Where's the Warby Parker for hearing loss?

My journey with hearing loss began 2 years ago when I was diagnosed with otosclerosis in my left ear, a genetic condition that affects the bones in the middle ear and leads to impaired or complete loss of hearing. It’s a fairly unknown condition but affects 1 in 10 Americans. It’s twice as common in females and symptoms most often begin in the early 20s. The path to a diagnosis, getting passed from doctor to doctor to ENT to radiologist to surgeon, was tumultuous to say the least but accepting it afterward was the most difficult. I was a healthy 24-yr-old who was, like many others, convinced hearing loss only affected the elderly and participated in the stigma associated with hearing aids. Learning that I’d need to wear one daily to function normally was a hit that I responded to with stubborn denial and refusal to go through with it until I realized how much my quality of life was negatively affected. But even after giving in, I never wore my hair up and only told people closest to me that I wore one, always consciously hiding it. I avoided wearing it in situations where I knew it could be exposed. This was often at events or concerts, experiences where I’d most benefit from normal hearing. The fear of being associated with this stigma held me back. The embarrassment was driven by not just the stigma but the archaic design. The software has improved greatly, with bluetooth, custom programming, mobile app remote, and more, yet the aesthetics have remained the same unsexy things that don’t flow with the body. My hearing loss is a part of who I am now, I want a hearing aid that I’m proud to make a part of my body. I’ve learned it’s actually pretty cool how much this little thing enhances my life. Not only is my hearing brought from 40% to nearly 90% normal levels, I have a mini bluetooth speaker almost imperceptibly with me wherever I go. It’s super convenient for that Uber ride where the driver’s music isn’t what I want or someone on the metro is talking too loud. When I forget my headphones and want to listen to a podcast or music, no problem. The other day I was at dinner in a busy restaurant and my sister called to update me on her wedding plans. I normally would’ve needed to leave to take the call but I could hear her voice perfectly through the little hidden speaker that directs sound straight into my left ear. My friend across from me made a comment that stuck ‘it’s like a cyborg superpower’. Hell yeah it is. I want to change the perception of hearing loss and improve the experience for the millions who suffer from it at an early age. These devices are extensions of our self and enhance our lives and communication, that’s exciting and innovative and powerful, it should be treated and designed as such.

Over 3 million Americans deal with otosclerosis, millions more suffer from early-onset hearing loss due to loud music and concerts that are increasingly common among the younger generations. The biggest problem with this is that many people don’t even know they have it. In the CDC’s analysis of more than 3,500 hearing tests, one out of four adults claimed their hearing was just fine, yet hearing tests indicated they already had noise-induced hearing loss. It’s an insidious thing, you don’t realize what’s happening until the people around you tell you they’re sick of repeating themselves. It’s difficult to know it’s hearing loss without getting an audiogram, which another study says is less common than getting a colonoscopy. This poses big problems down the line, those with hearing loss are 2-3x more likely to come down with Alzheimer’s later in life. This isn’t something we should ignore. Hearing tests should be more common and accessible and hearing loss should be as destigmatized as impaired vision. Why isn’t the hearing aid treated the same way glasses are? Glasses can be fabulous and character-defining, many creative designers compete in the market to make that the case. Who’s designing a hearing aid for a healthy, stylish 22-yr-old female? Likely not someone who gets what she cares about. We need a hearing technology company for her. One that offers innovative hearing devices not only with the newest software but with sleek and beautiful hardware that flows with the body, represents the power and innovation the technology holds, and aesthetics designed for a grossly underserved side of this market—thriving young individuals. We need to make audiograms, hearing loss treatment, and hearing technology seamless and accessible by bringing it to where people are, right on their devices. We need a community that supports these people, raises awareness of how common hearing loss is and changes the perception of it. It’s just not that big of a deal. At the time of my diagnosis, it felt like my world collapsed around me. It felt like I was flawed and disabled and imperfect in a way that no healthy eating or workout routine or mindfulness could improve, something I’ve never had to deal with and had no idea how to deal with. I imagine most people feel this shame and vulnerability when discovering they have hearing loss, and that’s a big number. Likely more than we know. It’s estimated that 40 million Americans ages 20 to 69 have hearing damage from everyday loud noise, that’s on top of the millions more who inherited it.

There have already been exciting strides in the industry. thanks to the lobbying from Doppler Labs and Elizabeth Warren, the Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act signed in 2017 has made it possible for any company to go direct to consumer and compete with the costs of medically approved devices that are monopolized by a few big players. Those devices cost a few hundred to manufacture yet customers are charged thousands. Sadly, Doppler Labs fell prey to the hardware plague, but I think they did it wrong. Rather than targeting early-onset hearing loss market, they went big and broad from the beginning, vowing to build the ‘computer for your ear’ and going after any future-loving techy. The reality is, the only people who care about enhancing their hearing are those with hearing loss. And that market is big and underserved on its own, I think they missed the ball in not zeroing in on them. I think the opportunity is still wide open and desperate for disruption.

Outlines

I’m at another business talk, networking event, organized gathering of disconnected connection. I watch people. Moving torsos with arms and legs and bobbing heads that tilt and move to the one in front of them. I don’t like these for the reason they’re meant for so I make my own reason. I watch people. When someone is speaking I watch the other respond. Make guesses to their intentions, bets on the silent thoughts behind voiced stories. Stories they tell the others and stories they tell themselves, I watch to intuit the truth that the intuitee hasn’t even yet discovered. It tests my eye, my intuition. Something I’ve crafted for years, something I’m proud of. The ability to watch and conclude. To gauge the depth, understand the hidden contents of a Human by watching their bobbing moving outlines. It’s not in their words, those often are a distraction, a painted wall they unconsciously or consciously use to cover reality, cover deepest intentions. Most people don’t know their deepest intentions. They converse with a colleague, speak at networking events, bob heads through business talks from a script the world tells them fits, script written for the identity box they set themselves in or parents set them in or teachers set them in. I’m a Lawyer, I’m a Writer, I’m an Engineer, I’m an Investor, I’m an Entrepreneur. These are identity words that come with strings of tied related words that weigh identity down, keep it where it is and steer it where to go. That’s what I see here, at this event. A sea of weighted down identities and bobbing heads, rigid unflowing words to fit. I watch to find the opposite. Look for my favorite kind of Human, one that operates from blankness. From a white empty wall-less mind that’s strange and unique and misunderstood because what we understand is what already exists. I look for Humans that speak and move not from a foundation of what already exists but what can exist.

