What I Learned In The 'Art of Learning' (Josh Waitzkin)

Place: Geneva, Switzerland (I wrote half of this on the train to Chambery, France)

I thought I was finished school. I had finished 'textbook' learning and in classroom teaching. This is because I took on a different approach to learning- one described clearly through the 'Art of Learning' by Josh Waitzkin.

The vast majority of 'motivated' people, young and old, make terrible mistakes in their approach to learning. They fall frustrated by the wayside while those on the road to success keep steady on their paths. The key to pursuing excellence is to embrace an organic, long term learning process and not to live in a shell of static safe mediocrity.- Pg. 29, Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning

Josh Waitzkin knows what it means to be at the top of his game with winning his first National Chess Championship at the age of nine, then earning the World Championship for the martial art Tai Chi Chuan.

How was he able to reach excellence in two disciplines that on the surface seem so different? "I've come to realize that what I am best at is not Tai Chi, and it is not chess," he says. "What I am best at is the art of learning."

First, what is the difference that allows some to fit into that narrow window to the top? And second, what is the point? This is the essence of the book- to understand how to succeed in pursuing excellence in whatever field you choose- even if these fields or disciplines are vastly different.

Ever since I was 16, I created my own learning- learning from the people I met and outside the classroom. While most people saw that I was frivolously going from one place to another and not ready to stay put, they only saw that I traveled EVERYWHERE.

In reality, long term travel has nothing to do with demographics- age, ideology, income and everything to do with personal outlook. Long term travel isn't about being a college student- it's about being a student in daily life. Long-term travel isn't an act of rebellion against society- it's an act of common sense within society.- Tim Ferriss, Author of the Tools of Titans

What does it take to be a student in daily life?

It is one that starts always with a 'beginner's mind.' In this way, there is always more to learn and grow in whichever discipline you choose.

Whenever I took off to 'travel,' others saw that it was 'vacation,' however I saw it as continuing my learning outside the classroom. This is not done only when I went to a new place or revisit an old, however it is the practice everyday to learn and connect with people.

I was shy and serious. I made many many mistakes and I still do, however I start conversations anywhere I want. They start because I see it as my lifelong learning. It is for the love of the 'game.'

What happens when setbacks are inevitable and 'mistakes' occur?

This was not described in the book, however in the interview with Tim Ferriss, Josh described a concept called 'lateral thinking.'

Lateral thinking: the ability to take one lesson from one thing and transfer it to another.

1. What is one lesson you have learned recently from your discipline that you can transfer to another?

This is because learning from a lesson rather than seeing setbacks as a failure allows you to focus on growth and learning rather than a setback and failure. Losers think of 'failure,' while winners think of a lesson learned and a test or an experiment. Losers think about stopping or giving up, while winners think about their love for the game and learning from their experiment.

This is described thoughtfully clear in this question:

2. How can you balance long-term process with short-term goals and inevitable setbacks?  (Pg. 45)

While so many people will see the pursuit of long term goals and short-term process, what if they were reversed: long-term process and short-term goals.

I do this every morning writing down clearly what do I want to make happen today- at least 3-5 things that will make my day great. They almost always include connecting with someone and challenging myself to learn something new.

With every setback and lesson learned, growth can happen. 

Growth comes at the point of resistance. We learn by pushing ourselves and finding what really lies at the outer reaches of our abilities. My instinct is always to seek out challenges as opposed to avoiding them. If I want to be the best, I have to take risks others would avoid, always optimizing the learning potential of the moment and turning adversity to my advantage.'- Pg. 47

3. When do you need to cultivate empty space for the learning process?

Interestingly enough, Josh has no social media avoids all interviews, meetings and phone calls. This is pretty impressive however it makes me think about how to eliminate distractions when I need to get things done. Every morning I set time to read and write on my own which gives me a fresh start in the morning to think and learn. 

When you approach your learning with a beginner's mind, you tap into the process of learning without seeing 'failure' as a setback however it is a journey of life long learning. 

Be great,


P.S. Long term travel doesn't require a massive bundle of cash; it requires only that we walk through the world in a deliberate way.- Tim Ferriss


How to Influence in 30 Seconds Even If You Are Super Shy (Robert Cialdini)

Place: Milan, Italy* (I'm going to include places now, since this adds a personal touch to my writing) 

Whatever you are doing right now in any situation, influence is present even if you don't recognize it.

The places you go, the things you buy and wherever your attention is focused, you are being influenced and vice versa.

Understanding how influence works and using your influence will only help you connect with others better in any scenario especially in your work and relationships. You want to listen closely as you'll know how to apply these principles today....or if you are like me (which I think so if you are reading this), you'll start NOW. 

This is all contained in a book called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and a book I haven't yet read however on the list by Bushra Azhar (Mass Persuasion Method). 

If I could tell my children to read one chapter of this book, it would be this chapter.- James Altucher, Author of Reinvent Yourself

I have heard from countless authors including James who have recommended this book and then I finally had the chance to read it and it's definitely going to be a book that I go back to time and time again.

Ever since reading this book 'Influence: The Psychology of Influence' I've applied the 6 principles and pay close attention to the exact language that is used. I've tested these myself in countless situations and shared them with others so I know it works. Listen first to Robert Cialdini's Principles of Influence:

1) Reciprocity: give first and then almost always someone else wants to give you something in return. Using this technique helps connect with people instantly especially when you travel

  • Compliments: you can always give compliments however it must be genuine. "You're great! .....I like the way you think..." (While in Milan, I got my cafe paid for by the owner). 'Wow, everyone must LOVE you...'

2) Likability: what most people don't know about you, do tell. "I usually don't share this, but I can trust you...I... (insert something about you that most people don't know)

3) Commitment and Consistency: this one was written to me in an email from someone working in one of the top sites for personal development and entrepreneurship. "I'll owe you one." This was written near the end of the email. He asked for a favour, then included 'I'll owe you one.' We want to do something for others especially when it can benefit us in the future (this is not a trick, it's human nature, we want to be LIKED). 

4) Social Proof: we follow what others do even though we want to be unique and stand out. "I know someone who's doing what you're doing and getting.... [insert result]" 

5) Authority: this is obvious, your doctors tells you you are going to...[have X problem], you listen. 'What has your ['insert professional or authority figure'] said...?'

6) Scarcity: again, this is obvious. You react when there is a limited offer- something is valuable and precious... "I can't make time for everyone, but for you..."

OK, you know a few of my secret tactics connecting with people instantly, whether you use them today or a year from now, tell me which principle you tried because I won't keep this post available for long. 

Be  great,



The Message A Year Later

It was a year ago from today that I woke up and didn't HAVE to be working on someone else's time. This sounds like the moment when someone retires from work usually on average at the age of 65, yet I was four decades short of that age. 

I was 25. 

I left giving a month's notice since I cared about my work and the people I worked with. I had done what I could to grow and contribute to my team and the organization. I had calculated my leave that for every dollar I spent, I was bringing in 140%. It wasn't part of my job description to 'save' money, however I did this on my own initiative. When you want to be valuable in your work, you need to be a 'linchpin' (more about this next week). 

Before I left, I had attempted several times to find other positions that I could continue to grow and develop however I wasn't 'fit' (the roles were either closed or filled by someone else). 

This made it easier to leave so here was how I was calculating my leave. You can consider writing down answers to these questions if you are thinking and having the slightest itch of 'leaving,' taking a break or even making a change.

1) Risk: it would be a 'great' risk' but I was taking this risk with minimal cost. The question of 'What's the worst case scenario?'

