Satya Nadella (Microsoft CEO) on Leading Microsoft, Life and Career

Mar 2, 2018 -

Satya Nadella is the third CEO of Microsoft succeeding Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. He was born in India to a father who worked in government. After majoring in electrical engineering, Satya eventually found his passion in computer science. His first job out of college was at Sun Microsystems, which has since been acquired by Oracle. His 22+ years of experience at Microsoft included running Bing (Microsoft’s search engine) and Microsoft’s cloud business. Here he shares his insight on Microsoft, life and career.
How do you succeed two legends like Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer as CEO? 
Steve and Bill gave Satya the advice to just be himself. During the interviews for CEO, Satya was asked in the boardroom if he wanted to be CEO. His response was that if the board wants him to be CEO then he will. Most people who want to be CEO are adamant about it. But, that is just how Satya is.
What was it like discovering his first child had cerebral palsy?
Satya remembered an hour before his wife delivered his first son, he was asking himself when his wife would be able to go back to work. Then when his first son was born and the doctors said he had cerebral palsy, everything changed. All of his initial plans were thrown in the air. The first two years, he wondered why this happened to his family. His wife’s motherly instincts kicked in and she put aside her job and focused on her son’s therapy. It was through time and seeing his wife care for his son that Satya began to understand how to see the light through his son’s eyes and embrace his duty as a father. He soon moved part of the family to Vancouver to give his son the best chance of therapy.
How did Amazon become the leader in cloud when Microsoft was in the space first?
Microsoft’s server business was growing in double digits and had high margins. Then there was this other thing called the cloud and that was at the time a low margin business. Why would Microsoft focus on the low margin business. The key to business is to be able to foresee secular trends before they become conventional wisdom. If you are unable to do that in technology it is especially unforgiving as such is the case with Microsoft and cloud.
What changes did Satya Nadella made since assuming the Microsoft CEO role?
Satya had seen all of Microsoft’s failures for the past twenty two plus years and all of its successes. He understands why they failed and why certain things succeeded. Although there was a way of management with Steve and Bill prior, his focus is on the future and not to criticize the past. Satya emphasized openness and working with his competition to help create expansive markets. In addition, it would also help satisfy customer’s needs. He set out to change the Microsoft culture into one that was continually learning and growth as inspired by the Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset concept.
What motivates him to go to work on the daily?
The incredible sense of purpose in the company is what motivates him to come into the office each day.
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Coherent Arbitrariness Bias – Absolute Value vs. Relative Value

We are not very good at understanding the absolute values of products, but we are good at figuring out how much something is of value relative to other products.
Researchers asked subjects to assign values they would be willing to pay for a variety of different products, including a bottle of wine. However, they were first prompted to write  down the last two digits of their phone numbers. This basically provided the subjects with an “anchor”. In other words, they were predisposed to certain numbers, which would influence future thought processes. You could have guessed that those who had higher last two digit phone numbers assigned higher values to the bottle of wine than those with lower last two digit numbers. One thing that was consistent was the relative ranking of the products. For example, cheese was ranked lower in cost than wine or rice lower than cheese. While the prices were arbitrary, the rankings were coherent hence “Coherent Arbitrariness.”
In investing, the investor may anchor against stock indices such as the S&P 500 or Russell 2000 and the stock’s 52-week low or high. This anchor can be seen as arbitrary because though indices are the average of the market, each stock is unique and its value can diverge from the mean.
Similarly, past performance is not indicative of future performance. Just because a stockwas trading at $230 per share and now is trading at $20 per share (such was the case with Valeant Pharmaceutical (VRX)) does not guarantee that the stock will eventually go back to $230 per share.
Next an investor typically will compare the attractiveness of the company’s stock against other stock of comparable companies. Studies have shown that when analyst want to argue that their selected stock is cheap, they would find peers with high valuations. This begs to the question whether or not the analysis is objective or not. Furthermore, two companies in the same industry with similar growth rates can still have different business models with differing returns on invested capital. Therefore, you may be comparing apples to oranges and come up with incorrect conclusions.
At the end of the day, the coherent arbitrariness bias is something we need to watch out for. While it may be useful in comparing consumer products, it can be tricky when it comes to evaluating securities. Too often we anchor our beliefs and therefore improperly value companies. As an investor, the remedy to coherent arbitrariness bias is to remain as rationale and objective as possible when evaluating securities.
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6 Things I Wished I Knew When I Was Younger – Simon Sinek

