Transcript – Ari Meisel: Working Smarter Not Harder – #99
Dave: Today’s cool fact of the day is that doctors will soon be able to diagnose disease or other states of wellness from your breathe by just look at gases like acetones that come out of your body. Researchers just developed a laser in the mid-infrared frequency range that can detect really low levels of concentration of gases.
A laser like this could also probably detect methane so you could understand greenhouse gases and climate issues and a predecessor of this is already used by your friendly neighborhood police officer who can shine that flashlight into the window of your car except it’s not just a flashlight, it’s got infrared laser looking for alcohol on you breathe. Cool, huh?
Before we got going on today’s podcast. Check out the sleep infographic on the site because being bulletproof isn’t really going to happen unless you’re getting quality sleep and getting good quality sleep is more important than getting a lot of sleep according to the data anyway.
I often sleep less than 5 hours a night and I’m able to perform really well whether I got 2 hours or 5 hours, 6 or even 8 hours. There’s a lot of info you can check out on the blog about sleep packing and the new inforgraphic that’s up there, it’s on the Bulletproof Sleep Induction Mat page at Upgradedself.com. This infographic has everything you need to know about sleep all in a single infographic. Check it out on Upgradedself.com.
Now, onto the show. Today is a lovely guest is Ari and myself. Ari is a former Ironman triathlete, I guess you could say. He’s also the author of Less Doing, More Living. A book that’s being released April 3rd. Check him out at Lessdoingbook.com. This is a really cool book that you’re going to want to check out and that’s why I’ve invited Ari into the show so he can talk about some of his discoveries there. Ari is also a bio -hacker, he has 2 young kids, idolizes Harry Houdini and has started a couple of companies including Leed Pro which does green buildings and his current company called Less Doing.
Isn’t it true, Ari, that your wife is a vegetarian ?
Dave: Are you? Because I have something here about …
Dave: Weekdays you have a diet. What’s up with that?
Ari: No. Well, first of all, I was a vegetarian for about 4 or 5 months, I think, when I was going through experimentation. No, diet from TreeHugger and no, my wife is more than a meat eater than I am actually.
Dave: Somewhere when I was looking around for interesting bio info on you, I found something about that. By the way, if you’re a vegetarian or your wife was, it doesn’t matter. People eat whatever makes them feel good and that’s part of being bulletproof and like I have no problems with that but it’s just kind of funny. I was going to tease you.
Dave: You stole my thunder.
Ari: Sorry. I was vegan for a month. You can hit that one if you want.
Dave: What happened when you were a vegan for a month? We really planned all these questions and events right? Like I didn’t …
Dave: You tried it. Nothing? Didn’t you feel really good for a little awhile? I did.
Ari: Well, let’s see, did I feel really good? I felt like not as bad. Let’s put it that way, but I didn’t feel like I was getting any better. I felt like …
Dave: It’s less bad, kind of less doing.
Ari: It was, it was. Then again, you know what? I’ve learned in hindsight is that there’s a proper way to do the vegan diet, but I think that most people like 95% of people don’t do it. I have these 2 friends right now who are doing their 21 day vegan [inaudible 00:03:39] on Facebook. They keep posting like … Not cereals, but in their cereals and the pre-processed milk and stuff like that, it just … Just cutting out meat doesn’t mean that what you’re eating is good.
Dave: I found that when I went on the coke and doritos vegan diet with heroin. It was there’s all sorts of things that aren’t good for you that haven’t meat inside.
Ari: And e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes, don’t forget.
Dave: That’s right. It’s kind of funny but I can tell you, I felt much better when I went on the vegan diet. I lost weight, I improved my focus and what I didn’t know was that for the first 3 months, I was hiding some mitochondrial issues because of my excessive intake of Omega 3 fats and that after 3 months, things were not going to the right direction. It’s interesting that you didn’t feel anything when you went on a vegan diet for a little while.
Ari: Yeah, I wasn’t feeling as much pain exactly but I know I wasn’t like getting better.
Dave: One of the things that’s really interesting about you is like me, I had a bunch of different things like Lyme Disease, toxic mold exposure, arthritis, chronic fatigue, whatever. The whole big thing that I overcame, but you have Crohn’s which is really crappy and you turned it around. What happened to you in 2006 when you found out you had Crohn’s and what changes did you have to make?
Ari: Yes, Crohn’s is … It’s really horrible because first of all, it’s a young person’s disease. I find like the more and more people that I work with now, they’re just getting younger and the last person that I got a call from was the mother of a 14-year-old. It’s a young person’s disease, so right away you’re hitting a population that isn’t likely to look for alternatives because it’s just like messing with your social life and you don’t want to think about anything else.
I, fortunately, was in the beginning of a very serious relationship at the time with Anna, who is now my wife. It hit me in retrospect. I was in 23 when I got diagnosed. In retrospect, I’ve been having symptoms since I was 14. A couple of times a year, I’d have a really, really, really bad stomachache. The last 2 times before I was diagnosed, they thought it was appendicitis that magically cured itself by the time I got to a hospital.
