Category Archives: motivation

Throw In A Monkey Wrench for Six-Pack Experiment

For most of the year I live in a house about 5 miles away from Downtown Austin.  This house is nice, spacious and a drive away from everything, so controlling what I eat in that area is easy.

However nearly every summer I get a place smack in the middle of Downtown (like the 4,000 sq. ft. 6th Street loft I had for a few months) just for fun.  This year I have a place on 9th Street for a few months, just walking distance to everything I need and everything fun!  I also have a car and scooter in case I need to go further.

Now when a person lives Downtown, it automatically opens you up to having parties, hosting guests and going downtown more often….and eating crappier more often….plus Austin is considered the “Hardest Drinking City In America“!

There’s late-night junk food places a-plenty around this area…and I do love me some junk food.  However at the same time I’ll be living in this area, I’ll ALSO be doing this six pack experiment.  So this will be a definite experiment with self control.

It also STOPS people from saying, “Ohh, it’s easy to eat like that where YOU live”…because that’s definitely not the case anymore.

I’ve already been out to several family friends house where there was good-food-galore, but I’ve found it very easy to abstain from eating junk….mainly because of what I’ve learned from Adam.

Anyhow, here’s a quick tour of the Downtown place…two things to keep in mind:

  • I say “you won’t find soda in this fridge” but there’s clearly a Coke in there…that was from the previous guy who lived here…must remember to throw that out.
  • I have this place for about 2 months, and still have my other place 5 miles from Downtown

Effort

I write this for two reasons:

1.) I am starting that 6-pack experiment in April and have begun preparing for it by eating ultra-clean and ultra-lean. Pretty much all day I’m eating 100% raw foods only…that’s not the plan for the whole month, but it’s been my diet for the last week.  It’s not hard as I expected (because I’ve been eating well for a few months now), but keeping this up for a full month and resisting the urge to pig out at social events gets HARD.

However for the month of April I want to see a dramatic change in the way my stomach looks…and for that I need to be calorie deficient for weeks at a time.  I can easily keep my current physique with the way I’m eating now, but my diet must be extra-ordinarily good to see those extraordinary results.

2.) As you know I own a business called House Of Rave which is all online.  Over the last year I made a lot of small tweaks which cut down on the number of customer support inquires and time spent getting orders out.  At a bare minimum I need to spend less than 30 minutes every weekday administering the site…the rest runs on it’s own.  That alone can pay all my bills and still save money.

Pretty cool eh! 30 minutes of work per day!

Well…I also like the business to GROW….so to maintain AND grow the site takes about 2 hours per day (mainly spent adding product photo/video reviews).

I will admit…over these first few months of 2010 those small required amounts of time have spoiled me. I’ve stopped updating the site as much as I should.  The 1st quarter is never a FANTASTIC time for a business like mine (which sells party supplies) and is also enduring a bad economy, but I think I’ve been slipping quite a bit on my responsibilities to it.

Extraordinary effort doesn’t necessarily mean long hours (although that certainly helps)….because with this business a very consistent tweaking of small things every day can make a HUGE impact.  I’ve proved this many times, including one time I documented 30 small changes I made with very clear results (aka MO MONEY)!

I think what I’ll do in April is one day blog about a small HoR change, then the next day document the diet and steps I’ve taken to get a ripped-ass six pack.

Find merchant supplies and POS terminals at Moneris Solutions.

How I Got Started In Entrepreneurship

Here’s an interesting story (well…I think it’s interesting because it’s about me) that might inspire some of the younger crowd.

As you may know, I’ve never had a real job before.  I’ve always started businesses that have been successful enough to sustain me and then some.  I’m not saying everyone should choose this route, but it IS pretty damn cool.

Like any result, there’s usually a story behind it, and mine started sometime in middle school when I had a mean peach-fuzz mustache growing and embarrassing gold-rimmed glasses  that took up my whole face.  In a nutshell I “accidentally” became a businessman by starting a CD making business.  I had a CD burner when most people didn’t, I knew about downloading MP3’s when most people didn’t….therefore I had a resources people wanted…and would pay to get.  I ended up making more money than I could stuff into the little change jar in my room.  You can read more detail here.

