Life in pieces

Yesterday I was asked during an interview, “How much time do you spend on the internet and social media?” Whenever I put deep thought into this question, I realize the answer is always, too much.

To a very extreme degree, we are all addicted to looking at social media and other items on the internet. Not only that, but what we are looking at is not only useless, but terrible content. We read stories about what the Kardashians are doing, what your friend on Facebook just ate, who just dropped the n-word, another cute cat photo. Well, ok the last one is awesome, but the rest, not so much . Imagine, if all the Facebook stories that you were looking at and all the random celebrity stories, and everything else was put into a book, would you read it? No. In fact, it would be the worst book ever. We have all these opportunities to read novels and amazing research stories that people have dedicated her life to. Instead, we pump our time into this quick fix drug of social media for a little bit of entertainment that has no value and will reap no benefits. Go dark, read a book. Stop cycling through those same 4 websites and apps like a drug addict.



Just wake up

4AM. The magic hour. Night owls have gone to bed, the morning joggers have not yet woken up. It’s a serene period and as cars drive by, you wonder, why are they awake? I have always valued time and the need to be productive but I have never been able to become the 4AM man. I appreciate the few times I am awake at this time because it feels like a scene from the twilight zone. If you want to feel like a different person, start waking up at this time. I have realized that to make my own life work, I will have to start my day at this time. I have always had goals and when the dead line approaches, my actual accomplishments often fall a little short of my set goals. Although I’ve become a better person in reaching for my goals, there is much more to be done. The one constant in life is change. Who you are is transient. 1 year, 5 years, 10 years from now, you won’t be who you are at this moment. In fact, the present doesn’t even exist – only the past and the future. When you finish processing a thought or event, it has already occurred and passed. When you are looking at something, the time it took the light to hit your eye, the object is now a little bit different than when you perceive it. Changes made now will compound into differences in the future. Like the butterfly effect, the flap of a butterflies’ wings can cause tsunamis on the other side of the world, the small act of waking up a little bit earlier will reap compounding differences in your overall being.

“I’ve always figured out that there 24 hours a day. You sleep six hours and have 18 hours left. Now, I know there are some of you out there that say well, wait a minute, I sleep eight hours or nine hours. Well, then, just sleep faster, I would recommend.” -Arnold Schwarzenegger





The more you devote to something the greater the value?

My friend has been broken up with an ex girlfriend for a while and while we were talking today, he admitted to me that he still wasn’t over her. To top it off, it was a relationship that had only lasted a month and the breakup happened 5 months ago. I think that most people would agree that he should be over her by now. When I asked him about it, I realized something. The things he talked about were not focused around the features of the girl, but rather, the time as well as money spent. He admitted to spending quite exorbitantly, taking her to a $$$$ restaurant for a second date, Disneyland for the third, Seeing a Broadway shows and so much more, all of which came out of his pocket. He also said that he had fun with her… but that seemed to be secondary to how he felt about spending so much money. I started wondering if he actually missed her, or just felt like he didn’t get a return on his investment.

“The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory.” -Unknown

This reminds me of my working life. When I put a lot of time and sweat equity into something, the achievement seems so much greater. I always set goals for myself in order to have something to aim for but what I have found is the goal is not as important. What I become in the process of chasing the goal becomes greater than the goal itself.

However, this idea seems to have created an averse affect on my friend as he feels the need to justify the sunk costs. A study was done where people were asked to value something once they had waited in line to get it versus when there was no line. It turns out that people who waited in line, ended up feeling more enjoyment out of a product when compared to those who did not have to wait at all. This goes against all economic beliefs where optimization is achieved when pricing is set at a point where there is no waiting required. Having a line may actually give you greater happiness. So get yourself waiting in more lines because, as it turns out, if we have to work for something, we also feel a greater sense of happiness once we attain it.


How to become more effective at anything

Sometimes I’m doing work and I find myself putting in the least amount of effort to produce what others would consider a sufficient amount of outcome. I usually live by the mantra that if you are going to spend time doing something, then do it to the best of your efforts; but I can honestly say that every so often, I slip off the wagon.

