WISDOM – What habits or skills are the more important to live a successful life? Answers from Derek Sivers

This content is from a Tim Ferriss Radio Hour episode dedicated to individuals who achieved outstanding success. This corresponds to the Tim Ferriss Show #325. I highly recommend this podcast which has been an invaluable source of information and inspiration over the years.

As for Derek Sivers, @Sivers on Twitter, he is the founder of CDBaby, and accomplished Ted Speaker and an inspiring author.

Here is what Derek answers to the question: What habits or skills are more important to live a successful life?

1 – Managing your state and your emotional reactions and actions

2 – Knowing what people need in general and what you need in particular

3 – People skills: how to see things from the other’s person point of view and how to communicate from their point of view

4 – The ability to focus, learn, practice and apply what you learn

Discover more from Derek from his Ted Talks on Starting a movement:

WISDOM – Winning the day thanks to morning routines

Human are creatures of habits which means that what defines us is more likely to be what we do everyday than our major life achievements. That also fuels the idea that such achievements may be the result of the tiny steps we are taking each day. That’s the reason why I am so curious about the pattern that govern top performers’ life’s.

The outstanding work done by Tim Ferriss over the years, compiling insights from exemplary individuals life’s provides a bottomless set of data. Indeed, you would need more than 24 hours each day if you were to add everyone’s routines to yours. This post is about the routines that I tried and adopted (or left behind) to build my own set.

#1 – Meditation (10 – 20 min)
Daily morning meditation sets the frame for the day. As explored in a previous post, priming is a fundamental brain mechanism, based on scientific evidence and highlighted by Nobel Prize winer Daniel Kahneman. Human brain works in such a way that its reactions tend to be conditioned by the previous environment and stimulation it received. That means you have a simple tool to “trick” your brain into a positive mindset, simply by starting the day with positive thoughts. You can find detail about meditation practice here, and see how I frame my daily practice.

#2 – Make your bed (1 min)
Leveraging again on priming, a simple achievement paves the way for an achieving mind. I find this also gives a subtle nudge of satisfaction. It is also an action that is totally under your control, wherever you are. I moved in with my girlfriend, this was not always an option for me so I changed the routine to folding a towel to sit for my meditation. In practice this has the same effect.

#3 – Drink (5 min)
I have tried many types of morning drinks, any kind of strong tea, mate, coffee or fruit juice. No matter of what works for you, the hydration reflex helps to condition the body. I also appreciate the physical action of making the drink, starting the day by building up something healthy – I especially appreciate preparing morning drinks for my family members.

#4 – Yoga (10 min to 1 hour)
Whenever possible, I’ll start the day with a yoga session. Squeezing the Yoga session in the morning gives me the feeling of having already “won the day”. More about my yoga practice here.

#5 – Prioritize (5 to 10 minutes)
Once this routine is done, I dedicate a few minutes to set-up tasks and to-do lists for the day. I like to rank the importance of my tasks to ensure I can focus primary on what matters the most.

I try my best to keep my phone in flight mode until this routine is done. I find the feeling very different if for some reason I get to see a bunch of work emails, social media or news notification.

Keeping up with any routine is always difficult and it is normal to miss out on some of them on a regular basis. My best advice is to build up some time in the morning by getting up earlier, this will help you to win the day. Another observation: contrary to what I initially believed, I tend to miss out on my routines on the less busy days such as weekend or holiday, especially for the meditation part.

Let me know the routines that work for you!

WISDOM – Two TED Talks that had a significant influence on me

I am sure you are familiar with TED Talks and you probably saw quite a number already. Today I chose to highlight two talks that had a significant influence on me and that triggered some changes in the way I namely conduct my business.

Both talks help to empower you to do what feels right, for yourself and for others. They helped me to raise my voice, at several occasion, and to reframe the message I wanted to convey, in a way that was more accessible for my audience – in that specific case, colleagues and managers.

The first one is dedicated to the ability to speak up. Also I am a naturally outgoing person, I used to feel some difficulty to voice things that were directly concerning me as an individual. This talk helped me to build a frame to simplify the process and build up the message that is both authentic and efficient.

The second one tackles the question of your work’s value. That’s indeed a key question, regardless of your job and your industry. Thanks to this talk I was able to identify that I was contributing personally much more to the development of my business activity compared to what I traditionally imagined. By refraining this value, it unlock healthy discussions with my managers and open the way to some carrier progression.

I leave you with the two talks, please share you feedbacks in the comments or directly on Twitter!