-I would use my savings. I would go and return to my 9 to 5. That seemed doable. Write down the worst case scenario of what you want to do because most of the time it won't seem as bad as you think. 

2) Gap: What would my next 'employer' think when they see a GAP in my resume? This seemed like something I need to consider then quickly answered it with my next question:

What is the worst that can happen?

This morning I read the same question from Kevin Kelly's interview with Tim Ferriss from one of my favourite books: The Tools of Titans.

He says brilliantly: "one of the many life skills you want to learn at a fairly young age is the skill of being an ultra-thrifty, minimal kind of little wisp that's traveling through time...in the sense of learning how little you actually need to live, not just in a survival mode, but in a contented mode...that gives you the confidence to take a risk, because you say..."

What is the worst that can happen?

"Many many people are working very hard, trying to save their money to retire so they can travel. Well I decided to flip it around and travel when I was really young, when I had zero money. And I had experiences that, basically even a billion dollars couldn't have bought."

Can you flip the deferred life plan and make it work?

You can start listing the experiences and the goals you want to accomplish that a billion dollars couldn't buy.

This would be mitigating the risk of the 'UNBEARABLE' gap in your resume. I cannot believe this thought actually crossed my mind. Before you start writing all the experiences, you will face no shortage of comments from others. This was my own experience, when I decided a year ago for a change. 

"What are you doing?"

"It seems like you have 'retired'"

Then on the extremely positive side...

"I wish I traveled more when I was young..."

"I would be doing what you are doing right now..."

"Wow, you're amazing..."

Most of these comments came from people nearing their 'retirement' age those who were close to facing that time where they are thinking 'What am I doing next?'

I didn't make this change to travel, I made this change to focus my time, energy and resources on projects and people that mattered to me most- those experiences that even a billion dollars cannot buy. At the same time, I did have the chance to experience life in several different places in Brazil, U.S. and now in Europe. 

When you don't wake up excited about what you are doing today, then it's time to check in and ask those questions. 

Be great,


P.S. So, where will you be a year from now? What will you be doing next?


How to Always Get Things Done Even If You Procrastinate?

"I finally get to sleep in..."

Yes, you worked all week really hard and Saturday is for...

"I just want to relax..."

Again, the workweek was stressful and there were some people who were really hard to deal with...

Does this sound familiar?

I get it. The weekends seem like a time to recuperate and finally have time to be 'alone' and maybe see a friend or two. 

I asked several of you for questions to write about and to figure out what you have been thinking about lately...this is what I got:

1) How to motivate yourself to get things done?

Motivation is not enough because if it was then everybody would be able to do what they set out to do (but this isn't the case). I'll share what can work better than motivation. 

2) How did you start this (healthy lifestyle)?

Most of the people I notice will do something about their health once they get a check up at the doctor or look in their closet for clothes to wear. Both of these situations demonstrate how most of us are much better at reacting to something rather than thinking ahead (being proactive). 

Health is often left to the end of our list of 'to-dos.' Sleep, water, fresh foods and being active are the basics. I'll share what can work because I used to 'exercise' and now don't use that word. 

3) How do you ensure safety in your (anyone's) work place?

SAFETY: a word that is being redefined every day. You'll get a grasp by the end. 

All these questions point to what Steven Pressfield's The War of Art has to say in his list of 'Resistance's Greatest Hits.' This is brief, however check beside any one of these activities that seem important to you that you've experienced a sense of 'resistance.' 

Resistance manifests in what most people will call 'procrastination.' 

"I don't know what's wrong with me? Why can't I get myself to do this..."

"I'm going to do that someday."

"I can't seem to decide. I'm just so indecisive..."

You can read over the list of activities that you want to do, however 'resistance' takes over.

1) The Artist: pursuing any form of art (writing, music, film, dance, etc)

2) The Entrepreneur: launching a business

3) Health: having a healthy lifestyle and eliminating destructive habits

4) Spiritual Development: understanding and developing your beliefs, values and identity

5) Education: your personal development and growth

6) Change: a decision to improve your quality of life- change destructive thought patterns and behaviours

7) Contribution: your decision to start something that aims to help others.

8) Conviction: standing up for what you believe in (despite the face of adversity). 

One of the most important lessons I've learned from this year is that the difference between succeeding and not, starting and not and finishing and not is what I think about fear.

When you are thinking about 'Is she/he ahead of me?' 'Can I make it?' 'What if I can't...?' the focus and attention is on you: you 'might' fail, you won't succeed or you can't do it...

Question: What would happen when 'failure' is not an option?

This is the reason you must define your own success, motivation is what most people measure to succeed, however what is necessary is finding ways to 'test' and 'experiment' rather than failing or not succeeding. 

Question: What would you say to yourself when you are [Insert your age +10 years older]? 

This answer is really hard to digest because it is so easy to give others advice, however it is much more difficult to take our own advice that we know is good for us. I would say to myself that everything doesn't have to happen within a certain time. 

Stay patient and believe that everything is already happening for you rather than to you. Your actions are a test/ experiment because your focus is not in the short-term, however it is the long-term process of improving and getting important things done.

To someone who wants to lose weight and get healthy because they 'know' it is good for them, someone who wants to start something or make a change in their career/ business.

You can answer the two questions above because then you don't need 'motivation' like everyone else, you don't need to make everything happen within a certain time, you are already moving forward and adjusting your strategy when you don't get the results you want.

[Insert Your Name], be patient and move forward because everything is already happening FOR you. I write things out multiple times to make it STICK. I'm super stubborn most of the time. 

Be great,


P.S. Here's the practical side of getting over procrastination by Tim Ferriss

What I Learned About Imagination (Bob Proctor)

I was a painter and I remember painting and recreating Van Gogh's famous Notte Stellata painting. I looked at the original and copied quadrant after quadrant each part of the painting. Then I stopped painting after a few years of taking lessons mainly because being in 'math and science'- you could 'make a living.' I see this everywhere around me.

Many people who leave their art, their great ideas and their dreams to 'make a living.' Now I do believe in artists. 

This is what Van Gogh said when someone asked him about his beautiful work. He imagines first the painting he wants to create.

"I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream."- Van Gogh

I recently interviewed an artist named Irene Hung. She has many many pieces stored up that she has created. She wants to share them with others however hasn't done so. During the interview, she shared with me a goal we decided on together. She suggested a higher number of artworks to sell than I did which was amazing.

You can use your imagination like Van Gogh did and think about what can happen- what do you want to SEE happen?

This was the question I asked her. I think this was the same question I asked myself when I was shy. I didn't want others to see me 'shy' and 'serious' because this was not who I wanted to be for others. This is when I practiced time and time again to communicate better and really 'LISTEN' well to others. I saw myself being able to connect with others especially when I traveled anywhere- whether it was close or far. 

This is one of the most important ideas I learned about using my imagination because it is the greatest mental tool we can use. Every single person who creates something for themselves or others uses their imagination. 

"Understand that images are mental pictures that are made from thoughts and the magnificence of the mind lies in the fact that it can 'think.' That is to say, it can tap into thought and create whatever image it chooses."- Bob Proctor

This may seem absurd at first however I always share this with others. When I hear others tell me they can't do X, they can't do Y, I understand them. It is because they are looking in the past and seeing their past results. They are using their memory rather than 'imagination.'

What do you want to see happen?

This is what Van Gogh thinks before he creates his artwork. This is what an Olympic athlete asks before they reach the podium. There is without a doubt that a gold medalist SEES it happen before it actually does happen. 

This is because when you can see something happen, you can believe it. When you believe in what you imagine to happen, then you have an unlimited ability to create anything. It might take a few weeks, months or decades however you must imagine and see it before it happens. 