So some stupid kid stumbles on how to make some money….

I thought it was pretty cool, but never took it super seriously.  Back then my parents provided me with everything I ever wanted, so making money wasn’t top priority.

In high school I started getting more and more into computers.  I took programming classes and was even accepted to the first ever public school course funded by a private organization (or some crap like that). There was a Cisco certification course I worked hard to apply for, and I got in!  Only a select few students from our entire district got in….all day long we learned how to setup LAN, MAN and WAN networks, hack into routers, design more efficient networks, diagnose problems.  It was a FUN class and I was proud to be in it.  I was surrounded by smart people all day and had $40,000 worth of networking equipment at my disposal! I was Cisco Certified when I was a senior in high school…that was pretty cool back in the day.

However I think where my entrepreneurial spirit started grabbing roots was in my high school computer science classes.  We had normal class during the day, but AFTER SCHOOL we had a teacher who let us do whatever we want.

I used to stay after school almost every single day for various clubs, but me and some friends would always stay late as possible screwing around on the cool new computers (and fast internet) the school had just acquired.

We were CONSTANTLY looking for cool ways to make a buck….I mean nothing serious like building a business, more like simple get-rich-quick schemes. Back then a lot of companies offered you money for browsing the internet if you kept advertisements on your screen.  So with our programming skills we setup 30 different computers to constantly browse random webpages and collect money!  Was this allowed?  NO!  Did we care?  NO!  Did it teach us something…I think very much YES.  Although it was just screwing around, it kind of made computers and the internet “fun” for us….not just boring tools.

We also scoured penny stocks to try and buy and strike it rich “if ONLY the stock would go up to $1.00!”  We tried dozens of silly ideas.

We wrote programs that would make annoying sounds based on a timer…and loaded them on the library computers.  It was HILARIOUS to watch all the computers start making annoying beeps at once….the librarians would come over to see the commotion, then they would all stop!!  Stupid pranks, but they made us think creatively.

Our school used Novell to administer the computers, and I found out a way to login to the “unlimited access” profile which let you play games.  We setup a folder on the network with all sorts of cool games and would play them before class.  None of the other students could do it.

Through Novell and my Cisco class skills, we found out a bunch of other things about the school network and would frequently be called in by school officials to help with problems! I remember one school administrators baffled and nervous look when I simply logged into the administration without him giving me any password information!

Even though we could sneak in and out of the school computer system, we never did anything bad or malicious.  If one of our pranks (like the annoying library sounds) got too much…we stopped.  We were more interested in having access to something forbidden than actually DOING anything harmful.  Because of this we never got in trouble for anything, and it was actually good for school officials who could ask us computer questions at any time and have them fixed immediately without calling a tech guy and looking dumb.

In addition to all this I started making webpages for fun.  I remember registering Neville1.com (my FIRST domain name), and posting pictures of cars on it.  I would Photoshop pictures of cars to make them computer screen background wallpapers then share them online via Neville1.com.  I called the page “Neville’s Cool Car Archive” and it started getting lots of traffic.  It was enough traffic that all the free hosts I was on started kicking me off.  I’d have to PAY for hosting, and that wasn’t an option back then.  You see, at the time there was really no way to monetize the traffic….so I’d just pay money for hosting, and wouldn’t be able to easily make that money back from the users.  I wasn’t interested and pulled the plug.

Another unique experience I had was through my Parsi Zoroastrian (my religion) community we had some exceptionally successful people we knew.  With the help of my mom I got around to asking some of these people…“Ummm….so like….what do you do?” Basically that question was masking my true question of, “Why do you have so much more money than everyone else?”

….every single time the answer was they owned their own (successful) business.  I would inquire further.  What did they do? How did they do it? Who buys from them? How come people buy from you, not someone else?  Then I’d ask the clincher question: “Can I come see your business?”

