James Swanwick: Read a Book a Day, Give Up Alcohol, & Be an Alpha Male
By: Dave Asprey
December 16, 2014
James Swanwick is an ESPN SportsCenter anchor, co-founder of Crocmedia, and the man behind the James Swanwick Show Podcast and The Alpha Male Club. James has been in print and TV journalism for over 20 years, and has been featured in the Associated Press, The Sun, Loaded Magazine, and many more newspapers and magazines. He authored the ebook Insider Journalism Secrets, and now teaches courses and provides coaching for aspiring journalists looking to break into the industry.
Why you should listen –
James comes on Bulletproof Radio to discuss how to read a book a day, why he gave up drinking alcohol 4 years ago, the difference between being good, excellent, and outstanding, and how to attract the kind of people that you want in your life. Enjoy the show!
What You’ll Hear
- 0:10 – Cool Fact of the Day!
- 0:48 – Welcome James Swanwick
- 3:24 – How James became a world-renowned journalist
- 7:30 – Reading a book a day
- 14:05 – Must-read books
- 19:27 – The benefits of giving up alcohol consumption for good
- 26:00 – How to have a good time without drinking
- 27:09 – The difference between good, excellent, and outstanding
- 34:00 – Is gluten the new alcohol?
- 41:22 – Why women test men
- 44:38 – The Alpha Male Club
- 48:40 – How to attract the kind of people you want in your life
- 54:40 – Top three recommendations for kicking more ass and being Bulletproof!
Dave: Hey everyone. It’s Dave Asprey with Bulletproof Radio. Today’s cool fact of the day is something about why humans were motivated to develop language. At least, we think about it because no one really down. It might not have been just the desire to communicate with other people but because it turns out that learning new words reward your brain the same way that sex, drugs, and food do.
I was reminded of this because right before recording this podcast, I had one with Allan, my five-year-old. He was just wanting to learn new words. I just taught him the word ocular and he thought it was the coolest word ever.
Today’s guest is James Swanwick. I’m pronouncing that as an American word not an Australian word which is almost a different language. I say that because James is an Australian-American entrepreneur. A podcast host and you’ve probably heard his voice because he’s a former sports center anchor on ESPN and Hollywood correspondent.
He’s also interviewed a few celebrities, some people like Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Arnold Schwarzenegger. By the way, the new Bulletproof Coffee Shop in Santa Monica that opens in February is downstairs from Arnold’s office or so I’ve heard.
James has also interviewed US vice-president, Al Gore. James has created the men’s club called Alpha Male Club. He’s hosted the James Swanwick Show, business mentor and generally a cool guy. I got to hang out with him just last week actually. It was kind of funny we didn’t plan it.
We’re both at Jim Quick’s house and ended up getting a chance to just sit back and chat which is really, really nice right before we got to record this podcast. I wish I had a camera because we could have just done it live, standing underneath a giant sculpture of the Incredible Hulk which is how Jim Quick rolls. James, welcome to the show, man.
James Swanwick: Dave, it’s so great to be here. Thank you so much for having me. That was a fun party.
Dave: It was indeed. Jim, if you’re listening and I know you are, thanks man. That was truly, truly epic. That was his, basically, hacking house full of superheroes for a superhero you, really an amazing way to open your house to your friends.
James Swanwick: Yeah, that was awesome. I got to talk to Brandon Routh, as well. He was a really great guy. He played Superman of the scene, that movie Superman Returns back in the day. Very health conscious, does the Bulletproof Diet. You’d be proud of him for that, David, wouldn’t you?
Dave: Oh, Brandon’s awesome. He was actually up here in the, call it studio; my little bio hacking laboratory and we were running current over. He’s just an amazing guy. It’s cool to see what the people I see on TV are doing. They’re actually doing Bulletproof coffee. It does the same things for them that does for me. It’s just cool, though, at a party. Like, “Am I really here?” It’s just pretty.
James Swanwick: They are all sighting themselves like, “Wow, Dave Asprey is at this party. Oh my God, I really made it.”
Dave: I, somehow, doubt that but it’s just cool to be able to just go out and meet people who are on the same level, interested in performing well even though it’s a different industry than the one I come from. You can see the commonalities. It’s just cool.
You’re one of those interesting guys because you crossover. You spent some time in Hollywood, sometime in politics, and certainly a lot of time in sports which is a different environment than Hollywood. How does that all fit together with what you do for Alpha Male Club? It seems disjointed but I’m sure it’s not.
James Swanwick: Yeah. As your listener/viewer can tell I’m Australian and I always wanted to live in America. I came over here around 2003. I started off building a house in LA with a bunch of illegal Mexican immigrants for about $75 cash a day before I figured out that I actually wanted to live here fulltime in the United States.
I figured out my Visa situation and I said, “How am I going to make a living for myself here?” I turned myself into a celebrity journalist. What I mean by that is I started interviewing movie stars. The first interview I did with Jack Nicholson for the film Anger Management. He was in that movie with Adam Sandler.
Dave: It was a great movie.
James Swanwick: It was a really funny movie and that was the first interview I got to do was in the penthouse suite of the L’Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills and then I got to interview Arnold Schwarzenegger and then Angelina Jolie and just went from there really. It was great. I did that for about five or six years. Then what I really wanted to do growing up was host a TV show. An opportunity came about to audition for Sports Center on ESPN. They were looking for an international anchor.
I set about applying and 90 days later, I made my debut hosting sports on ESPN. I really did realize a 20-year dream of hosting a show. To do it in America was just the icing on the cake. Yeah, I’ve done a little bit of celebrity journalism. Then I hosted Sports Center on ESPN.
Since I left Sports Center now I interview world renowned experts like yourself, Dave, throughout the Male Club and for my podcast in iTunes, the James Swanwick Show just to teach guys how to be better in their health, with their finances, a little bit about how to be better with women. Then I also teach women as well, how to be better with men, how to be better with their health. I’m not the health expert but I am the interviewer of the experts. That makes me an expert in some way.
Dave: A lot of people don’t understand that. It’s one thing to know all this stuff. It’s another thing to be able to help someone talk about it. Before I started doing this show for about 10 years I worked in an anti-aging non-profit group called the Silicon Valley Health Institute. I’m still chairman and moderating meetings just over and over and over really taught me a lot.
