The Paradox of Choice & How I can save you from losing $20,000 and make you a lot happier!

March 28, 2008          Comments (1)

You may not realize it but the more choices you have to make the less happy you’re going to be. I’m experiencing this right now as I’m trying to plan a summer trip.

Originally, the plan was to go to Italy and Rome. Then one of my friends mentioned Egypt which is a place I have always wanted to see and then the Greek Islands came up. We’re all over the place and still haven’t decided and it’s driving me crazy.

Barry Schwartz’s classic, The Paradox of Choice: Why more is less has 2 amazing principles: The more options you consider, the more buyers regret you’ll have. And the more options you encounter, the less fulfilling your final outcome will be.

I think this applies to every aspect of our lives. Whether it’s picking a job, a type of business to start, a person to date, where to live, where to go and on and on. The more options that are available to you, the less happy you will be with your final outcome.

Why? Well it’s very simple. Our fear of losing things is a lot stronger than our desire to gain things is. Tell me how I might lose $20,000 by doing X and my attention will be a lot greater than if you were to tell me how I might make $20,000 by doing X.

Also, the more choices you face, the more regret you might have. Regret is simply making decisions in the past. Clearly, that’s not going to do anything.

I’ve observed that the most successful (successful in this case meaning in business) make fairly large decisions very quickly. Now or never. It either feels good or it doesn’t.

I believe that’s why the book Blink: The power of thinking without thinking became so popular in the business world because it proves that your gut instincts about a person or thing are right a lot more often than we give them credit for.

So does that mean you should never do research? No. It just means if you’re looking to buy a plasma TV or a pair of sneakers or even a car, or, are looking to hire a part time assistant; seriously considering and comparing 20 different choices is not going to help you.

The less decisions you ultimately make, the happier you’re going to be. Regret is a lot harder to deal with than wondering is.

It’s why people will stay with their significant other even though they are unhappy. It’s why people will stay at their job even though they hate it. It’s why entrepreneurs tend to work with the same people over and over. It’s why most people go to the same few restaurants over and over.

It’s why people never start working out and eating right. Why? Because there are a million different bogus diets and workouts out there.

It’s why people crave stability.

Oh and the $20,000. It worked.

Didn’t it?



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How to get in amazing shape, Rule # 1

March 24, 2008          Comments (4)

Here it is. Ready?

Don’t let yourself get really hungry.

When you let yourself get very hungry it’s almost impossible to make good decisions. Whether it’s after a long day of work or school or just after a busy day, the chances of you eating the way you really want to are highly unlikely when you’re ravenous.

I know when I’m famished the last thing I want to eat is something healthy.

Rule 1A: There is no such thing as will power.

Do not keep crappy foods around. You’re only going to sabotage yourself. Here’s the problem:

If I had my favorite ice cream in the freezer (Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked – Ugh, it’s unreal), every single time I go into the kitchen, I’m subconsciously going to ask myself, “Hey Guru, you want some ice cream?” and it’s almost impossible to keep my paws away from it.

Or if I had my favorite cookies in the cabinet (It’s a tie between Chips Ahoy Soft Batch – the ones in the red package or Oreo’s, Double Stuf – obviously) I’d be asking myself the same question.

It’s so much easier to just not have junk around. So you don’t have to ask yourself those questions.

Also, I’m not saying you can’t ever eat junk again. Once in a while is fine. But let’s face it. Have you ever got up from sitting on your couch after eating a whole bag of Doritos and cookies and everything under the sun and said, “Damn, I feel freaking amazing?”

Life is too short to not feel amazing as often as you can.

Again, I’m not saying that once in a while you can’t indulge. But the whole idea is that eventually you’re going to love how you feel by eating so well that you’re not going to want to eat crap anymore.

But for some reason when you’re really hungry…you’re going to want crap.

Remember. Rule numero uno.

Pura Vida!



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If you have a pulse you MUST watch this video!

March 21, 2008          Comments (5)

This is one of my favorite inspirational videos of all time. You may have seen this already as this guy was on Oprah but it’s worth watching again and again and again. In September of 2007, Randy Pausch gave a final lecture to his students at Carnegie Mellon. It has since been downloaded more than a million times on the Internet.

There’s an academic tradition called the Last Lecture. Hypothetically, if you knew you were going to die and you had one last lecture, what would you say to your students?

Well, for Randy, it wasn’t hypothetical as he was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.

Here are some of the golden nuggets I got from the video:

You can’t control the cards you’re dealt, just how you play the hands.

We all have childhood dreams and it’s very important to remember that anything is possible and we should never lose that spirit.

Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you wanted.

When you’re doing a bad job and nobody points it out to you it’s because nobody cares about you.

Brick walls are in the way of our dreams for a reason: They let us prove how badly we want things.

Always have fun and have a sense of wonder.

Be humble.

Express your creativity.

People are a lot more important than things.

Decide if you’re Tigger or Eeyore.

Live with integrity.

Tell the truth.