Every single time the answer was yes.  They were all proud of what they did and were happy to show an inquisitive young person around.  I saw large ecommerce warehouses, housing tracts, large apartment buildings and various other projects these people ran.  They explained the ins and outs, the advantages and downsides….all sorts of valuable information I was lucky to have…but brazen enough to ask for.

This appealed to me.  I don’t know why, but I always thought what they did was so much “cooler” than what most other people did.

Thus started my journey into entrepreneurship.  It shakily started out as just messing around and inadvertently being creative…but after years of experimenting and trying things out, it started working pretty well.

Be curious…try things….don’t let people’s warnings stop you…..be creative and have an almost childlike curiosity about everything.

What Would Happen If I Die?

*Don’t worry, this isn’t some weird online suicide note. It’s just a thought process of what would happen if I were to suddenly die.
————————————

It happens all the time, every day, and has happened billions of times before me, so it’s safe to assume that at some point I will die.

If I had my own way, I’d prefer to die when I think it’s time (I’m a big fan of assisted suicide in old age). I think:

If I’m 80+ and all of a sudden bed-ridden from whatever cause, I believe it’d be a good time to go. Why slowly die and burden my family and self? Sure I could go on longer, but like a good comedian, I’d like to go out before the audience forces me out.

The same would be true if my life were to be dependant on others for basic functions, or if I am a vegetable. So if that situation arises in the future, I am publicly asserting it’s absolutely 100% OK with me to pull that plug! Anything that happens which burdens my family too much…yank it. No question about it.

Just for fun I ran out a thought experiment:

Cause: I’m crossing the street eating an ice cream cone when BAM I get hit by a bus. Dead.

Effect: Here are some of the effects I see happening:

  • Family/friends would be sad.
  • My blog would continue to exist (wouldn’t it be weird to be reading this blog even though I was DEAD)!?! In fact, in a weird way I’d be immortal for the 3 or 4 months my hosting company wouldn’t pull down my dedicated server for non-payment. I bet my blog would actually SPIKE in traffic as word gone around you could read a “ghost” blog! I also presume a lot of people would leave R.I.P. comments (along with spam links trying to profit off the traffic…even in death spam would be a problem)!
  • There will end up being a lot of pissed of customers at my business. While I don’t have much to do with shipping orders etc, they all pass through me. Without me there, I’m sure the business would continue accepting orders for 3-4 months before the hosting company pulls the plug. Unless someone intervened to get all the bills paid and orders sent. No one would actually be charged any money from the business, but they wouldn’t get their orders either.

It’s obvious that my main concern about dying is the ease to which my family can absorb that hit. I don’t want to die, then on top of that have THEM go through the legal work, taxes etc. to clean up my affairs. Now that I think about it, it’s actually quite selfish of me NOT to have a plan in place.

Which brings me to the conclusion I need a solid will (or at least a defined set of instructions left with the person with power of attorney over me). I need proper instructions in place to determine what will happen to my physical assets, money and businesses if I die. I’d also like every possible organ and body part harvested and donated quickly as possible (why the hell would I still need them)??

Action to take:
1.) Make a proper set of instructions to execute in the event of my unexpected demise.
2.) Legally give my parents power of attorney over everything I own if I kick the dust.
3.) Properly register as an organ donor. Apparently there’s a special registration for this…I personally think EVERYONE should automatically be an organ donor UNLESS they specifically apply NOT to be.

A few years before he died, Benjamin Franklin wrote up his own epitaph which I think is totally badass (this is the original so forgive the weird syntax):

The Body of
B. Franklin Printer
(The the Cover of an Old Book
Its Contents torn out
And stript of its Lettering & Gilding)
Lies here, Food for Worms,
But the Work shall not be lost;
For it will (as he believ’d) appear once more,
In a new and more elegant Edition
Revised and corrected
by the Author


A few people I told about this post thought it was “too much of a downer.” Why? Death is such a normal part of life, I see no reason why not to plan in case it happens, or admit that it will inevitably come.