This is the reason I believe imagination is one of the most powerful abilities anyone has from Van Gogh to any artist including the one I met and to YOU. 

Be exceptional,



How to Travel The World: 6 Secrets To Do More With Less.

"If you sincerely desire to receive something which is new, you must first make room for it by ridding yourself of that which is old. This is an ironclad law of life, and yet, you might encounter one person in a thousand who truly understands it."- Bob Proctor

Whenever you ask someone what they wish they could do more of, more often than not, I hear them tell me 'I want to travel..." but I can't because...X..Y..Z.

They don't have time. 

They don't have enough vacation days.

They have lots of 'responsibilities.'

When I sat across the table with someone who had been working at a company for more than two decades, he told me: 'I'm waiting for my pension and I want to do what you are doing.'

Get up, travel somewhere...

I was still happy for him and it made me think of what I can share with many many people who want to travel however they have many many reasons that doesn't make it possible.

Do you want to do the same? Have you thought of traveling the world?

Then he went on to tell me all the reasons why it is hard, why he can't and why he's going to take a two week vacation (because that's what he can do...).

If you have a pen and paper- write this down: Traveling somewhere new (close or far) does not depend on any resources, it must first start from your DESIRE

If you are asking yourself 'How?' then you make it harder than it needs to be. You must start with...'I want to... because...'

If you sincerely desire to receive something which is new, you must first make room for it by ridding yourself of that which is old.

First, what has been taking up space in your mind, your space and the environment around you? This is why I ensure that my bed and my space is organized whenever I leave. I often give away the 'extra' stuff I have which is probably one of the best mental exercises to do (i.e. every season/ 3 months). 

I really do believe that the more you give, the more you will inevitably have. First, you DESIRE to go somewhere or travel abroad. Then, you EXPECT it to happen.

First of all, I've traveled to more than 30 countries visiting Italy a few times and Brazil twice. In the past decade, I've taken a gap year and spent a year abroad in Europe. I've studied in the Middle East for a month. When I was 18 years old, I saved up enough money that I traveled back to Hong Kong (where I was born) and Australia (longest trip from Canada). When I only had 'two' weeks of vacation with a full-time job, I traveled across Central America. 

The following year I had 3 weeks vacation, I managed to 'travel' outside of Toronto (where I currently live) for 20% of the year (including Rome for a weekend- it was a wedding!). To date, I was calculating the number of flights I've taken in the past 8 years and it totals more than 60 flights. 

I'll share with you HOW. 

I do not travel for a living, however I really believe that travel is a way of living. What I can share is that you really can do so much MORE with LESS. 

1) Bring Carry-On Luggage: I remember the first time I traveled and brought checked in luggage. Now I travel light (even up to 6 weeks) with only a carry-on and a backpack. I went to Central America and USA (Winter and Summer Season) with the same amount. It saves the hassle of losing your luggage and also waiting to pick up your luggage. ProTip: I can pack ALL the clothes I own in 1 luggage)

2) Travel with AirBnB: I've been a SuperHost (you have to host a certain number of guests within a period of time receiving great reviews) and whenever I travel for an extended period of time, I love AirBnB. There is so much variety of places you can stay in, it's absolutely amazing. ProTip: Use 'Redo Search multiple times to search the best option' and also find out where are the cool neighbourhoods to stay in where locals live. AirBnB offers in-depth guides of places to visit and see recommended by locals. 

3) Meet Locals: whether you are taking an Uber to your next destination or sitting on a train to your next city, you have the best opportunity when you travel to meet someone new. Whatever the occasion you have in front of you, the more and more you are IN THE MOMENT and really present with the person in front of you the easier it becomes. (i.e. I sometimes go as bold as to ask them a few questions and when I feel even more courageous ask them if they want to be interviewed. I usually get a YES). 

It melted my heart when I received this message from a reader: 

"...because of what you said 'It's the person next to us we can love" 

The more you can connect, the easier it becomes to help, care and even LOVE the person in front of you. 

I shared about how I do this through the 6 proven scripts to talk with strangers and how to master small talk with anyone. 

4) Bring Gifts: I usually pack part of my luggage with gifts including thank you cards (not always 'new' things, but they can be things you value and want to share with others you meet). This is a great way to connect with someone and completely make their day. (i.e. I brought some Tim Hortons Coffee which is a popular brand of coffee in Canada). 

5) Pack Snacks: I think this has served me well especially when your travel might take longer than expected. You can also share this with others you meet. (i.e. my fav snacks: protein bars, mixed nuts, coconut chips, etc.). This especially helps when you are on a long train/ bus ride and the food options are limited. 

6) Make Friends: I love traveling on my own however when I get into a city, I usually can call up someone I know or ask someone I know to connect me with someone they know. This is no doubt one of the only ways I can travel for much longer than most people. The difference between having a friend in a city and not is a completely different experience. You get to see firsthand the day to day in a city. You get to understand the cultural expressions and ways of thinking that make that city or place unique. ProTip: I've used Meetup.com to connect with locals in the city and make friends through the events that interest me. 

Whether you are going for 2 weeks, 3 weeks or a few months at a time, I cannot share with others enough that it is first the DESIRE and then the EXPECTATION. You can make it happen by only these two words.

I have known friends and people who have all the time to go however they don't. One friend I know was devastated by the Typhoon Haiyan, left his home and was able to travel to multiple countries in a year. Most of the people I know have a certain amount of vacation time and I get it. I made everything work even when I had only 2 weeks of vacation and 3 weeks of vacation. 

Remember when you want to make room for a 'new' idea, you must let go of the old. Let go means to make space in your mind and in the environment around you. This may mean a new place to live, new friends to connect with or a new cafe to go to. 

Also, whenever I cannot travel physically to a place, I start reading books. They allow me to find new ideas and places to explore and imagine. 

Now starting today, I'm in Europe for 6 weeks. More stories and projects to share...

Be exceptional,


P.S. For more ProTips: Recently, I found this incredible article written by Nora Dunn who does travel for a living (with countless helpful websites and resources). 



What I Learned About 'Productivity' (Tim Ferriss)

"Most superheroes are nothing of the sort. They're weird, neurotic creatures who do big things DESPITE lots of self-defeating habits and self talk."- Tim Ferriss

He's a 'GENIUS' my friend told me. I had to think about that for a minute because I didn't completely agree. I saw her point but I thought a little differently. She was referring to Elon Musk. I get it. There's no doubt that someone who asks himself: 'What is important for humanity's future?' can easily be regarded as a 'genius.'

I notice how often many people regard certain individuals as the 'genius' and say 'I'm not like them' or 'that's not me.'

You look at the people you admire, the leaders, the artists and those that left a legacy and made a small dent in whatever shape or form. You call 'them' a genius and look at yourself as 'average' or 'normal.'

So, what makes 'them' the 'genius'?

"Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers."- Pierre Marc Gaston

I do not think you can 'judge' a person however if you were to instead learn from someone- look for the questions they ask. 

One of my favourite books right now is 'Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World Class Performers' by Tim Ferriss. He has interviewed and asked questions to countless guests on his show: The Tim Ferriss Show and now has written a book to compile the best of the interviews.

I've learned more than a dozen things but whenever I read a book I look for two things: the questions that are asked and new ideas.

One of the questions that can be applied TODAY to learn from those 'superheroes' and those 'genius' is to ask yourself better questions. When it comes to getting things done especially important things done, Tim Ferriss has only several questions:

1) 'If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?'

2) 'Will moving this forward make all the other to-dos unimportant or easier to knock off later?'

3) 'What, if done, will make all the rest easier or irrelevant?'

