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How to do Norway, Netherland, and Denmark

Got back from visiting Denmark and Norway, with a bit of Netherlands thrown in there. Here’s how we did it in 10 days, and a few of my recommendations.

Day 1–4: Copenhagen, Denmark

Nyhavn, Copenhagen

Did the obligatory walking tour to get a lay of the land, then a pastry making class with Chef Fredric. Fun fact, they don’t call it “danish” pastries there.

See the crown jewels at the Rosenborg Castle, followed by some shopping in Stroget. I picked up a Skagen watch for myself and my girlfriend, then get almost 20% back at the airport to make it tax-free.

Day 4–5: Bergen, Norway (west coast)

Bryggen, Bergen

Get ready for Seattle’s sister city and non-stop, drizzling rain. I brought the right gear… except for my shoes! Constantly wet, we had to put a hair-dryer to them each night and hope they don’t stink.

Fløyen, Bergen

Get a city view by riding the Fløibanen up to Fløyen, and enjoy some of the easy trails. Definitely visit the old wharf area Bryggen, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and then stop at the Fisketorget for a whale burger!

Day 6–8: Finse to Flåm on the Rallarvegen road

Finse, Norway

Grab a rail to the tiny outpost of Finse, aka Hoth from Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back. That’s where our packaged tour started with an amazing stay at Finse 1222, then picking up our bikes to ride the 60km to Flåm. Apparently, remnants of Hurricane Dorian reached all the way up here, causing snowfall and heavy winds. We played it safe by starting out bike ride from Myrdal, spiced it up with a 1.3 km zipline down, and explored the UNESCO listed Nærøyfjord in open-air RIB boats.

Nærøyfjord, Norway

Day 9–10: Oslo, Norway

Rail leaving Flåm towards Oslo

Arrive via rail, book early and spring for the Komfort tickets to pick your seat and free coffee/tea). Loved the Oslo Opera House, where you can walk to the roof, and from afar is meant to represent a giant glacier and the people end up looking like penguins!

Oslo Opera House, Oslo
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo

The Viking Ship museum and Stave Church from Gol did not disappoint, but the more than 200 bronze statues in the Vigeland Park was great fun!

BONUS: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Our flights were direct from Amsterdam, so we ended up spending a night here and enjoyed the canals running through the city. More chaotic than Copenhagen, still full of city bikers, and I don’t think I saw a person over 40 years old there.

Recommendations:

  • Scored first class tickets on the way home from AMS to MCO (9+ hour flight) on Virgin Atlantic by using the Chase Reserve sign-up bonus points. Read carefully to know what you’re getting yourself into! The card comes with Priority Pass, which gets me into some airport lounges for free (I.e. free food, drinks, maybe even a shower!), Global Entry (faster through US passport line), and TSA Pre-check (keep your shoes on!).
  • Yes, my friends made fun of me for my Nike Tech Jogger Pants, calling them “leggings.” In my defense, they fit right in in Europe, have a zipper side pocket for my passport, and make my calves look great.
  • Too many cords? So get a cord divider bag and keep it all organized!
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The New Productive Compassion

The New Productive Compassion

Whenever people talk about the “soft skills” needed to be successful, there are those that roll their eyes and dismiss it, believing it is not as important as just being competent in your job. In other words, developing “soft skills” will lead to more success and effectiveness, while others scoff at it.

Obviously I fall on the spectrum of developing soft skills, and over the next several journals, we’ll discuss specifically COMPASSION. Over the past couple years, this is probably the singular concept that has changed the way I behave in every aspect of life. I’m happier for it and others are happier for it. This may be the key to everything — success, happiness, and immortality.

The Compassion Requirement

Inc. article by @MarcelSchwantes highlight’s a new book by Tom Peters, who states:

Hard is soft. Soft is hard. In other words, “Hard” (the plans, numbers, and systems) is “soft.” “Soft” (people, relationship, culture) is “hard.”

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, perhaps the most outspoken of any high-profile leader on the effects of “compassionate management,” tweeted in 2017:

Big misconception about managing compassionately is that it’s a “soft” skill. Most compassionate people I know are typically the strongest. — Jeff Weiner October 6, 2017

If you’re a non-believer, ask yourself how many top CEO’s, leaders of leaders, need to state that developing soft skills and compassion is what it takes to be successful?

If you’re already a believer in developing soft skills, have you focused on compassion enough?

Are you a compassionate leader? Take this free assessment by the Harvard Business Review to see where you’re at, and get practical tips. For me, I scored in Quadrant 2, which means I value compassion and wisdom, but there’s room to grow.

Feeling Burned Out? Here’s What To Do.

I get burnt out at work whenever I feel overwhelmed. Between my to-do list, my inbox, and the paper on my desk, it’s all too much. It actually all started back in college when I felt this way when all the assignments piled up. So what did I do? One thing at a time. Once I got an idea of all the work, I prioritized and then focused on one thing only. After that, I tackled the next one. I didn’t allow myself to dwell on the big picture, because that would just get me overwhelmed. One thing at a time.

@thetrackqueen

This great Tricycle article by Pamela Gayle West defines burnout as:

In psychology, burnout is most often defined as a three-phase depletion that unfolds as emotional exhaustion, or not feeling up to caring for others; depersonalization of those one is committed to helping; and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment or agency.

At some point we will experience burnout again. So what do we do? Resilience seems to be the key, which I define as, “the ability to see options that could overcome the challenge.”

Developing your ability to be compassionate, leads to being more resilient, which leads to less burnout.

Productivity Tips on Compassion

Only a newbie would think taking time to be compassionate to others is a waste of time. The truth is, taking time with others to understand will pay dividends in the future. Not that we’re doing it for that reason, it’s just a nice side-effect.

