New Years Resolutions: Let’s set some goals!

Hello men,

Happy New Year to all, time to get my New Year’s resolutions in full effect.

First off, I’d like to say thanks for your continued readership, and get ready for a lot of new developments on the site.

My life post Euro tour has been fairly hectic and all over the place, and I’ve only been posting about once a week or so on the blog the last few weeks.

That’s gonna change.

My goal for 2011 is to consistently post five days a week up in this beyatch, I got a lot of new content, and am excited to flesh it out on here

So with that being said, lets just jump right into the resolutions…

 

1. Post on the blog five days a week.

– Let’s keep it rocking yo. Feel free to email me questions at brad@realsocialdynamics.com if you want something answered.

 

2. Start tweeting like Lady Gaga.

– I’m prolly going to get a tweet feed pumping through the blog, writing more random little bullshit.

I’ve wanted to do it with blog posts before, but figured it would be better to keep the quality of the posts high, while tweeting about the more mundane stories of hangovers and dirty sheets…

 

3. Eat healthy again.

– It’s good being out in LA right now with Tyler, because he has jump started my healthy eating habits again.

I kind of looked at the Euro tour as a vacation and therefore enjoyed all the coca cola and fried calamari I could get my hands on.

No more!

Full paleo again with a stringent supplement regimen.

I’ll keep you posted on any changes I’ve made to the master diet plan. I finished Tim Ferris’ Four Hour Body, and have some new theories I plan on implementing.

 

4. Start solo skydiving.

– My goal is to be able to start BASE jumping by the time I’m 30, so I’d like to get 100-150 solo jumps under my belt before that time comes.

I plan on starting the Accelerated Free Fall training within the next few months.

 

5. Put on 10 lbs. of lean mass.

– When my diet went to shit, so did my workout regimen. So time to get those rocking in synergy.

10 lbs. should be fairly easy, I’ve lost some mass from the time off, and should reach this target within 6 months or so.

 

6. Pay off all credit card debt.

– This one has been over 3 years in the making.

I’ve had random credit card debt since starting college 10 years ago.

Before I was an instructor, I did a lot of trips to Vegas, NYC, and LA ended up on the charge card.

It was so bad at one point I got up to almost $20,000 in credit card debt!

Like so many prior to the economic recession, I was living a year ahead. Always spending what I PLANNED to make, as opposed to saving first.

I’ve been reining in spending for the better part of 3 years now, and slowly paying down my remaining debt.

This is the year! The end is finally in sight.

 

7. Learn a foreign language.

– The way my schedule is working, more than likely I’m going on a trek to Berlin for a few months this summer.

Another Euro tour, and taking language immersion courses in German for at least a month, and then immersing my self further…

That’s all I got for right now.

Typical goal building advice says don’t put too much on your plate at once when you are trying to set new goals and turn your life around.

This list may seem a little out of control, yet almost all of these are already a work in progress, and I just need to keep disciplined and balanced and they should be easily attainable.

I’m publicly announcing it as well to hold myself accountable, and to have a record of it for later in the year to check on my progress.

What are your new years goals?

Feel free to write them below to hold yourself accountable as well!

Again Happy New Year!

I’m off to Denver to do some snowboarding, then hotseat and bootcamp with Tyler!

Mile high city represent

Book Review: Henry Miller – Tropic Of Cancer

Banned from the United States for nearly 30 years, Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer is one of my top reads of 2010.

More than any other book I’ve read this year though, I have a lot of trepidation in suggesting it to my reader base, mostly because of my own perception of the book upon reading it.

I read the first 100 pages about 2 months ago, and the question that kept recurring in my head was “Who cares?”

The book didn’t seem to have a purpose, and the stories were all over the place.

But it was highly suggested by Saad, so after about a month of finishing up some other books, I started it over again.

After the initial read, when I started over the beginning of the book made MUCH more sense, and I could really understand what Miller was suggesting, and how to interpret the book.

In many ways, Miller exemplifies EXACTLY the type of material, teachings, and content that I strive to convey.