This is boundless

I used to call myself a type-A productivity-addict. The only immediate trust I’d deploy was to scientific evidence and first principles-based logic. I’d be recommended meditation and nod politely while thinking any free 20 minutes of mine will be spent doing something useful. And no way in hell could you come near me with talk of chakras, energy flows, or auras. Like any conviction, this became my identity, internally and externally. It’s what I told myself, it’s what I told others. That’s how our identity boxes start, words we tell ourselves then words we tell others lead to reaffirming cycles of behavior that make us believe this is who I am and this is who I’ll always be— a type-A, results-driven health nut who trusted science and logic only, had little belief in the power of mindfulness, would never touch psychedelics and relied on heavy weights for meditation. Thankfully, I live in San Francisco where those rigid (I’d argue, east coast-driven) perceptions are invited to smooth, expand, and grow if you let it. I let it. I continue to openly let it, eagerly embrace it. Moving here drastically changed my life in the objective sense of work, relationships, experiences, but even more drastically it’s expanded my reality perceptions and smoothed my mental grooves. Smoothed the patterns of thinking that formed boxes around my reality and self identity, that limited me to the boundless beauty that living can be. It’s invited an excited doe-eyed awareness to the endless possibilities of how I can live, how I can thrive. That’s what thriving is I think, living from the mindset that you are boundless and this experience is boundless. Now let my practical self kick in (still there), how has this presented itself? I meditate for 20 minutes every morning using Tara Brach’s guided recordings. After months of this I’ve been able to carry what I call a higher mindset (nonreactive, open, inviting, calm, present) from the morning meditation throughout the rest of my day. I did a guided 5-meO-DMT experience, that’s for another post or more likely in-person conversation. I write daily, and recently expanded that from analytical blog posts to creative fiction. I’ll save the remaining amalgam of mind-opening practices for another day. The self that moved here from DC would’ve looked at me in shock, disbelief, and likely close-minded disapproval. The stark contrast of who I am today and who I was just 4-5 years ago is refreshing evidence of our potential, and proof that we can define our lives and our identities if we choose to, that change is easy and natural if we turn towards it.

When personal growth grows sour

In cities, specifically San Francisco, there’s a pervasive focus on personal growth. I’m a big culprit of this. It’s ingrained in who I am but certainly was exacerbated by moving to SF. I’ve always obsessively focused on self optimization, making the most of my time and constantly at competition with myself to be better better in every way. It’s daunting when even ‘spare time’ is a chance to compete for productivity and improvement. Any moment spent on something mindless would feel like wasted time, a cause for internal chastising and turning off Netflix to pull out a business book or turn on a podcast. Even my introduction into meditating was rooted in a desire to improve my thinking and effectiveness. This applied to everything from mind to body to relationships, reading to expand my knowledge base and challenge my intellect, meditating and writing to improve my thinking patterns, perfecting diet, training, sleep, and supplementation to optimize my health, analyzing relationships to remove any poisonous or negative connections.

Looking back after years of this, it had the intended effect in that I experienced unparalleled rapid growth that makes my college self and current self seem like two different beings. But having recently gone deeper into mindfulness and meditation, I’ve been observing where this obsession truly comes from and what I’m aiming for. It’s difficult to nail down the deep-seated end goal that drives the fervent determination towards improvement, to every day be better than the last, so I venture to guess that it’s simply the act of improving that feels good and makes me continue.

On the surface this might seem like a great habit, a powerful trait that leads to success, but it’s more likely just a piece of a bigger puzzle. The unintended negatives come from when the effort is mostly or entirely internal. When almost all time and energy is being put towards improving, growing, adding value—for me alone. I could focus on being the most smart, mindful, well-connected, healthy being but if the internal value isn’t translated into external value, helping others, it has limited benefits. The benefits would remain limited to the direct personal effect of the optimization, and stop there.

A vital piece of human existence and a key to thriving in life is purpose and fulfillment, to which the clearest path is making others’ lives better in some way. Benjamin Franklin lived by this principle, one of his 12 Virtues was

Industry. Lose no time; be always employed in something useful.

A legendary stoic, Marcus Aurelius, said

We were designed to live among other people and interact with them in a manner that is mutually advantageous; we will discover that human nature is very much like that of bees. A bee is not able to live alone: it perishes when isolated. Fellowship is the purpose behind our creation. Thus, a person who performs well the function of man will be both rational and social. To fulfill my social duty—to do my duty to my kind—I must feel a concern for all mankind. I must remember that we humans were created for one another, that we were born to work together the way our hands or eyelids do.

We only have so much mental energy, when the majority is put towards driving internal value, less remains for driving external value. And as both Franklin and Aurelius would tell you, driving external value, being useful, is where fulfillment comes from. But I’ll also tell you what’s perhaps equally as obvious but clearly was lost on me at the height of this obsession, driving external value is where wealth and opportunity come from. Look at the extreme examples, when Beyonce was working on one of her early albums she reported forgetting to eat or sleep for two days. When Tesla was grinding to meet Model 3 production deadlines, billionaire Elon slept on an old office couch. He has similar accounts from starting his first two companies Zip2 and X.com.

There are countless stories of entrepreneurs, executives, artists, activists who have sacrificed internal value for external value. These are people who were working on something bigger than themselves, people driven by an obsession to contribute something meaningful, useful, impactful, something that would improve others’ lives or make a difference on a bigger external scale. Albeit, some of the more extreme examples like these may tip too far in the other direction. They obsessed over external growth and neglected to take care of themselves, i.e. disregarding their health, state of mind, relationships. So I’d argue that this is a sliding scale and you want to be on average somewhere in the middle to reach peak enduring fulfillment, a healthy dose of energy towards both helping yourself and helping others. An internal/external seesaw.

TLDR, after years of rapid self growth from internal perfectionism, I still sensed a big missing piece. I started to define that missing piece and seek it out. Doing so made me realize how much time and energy was directed towards this internal growth, the shift I needed was to deploy more of that thriving energy out into the world. I’ve since tapped into the true fulfillment that comes from making a mark on other people and society in both small and big ways, and plan to continue multiplying those efforts.

An antidote to our anxiety epidemic: Going Primal

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the US and an estimated one-third of the North American adult population struggles with anxiety at one point in their lives. This is an increasingly problematic epidemic that could have a very simple answer. The origins of the emotion tie back to the earliest days of humanity when the approach of predators and life-threatening dangers were common occurrences. When faced with these potentially harmful triggers, physical alarms like a raised heartbeat, sweating, a boost in adrenaline and increased sensitivity to surroundings were set off in the body and ignited evasive action. The feelings and resulting actions of anxiety were not only normal but necessary for survival. Today, life-threatening danger is a less pressing concern than it was for early humans, yet we still regularly experience this emotion that evolution fought to keep around due to its track record for saving lives. Anxieties now revolve around work, money, relationships, health, and other issues that demand our attention without necessarily needing the anxious fight-or-flight reaction. If we were periodically reintroduced to the original and valid sources of anxiety, would this prevent its unwanted occurrence in non-threatening situations? Some of us already seek these out.