Personally, I need to constantly remind myself that there will be time later to complete my tasks, but it’s rare to get a chance for real one-on-one conversations to learn about someone. It’s a gift.

@tesschristinexo

Tips:

  • Watch cat videos (just kidding)
  • Give yourself a minute to fully arrive. For example:
  • Sit in the car before heading into the office
  • Arrive to the meeting early and take a minute to think who you are
  • Put down the phone and just take in your surroundings
  • In line? Just people-watch and monitor yourself

“An inspiring palliative care physician I know says that taking extra time to wash his hands deliberately and with mindful awareness between patient visits allows him to put one situation aside so he can enter the next one with freshness and goodwill.”

How to Use Compassion to Make a Greater Impact

Where does compassion fit into the context of being an entrepreneur, being an executive, or being a highly productive person? I believe the answer is to incorporate being compassionate into our day-to-day interactions with people and choosing to believe positive intent. Better yet, fold compassion into your business model, such as helping your community or the environment. For example, brands like Miir, Human Gear, and Moment have all signed on to be Certified Climate Neutral. Compassion is good for everybody.

@photobiermann

The more people who are in need, the less likely many of us are to want to help — a phenomenon called “compassion collapse.”

Sound familiar? Ahem, climate change, immigration policy, hate and racism?

Stanford University social psychologist Jamil Zaki, author of The War for Kindness states, “the challenge is how to scale ancient emotions to a global context.”

To overcome, come up with a ‘concrete’ helping strategy that shows you leading to making an impact. Reframe that negative emotion into doing something. Ask yourself, “what step can I make, no matter how small.” That’s why it’s been a successful strategy to raise donations by telling donors exactly where that money goes and how it helps.

Think of a crisis you’re passionate about and brainstorm small steps you can take right now.

HELP ME OUT?

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References:

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Manage Your Money Better

Ask yourself, how well are you doing with managing your money? I notice folks who are well-off and ask, what are they doing “right?” The point is NOT to compare (because that leads to negative emotions that really shouldn’t concern us), but rather factual awareness in what we are doing. Are we maximizing our time and money.

Below we will dive into the tools and philosophy that has helped me become… well, just above average!

1. Track Everything

@mintapp

First things first, do you know where your money is going? Do you have a rough idea of how much your net worth is?

I’ve been using this free online service and app for years and never had a problem. Simple and clear cut. (And I’m not getting a cut, so you can trust my recommendation!)

Mint is a free budgeting app that syncs users’ bank accounts, credit cards, PayPal, and other accounts to help track incoming and outgoing money. The app is part of Intuit (the creator of TurboTax and QuickBooks) and has over 20 million users. Mint features include setting up customized budgets, savings goals, and shows you spending trends.

2. The New Meaning Behind “Quality over Quantity”

You’ve heard it before, “quality over quantity.” But what does it mean?

Today, it means much more than, “they don’t make things like they used to.” Today we have more insight into how products are made, and conscious of how we impact our planet.

For me, “quality over quantity” means prioritizing long term over short term desire.

If you’re thinking of buying something, ask yourself:

  1. Does it fill a void or need? Psst, if it doesn’t then it’s just excess.
  2. Is it made in a sustainable and ethical way? Make a statement with your money.
  3. Does it bring you (long term) joy? That’s right, you gotta Marie Kondo it! Strive for happiness and minimalism.
  4. Is there a long term cost benefit? Buy the product that last longer and save “future time” by not having to think about this again for a long time.

“The new generation of consumers are increasingly adopting a “buy less but better” philosophy, reports Elizabeth Holmes at The Wall Street Journal in this article.” — This Consumer Trend Could Be Terrible For Fast Fashion Brands

3. Financial Traps We Set For Ourselves

Two confessions.

  1. Once I get fixated on buying something, it’s hard for me to not end up buying it eventually. Sometimes I regret it later. Why does this happen?
  2. I observe the spending habits of others and wonder, why do they spend so much on things that get barely used?

Let’s dig deeper…

@hiddenbrain

A recent article discusses Here’s the №1 reason why Americans are struggling to save money — and it’s not debt. So what’s the real culprit? Rising cost of living while salaries remain stagnant. That eats into our ability to save money.

Shankar Vedantam, host of Hidden Brain podcast, has a great episode interviewing Sendhil Mullaianathan, an economics professor at Harvard University, on the concept of a “scarcity trap.”

“It leads you to take certain behaviors that in the short term help you to manage scarcity, but in the long term only make matters worse.”

The solution? Think about long-term needs, and then ask yourself how this purchase helps that long-term need.

4. Crazy Simple Budgeting Advice

Here are some of my go-to practices when managing my money.

  • Use only one credit card (no cash) for all spending, makes it easy to track.
  • Automate savings — Setup a reoccurring deduction and put it somewhere else (i.e. savings account, investment account). Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Create large categories of spending — like bills, food & restaurants, shopping, etc. Force yourself to see how much you spend and then have a come to Jesus moment.
@mintapp

The 50/30/20 Rule of Thumb for Budgeting

  • Harvard bankruptcy expert Elizabeth Warren — U.S. Senator from Massachusetts and named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World — coined the “50/30/20 rule” for spending and saving with her daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi. They co-authored a book in 2005: “All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan.”

Forget about trying to trim your food budget by $25. Look at big places you can save, like:

  • Getting a roommate
  • Refinancing your mortgage
  • Earning more money

5. “Play Money” Investment Advice from a Novice

Full disclaimer, I’m the guy who invested in MoviePass, which ended up crashing into a glorious fireball.

Having said that, I’ll dispense my totally unremarkable and unsubstantiated advice for a good laugh. Keep in mind, this is ‘play’ money. This is money AFTER you’ve done all your proper long term and short term savings, and have built up a strong, stable foundation. You should categorize this advice under, “might be a nugget of information here, but let me assess how it fits into my investment philosophy.”