It’s a stream of consciousness writing, where he writes of his daily life, and how his perceptions and thought processes view reality.  You learn from his level of consciousness, viewing his world through his eyes, and it teaches you new ways of viewing your own reality.

When I’m talking philosophy with friends, the conversation usually diverges at some point towards asceticism, and although when I talk of it, it’s from a theoretical standpoint, Miller lives it, ELEGANTLY.

For much of the book Miller lives on the streets, couch surfing and hungry.  He lives the prototypical life as a starving artist, yet he doesn’t just survive, he excels!

You can see how his optimism seeps through a life situation where most people would devolve into depression and frustration, yet from his paradigm, he lives better than most.

His writing style is hard to swallow at first, especially myself as a non-fiction junkie, used to nuts and bolts type material.  Therefore I see many people who try to jump into this book becoming frustrated.

Miller forces you to a higher standard.  You must pay full attention or you’ll quickly get lost in metaphors.  He stacks metaphor on top of metaphor on top of metaphor to create explicit examples of what he is trying to convey, mixed in with a VERY high level of diction.

Me being a vocabulary nerd, I had fun reaching for the dictionary a few times a page, yet I could see some people finding this fairly annoying, yet it is extremely necessary to get the full meaning of what Miller is trying to elucidate.

I’ll end the review with the discussion I had with Saad after finishing the book over Skype a few days ago.

——–

[frame_left src=”http://www.bradbranson.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/henry_miller_nude_pingpongl2-e1301971523479.jpg”]Miller in his 70s playing ping pong
with his hot model girlfriend[/frame_left]

Brad: I was wondering what your take on it was.  Why do you like it so much and what did you get out of it?

Saad: yeah – the ending i really liked.
Saad: well – the fact that chaos brings clarity, for one.
Saad: it seemed to be so scattered for a while
Saad: but extremely detailed. he didnt hold back at all just how confused and overly stimulated he was by so many seemingly unconnected and meaningless things

Brad: ya, I’ll probably write a long review.  the first 100 pages or so I thought it didn’t make sense, but then I had to reread it once I understood what was going on and it made a  lot more sense, and I could understand his voice and perception

Saad: yet you definitely started to see a consistency after a while… the ‘real’ him, that neither he nor anyone he knew was truly, fully conscious of in terms of depth
Saad: because there wasn’t a typical ‘role’ for him to play in his society

Brad: then in the middle, all of a sudden it was an easy read, I think you figure out his “voice”

Saad: also – the end really broke it down for me
Saad: yeah exactly
Saad: the last line, when he says he thought about his wife, and everything he left in America, and about being a certain ‘type’ of person again
Saad: but he looked at the Seine and realized he was the same as the river – it doesn’t go back. It’s path is set

Brad: ah, i like that.  didn’t get that symbolism…  I got the river, and to “go with the flow” but not it’s ties to his former life in america

Saad: Truth is 10x as colorful and unexpected as we think it is, and about 100x messier

Brad: ya, I wish i could be that explicit [in my own writing], I give a fuck too much about how I’m viewed though…

Brad: It also holds you to a higher standard for my own writing, and the level of intellect he has for being well read, and his vocabulary is sick

Saad: lol we all do. He suffered a lot more than us though, mind you. And he was also livin in America and in the western world, for that matter, at the brink of its collapse

Brad: ya, and you see the by product of not giving a fuck.  having your books banned for 30 years

Saad: hahaha
Saad: exactly

Brad: what do you think someone should get out of it, from a self actualization standpoint?  i.e. why did you recommend it to bootcamp students other than being a good read?