Dave: Reversible appendicitis, yeah.
Ari: I love that. The last I went through the CAT scan, they’re like, “Well, we see inflammation. It might be your appendix but we’re not sure so go home. Come back if you want.” Anyway, my first diagnosis of Crohn’s was by the way I smell. The doctor left me a voicemail and said, “You have Crohn’s Disease and you’re going to have to be taking these 8 different medicines. Call me with any questions.”
Ari: Yeah and I basically … Depression hit about as quickly as it possibly could and then, I went to another doctor who diagnosed it again but was a little more measured about it. Sure enough, within 4 months I was taking 16 pills a day including systemic steroids and a leukemia drug and everything basically.
What was horrible was that I wasn’t going to get any better and one particular bad night. I basically went out to this big meal and we had … It was a barbecue restaurant and I had an attack that night. It was always at like 2:00 in the morning which is, I guess, a few hours after I started to digest. We went to the hospital and the doctor’s telling me, he’s like, “What did you eat?” Which is kind of amazing because they don’t usually ask that.
Dave: That’s very progressive, right?
Ari: Yes, right. I said, “Okay, I had baked beans and I had this, I had this,” and then the last thing I said was I had an iceberg lettuce salad. He said, “That’s it. That’s what it was.” Iceberg lettuce because it’s not digestible very much, there’s too much fiber, it’ll probably get stuck and okay.
Because of that, I was literally afraid to eat greens for like 6 months after that. Afraid, like I’d get a panic attack if I saw shredded lettuce on a plate somewhere. It was just horrible, of course, because it’s exactly the opposite. They continue to tell you that diet has nothing to do with it.
Eat whatever you want. I actually just had a Crohn’s client of mine who is doing great with the diet change that I’ve put him on and he happened to … He went to his doctor and his doctor made him go see the nutritionist in the office. She told him, this makes me mad still, she told him that “A great breakfast for him would be an English muffin with peanut butter.” I was so upset by that and I don’t usually get stressed anymore, but that really bothered me.
Dave: You must know about the link between the aflatoxin and the human body and Crohn’s Disease? Have you seen the research?
Ari: No. I never did until the first podcast that you had me on of yours. Only in that podcast which was 2 years ago and that research is stuck with me. Yes, absolutely.
Dave: You found the original study and all that?
Ari: Yeah, yeah. Of course.
Dave: Peanut butter is a common source of aflatoxins. Even the stuff they sell today is controlled levels but it’s not low aflatoxin by a long measure. To tell a kid to eat glutton and aflatoxin and these starts a very long chain of stuff that’s bad for you, like, that doctor honestly, they should have to have like a prescription pad, they just have to write the recipes they want you to take on it. It’s not okay for a doctor to use the power of the white lab coat to tell you to take food unless they’re trained and expert on the food. That was a negligent recommendation. That’s not okay.
Ari: I agree. It’s really upsetting. Really, really upsetting. You didn’t mention the fact that that’s basically a form … It’s like caked sugar basically. That’s all it is. Anyway, I have this one really, really bad night where I literally thought I was going to die. I was in the hospital and you know, when you get obstructed with Crohn’s, you’re basically just waiting to see if it comes out. Otherwise, you got to go to surgery and then surgery doesn’t work because you have to do it again, usually because they never ever tell you to change your lifestyle.
I got out of the hospital that night. I was like, “I have to do something different.” That’s why I went to extremes and so, I’ve been afraid of greens, eating whatever crap I was eating and then went vegan for a month which, again, I started to not feel so crappy but I wasn’t feeling like I was getting much better. I didn’t have a lot of energy. Then I went vegetarian, properly vegetarian I think for almost 5 months. Then I re-introduce fish and now, I eat everything. Now, I eat high fat. In the end, the high fat, I think, was the real killer.
Dave: [crosstalk 10:03] real killer. Okay, I was like, “Wow, the real killer?” That’s-
Ari: Sorry, sorry. It could be the killer move, and it’s funny, because [inaudible 10:10], which is named for butyric acid, alias butter, they give butyrates suppositories. That’s not a fun way to get your butyrates.
Dave: I’ve never heard of taking butter that way but hey, whatever you’re into, man.
Ari: That’s what it’s like. Why can’t you just tell someone to eat some more butter, you know?
Dave: It sounds ridiculous but yeah, I gave a talk about a week ago at David Wolfe’s conference, Longevity Now, and David’s on the raw vegan side of things but he has a really passionate following of people who are also bio-hackers. I felt guilty; I stood up there, I’m like, “Okay. Guys, just a confession at the start. I’m a lacto- ovo- beef-o pork-o vegetarian,” right? These guys were … They laughed. It was such an amazing audience, all these 1,500 people really into health. They’re using super foods, and I just tossed up the butter facts. Here’s the studies about butter and a lot of them were like, “Oh my goodness, I never thought butter might be something that I could consider as a super food,” so there are actually vegans who, honestly, the vegans I know, many of them are starved for saturated fats. Because coconut oil alone, even if you just like, eat tons of it, it’s not all the saturated fats that you need.