  • Be a owner, not just a consumer — What I mean is, if it’s a product that you really love, consider investing in the company itself. For example, people are fanatics for companies like Apple, Tesla, and Starbucks. So why not invest in their stock and have “skin int eh game?”
  • Warren Buffet investing advice — One thing that Buffet does is, “analyze the business, not the market, the economy, or investor sentiment.” To me, this means do you understand how that business is run and do you believe in it? I invested in MoviePass believe I used the product and was a believer in the business model, but the management was atrocious. The way they treated customers and then later on the blatant unethical practices are deal-breakers.
  • Consider the Robinhood app — It doesn’t charge transaction fees like other investment firms do. For example, Vanguard charges $7 per stock transaction while Robinhood is $0. This begs the question, how can they make a profit when they charge $0? According to this article, seems like it’s a short term deal and the company will have to figure out a long-term sustainable business model. Until then, you can enjoy the free trades.

REFERENCES

  1. Is Mint Safe? What to Know About the Budgeting App in 2019
  2. How Mint Can Revolutionize Your Budget
  3. Mint.com Review 2019 — The Budgeting and Tracking App
  4. Mint Review — NerdWallet’s Rating: 4 / 5
  5. This Consumer Trend Could Be Terrible For Fast Fashion Brands
  6. Quality Is More Than Making a Good Product
  7. Quality Over Quantity | Why Being A Minimalist Makes You Happier
  8. The Scarcity Trap: Why We Keep Digging When We’re Stuck In A Hole
  9. Scarcity: The New Science of Having Less and How It Defines Our Lives
  10. Here’s the №1 reason why Americans are struggling to save money — and it’s not debt
  11. The 50/30/20 Rule of Thumb for Budgeting
  12. These 4 Easy Steps Will Teach You How To Budget (Finally)
  13. How to Make a Monthly Budget That Works
  14. How Does Robinhood Make Money?
  15. A Review of Warren Buffett’s Investing Strategy

HELP ME OUT?

Donate just $1 to help me keep doing what I love, which is writing articles like this. Thanks!

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LIVE SMARTER

1. Invest in others, not yourself

If you know me at all, then you know I’ve developed severe sensitivity to people who are selfish. Look around and most of what we hear revolves around, “take care of yourself, invest in yourself, look out for #1, if you haven’t taken care of yourself then how can you take care of others?”

All of that is indeed important, but let’s make sure we put others first. I believe in doing so, we cultivate a, “family, community, network” that will ultimately lead to a more fulfilling life.

Harvard Business Review

Sponsor Effect

Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s latest book asserts being a mentor and “paying it forward” is great, but being a sponsor is better. What’s the difference? A sponsor is a formal, structured agreement with the person you’re helping (i.e. protege) and has known mutual benefits for each other. Does that sound icky? I suggest taking her 7 major points, and only using the ones that are fully altruistic — and apply it to all aspects of your life, not just professionally.

  1. Identify the right mix of people to be with
  2. Include those with differing perspectives
  3. Inspire them and ignite their ambition
  4. Instruct them to develop key skill sets
  5. Inspect your picks for performance and loyalty
  6. Instigate a deal, detailing the terms of a relationship
  7. Invest three ways and reap the rewards.

2. Be nicer!

Last journal we emphasized focusing on others, not on ourselves. While doing that, let’s also remember to be nice to ourselves! Here’s why:

  • You Can Perform Better — That’s right, thinking nice things about yourself leads to a better performance, both on your workout and in your meeting.
  • You Can Be Happier — Isn’t this what we struggle so hard for in life? Get closer to it by doing this.
@thebucketlistfamily

Too many ways to be nice:

As you can imagine, there are tons of advice out there that discuss ways to be nicer to ourselves. (Hence maybe why our society is so self-centered.) Yet, here I am giving you more advice on the same topic! Hmm, so let me try to be different!

  • Develop a horrible memory — Instead of remembering all the details about when you failed at something, just forget it. Take the time to learn the lesson, but then just forget the details.
  • Dump horrible people — It’s true that we are who we surround ourselves with. So why would you choose to hang out with people who are negative, mean to you and others? Ditch the drama and love only those who are positive, fair, and honest to us.
  • Personal challenge — Agree to do at least a 30-day challenge, each day you write down something good that’s going on in your life. #positiveaffirmation

3. Reclaim your victory

Every so often, despite our best efforts, we start feeling down about ourselves. It could be in the gym when we feel like it’s not a good workout, or at work and feeling we aren’t performing the best, or at home in our relationship and not being a good partner.

The trick is, at any time, we can catch ourselves and simply start over. Master this and I guarantee you’ll be living smarter than most. I’ve been doing this more often and the only thing that gets in the way… is my own ego.

@coachbennett

Ok, I stole this advice from a performance session on the Headspace App with founder, Andy Puddicombe, and Nike Running’s Global Head Coach, Chris Bennett. It applies to both meditation or while on a run, and I’m making the easy extrapolation it applies to everything in life.

Reclaim your victory means, for this example, while you’re running and you feel like you’re struggling, (i.e. not a good run for whatever reason), you can STOP your mental thoughts, and then start running in a way that you can be proud of yourself. In other words, why do you think it’s a crappy run? Because you feel like crap or because it’s a slow pace? Well, redefine what you think is success. “Maybe success for this run is just simply being outside and running!” That’s more than most people and more than just sitting on the couch! The moment you think to yourself this CAN BE a good run, it most likely will be. Apply this to halfway through a meeting, halfway in an argument, halfway in anything and redefine success. In other words, reclaim your victory.

