Art of the vision board

March 14, 2011



Why do a vision board? Why do anything? Because it’s fun…. if it’s not fun, you’re doing it wrong.

One school of thought says to find the images of everything you want and and place it on a board. I think that’s too boring. I like to mix in the process of simply grabbing a ton of magazines, flipping through them and ripping out any image that sticks out… for whatever reason.

The above is what I created.  The below explains what I love about some of the images, once I thought about them…


There’s no one way to do a vision board. In fact, my friend Charles (my co-conspirator/co-founder of The Affinity Lab) has a different take.  Check out his…


Whatever your desires, your goals, the things that keep you up at night, the ideas you want to make real, the irrational hungers, the imaginary friends, the future lovers, and the movie in your mind…

…get it out of your head and into the world.

The two dimensions of time

February 21, 2011


Okay, so here are the two dimensions or distinctions through which I think about time…

Time Expansion / Creation

The quality of our time is the most important factor. To increase the quality, first accept that the past exists as a fiction in your mind based on the stories you have created, and the future does not exist (by definition).  Time spent in these two dimensions is usually time wasted because it is spent disengaged from real time and thus losing it or destroying it.  Thus full presence is the most reliable technique of time expansion. Read The Power of NOW for a fast ramp-up.


Any time that you spend unconscious is time that is being destroyed. The most obvious example is dreaming. Most of us don’t even remember our dreams, but we do it every night. That is a whole world of lost time that you can learn to experience in vivid depth.  See Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming.


Time Compression / Elimination

Any experience that involves little learning should be eliminated or destroyed. On a small scale this includes very basic tasks that you could be outsourcing (hiring a cleaner or a chef). Many of these things are cheaper than you imagine. Read Four Hour Work Week for examples.


On a large scale this includes compressing the time for major lessons. For example, what if you could take a 5-year romantic storm  with a lot of hard lessons, and learn them all in less than a year? If you understand this, you get the importance of learning time compression. (On a deeper level it’s about recognizing your own projections in real-time).  Great books for this are A Course in Miracles and Dark Side of the Light Chasers.


These are your two dials.  In any moment, think-  do I want to expand or compress this?

Time is not what it used to be.

February 17, 2011


It’s 4am.
I’ve developed this strange habit of waking up naturally between 2am and 5am… and I love it.  It’s like I’m able to freeze time. No one is emailing or calling. I don’t have to be anywhere.  The world is asleep, and I’m alive. It almost feels like cheating death, it feels that good.


I think a lot about time. It’s the one quantifiable currency we all share. Rich or poor, no one has more than 24 hours in a day… or do they?  Let me tell you – they do.  Time is hardly a constant.  How many times have you felt like a great day passed by in hours, or the opposite: waiting in a boring line that seems to take forever? Time is malleable. In fact, it’s constantly speeding up…


I sat with my grandfather, 88 years old and I asked him about his life. He said it’s all gone by so quickly. The man has seen two world wars, and went from a poor farm in Hungary, to living the good life in West Los Angeles, and all he can think about is how fast it all went by.  I asked my Dad, “Do you feel like time is moving faster?”  “Every year, he said. “Every year it gets faster and faster.”   My friend Craig said, “Everything between graduating college and turning 40 feels like a blur. It all happened so fast.”


It’s tempting to take a “Seize the Day” attitude when faced with the accelerating pace of time. We think about all the trips we’d like to take, and all the things we’d like to do. But death bed realizations are not filled with stories of people who never got to take jungle expeditions to Madagascar.  No, they’re filled with much deeper regrets  – loved ones we never got to know, feelings we never expressed, jobs we stayed in too long. At an even deeper level, we realize that all the feelings of self-hatred, guilt, and judging others was completely in our minds and that every problem problem we believed we had was completely unimportant.


…these are the thoughts we’re faced with when staring into the void of our own demise.


But that’s not where I spend my time.  In my next post I’ll give three distinctions I use to enjoy life, learn in real-time, and cheat death.

Sacrifice to the party gods

January 1, 2011


Call it karma, call it feeling good, call it whatever you want… but it works.

I discovered it one Saturday night when a homeless person asked me for help as my friends and I walked to a night club. I had leftovers from dinner in my hands, and he lit up in gratitude when I handed him the bag. Suddenly I felt a lift in my spirit and I was in a great mood for the rest of the night.

Now, rather than leaving these moments to chance, I make a “sacrifice to the party gods” before the weekend begins.  I like that term because it’s an acknowledgment that not everyone is free, and not everyone can even eat. But rather than feel guilty about it, I turn it into an opportunity to do something.  And call it a placebo if you like (placebos are proven to be quite powerful)…my weekends are much better when I do.

To me, giving is about finding projects that excite me, where I feel like my hard-earned money is making a major difference. Here are the organizations I have chosen:




Charity Water

This is literally saving lives, and 100% of my donation goes directly to the work (because sponsors cover their operation costs).  Every $20 saves a life.  How amazing is that?  I’ve already had one well funded (serving 250 people) by rallying friends and family. Now I auto-donate monthly so it never skips my mind.





Somaly Mam

Human Traffiking and sex slavery is the 3rd most profitable organized crime. It breaks my heart to know these kids are going through it. Oddly enough, it was a song by the New Pornographers (“When I was a baby”) that educated me about all of this.  I also auto-donate here to make sure I don’t forget.