I think Steve Jobs said it best in that famous commencement speech he made:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.

Back Flips Part 2

A little while ago I wanted to learn back flips. Well here is the 2nd part which was never posted (filmed circa March 2009).

Tried doing back flips on my own over and over.

Clearly wasn’t consistently working so I needed to consult someone who knew proper technique. Had a bunch of moderate attempts, one great success and one nearly-nose-breaking failure:

Got a scar, fortunately went away:

Like my nose too much to sacrifice for a back flip, so decided to get some proper instruction with proper safety equipment:

Made video of my first back flip attempts:

Weekly practices interrupted by travel. Manage to make the 2nd part of video:

Finally got them down!
When learning by myself, imapct after impact took a toll on my knees.
In this case:
No fear + No skill = Bad results.
Just to make sure nothing was really wrong:
Doctors visit + four weeks of physical therapy.

Watching that face-plant….priceless!

How I Lost Weight by Accident

I noticed sometime in early 2008 that I was starting to get a little chunky around the sides. I would suck in my stomach in front of the mirror and it no longer showed the muscles underneath like it used to.

Problem: I was getting fatter.

Another Problem: I was always being lazy (although at the time I never dreamed it had anything to do with food).

I don’t remember a period since college where I didn’t regularly get lots of physical activity or regularly go to the gym….so this wasn’t the problem.

One day my mom gave me a 5 pound bag of Clementine’s no one at home was eating. I took them to Austin with me. They’re like mini oranges that you can easily peel. I LOVED THEM!

I liked them a lot, but would eat maybe one or two a day. I then read Steve Pavlina’s 30-day raw diet experiment where he would eat only raw foods like fruits and vegetables. I had no intention of emulating this, but I was amazed at the sheer quantity of fruit he would eat. Instead of two Clementine’s, he would eat 8 or 10. Instead of one banana a day, he would eat 10+.

For some reason I just didn’t think of eating that many….sounds stupid, but true. I’ve never seen anyone eat THAT much fruit before.

So taking a cue from that I decided to up my fruit intake because I’ve always loved fruits. I ate pretty much the same junk I used to, but now with a whole lot more fruit. Slowly and slowly I started eating more and more, to the point where lunch was pretty much just grapes, apples, avocados, oranges etc.

Now of course I still craved heavier foods from time to time and would allow myself to pig out McDonald’s (I still love McDonald’s), but for the most part I was eating a lot less of everything else, and a lot more fruits.

During this time I started gaining an affinity for fruits and stopped craving junk food as much. Through the day I would snack on fruit and it felt great. The cool thing about eating that way is you don’t have to really watch what you eat. Pig out an all the fruit you want.

For dinner I decided that I wasn’t eating terribly unhealthy anymore, but my portions were out of control. To combat this I simply used a small plate, almost like a tea saucer to eat dinner on. I would try stacking my food sky high, but that little plate wouldn’t hold much. I allowed myself to return for as many servings, but that tiny plate had to be used. I quickly found myself eating drastically less food yet being equally satisfied, simply because I didn’t have much on the plate. I also stopped getting that over-stuffed “food baby” feeling after dinner.

I was still eating a bunch of junk, so I decided to not buy anything in a box. Well, I would still eat pasta or rice every night, and I suppose pasta and sauce comes in a box/bottle, but that was the extent of it. I stopped buying cookies, chips, soups, snacks or anything like that….and the transition really wasn’t that hard.

I would still eat junk at a party or when it was available somewhere, but I wouldn’t keep it in the house. I would also go to the grocery with one of those small hand-carts you carry instead of a rolling shopping cart. I physically wouldn’t have space to put a bottle of Coke or any other non-essential item.


(I admit….I have a weak spot for Ramen Noodles every once in a while).

Some very in-shape friends also told me that roughly once a week to PIG OUT on all the bad food I could get my hands on…..and pig out I did! I would hit up the McDonald’s value menu with a vengeance! Be careful though, when you eat all that junk food, you tend to crave even more junk food the next few days. It’s oddly addicting.