When you screw up apologize.

A good apology has 3 parts:
1. I’m sorry
2. It was my fault
3. How do I make it right? Most people skip that third part. That’s how can you tell sincerity.

Show gratitude, it’s very powerful!

Don’t complain; just work harder.

If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you if you live properly.

Just ignore everything people say and just pay attention to what they do.

The best definition I know of time well spent is to have helped a lot of other people.



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Is Recession Proof Really Possible?

March 16, 2008          Comments (8)

I had a great post planned but after hearing and reading that Bear Stearns was sold for just $2 per share, I am in shock. $2 per share? This subprime mess is destroying our economy and is destroying many lives as droves of people are losing their ‘safe and secure’ jobs. And forget about all of the people who are losing their homes – that’s another story.

If Bear Stearns can go under any company can go under and anyone can lose their job. Only a year ago Bear’s shares were $170. JPMorgan bought Bear, once the 5th largest investment bank in the world, for about $236 million. In 2006, Bear earned $2 billion in profit! This is absolutely insane.

It comes down to this. The only way to be in a recession proof job (or business) is to be remarkable.

Remarkable begins when you deal with the things that you’d rather not deal with: fear of failure, fear of standing out, fear of rejection. Being remarkable is about training yourself to leap over this barrier. Being remarkable is about training yourself to tunnel under this barrier. Being remarkable is about driving through this barrier. And, after you’ve done that, to do it again the next day.

It’s so easy to just keep coasting along. It’s so easy to just accept the status quo. Change is scary. Safe is comfortable.

The bottom line is this: The riskier your work appears to be, the safer it really is. It’s the people having difficult conversations, inventing remarkable products/services, and pushing the envelope who are building a recession-proof future for themselves.

It’s your choice. It’s your life.

[Update: Great conversation over at BrazenCareerist.com!]



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Interview – The Schiff Report

March 14, 2008          Comments (1)

“I’m a journalist based in Washington, D.C. and I am really impressed with MyBodyTutor and your blogging. I was hoping that I could interview you for my blog, The Schiff Report.”

Sure!

I really liked the thoughtful questions that Jaclyn asked me; especially the one about my dreams for MyBodyTutor.

Check it out here. Thanks, Jaclyn!

Oh and while I’m on the self-promotion train, I’m very excited that I was invited to be a part of the highly influential blogger Penelope Trunk’s new Brazen Careerist website. It’s a network of 50 young bloggers among many other things. You can check that out here.

Choo Choo!



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To all fellow entrepreneurs, people who want to work at a start-up and my current/future employees you MUST read this!!!

March 10, 2008          Comments (8)

So there’s been a lot of talk on the blogosphere of a particular post written by Jason Calacanis. He wrote a great blog post about how to save money running a start up.

On the list he wrote, “Fire people who are not workaholics. Come on folks, this is startup life, it’s not a game. Don’t work at a startup if you’re not into it–go work at the post office or Starbucks if you want balance in your life.”

Then TechCrunch, wrote a blog post entitled, Calacanis fires people who have a life, which caused an unbelievable uproar.

Calacanis later renamed his post, Fire people who don’t love their work, which I couldn’t agree more with.

Here is what I believe:

I’m working. In fact, if I’m conscious, I’m working. That’s largely because it doesn’t seem like ‘work’.

If I’m doing this for fun (and I am) then I might as well be doing something remarkable/great/worth doing/worth talking about.

Otherwise, why bother?
And if you’re going to join MyBodyTutor, why bother unless, you want to be part of a company that is doing something remarkable/great/worth doing?

Then TechCrunch editor and founder Michael Arrington, wrote a follow up post that I happen to love.

Arrington writes, “Startups that hire incorrectly fail. They don’t probably fail, or maybe fail. They just plain fail. You must hire the right people. In particular, the early employees must be perfect. This is more important than anything else, including the product or business idea.”

I couldn’t agree more!

Then he writes, “The most important part of hiring correctly is to not hire the wrong people. The second most important part of hiring correctly is to hire the right people. What that means is that it is better to not hire anyone at all if you can’t find the right person. And if your startup fails, all the perks, time off and general coddling isn’t all that useful.”

“So who are the right people and who are the wrong people? It’s not that hard to tell. The right people are the ones that really, really want to work with you. You can tell they’re excited to be a part of the team.”

“I’ll take the fired up warrior any day over the more experienced but otherwise meek alternative. Skills can be learned quickly on the job. But if you aren’t already the kind of person who’ll just get the job done no matter what, you’ll likely never be.

Warning signs to look out for during an interview: people who care about status symbols like titles, people who resent the success of others, people who act like they’re doing you a favor by talking to you. And people who want to negotiate salary endlessly but couldn’t care less about the stock options.”

Again, this is all so true. I want you to be thrilled to be a part of the MyBodyTutor team. I want you to be so excited you can hardly contain yourself. And I really, truly, mean that. This isn’t a game. It’s my life. (And yours too!) I’m not looking to build another me-too company. I have a vested interest in seeing my company succeed and so will you.