  1. See the bagel.
One day, Simon Sinek ran a race with one of his friends and at the end of the race there was a sponsor giving away free bagels. There were tables full of bagels and lines of people waiting to get a bagel. Simon turned to his friend and asked if he’d want a free bagel. His friend said, “No, the line is too long.” At that moment, Simon realized there were two ways of seeing the world. You can see the thing you want or you can see the thing that is standing in the way.
2. Turn nervousness is excitement. 
Few years ago, Simon was watching the London Olympics. All the journalists would ask the same question to the Olympians, “Were you nervous?” All the Olympians would say, “No, I was excited.” The very physical reaction of nervousness, which includes heart pounding, palms sweating, and knees shaking are in fact also the same reactions you get when you are excited. Interpret nerves as excitement. 
3. You’re here to take care of others. Help yourself and help others too.
United States Navy Seals are considered the most elite forces in the world. In order to become a Navy Seal you need to first make it through BUD/S where only 1% survive. Who makes it through? Not the jocks, not the buff tattooed fellow, or the person who delegates all his work. Some of the guys who make it through are skinny or shiver out of fear. But, there is one thing in common for all those that succeed. When they are mentally and physically drained, they some how find the way to help those around them. The best teams are those who give to each other selflessly. They commit to taking care of each other. 
4. Allow others to feel heard.
Nelson Mandela was universally known to be a great leader. People have asked him how did you become such a great leader. He said that when he was a child, he watched his father run tribal meetings. He watched as his father allow others to speak before he did so himself. This allowed others to feel heard. Only after the tribe spoke, did his father voice his own opinion. Great leaders end the conversation. Practice being the last to speak when you are on the team.
5. Happiness is fleeting and fulfillment is lasting.
We confuse moments of happiness with joy and fulfillment. That feeling you had when you aced that test in college is gone. You don’t feel it today. Fulfillment is something you carry with you on a daily basis whether you are enjoying the day or not. The opportunity to serve those who serve others will bring your fulfillment.  
6. We all always deserve a Styrofoam cup.
If you are the CEO of a fortune 500 company, you’ll fly business class, be escorted to the hotel, and maybe someone will even pick up your dry cleaning. If you are lucky they will give you a ceramic cup for your coffee. The moment you stop being CEO, you don’t get to fly business class, or be escorted to the hotel, but you’ll still get coffee. Only that it will be in a styrofoam cup. That ceramic cup is not for you, it’s for the position you hold temporarily.
You are as valuable as the person next to you, below you in the hierarchy, or your boss. Being a CEO of a company is important, but as a person, you are just like anyone else. Respect others as you respect yourself. Don’t feel lesser than those higher in the hierarchy than you because they are just human.
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How to Never Have Awkward Silences in Conversations

You are doing well on your first date or social interaction with a new co-worker. You exchange pleasantries and for the first five minutes, all is well. Then comes the dreaded awkward silence. You blank out and you can sense the other person’s eyes wander and look for other people to talk to.
Play ‘reminds me of’ – Look to the environment and pick something that reminds you of something. This could help in opening up additional conversational threads that lead to more topics to talk about. Another thing you could do is tack on to what someone else just talk about and say that that ‘reminds you of’… People are attracted to people that are similar to themselves and related stories can help build a conversation bridge.
Ask open-ended questions – Rather than ask questions that have “yes” or “no” responses, ask people “how” and “why” questions. For example, how do you like California? Why did you choose being a nurse as a career? These questions will help the other person open up and they will start to talk about things that they are interested in.
Use revival questions– When you are in a new group and the conversation dies, ask “how do you know one another?” If you are just talking to one person, ask “so, what’s your story?” They will guide you to things they want to talk about. The question is so open that they will most likely ask “what do you mean? do you mean for work or for fun?” To which you gauge their tone of their voice and based on that lead the conversation to something they enjoy. Another question that can revive conversation is asking if they have any exciting plans for the future.
Make a complementary cold read – Begin your statement with, “you look like the type that would be good with… kids or someone that is into hiking. If you are right, the other person will feel connected and start to talk about that particular interest. If not, then you can talk about what led you to think that way.
Flip the script allow the other person to lead the conversation – If you get more comfortable with silence and take a deep breath, more times than not the other person will make a comment. If you repeat the last thing someone says, that allows them to continue to talk about their story.
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Five Simple Actionable Keys to Happier Living

Nothing is inherently good or bad, but your thinking makes it so.
Bob has always worked an office job for as long as he can remember. He dreaded coming in to work everyday. Like clockwork, he would be at his desk at 8:00 AM and stare into a black box until it was time to go home. He longed for a job outdoors.
Jim has always worked in the field for as long as he could remember. He hated being in the hot blistering sun for most of the day. There was no shade to be had where he worked. Day in and day out he was at the mercy of mother nature. He longed for a job indoors.
Human are hardwired to focus on the negative experiences because it was what helped us survive in the past. While we can not change our past experiences that have shaped us, we can rewire our thinking. We can help ourselves squeeze more out of our positive moments in life.
1. Be Grateful – There have been numerous psychological studies that have shown that when people write down three things they are grateful for each day for a month, there is a long lasting positive physiological impact on their lives. Being grateful for what you have helps us open up to more ideas and options.
2. Raise your inner awareness –  Being in the present moment and being aware of what is inside helps the mind focus. We are less happy when our minds wander. How do you do this? Focus on you breath by breathing in and out. When you notice your mind wandering just bring it back. Does that make you feel more relaxed and calmer?
3. Connect with other people – It doesn’t matter if you are introverted or extroverted, everyone needs to feel connected to other people. If we feel lonely that can actually increase our chances of depression. Studies have shown that feeling lonely can be just as bad to your health as smoking or obesity. How can you connect with other people? Start by giving more to others. We can give our time, money, or skills.
4. Exercise for your body and mind  – Aerobic activity helps stimulate the growth of brain cell production. Yes, that’s right. Not only is it great for your body, but it will help you think more clearly and effectively.
5. Be curious and try new experiences – Do you every wonder why kids seem happier than adults? As a kid, you had more novel experiences and everything seemed exciting. But as you got older, you started to do more of the same. Trying different things is a fun way to keep your brain functioning optimally. The more you learn, the more connections you’ll develop, and thus leading to more creativity and happiness.

