Figuring It Out

Dad, a little before I came on the scene

My Dad and I have a weekly call.

On the call, we try to figure things out.

We joke that we have been having the same conversation for years.

We get a lot out of our conversation, even if there are recurring themes!

After hundreds of calls, I’ve figured some things out:

The energy I spend planning for the future is wasted. The future that arrives is always different than expected.

I keep fooling myself that buying something will make my life better. Thankfully, I have a system to slow my ability to act on my feelings.

Time shows us what better looks like. The actions that actually make my life better have been the same for a very long time.

Do what needs to be done. Do the actions. That is it. Enjoy the actions!

There’s no more to be attained. One of the reasons I left finance was I had taken enough from society. Ironically, I got the idea from Warren Buffett. I pulled the pin at 31, Warren’s 91 and still rolling.

My life only needs to make sense to me. Warren might be right.

Consider Declaring Victory! When you arrive where you were trying to get to… before pushing onwards… stop, look around and ask, “Is there anything I can learn from the experience?

Apply the best advice, from those who know you well. When Dad turned 60 he told me to “create roots”. I was newly married, at the peak of my athletic career (36) and living between Bermuda, Scotland, Australia and the US. A few years later, I moved to my wife’s hometown and stayed put.

Cautious optimism beats pessimism every single time. Keep what works, change slowly.

How To Build An Online Community

I’ll send this out a little differently on Twitter here’s my profile over there.

I’ve built online communities 4x and it gets easier each time. Probably, because some of you have been reading me for 20+ years.

Thank you!


KNOW YOUR WHY – most the advice I see is about ramping up follows and seeking to convert attention to cash.

Pay attention and you might find that cash-for-attention isn’t what you seek.

Know your goal and write it down – if you’re successful then the crowd will nudge you in unexpected ways.

My reasons:

Establish Expert Credentials – doing 100s of case studies in public will let you “get your story straight” and build a network of successful students who’ve applied your best advice.

Where this gets really exciting is when you see someone take your lessons and improve upon them. My current project of getting-back-in-shape is using techniques taught to me by coaches who studied my approach. Cool!

Connect/Engage – I live in a narrow niche and have a set of values outside the norm. Toss me on Twitter and there are a million like-minded folks. I get a kick out of engaging from Finland to Switzerland to Brazil.

Take time to unsubscribe from vibes you don’t want.

My feed is positive and WAY better than reading the news.


MUTE AND MOVE ON

A fact of the internet => Yahoo-encounters scale faster than reach

I recommend a one strike and you’re out policy.

It’s never been easier to mute and move on.

My “why” does not require helping everyone, being universally liked or getting wrapped up in drama.


PICK A TOPIC YOU KNOW WELL

Lots of people know more than me, nobody knows my story better than me

…and it’s an interesting story because I…


DO INTERESTING STUFF THEN WRITE ABOUT IT

  • Taking a leave of absence, qualifying for World Champs and winning Ultraman Hawaii…
  • Being absolutely miserable then figuring out a way to get better…
  • Handing back a Private Equity partnership because I wanted to live an outdoor life…
  • Changing myself so I could attract a wonderful woman…
  • Learning to be an expert skier, late in life…
  • Write a book, then another…
  • Going from the couch to running a 35-minute 10K…
  • Giving comfort to the dying…

Be willing to fail – failure makes for great copy.

…and if you don’t fail… even better copy!


HELP STRANGERS

Ten years ago, I didn’t know my kids. So glad I made a choice towards family. We only get one chance to know a kid then they’re grown up.

  • Before I had my kids, I had my team.
  • Before my team, my readers.
  • Before my readers, fellow athletes trying to figure out sport.

While you are doing work… leverage yourself. Create systems to capture your best ideas – it might be as simple as a bedside notebook and a Notes App.

Pay attention to everyone who responds positively to your message.

Dial down those with a negative bias – this is very tough with the rich & famous – you do not want to “catch” a negative bias.


DO IT EVERY DAY

Pick one format/platform: blog, Twitter, forum, FB/IG, video… set yourself a schedule and do it every day.