Why do people love burning man? Why do successful, wealthy individuals who can afford to live in a San Francisco penthouse and pay help to do every menial task specifically love burning man? Why do they put aside their envy-inducing luxuries for a week in the desert with scarce water, canned food, and handheld showers? The same reason Crossfit spread like wildfire and why something called the Death Race not only exists but people opt to partake. We crave getting back to our primal nature, crave a version of the hardships our hunter-gatherer ancestors were forced to endure for millennia. Civilization, organized cities and societies, didn’t become ubiquitous until a few thousand years ago. Evolution moves a hell of a lot slower than that. Our environments are near opposite to the environments hunter-gatherers faced, yet all we really are underneath the contrived layers of social acceptability are primal homo sapiens who crave food, shelter, and connection. Today, we have an abundance of options for food and shelter and we have a poverty of connection. There are two problems there, 1. we no longer have to strain to fulfill our basic needs and 2. we’re lacking a vital piece needed to thrive, quality connection. As the structure and security of civilization grows, these primal deprivations deepen and become more taxing, more attempts are made to fulfill them. We address the two problems by

  1. Seeking strained state situations. We use things like cryotherapy, cold plunges, extended sauna sessions, near-impossible races, remote escapes, and fasting to force a strained state that our privileged, abundant lives have no need to face unless we choose to. When in a strained state, the banal struggles (how you’ll double your salary, when you’ll get into that private club) that cloud our awareness are forced to dissipate because we’re brought to the core of being human, it ignites our instincts in a way that scrolling Instagram, ordering from Instacart, or sitting in an Uber does not. Why do we crave igniting our instincts? See above, evolution is slow as hell. Our innate selves are basically equal to our ancestors 30,000 years ago whose days were spent carving stones, foraging berries, hunting animals, and communing around a campfire. Our innate instincts support that sort of lifestyle, crave that sort of lifestyle, we’ve deviated worlds away from that sort of lifestyle so we’ve started finding other ways to get a dose of it.

  2. Social media. We connect with friends and family through the lens of social media. We live in overpopulated cities, surrounded with people on the streets on the bus in the uber pool and we look shyly at our phones because we’ve gotten used to the technology layer not the naked layer-less human human interaction.

Both solutions are flawed. The first is intermittent and infrequent, it’s hard to stay in a strained state for long unless we’re physically forced or we’re enlightened Stoics. The second replaces quality with quantity. We increase our quantity of social media friends and followers, hoping to fulfill the lacking quality.

So what’s an unflawed solution? I realize I’ve been unconsciously chasing that answer for years and only recently developed a self-awareness towards the interest. Through a bit of introspective digging, I realized the interest comes from my own strong internal drive I have towards primal experiences. It’s been a clear tendency in my life for years and seems to be an urge that’s strengthened in periods of time between meeting it.

As of writing this, I haven’t yet found an unflawed, lasting solution. This essay is meant to pose 3 questions, do others feel as strongly about this as I do, what can be created to do something about it, and how can we band together to actualize it. I’ve started by dissecting the experiences that satisfy this urge and finding the common threads. These are:

  1. Being surrounded by a tight-knit tribe that has common goals/drives

  2. Collaborating repeatedly with the tribe towards those goals/drives in a way that is open, supportive, and trust-filled

  3. A feeling of complete self-acceptance and embraced vulnerability

  4. Physical effort not simply for exercise/being healthy but for the sake of a productive outcome or purpose (e.g. climbing/biking/running towards or away from something, boxing/wrestling/jiu-jitsu, hunting, climbing, competitive sports, sex)

  5. Experiencing physical strain due to a forced deprivation (e.g. lack of food, water, warmth, shelter)

From these, I have a few ideas that need testing/validating. It comes down to building a community of people who are similarly preoccupied with this, providing a space to connect—physical or digital, and offering or curating regular events and activities.

After burning man, I’m effectively reset. The patterns and grooves of thinking that were slowly developed from a competitive abundant city environment seem to smooth out and are replaced with a heightened awareness toward core drives and what really matters. I’ve heard many accounts from others feeling similarly. This is powerful, an effect that could have a compelling impact if enabled more than once a year. Stay tuned for more words on this. Would love to hear thoughts — me@koriharrison.com.

Reversing my OS

I spend a lot of time thinking about thinking. I fold through my mind fabric and find patterns, analyze the patterns, decide whether it’s one that will help or hurt me, and optimize. Introspection has always been a preferred state for me and one of my levers for personal growth. It’s served well, I’ve developed a strong self awareness and understanding of my operating system. But I’ve recently decided it's time to reverse my approach. Up until now, specifically in the past few years when my dedication to personal growth skyrocketed, I’ve operated from inward to outward. Meaning that I first spend time looking inward at my thoughts and behaviors, from that I glean my strengths and weaknesses, and then decide where to allocate my energy in career and relationships to best leverage those identified strengths. I’ve recently been motivated to operate in the opposite direction, from outward to inward. Meaning that I just act, do, take on new projects irrespective of my self-defined strengths and weaknesses and allow the direct experience of the doing drive a new definition of strengths and weaknesses that become clear after trying this new thing. I’m a big advocate for action over talking, doing over thinking. It’s the only way to leverage the full power of compounded interest—get started today, do a little bit daily and have consistent discipline in order to utilize our biggest asset, time. The more talking thinking planning the less time there is to do which is where the true lessons come from. I’ve used this approach with everything except my operating system, I’m entering a new path in self growth that will be focusing on that. 

Discipline equals freedom

Jocko Willinck wakes up at 4 am daily to “beat the enemy”. He’s an ex-combat Navy Seal who now consults Fortune 500 corporations and wrote a book Discipline Equals Freedom. The title sums up a guiding theme I live by—sacrifice what you are for what you become. Do things that are hard today so you can be better tomorrow. Will Smith has an iconic interview, “You will not outwork me. If we get on the treadmill together, there are two options—you’re getting off first or I’m gonna die. The guy willing to hustle the most is going to win. Stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.” These are the sort of thought leaders I look up to, I have a similar standard of living that’s been ingrained in my day to day for as long as I can remember and I choose to surround myself with people who further instill and solidify that. 

I’m often asked to what I attribute this obsessively driven mindset. I don’t know the source but I know what it is and I know it’s always been there. Discipline. Pure, intrinsically-derived discipline. Consistent, excuse-less, unfailing discipline. I’m missing the period of consideration between thought and action. I don’t ruminate over whether I should workout when I’m sleep deprived, whether I should get up to the first alarm vs. snoozing it, whether I should choose healthy whole foods over crap, whether I should go directly to the CEO vs. standard channels, whether I should skip normal career steps and go straight for what I know I’m capable of. There’s no decision-making period between option acknowledgement and doing, the decision making is unconscious and it consists of 'is this going to make me better or not'. This is a useful tactic, reducing daily decision-making time. I typically wear the same clothes (chosen by quality + simplicity), eat the same meals, order the same groceries, have consistent morning habits. It saves brain power for the important things, for brainstorming and planning and leading and executing. The more behaviors on autopilot the better, as long as the autopilot is discipline-oriented. Everyone has a portion of behavior on autopilot, these are our habits. The things we do every day, the patterns that we develop and tighten as time and consistency compounds. It’s important to periodically check our autopilot behaviors, it’s easy for them to stray into the mediocrity that would be all of our defaults if we were content with an easy, challenge-less life. If your autopilot behaviors are discipline-oriented, you have the chance to be exponential. It builds a rock-solid foundation that your conscious behaviors can build upon, a higher standard is created from automatic habits that your conscious behavior is then modeled after. 

