Three Big Ideas That Will Change Your Reality

Transform your reality.

I believe in constantly challenging my assumptions, thinking outside the box, and pushing myself to the limit of transformation – constantly expanding my horizons both mentally and physically.

In the last 60 days I have completely transformed my perception of myself, reality, and the world.

In November I  joined “The Foundation” – a 6 month online mentoring program for software startups. As you may notice from some of my older posts here, I have been a huge fan of the ideas of Dane Maxwell for a long time.

Dane has one of the most unique ways of the looking at the world (much the same reason that I like Tim Ferriss) and he takes a lot of this unconventional thought to a whole new level – well beyond even the awakening I had after reading the 4HWW for the first time.

After emailing this list of links out to friends again and again, I decided that I needed to put them in a blog post so I could share these eye opening ideas with as many people as possible.

Here are three “big ideas” that I have taken away from The Foundation. I wanted to share with you a few podcasts, videos and interviews that encapsulate each of these concepts.

Focus On Changing Your Mindset First

“If you play the game at the belief level, everything shifts.” – Dane Maxwell

The single biggest and most important takeaway for me was to focus on understanding and eliminating my limiting beliefs. This single shift, which requires some seriously deep emotional thinking, has transformed the way that I act and think about the world.

“The framework is this:

The beliefs you have lead to the feelings you feel.

The feelings you feel lead to the thoughts you think.

The thoughts you think lead to the actions you take.

The actions you take lead to the results you get.

So, instead of focusing just on the actions or the thoughts – go to your deepest level – your beliefs about the world – make one minor shift in your beliefs and you will see a ripple effect on everything in your life.”

– Andy Drish

If you check out nothing else from this post, listen to this podcast immediately. This one hour podcast really sums up most of the core lessons that I have taken away from Andy and Dane at the Foundation – and has a big discussion about limiting beliefs that opened my eyes to the power of uncovering and demolishing your limits.

If you want to find out more specifics on reversing and breaking down limiting beliefs, check out this 30 minute video where Dane explains the process.

I have also included a few more links at the end of this post for those who want to do a deeper dive into discovering their own limiting beliefs.

Forget ‘Finding Your Passion’

Do you struggle with the notion of finding your passion? Do you waffle around between ideas or keep waiting until you find that perfect fit where you will be in harmony with what you are doing?

“Because of.. the myth that you have to be passionate about your idea to do it. My thought is most successful entrepreneurs have done so many different things. You couldn’t even point to what their passion is.” – Hiten Shah

The whole concept creates a tremendous amount of frustration, confusion and dissatisfaction. Instead, highly successful software entrepreneur Hiten Shah (founder of Kiss Metrics) says – optimize for learning and forget trying to find your passion.

“I would just emphasize what you want to learn about. If you want to learn about marketing because you think it’s really important to any idea then just go learn about marketing and try different things and you’ll pretty much find what you’re aligned with, right? If you’re really dying to build software online and build software as a service products or learn how to program because you think that that’s what you need to do then just go learn it. Just start learning. Figure out what you think you’re most attracted to and start learning it.” – Hiten Shah

Focusing on learning removes fear and ego from the equation – it creates a path forward and a framework for you to stay resilient even in tough times.

If you’re optimizing for learning fear doesn’t come into the equation because you’re always seeking new things, seeking how to do something better, seeking the best way to do it, seeking the knowledge and so fear isn’t even part of the equation, it’s not even the thought that comes to mind because you’re like, “Well, how can I learn how to do that?”  -Hiten Shah

Here’s the full interview with Andy Drish and Hiten Shah. One of my business partners told me that listening to this interview was one of the single biggest turning points in his business career – I highly recommend checking it out.

Take Action, Quickly and Often

One of the largest mistakes you can make is not taking enough action – even if you are unsure what direction you are moving in (isn’t that the essence of being an entrepreneur anyway?).

“Recklessly take action on everything. If you wait to feel good before you take action, you’re totally screwed” – Dane Maxwell

To be a successful entrepreneur you have to have an action bias. Peter Shallard “the shrink for entrepreneurs” breaks down the reasons behind this philosophy in this great one hour interview with Andy Drish.

“Focus on [] relentlessly trying to shorten the gap between having an idea and acting on it. … There’s certain things in business that school, high school and your parents just won’t prepare you for. And college won’t prepare you for. Nothing will prepare you for other than doing it. The biggest problem I see is that people have these ideas. They’re like, “Oh, I should try this,” like X, Y, Z marketing tactic or “I should build a website or whatever,” and then they think about it and trying to decide whether or not it’s right; whether or not the strategy is correct.