Brad: I think it’s mostly because he gives you an example of how to optimistically view the world, no matter what your surroundings.  It’s like jumping into someone elses thought patterns, someone at a very high level of concsiousness…

Brad: and when he goes on a tirade about what a true artist is, and how they break away from the social norms.  The artist is the outlier, and how passionate you have to be.  Not living the average life…

Saad: that the path to letting go isn’t easy, follows no plan, and will be as painful as it beautiful, I would say. I mean.. the guy is completely lost and recreating himself… it almost hurts how chaotic and disconnected it seems. But at the same time… I’ve no doubt his detachment is exactly what made his appreciation and perspective so vibrant… his isolation and detachment gave him space to really see things in his own way. Recreating oneself is bittersweet

Brad: ya, I definitely identified with the detachment aspect, albeit from a much cozier background.  I also like how he states how easy and relaxed things are at the end when he all of a sudden has the security from having money… haha

Saad: yeah. there’s a really beautiful ‘ache’ to living on your own terms. It sucks and it fulfills you both at once in a way unique to everyone who decides to do it
Saad: haha yeah, something as simple as a cab ride. Because he’d had nothing for so long
Saad: I think everyone gets something different out of Miller – some people get nothing at all.
Saad: but for people who feel a strong draw to nihilism… to destroy the ideas they’ve been told to believe in because that’s what will make them free… for people like that, he’s brilliant and speaks directly to you.

Brad: ya, that is why I’m really putting a lot of effort into this review, because I don’t think it’s exactly what people would want to read, the self help non fiction junkies.  But I’m making it a rule to review every book.  And the fact that I got something out of it, I’m sure others will as well

Saad: But he’s not going to teach you how to achieve anything other than redefiniing the idea of ‘living at your edge’

Saad: sick, yeah I agree. Ties in well with the other ideas you’ve put out there, like Jed McKenna’s (who I still havent read by the way lol)

——-

If this review resonates with you, check it out!

How to Live Your Life Not in Reaction: Drop Out of College

I received this email today, and it’s a question I’ve had a few times now, so I figured I’d throw up the answer here on the blog.

It hit home especially because the questioner goes to the same university as my alma mater, and I’ve had similar thoughts along my own journey.

So check it out:

——————

“Hey Brad.. I’m sure you’re really busy, but as you and your blog have been a huge influence on my life lately, I would really appreciate any insight you have.

A while ago I read one of your posts that mentioned Jed McKenna, and I went on a two week tear, reading Jed McKenna books, and constantly loading up quotes on my iTouch.

Eventually got over it, but as of late, the be your own guru type of mentality that he advocates has just been flooding my brain.

I’m really paying attention to why I do a lot of the stuff I do, and I realize that most of my goals have been conditioned by someone or something.

I’m also getting pretty good at choosing my emotions, and I’ve gotten to a point where my lows still feel pretty good, and my highs are amazing. A lot of it comes from realizing when I’m approval seeking or outcome dependent in any way.

But anyway there’s this one thing constantly nagging at me, and I know that it’s outcome dependance, but it’s really messing with my head.

I’m a student at the lovely UW-Madison, it’s finals week, and I just can’t seem to take my tests and classes seriously.

I realized that the only reason I’m in school is the expectations of my parents, and I don’t know why I should care about school because I honestly can’t think of any job that I would like.

I switched majors from something I couldnt give a flying fuck about to something else that I couldnt give a, just because I want to get a degree and get it over with quicker and more easily.

I want to major in Developing my own personality, Learning about myself, and Living a fun life. I think I’m ready and capable to go off in the world, live an adventurous life, and that I would grow way more that way, learn about stuff I actually care about, etc.

I’m intelligent, and I just can’t imagine myself being homeless. I’m sure I’d manage a way to get enough money to live comfortably, and even if I couldn’t I would be much more satisfied being homeless as the result of the consequences of my choices rather than having stuff as a result of living up to others expectations.

Anyway, like I said, I know I’m way too focused on this goal, and my question is:

I think I’m pretty insane in the sense that I don’t care about stuff that nearly everybody else does (school, money, etc.).

Did you have an experience like that? How did you manage that barrier of uncertainty whether to care or not?

Right now, all my issues, I figure, are a result of outcome dependance and approval seeking.

For example, I think I’m fucking with myself for caring so much about what to do, and caring what my parents think. Is this accurate in your experience, and how would you deal with that?

Thanks a lot, you’ve been a real help in my life.”

————-

Hey dude,

Cool that you are at Wisco, alumni represent!  Papa’s from there as well.

First things first, study for your exams!