Dave: When they do that, and they add just [Gi 11:31], which is … there is no animal proteins in there at all, they just had that back in. Like, their skin comes back, their eyes get healthier, they feel better, so I consider it to be a critical food for humans at this point.
Ari: That’s a [big 11:44] detail but … We had this one client, who … and, by the way, I’ve replicated my results in about 15 people now at Crohn’s. He hadn’t had a solid stool in 3 years, and after a week of eating high fat, and eating this way, he had his first one. They sent me a picture.
Dave: I named it after you.
Ari: Yes! You know, but it’s like … Well, the proof is in the poop.
Dave: You know what? My 4-year-old would be laughing right now; any time you said poop, it’s funny. A whole conversation with adults about poop; oh, my God, that’s the best part.
Ari: So I got off my meds after about 5 months and then I was all uphill from there.
Dave: All right, so how did getting Crohn’s disease turn into less doing? I’m assuming this isn’t less doing something on the potty.
Ari: Right, yes. Basically, I did the … I figured out the [Diana 12:42] thought and I figured out the supplements and I figured out the fitness, although, I went, I did tough mother and then I did a half-ironman and then I ended up doing ironman, and in there, I was eating a lot of stuff that would not be really considered [burate 12:56] free, a lot of the gel packs and things but it’s what you got to do sometimes for those things. But after ironman, it was like, “Well, I did that. That was great. I proved I could do it, but now what? I have to take the step,” you know? I wanted to keep doing better, so what I realized very quickly was that the largest element that was left in my illness in my body was still stress. I still had that thing that if somebody … if I’m under an argument or there was a business thing that went wrong, I would feel it in my stomach immediately.
So I said, “How do I start attacking this?” Oddly, my way of dealing with that was to create a system of productivity. I basically wanted to free up as much as time as possible with the goal of freeing up as much of my mind and my brain power as possible so I could do the things I wanted to do, focus on the things I wanted to and also have the head space to not react badly to things. Because I’ve probably been a very sensitive person my whole life and I tend to internalize a lot of that stuff. So less doing grew out of that and there’s 9 fundamentals to be more productive but the 9th fundamental is wellness, and it really comes full circle to … you know, you can be as technologically efficient as you want to be but if you’re not sleeping well or you’re not eating right or you’re too stressed, you’re not going to be able be as effective as you want to be.
Dave: This is a bit of a challenge to your ideas here.
Dave: I want to talk about getting things done. I was a fun of getting things done for a couple of years. For people who are listening who haven’t checked it out, getting things done is a methodology where you file everything so you don’t have to worry that you might have forgotten something. Now it works but I found that I was spending an enormous amount of time filing crap that I didn’t need to file, so what I realized was that I was filing because I was afraid that I might forget something or drop something. I could deal with the fear by making sure it didn’t happen by creating a complex system in my life, but I can also train my nervous system to recognize that sometimes something may fall and I’m going to put systems in place, but they’re probably not perfect. They’re just efficient.
That, with those systems that were good enough, if I could remove my fear of letting something fall, that I could actually have more energy, more time, less fear, and more liberation, so I stopped filing everything and started using the search engine and I file almost nothing, and I sometimes can’t find what I want very quickly but it’s okay and I’m not going to die. So the level of relaxation I got from a more moderate approach was better and now I feel like GTD is a response to fear. How was less doing, in your case, you’re stressed all the time so you’re like, “I’ll change these behaviors rather than changing the stress response?” What made you change the behaviors?
Ari: It’s a really good question. I actually interviewed Dave Allen for the [Antiose 15:48] conference that I did as well, and I’m doing, and we had a really great discussion about this. First of all, different productivity systems work for different people, right? I love when … I recommend EverNote a lot of times to people as this sort of external brain resource, I call it, creating the external brain, and I do. I suspect that idea that if you have an idea in your head you should get it out of your head because we don’t … It’s not a good resource for holding on to an idea. There’s a good resource for coming up with ideas but not really [inaudible 16:21] holding on to them.
So that’s more about getting it out of your head, and I focus more on the options at your disposal, if something comes your way, so it’s not so much about file everything away, create this complex system, which I agree is something more stressful, in a lot of situations. But yes, so you focus on the way that you react to stress and then you have to set up pathways for those things to take. So if something stress me out because somebody’s going to call me and say, “I have to get this bill paid right away.” Well, for me, it’s very easy. I can say, “Okay. Well, then, this gets forwarded to this particular person, this virtual system, or this bookkeeper,” and that’s an automatic thing. It just happens.