4. Less “Regrats”

Is it possible to live a life of ‘no regrets?’ Would you even want to have a life of no regrets, and therefore look back upon a life where you lost nothing? Instead, how about we be honest with ourselves and realize there will be regrets, and it’s only a question of reducing them.

In other words, I’ve got tons of regrets in my life. From big ones like did I have stay in that relationship for too long, to small ones like should I have eaten that 3rd donut.

Here’s what I do… I simply ask myself, which one would I regret less.

I imagine going through with each option, and then “gut-checking” how it makes me feel.

  • Is it nervousness or fear? Maybe you need to challenge yourself and get uncomfortable.
  • Is the gut-feeling related to letting someone down or not being kind to yourself? Understand why you feel the way you do, then make the appropriate decision.

Most importantly, understand why you felt that way and learn something new about yourself.

REFERENCES:

HELP ME OUT?

Donate just $1 to help me keep doing what I love, which is writing articles like this. Thanks!

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Quest to Live Healthier, Feel Better

When we look in the mirror, do we like what we see? Chances are, there are a few pounds we could stand to lose, but how can we easily lose those few pounds?!

Simple. I’ve been on the intermittent fasting method for a long time now. With barely any lifestyle change, it has helped keep me trim and feeling good. If you’re in the know, then you’ve probably heard of this and now is the time to give it a try.

Here are 6 tips where we’ll explore our Quest to Live Healthier, Feel Better, and making it super-simple.

1. Intermittent Fasting Made Simple

In a nutshell, intermittent fasting is going a period of time without eating, which means no calories consumption (only water and black coffee). I do a very easy 12 hours of no eating, which means whenever I stop eating at night (ex. 8PM), I don’t start eating the next day until 8AM.

The more popular way of is 16 hours not eating, and 8 hours of eating. Basically, that’s like skipping breakfast. You eat the same foods, nothing changes, except when you eat.

Here’s an entertaining article about how a normal guy does the method, which btw Hugh Jackman uses!

2. Intermittent Fasting for the Advanced

Ok, so you think you’re ready for a more serious understanding of this intermittent fasting, aka time-restricted diet? Besides the benefit of shedding a few pounds and therefore feeling better about ourselves, there are serious health benefits using science that I don’t really understand! To me, it makes logical sense that if your body goes without food for awhile, it goes into like a ‘Red Alert’ mode and sheds un-needed cells from our body, forcing it to run as efficiently as possible.

Fasting puts me in efficient mode? Heck yeah I’ll take that.

From the fantastic article The Truth Behind What Intermittent Fasting Does to Your Body by Alexandra Pattillo

“Insulin is a hormone that’s released when we eat, but it isn’t meant to be released all the time,” Tello says. “Intermittent fasting is simply letting your insulin level go down to basically normal so that you unlock your fat stores. So nobody’s going to lose any weight unless they get that insulin level down. Which is why eating very small meals throughout the day doesn’t really help with weight loss.” — Monique Tello, MD, MPH, a Harvard Medical School professor and internal medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital

“During exercise, there’s a stress on the cells. They don’t grow and get stronger and bigger during the exercise but during the resting period. So we think that with intermittent fasting — during the fasting period, the cells go in kind of a stress-resistance mode. And then when you eat, they’ve prepared themselves to quickly take up nutrients, proteins, and grow.” — Mark Mattson, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and former chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging

3. A Better Way to Eat

On our quest to live healthier, live better, that obviously includes a better way to eat.

My rule of thumb: Can I tell where my food came from? In other words, do I know all the ingredients and how it naturally arises from the earth? If I don’t, then it’s probably not as healthy and I can gauge how much of that to eat.

Stated another way, follow Mozaffarian’s golden rule: “Eat foods that give rise to life.” Nuts, nut butters, seeds, seed oils, olives, olive oil and avocados all fit the bill.

Here’s another nugget of knowledge: If you decide to eat dairy, “the existing epidemiological evidence suggests full-fat dairy is associated with healthier outcomes than low-fat dairy,” he says. (Keep this in mind the next time you’re ordering a “skinny” skim-milk latte.)

Finally, what the heck are “superfoods?” It’s not a real designation or classification of foods, but rather a marketing ploy to get you to buy that food. Underlining it though, is that these foods do pack a higher nutritional punch — Berries, which are high in fiber; fish, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids (which helps prevent heart disease); leafy greens, which offer phytochemicals and fiber; nuts; yogurt; and cruciferous vegetables, which may help against some types of cancer.

4. Why Plant Based Diets are Here to Stay

@beyondmeat

You want to live healthier and better? Well, here goes a controversial topic — eat more plants, less meat.

There, I said it. So what’s your gut reaction? Did you shrug your shoulder so what, or did you think I’m one of those hippie, hipster, planet-saving people? Either way, read on and see if we can find a reason why that works for you.

And just FYI, in the course of researching this topic, I’m gonna try myself to be more plant-based.

Reasons why to eat more plants:

  1. Lose weight — Decades of research, show that a plant-based diet is effective for controlling or losing weight, improved physical and emotional health, and a multitude of health benefits: lower mortality, better cardiovascular health, prevention of type 2 diabetes, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
  2. Feel healthier — “You will be a healthier person. It’s anti-inflammatory, it’s fiber full. It’s going to be decreasing your cholesterol levels. Your digestion is going to improve,” Tello says.
  3. Do your part to help prevent climate change — Meat such as beef and lamb is particularly inefficient to produce, because livestock need lots of space to graze, and that land is often space that used to be covered with forests.

Objectively, is red meat bad for you? It’s important to make a distinction between different kinds of meat. For example, grass-fed and organic meat is nutritionally different than factory-farmed, processed meat.

