Our Deepest Fear…” is a tremendous piece of writing by Marianne Williamson.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

—-from A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson.

Bringing this passage to life is an awesome video I stumbled across on YouTube.

This video includes scenes from the movie Snatch with audio from Muhammad Ali and Rocky and a music soundtrack spliced from the Transformer’s movie and Gladiator (another one of my favorites!). Tony Robbins narrates much of it. Many of the words are pulled verbatim from Williamson’s writing or from the most recent Rocky movie.

There is so much motivational juice in this short clip!

It’s worth paying close attention to the words in this clip. Some of my favorite quotes are:

  • Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
  • I’m gonna show you how great I am! Only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick – I’m so mean I make medicine sick! – Ali
  • I’m gonna show you how great I am! Last night I cut the light off in the bedroom, hit the switch, was in the bed before the room was dark! – Ali
  • I’m gonna show you how great I am! I’d wrestled with an alligator, I’d tussled with a whale, I’d hand-cuffed lightnin’, put thunder in jail! – Ali
  • Nobody is gonna hit as hard as life, but it ain’t about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep movin’ forward. That’s how winnin’ is done. – Rocky
  • If you know what you’re worth than go out and get what you’re worth! – Rocky
  • It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We were all meant to shine as children. Not just in some of us, but in everyone. As we let our own light shine, we give others the opportunity to do the same. – Marianne Williamson

Words to this video (from Dustin):

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure, beyond measure.

Ima show you, how great I am.

Last night I cut the light off in my bedroom, hit the switch, and was in the bed before the room was dark.

Ima show you, how great I am.

Only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick, Im so mean I make medicine sick.

Ima show you, how great I am.

This kids gonna be the best kid in the world.
This kids gonna be somebody better than anybody I ever knew.

Ima show you, how great I am.

I have wrastled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale, I done handcuffed lightnin, thrown thunder in jail.

Ima show you, how great I am.

All you chumps are gonna bow when I whoop him, all of you, I know you got him, I know youve got him picked, but the mans in trouble, Ima show you how great I am.

But somewhere along the line you changed, you stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you’re no good, and when things got hard, you started looking for something to blame, like a big shadow.

Let me tell you something you already know, the world aint all sunshine and rainbows, its a very mean and nasty place and I dont care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.

You, me, or nobody, is gonna hit as hard as life; but it aint about how hard you hit, its about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward.

Thats how winning is done.

Cause if youre willin to go through all the battling you gotta go through to get to where you wanna get, whos got the right to stop you. I mean maybe some of you guys got something you never finished, something you really want to do, something you never said to somebody, something.

And youre told no even after you pay your dues, whos got the right to tell you that, who? Nobody. Its your right to listen to your gut, it aint nobodys right to say no, after you earn the right to be where you want to be and do what you want to do.

Now if you know what youre worth, then go out and get what youre worth.
But you’ve gotta be willing to take the hits. And not pointing fingers saying you aint where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody.

Cowards do that and that aint you!

You’re better than that!

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

All you chumps are gonna bow when I whoop him, all of you, I know you got him, I know you’ve got him picked, but the mans in trouble, Ima show you how great I am.

How To Win Friends And Influence People (Part III)

Listening to the audio book for How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Read Part 1 and Part 2 for insights from the earlier portions of the book. Here are some insights from this evening’s listening:

  • See things always from another person’s point of view – always, try as hard as you can to do this
  • Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires
  • Appeal to people’s nobler motives
  • Use showmanship to get attention – movies do it, TV does it, window displays do it – and it works
  • You can dramatize ideas in business or any other part of life – works great when dealing with adults and kids! Dramatize facts to make a point in a business setting. Use props if necessary to get your point across
  • The way to get things done is to stimulate competition – in a healthy and productive way, throw down a challenge and see what happens!
  • Work is the most motivating force for any worker, not money, benefits or anything else – quality and interesting work is the single biggest tool to keep people interested in their job
  • Let other people do a great deal of the talking in any conversation
  • It’s always easier to listen to criticism after you have given someone some praise – never just criticize, always see the positive aspects and comment on them first – them provide your thoughtful critique
  • Providing criticism after praise is a technique used by many world leaders past and present (Lincoln, Coolidge, McKinley, etc.) in motivating staff an leading without making people feel bad
  • Beginning with praise is like a dentist that begins with Novocaine!
  • There is a way to redirect/correct/criticism without upsetting people – make others feel important (praise) while correcting
  • People judge us by our “letters” – small errors, like spelling errors, make a big impression
  • Humbling oneself and praising another can turn a staunch adversary into a close friend
  • Admitting one’s own mistakes can motivate others to change their behavior for the better. For example, by quitting smoking – parents will set a positive example that children and friends will notice (and potentially follow)
  • A good leader talks about their own mistakes before criticizing others

How To Win Friends – Part II

Listening to “How to Win Friends and Influence People ” by Dale Carnegie again. Here are some stream of conscious nuggets I’m picking up while listening. Read Part I for more nuggets.

