Build a Lab, Not an Experiment

Nov 26, 2009

I was recently inspired by an Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast, featuring the founder of Zynga, Mark Pincus.

He was asked what advice he would have given his former self when he was starting his first company. His reply was that he would have built the company to test many different business models instead of just one. He further went on to explain how Zynga (100M+ active users) does thousands of tests.

This really hit me. So often, people think about starting a company as testing one idea. The reality is that most successful companies make multiple major business model changes until they find the one that scales.

When starting and growing a business, we should structure it to run lots of experiments instead of just one.

I Am Inspired! Here’s What I Think in That State!

Oct 31, 2009

There is no such thing as good or bad ‘events’, beyond our labels of them.

In fact, personal growth and business opportunities directly come from what other people label as problems.

The experience of spiritual/emotional/mental pain is the most prevalent and BEST teacher in the world.

For it to be your teacher rather than your enemy, you must:

  1. Accept EVERY moment as it happens.
  2. If you don’t see something you appreciate or can learn from, then, on FAITH, say THANK YOU and pray for the clarity to see what you are missing.
  3. Be able to physically sit with your pain and just let go rather than immediately reacting and doing whatever comes to your mind. Reactions based on pain are generally not logical or productive. The longer you’re able to sit, the more you’ll:
    • Understand the core of what was causing you the pain.
    • Realize that pain, itself, is transitory and goes away on its own when you don’t resist it.
  4. Accept that learning to follow the steps above is a self-rewarding process that takes a life-time, because our body already has millions of automatic / unconscious programs running after years of training. Therefore, when off the path, forgive and recommit yourself immediately.

Everyone has equal access to this incredible teacher and can reap the rewards of its lessons.

Appreciation is independent of ‘outside events’ and leads to many of the outcomes that many people search for as THE solution (money, incredible relationships, etc.). Appreciation attracts others who are like-minded, thus reinforcing and amplifying it. Also, people who are happy are more productive and healthy, which leads to money.

What we perceive to happen in the moment is irrelevant. Everything springs from how we react to each moment.

One-Pointedness of Mind

Oct 31, 2009

Every action reinforces itself and sows the seeds for a new habit.

Therefore, little things (decisions, thoughts, moments when no on is looking) matter immensely, because they are what lead to big things.

The best way to build one-pointedness of mind is to focus on doing all the little things in the direction you want on the straightest path you see in the moment.

The benefit of one-pointedness of mind is more speedy realization of what you focus on.

If we are focusing on the wrong things, we’ll learn that it’s wrong sooner and change course.

If we are focusing on the right things, our actions will be self-rewarding.

I Heart Challenges

Oct 18, 2009

I have dedicated my life to leading by example, which means a one-pointed focus on personal growth.

The natural consequence of this is that challenges must be celebrated.

Challenges are signals for necessary changes and motivation for action.

Every time a challenge comes up that would normally get the better of us, we have a new opportunity to be bigger than it.

At this point in my life, I don’t enjoy the feeling of challenges, but I appreciate that they are my choice.

Success in this endeavor is like rent with collection due every moment.

The content of this journey is irrelevant. My reactions to that content are my journey.

I have just come off of two weeks of intensive traveling where I’ve essentially gone full steam from wake up to sleep. I leave on Tuesday again. The next four weeks will be no different.

I can feel my body resisting the travel, AND I am ready for the challenge and growth. I feel that I have no choice, but to be my best. Lack of choice in this case is a good thing.

How Being a Father Has Changed Me

Oct 2, 2009

When you’re on your way to becoming a parent, the world completely changes.

Living in New York City, I only saw a handful of children over the 10 years that I was there. They were invisible to me. After Sheena became pregnant, I found myself just watching children and noticing how they came out of no where.

When Halle was about to be born, everyone said that she would change everything.

I nodded, but I didn’t understand how right they were. Now I do.

Halle is now a part of every major decision I make. When I visualize the future, she is part of it. When I think about what I’m going to do for the day, she is in every thought.

Just the fact that she is alive, and I played a part in creating her amazes me. It really is a miracle when you think about it. In some ways, it makes everything I do professionally seem insignificant. How can you match actually creating life?