5. Run for 10 minutes

@headspace

Most of us don’t run for exercise because we hate it, or we find it boring. But here’s the thing: If we’re so busy with life and trying to stay as productive as possible, you really can’t argue with the fact that for just 10 minutes outside running, you’ll get a fantastic workout with minimal impact on your schedule.

That’s it, that’s my selling point. Running may still suck, but for just 10 minutes, you can get your healthy dose of exercise in and done with.

If you’ve been with me, you know I use the Headspace app to do my daily meditations. It also has a great section where they coach you while on a run, hosted by Nike trainer Chris Bennet. Big takeaways for me are:

  1. Give yourself permission to run smart, not hard.
  2. As you’re running, relax and run slower. This way you’re more likely to enjoy your run, and therefore more likely to so running again next time.
  3. This is a win. The fact that you’re even running is awesome. Doesn’t matter if it’s slow, fast, hard, easy, whatever. It’s a win simply because you’re doing it.

6. On-the-Go Solutions to Live Better

@karl_shakur

In this final journal about our quest to live healthier, live better, I’ll dispense with my easy tips. You’re welcome.

Quick tips to live better:

  1. Buy better snack bars — According to this article, RxBars are one of the best due to their simple ingredients. Therefore, avoid snack/granola bars with tons of sugars and ingredients.
  2. Also carry a water bottle — Once again, here’s my favorite.
  3. Keep workout clothes and shoes in the car — Get into the habit of keeping these in the car, so you’ll never have an excuse to not workout.
  4. Run while doing your errands — I literally mean, run from the parking lot to the store entrance.
  5. Going traveling? Hit up the local grocery store and pick up some healthy snacks. If you’re going to a conference or a work meeting, chances are they will only have donuts and cookies.

References

  1. The Truth Behind What Intermittent Fasting Does to Your Body
  2. You Asked: What High-Fat Foods Should I Be Eating? By Markham Heid
  3. CAN YOU EXPLAIN SUPERFOODS TO ME, AN AVERAGE GUY WHO WANTS TO FEEL SUPER WITH THE MINIMUM AMOUNT OF EFFORT?
  4. Carbon footprint
  5. Is Red Meat Bad for You, or Good? An Objective Look
  6. Sakara Plant Protein
  7. How Eating Less Meat Could Help Protect the Planet From Climate Change
  8. How to get into running by getting into your head by Kelton Wright
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6 Ways to Practice Influence (Then Become a Master)

TED Talks

I love first impressions. It’s a rare occasion to have a complete blank slate with someone, and you get to craft yourself into whoever you want! Maybe you’ll be the funny one, or the mysterious one. But introduce yourself poorly, and you could be forgettable or (worse yet) the boring one. For me, I aim for being immediately personable and relatable, with a touch of humility and humor.

Implement all 6 ideas and you’ll be a true influencer (not just the Instagram-type!).

1. Introduce Yourself to 3 People Today (And Here’s How)

Great article from TED on unforgettable ways to introduce yourself, where I grabbed a few of these gems, along with one of my own.

  • Forget the job title, instead describe the impact of your job.
  • People understand there are problems, and then there are solutions. So describe what you do in terms of problem-solving and how you solve things.
  • Pretend you’re talking to a child. How would you break down what you do that a child can understand. And then build up from there.
  • Power of humor. If there’s an opportunity in there to poke fun at where you’re at or use some self-deprecating humor, I’m down for that. Just beware if it’s a serious work setting.

2. Reciprocate

Although we’re talking about how to Be More Influential, let’s not lose sight of what’s really important — that we do things that will make other people’s lives better. In other words, use your newfound powers in influence for good! If you end up using influence to benefit just yourself, you’ll “live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” [Name that movie!]

Today, be more influential by doing something nice for someone. The only criteria is that it must be (A) personalized and (B) unexpected.

  • Personalized means you actually have to know something personal about the person! Then have fun by making it unexpected.
  • Science says: If the waiter provides one mint, starts to walk away from the table, but pauses, turns back and says, “For you nice people, here’s an extra mint,” tips go through the roof. A 23% increase, influenced not by what was given, but how it was given.
@kevinhart4real

3. Be In Demand

To be more influential, be in demand more. Easier said than done, right?! Yet, we all understand being in demand does lead to being more influential, right or wrong. We see this phenomena whenever there is that attractive person that everyone wants to date, or that guru at work that everybody goes to for help. Let’s explore what we can do to increase our demand.

“The more knowledge you have the more likely that you will propose options that are more attractive.”

Well, obviously. So before you engage in any discussion, go read a few articles on that select topic. This will at least inform you enough to be worth talking to.

“It’s not enough simply to tell people about the benefits they’ll gain if they choose your products and services. You’ll also need to point out what is unique about your proposition and what they stand to lose if they fail to consider your proposal.”

The key words are unique and what they stand to lose. You always need to be thinking, what is the interesting, uncommon, or new idea that you’re contributing to the conversation. If possible and appropriate, you may need to point out what you bring to the table.

4. Namedrop (The Proper Way)

To be more influential, name-drop, but do it the proper way! Turns out I’ve misunderstood what name-dropping means all these years! As I was doing my research, I hadn’t realized how improper people use this tactic, and hence such a negative perception of it, especially in job interviews. It hadn’t occurred to me because I don’t name-drop in the way these articles talk about! Let me explain…

“People name-drop for a simple reason: It’s an easy way to signal our status as a member of an exclusive in-group.”

To me, name-dropping is more like a citation in a thesis paper. I try to come from a place of humility and want to attribute what I’m about to say with who/where it came from. I think it’s a worse crime to take credit for a piece of knowledge that didn’t originate with you. In doing so, I acknowledge the listener may infer there is a relationship there. That’s why we should go a step further and caveat how we know the person and clarify the level of relationship. At the end of the day, we only have our integrity and reputation, so don’t do anything to damage those!