I also went to school for a lot of the wrong reasons, getting my masters degree in bacteriology along the way.

I didn’t know about the RSD or anything back then, and thought that I needed a successful career and money to get the right girl.

I even enrolled in medical school, but quickly realized that I really didn’t care about saving lives or helping people, it was purely for the prestige, nobility, and money that came along with a career like that.

Once I came to terms with the fact that I was going to medical school for all the wrong reasons, I had all those same thoughts as you how my school was a complete waste of time and MONEY, and how I’d never utilize any of it.

But then I had an epiphany one day.

I DO use my degree, everyday.

In a lot of ways I’m a social experimenter.  But instead of streaking plates of bacteria, I test my theories in the nightclub, with clients, and myself.

Look at this blog too.  I’ve published articles in scientific journals, and written hundreds of lab reports.

I thought it was a waste of time, yet, now I’m a writer.

All that process in school honed my writing skills and now I use that skillset for what I really want to do.

College is about learning how to learn, I’d go as far to say that 80% of the people I know never use their degrees for what they initially went to school for, but the skills you learn, the networking you gain, and just having the certification of a degree are what is most important about attending college.

My sister goes to Madison as well, and when she started I told her, “Find a major you LOVE, don’t worry if it’s philosophy or sociology, it’s not about WHAT you study.  Just find something you like so it’s easy to have a good GPA.  The job will find you after that.”

This is assuming you work hard to find a job after school, and when you find something you like, you immerse yourself in it.  Similar to what I talk about in this article.

As for caring too much about what your parents think, or what anyone thinks…

Either way, it’s good to have a degree, and college is FUN, some of the best years of my life.

Enjoy it, study hard and party hard.

Yes, we espouse at RSD the whole “don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks of you” but you still need to realize that even if you don’t identify with other peoples opinions of you, you still need to play in their arena.

You choose the costume to wear, and you can take things pretty far.  But there are certain “rules”, or views that are going to help when it comes time to look for a real job, or even start your own business.

At this juncture I usually recommend clients to read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris.

The Fountainhead because it gives you a good juxtaposition of 2 people in the same career path where one does it because of external reasons, and one does it because he loves what he does.

It was the final nail in the coffin for my prospective medical career, and ultimately led me on the path towards becoming a pickup instructor.  Heh.

Tim Ferris’ Four Hour Work Week is more for realizing the unlimited opportunities that we have in the internet age today, and how if you have any sort of creativity you can create a new type of career.

Also this book shows you a new paradigm where you look at your career as just a method towards providing the means for a certain type of lifestyle, as opposed to the whole 9-5 grind deferred life plan, where you identify with your career.

So good luck on your finals, and once there over, start READING.

And Happy Holidaze to everyone!!!

Book Review: Jed McKenna – Spiritual Enlightenment The Damnedest Thing

About 80% of the people that I suggest Jed McKenna’s book, Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing, become fucked up and depressed for about 4-8 weeks after reading it.

That is why I sometimes am apprehensive about suggesting it to people, yet it quite frankly might be the most influential book I have read, and my entire life philosophy is based around some of the core concepts of the book.

McKenna is the anti-spiritual guru.  Tyler suggested this book to me after I was really immersing myself in the spirituality stuff.

Reading hours upon hours of Eckhart Tolle, studying Ken Wilbur and other American philosophers, meditating and trying to become part of the evolving global consciousness…

McKenna cuts through all that bullshit.

The reason this book is so powerful is McKenna’s writing style.  On the one hand it’s very easy to read, and the book reads quick.  But the true value is in how forceful and crude his writing style comes across.

It puts the truth right in your face.  You really can’t deny it.

What is the truth?

What is the meaning of life?

There is no meaning.

Everything we do, every identity we create in life, is in fear of the fact that our life has no meaning.  Fear that nothing really matters and living is futile.

McKenna lays this out in such an elegant way, where the entire book builds concepts on top of concepts until everything falls into place exactly as it should.

It’s a teaching style I’ve incorporated into my own bootcamp actually. You build the framework, paradigm on top of paradigm, and then slam it home for the mind shift/epiphany.