That's all you need to do- focus on a crucially important action item and get ONE thing done. Then block out time in your schedule to work for about 2 hours. I like to break up the 2 hour block using the 'Pomodoro App' which allows you to focus for 25 minutes with a 5 minute break. 

During this time, you must not get distracted by other people and things. How I accomplish this is when new ideas come to my mind, I have a notebook beside me and write these things down so I stay focused on doing the ONE thing.

Understanding 'WHAT' needs to be done rather than 'HOW' it needs to be done is what differentiates the 'genius' from the rest. They choose what needs to get done and figure out how as they start to work towards each action. Many people get bogged down because they don't know HOW to get something done. You can decide 'WHAT' and then move to 'HOW.'

"The superheroes you have in your mind (idols, icons, titans, billionaires, etc) are nearly all walking flaws who've maximized 1 or 2 strengths. Humans are imperfect creatures. You don't 'succeed' because you have no weaknesses; you succeed because you find your unique strengths and focus on developing habits around them."- Tim Ferriss.

Tim Ferriss writes this as someone who has faced depression and admits he nearly killed himself and now millions of listeners and readers regard him as the 'superhero.' I believe that in each person lies the 'genius' and the 'superhero.' It's only a matter of whether you believe it or not.

Be exceptional,


How to Master Small Talk Anywhere You Go.

Small talk is something you can improve. Remember that most people dislike it however the ones that master this skill know how to connect with anyone. 

Does this cross your mind?

  • I hate small talk, I'm not good at it and it usually dies out very quickly and leaves an awkward silence in the air. 
  • I'm bad at small talk. The conversation begins and ends with my introduction.
  • My problem is that I'm an introvert and small talk or non meaningful conversations drain me.

I hear this too: Why can't I make friends?

I used to think that too. I hated small talk and still dislike it but I learned to get better at it because then you can connect with anyone you want. I used to be shy too. I used to care a lot about what others think. Every time I do, I remind myself that most people are too busy with their own lives which is really true. 

Today I write to help those like me- people who hate small talk but know you need to get better at it. It really is the fear of thinking 'How do I say what I really want to say without sounding...X (stupid, dumb...)'

Small talk is something that most people 'resist.' What does this mean? I love Steven Pressfield's The War of Art's explanation:

"Resistance has no strength of its own. Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us. We feed it with power by our fear of it. Master that fear and we conquer Resistance."

The first thought is to conquer this fear is simply to start 'being curious or being interested' in the other person. When you are curious, you stop focusing on yourself and what you are going to say and direct that attention to the other person. 

So, how do you start the conversation?

Here's three ways you can practice starting a conversation with anyone:

  • I don't think we've met. I'm Donata.
  • Hey, how's your morning/day been? 
  • Hi, how's it going?

It's kinda boring to ask this, but the point is to start the conversation. There are countless people we see everyday that we could talk to but don't know where to start. These are three simple ways to do so. I use them to start a conversation because the 'Hi, how are you?' is what MOST people start with. 

There are several ways you can practice this starting today or tomorrow. Every morning, think about all the people you pass by and the places you stop at.

There's possibly the security guard, the barista, the cashier, the people waiting for the elevator, etc...When you start in the places you frequent most and start a conversation with someone new, then it becomes a lot easier in other environments where it might be a little more challenging like at work with your 'new colleague' or at a conference.

Again, I have others ask me how do I make small talk (even though I dislike it). I know that it works. It is how you start to meet people naturally and effortlessly. It is how you then build a rapport. It is how you turn any conversation into something memorable and lasting.

At the end of the day, we need connection with others. It is a part of who we are. Our world will change when we connect with others even those who we don't know. 

You won't know who you can meet until you start. Get instant access to more ways and word for word scripts to talk with anyone at the very bottom. 

Be exceptional,


What I Learned in Building Your Business (Ramit Sethi)

What will happen a year from now? or One year from now where will you be?

This question stuck out to me after finishing the book Your Move: The Underdog's Guide to Building Your Business by Ramit Sethi

I asked myself that question and it changed everything. This was when I decided to take a leap and change things up for my career. You can ask this for anything- your health, relationships, career or business. 

Ramit Sethi grew his college blog into a business called 'I Will Teach You To Be Rich' to a massive online readership. He shares that the biggest lesson he learned was to get comfortable with discomfort. 

With this in mind, it took me probably 2 months before I got my first customer when I launched my site. Then a few weeks later, I took the site down (www.donataling.com) and now starting over again. It is definitely uncomfortable. It is the process of learning from mistakes and persisting again and again until you overcome your own doubts and fear of failing. You start believing because once you can have 1 client then you can have another, then another...

Again, what will happen a year from now?

This question challenges you to see whether or not you are improving and growing in the way you want. I had to decide for myself. I was not happy with my progress and how much I had improved. I wanted to learn more because learning more meant more value. When I can provide more value, that means I can give and contribute more. This means more TIME. 

The first 8 months of building my business is learning to consistently master my inner psychology. Ramit Sethi provides a great example of this when he differentiates between top performers at the highest levels. 

What's the difference between those at the very top? Their psychology: their mindset and basically the WAY THEY THINK. 

The most important to being a top performer or to train the way Olympians do is to learn to consistently grow and improve. 

I remembered the pivotal moment in my life when I stopped comparing myself to others (especially my peers and those around me). There's no doubt that I do this time to time but it doesn't bother me anymore. I knew that there will always be someone better than me so why bother comparing myself. I needed to focus on improving and growing so that I could be better. 

When I look for examples to learn from, I focus on those who are 10X and 100X further along. I learn from them. I read books about them. I have conversations with them. This is what I have spent most of my time doing. 

The hardest part again is facing my own doubts that it isn't working the way I want or I am not getting the results I want. Then I go back to step 1. 

Step 1: Focus on improving yourself and no one else because there will always be someone to compare to- someone 'better,' someone more successful, someone smarter, someone more attractive.

Step 2: Ask yourself: A year from now, where will you be?

Then you realize that you cannot do things alone. This is how I started to look for mentors. When I shared with someone that my 'mentor' helped me, I often hear: 'How can I get a mentor?' 

What Ramit has confirmed in his book is probably one of the most important secrets to building a business: HAVE MENTORS. This applies not only to business and career but also other areas of your life. 

Before you start thinking about mentors, remember this:

"Mentorship relationships happen naturally. The best ones aren't transactional. You're not keeping score. You want to reach out to someone and develop rapport. And over time, you can begin to see that person as a mentor."- Ramit Sethi

I had a pretty comfortable life. I was fortunate enough to have paid off all my school debt a few months after I got a job. The year before I started on building a business, I traveled all the time (20% of the year). I even went to Rome for a wedding over the weekend. It was easy. I knew that I needed a challenge. 

Where will you be a year from now? 

You can remind yourself of step 1.

Be great,


P.S. For more from Ramit Sethi, check out his blog that he turned into a multi-million dollar business here

How Do You Give?

"Consider the possibility: Each of us is merely the STEWARD the gifts we've been given, given to us only--ONLY--to give away to Others."- Adam Robinson

I was excited to read this and now write about a few of Adam Robinson's latest tweets on Twitter. 

A few months ago, he appeared on the Tim Ferriss Show, which has been rated consistently on the Top List for iTunes with more than 150 million downloads. Now Adam Robinson is the trusted global macro advisor to the heads of some of the world's largest hedge funds and family office. Also, he's written the only New York Times Bestselling Book for the SAT test and co-founded the Princeton Review. He has capitalized on his lifelong study of thinking and the human mind. 