  • The best way to win an argument, is to avoid it.
  • Quit telling people they are wrong, after all, how do you really know? You might be the one who is wrong. In other words, get used to admitting that you, in fact, might be wrong. It’s a disarming approach when dealing with people and shows respect for others opinions. Admitting you might be wrong will never get you into trouble.
  • The word “My” has incredible force and impact. Use it carefully.
  • Agree with your adversary quickly! Don’t argue with a customer, spouse or enemy. Use diplomacy.
  • Never say to someone else “you’re wrong”.
  • If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically!
  • A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of “gaul”.
  • The more yes’s you can induce from others early in a conversation – the positive momentum you can achieve toward a desired outcome. Saying yes is a powerful thing.
  • Let others do a great deal of talking. Don’t interrupt others. Listen patiently and sincerely.
  • Encourage others to express their ideas fully.

Know what you don't want

As you start setting your intentions and aspirations for the new year, don’t fret if you can’t pinpoint the exact things that you want to do, places you want to visit, people you want to meet or other experiences you want to have. Try as best you can to make your intention something that is empowering and motivating for you, and back it up with a few specific actions you can take to realize that intention in the world (e.g. goals).

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Then recognize that there are a lot of things going on out there in the world, and you might not be able to pinpoint the exact experiences you want to have and goals you want to achieve in the coming year…yet.

For me, I create a list of intentions for every new year, and a few goals that substantiate each one. For example, one intention I have this year is to Embody My True Personal Power and Vitality, and one goal in line with this is to compete in a off-road trail running race this year (distance isn’t important). That said, I don’t at this point have all my specific goals nailed down, and that is ok. I know that as the days move on I’ll have a clearer idea of the specific goals I want….goals that are lined up with my intentions for the year.

However, this year I am also going to try something new….I am going to spend a little (not a ton, but some) time doing is identifying a list of things I don’t want to experience this year! I am motivated to do this after reading this little quote by Steve Jobs:

Steve Jobs

“I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.”

It got me thinking. I think many people, especially those who are motivated to grow personally and professionally, often get oversubscribed with doing things…and this makes it tough to 1) really focus on the things that matter and 2) take advantage of ad-hoc fun experiences that pop up from time to time.

For example, just a few days ago, a friend asked me if I wanted to go to go snowshoeing for a few days….staying in a “Yurt” near Mt. Rainier. Apparently, someone in the group fell sick and a spot opened up. With 24 hours notice, I was able to take advantage of this since I hadn’t booked my weekend full of random stuff to do. It ended up being one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in a long time.

So after you’ve spent time setting your intentions and creating your vision board, think about a few things you are willing to cut-back on or totally cut-out. Do so and you might just end up creating the free time and space to really achieve those lofty goals, and have a ton of fun in the process.

Will Smith Wisdom

I’ve always been a big fan of Will Smith since Fresh Prince days. Even his cheesier movies (“Men in Black” anyone?) were at least entertaining.

Lately, he’s had a string of films (Legend of Baggar Vance, Pursuit of Happiness, Seven Pounds, I Am Legend) that are far deeper than the typical blockbuster. Touching on themes one might expect from “The Secret” or a Tony Robbins seminar, but come as a pleasant surprise from someone whose films have grossed $5 billion globally.

Will Smith Wisdom…surprised that Will Smith has profound thoughts on how to life a great life? I was. This video is not what you would expect from The Fresh Prince Of Bel Aire!

I guarantee that this clip will be the best thing you watch today. I’ve seen it over a dozen times. Enjoy!

Interview with Vegan Bodybuilder Robert Cheeke (Part 2/3)

Here is part 2 (of 3) of my interview with Vegan Bodybuilder Robert Cheeke. You can see part 1 of the interview here.

In this segment, we cover:

  • Robert’s story of transformation from 125 pounder to 200 pound vegan bodybuilder
  • How to gain weight on a plant-based diet
  • The importance of a journal – keeping track of your goals and training progress
  • Tips to staying motivated and achieving goals


Interview with Vegan Bodybuilder Robert Cheeke (Part 1/3)

<if you can’t see the video embedded in this post, click here>

A few months ago I got the chance to sit down with Robert Cheeke, my good friend and an accomplished vegan bodybuilder. Robert is currently super-busy working on his second documentary (“Vegan Brothers in Iron”), his first book (due out sometime soon!) and touring the country as a representative for Vega and as motivational speaker. He frequently gives talks at health/fitness festivals, universities and vegetarian/animal rights conferences.

Robert is a super-motivating guy who really walks his talk – he’s been vegan for over 15 years and in that time has gone from 120 pounder to 190+ pound bodybuilder, all using 100% plant-based nutrition. I split the interview into three different clips. I’ll post the second two in the next week or two, but wanted to share this one with you right away.

In this <10 minute clip, we discuss:

  • What Robert is up to – filming, speaking, competing!
  • Update on his latest competitions
  • Common nutrition “pitfalls” many vegans make
  • His favorite 100% plant-based protein sources


Vegan Bodybuilder Robert Cheeke Interview (Part 1/3)

BTW…if you have questions for Robert, please leave them in the comments to this post and we’ll address them in a future post.