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The Reason Why You Haven’t Achieved Your Goals

Pick your goals and stay focused on them and check your list and keep going back to it all the time. That goes against what we’ve ever said about the goal. However, that is the mantra we’ve all been exposed to.
We all talk about setting goals, but how do you actually achieve your goal?
When Reggie Rivers was in sixth grade, he wanted to ask a girl out named Lasandra Johnson. She was the most beautiful 6th grader God had ever created. He used to look at this girl and wanted Lasandra to be his girlfriend. He was young and afraid, so he didn’t say anything to her. But one day he was standing on the playground and decided that today was the day, he mustered up the courage to and asked his best friend, John Chenchurro to ask Lasandra to be Reggie’s girlfriend. John walks over and poises the question to Lasandra. John comes back and says that Lasandra said that if you want her to be your girlfriend, you have to ask yourself. But Reggie wasn’t going to ask himself, so he kept thinking about Lasandra.
Lasandra had home economics the same period that Reggie did. He learned that he could switch his class from wood shop to home economics. Reggie walked into the principal’s office and switched classes. In home economics, Reggie asked another girl, Cara, to move over, so he could sit next to Lasandra. When he asked Lasandra to be his girlfriend, she said no. However, long story short, she eventually became his girlfriend for about two weeks.
The purpose of the story was that Reggie focused on what was in his control and ignored the part that was outside your control.
Focus on the behaviors rather than the goals.
If you are a student and you want to get an A, you have a teacher who is going to give an assignment. You have a teacher who is going to grade your work. You don’t control what your grade is. If you want to be the world’s best salesman, you don’t get to do both sides of the transaction. You have to find the customer and provide the service or product.
Goals require the participation of other people. Behaviors you can control on your own.
Think about the times when you’ve wanted your kids to get something done. For example, you tell them to finish their homework. We want it for them so much that we spend most of our time getting agitated. The reason we get agitated with them is because the kids won’t do what you had in mind for them in terms of the goal. You can’t control what your kids so, but you can control your reaction to your kids. You control rewards and consequences. you control your behaviors.
How do you control your behaviors?
Understand that when you set a goal in my life whether it be to lose weight or whatnot, your behaviors are short term. It is hard to control your behaviors for more than seven days. Ask yourself, what can you do today that will get you closer to your goal? What can you do tomorrow? What can you do next week to get closer to the goal?
If you plan out your behaviors that will lead up to your goals, it is easier to work towards them. Because even if you don’t achieve them right away, you will feel good about what you’ve done in that period. You aren’t worried about not losing X amount of pounds or how much sales you’ve made. If you work on your behaviors and track that the behavior will get you closer to your goal, then you will know that eventually you’ll get there.
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Three Steps to Finally Pursue Your True Calling

Find Your Resistance

Have you ever bought one of those abdominal crunch machines and brought it home only to let it collect dust? Or perhaps joined a gym and end up not going? Or stop short of starting a business you’ve always wanted to do? What has stopped you is Resistance.
Resistance is that voice in your head telling you that today is NOT the day to do it because you aren’t ready, your kids soccer match is today, or you aren’t completely financially comfortable.
Resistance is not a real voice. Use your eyes to take a look at resistance. What do you see? You can’t see anything because it doesn’t physically exist. It isn’t a physical barrier. In fact, it’s your own mental construction. Have the courage to step beyond Resistance.

Acknowledge the Need to Take Action

The consequences of ignoring Resistance is that you will lose your entire life. How many people work jobs where they are only in it for the money? Then when they look back, they realize they’ve just wasted all that time pursuing something they didn’t care so much for.
Patients that are diagnosed with terminal cancer suddenly have a prolific realization of what they truly enjoy doing. Usually they recall an experience they had as a kid. As they got older, instead of pursuing their childhood dreams, they shelved their dreams for a more “practical” career like being a lawyer. When these patients were encouraged to follow their dreams, surprisingly enough, some of the cancers actually went into remission. Is it possible that we get cancer because we don’t do what we were born to do? But more importantly, don’t wait until you have terminal cancer to realize your dreams.
The idea is to become the best version of your authentic self. Find that calling, then get out of your own way, and go for it! You don’t have to quit your job, start by doing it a couple hours on the side after work.
Ask yourself, what is your calling? Warren Buffett once said that you ought to do what you love doing. You can’t necessarily find it on your first job, but don’t give up until you find it.
Embrace what you love doing and then cultivate that. What brings you joy? What is your unique ability? The answer goes back to is what do you feel resistance to. What activity produces the deepest terror and that’s what you need to start doing more of.

Embrace Resistance and Become a Professional

Make that mental shift from looking at something as an avocation and turn it into a vocation. This is the shift from the point of view of a weekend warrior versus a real warrior. The professional attitude keeps you from becoming impatient and taking failures and successes too personally. The professional goes at it hardcore with a no BS attitude. As a professional, you go at it day in and day out. That’s what will keep you going and not that external praise. You can fail, but just keep going. Eventually you will get there. There will be a lot of resistance, but embrace itThis is normal and the more you feel resistance then the more important it is for you to do it. 

Stay in a place where you are putting yourself in a place of discomfort. Not in a place where you are safe and feel as if you’ve gone through it all many times. Delve in like you would have done when you were in your early twenties and abandon everything and hope for the best. Putting yourself in a place of discomfort gets harder as you get older. But so what? What do you have to lose? You may have a lot to lose but be willing embrace the possible pitfall.
In summary, find the task or project where you are feeling the most resistance to starting. Then understand the urgency of the situation. You only have one life to live and time goes by fast. Why spend it living someone else’s life? Finally, approach your calling as a professional and embrace that there will be challenges along the way. After all, nothing worth doing has ever been easy. Take the first step today!
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Insights on Investing and Life Advice from Charlie Munger