They really are thinking about strategy very, very carefully. But when you’re just starting out I think that you should road test everything. Any idea that you have should be implemented as quickly as possible and then you make your deductions based on real world results. Experiential data rather than kind of sitting there brainstorming and doing planning. In a way what I’m saying is kind of to over exaggerate it. Don’t plan anything, just do a bunch of stuff.” – Peter Shallard

That’s pretty powerful stuff right? The phase “relentlessly shorten the gap between ideas and action” has become a huge focus for me.

Here is an amazing video with Noah Kagan (founder of App Sumo) and Tim Ferriss (one of my favorite authors of all time) where Noah shows in real time how quickly you can break down an idea and take meaningful action – instead of pretending to make progress. I’m still amazed every time I watch this video, the clarity of thought that Noah brings to the table is just astounding.

Extra Credit – More on Removing Limiting Beliefs

Here are a few more resources for digging deeper on the limiting belief front.

More on the the “Four Questions” for reversing limiting beliefs, this framework is originally from renowned psychologist Byron Katie.

These 2 posts by entrepreneur Rob Scott are also fantastic resources on how our mindset impacts our thoughts and actions and how we have to focus on shifting our subconscious before we do anything else. Rob’s work within the Foundation was one of the most powerful things I have experienced so far.

Mindset is the most important thing.

The power of the subconscious. (this video is eye-opening if you ever feel like you’ve been stuck in a rut)

Thank You

Thank you so much for reading this post. I really hope some of these ideas have as profound an impact for you as they have had for me.

Here’s a quick recap of the three big ideas:

  1. Shift your mindset first

  2. Optimize for learning

  3. Shorten the gap between ideas and actions

If you even start implementing one of them in your life it could have a huge impact.

If you’re looking for a few books that also fit within this eye opening worldview, I would highly recommend checking this post out as well.

Thank you again for reading.

Image credit to Hartwig HKD on Flickr.

The Best Books I Read In 2013

 

I hope you like my new video content about the best books I read in 2013. Below is the list of books, the links are affiliate links to Amazon.

Paper Books

 

Kindle Books

 

Audiobooks

 

Here are a few other links to some of the other things I mentioned in my video. Hope you enjoy!

Really cool NPR interview with Paul Davies of Cosmic Jackpot.

Here is a link to Rob Kelly’s Blog (the book I was waving around at the start of the video).

My recent blog post about my favorite quotes from The Launchpad (yay Kindle).

Thanks again for reading my blog.

 

Do Less, Achieve More – The Personal Operating System

standing on the edge

“I’m swamped! So much to do and so little time! I’m never going to get it all done.” 

Sound familiar?

Take a step back from the precipice my friend.

“Being busy is a form of laziness, lazy thinking and indiscriminate action. The key to not feeling rushed is remembering that lack of time is actually a lack of priorities.” – Tim Ferriss

I’m just as lazy and unfocused as anyone else. Sometimes I can barely get anything done. I get sidetracked. I play too many video games. But I also accomplish much more than the average person. It’s not because I’m smarter or better or more motivated, it’s because I have a system that compensates for my laziness.

It’s called a Personal Operating System. It’s a set of rules and principles that govern my behavior. Systems are essential to running a successful business, why wouldn’t you also implement a system to run your life?

My Personal Operating System is based around a few core principles for maximizing productivity and output.

  • Schedule and ritual are essential to free working memory and avoid decision fatigue – automate the unimportant areas of life and save your creativity and decision making power for the few important and high impact items.
  • A personal operating system helps compensate for lack of productivity or motivation. A good system lets you recover and ensures that the few things you do accomplish have the highest leverage impact possible.
  • You have to get good at letting the little bad things happen or wait, so you can get the big things done. It’s not because I don’t have the time. This is a really important distinction – it is because I don’t have the attention.
  • Perform a regularly scheduled 80/20 analysis. Your to-do list should be only the highest leverage positive 20%; your not-to-do list should be to avoid the most negative 20% of people and activities. More on how to perform an 80/20 analysis.
  • Focus on eliminating as much as possible before doing more. What are the psychic anchors tethering me to the ground and creating stress?

The message is simple – focus on scheduling and automating as much as possible, zero in your activity on the highest leverage things you are doing, and cut out the rest.