@simonsinek

5. Are you dependable?

Take an honest look in front of the mirror and ask yourself, “do people currently depend on you to get things done?” When you do, is it right away? Or a week later? Maybe just before the deadline? If you want to be more influential, then make yourself the go-to person. If you become the go-to person, that’s an acknowledgement that you’ve become important to that person’s life. Now isn’t that the very definition of influential?

“One recent study reduced missed appointments at health centers by 18% simply by asking the patients rather than the staff to write down appointment details on the future appointment card.”

This is the reverse of what we’ve been talking about. To increase your influence, get the other person to commit to something. The pro-tip here is to get them to agree to something small, and then go from there. For example, invite them to a work meeting and when they show up, that’s commitment which you can then grow.

6. Flatter people

Persuasion science tells us that there are three important factors.

  • We like people who are similar to us.
  • We like people who pay us compliments.
  • We like people who cooperate with us towards mutual goals.

No wonder we get along with our friends — they prob share the same hobbies & values, you compliment each other (“way to go bro!”), and they help us whenever we’re in need. Stands to reason, what if we can convert “coworkers” into “friends?”

Which do you behave like?

In a series of negotiation studies carried out between MBA students at two well-known business schools, some groups were told, “Time is money. Get straight down to business.” In this group, around 55% were able to come to an agreement.

A second group however, was told, “Before you begin negotiating, exchange some personal information with each other. Identify a similarity you share in common then begin negotiating.” In this group, 90% of them were able to come to successful and agreeable outcomes that were typically worth 18% more to both parties.

Takeaway: You’ll get more out the situation if you actually care about the other person and create some rapport.

References:

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How to Harness Change

@__nitch

Get a Learning & Open Mindset… Fast

We all know people that we think of close-minded. Why are they like that? Are we like that?! You betcha. For example, traveling to a foreign land will highlight this within us. So the question becomes, how do we keep that open mind, really learn from others, and get the most out of every situation.

@dlcanxietysupport

What typically prevents me from having an open mind and willing to learn from others (besides my ego and being arrogant), is because I’m preoccupied.

Feeling frustrated or stressed?Too much going on in your life? Trust when I say — IT WILL PASS. Think about every time you’ve ever been angry or lonely or anything. The emotion eventually passes, right? Realize this too will pass eventually, and in acknowledging that, it passes faster!

  1. Acknowledge you’re feeling which way.
  2. Tell yourself this emotion will eventually pass.
  3. Let the emotion run its course.

Do something NOT in your routine. Our brain is trained to be as lazy as possible, therefore it sticks to routines and habits as much as possible. Break the routine and your brain is forced to think, and voilà, open mind!

  • Take a different route to your destination.
  • Order an unusual dish or drink.
  • Sit in a different location or better yet, stand up!

3 Small Changes That’ll Really Work

@aloyoga

Everybody talks about making small changes, but does anything ever change? Usually not because it lacks solid commitment and follow through. We’ll talk a bit more about below, but for now, let’s talk about 3 easy, small changes we can make. If you try any of them but then fall off the wagon quickly, then our talk below will really speak to you. But for now, try these.

Vulnerability — Geez is this word overused. What does it even mean?! Tell people about your insecurities?! “Hi, you don’t know me but I want you to know I have dandruff.” To me, the real goal here is don’t pretend to be confident, pretend to know what people are talking about, or hide your true reactions. Just let people know you have a question, and chances are they feel the same way.

Negativity Kills — Like the Jedi saying goes, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to tweets you’ll regret later.” Bottom line, a negative mindset shuts down the ability to accept or make change. So, every time you find yourself going negative (complaining, whining, commenting) just STOP.

Wake up just 15–30 minutes earlier. You’ve prob heard this advice before, but what will it take for you to really commit to do this? Until you can answer that, chances are you’ll keep snoozing your life away.

Big Changes Require a Bigger Strategy

@mindset.developers

Sooooo how are you at making changes in your life? At accepting change when it happens to you? Don’t worry, we all suck at it. Since I’m such a routine guy, when I don’t get to enjoy what I love to do, it leaves me all frustrated. For example, one time I was trying to get to a trailhead to start a hike but couldn’t find it. It got so late in the day that even if I found it, I wouldn’t have made it to the campsite before dark. I just couldn’t let go of the goal, when clearly a change in plans was needed. (Feel sorry for the person I was hiking with!)

Change will keep on happening, so let’s try some tactics on how best to handle it. Adapt and be happier.

Think Things Through — We’ve tried to change before and it didn’t stick — why is that?

  • Question your beliefs — Why do you think you can’t wake up early? Why do you think you don’t have time for a quick workout? Chances are… there probably isn’t a good enough reason. Acknowledge it, then commit to change. (I know, I don’t like the commitment word either.)
  • Delete, Delegate, Defer — In other words, you might be getting consumed by useless or lower-value added stuff in your life. Think about the things you have to do, and if you can not do them (delete), ask someone else to do them (delegate), or do them less frequently (defer).

Accountability & Penalty — Think of a friend or coworker right now. Ask that person if they can be there for you, or better yet, to team up and make the change happen together. For example:

  • Workout/Walking Buddy — You’re more likely to not be lazy if you disappoint someone.
  • Check on You — Tell them your goal, and that if you don’t meet it, that you’ll give them (or a charity of their choice) money.

Create the Change. Yeah, I’m talking to you.

@petesouza

I’m trying to change everyday. Maybe it’s trying to run faster or longer. Maybe it’s to staying aware of an open mindset and not getting stressed out. I try to think of huge game-changers for my startup (I’m talking about this, Venture Out!). I try to persuade friends to do certain things with me. Bottom line, when are we not trying to create some sort of change? Below are my two go-to tips.