Scott Derue the Edward J. frey Dean of Business gleans life and investing insights from the incredibly intelligent Charlie Munger.
Benjamin Franklin once said, there are two things you can do in life. “You can write something worth reading or do something that is worth writing about.”
Charlie Munger has definitely done something worth writing about. Growing up in Omaha during the great depression left a lasting impression on Charlie. Most people that are currently alive have no idea what it was like. Charlie described growing up near a hobo jungle not too far from his grandfather’s house. The rich people didn’t even have any money and people were begging for a meal.
You have a morally duty to make yourself as unignorant and unstupid as you possibly can. Rationality is a moral duty. – Charlie Munger
Living through the great depression was a tough period. He saw his grandfather and uncles’ children (highly educated, civilized, generous and decent people) do quite well in the 1920s. But when the 1930s came, there was no work. Everyone went broke and they had to “cut their houses in half” and move their relative into one house. But, they were not all that unhappy. In fact, you can cope pretty well because you get used to it.
Charlie Munger jokes that a good day when you are old is when you wake up in the morning and nothing new hurts. 
The great depression was fixed accidentally by Keynesian economics. Keynesian economics advocates increased government expenditures and lower taxes to stimulate demand and pull economy out of the depression. Germany adopted the same economic policy through Adolf Hitler during the 1930s to 1940s though unintentionally. You could see Germany growing and becoming one of the strongest European countries.
Charlie’s values: 
  • Family comes first
  • Be in a position so you can help others when they need it
  • Being prudent – acting with or showing care and thought for the future.
  • Moral duty to be reasonable
Charlie went to law school because it was the least bad of the options and nowadays it people probably go to business school. In his first 13 years of law career, he made $350k total in the law business and he had to feed an army of children. It wasn’t a lot of money. When he started his investment firm, he had over $300k in liquid capital which was ten years of living expenses. He was a cautious squirrel and saving more acorns then he needed to.
As soon as the capitalist career succeeded, he saw the potential and was planning on lifting his second foot. He wanted more independent and hated needing money from richer people.
The whole game in life is to make sure your brain doesn’t mislead you through cognitive biases. 
Charlie met Warren Buffett in 1959. Warren bought Berkshire Hathaway because it was cheap (cigar butts), but Charlie and Warren knew that the business was going downhill. You can’t scale the cigarbutts business. The only way to make money was to liquidate it, which in hindsight is a dumb way to proceed.
The reason Berkshire has been successful is because they try to buy things that don’t need managerial talent at headquarters. If the business is lousy enough, no good management will be able to save it. 
Private equity usually buys a business and then hires talent. Berkshire usually hires with management in place. It may not be the top person but it could be the #2 that gets promoted. Everyone thinks you can judge a person through an interview, but the paper records is a better predictor of performance.
An executive recruiter found Ajit Jain and he didn’t have any experience at all. He came in and created an insurance business from scratch. He talked with Warren every night. Now it is the biggest reinsurance business in the world with at least $60B in net worth.
On Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, Charlie thinks that it is a crazy bubble. They say that bitcoin is limited, but man is somehow capable of creating more bitcoin unlike Gold. When there is enough incentive, bad things will happen. If it worked it would be bad for you because then you would try and do it again.
Suppose you have an advanced nation and another country that is living in poverty. Then you open up free trade, both sides are going to live better. China is going to go up way faster than the U.S.. Soon enough China, will become the dominant nation. The United States has to trade with China because the other countries are already trading with them. This means they will reach growth no matter what and therefore it is prudent that we are on good relations with them.
Last final advice
Marriage will affect your life for the better or worse. Charlie’s advice on marriage – keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half shut after marriage.
Get up, keep plugging, and keep learning and it is amazing how it turns out okay. Don’t have a huge ambition because the odds are against you. It is better to aim low. Most successful people have discipline, good virtue, and a lot of luck to get to where they are.
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How to Achieve Your Most Ambitious Goals

What stands between us and achieving even our most ambitious dreams has less to do with possessing some magical skill or talent than how we approach our problems and make decisions to solve issues.
Stephen Duneier was a consistent C or C- student up till his second year in college. His teacher all said the same thing. Stephen was a smart kid, but he needed to apply himself or focus. Stephen wanted to focus, but he couldn’t sit still for more than 5 minutes at a time. Finally in his junior year of college, he had enough and decided to make a change (a marginal adjustment).
This change would result in him graduating on the Dean’s honor list and on the President’s honor roll. He took that same approach and received his MBA from NYU. Stephen started as a foreign exchange options trader at Credit Suisse and later hired by Bank of America where he was eventually promoted to Global Head of Currency Option Trading. He then took it a step further and incorporated that marginal adjustment to his personal life. Eventually this led him to learn German, ballroom dancing, flying a helicopter, climbing iced waterfalls, and even holding the Guinness World record for largest crocheted granny square.
What margin change did Stephen make that led him to achieve his most lofty goals? 
Stephen took the largest tasks he had and broke them down into small incremental steps.Then along the way, he would also find better ways of doing things to increase his odds of success. For example, if he wanted to read 50 books in a year, to him it wasn’t about the number of books he had to read or the chapters, paragraphs, or sentences. It was about putting one foot in front of the other and reading one word at a time. By breaking the task into more manageable chunk, it kept him focus on the small tasks that he could achieve.
When I was at the bottom of the four mile Yosemite trail, I felt overwhelmed at the thought of walking uphill to get to the top. But there were “checkpoints”, one fourth of the way up you could start to see the top of the trees, halfway you could see the rivers below you, a third of the way up you would see half-dome and finally at the top you get to enjoy the gorgeous view. I put one foot in front of the other and took one step at a time. After two and a half hours of grueling and physical exhaustion, I reached the top!
Stephen noticed that his work commute took 45 minutes each way, 1.5 hours a day, 7.5 hours a week, 30 hours a month, and 360 hours a year. He decided to make a marginal improvement. One day on his way back home, he bought all 33 Pimsleur German CDs and ripped them to his iPod to listen in the car. But he knew that he would be tempted to switch his audio to music. So he took all his music out and that way he could only listen to the German language lessons.
Ten months later, he listened to the German CDs 99 times or three times each. He then took a 16 day intensive German course in Berlin. By the end of all this, he invited his family to meet him. He spoke German to the Germans and they spoke German back. His kids’ jaws just dropped in astonishment.
Novak Djokovic, a previously number one ranked tennis player, wasn’t always number one in the world. In 2005, he was ranked 100+, but rose to 3rd in the world in 2006 and in 2011 reached number one in the world. At these three stages, he won 49%, 79% and 90% of his matches, respectively. However, Novak doesn’t control these statistics. What he has control over is the decision he makes to give him the probability of such success. When he was ranked 100+ in the world he won 49% of his points, to reach 3rd in the world he only had to win 52% of his points. To become one of the greatest in tennis, he had to win 55% of his points. That is only a 3% improvement. While being tennis #1 is not an easy thing to do, these are the types of marginal improvements we need to make to achieve our own goals.
Break big goals to small goals and make marginal improvements along the way.
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Three Ways to Finally Pursue Your True Calling