I crunched my Operating System down into a one page PDF.  It’s part motivational quotes, part philosophy, and all about getting the right things done.

I review these principles first thing every Monday morning when I wake up. I also have a print-out pinned to my wall. I pull it out and read it over whenever I feel like I am losing focus or not accomplishing what I want.

You can download the PDF right here.

If you want to learn more about the philosophies underpinning my Personal Operating System, I highly recommend checking out the blog of Tim Ferriss and in particular a fantastic Mixergy interview he did recently that flushes out many of these ideas in more depth.

Image  Credit to Simon Harrod on Flickr.

29 Lessons from Paul Graham & Y Combinator – Advice for Startups

Hacker News was originally recommended to me by this crazy Czech guy named Jan Sramek. Jan flew in from London to New York and happened to be in my training class when I first started working at Goldman.

Jan, who is currently one of the founders of a stealth mode startup in Switzerland called Erudify, was sort of an oddity to us. Not only had Jan already written a Self Help Book by the ripe age of 22, but he also seemed to have an entire PR team lauding all these wild feats and accomplishments he had achieved in the UK during his undergrad years.

I knew he was a pretty smart guy and I would always pick his brain about what he was reading, thinking, etc.  One day I asked him if he knew any good blogs to read. I was bored and looking for some good stuff other than mashing refresh on the WSJ website and Bloomberg over and over again.

That happened to be one of the most fortuitous questions I’ve ever asked in my life. Not only did Jan recommend Tim Ferriss’s blog to me but he also shared Hacker News.

I still remember sitting at my desk as all the blog posts and news stories on Hacker News filled my head with entrepreneurial daydreams. Meanwhile I was stuck sitting there 14 hours a day with my eyes glued to the markets.

Since Y Combinator runs Hacker News, I instantly wanted to read the book “The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s Most Exclusive School for Startups” as soon as I heard about it.

Launch Pad is a quick read and I definitely recommend it for anyone interested in startup life or wanting to learn more. I learned a ton about Y Combinator and a bunch of its companies (Rap Genius and Code Academy are two that I discovered – and both kick ass).

Below are all of my Kindle highlights (29 in total) from the book.  I wanted to share them to give you a taste of what the book is like.

The twenty-five-year-old had the most advantages, which included “stamina, poverty, rootlessness, colleagues, and ignorance.”

If you’re not fully focusing on your product to the exclusion of all else, you’re wasting your time.

“There’s so much luck involved with startups you increase your odds of success by swinging the bat multiple times. Each time you do something that isn’t swinging the bat, you theoretically decrease your odds of success,”

No one asked ‘Should we fix payments, or build a recipe site?’ and chose the recipe site. Though the idea of fixing payments was right there in plain sight, they never saw it, because their unconscious mind shrank from the complications involved. You’d have to make deals with banks. How do you do that? Plus you’re moving money, so you’re going to have to deal with fraud, and people trying to break into your servers. Plus there are probably all sorts of regulations to comply with. It’s a lot more intimidating to start a startup like this than a recipe site. When Patrick Collison was asked what he thought about Graham’s point about the intimidating nature of a big problem, Collison politely dissented, arguing that what should be emphasized was that addressing a hard-to-solve problem is actually not as hard as everyone thinks: founders and employees alike are inspired to work harder than if they were taking on the mundane. [Referencing Stripe]

One’s environment is critically important to one’s productivity.

“Here’s how to generate new ideas. Three things. One: founders are target users. Two: not many people could build it, but founders are among them. Three: few people realize it is a big deal.”

“Ask yourself: ‘What do I wish someone would start a startup to do for me?’” says Graham. “The next best thing: something for someone else that you know is a problem.”

The best kind of thing to work on – and I appreciate this is going to be somewhat abstract or higher-level advice – the thing you want to work on is, there’s this need that’s really clear and you can just launch some shitty site and people just start using it.

Friends can mislead, Taggar says. His advice: address what businesses need, not what consumers say they would use.

“One of the big things they focus on is ‘proxy for demand.’ Which basically means when looking at some new idea, they want to see what people are doing at the moment? What kinds of crappy solutions are they hacking together at the moment.” They’ll ask founders who are building a product what their future users are doing right now. “If the answer is, ‘No one is really doing it at the moment’—a lot of people think that’s a good answer, but it’s not. Because it means they’re not desperate for it.”