My favorite two parts are the build ups during the campfire scene, and when Julie takes the “first step” in the last few chapters.

The book is written in a way where it’s you live through the writing process, and as events take place, you too go through the process of understanding EXACTLY what enlightenment is.

The whole nihilistic attitude associated with McKenna’s definition of enlightenment can be a little depressing, but that really is inherent if everything is futile.

But as you come to terms with this necessary truth, you truly can take an existential view and live your life as you please, choose whatever costume you like.

This is where the whole extreme self-love philosophy I talk about comes from.

McKenna explains that there is no reason to become enlightenment, how would your ego every decide to destroy itself?

It takes a cataclysmic event to even take that first step towards “destroying the ego.”

What he explains is more attainable, and a better way to live is spiritual adulthood, which is what he talks about in the second book of this series.

Spiritual Enlightenment:  The Damnedest Thing is the first in a trilogy of books.  I’ve read all three before, but wanted to reread them again so I could review each, and they just released the third book, Spiritual Warfare, in audiobook format.

I just finished listening to “Damnedest” again for the fifth time, and figured it would be good to throw a review up on here, so others will check it out.

I prefer audiobook format, the narrator is SICK and it really jams the concepts down your throat in a way that is hard to ignore.

So buyer beware, but check it out.

Take the swan dive into the abyss.

“Row, row, row your boat.  Gently down the stream.  Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream.

FORCED ENLIGHTENMENT: How Thieves Stealing Everything You Own Can Make Your Life Fulfilling

Some of the best thinking is done in the shower.

As I was relaxing under the warm spray of water today here in our Spanish apartment, I had a mind-blowing epiphany.

It involves a recent experience from a few days ago…

Pilgrim and I decided to enjoy a beer while waiting to check in at the hotel.

We chose a restaurant in an open square, surrounded by beautiful tall buildings, paved with cobblestone streets, and seated next to us were families at tables enjoying tapas.

As we sat imbibing cervezas, talking deep thoughts, a man walks over asking some question in Spanish.

“Espanol?”

“No.”

“Italiano?”

“No.”

“Frances?”

“No.”

The interaction takes all of 8 seconds.  He walks off, and we go back to our deep thoughts.

I gaze off to my left and about 100 meters away, see a man frantically waving, pointing towards my chair.

I had luggage next to the table, as we were between lodgings, and as I look down I notice my backpack is gone.

Articles in backpack:

4000€ in cash from students paying their balances
$2500 worth of camera equipment for in field footage
$2000 Macbook Pro
Digital camera
2 terabyte external hard drives containing all sorts of infield footage
10€ worth of tulips  (from Amsterdam for my mom’s Christmas present)  ;)

I jump up, turn 270 degrees and see the straps of my backpack as two men inconspicuously walk towards a side alley.

My initial thoughts are to shoulder check him, stunning him, and get the bag away before he sees me coming.

Luckily with the mixture of cobblestone streets and my Chuck Taylors, he didn’t hear me coming as I ran towards him.

Before he had time to turn, and in front of about 50 people I jam my left shoulder into his abdomen and grab the bag.

There was no sense of anger, no need for revenge.  It was pure desperation to get that bag back.

I didn’t even see if they ran.  The sense of relief enveloped me.  I went back and finished my beer.

——

Now that alone took a little time to deal with.  Even with my nihilistic tendencies, it was hard to detach from thoughts like, “what would I have felt like/done if I lost almost $15,000 worth of my shit?”

It fucked with my head for a while, but luckily a nice long bath, and some new friends coming to visit, quickly got me into a better state, and the incident slowly turned into a laughing matter.

How does this relate to the epiphany I had today?

Well, it ties into the fact of why I have so many damn euros chilling in my backpack.

Again, I haven’t been able to deposit money into a checking account while I’m here in Europe, and I’ve randomly had a few students pay their balances in cash, which happens from time to time.

I was in the shower and excited about finally getting back home, paying off some student loan debt, some credit card debt, and how good it will feel to be “back in the black” in the finance department.