I've been asking myself a similar question: 'What are the gift(s) I can share with others?' How can I use it to best serve and help others? I'm going to connect a string of his tweets (italicized) on this simple question 'How do you give?'

"The more you give--you'll receive far far more in return."

Imagine what the world including (your world) would be like when you wake up and ask yourself: 'How can I give today?' One of the gifts you have perhaps without being fully conscious of it is simply waking up to another day- a NEW day. Yesterday was the 4th of July, the day of Independence, so here is a simple question Adam asked: 

"what are you DOING with the GIFT of your independence?"

Yes you have a choice in every moment of every day to be who you are without thinking about how others will see you. You have the choice to be independent- to think for yourself rather than how you want others to see you. This is simple but not easy. 

"People even friends look at us all time but not truly SEE us--sometimes because of the masks we consciously/unconsciously present to world."

This often hinders our ability to give because of the 'masks' we put on. When you give to others, you need to focus on the OTHER rather than how you want others to see you. 

The beliefs you have about Others, yourself, and world began when you were a baby, and those beliefs STILL exert their powerful influence.

...the absolute beliefs child-you formed about others/yourself/the world become hidden assumptions in how you reason and interpret TODAY.

This is the reason I assume the 'BEST' in people. I believe that people have the right intention however their behaviour may not always be right. It becomes much easier to connect and give to others when you believe the OTHER has the 'right' intention. Whatever happens to you, you can choose your RESPONSE. Your response is that they have the 'right' intention however they might not be doing the 'RIGHT' action. 

How do we make this harder for ourselves?

Our fears don't hold us back - but rather the beliefs BEHIND those "fears."

I'm not even sure "fears" exist, they are almost always constructs (stories) we ADD after the fact to "explain" why we haven't taken action.

Fears paralyze us when we face others especially 'strangers' or new people. We can move towards our fear by testing our assumptions and asking ourselves: "Is this useful?" "Is this true?" This is because more often than not, we are wrong and we interpret something to focus on ourselves rather than OTHERS. You can think to yourself: "She/He doesn't like me because... She/He thinks I am..."

Whatever explanation we give, our brain has a way of thinking about ourselves and keeping us safe. Now, think again: 'How do you give?' 

You are a gift.

Give your gifts away.

List all your gifts to share- tangible and intangible.

A smile, a compliment, your knowledge, your connections...

This is a way of connecting with others.

When you give, you form connection. 

Connection is the secret to succeeding.

Start connecting.

Be exceptional,


P.S. I have to remind myself about this every morning: What am I grateful for? How can I give? 



What I Learned in His Lessons of Life (Richard Branson)


The word he says most often in his book "Screw It, Let's Do it: Lessons in Life." He started his first business at the age of 15 years old when he was still in school. By 16, he left school to work full-time for his business which was in the basement of his parents' London house. Now Sir Richard Branson has 200 companies under his belt and still having fun.

Yes, I believe in having more fun. Whatever you do has to be fun because when it doesn't go the way you would like- at least you had fun. I always want to learn from people however people who are having fun seem to be rare. Now I turn to Mr. Branson to tell you about having fun.

1) 'Live life to the full. Enjoy every minute of it. Love and look after Mum.'

This was what he wrote before he went around the world in a hot-air balloon in 1997 because he wasn't certain that he would return. I have traveled around the world by airplane however in a hot-air balloon seems pretty amazing. 

He seeks endless adventure in whatever he is doing. You see how 'making money' isn't in his list of things to do. 

2) This is the question he asks himself to gauge his work: "Is my work fun and does it make me happy?" This is because when he stops having fun he will try to fix it. If that doesn't work, he stops doing it. 

His motto is have fun and the money will come

It is hard to believe that when you might have big responsibilities however whether or not you have fun your responsibilities remain. So Mr. Branson would say: 'Give it a go!'

I was having a conversation with a friend and he told me: "I wish I would have taken more time to travel and have FUN when I was young. Instead, I worked right away after finishing law school."

3) Life is too short to be unhappy. Waking up stressed and miserable is not a good way to live. 

How many people do you know who are unhappy with what they do, wake up stressed and miserable? I know enough people like this. They are definitely not great to be around. I do my best to select the people I am around. I think that this is so important because life is short. 

When Sir Richard Branson was asked what he would do as he could already be retired, he said:

4) Have fun. But I am already having fun. My work is fun. Fun is at the core of the way I do business. It has been the key to it all form the start. I see no reason to change it. 

When I was reading this on the bus, I started a conversation with someone who was playing with this yo-yo. I read him this quote because I could see he was having lots of fun. I find it lots of fun talking to people and starting conversations. It wasn't always this way for me. I was shy and awkward, but now I see it as fun. It's like a game for me.

When you aren't having fun and you still need to work for a boss you don't like, he still says:

5) "Make it instead your goal to divide your private life from work life. Have fun in your own time, you will feel happier and you'll enjoy your life and job more."

I did this and it worked for me. Now I don't need to do that because I am working on my own. I think more people would be happier this way. What I loved most in all of his lessons was how he consistently searches for 'FUN' and 'ADVENTURE' in his work and business. 

Even if you have nothing, you can always have fun. 

So, 'are you having fun?'

Be exceptional,


How Can You Play for a Living?

"Play more. I feel like people are so serious, and it doesn't take much for people to drop back into wisdom of childlike playfulness. If I had to prescribe two things to improve health and happiness in the world, it'd be movement and play. Because you can't really play without moving, so they're intertwined."- Jason Nemer, cofounder of AcroYoga

Jason has traveled the world introducing people to the true power of human connection through AcroYoga. AcroYoga is a combination of three complementary disciplines: yoga, acrobatics and therapeutics. He has started a global movement with his background as a two-time U.S. Junior National champion in sports acrobatics and represented the U.S. at the World Championships in Beijing in 1991.

You can't really play without moving, so they're intertwined.

This was one of my questions: What can you do to play for a living?

When you look at kids, they are endlessly exploring the world finding new things to play with every day. They are thinking about play. They are curious. I remember when I was a kid. I was getting into trouble however that was fun. 

"What else is there in life but to play as much as possible?" The same question stands out from reading the book 'Reinvent Yourself' by James Altucher. 

This is right. Work can be play. Every day can be play. It is what you choose as play. AcroYoga sounds like a great start.

He has inspired a new way of playing in the world because this is his vision. This is what he creates with the people he trains:

"I want to live in a world where strangers from different cultures can become friends through the joy of playfulness. Seeing people shift their beliefs about themselves, each other and the world is what motivates me. I am forever amazed at how a first AcroYoga flight can dissolve barriers of language and country, or how one improvement on a handstand can invigorate new possibilities of strength, balance, and progress.- Jason Nemer

I agree with this completely. This is the world I create every day. I ask myself how I can connect. Connecting with people is the only skill for survival and succeeding in the world. It's simple however not very easy. It takes practice. You need to make connections with people every day.

Even when things go wrong, connections are especially important. Jason Nemer was about to do a training when the Boston Marathon bombing happened. 

He responded to the situation like this when he was on the phone with his mother: "Look, Mom, you think Israel is dangerous. I'm in Boston. You cannot hide from danger." 

I've been in Israel and the Middle East too and my parents were worried the same. This is what I shared with them too: I'm not going to live my life for the 0.0000001% moment that something outside of my control will happen. This is how you can play for a living. Focus on finding fun in everything you do. (Even mundane task can be 'fun'). 

Remember to use the word 'play' instead of 'work.'

Connect first, then 'play.' 

You can easily search here for any event, group and community for AcroYoga: Acropedia.org (@acropediaorg). Also, Facebook search: AcroYoga and your city for the group, event and info. Acromaps.com is another great resource. 