How to speak up for yourself by Adam Galinsky

Know your worth, and then ask for it by Casey Brown

WISDOM – Keeping up with Asia news flow

Be it for personal interest, business or investment, Asia remains an important attention point for me. Yet, most traditional media tend to overlook or simplify their Asian coverage. To get into the bottom of the matter, it’s important to consider specific publications.

If you will want to stick to global media brand, I recommend you go through the Asia and China pages of the weekly The Economist. That shall enable you to stay on top of the news flow.

Another weekly, this one dedicated to Asia, has my preference: Nikkei Asian Review. This offers a pan-apac coverage for business and financial topics.

To deepen the understanding, I would recommend The Diplomat, a monthly geopolitical publication dedicated to Asia.

WISDOM – Learning Chinese, materials

***🚧work in progress🚧***

Learning Mandarin Chinese has been a journey since Business School days. Least is to say that my study has been irregular but it gave me the opportunity to try a bit of every possible method! In this post I will propose some tips, based on my own experience to make the learning journey more enjoyable.

Apps

Apps are an efficient way to get a daily Chinese practice. Although you may not achieve fluency by only relying on such medium, it will contribute to memorisation and to increase your vocabulary. Given these two aspects are fondamental roots of language learning, I strongly recommend you include the App in your Chinese toolbox. My preference goes for Duolinguo.

Podcasts

I like to use podcasts to practice languages hence I have looked for useful ones when it comes to Chinese

  • Talk Chineasy is my favorite one. This daily podcast helps to learn new vocabulary. The format is very short and it work by idea association, linking the works you are learning to some of the participants personal stories. This facilitates memorization.
  • Coffee Break Chinese is a very well build ressource. It’s based on dialogues in basic situations. It’s actually much more demanding than the previous one but will do the work if you are serious about learning actual Chinese conversations

Flash cards

This is my go-to language practice.

HEALTH & WISDOM – Yoga

I started yoga a few years ago thanks to a friend who practiced yoga as part of his overall fitness activity (focusing primarily on CrossFit). Given my natural restlessness and lack of physical flexibility, yoga seemed an interesting skill. I decided to embark on a “fast-track” by taking 10 hours of private coaching with my friend’s teacher. I quickly arrived to the conclusion that this practice was probably much more demanding than any of the physical practices I was already involved in (boxing, cycling, running…) but also that it would require much more than 10 hours to get to understand the basics. Hundreds of hours and few year later, I am still on the journey.

This post is about thoughts, readings or references that help(ed) me in my practice. Please feel free to share any reference in the comments.

Main practice: Iyengar and Hatha

Occasional practice: Vinyasa

Where to start?

If you can afford it, I strongly recommend you start your yoga journey with some small group coaching, ideally 1-1. This will help you to get the basics right and profit solid ground for your future practice.

Which type of yoga shall I start with?

My opinion is to start with a non-dynamic practice so you can focus on learning the poses (called asanas). This means I would favour Hatha to Vinyasa, until you feel comfortable with the basic sequences.

Can I practice on my own?

Indeed you can practice on your own anytime, anywhere, as soon as you feel comfortable with basic sequences such as sun salutation. You may want to get yourself some good yoga mats and props, see some suggestions here.

What Yoga brings to me?

Yoga helps me to bring stillness to my days. It enables me to pause the flow of thoughts and focus on present.

Yoga helps me to connect with my breath.

Yoga helps me to lengthen my body, increasing flexibility and comfort in movements.

Guidance from teachers that I pounder

  • Broaden the back of your knees
  • Relax your eyes
  • Go beyond your mind (your body is capable of more than what your mind can believe, don’t let this refrain you)
  • Spread your palm, all the palm shall be touching the floor

Notes – mat wisdom

In warrior 2, push the inside of the front foot and the outside of the back foot. That will help to maintain the full contact of the sole and increase grounding.

No meal in the four hours preceding the practice. No fruits or small bites in the two hours preceding the practice.

Scheduling appointment right after the yoga practice disrupt the practice itself as the brain is disturbed by the next appointment. Better a shorter practice to allow transition time between practice and next activity.

References

B. K. S. Iyengar, Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health, 2001

WISDOM – Business bookworm top tips

Countless people want to read more or to get back to reading yet it can be a difficult process. Here are some tips that help me to stay on track with my reading appetite for non-fiction books.

#1 – Know your classics

The more you read, the more you realize that business books tend to build on top of each other. It does make sense, as, in every discipline, people tend to drill down on the experience they gathered. As global knowledge progresses, people tend to absorb extra new knowledge and then to experience on the back of such knowledge. More recent books consequently tend to focus on most recent knowledge addition, on a specific topic. This indeed applies to business books.