Like, what do people want to hear and how do you translate from the super smart people who, sometimes, don’t know how to put their ideas into practice? For me, it was really a beneficial learning time in order to become able to do what I do here. Obviously, your experience interviewing a bunch of people carries through into the success you had with Alpha Male Club.
James Swanwick: Yeah, it’s great. I grew up in Australia as a reporter for Rupert Murdoch worksheet. I had to go up there and just interview regular people for regular stories and then it was just heightened when I came to America.
I got to interview people like Magic Johnson and David Beckham and Tom Brady. At ESPN, I got to hang out with Magic Johnson in the ESPN cafeteria a couple of times which is really fun before we’d go on air and that was great.
Those kinds of skills, in terms of interviewing people and asking people the right questions and trying to extract relevant and interesting information from people, I really learned that back in Australia but then just brought it over to the US.
Now, I interview a whole lot of people on the James Swanwick Show and my podcast and obviously throughout the Male Club. I just love, love, love learning from people. I don’t claim to be the number one expert or the expert. I just love to interview the expert. It’s so much fun.
Dave: Something else that people probably don’t know about you that I learnt at Jim’s party is that you read a book a day.
James Swanwick: Yeah, just to clarify that. On the days that I read a book, I read a book a day. At the moment I’m averaging about three or four a week. I know it sounds like I’m doing like seven books a week every single day which is not true, I don’t do that. It’s an impossible, I find it impossible pace to keep up with but I am averaging three or four books a day. I set aside the time, 90 minutes to two hours.
Dave: You mean three or four books a week not a day.
James Swanwick: Yeah, I’m sorry. I am sorry, yeah.
Dave: Listeners don’t like, “He said that, you know.” It was just a miss speech.
James Swanwick: I’ve got Superman in my mind. The Brandon Routh but yeah, I do. I read three or four books a week. On the days that I read a book, I read a book a day. I learnt that skill from a business coach I had called Tai Lopez. He really sent that home into me. He said, if you want to educate yourself, if you want to learn as much as you can just learn the art of speed reading and discipline yourself to read a book a day.
When I first started, it was very hard, Dave. It was really hard but then after about a week or two, I started to get it down packed where I was getting it down to about two hours and now, I’ve got it about 90 minutes. The hardest thing really is just creating that time space within your day and just shutting off the phone, shutting off the distractions and just concentrating.
I’ve got to tell you, I feel a lot smarter than I did than before I learnt that skill. It’s great in conversations, dinner parties. You’re obviously not trying to show off your knowledge but you can actually bring a level of intelligence and perspective to conversations whereas before, maybe I couldn’t do that as much.
Dave: One of the things I’ve been playing around with is some new software that lets you read much faster. I have big goals. I’m a biohacker I just do weird things. One of things that I did is I wore this special glasses with a camera that watches my eyes while I read because it turns out, I probably should have had dyslexia.
I didn’t realize this until I did some work with Helen Irlen, the creator of this Orange Glasses I wear. She’s spoken at Bulletproof Conference and we’re just doing a transcript of that. We’re going to be putting it online. What I found is that around the words, there’s all sorts of weird shapes and moving colors. I just learnt to ignore them. I didn’t even recognized they were there until someone said, “Hey, can you see those?” I’m like, “Oh my God. How did I miss them?” What saved me from being dyslexic is that my eye tracking is perfect.
They said it was as perfect as I’ve ever seen when they were doing this eye tracking movement thing but it’s still a lot of work. In fact, for me, my eyes don’t team up as well as many people. It’s probably more work for mind to do it. Eye fatigue can set in which comes through is just generalized fatigue.
This new software moves … It keeps your eyes in one spot on the screen and it moves the words through it for you. Just blink, blink really fast and it’s shocking what you can read when you hold your eyes still because the words just go right into your brain.
The only problem is you can’t get a lot of books into that kind of reading software yet but I’m really hopeful that I’ll be able to totally crank up my reading rate by using software to move the words so my eyes don’t have to. Do you ever play with that?
James Swanwick: Yeah. I’ve never played with that. It sounds a little bit more technical than what I do but I’m definitely going to try that. I have an approach where I look at the chapters. I open the book. In fact, I actually recorded a video on this. It’s on my podcast; it’s the September 3rd, 2014 episode. If you go to the James Swanwick Show in iTunes, you can actually see a video of me teaching how I read a book in 90 minutes. Just to summarize what I do, I read the chapters.
I read the back of the book so I’ve got an idea. If it’s a classic or I know a lot has been written about that book, I’ll even go to the Wikipedia page and just read that for two or three minutes so I’ve got an idea, so I’ve got an overview of the three, four, five main themes of what I’m about to read.
By the time I then start, it’s not like, what is this all about? I’ve got a general idea. Then I’ll quickly flick through the book and I’ll flick through most of the pages. I’m just glancing. I’m looking at headlines. I’m looking at the first sentence of certain paragraphs.
I’m going through it, that takes me about 10 minutes or so and now, I’ve got this idea in my mind. Okay, I know what the author is saying, I know what the theme is, now I’m going to go back and really digest this. Then, by the time I begun, I feel like I’m already a step ahead. Then it just comes down to I’m going from top to bottom, I’m looking very quickly, I’m looking at the first sentence of each paragraph, is that something interesting? Yep, okay, yep moving, moving, all right. No, this doesn’t look too interesting.
Oh, this is interesting. I’m just going to spend a little bit extra time here. Okay, now I’m flipping again. Okay, I understand this point and then that’s just the way I do it for the next 90 minutes or so. By the time I close this book, I can tell you what that book is about. I can tell you three main points of it.
I can then use that, I’ve digested the information. I can then go and utilize that in my own life. It’s not like people are saying, “You didn’t really read the book. You didn’t read every single word.” You are right. I didn’t read every single word. My eyes glanced over every single word. I didn’t digest every word but I digested the absolute main points of that book.
Dave: Having just written the Bulletproof Diet it’s painful as an author, to me, to subtract words because when I write, I try to never use an extraneous word. It’s actually a really big part of my focus point. Okay, I’m never wasting a word.