If you want to be better than others, you must do things that others won’t. Typically, things that others don’t do are hard things, hence why they’re avoided. And doing them consistently, when no one’s looking, on hard days and easy days rainy days sunny days, consistently. Discipline. I always had this. In high school: Up at 6, school, sports practice, home, homework before dinner I sat on my floor so I could spread out my papers in order of priority. In college: study before party, hours on a Sunday dedicated to doing until satisfied before fun was allowed. Juggled two jobs and two degrees, dedicated to reaching self-sufficient as soon as possible dedicated to building credibility and experience 'before the enemy’. Productivity is my default, I’m not fulfilled without it. I’ve trained an aversion to anything that won’t make me better. I get antsy watching TV, sitting in a movie theater, listening to gossip, skipping a workout, eating outside of Keto. Exponential is what I strive for. Mediocrity isn’t an option, it never was. Some might think this isn’t a way to live, it’s my only way to live. I choose it and I’m better every day because of it. 

Skip the social bread

I view human interactions like a sandwich. In a sandwich, there are 2 outer layers of dry, flavorless fluff squares and 1 inner layer of complex, savory, nutrient-dense goodness. The outer exists just to hold the good stuff together. 

In human interactions, the deep, thoughtful, explorative discussions often only exist after a shallow, self-conscious, meaningless catch up and end before a shallow, self-conscious, meaningless closing. Why does this feel like a social obligation? Why is it perceived as unnatural or forward or socially inept when the dry outer layers are ignored? I think about most things in terms of reason. If something exists simply because of a social convention or standard practice, without having logic behind it, its lack of point for existing is enough to make me ignore it. 

This is often perceived as very east coast or direct. I’d agree, but I'd also say it’s genuine and efficient. Genuine because I don’t want you to ask me anything that you don’t actually care to hear the answer to or say anything backed by societal obligation rather than individual truth. And vice versa. Efficient because life is short. Think of how much time we spend on pleasantries when we really could’ve been opening up about a true concern or relating on a like value or convening on a common mission? And as for work, pleasantries distract from the purpose of the meeting/call/agenda, getting straight to the point saves time and mental energy for what really matters. 

This has become a useful filter. Those who shy from immediately getting real are not usually ones who I’d prioritize having around. Radical transparency and open-mindedness are values of mine, I prefer to surround myself with those who feel similarly. 

Books are my soundtrack

I’m a book addict. More accurately, a Kindle addict because it allows me to have all my books in one place, supporting my habit of reading based on my current need, which often leads to shuffling 3 at a time. I read not only for the immediate pleasure but for the subsequent outcome. The book themes and premises seem to bleed into my life in a very tangible way, impacting my thoughts and actions. There’s a window of time that begins once I start the book and lasts a month or so afterwards in which my mindset mirrors, or at least resembles, the book’s. This phenomenon is stronger and more time-enduring the more the book resonates with me. 

This is how I choose my next set of reading. What do I need to improve? What’s a flaw in my current thinking? What am I struggling with right now? What’s happening that I should be better prepared for in the next few months? Or it could be more tangential than a topic I need to learn or internalize, often it’s the author’s voice. Some authors I value for their succinct clarity in writing style (couple go tos: Ayn Rand and James Frey). It’s my favorite form of communication, precise and effectual. I realize I use ‘effective' and ‘efficient' an absurd amount in this blog, I’ve exhausted the point that they're driving standards in my life. But in the case of writing, it means a careful choice of word combinations that get an idea across in the best way with the shortest efforttime. Efforttime meaning time to read and time to understand. Best meaning the most descriptive and visual. Nothing extra or distracting, nothing missing. This style is a model for how I want to write and speak, so it’s a style I seek when I’m losing that default way of communicating.

That’s what books do, provide a new default or improve on an existing default. Applying the learnings is less purposeful and more subliminal. It’s like the quote ‘you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with’. I’d add to that calculation. You’re the average of the 5 people and 3 authors you spend the most time with.

An INTJ's First Principles

I met with a rare fellow INTJ last night, and he mentioned an interesting self-assessment practice that he did recently. He wrote down a list of First Principles he believes he lives his life by and sent them to friends and past/present coworkers asking them to provide feedback into their validity, i.e. if he truly operates from those principles and if not, how he deviates from them. I found this to be a powerful feedback practice that could offer a more incisive, deep look at how you’re perceived by others. 

I’ve taken the 16personalities test a few times and always result in INTJ. Reading through the explanation, this doesn’t surprise me. It’s frighteningly accurate and aligned with how I operate, or at least how I perceive myself. I’ve always been fascinated in personality tests, partially because my analytical mind seeks to have concrete explanations for the way I think. It provides a lot of clarity, having succinct paragraphs basically describing my operating system. It’s one of the reasons I write, putting my many thoughts to words is fabulously therapeutic and explanatory. It’s so useful that I already had my own set of First Principles written out, so after hearing about my friend’s feedback tactic I thought I should put my own out there. Here they are,

  • Be steadfastly open minded.

  • Maintain a curiosity and hunger for knowledge.

  • Take ownership whenever possible.

  • Maintain exceptionally high standards and surround yourself with those who are just as intrinsically motivated to meet them and feel similarly.

  • Never follow the prescriptive or conventional, form conclusions and decisions based on rationality, logic, and independent thinking.

  • Avoid reactive behavior and thought.

  • Be useful. Ensure that your actions contribute some value to the world.

  • Consistency and compounded interest are life's most powerful tools.

  • Assign credibility via meritocracy only, not titles, credentials, or labels.

  • Efficiency, competency, and results trump all.

  • Lack of progress is death. Regularly check in that growth is occurring and change course if not.

  • Speak ill of no one. Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain. 

  • Trust and respect are earned with time and repeated, diverse circumstances.

  • Acknowledge context, differing individual perspectives, and circumstance rather than taking all words as I perceive them.

  • The mind is our director in life. Change your mind, change your life.

  • Do things that are hard and uncomfortable. If it’s difficult, it’s likely good for you. If it’s easy, it’s likely not useful.

  • Health is the number one priority.

  • Value action over words.

  • Utilize intuition when conflicted. The unconscious mind often knows more than the conscious. 

  • Seek simple, elegant solutions over complex.

Your new workout motivation tactic

My favorite way to think about working out and eating for your body is to reach a ‘purpose-built’ state. There’s a primal empowerment that comes with being aptly ready to survive an apocalypse or at least have a better fighting chance than most. We’ve gotten away from optimizing our body for survival and instead care about looking good naked or emulating the newest Instagram model. I don’t find those things relevant or fulfilling. Just like the richest person at the charity gala might feel powerful, the strongest/most agile individual will be feeling pretty great when running down 30 flights of stairs in the event of an earthquake. Granted, these things aren’t likely to happen tomorrow but bear with my brain dump of shower thoughts here (all my blog really is). Prioritizing exercise and eating well can allow you to make the most of your experiences and prepare you for unexpected moments where brains and money don’t matter, just your primal skills and physical effectiveness. 