Then the realization kicked in.

What would actually be different if I paid off those debts right now?

What food would I eat, what sort of traveling would I do?

How would it be any different if the bag had been stolen?

How would it be any different if I was a millionaire for that matter?

In actuality, I would probably be living my life exactly the same.

I don’t care to be a spend thrift, buying rounds of shots or expensive dinners.

I eat well, but not extravagant, and that wouldn’t change either way.

I would still be doing the SAME thing.  Bootcamps are fun for me, traveling is my passion, and partying my hobby.

If I was rich, I would probably be doing the exact same thing, except I’d have a nicer watch.  ;)

It made me realize that, everything is good right now.  Why stress, why worry?

Debt, financial success, money, these are all symbols, all non-entities that humans of course need for commerce and economy, but have no true meaning.

Why let them affect how you view yourself, or how you view your life or reality?

Be happy now.  Live life in the moment.  Everything is as it is.

Nothing will fill the void.

No amount of money, no net worth, no amazing lifestyle.

What are you here to gain?

Here to fill?

Nothing will fill that void.

Jump into the void…

 

You are the void.

Book Review: Tony Robbins-Awaken the Giant Within

I thought that I had already read Robbins’ Awaken the Giant Within a few years ago in audio format, but once I started reading this tome again, I realized pretty quickly that my life was about to change.

If you are working towards the goal of self actualization, this is one of THE BEST books towards understanding your emotions, thought processes, desires, goals, and just gets you living your life based on your own standards as opposed to living life in reaction.

I’ve never heard anyone explain this book in this way, but a constant question I hear from clients, and one I’ve had often in my own path towards actualization is, “How do I stop living my life in reaction and bring value from within?”  “What is true self esteem and how do I get it?”

Even questions like “What is my identity?”  “Who am I?”  “What do I value?”

All of these are tackled and explained in a very easily understandable lucid context with ACTION steps towards creating EMPOWERING thoughts, filters, values, and belief structures to make your life fulfilling and FUN.

It is LONG, but there is no fluff.  It’s crazy, at times I wanted to put the book down because I was just tired of reading so much, but it kept on giving me more and more to think about and concepts to analyze my own thoughts and behaviors.

If you haven’t read this yet, ALL of it, you need to get on it ASAP.  Push through the pain of it’s length, and stop living your life in reaction.

The one thing I have heard often from people who read it was that they regretted not doing the exercises, and I made sure to do them, and helped a lot!  SO DO THE EXERCISES!

Awaken the Giant Within – Tony Robbins

And as a special bonus: here is the last page of the book, which is I plan on reading often:

What’s the message?

Live life fully while you’re here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You’re going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process! Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes: find the cause of your problem and eliminate it. Don’t try to be perfect; just be an excellent example of being human. Constantly find ways to improve yourself. Practice the discipline of CANI!; be a lifelong learner.  Take the time now to set up your Master System so that the game of life is winnable. Let your humanity—your caring for yourself and others—be the guiding principle of your life, but don’t treat life so seriously that you lose the power of spontaneity, the pleasure that comes from being silly and being a kid.

Eighty-six-year-old Nadine Stair said it best:

“If I had my life to live over again, I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax. I’d limber up. I’d be sillier than I’ve been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances, I would take more trips, I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.  I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would, perhaps, have more actual troubles but fewer imaginary ones. You see, I’m one of those people who was sensible and sane, hour after hour, day after day.

Oh, I’ve had my moments. If I had it to do over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothins else—just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot-water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute. If I could do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over, 1 would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances, I would ride more merry-go-rounds, I would pick more daisies.”

—NADINE STAIR

How do you want to be remembered? As a giant among men? Start acting that way right now! Why wait to be memorable? Live each day as if it were one of the most important days of your life, and you’ll experience joy at a whole new level. Some people try to conserve their energy so that they’ll last longer. I don’t know about you, but I believe that what’s most important is not how long we live, but how we live. I’d rather wear out than rust out! Let’s have the end find us climbing a new mountain.