When you get to a point like I’ve got to keep 5,000 words to hit my length, you do it. Then you hear some like Yahoo or Outback guy like you who’s going to just skim the book and not absorb every single word. It’s going to push my author ego.
It’s funny because what a good author does is make every word just so valuable that you can’t do it. There are so few books like that. Where you pick it up and I don’t know, you must have found these, where you pick it up and you’re going to read the way you do it. You go, “No, I have to read every single word.” what author pulled that off the best?
James Swanwick: Where I have to read every single word?
James Swanwick: Charlie Munger wrote a book called Poor Charlie’s Almanac. It’s a big thick heavy set book. Charlie Munger is the business partner of Warren Buffett. He’s one of the richest men in the world. It’s amazing to get into his psyche. To get into his mind and to see and understand how he thinks when it comes to investing.
I haven’t always been so interested in investing but in the last three or four years, I have become obsessed with it. To read the mind of Charlie Munger, who’s one of the greatest investors of all time, he and Warren Buffett together, was just a real pleasure. I literary read every single word. Not only did I read every single word but I went back on it again and read it again.
One other book as well is called the Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt. He’s a New York professor. That book blew me away and that took me a couple of days to read it even though I could have read it in 90 minutes but that was a topic that I was particularly interested in.
I really took my time, I really digested it, I took notes, I made little comments on my computer on interesting things and then I reached out to him at the end of it and say, “Can I have you on the James Swanwick Show?” and he agreed and I got to interview him about it for 60 minutes which is a real treat as well.
Dave: It’s really amazing so a few authors pulled that off and there is always nuggets of amazing information so I really appreciate the way that you read those books and for people who are listening, you can increase the number of ideas in your mind even if you miss the new ounces.
Cool. If you have one of those books that’s so amazing that you wanted to skim it but you couldn’t, tell me about those on Facebook. I appreciate that because those are the kind of books that I want. I want to read from my own perspective.
Just since we’re sharing this with listeners, Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes, was you have to be into food for that to matter but it was this thick tone, people say it was too scientific but I couldn’t find a wasted word. I wanted to skim it and I read lots and lots of books on health and nutrition but I had to read every word in that because there was a story and there was science.
That’s maybe one of the last ones on that line that I’ve seen and anything by Neil Stevenson but I read fiction way too rarely and most of the fiction that I read has something to do with seven and five year olds and I’m reading it out loud.
James Swanwick: Yeah, I’ll tell you another good book. Michael Pollan’s Omnivores Dilemma and that was a book that I read but I didn’t read every word because a lot of the stuff he was talking I had already known because I’ve read articles on him beforehand so I could skim over some of those pages but that was a terrific book.
Also, just staying on the health theme here is Salt, Sugar, Fat. I’m just looking at my library behind me and you can see David. That’s my life of hard copy books that I have read. Have you read that book, Salt, Sugar, Fat?
Dave: Oh yeah and in fact, it was amazing because I have been giving a talk about salt and health for a long time and when I saw that I’m like, “Yes” this is so right and so Gary is one of those guys, the other guy is Stephen Collier.
The Rise of Superman was one of those books. He did have buy in the Bulletproof conference but one of the reasons he headlined there and one of the reasons I’m supporting the flow genome project on his big work on hacking the human body.
I’m actually supporting it on Angel List. I just opened a syndicate so that I can help with investment there because I think it’s such an important thing but it’s because the writing is so good and with abundance from Peter Diamandis and Stephen Collier together.
That kind of professional writer for me, it’s a real treat and I get this feeling and tell me if you think this is true because you actually read more books than I do, that it’s getting easier and easier to publish so the velocity of publishing is going up but the average quality of books maybe hasn’t gone up as much because it’s cheaper to publish. You think that’s true?
James Swanwick: Yeah, I know. It absolutely is true. It’s never been easier to have a book published. People publishing on Amazon all the time, that’s why you have to be picking. You have to be choosy and I read a book, one friend swore by this book for years.
You’ve got to read it. You’ve got to read it, it’s amazing. It was called Pimp. I think it was by African-American in the 1960’s. He was a pimp and beat up his clients or would beat up his women and all these stuff and I’m reading this.
I’m like, “Why did my friend insist that I read this book?” and I still to this day have no clue why he was so insistent on me reading it because I read it and I’m like, “This doesn’t add to my life in any way shape or form” so you do have to be very careful about which books you do sit down and spend your 90 minutes or two hours with.
Dave: Yeah, it makes sense but really careful filters in place for what you allow with your mind anyway.
James Swanwick: Yeah.
Dave: Definitely, we got way more to reading than I thought we would because you’re just interesting. I have done a lot of things but at Jim’s party where we hang out last, there was something else we had in common and that was we went up to the bar and then I ordered club soda with wine and you did the same thing. Why did you quit drinking four years ago?
James Swanwick: Yeah, I took a month off every year for three years before I actually stopped completely and I just remembered and realizing how better I felt at the end of those 30 days. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I decided to play Rugby for the Los Angeles Rugby Club.
If you know anything about Rugby culture, it’s at the end of the game, you go to the pub and you just down schooners and jugs of beer and that’s the camaraderie and so I did that and it was fun. I’m from Australia and there’s a very heavy drinking culture in Australia.
I experimented around 2007 with just seeing about you going 30 days without having a drop of alcohol. I did it in March because in January I always go to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and I drink quite heavily there and then the Super Bowl was on.
I always go to the Super Bowl wherever it was and I would drink quite heavily there and so by the time March rolled in, I was ready to take a break. To answer your question, after these three years of taking 30 days off, I woke up in Austin, Texas in 2010 at the South by Southwest Festival.
Dave: There’s no drinking at South by Southwest now.
James Swanwick: Yeah, I was in Austin South by Southwest Festival and I had a couple of drinks that night. I think I had a gin and tonic. It was only a couple of drinks. It wasn’t even a big night and I woke up in this hotel outside just from the outskirts of Austin.
I went ahead and had a breakfast at the International House of Pancakes that was adjacent to this hotel and I opened up the menu and the menu had photos of all the food that they were serving. This big, bright nasty colors and I looked over.