So I don’t have to stress because I know that the options are there, you know? If somebody sends me, “Oh, we really want you to write this blog post.” Okay, well I can only write after 9:00 at night — it’s something I’ve learned about myself very effectively so that gets forwarded to using a service I love called followup.cc. I forward that to 9:00 pm at followup.cc and then I forget about it, so it’s almost like making, treating yourself like an idiot sometimes, that I don’t want to be thinking about these things so which lever do I pull?
Dave: Right. That also gets into this decision-making fatigue. [inaudible 17:30] decide to do it, it just comes in and you do it, right?
Ari: Right, exactly.
Dave: I use my calendar the same way. I have this conversation in the morning sometimes, when we’re getting the kids ready for school, and Juana, my wife, will say, “What are you doing at 2:00 pm?” I’m like, “I have no idea what I’m doing at 2:00 pm! Are you kidding me? That’s like, 6 meetings from now, or maybe 10, and I’m going to record 2 podcasts,” and I’m like, “I don’t know. I can open my phone as easily as you can open your phone.”
Dave: You can look at my calendar, I can look at my calendar. But to store all of that in my head; honestly, I have better things to do with my intellectual capacity and remembering a whole bunch of stuff that some other device can remember, I’ve consciously decided that I’m not going to make that a part of my stress response.
Dave: You did the same thing, so there’s an externalized system, even if it’s maybe less rigidly organized than David Allen, who I, I have a lot of respect for David Allen, I just found that GTD didn’t work for me.
Ari: Yeah, and it didn’t work for me either. Part of that is that, well, GTD honestly works really well if you handwrite things, honestly. Because GTD is great is you have a pad on your fridge and you have a pad next to your desk and you have a pad in your car, and you can just write things down off-the-cuff and then deal with them later. I can’t read my own handwriting, and that’s probably because I’ve been using computers since 4th grade and my handwriting never developed as well as it should have, but that’s one of the reasons that it does not work for me. I need these systems that technologically flow very well for me.
Dave: Okay, cool. I agree with you there and assembling the right system is critically important. Are you a Gmail guy or are you an Outlook guy?
Ari: I’m absolutely a Gmail guy. I think Gmail is one of the number one and the most underrated productivity resources available to the human race.
Dave: So do you have any privacy or security issues there, given that pretty much it’s an open letter to the NSA to read everything you do?
Ari: So what, you know? It’s like, honestly, so what? The thing is is 23andMe has a saliva sample with my DNA in it, you know? If somebody really wanted to get in there, and what? You know, every time you send a blood sample through the mail, which I know you and I have both done, somebody might intercept that and you know, do something with it. If something is too private for email, don’t use email.
Dave: It’s not a bad thing to say but I got to tell you, this t-shirt I’m wearing is my EFF t-shirt. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and a part of me is going, “Ah!” But you’re right. The bottom line is if you didn’t want it to be seen in public, you put it on email, there’s a chance it’s going to get seen.
Ari: Why do people think that sexting is something that’s not going to get out in the public? Why? Don’t do it.
Dave: Well, I mean, look at Snapchat, right?
Dave: Snapchat is out there specifically for that reason, honestly, and people assume they can’t do screenshots?
Ari: Yeah, I never understood that.
Dave: I thought of a neat application — someone listening should write this — it’d be a Snapchat to Instagram bridge in the cloud, which means every time you snapshots something magically it appears on an Instagram feed, which would kind of dissolve 3 billion dollars of valuation almost instantly. So there you go, now we’re talking like computer hackers, not bio-hackers. Let’s go back to [inaudible 20:52].
Dave: You also did ironman; are you still a cross-fitter? Or you were a cross-fitter? What’s the deal with cross-fit? I love cross-fit’s intensity.
Ari: Yeah, so I’ve learned a lot, let’s say that and I’ve seen the injuries … you know what, this is my issue with cross-fit: I think that the movements and the workouts and the combination of things are excellent, and I think that learning to do functional movements like that lifts and learning to do things like thrusters or pull-ups. I think it’s great. I think the problem with cross-fit is that they’re pushing people to a level of intensity and you only need literally a 2-day certification to own a cross-fit gym. It’s not enough. You know, and after years of doing this, and I’m not a certified strength conditioning coach. I’ve just done many sports and I’ve learned a lot about how the body works, and I’m a yoga instructor.
I know a lot, and I’m an ENT but I’m not an expert by any means. I see the problems, you know, with what people do on the shoulder injuries and I know so many physical therapists and orthopedists who say that they’re in business because of cross-fit. So I love cross-fit, if it’s done properly, which is what I would say about a lot of first-timers…
Dave: Wouldn’t you say karate is the same way? Like, any kind of sport, if it’s done improperly, will mess you up.
Ari: Absolutely. But what I’ve seen, honestly, is that I think cross-fit tends to be done improperly by a lot of people.
Dave: I totally believe that. I spoke at a cross-fit event goes — was it Waterpalooza? — in Miami a few weeks ago, and, man, there’s some seriously strong, seriously fit people. I don’t think I’ve ever seen women as fit as some of the ones there. Just like, seriously, they can do a lot more pull-ups than I can. It’s pretty darn impressive; just the level of strength and resilience that comes out. But they’ve obviously been trained right to do the movements right so that they don’t get injured.