When in Berlin, I walked over 30,000 steps a day, the best way to truly see a city. In Hawaii, I jam-packed every day with surfing, wakeboarding, snorkeling, etc. I have daily walks to and from my WeWork and gym up near 90 degree classic SF hills. In Iceland, I walked miles in snow to the nearest civilization when our car broke down in the middle of no where. In Yosemite, I had to re-hike a 8 mile trail after leaving a backpack at the top. In college, I carried my inebriated best friend 7 blocks home to bed. I’ve traveled abroad over 4 times this year and I haven’t had jet lag since before starting keto. I moved my own furniture up a flight of stairs when I switched to the corner unit above me. Check out all those non-apocalypse applications.

Prior to the agricultural revolution 12,000 years ago, our ancestors didn’t have the concept of exercise. They had the concept of surviving. Their bodies were sculpted from field work, foraging, running from lions, chasing buffalo, and building huts. Imagine what a caveman would think if they were to observe an Equinox pilates class or a Crossfit WOD today…pretty amusing. But we need these things now because consumerism, delivery, ecommerce, supply chain, transportation, etc. reduce the need for us to physically do anything to survive. A freelancer today could literally sit at home, order groceries on Instacart, order laundry service on Rinse, order basic needs on Amazon, FaceTime a friend for human interaction, work on projects on their laptop and never leave their place. I don’t think that’s considered an ideal life to most people, but kind of crazy to contemplate the contrast in today’s resources vs. just 12,000 years ago. Especially considering for 2 million years, not much changed for the homo species by way of tools or technology. But I digress. Shift your motivation from being Instagram-Ready to being Purpose-Built. Much cooler. 

Why entrepreneurs should read Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Knowledge exists in layers. Studying Business is studying many layers of knowledge that have been developed over time from things that have already happened. The layers at the top represent the most recent and specific—like how to optimize your acquisition funnel or how to read a term sheet. These knowledge layers are driven by the way society exists today and the way things have been done before. If you peel the top layers back, you get closer to the foundational principles—physics, psychology, game theory, evolution, etc. 

The difference between the base layers (e.g. psychology) and top layers (e.g. marketing) is that the former is a framework for thinking and the latter is a prescription for doing. The former allows you to derive your own solution for the best way to do, the latter tells you the best way to do. But what if the prescription is not optimal or wrong? 

To innovate is to 'make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.’ Think of each knowledge layer as a Tetris piece. If you build a wall from the first pieces, you have the potential to create a new, better wall than if building on top of one that already exists. Now one might ask—what if the wall that already exists works fine as is? Well, if society was perfect as is then there’d be no sense trying to improve it with new technologies and policies. The best mindset for innovation is one of a first principles thinker, focusing on the low knowledge layers, the first Tetris pieces. 

I recommend college students pick a base layer to study—Engineering, Philosophy, Biology, Genetics...I can’t think of anything more ambiguous or tangential than studying Entrepreneurship, Business Management, or Marketing. Studying only the top layers results in paradigms being driven by the status quo, which often results in mirroring what's already been done, the opposite of innovation. 

Learn as much as you can on the foundational stuff so you can form your own paradigms and hopefully contribute something novel to the world.

Is Silicon Valley littered with Theranos'?

I just finished reading Bad Blood, the mindblowing story of the Theranos' downfall, and I couldn’t help but think this was a hyperbolic version of how many startups get going. It’s pretty common in the Valley to sell an idea before a tangible product, sometimes with minimal transparency into how far behind the physical product actually is compared to what they’re conveying to the public. 

The glaring difference with Theranos is that it was really more of a healthcare company than a technology company, despite Elizabeth Holmes’ desperate dreams to emulate Steve Jobs. In a healthcare company, you have a lot less leeway with fooling the public of your capabilities—doing so could cause physical harm. This is why regulatory agencies like CMS and the FDA exist. Because of this, in Theranos’ case, they were caught and are now paying the price. But it begs the question, how many startups got going by fooling customers and investors but never had any repercussions because doing so didn’t hurt people? And if they did this, should repercussions be retroactively enforced or is it simply water under the bridge as long as they delivered on their promises eventually?

One argument is that founders have to sell big at first in order to get the money needed to go big. Early-stage VCs like founders that think big. The visionaries often get the most hype and usually the most money. I’d argue that the bigger you go, the less due diligence occurs. Like Jobs’ Reality Distortion Field, it’s easy to get caught up in the grandeur of a scrappy entrepreneur fixated on changing the world. A founder pitching a new social network for pet owners might need to show some more user data and market research to prove the value whereas a pitch for extending human life and health span by 50 years with a vaccine is a whole new space, concept, and technology—the only true way to get data and prove the idea is to throw money at it and give it a strongly executed shot. In these cases, the due diligence done is towards the founder. What have they already done? How obsessed and tunnel-vision-focused are they on this? Or, in this was especially true at Theranos, who has already invested/joined the board? If the founder comes off as an Elon who would stop at nothing to get all gas-fueled vehicles off the road, or a Bezos who believed all commerce would become e-commerce and couldn’t be convinced otherwise, then the money is more likely to flow.

Many people go 10% bigger (pet owner social network), few people go 1000% bigger (longevity vaccine). Less competition + obsessive vision + solid execution + badass team + money = the next SpaceX. 

Tattoos, explained

A while ago, I posted Sprinkles of Lion, proposing the practice of sprinkling your days with motivating tidbits in high-touch places so you’re repeatedly reminded to live like a badass, e.g. making your passwords and phone backgrounds something that drives you. Well, I took that a few steps further by getting one permanently imprinted on my body. 

I got my fourth tattoo last week and most of the benefit I know I’ll get from it is far more than just the sick lion design I wanted and will now have for the rest of my life on my forearm. It was the experience and story that came from spontaneously traveling across the world solo. The timeline was as follows: get off of Mo Ganji’s waitlist October 3, book flights and Airbnb October 4, arrive in Berlin October 9, get tattoo October 10, fly back to SF Oct 12. Should also add the fail of going to the wrong Berlin airport an hour away from the right one and having to figure out public transport across the massive city, just barely making my flight. The nervous, excited, empowered, independent aura I experienced in that week is now linked to the tattoo I can see every day.

The Sprinkles of Lion concept has been my approach to all my tattoos. My “Memento Mori” tattoo has a similar premise, as does my wrist triangle and finger sun. And all are on my arms below the elbows, within my line of sight. A person’s meaning behind their tattoos is a personal thing, but it’s a fair question to ask considering we elect to get them on our bodies where everyone can see. I get this question often, so thought I’d explore my answers here.

Memento Mori means Remember your Death. I love telling people that and watching their faces morph from quiet interest to questioning discomfort. But to me, it’s not morbid or depressing at all. Quite the opposite actually, it’s liberating. I call it my own refreshing version of “Carpe Diem”. Having the saying permanently in my immediate line of sight provides two things for me on a daily basis—urgency and ease. 1. Urgency. It ignites an urgency to get things done and reach my goals quickly. When others are writing out their 5-year plans, I’m asking myself "why can’t this be done in 6 months?” And then I get to work. 2. Ease. It helps me chill the hell out. We’re all human and mortal, we all die. Our lives are inconsequential blips on the universe’s radar (watch Cosmos and have your mind blown). We’re here then we’re not, that’s it. That reality is like a breath of fresh air that opens the door to not caring what people think and living every day the way I want—optimizing for fulfillment, love, adventure, experience, and enjoyment. I originally discovered the saying from Steve Jobs, he used to say that if he ever woke up and realized he was about to do something he didn’t want to do, he’d change what he was doing. I thought about that when quitting corporate for self-employment and got the tattoo so I’d continue to think about it daily and to ensure I always feel that way about what I do. 