Tim Ferris Disagrees With Me: Sometimes It Is Good To Be The Best

I’ve recently fallen in love with Tim Ferris’ blog.

I randomly had 4 different people, from very different social circles, email me separate articles all of which came from Ferris’ blog.

It got me thinking, hmm…  There must be something to this?  I need to dig a little deeper.

Ferris’ book, The 4 Hour Work Week is probably in my top 5 books that I’ve read this year, so I would definitely check it out if you haven’t.

But today I want to highlight a recent post that ties into my post yesterday on not trying to be the best.

Being the best.  Or what he likes to call the “Superstar Effect.”

Check it out!

http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2010/07/27/the-superstar-effect/

The Superstar Effect is Pareto’s law on overdrive.

No 80-20 rule here.  It’s 99 to 1.

The difference between the highest paid actors and the masses below them.

Why the best nightclub gets the long line, while the number 2 sits empty.

What I like about the article is you can find ways to “hack” this concept.

You don’t need to take a lifetime and become the best, you can create a specific niche for yourself, and enter a new arena.

Check out the article and tell me what you think, and check out the rest of Ferris’ blog as well.

And do you guys like these linked articles?

I’m incorporating more “traditional” blogging techniques a bit, so I’m interested in hearing any feedback you guys have.

—–

Berlin!!!

Are You Sleeping Enough? Experiments in Sleep and Supplements

I’ve had this weird insomnia thing for the last week.

I think it was due to the fact that my circadian rhythm never caught up as I flew over here from the US a few weeks ago.

Another issue is how screwed up my travel schedule is.  Between waking up at weird hours for flights, and going out every night, my body has no clue when it should be sleeping or awake.

So I was having these weird issues where I would either be up until 7-8AM, and then sleep the day away, or I would be tired as hell, but right as I would doze off, my body would shudder and I would wake back up.

So weird.

The other side of this is that I recently tried out the new iPhone app called Sleep Cycle.

Let me just say I was VERY skeptical that this thing would work.

Basically you set it by the side of your bed, and using the accelerometer in the iPhone, it can tell if you are in a deep sleep or not based on how much you toss and turn while sleeping.

So, as skeptical as I was, I tried it out.  And it worked fairly well.  The moments where I felt awake, and had the opportunity to check the clock, correlate to the most movement on the graph.

Let me show you the first 2 days I used this cool app.

As you can see, on the first day I had 2 fairly long sleep cycles.  Nice.

Day2 was a little more sporadic but still had a decent sleep.

The next 2 days were much more erratic.  Check it.

The third day wasn’t horrible, but day 4 I didn’t sleep AT ALL.

Something needed to be done.

Now, I’ve never taken a sleeping pill or anything before, and I am always very apprehensive when it comes to dependencies and drugs, but I had remembered Tyler talk about Melatonin, and how it is a natural hormone that we release about half an hour before bed, helping you fall asleep.

Here’s a little wikipedia description:

Melatonin, also known chemically as N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, is a naturally occurring compound found in animals, plants, and microbes.  In animals, circulating levels of the hormone melatonin vary in a daily cycle, thereby allowing the entrainment of the circadian rhythms of several biological functions.

There seems to be little to no side effects from taking this natural supplement, and it may also be a good antioxidant source as well.

So I went out, and luckily here in Amsterdam they seem to have everything, and bought some 100mcg pills of Melatonin.

The guy behind the counter said these were pretty weak, and when I look online I’ve seen them as high as 5mg.

About 30 minutes before bed I took 2 of these bad boys, and I’ll just let the picture do the talking…

Ahh, nice sleep all night with no interruptions.

I feel more relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to rock!

I’m not sure how often I’ll be supplementing with melatonin, I think it is great for switching up your long term circadian rhythm if you are traveling, or if you are having trouble sleeping, but like I said before, I already take 10 or so supplements, and don’t want to add any unnecessary extras to the regimen.

But the proof is in the pudding, this stuff works, and I’m happy I’ve found it.

I’ll try it again a few times and get back to you about long term results.

What are your experiences with melatonin?  Any side effects?  How often do you take it?