Dec 18, 2017 -

Odysseus returns to Aeaea for Elpenor's funeral rites. First the Greeks must get past the Sirens whose irresistible songs lure sailors into their island's coastal reefs. Next they must avoid the Clashing Rocks, which only the ship of the Argonauts ever escaped.

As he sets sail, Odysseus passes Circe's counsel on to his men. They approach the island of the lovely Sirens, and Odysseus, as instructed by Circe, plugs his men's ears with beeswax and has them bind him to the mast of the ship. 

Even though he knew that the Sirens would lure his sailors to danger in the island's reefs,
Odysseus was curious and wanted to listen to the Sirens. However, he had plugged the ears of his men, so they would not hear the Sirens songs or Odysseus' requests to turn towards the island's reef. 

The Sirens voice is Resistance. Resistance is the fear of failure or success. It is that seductive voice that lures you away from finally starting to live your dream or what you were meant to do in life.

Learn to beating Resistance and find your true calling.

Have you ever bought one of those abdominal crunch machines and brought it home only to let it collect dust? Or perhaps joined a gym and end up not going to the gym? Or stop short of starting a business you wanted to do? What about some kind of philanthropic thing you said you'd do in the future but never got around to it? What is stopping you is called Resistance.

Awareness of this negative force called Resistance helps you tremendously in battling Resistance. Resistance is that voice in your head telling you that today is NOT the day to do it because it's either not the best time, your kids soccer match is today, or you aren't completely financially comfortable.

Once there is such a thing as Resistance and you realize that it is not a real voice, it is easier to dismiss it at and just keep going.

What happens if you just ignore Resistance and let it win?

You lose your entire life. The resistance is the negative opposite reaction to what your soul's calling is. If you were born to be a warrior or coach then you will feel resistance to that. If you listen to that voice and you don't do it then you lose your calling. How many people work jobs where they are only in it for the money? Then when they look back, they realize they just wasted all that time pursuing something they didn't care so much for.

A well-known therapist has a theory on patients that are diagnosed with terminal cancer. Their whole life image changes and suddenly they focus on what is really important and what isn't. They have some kind of prolific realization of when they were a kid they enjoyed painting or arts. But, instead they put their dreams on the shelf and became a lawyer or got their MBA. The therapist would encourage them to follow their dreams. Surprisingly enough, some  of the cancers actually go into remission at that point. Is it possible that we get cancer because we don't do what we were born to do?

Have you heard of the authentic golf swing? The idea that your golf swing is already there as a kid and is different from everyone else. Take a look at Tiger Woods' golf swing and how it looked when he was kid compared to how it looks now. It's nearly the same style. Similarly, kids are born into this world with their own personalities and everyone is difference from one another.

The idea of that you can be anything you want to be is a bit crazy. If you are 4'11 the chances of you becoming a professional basketball player are slim. But you can be great at a lot of other things. The idea is to become the best version of your authentic self. Find that calling and then get out of your own way. Go for it!

Ask yourself, what is your thing? Embrace that and then cultivate that. What brings you joy? What is your unique ability? What are you called to do? What is your true calling? The answer goes back to is what do you feel resistance to? What activity produces the deepest terror and that's what you need to do.

Learn the concept of turning professional. 

Make that mental shift from looking at something as an avocation and turn it into a vocation. This is the shift from the point of view of a weekend warrior versus a real warrior. The professional attitude keeps you from becoming impatient and taking things too personally failures or successes. The professional goes at it hardcore with a no BS attitude. As a professional, you go at it day in and day out. That's what you do and you are not dependent on external praise. You can fail, but just keep going. Follow your views and stars. There will be a lot of resistance, but embrace it. This is normal and the more you feel resistance then the more important it is for you to do it. 

Stay in a place where you are putting yourself in a place of discomfort. Not a place where you are safe and be like oh I've done this before and I know how to do this. Jump in like you would do when you were in your early twenties and abandon everything, give it your all, and hope for the best. It gets harder as you get older because you know when it's not going to work out. But so what? What do you have to lose? You may have a lot to lose but be willing for the pitfall. 
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There's More to Life than Being Happy - Emily Esfahani

Oct 1, 2017 -

Like Emily Esfahani, I also used to think the whole purpose of life was to pursue happiness.

My initial pursuit of happiness had led me to search for the ideal job, the perfect companion, and the best house or condo. However, when I finally got all of that, I was still left feeling empty. What was I missing inside that I couldn't explain?