Yesterday i was hanging out with my friend and he had gone through some life changes. The biggest one was moving out on his own and out of his mom’s house. They loved each other but there was constant squabble and lack of communication. He said something to me that stuck with me, “You know, since I’ve moved out, I actually miss my mom. I take the time to check in on her and look forward to seeing her.” It had only been a brief moment since he had moved, but his attitude had completely shifted. It was touching.

This made me think about how I handle my own obstacles. Being conscious what what I’m thinking about during my time of low efforts made me realize. When my efforts are low in anything, I am usually focused on approaching the task as an obligation and not as an opportunity. I am doing something that someone wishes they could be doing and I am living a lifestyle someone out there is hoping to someday achieve. Just like my friend, he now looks at time with his mom has an opportunity as opposed to an obligation and it has created a newfound rapport.

One story that always sticks with me is the story of two masons who are building a wall. One mason is working very diligently and excited, the other is down in the dumps, doing work that is barely acceptable. A passerby approached the unenthusiastic worker and asked him what he was doing. The worker responded that he is building a wall, and this wall is never ending, there’s just more and more wall. Everyday i go home knowing that I have to put up more bricks and all I will have done with my life is build a wall. Then the passerby goes to the assiduous worker and asks him the same question. “What are you doing?” The worker responds, I’m building the Sistine chapel! I get the opportunity to be a part of building something amazing that one day people from around the world will come to admire. Both workers are doing the same thing, they are building a wall. One has found purpose and this purpose is what helps get us through life. Look at everything as an opportunity. To be alive is an opportunity.




A poor mentality

You are what you think about all day. There is a huge divide between the mentality of a poor person and a successful person.

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba once said the following.

The worst people to serve are the Poor people.

  1. Give them something for free, they think it’s a trap.
  2. Tell them it’s a small investment, they’ll it won’t earn much.
  3. Tell them to come in big, they’ll say they have no money.
  4. Tell them to try new things, they’ll say they have no experience.
  5. Tell them it’s a traditional business, they’ll say it’s too hard to do.
  6. Tell them it’s a new business model, they’ll say it’s an MLM.
  7. Tell them to run a shop, they’ll say there’s no freedom.
  8. Tell them run new business, they’ll say no expertise.

They do have some things in common:

They love to ask google for answers, listen to friends who are just as hopeless as them, they think more than a university professor and do less than a blind man.

Just ask them, what can they do and they won’t be able to answer you.

My conclusion:

Instead of having your heart beat faster, why not you just act faster a bit; instead of just thinking about it, why not do something about it. Poor people fail because of one common behavior: Their Whole Life is About Waiting.



“I life my life under the notion that at any second, any instant, my life can completely change.” – Jaymes

I was chatting with my friend about life and he threw this quote at me. Though I’ve never looked at life in this manner, I can say this. I am a firm believer that even if you are not where you want to be, keep doing the things you need to do and you will eventually get there. Don’t be discouraged because all it takes is one event, one person, one transaction, one phone call, one anything and your life could suddenly be different.

A lot happened this week that really made me think about this idea. One of my friends was on the brink of experiencing what he thought to be the worst moments of his life. He decided to take a risk and the situation turned out to be one of the happiest days of his life, in an instant. Life is a series of decisions after decisions. Not all of them will be right, some will be wrong. If it can be fixed, find the solution. If it cannot, what’s the point of fretting about it? Accept it, Learn from it, and move forward. So long as you learn something, I do not feel anything is ever a failure.

“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

One of my favorite ted talks is from Mel Robbins. I got the opportunity to see her live last year as well and she is a ball of energy. 1/3 of Americans feel dissatisfied with their lives. All day long we have ideas that could change the world, that could change people, that could change our life and what do we do with them? Nothing.

Activation Energy – The energy it takes to make you go from what you are doing into a new action.

It’s simple to get you want, but not easy. You have to force yourself. Your brain runs on two functions, auto pilot and emergency break. Whenever you step into something new your brain puts on the breaks to assess the situation. Whenever we have an impulse, if we don’t take the action within 5 seconds, then our brain is going to pull the emergency breaks and the idea will be killed. Take action, change your life.