Ari: Right. I’d also be very interested in seeing what their hormone levels look like for other parts of their life.
Dave: That’s a challenge with any intense exercise, whether we’re talking ironman, ultra endurance, cross-fit or, honestly, playing soccer for 2 hours a day, every day. It doesn’t really matter; if you’re not getting enough recovery, it’s going to show in the hormones and it’s going to show in the hormones for women first, and it’ll show in sperm motility for men first, of all things, but we don’t normally measure that, right?
Ari: I have!
Dave: Of course you have. I should have known.
Ari: Creepiest test I’ve ever done.
Dave: So first we’re talking about poop and then we talk about sperm motility; this is like the TMI podcast of all podcasts.
Ari: And productivity!
Dave: And productivity, that’s right. Well, I hate to say it; if you’re not productive enough to have healthy swimmers, you’re probably not healthy enough to do some other things, too, like perform at an optimal level or be efficient. It’s a great leaning indicator.
Ari: I agree.
Dave: All right. So we just talked about over-training, without really intending to, which is cool. I think that’s a problem in many sports. How do you know, with what you do, whether you’re over-training or under-training?
Ari: Learning about recovery was an amazing experience for me because when I was training for ironman, I had a coach who [inaudible 24:13] but since then, I think I’ve learned some more efficient ways of training for an event like that. But, you know, if I got sick, which happened a lot because my immune system was shot from all that training, it was really stressful and upsetting that I had to miss 4, 5 days of training, you know? It was like that the psychological idea that you have to learn how to recover is huge, and just realizing that a lot of times the recovery is more important than the training itself, because that’s really where you grow and improve and absorb, in a lot of ways, was the base stuff for me.
How do I know if I’m over-training? At this point, honestly, I could feel it in my body. I just know when I’ve done something wrong. But, fortunately, and, again, from you, I’ve learned about HRV and that was … You know, again, 2 years ago, probably even more, but HRV has been a really amazing indicator for me and I actually really love the free app … I think it’s free. It’s for the iPhone, called Stress Check and when I don’t have my strap, I’ll use that. It just uses your finger and it’ll give you a number from 1 to 100 of how stressed your nervous system is. It was really effective because there were days when I wake up and I thought I felt good and [inaudible 25:32] but then I pull up the Stress Check and it would say that I was at 80% stress, which is bad, unlike heart rate variability, where you want the higher number, this was bad.
Then it was like, okay, well, this is the day that I should not be doing the high intensity interval training. This is the day to do some yoga or maybe some foam rolling or my preferred method of recovery, electro-stim.
Dave: I’m intrigued by what you’re doing with electro-stim. Not a lot of people are messing around with that. What do you use? Where? How often? I’m sure that that’s interesting for a lot of people listening.
Ari: I mean, it started as just a thing that get more blood flow going to start [inaudible 26:06] where I had a particular issue was in my right glut, which was not firing properly for a long time, and I think it was because I tore my patella tendon on my right knee when I was in college, rock climbing, and neglected to get surgery and it probably didn’t heal properly which led to my hip and let all sorts of different things being off. So I would just strap, at the end of the day, I’ll just strap the patches on my butt, basically, and let it go for 20 minutes or so, and it really-
Dave: This is just a tens unit? Just a basic thing, like a 10 dollar little battery-powered thing?
Ari: Yeah, well, the compacts, yes.
Dave: The compacts? Okay, so that’s more than 10 bucks. That’s like 20 bucks, okay.
Ari: Yeah, it’s a little bit better. You know, before that, I just tried to put a 9-volt battery and it didn’t do much.
Dave: That’s hard to tape on, yeah.
Ari: Yeah, a little bit. So the compact thing was great. Then what I found that was really amazing was that if I was having a day where I felt like I was a little on pins or something like that, I could actually use it during the movement. One of my favorite resistance training exercise is a squat. A back squat, and you’ll strap those on, on your right side and your left side. On your thighs or your gluts, and you do a squat, you can get a lot deeper, and you stay there for a second and you’re getting that, you know, whatever 30, 40, 50 vibrations per second, essentially so you’re doing so much more work, and training, I guess we’re training neural pathways really quickly, right?
Dave: It depends on the waveform. I wish that the prototype unit I had was available because there’s some crazy stuff you can do when you mix different frequencies and all. I expect we’ll see a massive renaissance of electrical stimulation over the next 5 years. Like all those CES devices, where people are looking at stuff on the wrist. I was CTO of one of those companies but compared to what you can do when you’re not just watching but you’re actively changing electricity, it’s awesome. I think you’re scratching the surface of what you’re going to do over the next 5 years.
Ari: I know, I know it’s just the beginning and I know that you’ve talked about some units that you’ve been testing that are just going to give you some serious muscular [track 28:08].