Although I don’t recommend for the benefit of time that you read every single book in a chronological order, I would advice to follow two simple rules: build first overall knowledge in the discipline, second read the milestone publications. After these two steps, you shall be ready for the more recent specific books. Let’s say you wish to build up your marketing skills; instead of going straight to the latest digital marketing book, I would advice to spend time to read a couple of general marketing books and a handful of milestone more specific books (already recognized as of major influence) before you consider anything else. This process will help you to make the most of the new and specialized book, as you would already have significant background on that discipline.

#2 – Keep reading lists

Either a Favorite-Read, a To-Read or any kind of topic orientated list will do. Such list, first, gives a sense of achievement, also it helps you to pause and reflect on your reading and learning journey. Given the brain relies heavily on idea association, seeing the book names together facilitates memorization of key concept and cross-checking of learnings. I also use reading lists to answer the recurring question: “what do you think I shall read?” or “where shall I start?”.

My personal reading lists have now been shared across thousands of curious readers, namely thanks to social networks. I am personally a fan of Kit.com that offers an intuitive and attractive interface to store your reading lists. Sharing my reading lists also helped me to gather new reading suggestions.

#3 – Take notes

Although it slows down your reading journey, I encourage that you take notes while reading non-fiction books. This contributes to idea generation, reflection and memorization. It also saves a lot of time when you are trying to get back to a concept you encountered. I usually take notes both directly on the books and on notepads (or iPad) depending of the use I have in mind. I encourage you to write directly on the books the initial thoughts arising while reading. It’s been of invaluable use for me, namely writing down real business situations that could be relevant to the concept I was reading, then I can carry on the reading and come back later to reflect on this experience.

#4 – Talk about your readings

I used to remain discret about my non-fiction reads. I had the idea that most people are not interested in such topic and have only remote interest for any kind of business related pages you read last night. Yet, I started to realize that as people would see me carrying books that tend to ask questions about the book itself or my reading habits. This is powerful ice-breaker, including in business situations and made me realize that there are much more readers around me that I imagined. Talking about my readings also helps me to practice my summary and synthesis skills. I also tend to get challenged on the concepts from the books – while I would sometimes simply accept the books as wisdom raw material – which contributes to build up my personal thinking. Finally, I got fantastic book recommandations from very experienced readers by the simple fact of talking about books.

#5 – Gift books

One of the reasons I write is to express the need to share this wisdom with my friends. Regularly I experience during my reading the urge to share a great piece of knowledge because I genuinely believe it could help the people I deeply care about. Yet, life teaches us that unsolicited advice is usually detrimental to both the adviser and the advisee. To bridge this gap, I started to buy several copies of the books I really consider useful for me, and regularly gift them to my friends, business relationships or people who helped me. Not only the action of giving a book tends to be regarded as a very generous gesture – as you not only provide an item but also the wealth of the content – it nudges the receiver of the gift to pay attention and maybe prioritize this book. For instance, when my girlfriend gift me books, I will tend no only to try to read it soon (to show gratitude) but I tend to pay extra care as someone I care about and that knows me considered it was worth my time and effort.

I hope you enjoyed this short pieces of advice!

#keepreading & #keeplearning

WISDOM – Exploring the power of Priming

[work in progress]

I believe my first encounter with the concept of Priming was thanks to Tony Robbins’ interviews by Tim Ferris, but it’s thanks to Nobel prize Daniel Kahneman* that I began to use this almost daily.

What is priming?

Priming consists in orientating the brain thinking thanks to hints, actions or associated images. In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman offers the analysis of an experience. Participants are made either smile or frown and then asked to rate the humour of a cartoon. People who were made smiling rate on average the cartoon funnier. What does this mean practically? That putting a physical smile on your face will get you more sensitive to identifying humour.

How is priming used nowadays?

Priming is studied a actively since the 1980s and has since been adopted by countless brands for their commercials. Subliminal images projections (projecting images for a very short period of time – ie long enough for the brain to perceive it but actually to little to really see it) has found its way.

How you can use priming?

I use priming to settle into specific mindsets. For instance, pausing and experiment gratefulness in the morning (something you can borrow from coach Tony Robbins) helps you to feel more grateful along your day. Thinking about your past successes (or surrounding you with an environment that speaks of quality) helps to increase your focus and boosts your creativity.

This gives credit to the old “fake it till you make it”. By stepping your mind into the “achievement mindset” you can visualize success and work toward it. That also helps you to raise potential benchmarks (I will publish a post dedicated to benchmark setting based on a workshop I attended).

Mediation and prayers can be studied as an act of priming as they contribute to put the participant into a specific mindset.

References

Tim Ferris, The Tim Ferriss show,

* Kahneman D, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Chapter 4 – The Associative Machine