How do you spend your hours

Growing up, my mother was very judgmental and uninvited-ly involved with all my decisions and actions. When I hung out with friends she would ask me what do they do? What good are they for you? Why are you wasting your time with them? What’s their value? If they’re just in your life for fun, stop spending time with them. This always used to annoy me. Despite how I used to feel about this, she did have a point. Choosing how you spend your time and who you spend your time with is a very important decision. Time is very limited.

Today I visited with some residential home developers in Covina at an office that had some familiar memories to me. In the past, I had been to this building but a different office. This 13 story office building at 100 N. Barranca St. is one that I had gone to with my dad when he was alive. Near the end of his cancerous life, he had gotten a call for potential business and opportunities to work with Chinese investors and overseas investors. My father only wanted what was best for me and told me we should go meet with them since I was looking to take off in the business and this could help. Though he meant well, he did not do his due diligence and it turns out we were just meeting with another bozo from a multi level marketing office trying to recruit more people to work under them. They had no connections to anyone. My dad was furious. He had cancer and knew his time was limited The last thing he wanted to do was spend his last few weeks with people that were of no value to him. He yelled at them for such distaste in luring him in and we left.

It was a deceptive move, but it takes two to be deceived. I didn’t feel anger for those individuals, but it really allowed me to see how valuable time was. People often ask the question, if you were going to die tomorrow, would you do what you are doing today? I do believe this question is, overall, pretty ignorant because we do things to make a living and if we’re not going to be living, our priorities are of course different. We don’t have the liberty to just do whatever we want in life. Don’t get me wrong, some people have found a calling in life that they feel achieves a higher purpose and they will work at it until they do but the majority of us will say No, we would not continue doing what we are currently doing. Responsibility is no longer a concern at that point.

Nowadays I agree with my mother. I guess mothers do know best. Time is very limited, do not waste it on things or people that are unimportant or not going to have a role in your life. The important people will always be around and support you in your goals and endeavors regardless of what happens. You have one life to live, spend it wisely. Otherwise, Before you know it, you’ll open your eyes on your death bed, full of regrets.

“It’s not the hours you put into your work that counts, it’s the work you put into those hours.” – Sam Ewing


How do you do that?

It’s Tuesday, 6:20pm. I am in the office. Electro swing music emanates from my laptop. My coworker and I are the only ones left and we are talking about dancing. She says, I have no rhythm and can’t dance. My first response was, “everyone can dance! Just subjective whether or not you are good.” She then says, no, you don’t understand, I can’t dance, I have no rhythm, I can’t move to beats. I wasn’t sure what she meant so we sat side by side and I asked her to identify the underlying bass that is playing in the song. She couldn’t do it. Even when I broke it down for her in 1,2,3,4… she said she couldn’t hear it. Now, she doesn’t have a hearing problem and this made me realize something. I’m not particularly musically inclined but I did grow up playing piano. Though I couldn’t believe that she was deaf to the beats, I realized that the reality is, out in this huge world, there are millions of people more talented than me. If I were to say that I can nott identify a note, they would probably think: “How is it possible you cannot tell that this is a C note? and this is an E note? This is a G note? It’s so obvious! What are you hearing?”

There are many things in life we disregard once we have gotten better at them. I have often heard employees say “What are those salespeople doing? They spend all their time out at lunches and talking on the phone. Why do we pay them?” We accountants, we engineers, we etc should be the ones that make the money. Though every member of a company is important, what they don’t realize that it takes a lot of skill to make something hard, seem easy. And on the other hand, sometimes we do something for so long, we become extremely talented individuals and forget what it’s like to be a novice and take the perspective of someone just starting out. It’s very important to never stay stagnant and to always improve yourself daily. The more you grow, the more opportunities there will be and the better you will be as a person. Others may look at you and tell you to get a life, but they are just displacing their unhappiness for their own lack of growth. Don’t listen to the nay sayers.

'Will you shut up, Sims?  I'm busy trying to upgrade my interpersonal skills.'