Donors Choose

This site is really cool because you have the power to greenlight projects. It’s entirely focused on under-funded schools. Last time I funded a project the teacher sent me a package with photos and letters from the kids who were thankful for the supplies I bought them.

Try getting into giving as a habit…I find it feels oddly selfish and enjoyable when you do it right.

Guarantee a Good Day

December 31, 2010


Good days are WAY too important to make them an accident.  Here’s how to guarantee them…

Rule of thumb:  Don’t check your email/phone/facebook first thing in the morning.

This puts you in reactionary mode. You’re responding to other people’s worlds, rather than creating your own.  That means you let the forces around you dictate your entire day, and that’s a big gamble. You may not even notice the effects until you take a good look at your mild annoyances, never-ending to-do list, interruptions from co-workers… and see how much power they have over you.

There are many morning rituals to follow, but after years of experimentation here’s what works best for me.  I often vary up the order of these things, depending on my mood:


1. 15 minutes of mediation
I set a timer and sit there for 15 minutes, and just breathe and observe. No judgments at all. I am watching my own thoughts but sometimes I become the thoughts.  When I realize I’m doing this, I re-center, and notice again.  Freedom from thought does not mean NO thoughts. It means realizing I am NOT my thoughts.  My thoughts are a residue of memories, fantasies, worries, and all kinds of other things.  They are not ME.  The more I get in touch with the observer, the more I am free.


2. Theme song
I pick a theme song for the day, and often jump around on my rebounder while listening (and singing) to it.  It’s like a natural form of coffee, and it’s great for the lymphatic system.

3. Program my brain

I like to proactively put thoughts I want into my brain. Inspiring books are great for this. I’m particularly inspired by A Course in Miracles. I find it mind-blowing. I read one section (2 pages) and one workbook exercise every morning. Per Tim Ferriss’ recommendation, I now read with the Philips Blu-light, a remarkable device that helps me get my sunlight, and generally lifts moods, especially in the winter.


4. Get into motion
I like to run around for 10 minutes or more. Gets the blood going. Sometimes I will either mix in the theme song, or I will run silently and think about that for which I’m grateful.  Gratitude immediately replaces most negative emotions. I find that the more specific I am, the better it works. So rather than think about being thankful for my parents, I think about specific things I appreciate about them.


5. A good breakfast
I can’t believe how many people skip this. After years of playing with different approaches to food, I find that the slow carb diet works phenomenally well.  All you have to do is read this short plan for the slow food diet, and that’s all you really need to know.  I like to mix this with green smoothies during the day, popularized in Green for Life.  Amazing way to get your veggies and greens in a drink.


I do all of this before touching the computer.  Try it.  The cosmic joke is that freedom comes through constraints.

How to Go from Zero to 60 on your projects.

December 23, 2010


How to Go from Zero to 60 on your projects.


I recently had a break through. I was staring at my list of 2011 goals, in sheer terror. It was one of those moments where I could only sit there. It wasn’t as if someone handed me this list of goals. I set them myself. So there was no one to blame.  I couldn’t pretend I was the victim of an oppressive boss.  And my email inbox was empty, so there was nothing left to distract me…  It was just me and the goals.


So I reached out rather than suffered alone.  And in a conversation with friend and coach, Shelli Johnson we created solutions to the problem.


Here are the tips to go from 0-60 on your project.


NOTE: This assumes you are actually excited about what you’re doing. Remember there is only one answer when you ask yourself if you want to do something. The answer is“Hell yes!” If that’s not the answer, then you need to drop it, get someone else to do it, or get a new job.


For those with the passion, here’s how you get rollin…

1.       Focus on the High Leverage

Not all projects are equal. High leverage means the ratio of input to output is extremely high. Put a little in, get a ton out of it.  That can mean picking venture with higher margins, a project where you already have the resources ready to go, or look at your project list. Which are the most important ones?  Zone in on those, and use remainder time for the others.

2.       Find the Overlap

If you have a ton of different projects, release yourself from the belief that they must all be completed. That can take a lot of the burden off, and for those that remain, we can use pattern recognition to see cross-overs.  Look at similar projects that can be combined, or results of one project that can feed another.  Find the synergies.

3.       Share ownership   

You never have to go it alone. Think about who else can help. Think beyond co-workers. Think of mentors, interns, partners, advisors.  Don’t carry this alone. There are very few things in this world we can do alone.

4.       Check Yo Self

Richard Branson said working out gives him an extra three hours of productivity. At a minimum, take a walk and gain perspective. Seriously, you’re most likely not saving lives, and soon enough you will completely forget about this moment entirely, so why stress over it?  Once you start realize how silly you’re being, productivity comes back.

5.       Create a sense of progress

Some of the best executing companies in the world (like IDEO), make their ideas very visible and track their progress. One easy technique is to use kanban boards.  It’s important that they inspire as much as they remind.

6.       Calendar it out

Face it. Your time is limited. Get realistic – put down the deadline and the major milestones on calendar. You’ll feel better, and you’ll get real with yourself on what’s really possible and what’s not.

7.       Make sure to celebrate

Okay, this one may sound silly but it’s really related to productivity.  Celebrate the wins! Have a party, play a theme song, jump up and down, do shots…whatever you gotta do. I admit to not knowing the science behind it. I just know it works (and it feels good).



That’s it. I’d love to hear your comments about what works for you.