13 cycles of my Content Week was enough to add 1,000 people to my network.

Further, by staying positive, I like ALL these people!

Make sure you like the world you create


ANALYTICS ON

Why?

Most simply, because the author doesn’t get to choose what interests the reader.

  • Capture what interests people (One Page PDFs)
  • Reinforce your best ideas (Copy & Paste Links)
  • Spend time improving your best stuff

Finally, there is no goal

The reward is in the work, improve the world one interaction at a time.

Sunday Summary 15 May 2022

Tweets of the Week (by engagement)

  1. Better to REMOVE one thing than chase the latest thing
  2. Our Pelotons read power -29% to +15% (nested threads)
  3. There is no hurry in Early Base (or anytime, really)
  4. What I did to get Ironman Marathon under 3-hrs
  5. Recap of my 2nd round of Swedish 5:2

Data comes from my Public Dashboard on BlackMagic.So

Family

Workouts & Working Out

High Performance Living

A public forum a lousy place for topics that require 1:1 trust

Turning My Kids into Bounty Hunters


When I’m tempted to call someone out, I put that energy into self-improvement (and housework).

One of my most effective techniques is turn my kids into Bounty Hunters.

I get them to hunt down my Bad Habits and call me out.

Two examples, and two price points

Misdemeanors

  • Spitting toothbrush foam into the kitchen sink
  • You catch me, or I catch you… $1 cash!

Felony Violations

  • Yelling
  • Anybody catches me… $100 cash!

So far the score is 1-1 for misdemeanors

No Felony Payouts, so far

…but I could have charged the kids more than once!


What’s this really about?

It’s a fun way to teach my kids that…

Effective leadership models a willingness to accept bad news

and

Speak up when you notice a Say-Do gap.

1,000 Day Pacing and New Habit Creation

Strength training is the ultimate long game.
Each session moves me further away from what I’d be without it.

I’m going to explain how I qualified for World Champs, won Ultraman Hawaii, found my wife and improved my parenting game.

Big wins – different domains.


Here’s my template…

  1. Create one new habit at a time
  2. Set the bar low (!)
  3. Hit that bar daily (30, 100, 500, 1000)
  4. Remove what causes me to miss the minimum
  5. Sort the specifics after the habit is on autopilot
  6. Access experienced mentors
  7. Surge effort when conditions are favorable

What would happen if you made a choice to…

  • Do a little bit of cardio
  • Do a little bit of strength
  • Help one stranger
  • Share a simple lesson you know well
  • Make one connection
  • Eat a salad at 3pm
  • Eat 2 apples at 11am
  • Write 100 words

…every single day for the next 1,000 days?

Build one small habit.

Repeat.


My 8:29 Ironman performance started when a fat finance guy (me) decided it might make sense to walk to the pub rather than drive.

I can remember that one choice.

I can remember a later choice to do something-every-day.

I’ve done my “1,000 days” many times => writing, investing, wife, kids, sport, connection, strength training

Knowing the power of compounding, I still underestimate the speed of improvement.


What are your deep wants and desires?

What one thing, if it happened, would change everything?

Why not move a little forward each day?

Why wait to be great

The Choices That Define Your Financial Life

  • Act as if personal finance is a game where you only get ten tickets to play.
  • Invest as if you are holding a checkbook with only a dozen checks inside.
  • Speak as if you’re holding a six-shooter, is it worth one of your bullets to make the point that’s on your mind.

I’ve been hearing versions of the above my entire life. It’s been great advice and encouraged me to:

  • Slow down
  • Resist the urge to interrupt compounding
  • Keep it simple
  • Focus on the big decisions
  • Treat small movements like noise

So, we started your kids with the allowance game.

Then, we moved onto discussing the family’s allocation of capital towards education.

With that, we considered the impact, across generations, of borrowing.

What next?

Teach your kids their financial lives will be about no more than a dozen choices.