“If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of the product you’ve launched, you’ve launched too late.”

He suggests that startups set a specific weekly target for growth, which can be measured in terms of revenue or users or something else, but should be essential to the startup. Anything that is not directly related to that metric is to be pushed to the wayside.

“I’m always a fan of, rather than trying to do huge, radical releases of stuff, just test out theories, the easy, simple way, and just see if anything starts happening,”

“The gold standard of weekly revenue growth is 10 percent a week. That’s insanely high. That works out to 142x a year.”

This is a strange question to pose, because, in startup life, commitment comes in only one size: total.

“They don’t fuck around, right? The startups that succeed, they don’t go to meet-ups, they don’t run around talking to boards of advisers, they just write code and talk to customers, right?” This is Graham’s oft-repeated mantra, too. Write code and talk to customers.

“We did it because we want their software to be good,” he explained. He mocked the “professional” notion that work and life are supposed to occupy separate spheres. In a startup that begins in an apartment, the founders work odd hours, wearing the most casual of clothing. They look at whatever they want online without worrying whether it’s “work safe.” The cheery, bland language of the office is replaced by wicked humor. And you know what? The company at this stage is probably the most productive it’s ever going to be.

In the YC universe, business schools are deemed so useless that no one bothers to expend any energy in remarking upon their irrelevance to software startups. The only question relating to formal education that does draw attention is whether to finish or even go to college.

Only to the basic YC tenets: work on code and talk with customers; launch fast and iterate; focus on one measurable weekly goal.

“The way to get really big returns is to do things that seem crazy,” he wrote in 2007, “like starting a new search engine in 1998, or turning down a billion-dollar acquisition offer”—a reference to Facebook.

“It will all come to what they feel in their gut about you guys as founders. If you seem”—he pauses again—“you know, fearsome, like you’re going to take over the world, then they’ll think, ‘OK, these guys are going to take over the world, and there’s definitely a world here for them to take over,’ right?”

The transition that makes people seem more confident, more resourceful, and tough—right?—that’s what you get out.

The YC User’s Manual tells founders that even in the very best case, when an investor is paying close attention, information equivalent to only four or five sentences will be absorbed from a presentation seen for the first time. One of the sentences should be a genuine insight, something that will surprise—“If a statement is not surprising, it’s probably not an insight,” the manual says. Investors may remember far less of the presentation than this, however. A single noun may be all that sticks in the mind afterward. “Something to do with chat.” “Something to do with databases.” The manual says about a third of the startups on Demo Day will do no better than this.

A lot of things broke. But a lot of things always break. So we’re going to fix the things that break.” He tries out a joke: “And then more things will break.

In YC’s portfolio “the number one company is worth more than the next 199 companies combined, while number two is worth more than the next 198 combined, and so on.”

[To be a billion dollar company] “One: you really need a huge market. And two: you need founder-market fit.”

“Just focus on one of three things: One, be cheaper. Two, focus on a niche. Or, three, be 10x better than the other products out there.”

“The point of this story is that you guys need to have this kind of swag. You need to suck people, and especially investors, into your own reality.” He heads into the conclusion. “So, what have we learned? One. You’ve got to put yourself out there and meet people, even if it’s awkward. Two. You’ve got to hug your cofounders and love your batchmates. Three. Experts aren’t going to help you solve your problems. Four. You’ve gotta have swag.”

“Smart people by definition have odd ideas.”

Hope you enjoyed and as always – hit me up on Twitter.

 

How Taziki’s Leapt From Three to Twenty Stores in Under Five Years

How did Fresh Hospitality take Taziki’s from a local favorite with three locations to #32 on the Fast Casual Top 100 Movers & Shakers with more than 20 locations now open?

I recently shared this entire story (and much more) on a panel at the Fast Casual Executive Summit.

Our panel told the story of Taziki’s fast paced growth by looking at how Fresh Hospitality used systems and technology to create a rapidly scalable brand.  The full panel is embedded below (40 minutes) as well as my particular portion (~10 minutes) focusing specifically on how critical systems and technology are to scalability and growth.  I’ve also embedded the slide deck that we used for the presentation as well.

(Forgive the video & sound quality – this was recorded on an iPhone!)

Systems Are Essential to Scalability & Growth (me)

Restaurant Management Systems (full panel)

The Taziki’s Story (slide deck)

 

Hope you enjoy and as always – would love to follow up and chat more on Twitter!