Explain Why — Too many times we go straight to implementing change, and when we meet resistance, we wonder why. It takes courage, but you need to explain your reason why and once people understand, they may get on board or, better yet, offer ideas to help. Master Sinuk explains it best in his legendary TedTalk. (You’re living under a rock if you haven’t watched it yet.)

Steve Jobs’ Distortion Field — I read Walter Isaacson book on Jobs, and how he used “distortion field” on his teams. My interpretation of this “distortion field” is the ability to believe in success so much, that everybody else also starts believing it. In other words, you need the people around you to believe for themselves that the change is achievable. For example, people don’t start a diet until they believe it’ll actually lead to results.

References and Recommendations

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Travel Smarter

How do I plan my adventures?  Here’s how.

While in Nepal, I met a German guy who had a spreadsheet of places he wants to visit, with additional notes on best time of the year to visit, currency conversion rates, so that he could be ready to go at an instant’s notice.  I’m not suggesting we need to be that efficient, but the man has a point.  Adventures don’t just happen, they require some serious planning… and a bit of spontaneity.  

Just go onto Instagram and see where everybody else is going.  Just kidding.  

  1. Identify what kind of adventure is this?  Relaxing, thrill-seeking, bucket list, off-the-beaten path, city or outdoors.
  2. Use resources like The Guardian and Lonely Planet for ideas, and sample itineraries. For example, if you’re going to Chile for 4 days, see what they suggest and modify from there.
  3. Keep track of all your bookings and itinerary with TripIt.  You simply email all your flight, hotel, rental confirmations and the app automatically sorts them by date.  Easy access to your confirmation codes and the app also includes maps of airports.
  4. Lastly, start a list you keep on the cloud (Google sheets, Evernote), and keep a list of ideas for future trips.  This way whenever you see or hear something you like, note it here. 
@toledobendlakecountry

About to travel?  Here are my tips.

I’ve been to every continent and on a wide variety of types, from city hopping to solo hiking to left-hand driving through a country.  Admittedly, I’m getting overconfident with my packing abilities and find myself under packing sometimes. Below are some of my tips on how to properly prepare BEFORE you go, and take some stress out of it.

Packing Tips:

  • Roll your clothes, it does save space.  Like this, Kondo style.
  • Start a packing checklist you can keep in the cloud (Google Sheets, Evernote).  This way you’ll always improve for the next trip and never forget power cords!
  • Does this adventure involve lots of destinations, if so, pack only essentials and go light.  If you’re not moving around much, then splurge on the comfort items.
  • Toiletries can get messy.  Here are two gadgets that help keep them in order – a superb, reusable toiletry bottle for soaps and lotions, and the best-designed toiletry bag, ever.
  • Don’t buy $5 bottle of water and contribute to plastic waste, bring your own bottle.  My current fav.

Safety:

  • Take a picture of your passport and email it to yourself.  Always have secure access to it.
  • Don’t like the NSA all up in your business?  Then you may not like this tip: Register with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), where they’ll keep you informed of any dangerous events and notify you of the nearest embassy.

Ease:

  • Consider signing up Global Entry (which automatically includes TSA Precheck), and reduce wait time through security. $100
  • Use Google Maps and download maps for offline use.  In other words, mark down all the hotspots (your hotel, major sights) on Google Maps, download the map, no need for wifi, and never get lost.
@thismamacan_dice

At the airport or on the plane?  Here’s how I make the most of it.

I actually love being trapped on a plane like a sardine in a tin can.  It’s a confined space with no internet, and thus no distractions.  This is where I use a combo of catching up on entertainment and people, and powering through my to-do list.  Only way it could get better is if I could get cold brew coffee on the plane.

Actually, the trick is to prepare for the airport and plane ride BEFORE leaving the house.  You can’t trust airport wifi to be fast, so do all your setup before you go.  

For entertainment:

  • Download them movies.  Especially now that Netflix allows you to download and watch them offline.
  • Bring those magazines you haven’t gotten to.  Rest your eyes from electronics and dispose of the mag after you’re done, shedding weight along the way.

For productivity:

  • Email people.  While on the plane, it’s the perfect time to spend quality time responding or writing emails to people in your network that you haven’t caught up with recently.  Then when you get back to internet connection, they all send out.
  • Journaling and writing.  Take a moment to reflect.  Write about the state of your relationship, or something that’s bothering you at work, or an idea that you have.  Currently using Scrivener.
  • Plan your next project.  Whether it’s building a piece of furniture or your next big project at work or your side hustle, use a mind-mapping app to break it down.  Currently using MindNode.

Adjust:

  • If you’re going to a significantly different timezone, then I actually start living to that new timezone that day.  In other words, if it’s 10PM at the destination, I’ll start going to sleep wherever I’m at.  If it’s 7AM at the destination, I wake up and eat a big meal to get my body used to it.
@philngyn

While on travel, here’s what I always keep in mind.

My last trip was to Iceland, where I drove around and slept in a van for 5 days, before spending two days in the capital Reykjavik.  I’ve declared it a success because I did not die.  And on top of that, my planning worked out despite having to adjust last minute (instead of driving up through the center of the country, I had to drive around the entire country).  For me, that’s perfect – just enough planned mixed with some spontaneity.