Here are mine:

  • Study finance (class of 1990)
  • Save 50% of my take home (1990-2007)
  • Partners investment scheme (late 90s, all in then, equivalent of 1 yr spending now)
  • Work to build a startup (2000)
  • Sell into the frenzy (2005-2007)
  • Move into a low-cost Vanguard portfolio (2008 onwards)
  • Boulder real estate (2010 & 2012))
  • Downsize (2012-2013)
  • Borrow long at 3.25% (2013)
  • Debt free (2007 & 2020)
  • Have kids with a kind woman from a humble background (on going)

Every other choice turned out to be noise. What to do?

Focus on actions, not outcome.

What does that really mean?

Do what moves you forward and have faith. Sport, marriage, money, all things… daily action is the fundamental force moving you towards “better.”

Education matters => I was given a chance in Private Equity because I had high marks in a useful field. Between my high school graduation (1986) and my youngest’s (2031) the nature of “useful” will have changed. However, the need for skilled people to “do” will endure.

The most useful part of my degree wasn’t finance! It was financial accounting, programming and mathematics => I learned fundamental knowledge in college. I learned my profession on-the-job. You learn the valuable part by doing work, for the best people you can find.

This keeps popping up over and over again (professors, partners, coaches, mentors, twitter follows). At 53, I’m learning from people less than half my age! Do work to learn.

Avoid Ruin => studying, then working in, financial accounting helps you learn when a situation doesn’t feel right. Embezzlement is an old game and it’s useful to learn the patterns. Financial fraud happens, and will continue to happen. Take steps to reduce your family’s exposure to ruin.

With the accounting, I learned the most with 9 credits spread across three courses. Financial Accounting 1, 2 and 3. Small investment, huge return. Do it when you’re young. Being forced to rely on others to do your financial math is a disadvantage that will cost you.


Let’s pull it together for you…

Starting your working life (in a useful field, with your financial accounting courses done)…

You are at least a decade away from making the shift to lifestyle sustainable, so you focus on:

  1. Learning by doing with the best people who will hire you
  2. Savingget that first $100K banked, you will be grateful when you’re older
  3. Waiting for the fat pitch – once in a lifetime investment opportunities happen once a decade
  4. Turning yourself into the sort of person you’d like to marry, the friend you’d like to have, the parent you aspire to be => meaningful connection is true wealth

Your mind will try to trick you into thinking it’s the investment choices that matter.

It is not.

It is the four habits I outlined above, and avoiding substance abuse.

Sunday Summary 20 Feb 2022

You can follow me on Twitter. Likes, RTs and questions help guide my writing.

Getting A Better Body

Generating Family Wealth

Using High-Performance Insights

Elite Athletic Performance

Habits and Happiness

vail

Two recent reads: Atomic Habits and Willpower Doesn’t Work.

What I got from them…

Drive all knowledge inwards. This is a very old lesson. For best results, apply teachings on yourself first => do this for a very, very long time.

Many of the changes I have made (in the last five years) are in anticipation of being surrounded by high-energy teenagers and the conversations we are going to be having years from now.

When you are making positive changes, expect the people around you to get uncomfortable and test you. Don’t be surprised if the people closest to you start to bring up the errors of your past. When that happens I smile to myself, “They clearly have nothing recent to use. I’m making progress!”

Pay attention to the “why.” Many of us desire improved habits to cram more into our lives. More money, more beauty, more external success… chances are you have enough already.

Whenever I want to make a significant change in my life, I must create space, and mental bandwidth, to step outside my existing habits.

With three kids, some of the most valuable time in my life feels a lot like “empty” space, or even “wasted” space. I see the folly of this thinking by inverting and asking, “What does stress feel like?” => rushed, crowded, busy

What choices, am I repeating that, create stress? Social media, high-conflict people, cable news, an inability to say “no”…

What choice might create space?

What one thing, if it happened, could change everything?

Happiness is the gap between cravings. This gem is inside Atomic Habits. If you write a lot then sometimes you’ll spit out a deep truth.

Self-help doesn’t work because it teaches techniques we use to reinforce our cravings.