I have spent countless hours and dollars on my company. Hours I can’t get back. Hours I could’ve been building something else. But I chose to do this. I want to build something worth building. Something that will go down in business books.

(more…)



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“It’s not my job!” and why caring is so difficult

March 6, 2008          Comments (4)

A lot of people are self proclaimed somethings. The only self-proclaimed thing I am is an amazing prankster. The rest? I let my actions do the talking.

I’ve masterminded many hilarious pranks. So much so that one of my best friends didn’t talk to me for a few days. Even thinking about it now I almost fall of my chair laughing.

When my friend who I swore I would never prank again was seriously mad at me, (who gets mad at someone for pranking them?) I told him, “It’s because I care. I care enough about you, to spend time plotting and executing this prank for you! You’re my boy. I wouldn’t prank someone, I didn’t care about.”

Eventually, he calmed down and appreciated it. I believe my rationale does make sense and although he had a slight heart attack, he lived to be mad at me right? And everyone else had an amazing laugh and so did he…eventually. It wasn’t that bad. It really wasn’t.

Caring is really a very important word though. If the guy who painted these lines cared about his job, he wouldn’t have done this. It takes a lot for someone to care a lot about something (or someone) though. But hey, “That’s not my job! I don’t get paid to move tree branches!”

The reason caring must be so difficult is that so few people do it.

“How was your dinner last night?”

Follow up. Not follow up to sell something, just to know. Just to ask.

The fancy restaurant knows my phone number. Why not have the owner call me the next day just to ask?

The dentist knows my number. Why not call a week later to see how the cleaning went?

The accountant knows my number. Why not check in to see if the taxes went out the door okay?

Do it in a gentle way, with no strings attached, no additional add-ons. If you really and truly care, why not ask? Not a form, not a survey. Just one caring person, asking. Not that hard, actually.

What is hard is finding people who care but once you do it makes all the difference in the world.

If YOU (the owner, the entrepreneur, the so called visionary) don’t care, how can you expect your employees, associates, or partners to care?

And if you could care less about what you’re doing whether you’re running a business or working for one, it’s time to move on. Life is too short not to care.



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Amazing Life Advice from Warren Buffett

March 3, 2008          Comments (6)

Warren Buffett, the greatest investor of all time, shared his priceless wisdom with Emory’s grad students at a recent Q & A. Although, his investing strategy is amazing I really liked these particular answers a lot.

Buffett:

“I enjoy what I do, I tap dance to work every day. I work with people I love, doing what I love. I spend my time thinking about the future, not the past. The future is exciting. As Bertrand Russell says, “Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get.” I won the ovarian lottery the day I was born and so did all of you. We’re all successful, intelligent, and educated. To focus on what you don’t have is a terrible mistake. With the gifts all of us have, if you are unhappy, it’s your own fault.

I know a woman in her 80’s, a Polish Jew woman forced into a concentration camp with her family but not all of them came out. She says, “I am slow to make friends because when I look at people, I have one question in mind; would they hide me?” If you get to be my age, or younger for that matter, and have a lot of people that would hide you, then you can feel pretty good about how you’ve lived your life.

I know people on the Forbes 400 list whose children would not hide them. “He’s in the attic, he’s in the attic.” The most powerful force in the world is unconditional love. To horde it is a terrible mistake in life. The more you try to give it away, the more you get it back. At an individual level, it’s important to make sure that for the people that count to you, you count to them.

What if you could buy 10% of your classmates and their future earnings? You wouldn’t buy the ones with the highest IQ, the best grades, etc., but you’d buy the ones who are the most effective. You like people who are generous, go out of their way, straight shooters who makes things happen. Now imagine that you could short (this means betting against them) 10% of your classmates. This part is usually more fun as you start looking around the room. You wouldn’t choose the ones with the poorest grades. You’d look for people nobody wants to be around, that are obnoxious, the ones who are all talk.

If you have a 500 HP engine and only get 50 HP out of it, you’ll be beat by someone else that has a 300 HP engine but gets 250 HP output. The difference between potential and output comes from human qualities. You can make a list of the qualities you admire and those you despise. To turn the tables, think, if this is the way I react to the qualities on the list, won’t this be the way the world will react to me? You can learn to turn on those qualities you want and turn off those qualities you wish to avoid.

The best way to get success is to deserve success. I have to look them in the eye and decide whether they love the business or they love the money. It’s fine if they love the money, but they have to love the business more. Why do I come in at 7 every morning, I can’t wait to get to work. It’s because I get to paint my own painting and I like applause.

In my personal life, there are always things I could’ve done differently. But so many good things have happened. It just doesn’t pay to dwell on the bad things. Finding the right spouse is 90% of it. If you have your health and lucky on your spouse; you’re a long way home.

Getting turned down by Harvard Business School was one of the best things that could have happened to me; bad luck can turn out to be good.”

Priceless wisdom, as always.



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