  • First and maybe the most important thing – just be in the moment!  After all that planning and traveling, it’s time to just go with the flow and see where it takes you.  All that prep has teed up this moment, so now it’s time to be open to opportunities and get to know your environment.  Look out for flyers for local events, or ask the local cashier what’s the best thing to do.  
  • Be mindful of local culture – For example, HBO’s miniseries Chernobyl is popular right now (and great btw), so Instagram people have been flocking there and taking inappropriate pictures.  Or, if there are signs to not walk on certain areas, it’s there for a reason and maybe it’s your safety!
  • Don’t stand out too much – Since I’m asian, I’ll prob have a large camera around my neck and can’t hide that.  But what I’m talking about is don’t dress is super bright colors and be screaming tourist.  Dress in drab colors and do your best to not stand out.
@junsue

Just got home from an adventure?  My post-trip checklist.

Just like a relationship, your trips need closure.  Do it properly so you have access to those memories the best way possible, and to also prepare for the next relationship, err, I mean adventure.  😉

  • Before you go posting on Instagram, check out Field Mag’s article where some expert influencers discuss how to be better than, well, them.
  • Remember how you created a packing list before your trip?  Well, time to update it with what worked and what didn’t.
  • Consider making a video of your trip, post on YouTube (you can limit who has permission to view it), and then it’ll be a fun way to share your adventures whenever it comes up!  Or if you’re depressed, to look back upon better days.  Here’s one of mine and one by someone far better than mine.
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The Power Behind Mapping Networks

We all have that friend or family member that everybody goes to for help and for advice.  Without that person, maybe the group doesn’t get together as often, like the glue that holds it all together.

Now think about who that person is at work.  Who’s the person that a lot of people go to for help on their project or to pass their ideas by first?  Why isn’t this person you?

Help & Advice Network is the hidden power structure

Help & Advice Network – This map shows how the work actually gets done everyday.  The map shows who people go to for help, regardless of where they are in the org chart.  Large clusters indicate a person who is highly valued, and therefore has a high level of structural power.  You need to know who these people, and float your ideas past them for advice.  Better yet, you need to become one of these people.

Create a map by:

  1. Write down the names of all people who is in your work unit or project.
  2. Ask each of them, “Who is the top 3 people you ask for help & advice?”
  3. Map them all out and behold!  Try this free tool: https://kumu.io

The Friendship Network is how to really change culture

Friendship Network – This map is also called the truth network, the love network, or the trust network.  Unlike the Help & Advice network, this map shows how who people are willing to share delicate information with.  In other words, you might go to Bob because you need his expert advice on what to do, but you’ll go to Jane when you have sensitive information.  These relationships are the fabric of the organization. 

Create a map by… the only way I know of is to simply connect with people at work, and listen closely for who they spend their time with, such as who they routinely go to lunch with.  The real benefit is that you’ll get a friend out of it too.

Where You Sit Matters

I recall a long time ago in my career when a window seat became vacant, and I was next in line to have it.  I was currently sitting right next to my lead and anybody who wanted to see him, had to pass by my cube.  Given the option to move to the window or stay, I chose to stay where I sat.  To this day, I remain happy with that choice and will always go to where the real influence is at.

Law of Propinquity – tendency for people to form friendships or romantic relationships with those whom they encounter often.

In other words, the probability of communication depends on the distance between us.  It’s common sense, but we take it for granted especially with the advent of telework and relying on texting, instant messaging, emails, etc.  The fact remains – the closer we physical sit to someone, the more likely we’ll develop a relationship.  So when you get offered that corner office but far away from your teammates, think twice.

References:

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POWER

The freedom to make my own mistakes was all I ever wanted.

Mance Rayder

In light of Game of Thrones ending, let’s discuss… what is POWER.

“Power resides where men believe it resides. It’s a trick. A shadow on the wall. And a very small man can cast a very large shadow.”

Varys

This quote resonates because we know, deep down, the power that comes from a job title is limited and temporary. Real power can’t be measured or described precisely, yet we know it when we feel it. So, how do we get some of that?

@nathalieemmanuel

Power, much like office politics, happens regardless if we personally like it or not. In other words, these terms may carry a negative reaction and we want to believe, “I don’t seek out power nor participate in office politics.”

I used to say, “you don’t have to play politics, but you need to be aware of it.”

Now, I don’t think there is a difference. How you choose to use your power or how you engage in office culture is up to you, and that’s where you can make a positive change. 

How to get more Power in the workplace

Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail, and never get to try again.

Petyr Baelish

Been conducting employee performance evaluations, and I gave an employee the feedback that I trust him to make the decision and to feel more empowered to make decisions. His response was, “but you’re the boss and I’m not. I don’t have the authority.”

Is this you? Or do you know someone like this?

Professor Erwin H. Schell at the MIT Sloan School of Management states there are three sources of power:

  • Role Based – Your job title gives you legitimacy, which comes with the ability to reward, ability to coerce
  • Personal – Your IQ, intelligence, expertise, persistence, charisma
  • Structural – Who do you know (social capital), what do you know (knowledge of network), and how do you leverage that

Which one do you lean on the most? I’d argue the worst of the three is Role Based, and should be used as minimally as possible. 

@sophiet

Power is Perceived 

Any man who must say ‘I am the King’ is no true King.

Tywin Lannister

I love this example I read recently. Let’s say you enter a meeting and you know everybody’s job title – CEO, Chief Finance Officer, Dept Heads, experts, and a newly hired employee. Upon entering, you see the CEO and the newly hired employee chatting and laughing. Then you see the new employee take a seat at the meeting table right next to the CEO and they whisper to each other some during the meeting. Where does power reside?

Remember that power can come from your position, your personality, and your knowledge of the organization and networks. If you want to increase your perceived power, you need to maximize all three areas, and then learn how to leverage them in balance to effect the change you want to make. 

Professor Roger Fisher gives us a few more ways to get specific power:

  • Power of skill and knowledge
  • Power of a good relationship
  • Power of a good alternative to negotiating
  • Power of an elegant solution
  • Power of commitment