  1. How well do I know my cravings?
  2. Where are they likely to take me?
  3. What are the choices that reduce my cravings?

Using the techniques in the books to guide, or replace, cravings… very useful.

Understanding what’s driving my attraction to technology, social media… great stuff.

One example from my own life => connection and approval => I can get this, at a much deeper level, from a child than from Facebook.

+++

Widen the space between cravings => improved feelings of wellbeing

Use the books to cram more into my life => probably a reduction in space and reinforcement of cravings => no improvement in wellbeing

+++

Pay attention to what works.

  1. One win early
  2. Forests
  3. Routine
  4. Being slightly under-scheduled

Radical change might not be required.

Positive Change

IMG_8697

My inkling for change starts with a feeling that I should take a break from doing something, or seeing someone.

The “someone” breaks happen because I notice that my inner life becomes unpleasant. I don’t like my thoughts when I’m around the person. So I take a break and pay attention.

The “something” breaks happen because I ask myself the question… “where is this choice, repeated, likely to take me?” Eating habits and a couple daily beers would be examples from my life.

Anger, self pity, inaction in the face of adversity, getting really upset about external reality… other areas where “I should take a break”.

Politics, ethical lapses of others, the drama in your media feed… do you need more? So nice to dial it down.

Unfortunately, by the time I notice something is damaging me it’s already become a negative habit.

+++

Do It Now => If take-a-break thoughts stick around then I don’t wait for lent, don’t wait for New Years, don’t wait until later.

I make a change for a month and pay attention.

A month will not create a habit but it is enough time to see if it might be worth the long-term effort that’s going to be required to change.

The sooner I start, the sooner it will get easier to live with the change.

After 500-days, my habits roll along, mostly on autopilot. My job (on the far side of change) is to not screw up the streak, and reduce life stress when old habits start to tempt me.

+++

The Drain of Self-Justification => resist the urge to justify yourself with others. You are going to need that mojo for something useful!

Don’t say goodbye, don’t give a huge explanation, don’t burn bridges… Because…

First, and most importantly, I need all my energy to sort my own life out.

Second, I’m going to feel differently about this situation (and every situation!) later and don’t want to go on-the-record in my mind.

Finally, do what you need to do and be low-key about it.

+++

Peers => pretty clear that you don’t want to hang around your dealer, anger-buddies or gluttony-appreciation crew. The “not do” is a whole lot easier to see.

As a guy who enjoys periodic isolation, it can be easy to think that the answer is walling myself off. Lasting change needs to happen in a way than enables me to live in the world, to connect with others.

What do I want more of?

More of the person who makes me want to improve => I married her.

More of the people who motivate me to set a better example => my kids.

More of the wisdom to see the difficulties I experience are coming from the pain of change NOT from anything to do with other people.

It is not about what we think it is about. All of my difficulties are arising inside of me.

+++

Stress => as an elite athlete, the spring and summer would be spent with a focus on “doing.” Training stress would be high as I prepared for a race. Fall was a time for racing, then assessing. Winter was when I dropped stress down and addressed issues that had arisen during the high-stress period of the summer (or tried to put my life back together after six-months of ignoring most non-sport items).

Unfortunately, the lifecycle of a family doesn’t work on an annual basis!

As a father, I couldn’t just hold on until November…

Being newlyweds was an amazing time and I had my life dialed.

As we added, babies and financial stress => 2008-2015 => my “bad” habits started to return. Financial stress and toddlers are a potent combination if you’re prone to escapism.

I’m not sure if I realized what was happening but I noticed moments when I said to myself “I should probably take a break from this.”

In times of high-stress, keep it together as best you can. It’s going to be tough, for a while. I had a buddy advise, “just don’t get fat.” He’d gotten fat.

Once our youngest started kindergarten, I had the capacity to start making progress (back towards where I was in 2004!).

  • 500 days to make a new habit.
  • Don’t mess with a streak.
  • Pay attention to your triggers => people, places, situations.

So if you are thinking about change… choose one thing, with a low bar and do it daily for 500 days.

Difficult games can be fun to play.