There were these two huge over weight Americans there, stuffing their face with this food and the two drinks that I had the night before just made me feel ill. It was just a particularly bad hangover and so I just said to myself right there and then.
I said, “You know what? I’m going to see if I can beat my record of 30 days. I’m just going to see if I can go to 35 days” so let’s just see how we go. I began that day. I got to 35 and said, “Wow, I’ve lost about 10 pounds of fat.”
My skin is better, I’m sleeping better, I’m more productive, I will just keep going and then I got to 40 days and I said, “I’ll see if I can get to 50 days” and then it was I’ll see if I can get it to three months and I got to three months and I realized that the quality of my relationships was better.
I had better friends, nicer friends. I wasn’t as irritable. My dating life was surprisingly good actually. I was meeting a higher quality of woman so I just went on, I’ll just keep going. I’ve got to six months and then I said, “What if I can go a year?” so I went to 12 months.
I was back in South by Southwest, back in Austin the following year and I went into a bar and I ordered a Budweiser and I put it to my mouth to have a celebrating one year anniversary of no drinking drink and I went, “You know what? I’ll just see how long I can go”.
I put it back down and gave it back to the waiter and paid for my drink and I haven’t drunk since so it’s been about four and a half years now and I can honestly say that quitting the drinking has made my life explode in productivity. I feel more positive. I’m healthier. It’s only been positive benefits to it.
Dave: I was blown away when recently Tim Ferriss put out a 30 day no drinking, no masturbating challenge and at the same time I’m like, “You go Tim” that just rocks and I don’t drink. I can say the last drink I had was, I don’t know. It was actually three months ago and it was about an inch of red wine way older than I am and I’m happy to do that.
James Swanwick: 21 years old then, yeah?
Dave: Pretty much, I’m an anti-aging guy so I don’t age but what’s really interesting is that even that I felt it a little bit but people suck at understanding long term consequences because we’re biologically not wired for that.
We’re relatively short sighted and you see this in our stock market and you see this in well, The Hangover but what doesn’t show up is that you had the glass of red wine, you had the Budweiser, whatever it was and then the next morning, you’ll just had one.
Look, I’m not that off maybe I just feel fine but later that day, you can’t find the word you wanted, you’re a little bit cranky, you yell at your kids and so I found it to be a subtle, sneaky, lowering my performance and when I was just, “Look, I just don’t do that.”
I always order something that will hydrate me not dehydrate me and I’m good to go and I just don’t miss it. I don’t crave it that the quality for me is the same thing. Quality of relationships, quality of performance in my delay to focus, it’s just there.
I’m like, “What did I lose?” I didn’t because I had a lot more money because when I go out even if I drink like the sparkly Norwegian water blessed by Peacocks, it’s still cheaper than cheap beer. How did you lose?
James Swanwick: Yeah, the word there is irritability. When you drink even if you’re not that hangover, even if it’s just a little bit hangover, you’re irritated throughout the day aren’t you? It’s just a general feeling of unpleasantness. It’s just like, “Uh, I shouldn’t have those two drinks last night.”
I shouldn’t have those three beers, I had that big heavy meal with the fries and the burger and with the two beers and a glass of red wine and so I got hangover but I’m just irritated. What I found when I was drinking, I wasn’t drinking heavily. I was never an alcoholic but I was often irritated. When I gave up the alcohol, when I quit, I rarely got irritated, rarely.
Dave: Yeah, the world becomes a brighter place because the situation that would have been irritating isn’t so then you’re bad attitude doesn’t happen and then you’re nicer to people and you make better decisions and then all of a sudden, you got a promotion.
You did something that maybe you would have missed and at levels of high performance, small variances equals big differences in where you rank and if you want to be the world’s best at something, if you have a one or a five per cent difference in how you performed, you can go from being top three to being top 300.
I found it was just a performance inhibitor. I was carrying around this invisible anchor that would pop up its head at crazy times. I just wasn’t getting a lot of benefit. The one benefit that does come from drinking is that it lets you have a good time. What do you do to have a good time if you’re not going to be out drinking?
James Swanwick: I have a good time anyway Dave. I get this question all the time. It’s like, how do you have a good time when you’re not drinking? How do you handle it? I just handled it, not only do I handle it but I can almost guarantee that most of the time I’m having a hell of a lot better time than the people who were drinking.
I’m clear in thought, I’m clear in mind, I’ve got lots of energy, I dance like a crazy person, I danced on tables before, I’ve just been the life of the party or without drinking. People the next day are going, “Wow, you were really drunk last night.”
Dave: Wait, that’s genetic, you’re Australian, you guys can …
James Swanwick: Yeah, we’ll just show off Dave, yeah. I’m an extrovert. It doesn’t change, nothing changes. Sorry, everything changes in terms of how you feel the next day and how you feel in that moment but in terms of the level of fun that I would have, that didn’t change.
If anything I had more fun. Just going back to what you said there just a two millimeter difference just on the irritability thing, I was at a Tony Robins seminar in Dallas Texas in October 2014 and he was saying that the difference, he was talking about the difference between being good at something, being excellent at something and being outstanding at something.
He said that most people today think that they’re excellent or maybe they are excellent but if you’re excellent today, you only get good results. It used to be if you were excellent, you got excellent results but today. With competition the way it is, if you’re excellent at something, you only get good results.
He said, why not be outstanding? Which is one step above excellence and guess what? The difference between excellent and outstanding is only two millimeters. That’s all it is.
That’s just an analogy where you were referring. It’s just 1%, 2%, 3% difference can be the difference between getting outstanding, being outstanding and getting outstanding results and only giving good results.
Dave: That’s not a major difference. It’s funny that we have escalation of those words because I’ve noticed that I’m a relatively fit guy, since I lost my hundred pounds I went from being like a double extra-large shirt.
I’m a solid size large but lately, I’ve actually put on muscle, not lost muscle, I go to the store and I have to buy a medium shirt because there’s like size inflation as Americans get fatter and fatter, what used to be a size large, what used to be a size extra-large is now labeled large so that there’s size inflation.
Maybe from an excellent thing, we have an excellent inflation. Where I want to be uber excellent because I have to have to talk to Tony Robins and he’ll be like great and uber, super-duper fabulous, excellent.