Playing to Win

“Whether you think you can, or you think you cannot, you are right.” -Henry Ford

What this quote tells us is that mindset is a double edged sword. It can help us succeed or hinder our progress. One of the keys to getting anything you want out of life, is first believing that you can have it. But the reality is, most of us do not believe and look at ourselves in ways that are less than successful.

In one of my favorite books, Top Dog, this idea is illustrated very powerfully through sports, specifically soccer. When a game ends on a tie score, each team must take turns taking penalty kicks. A penalty shot is essentially one kicker, trying to make the shot, and one goalie, trying to prevent the goal. Best of five shots wins the game. This is not a hard feat. In the history of penalty kicks, overall, these shots are made 85% of the time. However, the success rate greatly changes in different scenarios. Whether they are playing to win or playing not to lose. What does this mean? When a player is playing to win, meaning if the player misses the shot, nothing happens and if he makes the shot, the other team has no chance of making a come back, making them the winner, the shot is made an astounding 92% of the time. However, when we flip the picture and the kicker is playing not to lose. Meaning, if he misses the shot, then his team loses but if he makes it, they get to stay in the game,  suddenly, the amount of shots made drops down to 62%!

The paradox of playing not to lose is specifically aiming at not making mistakes which tends to lead to more mistakes. When you’re playing to win, you are taking continuous risks which leads to more victories. You’ll have some failures but you’ll have greater victories. The greater the uncertainty the greater the quality of life. When you get out of your comfort zone and seek growth in the unknown then you suddenly have more certainty.

“Each player must accept the cards that life deals.. But once in hand, one must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.” – Voltaire

Many of us set goals whether it is to save money, lose weight, get married, get promoted, write a book, catch all 150 pokemon on pokemon go etc. We may believe that these goals are attainable and truly want it but often times we do not posess the mindset to carry carry the goal through. It is more of a wish, more of a dream, than a goal. What we need, is to play to win, to believe that we can achieve our goals. When obtaining a goal becomes so real, we will literally become what we want in our mind, long before we achieve it in our life.

One man that I greatly admire is Phil Jackson, coach for the Lakers, and holder of 11 championship rings, so this is a man that knows a thing or two about winning. He’s also known by another name, the Zen master. Anyone who has played for him has always had comments about his coaching Style. In a locker room, what you will find are players meditating, talking about love or even sharing compassion. Exactly what you would expect to see in a room full of men loaded with testosterone. In the 2010 NBA finals, it was the last game, game 7, win or go home. The Lakers were up against the Celtics, two teams that has had a lifelong history of rivalry. At the end of the halftime, the Lakers were down 34 to 40. When the players were taken into the locker room, Phil Jackson had everyone stand around, close your eyes, and be silent. He started talking. Don’t think about the score he said. I want you to visualize this. Imagine, the buzzer has just gone off, it’s the end of the 4th quarter. You have just won the 2010 championships. Imagine yourself in that moment, What are you now doing? Are you running to hug your family? Are you thanking God? Or are you laying on the floor in Elation? Even though the lakers were down, they went out and won the game. There is something that Phil Jackson greatly understood about the human psyche. If you put yourself in the place that you want to be, you are destined to achieve it.

People tend to play not to lose, always play to win.  If you see it, then you will believe it. No, if you believe it, then you will see it.



It’s mine so it’s worth more

Today I had a conversation with my friend who had recently won a Bluetooth speaker at his company raffle. He didn’t need it and I have been wanting one so I asked him what he would sell it for. He said $300. I was surprised, that’s how much the speakers retailed for in stores. I then asked him how much he would buy the speakers for and his response, “Buy this? Are you kidding? I wouldn’t pay money for these speakers.” What is going on? How can he value the speakers concurrently at $300 as well as $0?

This concept in the psychology world is known as the endowment effect. Endowment effect – we value an item more when we own it. So, why does this happen?

  1. Ownership is such a big part of our society that we tend to focus on what we may lose rather than on what we may gain.
  2. The connection we feel to the things we own makes it difficult for us to dispose of them.
  3. We assume that people will see the transaction through our eyes.

Humans and logic certainly do not go together like a horse and carriage.