Dave: Yeah, I’m all electricity right now. I don’t know, I’m reasonably … see if you can tell on the thing, I got some biceps, for a guy who really isn’t working out at all, except every now and then I stand near with electrodes. I recorded a podcast yesterday, actually, with electrodes on my abs the whole time.
Ari: I mean, that hurts.
Dave: I didn’t notice that I was doing it. Every now and then, I’m like, “Ugh!” And you know, oops. All right, well, I’m still interested in doing less, because that’s the art of bio-hacking. What gives you the best change in the least amount of effort? Because you only have so much effort you’re going to use everyday, right?
Let’s talk about these 9 Fundamentals of Doing Less that are in your new book because this is something, before I ran out of time, that they’re really worth paying attention to. What’s with the number 9? Why not 8? Why not 10?
Ari: They [inaudible 29:02] they didn’t intend to be 9 originally; it just happened that way. I believe in the power of threes, maybe. No, it’s started with one thing, and then another thing, and then another thing, and then finally, I was like, “Okay. Well, the last part of this is wellness.” It really wasn’t planned, and, again, a lot of this grew organically from what I felt I needed and what I felt people were benefiting from. So it starts with the 80-20 roll, which is not my creation but it’s not even about that, it’s really a reminder to constantly be self-tracking. That’s basically what I do, because it’s the idea that if you track something then you can make it better.
It goes beyond … tracking things with fun little toys like the FitBit or the Nike FuelBand, which are toys, and then you can get to things that are much more advanced and you can track everything. You can track your sleep, you can track what you eat, you can track the number of emails you sent, the number of minutes you spent on the phone. You can track anything that you want and a lot of that can be done so effortlessly now that why not do it? Because you never know what you’re going to find that, even if you’re not looking, you might find something that you can optimize.
The second one is really about creating an external brain, which is clearing your mind and so that you can focus on the things that you want to do, and it also goes into something what I call creating the manual of you, which is where you’re documenting processes that you go through that can be done by other people or other things, which, honestly, everybody, most of the stuff you do can be done by other people or other things. And it should be; you should be able to focus on the 5% of stuff that only you can do.
Then it goes into customization; being more efficient by getting things that are really tailored to you, and that can be everything from clothes to foods to drugs, or vitamins, supplements, in some cases. Then choose your own work week, which is really about knowing the times that you do things better than others and arranging your life around that. Stop running errands. That’s a big one, which is pretty self-explanatory. People should not be running errands; there’s lots of ways, fortunately, to do without errands nowadays and it doesn’t necessarily have to cost anything.
Batching, which is really about putting together similar tasks so you can gain efficiencies that way. Organization, and my whole philosophy of organization is about setting artificially-restrictive limits and then working backwards to find solutions. My favorite one is that I will never have more than 10 emails in my inbox. Ever. That took a while, but it [crosstalk 31:26].
Dave: So what did you do? You created like 40 sub-inboxes and then just put 9 in each one. Is that how it works?
Ari: I keep opening a new email account, actually, every 2 hours or so.
Ari: Nobody has the address.
Ari: And then I only deal with the last 10 emails and I move on, and then the eighth one is finances, and that’s a lot of, again, about self-tracking, really, and sort of optimizing things and finding deals automatically, and then the ninth one is wellness. In wellness, I cover sleep, nutrition, fitness, and supplements.
Dave: Awesome. So it’s a pretty comprehensive book. A lot of it, though, it’s tough to do. I’ll tell you, I’ve never been a morning person, except that one year when I decided that I was going to wake up at 5:00 am. I taught myself to be a morning person for a while. I wake up at 5:00 and then it got to the point where I would like wake up and meditate. One hour of meditation replaced two hours of sleep. It was a good trade-off. But other than that brief period, I don’t function as well in the morning as I do later in the day, yet, I always had a job and you get the VP of sales, who wants to have the damn sales meeting at 8:00 am on Monday morning to get you up and going, or something ridiculous.
So, I mean, most people have jobs. The vast majority of them with hours, and choose your own week, whatever, how do you recommend people do about that?
Ari: Yeah, I feel like I have to rename that one, because it always pisses people off until I get to explain what it means. It’s like I mentioned before — I know that 9:00 at night is when I can write creatively. Of course, if I found that 4:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon was the best time for me to work out but I’m at a job, then maybe I have to either go during my lunch break or have to wait until after work. Or I have to realize that I can work out in 15 minutes a week like you do. There is a way. It’s kind of that, you know, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” in a manner of speaking.
But it goes way beyond being a morning person or night person. When is the best time for me to do phone calls? And that is something, in some cases, that you can change if you’re in a 9:00 to 5:00 kind of job. Especially when I go in and I work with teams and I try to figure that out, but some people don’t like making phone calls before noon, you know? But they’re fine in the afternoon, for whatever reason, and some cases, you can have that flexibility. It really depends. But eating is another one, you know? Is it great for you to eat the minute you wake up, have your [inaudible 33:48] 30 in 30. You know, 30 grams of protein in 30 minutes? Or someone like me, who really does better if I don’t eat until 11:00 or noon.