James Swanwick: It’s Bulletproof outstanding.
Dave: It’s funny but it’s true. Also, how many billion people do we have?
James Swanwick: Six and a bit yeah.
Dave: There’s that statistic that the top 20% of students in either China or India exceeds the total number of students in the US. There’s a little bit of competition in the world both everyone’s competing with everyone else and they always got globalization there.
It’s not about beating other people but it’s about being excellent and if you’re going to work on being excellent, you do have an awful lot of other excellent people who your both collaborating with but also potentially competing with.
It becomes more and more important and just taking a few nights of the week and just makes you weak instead of stronger, over the long term, the difference in your trajectory could be substantial.
James Swanwick: How do you perform the day after you have a drink or two? I know you say you don’t drink but when you have that drink, is it enough to affect your ability? Do you notice it?
Dave: I’m relatively sensitive, my immune system I’ve lots of auto immunity, I’ve lived in buildings with water damage, had toxic mold even if I do on a vodka or something like that. If I don’t take supplements that counteract what the alcohol does, I’ll feel it.
The first place I feel that it’s in my brain. The next morning, I should wake up on the average day and just be able to bring it. Okay, I get out of bed, I want to think of something, I want to bring all the energy I have to bear that day.
I don’t have to sit and meditate, I don’t have to run, do jumping jacks, I can just turn it on and after I have that one drink the next morning, it takes a lot of effort to turn it on. My goal, that state of high performance that I seek is to make it work effortless. I wanted the energy, I brought the energy.
All of a sudden it’s not effortless, I don’t want to expend my will power doing simple things, I want to expend it doing great things and alcohol makes me spend my will power on trivial things and that’s why I don’t drink it other than on extreme special occasion where it’s ceremonial not for pleasure.
James Swanwick: The listener is probably thinking well, I’m not going to quit alcohol, that’s just unrealistic because it might be part of his or her culture and maybe they’re just used to it and they love a glass of red wine. Guess what? I love a glass of red wine and I love a beer, an ice cold beer in a hot day.
Dave: I never shot a heroine too just so we’re all clear. Just kidding, I actually never tried it.
James Swanwick: The point I’m trying to make here is that you don’t have to be an extreme like I am at this point in my life. You can just cut it back, you can just cut it back a couple of times a week, you can just have two drinks instead of three or just have one drink instead of two. That’s what Dave and I are talking about, that’s the 2%. I’m not here preaching like everyone should give up alcohol.
Dave: It’s unnecessary.
James Swanwick: It’s unnecessary. Going ahead and have a bottle of wine on Saturday or Friday night with your friends or whatever, do it but just if you can or if you want to be at optimum performance and you want to be outstanding and you want to live a Bulletproof life like Dave talked about, then just know your limit.
Reduce it maybe and fine tune it. No one’s saying you got to quit alcohol altogether but just fine tune it a little bit. Just cut back the number of drinks you have or regularity is what you have it.
Dave: Recognize that you’re taking a hit when you have even one drink, it doesn’t come at no expense and if it’s an expense that you want to incur then do it and drink the good stuff. You’ll have less of a hangover anyway and you can block some of the hangover using the hangover hacking techniques that are out there.
If you think that you’re invincible, one glass of red wine won’t do anything to me then you won’t do anything to block the effects of the negative parts of the red wine, you got the pleasure of it. Just recognize that there’s a cost because right now we sort of think that the only cost is economic but it’s not. It takes energy and that’s something that maybe isn’t in our consciousness that ought to be.
James Swanwick: Just on a financial point of view, I would say that stopping drinking is totally safe, I don’t know, I’ve tried to figure it out of my head but it’s at least $10,000 a year in just real cost of drinking and drinking related activities, probably another $50,000 a year in lost revenue because of a lack of productivity because of drinking.
It’s anywhere from I would estimate like 50 or a hundred grand a year. That is what it cost me if I was drinking. Like I said, just on real cost and then lost productivity because of how I feel.
Dave: I did. I have to admit, I tried to do that equation but I shifted all of my spend from alcohol to coffee so I’m afraid it was a wash for me.
James Swanwick: I’ll tell you what my alcohol is now like the thing that makes me feel bad is if I have pasta or risotto or something like that. It’s like, if I eat that, the next day I wake up and my guts are just awful, I feel so sluggish. What’s going on there, Dave? Explain it.
Dave: You’re getting the effects of gluten which makes gluteomorphin in the average person’s gut. It’s actually an opiate and a good number of people, it triggers auto immunity to one of 70 kinds of tissues in your body so you can get subtle inflammation.
You’re also getting excessive carbs, insulin, blood sugar swings and depending on where you got the wheat, it’s incredibly likely that there are meaningful but not illegal amounts of things like aflatoxin and other fungi that grow naturally in the field that we don’t filter out.
This is a known problem in grains forever about 24% of the world’ food supply gets ruined by mold during growing and storage every year. This is one of the subjects of the documentary I just finished shooting so I’m really up to date on the statistics.
When you’re eating that stuff, it’s really tough to know, there’s even a new practice in the US of spring glycols state on to a wheat crop because it makes for a slightly higher yield. You’re basically spraying round up on food that people are going to eat so you can slightly get a little bit more wheat and it causes a more evening of the ripeness of the wheat before you harvest it.
You’re getting an extra dose of pesticide in there as well. There’s good arguments that say if you can afford to not eat pasta and things like that, you might want to steer clear of that for the same reason that you might want to recognize what happens if you’re drinking a cheap beer.
The next morning, if you want to feel really good then choose a meal that will make you feel good and if you just want to celebrate, you want to eat the stuff you love and you just love pasta, then eat the pasta but recognize the cost. If you think you’re doing it for free then you’re really stuck.
James Swanwick: That’s exactly what I … you just said it perfectly, I was on Ben Greenfield, a podcast a few weeks ago and I was telling a similar story about how I don’t drink and I got a client out of it. Someone reached out to me and said I really want to cut back the amount of alcohol that I drink.
It’s affecting my relationship with my husband and et cetera. Everything that you just said Dave is what I say to her and now what she’s saying back to me, in three weeks she’s gone from being hung over and not sleeping properly.