Halle has taught me to laugh out loud again. Her smile is amazing. She’ll smile because she sees me. She’ll smile because I smile.Every few hours, she does something that either scares me, amazes me, and make me laugh uncontrollably. She is so curious. It’s like she’s in a candy store, and she doesn’t know what stimulus to follow. Her curiosity means that I have to watch her like a hawk. She thinks the best way to get off a chair is head first. She thinks that scraps of carpet and basically anything else is deserving of being put in her mouth.

Halle makes me vulnerable like I’ve never been vulnerable before. The thought of her getting hurt in any way sends shivers down my spine a million times worse than someone’s nails going down a chalk board. I can see why parents are over-controlling of their children. It will be hard to fight this urge.

I feel like I’m part of a club now that I never knew existed. Any time, I see a parent with a child in the same age range, it only takes a few moments until we start conversing or at least giving each other a broad smile and congratulating the other’s baby.

My thoughts on how to make a difference in the world have changed. The power the parents have to shape the lives of their children is so extremely powerful. Every moment I’m around her, I am her teacher.

The words that I’m pretty sure she is able to say now are – cat, car, come, come here, good morning, ma ma, da da, come on.

She randomly stands on her own now without any support. She doesn’t do it consistently yet, so it’s pretty shocking to all of a sudden see her standing. I don’t think she realizes the gravity of her breakthroughs.

Watching Halle takes more energy than working. I’ve pushed myself harder in the past 10 months than I’ve ever pushed myself before. This has led to a lot of growth. A lot of old ways of thinking simply don’t work. When something becomes a must, it changes.

In the past, I remember hearing someone say that raising children was a full-time job. I remember laughing. That seemed silly to me. Now, I’m not laughing about that any more :)

Watching Halle grow is like watching a Mystery movie. Everyday is new. For example, today’s new thing was her second tooth. It will really be fascinating to see who she becomes.

I like when I’m carrying her, she’s asleep, and her head rests against my chest. I want to kiss her all over her head, but I don’t. It’s better to let sleeping babies lie.

Beyond providing safety, I view my main role as being the best human I can be. I want to teacher he through my actions. I want her to know appreciation, unconditional love, integrity, courage, learning, growth, and humility. I am not perfect, so I can’t pretend to be. In the end, I want her to see me doing my best in every moment and her to strive for the same.

Yes, I am a proud father.

Notes to My Other Self

Sep 6, 2009

I write these notes when I have moments of clarity.

Secretly, I write them to my other self…the self who knows better, but doesn’t do better.

The self who gets overwhelmed yet again (surprise, surprise).

The self who gets jealous of those I should be cheering for.

The self that gets into silly arguments with family.

The self who needs a movie (even a bad one) to get numb.

I unconditionally forgive myself, because, I didn’t know better. I am running old habits that I thought were the best at the time I chose them. Seeing beyond our old habits is difficult. Changing them is even more so.

Had I grown up in a different part of the world with a different family, I might be having to forgive myself for things I consider to be much worse.

Because, I forgive myself unconditionally, I must unconditionally forgive everyone else.

I believe in second chances.

I believe that courageous, vigilant action in every moment will lead to constant clarity.

I Let Myself Down Yesterday. Yet, I’m Inspired

Sep 6, 2009

Yesterday, Sheena and I had an argument.

It was over a small thing that wasn’t really important in the big scheme of things.

I went into my old pattern of shutting down and then walking away.

I walked away, because I completely disagreed with what Sheena was saying.

However, I really walked away because I couldn’t handle what she was saying and how it made me feel.

Part of me knew to let the pain wash over and to listen, but that part of me wasn’t loud enough to take action in the moment.

This morning, we officially called a truce.

I forgive myself for doing the exact opposite of what I know was best.

I am continuously humbled.

At the same time, I am extremely inspired, because I know exactly what I need to do in order to change over time, and I know there is a lot of room for growth.

The more I use every moment to condition myself to appreciate whatever comes up, the more I can listen to Sheena next time.

How I am in one area of my life is how I am in all areas.