I turned to books and would spend countless nights reading books on how to become happier. These books ranged from topics on Psychology of Optimal Experience to books written by the Dalai Lama and even a book written by arguably the "happiest person in the world" in Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill. While I did learn a tremendous amount from reading these books, I didn't feel any happier than when I first began reading. How ironic. 

So what truly makes people happy then? 

It turns out that the data shows that chasing happiness can actually make people unhappy. The suicide rate has been rising around the world. Even though life is getting objectively better by every conceivable standard, more people feel hopeless, depressed and alone.

Sooner or later we all wonder, is this all there it is? According to research, what predicts this despair is not a lack of happiness. It's is a lack of having meaning in life.

What's the difference between being happy and having meaning in life?

1. Being happy often means being in a state of comfort and feeling at ease in the moment.

2. Meaning is deeper. Meaning gives a sense of belonging. You end up serving something beyond yourself. Seeking meaning is the more fulfilling path. It helps you become more resilient and do better at school/work and has shown that you can even live longer. 

Q: What is the power of having meaning?
A: When life is really good and really bad having meaning gives you something to hold on to. 

How can we live more meaningfully? 

Here are the four pillars to a meaningful life that Emily Esfahani had described in her TED talk (linked at the end of this post)

1) Belonging - Being in a relationship where you are valued for who you are intrinsically and where you value others as well can create a sense of belonging. If you are valued for who you hate and what you believe those do not create a true sense of belonging. True belonging springs from love. You can choose to cultivate love. Lead with love and you'll create a bond. 

2) Purpose - Finding your purpose is not the same thing as finding the job. It is about less what you want, and more about what you want to give. The key to purpose is using your strength to serve others. That's how we contribute and feel needed.

3)  Transcendence - These are the rare moments where you are lifted above the sense of self and you feel connected to a higher reality. It happens through being at church and sometimes you feel in the zone. Again it's less about you and more about others.

4) Storytelling - Creating a narrative from your events of life helps you create meaning. You can edit and interpret your story. You can reflect on your life and what you lost and what you've gained. You won't change your story overnight. Embracing your painful memories and defining the good that sustains you.

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8 Days in Japan - Day 8 in Tokyo

Aug 21, 2017 -

Day 8 in Tokyo

Key Highlights

- Check into Emblem Hostel Nishiarai
- Eat Ramen at Ichiran Shibuya
- Shopping at Don Quijote
- Eat Delicious Yakitori in Shibuya
- Flight back to the States

We checked out of our hostel in Osaka at around 6:00 AM to get to the Osaka train station. We headed back to Tokyo for our last night. Originally, the hotel that we booked was in Narita, but we realized that our flight was out of Haneda. At the last minute, we ended up booking a cheap hostel at Emblem Hostel Nishiarai. When you first enter in, there is old carpet and old rusty lockers to your right. There was a stench about the place, but it wasn't dirty just worn. I knew immediately that it was a smoking hostel, which made it a huge turn-off for me.

Ramen at Ichiran Shibuya
First order of business was to grab food at a nearby 7-11, which we immediately regretted because there were better options for pastry and coffee. In any event, we then went to find the individual ramen stalls at Ichiran Shibuya. This was one of those quick order places where you would use a machine to pick your ramen and toppings. Then find an open booth and then hand the ticket you got from the machine to the person behind the booth. You don't ever see their face, but in a matter of minutes they push through a bowl of delicious ramen and your side orders. The broth was super flavorful and the extra meat and egg were incredibly delicious. On the way out of the restaurant, they sold boxes of their broth flavoring and ramen. But we figured it wouldn't taste as good when we got it, so we passed.

Our next order of business was to go shopping for souvenirs and things to bring back to the States. My friend who lived in Japan for two years recommended that we shop at Don Quijote, which is a huge Walmart like store. We saw a boat load of different snacks, yakitori sets, and even furniture. We ended up buying over $100 USD worth of snacks. We had just finished all of our shopping when it was time to meet up with my travel partner's friends.

At the train stations, they have lockers that you can rent. The lockers' pricing is based on how much space you need. The larger the locker, the more it costs. I believe the rentals are for the day. In any event, we locked our stuff in a locker which cost 400 Yen, but it was okay. We ended up eating at a delicious yakitori place where the food was exceptional. Unfortunately, I didn't have any cash on hand, so it was embarrassing to have my travel buddy's friends prepay for us. But luckily enough, there was a 7-11 ATM where I stopped by and withdrew money to repay our friend.

Last Sushi Meal in Japan
We said our goodbyes and took our souvenirs out of the locker. Then we headed back to the hostel where I would attempt to convert my sleeping pattern to Pacific Standard Time. I definitely could not sleep at all due to the smoke filled pods. Yuck!

Our flight back to the States had a layover in Shanghai, but this time there wasn't enough time to explore. By the time we woke up and go to the airport, it was around 8:00 AM, so you can imagine how early we woke up. We stopped by a Uniqlo shop within the airport where I bought a couple T-shirts. Then I went to the shops to pick up a couple more Japanese Kit-Kats. What is incredible about the Haneda airport is that they have all the good typical Japanese food including but not limited to ramen and sushi. We got both to share, which was reasonably priced.

The flight back was long and slept through most of it. The highlight was the eel fish meal. We had a layover in Shanghai and had to get our luggage checked again.

After like 15 hours we made it back to the states where my brother picked me up.