Dave: I think women overwhelmingly do better on the [inaudible 34:00] idea, versus intermittent fasting by itself. I’ve noticed that over and over with clients.
Ari: Okay. Well, maybe that has to do something with the fact that women are not actually as well built to fast as men are.
Dave: Yeah, I think that’s what it is, that both through coffee or for a lot of them, even pure fat is not enough in the morning. They need some protein.
Dave: Anyway, I didn’t want to get you off track there but [crosstalk 34:18].
Ari: No, that’s okay.
Dave: Okay, so that explains right. In other words, within the context of your work day, do the things when you’re most efficient at doing them, is what is you’re sort of saying there.
Ari: Exactly, yes. To the best of your ability.
Dave: Now on the stop errands front. I’m feeling really shaggy; I just got back from a 15-day road show in 4 cities. I spoke at multiple conferences in LA, the cross-fit South Bay opening down there, the David Wolfe conference, and 20 Under 20, all this stuff. I’ve literally needed a haircut for 3 weeks. That’s an errand. I had 40 minutes free in San Francisco and I walked to the nearest hair cutting place and they wanted me to wait for 2 hours for an opening. I’m like, “Damn it!”
So, I mean, there are some errands that are just unavoidable; how do you go about scheduling stuff like that? Because, honestly, I’m starting to feel way too shaggy.
Ari: Well, so a haircut is not a bad one, actually, because you can do other stuff while you’re getting a haircut, you know? I could blow through a whole bunch of emails, catch up on your podcast [inaudible 35:17] while I was getting a haircut. So the only form of multitasking that exists in my opinion is when you combine high focus stuff with low focus stuff, you know? Like brushing your teeth and listening to the news, or something. You can’t drew true multitasking because you’re really just rapidly switching between tasks, which is the same problem as making system fatigue.
But, again, sometimes it’s about working backwards for a solution. So maybe, that means that you have to have somebody come to your house and cut your hair while you’re doing something else, which does exist. It absolutely does exist.
Dave: It does. It strikes me as a highly stressed behavior. Like I actually don’t listen to podcasts. When I’m getting my hair cut, I talk with the person cutting my hair.
Ari: But that probably has a benefit to it.
Dave: It might. It just seems like I like to treat other people the way I’d like to be treated, so if I was cutting hair all day long and whenever [inaudible 36:06] sat there and do email, I would kind of feel like a bit of a tool. So I just feel like human interaction has value for me and for the other person so I just want to do it. But yeah, I could have someone come to my house and do it, or maybe I could like hold up a plane on a runway. Who was that presidential candidate who did that? I don’t remember.
Ari: I’ll say that every time, maybe I’m just bad at this, but every time I try to make conversation with someone cutting my hair, it doesn’t go very far. I find that when I go to San Francisco to get my hair cut, it’s never a problem. Well, actually, my wife cuts my hair now so that’s actually even worse.
Dave: Then you could do email. What the heck.
Ari: Right. Well, but see, so my hair, I have very little of it, if you’re watching this. It’s a buzz cut. She cuts my hair in about 4 1/2 minutes so it’s about as efficient as it can be. I comb my hair with a towel.
Dave: That’s awesome, and my hair is too long because I learned in Tibet back in like, 2004, 2003, when I was doing mountaineering things, that I just benefited by having very little hair because it doesn’t stay wet and you’re done in 5 seconds and it’s liberating to have little hair and I feel bad for women with long hair, even though it looks really nice.
Ari: Yeah, I agree.
Dave: All right. Let’s see. We’re coming up on the end of the show. For the amount of time we’ve got, Ari, and there’s all sorts of cool stuff we could talk about. Let’s talk about Top Task Tuesdays from your book. What is a Top Task Tuesday?
Ari: That was a thing I came up with a while ago for my blog where I would post, because every time I recommend virtual assistants, which is one of my top … or assistance period. I’m always recommending assistants to people, and virtual, just so everyone knows, it doesn’t mean that they’re like a service with a thousand different assistants. That could be, but it usually just means that they’re not sitting at the desk next to you.
Dave: And that’s a great idea. I get that.
Ari: Yeah, and dedicated assistants are wonderful. So every time I’d recommend and assistant, 9 out of 10 times [inaudible 38:06] I don’t even know what I would have them do. Well, I have them do 250 things on average a month so here’s a list. So every Tuesday, I would post 5 or 6 of the really interesting tasks that I had outsourced that week, and it seemed to be really helpful to people.