Not sleeping properly on a Sunday night being hung over and unproductive on a Monday to cutting it back to just one drink on a Sunday afternoon. Sleeping perfectly, waking up in the morning fresh and having a great relationship with her husband and all she did was just cut out two or three drinks in the last second part of the week and all of a sudden her life is transformed. Like we say, it’s only just the little thing, it’s a little adjustment, to me it’s don’t eat pasta because when I eat pasta I feel like crap.
Dave: That pasta is on the kryptonite food part of the Bulletproof Diet. By the way I have to do a plug because it’s that time of year. Approved diet book launches December 2nd, if you haven’t ordered on Amazon yet and you listen to this show, I’d be so thankful if after more than a 150 free episodes, you ordered the book. Because that will help it hit the New York Times number one spot, which is the goal.
James Swanwick: Absolutely. I want to help you, Dave. I’m going to have you on my show the James Swanwick show and talk about the book to my audience as well.
Dave: Thank you.
James Swanwick: New York Times, for sure.
Dave: Thanks so much. This is one of those things where I want to share the knowledge because when people learn things like what you’re talking about here James, about the things that make them weak.
If you could just identify them, I’m not saying never do them but just know what they are so you know you’re kryptonite because once you do that, it becomes a lot easier so you can dial in the level of weakness or strength that’s appropriate for the kind of day you want to have.
No one ever taught me that and I spend a lot of time and money doing it so I can teach someone how to do that in my book and that makes them have better emotional regularity, less crankiness. They’ll be nicer to each other and then that will be nice.
James Swanwick: Dave, I promise to read every single word of your book.
James Swanwick: going on when I get your book. Dave, I got a question, I want to ask you a question, a hell threaded question because thank you so much, you were very kind to send me some MCT oil in the mail recently and I thank you for that.
Today I had, I put a cap full of MCT oil in my shake with the green powder and I drank it as I walk back from the gym and then when I got home, I made my breakfast and I put another cap of MCT oil over my salmon and my grass fed butter and a little bit of sour kraut there for some probiotics and then an hour later I started to get tummy problems.
I suspect because I’ve had too much of it, maybe I put two caps is too many but why would I be having a troublesome gut from taking the MCT when I take just the one cap.
Dave: Was it.
James Swanwick: Okay.
Dave: There’s two different ones that there’s brain octane oil and there’s XCT oil and they’re both different from sort of the generic MCT’s, there’s a lot of companies that are labeling thing goes MCT oil even though they’re long chain, like people say coconut oil 62% CT it’s a marketing scam they’re doing. I try to make sure which one of my two …
James Swanwick: It wasn’t the orange one, it wasn’t the brain octane.
Dave: It was XCT then.
James Swanwick: XCT yes, it was yeah.
Dave: Most people respond, like the XCT is harder on the gut than brain octane which is one of the reasons I prefer brain octane. The reason is that the 10 carbon chain fat that’s in there requires a little bit more digestion before it goes into energy whereas the brain octane is the shortest chain of the medium chain. It’s the most rare one in coconut but it’s the one that causes the very little digestive distress unless you just drink like half a cup of it but olive oil at half cup doses is also bad.
James Swanwick: Yes.
Dave: When you get too much of the XCT oil, what happens there is your gut microbes get a little bit upset by that and your body can’t absorb it fast enough so that can cause what we affectionately refer to as disaster pants.
The trick is to teach your body to be a fat burning body and when you do that, you can handle quite a lot more. I find most people buy the XCT oil because it’s more economical and then most people go for the brain octane because they get a bigger mental boost, they get more energy from it and it’s just easier on the body. There’s a trade-off between cost and efficiency as there is almost everything you do in life.
James Swanwick: Okay, I should just maybe stick it … Bring it back down to just a one cap full.
Dave: Yeah. The number is different. I know a couple of people who are a teaspoon is all they can handle because their thyroids turn on and I’m really warm. Then after months of that, I can handle two or three teaspoons.
Sometimes it’s just a question of how much energy is your body willing to turn on. Because if you have mitochondria that don’t use sugar anymore but can use key tones, different people can respond very dramatically.
You’re pretty healthy, just having met in person a few times. I doubt you have major minor contrail dysfunction. For you it’s probably just a localized gut distress.
James Swanwick: Yeah. Okay good, thank you. That solved my problem. Done.
Dave: Yeah, just back off a bit.
James Swanwick: Yeah okay I will.
Dave: Now, you talk about all sorts of stuff that I don’t really talk about on Bulletproof Radio. Things like dating, role playing, men and women and one of the things I was going to ask you is something I’ve seen a lot on your twitter feed which is, why do women test men?
Let’s give it some male stuff just because it’s going to be interesting for both women and men who are listening to get your take on this because you coach guys on how to be successful in dating. Let’s face it. A lot of us guys can use that.
James Swanwick: The short answer, by the way let me just preface this by saying, I’m not the expert but I’m the interviewer of the experts. What I’ve been told.
Dave: Yeah disclaimer of liability, I got it.
James Swanwick: What I’ve been told by the experts is that women want to feel a man’s masculinity, they want to feel like he cannot fail a test because it goes back to 10,000 years ago, the woman wants the strong man, the man who is going to kill the bear that’s coming to eat her, the bear that’s going to eat the children, the opposing tribes who might come and rape her and pillage the town, all that kind of stuff. A woman is inherently attracted to a very strong alpha male man.
When she tests you, or when she tests the man I should say, she’s looking to see whether you’re going to flunk the test or whether you’re going to stand strong in the test and she wants you to stand strong.
If you’ve ever had a situation where a woman just like, asks you for no reason like pushes your buttons for no reason. Everything’s going perfectly and then she’ll find something that’s wrong and she’ll say something and all of a sudden there’s a big fight created.
That’s okay, she’s just wanting to test you to see whether you are going to fight with her or whether you’re going to say that’s funny or just relax and be strong in that moment.
Dave: I thought that was just ovulation. No?
James Swanwick: Very good Dave. I saw what you did there. Really, women test men because they just want to feel that the man is not going to fail the test. The more she loves you, the more she will test you. The more she tests you and the more you pass the test, the more she’ll love you.
It’s not only when we men react to her and say you’re crazy, what are you doing? Are you insane? What are you taking about? When we do that as men, we failed the test.