I am sharing this because I will go July 10th for my first AcroYoga Session in Toronto @ The Local! Join me :)

Be exceptional,


P.S. Charlie Hoehn has a great book he launched called "Play For a Living." 



What I Learned From the Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell)

Who is someone you know that knows everybody?

They are most likely to be a 'connector.' In Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point, he elaborates on the importance of connectors in social epidemics. When an idea spreads like wildfire or a trend emerges to critical mass- this is when something 'tips' or crosses the threshold to the 'tipping point.'

Connectors are important for many reasons. I'll explain WHY.

To determine how much of a 'connector' you really are, he gives a simple test in the book choosing 250 surnames at random. He gave this test to hundreds of people to count up how many people knew others by the following surnames.  

I won't post the names here as he chose them from a Manhattan phone book however the idea is simple but powerful to see how much of a connector you really are. Some of the highest scores were a little over 100. When I went through the test, I ended up with a mid-40 count, which wasn't bad considering I'm from Toronto. 

Connectors are those who are tremendously great at making friends and connecting with people. So what really describes a connector?

They love connecting you with people. When they meet you, they easily start to think about who do they know to connect you with, who do they know knows this or who do they know has done this. 

Connectors will help you meet other people to get you further. This is important because eventually you realize that 'it's not WHAT YOU KNOW, it's WHO YOU KNOW.'

Yesterday, I bumped into a friend who has been waiting to get called for more work. She kept telling me that she needs to build her connections as others are getting work because they have a connection

As she was sharing with me her story, I started to think about who I know in her industry or better who has done what she wants to do. Yes, you guessed right, I'm a connector at heart. This is another reason why I started writing because connecting with people and making connections is what I do all the time.

How can I help people build more connections and connect better with people. 

When it comes to building your connections, the first place to start is within your own network- not your strong connections because that is probably pretty limited. You need to focus on your 'weak ties.' These are the connections that will more likely refer you to your next position or help you with your career move. This was written about by Stanford Professor Granovetter in his research on The Strength of Weak Ties

It seems surprising, however it's common sense because you have more weak ties than strong ones. 

Perhaps you have exhausted most of your 'weak ties,' where do you turn next?

Maybe you're thinking I don't know anyone, where do I even start?

Before you ask another question, you clearly need more connections. You can stop focusing on how you need connections and perhaps others also need connections too. Drop your email at the bottom where I share with you how I connect with anyone I want and the questions I ask to start a conversation with ANYONE. 

Now, start connecting people together. 

You want to play on your strengths, we are not all connectors, some others are more of a 'maven' or the 'salesman.' Mavens make change through ideas and information and salesman make change through persuasion. What you want is to know your strengths, play to your advantage and find others who are willing to help you.

First, know how you can HELP others. Are you a connector, maven or salesman?

Be exceptional,


P.S. if you want to do the test to see how much of a connector you are... see here (remember it's from the Manhattan phone book). 

How Do You Focus?

If you want to change a person’s thinking, you have two levers. One is by changing the questions they ask and the other is giving them more inspired answers. Your world is the product of your thinking and if you want to change that world, you just change the thinking.” — Adam Robinson

Adam Robinson shares that the questions you ask direct your attention- your focus. 

A few months ago, he appeared on the Tim Ferriss Show, which has been rated consistently on the Top List for iTunes with more than 150 million downloads. Now Adam Robinson is the trusted global macro advisor to the heads of some of the world's largest hedge funds and family office. Also, he's written the only New York Times Bestselling Book for the SAT test and co-founded the Princeton Review. He has capitalized on his lifelong study of thinking and the human mind. 

I met him in person for the first time last week and I'll share with you some of his latest tweets about staying focused unlike any other person I know.

We already know that to succeed, our attention should be placed on only two places: the task or tasks at hand, and Others.- Adam Robinson

When you are focused, it means that your attention is on the task at hand or on others. This leaves no room for 'self-doubt' and even 'self-confidence.' Notice what the two words have in common- 'SELF.' When you are super focused, your attention is not on yourself. 

FACT: human beings are never more enslaved than by our own desires, our habits, our beliefs (especially our fears), and our thinking. Our liberation from these four enslavers is complicated by the fact that our desires, habits, beliefs and thinking are largely unconscious.- Adam Robinson

This means that the more we are mindful of them, the better we can be to focus on what it is we really want.

When I ask many people what they want? The usual answer is 'I don't know.' When you don't know what you want, how do you focus?

If you want to change a person’s thinking, you have two levers. One is by changing the questions they ask and the other is giving them more inspired answers. - Adam Robinson

What are some of the questions you ask yourself in your mind, then look to ask better questions:

1) From 'What am I doing?' or 'What are you doing?' to Who do you want to be? or Who are you becoming? 

The first question leaves you doubtful trying to figure it all out, whereas the second question focuses on many possibilities. When you realize that you have CHOICE, then you can start deciding some of the results you want.

People are forever "getting ready," holding back from starting some action or project or goal because they feel they're "not yet ready."- Adam Robinson

Now you might not know all the answers however the secret is to ask 'better' questions' to find out. 

Instead of asking 'How do I do X?' ask 'Who knows best how to do X?'- Adam Robinson

2) 'How do I make a living doing this?' to 'Who has done this before?'

When the questions we ask move our attention to action, then all we need to focus on is asking ourselves: "Are these the results I want?" 

If not, it's time to reset and stay focused on either the task at hand, tasks at hand or the Other in getting the results you want. 

That's exactly why I sought Adam Robinson out because he knows how to ask the right questions. 

Source: https://medium.com/@david_perell/adam-robinson-change-your-thinking-change-the-world-43d22ba8cdf4

What I Learned about Leadership (Sandee Kastrul)

"We can put on our lampshades when our light shines so bright, but let it shine anyway."- Sandee Kastrul

Be with the people that inspire you every day and you will feel energized at the end of the day. This is the impression that Sandee Kastrul left me when I met her for the first time in Chicago. She is the CEO of i.c. stars, a non for-profit organization that provides technology and leadership training for a highly selective talent pool who have earned little more than a high school diploma. She asks the right questions.

1. What community do you claim?

2. Does it claim you?

3. When will we be able to claim each other?

These are the questions she is writing about in her upcoming book however in her latest post and in our conversation, she provides some deep insight into these questions.

The truth is that as a globe we can never have peace until we can claim people who are different than us. Leadership is building opportunities for others. Is it truly leadership if we are only building opportunities for those who are like us? Those who serve our interest?

The young people she works with every day are chosen not because they need to be 'helped' but rather for their drive to inspire the community around them. Through the i.c. stars program, building resilience is an indicator to succeed because they are focused on true leadership.  

Leaders do not exist without being claimed. All the more reason that as leaders we claim each other. Leading is claiming people even when they are at their worst. 

A sign of true leadership is when you as a leader can connect and support others even when they have nothing to give you in return. How often do we act when there are expectations of return or that we will gain something by doing something for someone else?

You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.- Samuel Johnson

It is easy to connect with those who have had similar experiences because they share similar values and beliefs. However, we need to look even further if we want to be true leaders.

She asks: What would it take to claim someone who is democrat or republican (red or blue). Someone from a different race, a different religion, a different socio-economic background or someone who doesn’t agree with us?

I think that we must look past our fears and doubts abandoning the words 'our comfort zone' and our 'security.' These words are only illusions to keep us safe and protected from building resilience in the face of adversity and becoming the leader we have the potential to be. 

This is a question for every individual and organization who wants to succeed in becoming true leaders in the work they do. I see this as the 'tipping point.'