There were two VERY noticeable side effects to my new eating habits:

  1. I saved a lot of money on groceries.
  2. I felt WAY better (More on this later).

I never realized how cheap most produce is. You fill a basket with everything from the produce section and you’re looking at a pretty cheap grocery bill. It was an unexpected benefit.

The really crazy benefit was the way I felt after a few days of eating like this. Previously I would wake up, go to the office (two steps away from my bedroom) and sluggishly start working. Prior to that I’d usually hit the snooze button 10 times. I was sort of productive, but I always had “Fog Brain.” Fog Brain is not really a tired or lazy sensation, it’s just a not-as-clear-as-I-could-be sensation (which results in being somewhat lethargic).

Now I finally understand what a lot of people talk about when they start eating better and getting “better mental clarity.” It sounds like some hippy peace/love crap, but it works. I was more aware, willing to work longer and had better clarity….I also slept better, but more noticeable was I woke up in the morning with greater ease. I’m not saying everyday I’d hop out of bed with enthusiasm, but waking up was MUCH easier….working out was MUCH easier…and working through problems and issues seemed MUCH easier.

I sincerely wish I had discovered this in college.

I literally cannot explain how much clearer everything seemed when I ate well for extended periods of time. The benefit was immense.

So those benefits were great, but the changes physically were the most fun. I had always worked out, so I would get larger muscles, but my body fat pretty much remained constant due to my horrendous eating habits and love of fast food. Now my body fat was shrinking, and while my muscles remained relatively constant, I could see them better. Especially around the waist and chest.

A few times a month I took a shirtless picture of myself in a flexed and un-flexed pose (These pics are from Feb. 2008 till July 2008) in order to gauge my progress.

Here are the UN-FLEXED pics. Me just standing in a relaxed pose in front of the camera (Click image for full size):

Here are the FLEXED pics. Tensing the body to show muscles better. The difference from the 1st picture to the last picture is relatively dramatic (Click image for full size):

Here are both the images above put next to each other (Click image for full size):

None of the pics have been Photoshopped (except cropping). Some things learned from taking these pics:

  • Flexing vs. not-flexing looks incredibly different.
  • It REALLLLLY depends on how much you just ate. Waking up in the morning I would look great, but after a big meal I’d look much fatter in the picture.
  • The camera is deceiving.

During this time I didn’t take any vitamins, supplements, protein shakes or any type of physical fitness product. I simply ate less “bad stuff” through moderation and a lot more “good” food.

—————————————–
RE-CAP OF THINGS I DID:
—————————————–

Eating habits:

  • Used a hand-carry basket instead of rolling cart at the grocery.
  • Didn’t buy anything that comes in a box or can (small exceptions for pasta and dinner ingredients).
  • Started using a small plate for everything. Took as many servings of food as I wanted, but on a tiny plate or bowl. This drastically helped cut down on over eating. If you go to a buffet, use a small salad plate to take your food.
  • Once a week pigged out on whatever I wanted. This quickly showed me how lethargic bad food makes you feel in comparison with the good food.
  • Started eating a lot more fruits and vegetables.

Exercise Habits:

  • Instead of driving to gym, biked to gym.
  • Joined a rock climbing gym and ditched the boring regular weight-lifting gym.
  • When still at boring gym, took spinning classes regularly.

Motivation:
Originally I liked the benefit of losing body fat and looking ripped, but that superficial goal didn’t last long. Eventually I started to slip back into bad eating habits since the motivation to “be ripped” wasn’t strong enough.

The thing that got me back into eating properly is the obvious difference in my mental clarity, being unbelievably more productive than before and waking up with much greater ease. The changes to physicality are just a happy side benefit.