My triangle tattoo, my first one, means fire in alchemy. Fire means a number of things to me, I’ll name a few. First, it’s the element that’s most impacted our evolution, we’ve evolved to rely on fire because of how beneficial it proved for our survival once discovered. First and foremost, it allowed us to cook our food. According to Harari’s book, Sapiens, this shifted us down a new evolutionary path because less energy was needed for hunting, foraging, and digesting raw food. More energy could now go to our brains, our bodies' primary consumer of energy today. As a result, thinking and language and social dynamics started to develop. This dependence on fire is most obvious when observing the newborn, the only state that has completely fresh, unbiased eyes on the world. Newborns will try to touch fire, they aren’t afraid of it. Rather, they like it. I find that fascinating, although most everything associated with evolution fascinates me and I consider it my primary guiding principle. Second, I was told when I was young by someone I deeply admired that I had a fire in me, and to always keep that. That stuck with me, and I got the tattoo as a daily reminder to never lose it.

My sun tattoo was a spontaneous decision when in the Canary Islands. This one was more superficial/lighthearted than the others, it simply reminds me of the beauty of those islands and that the sun serves as a therapy to me. If I’m feeling off, finding sun and basking in it even briefly can immediately reset me. 

Choosing tattoos based on what ideas/paradigms/memories I want to be reminded of every day has proven a good method for me. I don’t regret any, and I’d argue they’ve all had a beneficial impact on my day-to-day.

6 months on Keto no dairy, no meat: yes, I'm alive

I don’t often get into the specifics of my diet with people unless some prying occurs. I guess the shock, borderline appalled, looks I’ve gotten have led to a negative association with doing so. It comes off as extreme, that I get. What I don’t get is that people seem to rather jump off a bridge than attempt it. I get responses as if it's the most inaccessible, miserable thing in the world. This baffles me, mostly because I thoroughly enjoy it, more than any nutrient paradigms I used to follow, and it has taken little to no effort to stick with. I want to bring it up here to try and explore that disconnect by providing my take on the experience. Despite my obsessions with health, nutrition, fitness, longevity, I’ve always strayed from being prescriptive or promotional about my own fitness/diet optimizations I’ve done through ~10 years of self experimenting with training and nutrition. But I’m in a really healthy place in my life now, both physically and mentally, so it might be useful to start opening up more about it.


I follow the ketogenic diet, macronutrient profile of 75% fat, 5% carbs, 20% protein, that much has become known in this blog. What I haven’t brought up is that I also don’t eat dairy or meat. If you know anything about keto, you may associate it as the ‘cheese, bacon, steak, and whipped cream’ diet and maybe once doubted the credibility of its health benefits or thought welp, I could do that. Yep, not I. Although, my friends on keto thrive on a fully normal keto diet consisting of all that good stuff, so I don’t doubt that it can be just as beneficial if done the right way. More on that in a bit. 

So how and why? Always start with why. My convoluted journey down health optimization lane began after high school, when it suddenly was up to me to control my lifestyle and stay fit. That became glaringly real when the freshman 5…10 started to kick in. I played team sports all my life—daily practices, weekly competitive games, and fueling meals were the norm. Fit was the default, it wasn’t something I had to actively think about or deploy intrinsic motivation towards. But when college came, that went away. After about 6 months of play and ignoring the biological reality that eating crap and studying and/or partying all night leads to a reduction in fitness, I kicked back into gear. Never a team sports person despite being brought up that way (will do a post on this next), I joined the boxing team. I loved the strength and power I started gaining, but a ceiling was reached in terms of physically leaning out. Next step was diet. I started eating less processed foods and thinking more about what I put in my body, step 1. I cut out meat, step 2. I cut out dairy, step 3. There wasn’t any specific reason why I cut those two things, I just stopped wanting them and thought that had to mean something. The more fit I got from boxing and weightlifting, the more I was able to listen to my cravings, my body started wanting things that would best fuel and repair it. 

So that was a thing for a while. Lots of produce, seafood, protein powders/bars…very low fat, high carb. I fell prey to the Ancel Keys deception, see my post on that. After 5 years of this, I started hearing more about keto from some of the thought leaders I most trusted—Tim Ferriss, Peter Attia, David Perlmutter, Joe Rogan, and on and on. In true marketing fashion, after about 6 touchpoints I started researching it myself and eventually was convinced to reduce my carb intake drastically and up my fats. 6 months later, I went full keto. 

This is a bit of a reiteration of my last post, but adds the background behind the no dairy/no meat keto masochism (friends’ words, not mine). It’s just what I’ve always done. Even if my body could physically handle it, I had no desire to bring the two back in when starting keto. I was a bit worried because I hadn’t heard of anyone keto sans meat or dairy, but I figured I’d give it a shot for a month. As Jordan Peterson said when his daughter requested he try the carnivore diet for a month, “You can do anything for a month. I could hang from a windowsill by my fingernails for a month”. I’ve now been consistently in ketosis for 6 months, no dairy or meat. Still hangin strong.

So…how? The most concise answer is consistency. I basically cycle through the same foods every day. I’ve never needed or craved diversity in my diet, I’m such a creature of habit and I love reducing the number of decisions (also represented in my Steve Jobs wardrobe) I make in a day so this was like a breath of fresh air. I track my foods on MyFitnessPal to make sure I’m on par with my macro percentages and catching my nutrient deficiencies. Any gaps I have, which are bound to occur with this limited diet, I supplement. I’ll do a post on my specific food and supplement routine at some point but that’s the gist. 

Why am I baffled that this seems so difficult to people? Because it’s really simple, much simpler than the S.A.D. diet. But for those who value more diversity, there are a few paradigms that by following I think can work wonders for your health and how you feel just on its own.

  1. Track your food to maintain the right macro percentages, keep calorie count in check, and catch micronutrient deficiencies.

  2. Fill the micronutrient gaps that aren’t being ameliorated with food with medical-grade supplements.

  3. Avoid processed foods/fillers/preservatives.

  4. Have a 12- to 15-hour gap between meals every 24 hours (i.e. intermittent fasting).

  5. Eat to live, don’t live to eat. 

Hobby for yourself

I always wanted to have a blog and be super diligent at regularly posting. So a couple of years ago I set one up and forced myself to write daily. And I hated it. It gave me anxiety knowing I ‘had’ to write something that day, and posts became forced and disingenuous. I was trying to write prescriptive, instructional posts that I thought people would like, when really no one was reading them and I hated writing them. And like most things you don’t enjoy, you start putting it off. The time gaps between posts began to widen and I failed at my promise of daily, which heightened the anxiety. This is bad, don’t do this. 