The tipping point described by Malcolm Gladwell is when a trend emerges and spreads like wildfire- becomes an epidemic. 

When you can ask the right questions, you take ownership of your role to become a true leader in your community.

Leaders must claim each other. This is the tipping point for change anywhere. 

She concludes: As you go about creating opportunities for your teams and clients, I challenge you to claim your people, expand your definition of your people and see that your people claim you.

Let your light shine anyway so others can see what it means for true leadership. 

Be exceptional,


Source: http://www.icstars.org/blog/skastrul/leaders-claim-your-people-now

Great Read: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell




How to Retire at 28 Years Old with 2 Million Dollars?

"People who succeed at the highest level are not lucky; they're doing something differently than everyone else."- Tony Robbins.

JP Livingston, Blogger of The Money Habit, (not her real name, but Blog name) has just shared her story a year after her early retirement. She was 28 years old when this happened. What did she do differently?

She had a goal (early retirement), she had a plan with enough urgency behind it (early retirement to do whatever she chooses) and focused on learning the 'best' approaches to get there including reading countless finance books. 

What do I see most people say:

If only I had...more time, If only I was richer...If only I could...travel the world...find something I love doing...




Does this sound familiar?

I'll wait...

I'll never...

I'll always...

Does this sound like you or someone you know?

The problem with the words you use is that you think it, believe it and you say it. The words you say to yourself and others are either potent or powerful because your beliefs dictate what you do and what you don't do. Nobody achieves what they want thinking: "I can't do this, I'm never going to..." 

I do my best to take those words out of my vocabulary: if replaced with when, should replaced with can, try replaced with am going to. The same with never and always. These words focus on impossibilities rather than what is possible. 

Here are three of the most common beliefs you hear when it comes to MONEY

"I'm not good with finances."

"I never earn enough."

"Money is supposed to be spent."

Why I share this first is that most people are working because they have to work with barely any savings at all for unexpected emergencies.

Here's what one survey demonstrated among Americans:

And 44 percent of Americans making $100,000 to $149,999 have less than $1,000 saved, while 60 percent of those in that income bracket have less than $5,000 in savings. 

What can you do differently?

The best investment you could ever make is in yourself.

This was said by Tony Robbins who recently wrote the book Unshakable where he made his best investment of $35 at the age of 17. Again, Warren Buffet said he made his best investment attending a public speaking course delivered by Dale Carnegie. 

When I saved my first $10K at the age of 18 because I told my friends I would travel the world when I graduated. I had a clear goal. This was the best investment I ever made. 

What would you do if you had another $10K saved?

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page."- St. Augustine

Be exceptional,


P.S. Don't say to yourself what I heard from one of my friends when it comes to what you really WANT to do...

"Except I don't have the time to do it. And not so sure I'm qualified to do it but I do have a lot of things I want to say to people to help them."

What I Learned From Where Good Ideas Come From (Steven Johnson)

"We are better served by connecting ideas than we are protecting them...Good ideas might not be free, but they do want to connect, fuse, recombine. They want to reinvent themselves by crossing conceptual borders. They want to complete each other as much as they want to compete."- Steven Johnson

You have a great idea of what you want to do. You have many ideas of businesses you want to create. You have ideas all the time. Does this sound familiar?

Many people have ideas because our brain is an idea making machine. Your brain has 100 billion neurons with 100 trillion distinct connections. 

This is crucial because creativity is pattern recognition when we link ideas together. First, you have an idea, then you need the courage to act on the idea.

The later part is probably what most people need more. How can you make your brain connect ideas together faster and better?

According to Steven Johnson, one way is to place your brain inside environments more innovative with networks of people and ideas that mimic the neural network of a mind exploring the boundaries of the 'adjacent possible.'

I'm always trying to get to the point where I can change anything. This is the adjacent possible where you can make an idea happen- whether this idea is simply to get yourself to read a book when your mind is wandering. On the larger scale, the adjacent possible is when change and innovation happens- like having an idea that changes the world.

This is what Steven Johnson continues to explore throughout this book: how you can be more creative? How teams, communities and groups of people can have an idea that changes the world? 

There are actionable steps to be more creative and spark more ideas and connections in your brain: get outside in nature, go for walks and write down your ideas. You can connect with others from different fields and perspectives to build on your own ideas. 

More here: 3 Surprising Truths About Unlocking Creativity by Steve Kotler.

I'm giving you information but what I want to share is a way of thinking about great ideas and allowing yourself to connect your great ideas with others. This is why actionable steps from the book aren't enough. You can ask yourself these questions when 'good ideas' come to your mind: 

1) What's important to you about that idea?

2) If that idea happens, what would that do for you?

3) If that ALSO happened, what would that do for you that's even more important?

This can be applied to a simple idea of improving something you are already doing or learning a new skill or also getting in shape. There are so many things people have good ideas about- whether it be to improve their own life or the lives of others. The book focuses on 'good ideas' from examining the great inventions of our time that changed our lives. However, those aren't just the 'good ideas.'

You have good ideas all the time.

Your ideas have waited inside your head.

You want to do something about your ideas.

You think about it, others tell you or you're trying to 'figure it out.'

Ideas change the world all the time, just look at any invention. 

Change happens when you focus not on your fear but COURAGE.

This is the difference between an 'idea' and doing something about it. 

You need courage so connect with others who encourage you. 

Good ideas happen all the time, but most people don't ACT. 

Your actions is what got you to now.

Soon, I will share why I thought it was a good idea to save $10K to travel the world. I had this idea when I was 16 years old. A decade later, it is still happening. Acting on ideas matter more than keeping them inside your head.

Be exceptional,


How to Deepen Your Connection With Others?

"I realized it was when I figured out that my thoughts control my whole life—that no matter what hand life deals me, I can always choose my response to it. We are each responsible for our lives and, more important, the thoughts that create them. If you want your life to be more rewarding, you have to change the way you think."- Oprah

Oprah needs no introduction. I've been reading her book: 'Words that Matter' before I get to bed to finish my day off. I protect my time always, but the most important time of the day is how I start my morning and how I finish my day.

The way you sleep inevitably affects the way you wake up. I know when I don't sleep enough, I am much more easily agitated with people. Unfortunately, we are living in a sleep deprived culture where we have words to describe death by overwork (lack of sleep) in Korean, Chinese and Japanese.

This is alarming. 

You'll know how to get enough sleep.

Let me begin by sharing that you're going to think about how you finish your day and how you start it tomorrow.

Now what is most important in deepening any connection with others is how you think about them.

First, I'll share with you what Warren Buffett (one of the wealthiest people on the planet) thinks about them: 

"Basically, when you get to my age, you'll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you."

Now I will change this into a question: How many people you know really love you?

So before you answer this question, you will know how to deepen your connection with these people.

This is not just in working relationships, but in every connection or relationship.

First, you have to assume (also believe) each person has a positive intention behind every behaviour. People may not act the way they SHOULD, but they had the 'right' intention in their mind.

This was Oprah's Aha moment. "I realized it was when I figured out that my thoughts control my whole life."

This is why one of the exercises I do every morning is to close my eyes, picture all the people I will definitely see. I visualize them being happy and joyful so when I do see them it's easy to assume they are this way. 

When someone reacts badly (i.e. angry, frustrated or any negative emotion), I will literally make an excuse in my mind (i.e. their mother died so they are super upset, even if that is most likely not the reason). 

I can't let others affect the way I think and feel. This is what Oprah means when she says: no matter what hand life deals me, I can always choose my response to it.

The choice is mine, but most people will react and let others dictate their feelings. 