8 Days in Japan - Day 1 in Tokyo
8 Days in Japan - Day 2 in Tokyo
8 Days in Japan - Day 3 in Tokyo
8 Days in Japan - Day 4 in Hakone
8 Days in Japan - Day 5 in Kyoto
8 Days in Japan - Day 6 in Kyoto/Nara
8 Days in Japan - Day 7 in Yamazaki/Osaka
[Continue reading...]

Seven Tips on How to Act and Become an Alpha

Aug 17, 2017 -

An alpha is the dominant figure in a social or professional setting. The main role of the alpha is to be the leader of the group and with it comes responsibilities to protect, inspire, and motivate the group.

What does it take to be an Alpha?

First things first, it is no surprise that as an alpha you need to be confident in yourself. After all, how can you expect others to look to you as a leader, if you yourself are not sure in yourself.

Confidence comes from believing in yourself. But there is a difference between blind confidence and true confidence. Blind confidence is a false belief in your abilities, which can also be construed as overconfidence. True confidence is when you exude the will, persistence, and have the ability to instill confidence in others.

Why is the person with the most knowledge rarely the alpha?

The reason is because you have to have the ability to lead. To put it in another way, you have to have the influence to protect, inspire, and motivate the group. Suppose you know what to do in a pressure situation, but can not get your team to help you do it. What good does that do if you can't rally the team? Compare that to a motivator or influence, who can determine who is good for what role and get the team to the end zone. If you know what needs to get done in the group, you have the knowledge and know how. Then you just need the presence and influence to become the alpha.

What are ways to show you are more confident in yourself?

1. Hold your head up high 

If you look down that shows you are giving up your "dominance". Why do you think people used to bow in the presence of kings?

2. Place your hand on top when you shake

This one can come off a bit rough, so use this with caution. If you look closely at Donald Trump's handshakes, more times than not, he places his hand on top showing he is "in charge".

3. Keep steady bold eye contact

Don't confuse this with and deep creepy stare. When you talk to someone, look at them in the eye. If you look elsewhere, people will think you are not paying attention.

4. Take oversized steps

Small steps are associated with cute things. Small puppies take small steps. Take big steps like a big gorilla does.

5. Take up more space

What position does a kid assume when he is afraid in the dark? He or she cowers and rolls up in a "fetal position". Do the opposite. Spread your wings and take up more space.

6. Use a deeper tone 

Are you afraid of a mouse that squeaks or a 400 lb lion that roars?

7. Fake it till you make it

Studies have shown that expressing the victory pose actually lowers cortisol stress hormones and helps you react differently to stress. You are more calm under pressure.

[Continue reading...]

Summary of 2017 Elon Musk TED Talk

Aug 13, 2017 -

Elon started a company called the Boring Company with the goal of accelerating underground tunneling speed. The hope is to build an underground infrastructure to alleviate the traffic above ground. He spends about 2% of the times on this side project. 

The goal for Tesla self driving cars is to take a trip from a parking lot in California to a parking lot in New York without having to touch the wheel by the end of 2017. In fact, Elon believes that we would be able to dynamically change the route say from Seattle to Florida and it would still be able to take you there.

Self-driving cars will never be 100% safe as traveling in a car lends itself to at least some kind of probability that it will crash. But if autonomous driving can get to something like it is unlikely to crash in a hundred lifetimes or a thousand lifetimes, people may be okay with that. 

Elon is working on a Tesla semi-truck and has already test driven it on a track. He was impressed with the nimbleness of the vehicle given the size of it. It is said to have enough torque to pull a diesel or gas truck up a hill.

One gear Tesla semi-truck will have more torque than any diesel or gas powered truck
Solar glass roofing will be less than the cost of the roof plus the cost of electricity. Therefore economically it will be a no brainer. Supposedly even when the house is long gone, the glass will still be there. 

Solar glass panels will cost less than regular roof + electricity
The Gigafactory is producing lithium ion batteries already and eventually it will get to a production level of  hundred gigawatt hours of batteries a year. When fully completed the Gigafactory will be the shape of a diamond. 

Space X had a reflight of an orbital booster making it the first to accomplish this feat. Elon has the idea of sending people to Mars. Supposedly the rocket would have a thrust equivalent of 120 747s with all engines blazing. The rocket would be able to take a 747 with maximum fuel and maximum passengers and cargo as its cargo. 

Space X rocket to Mars vs a human (small speck to the right of the rocket)
On why Elon is doing all of this.."I think it is importing to have a future that is inspiring and appealing. There ought to be reasons you get up in the morning and want to live. Why do you want to live? What is the point? What inspires you? What do you like about the future?"

As humans use up our finite resources, the world will move towards utilizing and creating sustainable energy. That Elon believes is inevitable, but he wants to accelerate it even if it is by a decade or whatever.

Technology doesn't happen automatically. It takes effort to improve it. By itself it will degrade. For example in 1969 we sent someone to the moon and the space shuttle went into orbit. Then for a time nobody was going into orbit. Take for example Ancient Egypt and the pyramids or the Romans and the aqueducts. They stopped innovating.  

0:31 Boring
7:00 Hyperloop
11:11 Self Driving Cars
13:34 Model 3
18:40 Car Sharing
19:34 Tesla Semi
22:11 Solar Roof
26:12 Gigafactory
29:06 Advisory Councils
30:32 SpaceX
32:08 Mars Rocket
35:31 How Progress Happens
[Continue reading...]