Unexpected benefits:
I’m quite sure NO ONE wants to hear this, but taking a poop is a much more pleasant experience when eating well (did I just say that)?? Everything comes out quicker and is a lot easier to clean up. I suppose less time spent in the bathroom can also be considered a productivity benefit :-)


Naysayers:
I’ve never heard so much conflicting advice about a subject like working out and health. No matter what you do for exercise or diet there will always be some conflicting opinion, study, blah blah blah…

Whatever. Just eat well. Your body is much stronger than you might expect. If you eat 3 bananas in one day you won’t die of a sugar overdose, or if you don’t eat steak everyday you won’t start losing mass amounts of muscle. You’ll be fine.

Drawbacks:

  • Getting past that first “hump” of cravings for heavy foods.
  • Self control when you’re at a party with unlimited food.
  • The first few days can be a little rough….that’s why I slowly started eating better, the “transition” was nearly non-existent that way.

Sticking To It:
Since I originally took all those pictures and started this (roughly Feb. 2008) I’ve slipped in and out of good/bad eating habits a few times. Generally holidays and vacations help you eat a bunch of crap, and it’s a little difficult to slip back into the good habits again.

Fortunately you do this a couple of times, and the “bad” binges get shorter and shorter. The quality of work and productivity is so much higher when you’re eating clean, that it almost seems silly to eat bad stuff. But don’t worry, you’re supposed to shock your system once a week and eat horribly, so that makes it fun!

Happy eating!
-Nev

To Serve

I’m still immature and am slightly fascinated by monetary success, and was thrilled when I first read about this simple measure of success a while back.

It’s pretty much an easy way to see WHY a person (or organization) has a certain amount of wealth.

Simply look at a person or organization and ask: Who do they serve?

Look at what they do for other people and how many people they serve. Almost immediately it becomes apparent.

It breaks down like this:
Serve few + not valuable work = Little money
Serve few + valuable work = Good money
Serve few + very valuable work = Lots of money

Serve lots + not valuable work = Little money
Serve lots + valuable work = Good money
Serve lots + very valuable work = Lots of money

If you’re a numbers person you can make into a simple mathematic function:
People Served = a
Value of Service = b
Success = c

a X b = c

If you want ‘c‘ to be higher, you just have to increase ‘a‘ or ‘b‘ (or both).

Perhaps it’s easiest to demonstrate with real life examples:

The guy making your burger at McDonald’s:
Makes little money.
He performs a job almost any person can quickly learn. If he cannot show up, someone can easily replace him. Serves one organization and doesn’t serve much.

Cardiac Surgeon:
Makes good money.
Goes through over a decade of grueling medical training to be prepared for any circumstance that arises in their specialty. They serve relatively few people in the grand scheme of things, but they serve those individuals A LOT (he can either save you or kill you). Can he be replaced? Yes. However there are relatively few cardiac surgeons in the general population, so it’s very difficult. This means if someone is particularly “good” amongst their peers they could make quite sizable sums of money for their premium service. Serves few but serves them a lot.


Elton John:
Makes lots of money.
Provides a small amount of service (entertaining them is still serving them) to a large amount of people. Has a unique style, voice and persona that’s nearly impossible to duplicate. Serves a little but serves a lot of people.


Google:
Makes lots of money.
Here’s a fun one. Google serves A LOT of people (billions) and provides them a lot of service. Almost everything they offer is free, and it’s almost always a few grades better than competing services that charge money. They provide lots of service to lots of people. It’s no wonder they will make lots of money.

  • So who do you serve?
  • How much value are you providing them?

I bet your answers will clearly reflect your income. For fun, take a look at everyone around you and calculate their incomes using this method. Pretty cool huh?

Since you know this, you can now improve your own outcome (c) by improving one or both of those areas.

a X b = c

Analogy

Like most crazy/new/different things in life this is generally the pattern:

  1. Come up with an idea or something you want to do
  2. Most people think it’s crazy, silly or just “eeh”
  3. You start doing it
  4. For a while it’s just you without much support
  5. Turns out what you’re doing is pretty cool
  6. People starting joining you
  7. More people join you
  8. Your success starts to compound on itself

Perfect and hilarious example, this video (which has been buzzing around the net after it was on front page Digg):