A shift that I’ve adapted in the past year is to write for myself. I tap the keyboard with whatever flows out of my brain. I keep a running list in Evernote of inspirations that come to me when I'm exercising, traveling, walking, working, whatever. These are ideas that sparked my interest, ones I’d enjoy further exploring and picking apart. When I sit down to write, I then pick one of those bullet points and get to exploring. I don’t plan or make a layout or research. The organic nature of this approach leads to the conversational, informal style I prefer.

I understand many people enjoy the research-driven writing, stats-supported concept exploration. With my first blogging attempt, it became clear that I don’t. I like picking a single proposal/idea/notion for the shape and spilling my thoughts and experiences into it. It’s therapeutic for me, adding clarity and shape to what I’m really thinkin up there. My mind often feels like a convoluted highway of thoughts—ruminating, speculating, wondering, questioning. I’ve found the most effective way to define the roadways is to write. Putting it into words straightens the highway out, makes each thought more tangible. Often when I start writing, the article becomes something I didn’t expect it to become. The idea manifested into how I must’ve truly perceived it but that my conscious mind hadn’t yet recognized.  

If you’re going to take on a side project for fun, doing it for anyone but yourself just makes it work and defeats the therapeutic effect a hobby is meant to have. 

A type A's taste of nurture over nature

My father’s parenting style was always more reprimanding than praise-driven. That sounds negative, maybe it was in some cases, but I mean it in the literal sense that in order to get me to do something or stop doing something he would critique a flaw rather than praise a strength. 

It’s fascinating how the young, predetermined mind will cling onto very specific moments, as minute as a sentence or word or facial expression that gets locked into the hippocampus as a clear memory periodically spurred with a déjà vu. Moments that on the surface are unremarkable, yet they’ve stuck for whatever reason and likely do more to shape who we become. 

A couple of those that come to mind are two reactions by my father to sentences I once said. I said “It is what it is” to some conundrum I now don’t recall. He retorts, “I hate that sentence. Don’t see it that way, something can always be done.” As a young tomboy, I always sought the approval and praise of my stoic, tough father so hearing this, I internalized it. I don’t think I’ve said it since, and every time I hear it I have an urge to push back on the notion. I interpreted it as a push to take action rather than accept things as is. Change is the world’s default state, it’s up to us to influence and guide that change. All is possible with the right doing. But the vital key is doing, not sitting and accepting. 

The second—I said “I don’t get it” to a silly joke not noteworthy enough to be linked to the memory. He snapped “Don’t say that, you sound stupid.” The sting that came from that, and who it came from, was enough to have a similar impact on me. It created a new behavior, or more accurately a repressed behavior, in order to prevent a similar sting in the future, i.e. never saying "I don’t get it", or anything similar, again. His reaction may come off as harsh, but I also wonder if we’ve gotten a bit soft when it comes to parenting. The curtness of it is what made it effective. And it was ambiguous enough for me to derive my own meaning, which ended up being to ask intelligent questions. Be specific on the disconnects in communication and knowledge, it’ll get you answers more quickly and effectively. How is someone going to help you with an “I don’t get it"? That gives them zero direction for how to reframe. It provides no insight into the gap that exists between you and understanding, preventing them from helping you fill that gap.

I’ve recently been inspired to psychoanalyze my upbringing a bit and peel the layers of my current state to find ones likely grown from how I was raised, thanks in part to reading “Truth" by Neil Strauss. It’s been somewhat scary and vulnerable but mostly fascinating and enlightening. I’ve always believed nature trumped nurture. I studied bioengineering and economics, I work in technology, I read nonfiction for fun. For better or worse, I’m a quintessential type A—a serial analyzer and logic-driven reasoner. The guiding first principles I rely on are evolution and the scientific method. But I’m increasingly learning about the impact of upbringing. How the interactions and experiences in the young formative years play a similarly large part in creating our layers of self. These ingrained memories are little tastes of that.

 

Meetups won't make you Elon Musk

I don’t like networking meetups. They’re forced and boring. It’s a crowd of eager, wide-eyed neophytes seeking answers from people who have a few big names on their resumes, justifying their ability to charge $30 for an hour powerpoint presentation. People flock to these with an expectation that if they hear how someone else did it, they can just go and do the same and yield the same results–beginners relying on other people’s experience to tell them what to do to be successful. But has any exponentially successful professional ever come out of these cult-like gatherings? I can just see Elon Musk in his early days of entrepreneurship laughing at the idea of spending his precious time sitting on a foldable chair listening to a Stanford grad talk about the need to “build for users not for profit” or to “be religiously data-driven”. He was busy building a new payment system and, later, four companies that have drastically altered four different industries. 

Relying on other people’s success to give you answers will not suffice if you want to be exponential. Doing will. Getting your own real-world experience will. The world's default state is change, and at a rate that has increased daily since the invention of the computer. Today is a different day than when that Stanford grad launched the startup that her powerpoint is presenting. And the only people who have shifted society’s paradigms and altered the direction of humanity for the better are ones that did completely novel things of their time, went against the grain, intentionally ignored conventional thinking and regulatory standards in order to reach a new level where no one’s been before. 

My Career Lesson Nuggets

I’ve experienced more in the past 2-3 years in regards to business and life than I probably have in my entire 25 years. Switching from medicine to tech, becoming a software engineer having never written code, moving across the country alone, leaving bigwig corporate to do my own consulting for startups, and taking startups from 0 to over a million user reach. These formative, whirlwind years helped me to grow immensely and calibrate how I choose to interact with the world to optimize business relationships, career, and success. 

In this time, I’ve kept track of the lesson nuggets that represent pivotal realizations learned from failures and I regularly read back through them to guide decisions and actions. I’m constantly adding to this list unique lessons that come from trial and error moments (startlingly common), here’s what lives today. 

Keep in mind, these are career-focused. I’ve also learned a number of lessons about life, personal relationships, mindfulness, health, and happiness but that’s not what this post is for. Career isn’t everything but being the productivity-obsessed and independently-employed human I am, it tends to intertwine with my personal life in more ways than one. I like it that way. 

  1. Write and speak with conviction, simplicity, and clarity. No one’s giving you points for saying “ameliorate” instead of “improve”. Hemingway is a legend for a reason.

  2. Embrace big vision. Thinking big is the first step in executing big.

  3. Take initially uncomfortable calls, meetings, networking events and go into them ripe with confidence and enthusiasm. I’m almost always happy I did, everyone has something to teach you.

  4. Be confident in your abilities and experience. People don’t doubt you until you doubt you. You get to where you want to be by acting like you’re well equipped to be there and like you’re one of the best people to be there. You must be your own advocate.

  5. Initiate, do, act before being asked or instructed. Startups are often lacking in direction and structure, be a self starter that contributes value by default. It’s overhead for any manager/leader to incessantly assign explicit work, be someone who does the work without needing that, but be sure it’s the RIGHT work (read Effective Executive by Peter Drucker). 

  6. Have strong opinions, loosely held. Be open to other ideas and insights, that’s how you learn and that’s how the best results arise—synergy across many minds working in tandem with one another.