Then, after I visualize all the people I will see. Then, I imagine everyone I love DISAPPEAR from me. GONE. This sounds scary and painful, but when I open my eyes, I cannot help but feel grateful that they are all with me. Again, I see and experience all the ways I am grateful to have them and what they mean to me. I think about the great memories I have shared and I can continue to have. 

When I finish my day, I reflect on what really happened? Did I really connect and care for the people I saw and worked with? (If I didn't, then I write down how I can do better. How can I improve?)

These are two of the simplest exercises I do every morning and night. 

I believe and agree with what Oprah says right here: "We are each responsible for our lives and, more important, the thoughts that create them."

How you deepen your connection with others begins by the way you think about them. Change the way you think about others. It is up to you.

So, how many people you know really love you? Have you thought about how you start and end your day?

So Warren Buffett follows by saying: "The only way to get love is to be lovable."

Stay great,


P.S. In my previous post, Brendon Burchard reminds you to ask one of life's questions: Did I love openly?

Current Reading List:

-Your Network is Your Net worth by Porter Gale

-The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

-The Confessions of St. Augustine

Next week I'll post about:

-Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

What I Learned about Motivation (Brendon Burchard)

"Greatness belongs to those who master their internal world"- Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard

Having shared the stage with the Dalai Lama, Richard Brandson, Tony Robbins, Brendon Burchard is recognized as one of the most successful online trainers by Oprah. Facing depression and overcoming a car accident at the age of 19, he asked himself what he calls life's last questions: 'Did I LIVE fully? Did I LOVE openly? Did I MATTER?'

I recently finished his latest book called "Motivation Manifesto." What he shares is simple but it is not easy. I was skimming through the book shelves at the library and I had heard of Brendon, but never read any of his books. I gave this one a try. 

I was first intrigued why he used the word 'motivation' because I believe that motivation is not enough. If motivation was enough, most people would be able to do what they set out to do like lose weight for example, achieve their goals or start a new habit. (This is #1 tip in reading 1-2 books a week, pay close attention to the words that are used especially the ones that keep reoccurring). 

He didn't use motivation very much in the book, but rather another one: freedom.

This was the question that kept coming up in his book: "Will you truly rise to a life of freedom or be washed up in mediocrity?"

This question is binary: a life of freedom or a life of fear. Every moment is either one or the other. Freedom is not doing whatever you want whenever you want. It isn't living without any rules, it is quite the opposite. 

"Freedom requires responsibility to choose who we are above and beyond our immediate impulses, needs and social pressures so that we can genuinely express the type of person we want to be, live the life we truly want to live and leave the legacy we desire."- Brendon Burchard

How does this relate to building connections with people?

The people around you can chip away at your life of freedom. These are the same people who have many opinions about something you are doing (and have never done what you are doing). These same people nag and complain about how miserable their lives are and don't do anything to change it. These are the same people who instill a life of fear because they are too afraid to live a life of freedom.

They obviously prefer a life of mediocrity. I see it all around me. They get upset as soon as you question why they say they want to change something and simply don't. It isn't about motivation to do so, there's something deeper than that. It is fear.

Fear paralyzes action. This is why I wrote about having clear goals. I don't believe in SMART goals. They are useless. 

The same with motivation. It is useless.

In the context of the book, it is powerful because it points to something bigger. 

Motivation can lead to greatness.

Greatness is within each of us.

It means silencing negative thoughts.

Negative thoughts are rooted in fear, doubt and delay.

Be afraid of people who want you to live a life of mediocrity.

They doubt themselves, so they don't even notice that they project this doubt on you.

They say to you: 'Who do you think you are?'

You delay any goals, your dreams and your greatest ideas.

This is because you are afraid of being rejected. You want their approval.

I have realized that you do not need anyone's approval to go after your greatest goals and dreams.

Those were my 10 ideas again (Thanks James Altucher). 

You are the only one responsible for those goals and dreams. You never needed their permission to be who you want to be. What is most important is your integrity- the state of being whole or undivided. 

In the book Motivation Manifesto, Brendon Burchard shares 6 Principles of Integrity.

1) Think before we act (How many people are reactive to situations and blame others for their faults and mistakes, take a breath and give yourself space before you make a decision). 

2) Never commit to anything we lack passion (Learn to say 'NO' to everything unimportant and meaningless. Why I don't look at emails or respond to anyone before 11am). 

3) Keep your word (Last week, I had a friend apologize for being so flaky, I see this all the time. No surprise. It isn't easy to keep your word. I listen to the ones that do because my word is very valuable). 

4) Treat others with respect (I once had a conversation with someone who disagreed about having respect for people you don't agree with. This is when respect is most necessary). 

5) Tell the truth (I remember when my words would offend or 'hurt' someone because the truth isn't always easy to take. I've learned to tell the truth only when someone asks because this is when they listen).

6) Favour action (Motivation is not enough. You don't need it. You need action). 

Motivation is not necessary when you strive for greatness.

Your greatness begins with each step of integrity. 

Have integrity.

Stay great,


How to Follow Up After Meeting Someone in Person

What happens after you attend an event or social and you met a person you really want to see again?

You'll have the exact script I've used to connect with a VIP in a completely new city without any connections. She is working on a book that I was interested to learn more about. 

The first thing not to do is to start thinking about all the reasons this person will NOT want to meet you. Most people will do this. The first thing you can do is 'follow-up.'

You might have met countless people in the week, but every follow-up counts. It counts because it is a way to appreciate other people. When you appreciate more people around you, inevitably this will start happening more to you. 

Before you follow-up to meet in person, imagine how you can add value to the other person. It can be as simple as saying 'Thank you because I was really impressed by...' to "I'm really interested to share more about X topic with you because..."

The most efficient way to follow-up is to have a system

John Corcoran from Smart Business Revolution shares: 

"The solution is also not more networking. Spending more time networking without a follow-up system in place is like bailing water from a leaking ship — it will keep you afloat in the short term, but eventually your ship will sink. A better choice is to implement a better system."

Let's take an in-depth look at what he suggests and I'll share exact email scripts I've used:

1) Share knowledge: great article, blog post or book. I always do this one, it dictates how in-depth a conversation will go before it has even started).

Hi [Name],

Last week, I was watching live the [conference], found this article on [X] that might interest you when you have time: LINK HERE.

No response needed, just thought it might be helpful. It highlights [one sentence summary]. 

See you tomorrow at [meeting time].*


*It's a great way to confirm your meeting time with someone too.

2) Introduce people together.

Before I sent the email above, I had shared this first initial email to say thank you!

Hi [Name], 

Thanks for the short time yesterday after your panel. We spoke briefly [remind them]. 

Yesterday I attended an event at [X] and mentioned [her company and reason]. Perhaps there is already a connection you have but thought to mention the great work you are doing!

Stay great,


But what happens after the initial meeting, this is when deepening relationships is even more important (More about this next time). 

This is why there is a saying that holds true: 'Show me your friends and I'll show you your future.' Aristotle mentioned this when he said: 'a friend to all is a friend to none.' 

Also in Proverbs 13:20, Solomon wrote: 'He that walketh with wisemen shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed."

Follow-up with thank you and make wise friendships.

Stay great,


P.S. I'm saying this because I read countless books and connect with authors and bloggers I admire and now share about it here so others can easily do the same.

By the way, my Current Reading List:

-The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard

-Words that Matter by Oprah

-Bold by Peter Diamandis

Books to Read:

-Your Network is Your Net Worth by Porter Gale

-Your Heart is Noble: Change the World from the Inside Out by Karmapa

Source: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/08/08/how-to-follow-up-after-meeting-someone-in-person/