Roundup: Habits of Millionaires, Fat Loss Myths, and Selling Everything

‘Weekly’ Media Roundup (Sep 26th – Oct 25th)

Time to kick this one out the door. There’s some good stuff sitting in my queue, but it will have to wait for the next one.



Personal Improvement








How I Stay Motivated

I get embarrassed telling people I’m reading so much personal improvement material. Seriously, sometimes the volume seems ridiculous. I’m a member of an online community of men devoted to improving themselves, I regularly attend several personal improvement Meetups locally, I follow a dozen or so podcasts, another dozen blogs, and I’ve always got a book in progress on my kindle.

You can certainly ask the question: Why should you listen to any of these people? Isn’t it better just to listen to your own heart and follow your instincts?

Proven Techniques? Or Witch Medicine?

Sure, there’s a lot to potentially learn. There are literally thousands of ways people have improved their lives, and everyone wants to share The Silver Bullet that has changed their life and rocketed them to the top.

But each of these ideas is faulty. Every success technique is, by its nature, anecdotal. Are there serious studies that verify things like the optimal morning routing, or whether people who set alarms to go to bed are happier? Further, do the authors even care about verifying their claims? There are several experts I follow who seem interested in bringing fact based research into their work, but are they able to tell good studies from bad?

It’s also entirely possible that half (or more!) of the advice people are giving is wrong, at least for you in particular. I’ve heard so many people talk about the virtues of getting up early as if that’s The One True Path, but this completely ignores the fact that people can be larks and night owls. Who is to say that getting up early is best for people who are most creative late at night? I can think of several examples of people who do their most productive work after the rest of the world has gone to bed.

How did was The Witch Doctor a respected figure in earlier societies? How did bloodletting last so long as a practice? I think the answer comes down to the fact that sometimes the treatment, coincidentally, worked. And the same holds true for self improvement advice.

The advice you hear is invariably from people who are successful, who pulled themselves up from their bootstraps and turned their lives around. Undoubtedly, some of the things they talk about worked. But how much of their success techniques ‘worked’ via coincidence? How much does following the perfect morning routine actually tilt the needle?

I rarely hear profiles of impoverished, down on their luck folks. Maybe this is a weakness in my search for self-improvement materials (indeed – if you have a resource you can share, leave it in the comments!). But it might certainly put things in perspective if you hear from someone who did everything right and is still stuck in the rat race. “I make my bed every morning, I meditate twice a day, I follow Warren Buffett’s 2 bucket system, and I still work at McDonalds.”

So What’s the Point?

Staying Motivated! I remember where I’m headed when I fill my head with stories of how to improve. I am reminded that I’m not where I want to be in life when I hear successful CEOs and world travelers talk about how they got to where they are. I’m stirred, out from complacency, off my couch, and driven to think about how I might make things a little better than they are.

I throw away 90% of what I hear. Hell, probably 80% of what I hear doesn’t make it past my ears. There’s a lot of bs being thrown around, and there are a lot of techniques that just don’t resonate (I’m not sure journalling is for me… but obviously it works for someone). But that 10% that does resonate, that I do try, is going to rocket me to the stars.

As long as I remember to keep applying it 🙂

That’s why I can’t get enough of that sappy self-help candy – It Keeps Me Motivated.

Evolving from Too Many to Just Enough

Why do I follow so many personal improvement blogs and podcasts? “I thought you said you were going to be more deliberate?” my girlfriend asked.

She has a point. I wrote explicitly that I was going to do just that.

(I am following my own advice, to some extent: I am re-reading The Success Principles one chapter at a time, and I am consuming personal improvement podcasts in smaller bites.)

She’s right – I’m following too many.

I’ve been asking myself why I’m so obsessed with this stuff, and I think I have part of an answer: I have Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). I’m following so many things I constantly have an urge to catch up, or I’ll get behind.

(The truth is that I’m already too far behind to catch up, no matter what I do.)

If I don’t read that article, listen to those programs, and subscribe to this guy’s newsletter, I might miss The One Key that will change everything.

What if James Altucher interviews Jack Canfield? Wouldn’t that be the best thing ever?
(He did. It was.)

More on FOMO here: Frankly Speaking: How I Got Started (#9)

But I’m not going to follow none.

But FOMO is only one part of the reason. I think there are huge benefits to following success oriented personal growth coaches.

1. Motivation

The desire to improve myself was something that I lost a long time ago (it’s hard to remember… something about college and hazy living rooms). By listening and reading and watching people who are motivated, I rekindle something inside myself that says, “life doesn’t have to be like this. Improve yourself!”

People like Tony Robbins and Jack Canfield and Napoleon Hill and Seth Godin and Gretchen Rubin and Lewis Howes and Jordan Harbinger and James Altucher and James Clear and Andrew Ferebee have sparked in me a desire to get better. When I find myself on my butt, feeling down and unmotivated, I can listen to these people and remind myself that life doesn’t have to be a grind. It can be what I make it.

2. Knowledge

The problem with the self help and personal growth world is that it can be a giant echo chamber. Just like exercise and diet magazines, ultimately there is a finite number of basic truths.

Why don’t I just listen to myself, and follow my gut? I’ve been doing that, for 35 years. Without going into detail, I’m less than satisfied so far. Without reading about these things — and taking action! — I wasn’t aware (or didn’t believe) that

  • making my bed every morning sets the stage for the rest of my day
  • taking a cold shower every day helps me overcome fear
  • taking action is the best thing I can do to get somewhere better in life
  • I can free myself from 90% of social anxiety by following simple rules: be impeccable with your word, don’t make assumptions, don’t take things personally, and do your best.
  • a good way to build a habit is to stack it with another
  • meditation is something that a majority of super successful people practice daily
  • it’s important to choose the people you spend the most time with
  • feeling compelled to lie means that you are not confident in yourself
  • and the list goes on…

So What Now?

I’ve learned two things: it’s important that I continue to check in with the media that means the most to me. However, it’s also important that I cut out the media that is overwhelming me and not providing value. I’m keeping a “Top 5” list, but I’m cutting the cord on anything remotely smelling of marketing fluff.

There’s a topic on Quora that dovetails nicely with this post: Has anyone achieved anything by reading self-improvement articles/books?

The top answer?

Certainly, the people who are impacted most by self improvement books and articles are the people who write them.

Keep that in mind when you read my blog!