  7. Speak with the 'Yes, and’ approach. Collaborative, open, and explorative. Not argumentative, rigid, or arrogant.

  8. Do it now. Don’t push it to later. It doesn’t always need to be a scheduled meeting, if a topic comes up that can be addressed now then address it now. 

  9. Don’t accept money or gifts if you can help it. Pay for the coffee, the lunch, the drink. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and the simple act is remembered.

  10. Launch the point of the meeting sooner. Meetings can be bottlenecks on their own, don’t make them time eaters more than they need to be. State the goal, accomplish the goal, summarize a recap/action items, finito. 

  11. Define successful processes and repeatedly apply them. Test processes until you find one that works then apply it again and again.

  12. Be thankful for what you have and nourish it. Don’t assume the comfortable and nice will stay there whilst you look for something better.

  13. Go for the top. Don’t accept a no from someone who can’t tell you yes. 

  14. Don’t be frustrated or ashamed with being an underdog. Everything starts somewhere. If you want to be somewhere where you can make an impact, you have to do just that—make an impact, be a driver in the success, prove your worth with execution and results. 

  15. Let others finish speaking. And deeply listen. Don’t just think about what you'll say next. Don’t interrupt. Let people finish their thought, their sentence, their input before jumping in. 

  16. Be Nice. People work with people they want to work with. Surround yourself with successful, smart people and make them want to work with you by being kind and giving and respectful.

  17. Think for yourself and construct your own beliefs and values, speak to them with confident conviction. Don’t constantly feel the need to cite a book or podcast for credibility or argument sake. Think for yourself, have your own truths and beliefs and back them with a sound argument that you yourself constructed, confidently. 

  18. Take others’ words with a grain of salt, don't immediately see them as truth. Internalize them as insight that you deconstruct for your own purpose, think about what it truly means and how it applies (if it applies) to your own life. 

  19. Stop skimming. A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.

  20. Don’t ever take business personally. 

  21. Go first. Introduce yourself first, smile first, call first.

  22. Be decisive. 

  23. Don’t ask a question just to ask a question. Do it because you really want to know something, and make that known, follow it up, continue the conversation upon the answer. Be interested and curious and humble and open. The wise man once said nothing, if you don’t have an output-driven question, shut it.

  24. Have a clear, defined proposal for what you can do for someone or a company when you meet with them. Don’t expect them to come to you with a proposal, you know your contribution and skills more than anyone. Plus, you know what you want to do, so own that, set the stage. 

  25. Just relax, everyone’s a human just trying to get by too. Be candid and transparent and genuine as much as the situation allows. 

  26. Step up when the leader doesn’t show. The people that are there were expecting a leader, they were prepared to be led, now they don’t have that. If you step in and do so, it's a relief to all and you get a free opportunity to flex those skills. 

  27. Be humble and embrace sacrificing what you are for what you want to become. In the beginning, you don’t have credential or experience leverage in your career. Be open to doing things for others for free and embracing the opportunity to learn and prove your capabilities.

  28. Have a few key questions that are deep and thought-provoking that you ask others consistently. This helps you find patterns in answers. It also launches meaningful conversation vs. small talk networking. It’s memorable, people remember how you made them feel not what you said. 

  29. Treat clarity and transparency as prereqs. This is vital for doing business. Before agreeing to partnerships, make sure I’m on the same page with the partner as to their expectations, where they are currently, and their plan for the future. This mitigates discovering gaps and misalignment at a point when you’ve already invested time and resources to the partnership.

  30. Speak ill of no one. Gossiping is so many things–none of which are useful, effective, or positive.

  31. Develop ubiquitous language, consistent communication. Use a naming convention for product lines and business efforts. Most people are scared to ask if they don’t know what something is, thinking they’re supposed to. That’s inefficient and wastes time.

  32. Zero bullshitting. Don’t sugarcoat out of weakness or hesitance.

  33. Take ownership. 

Let your cravings be your macro calculator

One of the beautiful things about keto, or any clean diet that supports healthy, whole food nutrition, is the clarity it gives your body. It sets you up for success because it develops a baseline healthiness that becomes your new default state. Once you reach that point after a few weeks of clean eating, your habits/cravings/tendencies start to shift towards healthy, without much physical effort or cognitive load. Healthy is your new automatic. The key is to leverage this new state and move to hands-off, to trust this new healthy baseline and give your body the reins—biological cruise control. You can now let your body steer what you do because it’s clear of toxic preservatives, mind-fogging sugars, nutrient deficiencies, and unbalanced macros. It’ll tell you what’s best for it because it now knows what healthy is and it wants to maintain that state. 

I find the cravings shift most interesting because of how useful it can be for informing what and when to eat. For a while when getting started on keto, I tracked my foods to get a sense of what to eat to get the right macronutrient percentages I wanted. It was a fairly big diet shift for me so my body didn’t know what it needed to maintain it yet. If I just listened to my cravings, I’d be running to the nearest restaurant serving chocolate lava cake, the Salt and Straw in Hayes, or the farmers market for fresh juicy fruit. There was a period of applying cognitive effort to ignore cravings and assign what I would eat in a day. I had to rely on my research-driven brain to tell me what to eat to get the most out of this new diet. My body was a useless, carb-hungry machine that I had to reluctantly ignore for a bit. 

Once I reached ketosis and my body developed its new baseline, I started to internalize what foods to eat in a day and no longer needed to bother going into MyFitnessPal after every meal—I didn’t need to track foods to know what to eat. I no longer had to ignore my body and rely on my brain to tell me what to eat. My cravings were shifted to those that would support the new baseline—to healthy fats, nutrient-rich greens, and good proteins. My steadfast sweet tooth that had been around since my first lollipop had virtually evaporated. The thought of rich chocolate or carb-heavy fruits wasn’t remotely appealing if you can believe it. Coconut oil-doused sautéed spinach, salted ripe avocados, and pan-seared fatty salmon, however, were all suddenly mouth-watering. 

I now always rely on my body to tell me what to eat next. I do this by thinking through the list of keto foods and meals I cycle through and whichever appeals to me most, whichever sparks a craving, I make. I’ve found I feel so much better doing this. Your body knows what it needs, we just need to give it the clarity to do so by developing the right healthy baseline via a clean diet. If I’m low on potassium, I crave avocado. If I’m down on electrolytes, I want dill pickles or salt-covered anchovies. If I need more protein, I crave a big piece of salmon or peanut butter. If my fat is low, I reach for coconut oil or bulletproof coffee. 

Getting to this state is useful in almost every way. Our brains only have so much mental capacity in a 24-hour period. The less time you spend on frivolous, minute decisions the better. It’s why Steve Jobs wore the same turtleneck every day and Tony Robbins eats the same breakfast every morning. Save your cognitive capacity for the more important decisions and tasks that fill your day. Plus, no one likes to constantly think about food and tracking macros and nutrients. It can lead to an anxiety-filled black hole that diverts your attention and distracts you. Of course, it’s important to live and eat clean and at first this is much easier said than done. It won’t start out as automatic but applying the initial effort to build up these habits and put your body in a state from which it can take these decisions off your mental load, will get you there.