8 Days in Japan - Day 7 in Yamazaki/Osaka

Aug 1, 2017 -

Day 7 in Kyoto, Yamazaki, and Osaka

Key Highlights

- Breakfast at 7-11
- Self-Guided Tour at Yamazaki Distillery
- Dropped off luggage at Osaka Guesthouse Hive
- Lunch at Okonomiyaki Momji
- Being touristy at Osaka Castle
- Dinner at Okonomiyaki Chitose
- Experiencing Japanese Nightmarket at Dōtonbori
- Finally eating Okonomiyaki dinner at Ajinoya
- Second dinner at a takoyaki stand

My travel partner and I left our glorious Prime Pod in Kyoto at around 9:00 AM. We had a 10:30 AM reservation at the Yamazaki Distillery, so we needed to make haste. Yes, alcohol before lunch. We picked up two pieces of bread for breakfast at a 7-11 near by the Prime Pod. It was an hour ride from Kyoto to Yamazaki via the Shinkansen.

When we got to the Yamazaki station and exited, we made a sharp right. Then we followed the Yamazaki street signs to the Yamazaki Distillery. It was about a ten minute walk from the train station. When you cross a set of train tracks, you'll see the check-in center and just beyond that is the white visitor center. Luckily for us, there were storage lockers for our luggage. You'll have to put in a 100 Yen coin, but you get it back when you leave.

Yamazaki Distillery Guest Entrance
The actual visitor center is a small while building. Unfortunately, we didn't sign up early enough online for a guided tour of the Yamazaki Distillery. Nonetheless, with the self guided tour, we saw plenty of history from how Shinjiro Torii started the company in 1923 to the company winning world's best whisky in 2015. The visitor center featured a lot of unique whiskeys, but most importantly there was a tasting area. While you did have to pay for the tasting, they were very affordable. At less than 1000 Yen, we were able to taste three different Japanese whiskeys. All of which were only available at the distillery. At the gift shop, I stopped to pick up a Yamazaki glass, a coaster, and then a bottle of their straight whiskey. All for less than $20 USD. What a steal!

By the time we left the Yamazaki Distillery, it was just past 1:30 PM. Both my travel partner and I were hungry and had just drank three glasses of whiskey without having more than just the 7-11 bread in our stomachs from the morning. We made our way to Osaka via the train, which took us another hour.

Hibiki 30, Hakushu 25 and Yamazaki 25
The first thing we did when we arrived in Osaka was rush to our Osaka Guesthouse Hive to drop off our luggage. What we noticed was that this hostel was small and cramped. It was not as nice as the place we stayed at in Kyoto or Tokyo. While it was still livable, instead of capsules or pods, it was one room with bunk beds. At least smoking indoors was prohibited and we were only going to be there for one night.

We went back to the station and headed towards Okonomiyaki Momji in search of food, or so I thought. Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients. The name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning "how you like" or "what you like", and yaki meaning "grill". After crossing the street underground and coming up on the other side, we were lost. The Google Maps GPS was throwing off our location. We must have put in the wrong location. I don't even remember if we ate lunch that day.

Osaka Castle from the outside
The Osaka Castle was closing at 5:00 PM and we wanted to make it before it closed. So, we rushed back to the station and hopped on the Osaka Loop Line. After one or two stops, I noticed we were going the opposite direction away from Osaka Castle. We jumped off and took the right one. After what seemed like a 25 minute walk from the station, we finally made it to the Osaka Castle. It is a remarkable castle, built in 1583. We paid the fee of about 600 Yen per person to go inside. There were relics and battle paintings, sculptures, and documents. While I would like to say it was well worth it, I was a bit disappointed as everything had been remodeled for tourists. From the top, you can see a good view of the city and sky line.  

A co-worker of mine had just came back from Japan two weeks before and recommended that we eat at Okonomiyaki Chitose. The restaurant is located in the outskirts of the city and in an older part of town. I zig zagged left and right and walked about 25 minutes with a hangry girlfriend only to arrive at Okonomiyaki Chitose to find it out it was closed for the day. I was ready to just pick a place nearby and eat. The place was run down and there were a lot of drinking pubs with old people singing karaoke. Definitely not the part of town that you want to spend a nice evening at.

Dontonbori! We found it!
We were determined to eat good food that night. In fact, we walked all the way back to the station and looked for the famous Dōtonbori nightlife. We ended up at Ajinoya for okonomiyaki, which is a Michelin star guide restaurant. There was about a 20 minute wait. But when we sat down and saw the food, it was well worth the wait. We've had okonomiyaki near Culver City, CA, but this was on a different level. They made their own sauce here and the flavor was just incredible. We ordered some grilled noodles and then a okonomiyaki to share. There is a great deal of other food places in Dōtonbori including restaurant that served crab and even fugu (Japanese for pufferfish). We wanted to take advantage of being in Osaka for only one day, so we found some takoyaki. Supposedly, Osaka is famous for takoyaki. After our second dinner, we were exhausted. It was time to head back to our hostel and retire for the night.

Ajinoya's Okonomiyaki
My travel partner had booked all the hostels and hotels for the trip. Day 8 is the last night in Japan and we were going to spend it in a hotel. Or so I thought. When I asked her where we had booked the hotel, she said near the airport. Then I looked at the hotel reservation and it said Narita airport hotel. Oh boy, our flight was out of Haneda. Although we were not able to get a refund for the hotel reservation, we did find a cheap hostel to stay. Stay tuned for day 8 to see how that went.

8 Days in Japan - Day 8 in Tokyo
8 Days in Japan - Day 1 in Tokyo
8 Days in Japan - Day 2 in Tokyo
8 Days in Japan - Day 3 in Tokyo
8 Days in Japan - Day 4 in Hakone
8 Days in Japan - Day 5 in Kyoto
8 Days in Japan - Day 6 in Kyoto/Nara
8 Days in Japan - Day 7 in Yamazaki/Osaka

[Continue reading...]
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