Month: March 2016

RIP Wolf

ripwolf

I didn’t come to know Jim Harrison like so many around the release — literary or theatrical — of Legends of the Fall, the epic drama of the American west that ushered the author into his greatest period of financial success and critical acknowledgement.  In fact, it was an episode of No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain — a terrific author in his own right —  that introduced me to this callous American storyteller.  Bourdain’s interview encouraged me to pick up Wolf, Harrison’s (supposedly) semi-autobiographical book about a young man wandering America in search of his identity (and sex).  Once completed, I proceeded to devour everything else he’d published.  His prose reminded me of a soft-spoken Cormac McCarthy, with a layer of compassion and wonder for the natural world.  His stories are haunting and visceral, but somehow keep the reader in awe of the small beauties that impart all the meaning to our lives.

I suppose I’ve been drawn to Harrison not only for the quality of his writing, but also for his unapologetic hunger for life.  Few have the courage to live with the relish that Harrison did over the course of his 79 years.  Beyond his reputation as a poet, essayist, and author, Harrison was also an avid gourmand and enjoyer of the finer tastes that life has to offer (check out his memoir The Raw and the Cooked for more on this facet of his life).  Margalit Fox of The New York Times cleverly summarized the pursuits that defined his life in a series of monosyllabic words: walk, drive, hunt, fish, cook, drink, smoke, write.  Could there be anything more pastoral, idyllic, and wildly inviting than a life lived to pursue these tasks?

Harrison leaves this world having had a permanent impact on my life, but also, and far more importantly, on the landscape of American literature.    He was a dangerous man in every sense, and I hope I’ll have learned to live just a bit more bravely and authentically having read his words.

What are you competing on?

What are you competing on?

It’s pretty easy to figure out what you’re competing for—attention, a new gig, a promotion, a sale…

But what is your edge? In a hypercompetitive world, whatever you’re competing on is going to become your focus.

If you’re competing on price, you’ll spend most of your time counting pennies.

If you’re competing on noise, you’ll spend most of your time yelling, posting, updating, publishing and announcing.

If you’re competing on trust, you’ll spend most of your time keeping the promises that make you trustworthy.

If you’re competing on smarts, you’ll spend most of your time getting smarter.

If you’re competing on who you know, you’ll spend most of the time networking.

If you’re competing by having true fans, you’ll spend most of your time earning the trust and attention of those that care about your work.

If you’re competing on credentials, you’ll spend most of your time getting more accredited and certified.

If you’re competing on perfect, you’ll need to spend your time on picking nits.

If you’re competing by hustling, you’ll spend most of your time looking for shortcuts and cutting corners.

If you’re competing on getting picked, you’ll spend most of your day auditioning.

If you’re competing on being innovative, you’ll spend your time being curious and shipping things that might not work.

And if you’re competing on always-on responsiveness, you’ll spend your time glued to your work, responding just a second faster than the other guy.

In any competitive market, be prepared to invest your heart and soul and focus on the thing you compete on. Might as well choose something you can live with, a practice that allows you to thrive.

-Seth Godin

Mindful Ambition

One of the more popular topics of discussion here at DMR is how to balance ambitious goals with a strong desire to remain mindful, humble, and grateful.  At times, these two priorities can feel like oil and water and the group reading we’ve completed has yet to reveal the “silver bullet” solution that harmonizes powerful self-motivation with a balanced state of mind.

mindful ambition, the practice of maintaining awareness, humility, and gratitude in the pursuit of extraordinary accomplishment

Last week, I took a stab at providing some answers to an audience of colleagues.  “Being Mindful While Making It Rain” introduces the concept of mindful ambition: the practice of maintaining awareness, humility, and gratitude in the pursuit of extraordinary accomplishment.

We cover five different elements of our lives that demand attention if we hope to pursue great accomplishment without sacrificing the energizing and grounding impact of a present mind.  I also throw in five corresponding activities that can be used to introduce mindful ambition in more concrete terms: taking a success inventory, keeping a gratitude journal, reconnecting with nature, plotting your wealth columns, and (most importantly) initiating a meditation practice.

Check out the video below and download the deck so you can follow along.

Please note, the video is cut a few minutes short.  Everything you missed — including helpful book and app resources — can be found in the deck PDF (link above).

Understanding and Overcoming Anxiety

hello-my-name-is-anxiety

From The Art of Mental Training by D.C. Gonzalez:

“Anxiety can only exist when one allows one’s thoughts to wander from the present moment and to an uncertainty of the future or some remembered failure of past.”

Similarly, from The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle:

“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”

In other words: when anxiety creeps in or you are experiencing a bout of the dreaded Sunday Scaries…take a moment and observe what your thoughts are focused on.

From Tolle: “You are projecting yourself into an imaginary future situation and creating fear, but there is no way you can cope with such a situation because it doesn’t exist.”

Stay present.

KX 93.5 Interview with DMR’s Dan Reilly

DMR member Dan Reilly was highlighted this past weekend during an episode of KX 93.5’s recording of Talking Ventures – a live radio show and podcast covering the current trends in entrepreneurship.

You can listen to the recording here:
 

Entrepreneurial Love and Emerging Technology Trends with Dan Reilly – 3/5/16


Or, go to iTunes > Podcasts > Talking Ventures > March 5th 2016 Episode.

talking_ventures

Freedom and Responsibility – Seth Godin

Which do you want?

Freedom is the ability to set your schedule, to decide on the work you do, to make decisions.

Responsibility is being held accountable for your actions. It might involve figuring out how to get paid for your work, owning your mistakes or having others count on you.

Freedom without responsibility is certainly tempting, but there are few people who will give you that gig and take care of you and take responsibility for your work as well.

Responsibility without freedom is stressful. There are plenty of jobs in this line of work, just as there are countless jobs where you have neither freedom nor responsibility. These are good jobs to walk away from.

When in doubt, when you’re stuck, when you’re seeking more freedom, the surest long-term route is to take more responsibility.

Freedom and responsibility aren’t given, they’re taken.

Check out more from Seth here.

Chamath at LAUNCH

Chamath Palihapitiya is a beast.  He’s most notably a key member of the executive team that brought Facebook over the 1B user mark.  More recently, he’s been running The Social+Capital Partnership and acting as part-owner and board member for the Golden State Warriors (you know, the NBA team with six losses after 62 games).

He also brings the heat anytime he speaks publicly, and was by far my favorite speaker at this year’s LAUNCH Festival.  Topics covered include sports, politics, morality, gambling, tech, and beyond…but Chamath’s comments on diversity in tech and the dusty, overly white hierarchy of venture capital steal the show.

He’s an influencer worth following and definitely one that will get you thinking about the big things.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=Njj6HZvixK8%3Bw%3D480%26h%3D360

Radio Headspace Is A Thing

radioheadspace

Each member of the DMR team incorporates a meditation practice into their daily routine.  The return on investment for just 10-15 minutes is too good to pass up, and Headspace is one of the apps that has made this habit a very easy add.

As a major podcast fanboy — Tim Ferriss, a16z, TWIST, etc. — I was blindsided when I discovered that the Headspace team is 50+ episodes into Radio Headspace, a podcast covering anything and everything related to our mental capacity and the journey within.

One of the latest episodes — #54 — brings in three different authors that have been commissioned to write books for The School of Life, an amazing project created by one of the group’s favorite authors, Alain de Botton.

I’m overwhelmed by this nexus of amazing people and projects…and while I can’t yet speak to the overall quality of Radio Headspace, I certainly intend to check it out.

You should too.

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