For example, resisting a conversation I don’t want to have is no different than resisting work or exercise I don’t want to do.

We cannot be afraid of the truth.

Is Desire the Same as Resistance?

Aug 27, 2009

For the past few months, I’ve been keeping up a regular practice of daily meditation. I do 30 minutes in the morning and thirty minutes in the evening. I also strive to meditate throughout the day.

One technique I’ve been using is simply to observe the feelings in different parts of my body and not judge them positively or negatively.

One result of doing this, is that I start to notice patterns in how my body feels when different events happen or when I’m in different states.

One thing I just realized is how desire actually feels similar to resistance. That makes sense, but I never thought of it that way.

I’ve always thought of desire as a good thing. I’ve thought that to get something, I really have to desire it.

If we desire something, we feel that we must have it and what we have now is not enough. This is similar to resistance in the sense that we don’t want what we have now.

The paradox I’m still processing is, “What happens to the thing you wanted when you let go of desire for it?” My fear was that then I wouldn’t achieve the thing or I would just do nothing. Oddly, I’ve found that letting go has actually accelerated the acquisition or at least not stopped that which I wanted in many cases.

For example, when I first started a business, I used to dream of being on the cover of business magazines for the sake of being on the cover. As I’ve received more media, I valued it less. Yet, the amount of media increases.

It seems the opposite is true the other way. A lot of what causes suffering is our resistance to pain. When we let go of our resistance, our suffering goes down. I’ve definitely seen this in arguments. At the point I stop fighting for the thing I’m mad about and see the other person’s side, the argument ends.

5 Empowering Beliefs To Remind Yourself of Daily

Aug 26, 2009

We have the ability to be ecstatically appreciative of every moment as it happens regardless of what occurs.

We have ability to condition ourselves to respond to our environment in any way.

We all know this intuitively.

How else would it be possible for people (including ourselves at different stages in our life) to have completely different responses to the same stimulus? How is it that some people have phobias of snakes and others can’t get enough of them and choose to study them?

We don’t need to get sucked into the trap of waiting for future events until we can fully appreciate life. If we do this, we’re conditioning ourselves to NOT appreciate what happens now. Therefore, when the future event happens, we’re not even going to be able to appreciate it fully, because we’ve conditioned ourselves not to.

I personally have found the following beliefs to be inspiring…

  1. There are no such things as ‘negative’ events.
  2. What others call negative events are actually huge opportunities to learn and grow.
  3. If we don’t immediately see the opportunity from a ‘negative’ event, we must have faith that there are incredible unseen benefits.
  4. Now is where it’s at. The outside world isn’t going to be different than it is now. I will have the same senses of touch, taste, smell, vision, and hearing. What matters is how I react to what I sense.
  5. Any perceived challenge is a HUGE gift. It is a signal that something needs our attention and is ready to be changed.

What Happens is Irrelevant

Jul 31, 2009

I just got off the phone with a young entrepreneur I went to NYU with who took a company to $4 million in revenue and then had to file for personal and business bankruptcy this month. During his talk on the tour, he said that he has never been better, and I believed him.

The changes and struggles he has gone through have helped him find his purpose, and he is now looking into how he can make a large positive difference in the world through a social entrepreneurship endeavor.

Feeling pain is not fun, but hitting bottom is actually a HUGE opportunity to make changes in your life that you would never have otherwise. When you feel that you are naked and have nothing to lose, a new level of freedom appears.

It is our decision on how we want to use pain! It can be a catalyst or an excuse. It is 100% our decision.

When I look back at more core beliefs, all of them were shaped by my biggest challenges. For example, my father died when I was 8 years old from lung cancer. He was 33, 6 years old than I am now!!! There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my own mortality, and the need to live life NOW. This is my gift.

If you agree with me that “negative” events can always be transformed into catalysts for growth, then what happens to you in life is irrelevant.

So, stop worrying.

Be grateful for every moment.

Have faith that every challenge has within it the seed for equal or getter benefit (see Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill).

And pray for the courage and strength to rise up to every single moment of life, and if you don’t that you will learn from your mistakes (my definition of success).