Dave: I got a perspective a little on this. There’s definitely some major stereotyping going on but what doesn’t match this whole alpha male model is prince or the artist formerly known as prince as his name.
Okay, the exact opposite of an alpha male. He looks like a peacock. When you read the laws of seduction by Robert Green follow into laws of power, I think that identified seven different types of male behavior and some of them are super alpha, other, the guy who will do anything for sex including like humiliate himself and dressing up funny and climbing up vines up windows, I don’t remember the story very well.
Then there’s the sloth and I don’t remember the other kinds but I was intrigued that they mapped out all these things. Is there, maybe a ton of this alpha versus beta male you see in TV all the time?
There’s all these other kinds of things that women like, do you coach on those or are you really like hey, you got to be the Alpha, always pay the bill et cetera.
James Swanwick: What I do is I try to get experts into alpha male and interview to talk about how to be the best man they can be.
Dave: There you go.
James Swanwick: What I am trying to teach to men who are members of Alpha Male Club is be a man of your word, make your words and actions alone. Take good care of your health, have good relationships with your friends, with your acquaintances, with your family members, respect women. Know how to be a gentleman. Just have your life in order. That, to me, is my definition of a man.
Dave: Floss and open doors, got it.
James Swanwick: Yeah. You know, people think they hear this Alpha Male Club and it’s like the big gorilla’s banging their chest and it’s a big misogynistic kind of thing, that’s not it at all, it’s really just … how can you be the best man that you can be and especially in the areas that I like to interview guest on which is money and finance, health and fitness and then relationships whether it’s with women or whether it’s with acquaintances and male friends.
Dave: I was down in LA the other day and I hung out with Ken Rutkowski, the guy who runs business Rockstars Radio and he has a networking group, Saturday morning called Metal. It’s a pretty influential group of people but it’s all guys.
It’s not officially segmented like that but I was a little bit surprised and guys get together and it changes kind of the energy, there’s stuff that men do just like they have sowing circles to be terribly stereotypical but there are things that women do but where they get together and they do.
I don’t know because I don’t go to those things. Guys, we don’t go to the bar and drink whatever, there’s like some sports things but it feels like some of that stuff that guys do to be guys, there’s less of that now than there used to be at least in big cities. Is that pretty accurate, is that affect what we do with Alpha Male Club?
James Swanwick: Yeah, it’s interesting because then when these conferences turn up or my product Alpha Male Club turns up, it’s almost like it’s an unusual thing isn’t it? We look at it as unusual, it’s a men’s group, that’s so weird.
Going back tens of thousands of years when we were a cavemen, guys would go off for days and weeks at a time that have these rituals and they would be spending a lot of time together.
Dave: Eat mushrooms and hunt mastodon’s and it was just a party. I get it.
James Swanwick: There you go. To actually get together with … look, you and I are in an entrepreneurial group called the brotherhood which is all guys obviously, there are no women allowed, it’s all guys and the dynamic is very different.
You can talk about men’s issues freely and openly without fear of ridicule, without fear of judgment just like women can go and talk, there are some things that women should talk only to women about, it’s like there’s some things that guys should talk only to guys about.
Anything that gets a man living the life that he feels he’s supposed to and anything that get to men being congruent and anything that gets a man, making sure that his words and actions align is great with me.
If that means you go to a men’s conference if that means you sign up to Alpha Male Club and learn about men’s issues if that means you go and just hang out with your buddies and watching football on a Sunday and you don’t take your girlfriend or your wife or your platonic girlfriend then just do it. That will be a shame, don’t be ashamed of it.
Dave: I’m sure we’re going to get some interesting comments on this on the blog post and on iTunes and all that stuff. I think that there’s something to be said for both genders men and women having lots of mixed gender time and occasionally just hanging out with others from your same gender.
That there are strange benefits I can’t entirely loosen it but I support what you’re saying there. There’s something about that, let’s talk about stuff that we wouldn’t talk about in those company for whatever reason and I don’t think we really know those reasons.
James Swanwick: I’m just going to give one dating tip to the women listening, as well, Dave. I have a site called oneinamillionman.com which teaches women how to attract their one in a million guy, basically. I’ve got another podcast called Date Top 10 Men in iTunes as well where I interview dating coaches and stick it and put that up on a podcast.
You and I, we’re talking about guys only groups and being in entrepreneurial groups and everything. To the ladies listening, if you want to meet a great guy, go to a place where there are lots and lots of guys.
Just like, I know it’s like so simple.
Dave: Rocket science.
James Swanwick: It’s so simple, right? Hear this, I’m going to give you some examples; a business seminar, a real estate conference, an entrepreneurial meet up. Now, this is not me being sexist.
Dave: A monster truck rally.
James Swanwick: A monster track rally is a good one. 75% of the guys in that room are men. I went to a real estate conference in San Diego six months ago, it was like … am I allowed to say this on your show? Am I allowed to kind of …
James Swanwick: It was like a cock fest. There were just dudes everywhere and there was only a handful of women and most handful of women were loving it. They were loving it because they’re surrounded by men.
I know you’re about to mock me and make fun of me because I said go to … go to a place where there are lots of guys but Dave and I are talking about entrepreneurial groups right? Men for whatever reason are into business more than women, it’s shown, it’s been proven over and over again.
Go to a business seminar, go to a real estate conference, go to an investor meeting, in fact, if you buy one share of birch tree Hathaway is the company owned by Warren Buffet and Charlie Manga who I referred to earlier.
At the moment I think it’s trading about 133, $134 for Berkshire Hathaway. If you buy that one share, that enables you to attend the annual shareholder’s meeting in Omaha Nebraska in May of every year. When you go to that shareholders meeting and it’s a three day event by the way.
It’s 90% men and 10% women and the 90% who are men are all like the world’s wealthiest, richest investors, guys who are like bettering themselves, guys who are super motivated, the guys that I like to consider outstanding when we’re talking about outstanding and excellent before.
Just as a final tip and I don’t want to turn this into a dating podcast Dave but if you just go to where the men are and think about conferences, men’s group. Like literally hang on the peripheral of those men’s groups, go to those investor meetings, you are going to attract a great man into your life.