Dave: That’s really cool. So you post that. I don’t know that I even keep a list, because Nikki, my assistant, she’s so efficient. I just have a trust that if I send something over there, that she’s going to do it. Or if she doesn’t do it, she’s going to tell me she didn’t do it. That’s the simple thing, and for all of you who are starting out your careers, whoever you report to, those are the rules. Just don’t say yes if you’re not going to do it and then just no if you didn’t do it. It sounds really simple but there’s a lot of psychology involved in setting clear limits and all that sort of stuff. But that is the path to career success and that is what I expect from the people that I work with because if they’re dropping balls that I’m trusting them not to drop, and then they don’t know it and I don’t know it, that’s a problem because I prioritized enough that I handed it off to someone because I cared.
Ari: Couldn’t agree more.
Dave: That’s cool, Ari. I like it that you’re thinking along that, too. I also coach, I’m a mentor for the 20 Under 20, the Peter Thiel Foundation.
Dave: These are people who are under 20, who are learning how to do this and a lot of them have virtual assistants but they haven’t managed them before, and it’s funny, that whole idea of like, “Do you have a list? Do you know what they’re doing?” If you feel like you have to keep a list to track your virtual assistants, that’s a problem. You shouldn’t have to track everything they do because they should be tracking it for you.
Ari: Absolutely, and delegation is a skill, by the way, that needs to be fostered.
Dave: If only they would teach that, like, in high school. Imagine how useful high school could be. Yeah, that would be amazing. Well, Ari, I’m really looking forward to people getting a chance to read your new book — Less Doing, More Living — and we’re at the end of the show, which means that the one question that I always ask people, one that I’m sure you’ve heard before because I know you listen to the podcast: What are your top 3 recommendations for people who want to be more high-performance? People who want to just kick more ass?
Ari: Yeah, absolutely. I knew the question was coming and I didn’t prepare for it. The first one, honestly, is get a virtual assistant because it’s a learning experience for you. No matter what you do and it’s not necessarily ideal but you can get an assistant for $25 a month at this point to try out, and try it out because it is an educational process for you, in terms of how to effectively delegate the things in your life. It’s an experience and it’s something that everyone needs to get better at because, whether you’re giving it to a person or a machine, you have to figure out how to manage your capacity effectively and a lot of that means getting some of it out of your plate, or off your plate.
The second one is eat fat because I think that fat is a wonderful fuel source, it’s a wonderful therapeutic thing. Fat is satiating, it makes you feel good, it makes you look good, and I think that it can help fight a lot of the inflammation that causes any number of problems you can think of in modern society. Not all of them, of course, but a lot of them and I think that eating more fat is one of the greatest things that I’ve ever done. For my health, my productivity, and my wellbeing.
Dave: Don’t tell everyone. There’s going to be a shortage of grass-fed butter. Oh, wait. We already have. Sorry about that, guys.
Ari: And then the third one is about … this is a new one for me, actually. It’s about relationships. I recently figured this out somehow but I found relationships to be somewhat stressful in a lot of ways because I feel like I over-rationalized things in my life and I’ve had a, not weird, but I just feel like my connection with emotions is off sometimes. So, basically, what I realized is that when you’re dealing with someone, and I’m referring to intimate relationships for the most part, but you’re looking for connection, and, if you look at it, everything you do or say, particularly what you say, can either strengthen your connection or weaken your connection. It’s a very good way to look at it, you know?
If you’re having a fight, it doesn’t mean that you’re disconnecting. In fact, it’s probably connecting you even more because if someone’s venting at you and you’re their punching bag, you’re the only person that can provide that, in a lot of situations and that’s a really amazingly intimate, wonderful thing and for years, I never looked at it that way. I always looked at it as a negative thing and I always try to find the solution and I always look for the blame, and it was something that was really, really holding me back. So I want to be more connected; I want to be more connected to my kids, I want to be more connected to my wife, to my friends. It’s about connection and so you can really think about those in that manner. Is this connecting us more or is it disconnecting us?
Dave: That’s awesome. No one’s said that in almost a hundred podcasts.
Ari: Thank you. Really, it’s been an interesting discovery for me.
Dave: Okay. Admit it, Ari, you had your virtual assistant prepare responses for you, right?
Ari: Absolutely not, I promise. Actually, when it comes to my wife, we have a rule. She has a rule. I’m not allowed to outsource anything.
Dave: That’s a tough rule. Speaking of outsourcing, the ballsiest move I’ve ever seen around that was when Tim Farris outsourced a chaptered 4-hour work week to his virtual assistant. That was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.
Ari: Yes, yes. I like that too.
Dave: Ari, thanks, man. I appreciate you coming on the podcast. I appreciate your work in helping people to focus on efficiency and prioritization and spending less time spinning the wheels and more time doing whatever it is they’re here to do. That’s all amazingly cool stuff. Have an awesome day and everyone, if you’re listening to this now, please do me the favor of going out there and clicking on iTunes and saying that you like this podcast and that other people might want to like it too. And check out the new stuff we’ve got up on the Bulletproof Executive blog. Brand new design. It’s taken months, it’s way better, it looks better, it’s better functioning, and you can find stuff easier.
Ari: Dave, thank you so much. It’s been a real privilege. It always is.
Dave: Thanks, Ari. Have an awesome day.