+++

PS – As my friend, Doc Hellemans, says… “exercise is medicine” – picture above is from my 51st birthday lunch.

Attention Is Expensive

2019-10-18 07.31.22Let’s start with a story.

When I was younger, I never let a lack of knowledge prevent me from confidently sharing my theories about anything (this remains a weakness, BTW).

One day, I was holding forth and my buddy Jeff (board-certified orthopedic surgeon) chuckled and said, “I would call what you just said G-medicine.”

Later on, he took me aside and said, “Buddy, you know there’s a reason we go to med-school.”

He left it at that, which was a wise way to deal with an over-confident guy, who’s outside his field of competence.


I had some follow up questions about fasting and optimizing for one-rep max.

To address tactics, I need to step back and explain strategy.


Body, mind and spirit => What are you trying to achieve?

You need to know because attention, effort, willpower and thought are expensive.

So fasting, one-rep max, wherever you are focusing…

What is your payoff from your protocol?

Effort is expensive. Spend it wisely.


2019-11-02 06.03.09-1My philosophy is:

  1. Know your goal
  2. Keep the protocol simple
  3. Access believable people to tell you what’s required
  4. Use simple benchmarks
  5. Use habit energy to make life flow on autopilot

My protocol…

  1. No Zeros => remove days where I don’t train
  2. Get Outside the box and into nature => even if the box is a Gulfstream, or a boardroom, it remains a cubicle
  3. Seek Mastery => surfing, moguls, powder, swimming, sailing => moments of flow await!

Be honest with yourself. Is your physical life where you want it to be?

  • Work before work rate => Develop work-capacity before you do work-rate training. One-rep max is a “work-rate” benchmark that is certain to decline over time.
  • Don’t fool yourself => nobody fasts for health & longevity => we are either looking for an easy way to lose weight, or creating caloric “space” for binges.

Simple metrics let you create the habits that enable larger projects. Looking backwards over the last year:

  • < 10 zeros (days without exercise)
  • 15th year of stable body weight
  • 200+ days on trails or snow
  • 350+ days awake before 5am

I know I could be more, too much time is wasted on my smartphone.

I must remember that life is empty without connection. So be open to change based on painful feedback from my closest relationships => my wife and kids are brutally honest with me!


Higher Order Effects

I have empty space in my life so I can reflect on where my actions are likely to take me.

  • I have an addictive personality in a family tree with mental illness, addicts and eating disorders. Kinda indicates caution with self-starvation! Respect your history.
  • Be cautious with putting pressure on your spinal column, heavy lifts and explosive movements. Powerlifting injures can be for life. Respect reality.

Where are you likely to go with your protocol? You OK with that?

What’s the worst that can happen? You OK with that?


Fragilities

What is going to derail you?

My depression triggers are: poor nutrition, irregular sleep, alcohol, missed endorphins and excessive fatigue.

My entire life is a positive-feedback loop designed to keep me rolling.

Much of my “not do” advice is related to the risk of ruin. My depression triggers are defined as fun by my peers.

I need to be OK with saying “no” because… Depression isn’t fun.


Nature Has Useful Information, even if unpleasant

As you age it will be tempting to access Big Pharma to fool yourself, particularly if your self image is wrapped up in physical performance.

Before you act, consider…

What’s your competitive advantage? I think better, and choose slower, at 50 than 28. Taking myself to 11 with testosterone would GREATLY increase my error rate, across all domains. Not worth it.

My competitive advantage is taking the best ideas and integrating them via new habit creation. I can do this until I die.

Fatigue is information that guides me away from physical ruin => my mojo feels like it’s a tenth of where I was at 40, but my life is better because I am a better person.

Once again, overriding nature greatly increases my risk of injury. Injury can be the first step on a downward spiral towards depression/ruin. Not worth it.

Surprisingly, getting physically worse isn’t worse.


Anyhow, lots here.

When it comes to positive change: set a low bar, and do it daily.

I live near a cemetery, which helps me remember my expected value is negative infinity.

Death is an outstanding reason to be true to yourself.