Dave: I’ve got a little story about that, this is sort of stuff really happens, I’m not going to say who this was but at the Bulletproof conference, we had a special VIP dinner relatively small groups of people and maybe 30 or 40 people and me and some of our speakers.
It was an additional fee for the food and everything. I got one person who signed up and said I am coming absolutely and I’d like to extra fee. However, my requirement is that I be sat next to a single guy between this age and that other age because I want a Bulletproof guy. This is my strategy for meeting one and she was totally happy just to be open about that. She went there to meet people not in a predatory way but in a, I know what I want, I’m looking for that.
Likewise I have to say some advice that my wife before we were married gave me, she was still living in Sweden and she said. Dave, you should take up Yoga, all right, I’ll go take up Yoga and she said. My advice is, find a super attractive Yoga teacher. I said, “Why would you say that?” She said, “So you’ll keep going to Yoga.” That was good advice but what I also did is I noticed in the average Yoga class, that even though this wasn’t Silicon Valley where the ratio of men to women is skew.
There’s more men than women down there. That it was nine women for every two men. All of them, this is going to be shocking, they were wearing Yoga pants. If I had been single at that time, I would have been wow, this is amazing.
What a great way to meet people. It’s the same thing, go where the people you want to meet are and in my case anyway I think there’s somebody to be said for meetings someone who does Yoga because they’re probably doing other types of personal growth and they take care of themselves and they exercise it works both ways.
James Swanwick: Just one last point. When I went to your conference in Pasadena Dave, the bio hacking conference, as I was driving up there before I went I said. You know what? I bet I’ll meet a lovely lady here. Maybe I’ll meet a couple of lovely women here and a lot of great guys.
You know what? I went into that bio hacking conference and I did. I met a couple of lovely ladies who were very health conscious, very spiritual, really into their fitness and I stayed in contact with one of them. Obviously one of them was “Hey, how are you doing?” A little text message here and there, but I’ve actually gone out and seen one of the women that I met at that conference.
Same thing, what kind of person do you want to attract into your life. Go to where that type of person hangs out, I want to hang out with a healthy, spiritual fit woman. Chances are I’m going to meet one of those at Dave Asprey’s Biohacking Conference.
Dave: That was the one who paid to sit next to you just … No, I have no idea.
James Swanwick: You’re undermining me at every opportunity Dave.
Dave: I’m totally teasing. On that note, there’s a question that I’ve asked every guest on the show at the end of the show and that is, ”What are your top three pieces of advice for people who want to perform better at everything they do?” You’ve had an interesting life. You talk to all kinds of celebrities, all kinds of other people so I’m really looking forward to your answer.
James Swanwick: The first one is so simple, three words. Just do it. It’s like the Nike slogan. Just do it. There have been so many times where everyone was like, should I do it, should I not do it and I haven’t taken action and I’ve just … everything stayed the same.
When I’ve actually taken the action and I’ve actually taken that step and just do it, I do it and things happen. I was terrified going in for my audition at ESPN to become a sports center anchor.
I was terrified and I just kept saying in myself over and over again. Just do it, just do it. I did. I did a successful audition and I became a sports center anchor on ESPN. In fact there’s a whole blog post that I wrote on that, you can see the video of me making my debut if you just type in in the Google how I bluffed ESPN James Swanwick.
That whole story will come up and you can see the photos and the videos. The other thing I would say is feel the fear and do it anyway. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
I’ve been scared, terrified, I was scared to move to London from Brixton back in 1998 and I did it anyway, I was scared to move to America in Los Angeles, I didn’t know where I was going to turn left or right out of Santa Monica … out of Los Angeles airport when I flew in there.
I didn’t know anyone in the states, I was scared but I did it anyway. Then I was scared when I did the ESPN audition but I did it anyway and it worked out great. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
My third tip would be, this is just something that I came up with recently after I did the Tony Robins seminar in Dallas is be outstanding. Be and do outstanding. What I mean by that is how can you offer someone health.
Do you talk to a homeless person on the street? Do you open the car … let a woman go through a sliding door first. Do you stand up for women in her seat if you’re a man? Can you offer value without expecting anything back in return?
Be outstanding because people notice that. After Jim Quick’s party last Saturday night I sent him a text message the next day to say thank you so much for having me. He texted back saying thank you James, thank you so much for saying that, glad you were there, that’s outstanding.
I’m not saying I’m outstanding, I’m saying that’s me trying to be outstanding. Just the little things like that and people notice that and people connect with you and anything that you want to do in life is going to happen if you just follow be outstanding.
Dave: Very, very well said. We’re going to put links to all of your sites in the show notes but why don’t you tell people where they can find you on twitter and the main website as you go to find more about your work James.
James Swanwick: Yeah thank you Dave. My website is jamesswanwick.com. I’ll spell it out for you because it’s a little bit of a hard one. It’s just James Swanwick. You can get me in iTunes at the James Swanwick Show. If you’re living, looking for dating advice, you can go to oneinamillionman.com or get me in iTunes as well. Twitter is just @jamesswanwick and integral is @jamesswanwick.
Dave: Thanks, again, for being on the show.
James Swanwick: Thank you, Dave. It was great being chastised by you and throughout. Thank you.
Dave: I think we avoided chastity entirely which is probably good, that was Tim Farris’s thing to go with the alcohol. We’ll leave that there. If you enjoyed the show, I would be really grateful if you would head on over to Amazon or Barnes & Noble and order the Bulletproof Diet book now.
If you do that you forward your receipt to orderbulletproofdietbook.com. There’s instructions on the website. I will send you a whole bunch of free stuff and keep sending you free stuff, things that I’ve created that go along with the book.
Now is an ideal time to do it and if you would just like to say thanks for the kind of content you just heard, this is the best way you could do it, it’s the one thing I’m asking you to do for this entire week. Have an awesome day.
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If you haven’t already, just make sure you sign up for email updates at bulletproof.com or like both in Facebook to make sure you get all the details. Then just mark your calendar to watch your email inbox and the Facebook page so in December second for your invitations to each of the 12 days of Bulletproof.
Thanks for listening. I’m excited to help you give the gift of Bulletproof this holiday season.