How To Network If You’re An Introvert

introvert

Who will be there? Will I know anyone? What will we eat? Should I bring something? When should I be there? When will other people be there? Will we go out afterwards? What if we don’t have anything to talk about?

Do you recognize that inner dialog before a dinner party?

If you do, chances are you are like me — An introvert that hates “networking”.

Don’t worry though, you’re not alone. About 30-50% of us are introverts.

Introverts get drained from social events. An extrovert person might gain energy from talking to 50 strangers for three hours. Introverts don’t. We get exhausted.

What is your spontaneous reaction when you read the following words?

  • Mingle
  • Meetup
  • Career fair
  • Trade show
  • Team building

If your reaction is to desperately try to come up with an excuse not to go, please continue reading.

Why is networking important?

So you are an introvert. You struggle to survive at loud events with high energy strangers. You feel bleak. You feel like your true self is not coming across.

Does this mean you should give up networking?

The short answer is No, you should not.

Networking is just a fancy word for getting to know people.

Which, of course, is a crucial skill in all areas of life. You can’t be successful without other people.

So how do we go about networking if we can’t effortlessly mingle with strangers and deliver high energy conversations all night?

Networking activities for introverts

The first step is to limit or erase classical networking events from your calendar. Remove what’s not working.

There are plenty of networking activities that are perfect for introverts. The general rule is to limit the number of people you interact with at the same time. Preferably to one or two persons.

Here are some examples:

Meals – Everyone has to eat. Make a list of people you want to get to know better and ask them out for lunch. I read somewhere that there is a biological bonding effect of sharing a meal with another human. That’s how cave-guys and cave-girls used to hang out, I guess. 10 000 years later and it still works.

Interviews – Start a podcast, a blog or whatever. Reach out to people you want to know better or learn from. Ask if they want to do an interview with you. Do a good job, share what you learn and follow up.

Calls – Calls are powerful. They’re intimate. They’re perfect for introverts. Schedule calls with customers, bosses and mentors.

 

How To Make it Productive

Great, you’ve scheduled lunches and a few interviews. What the hell do you do now?

First off, don’t ask what your network can do for you, ask what you can do for your network.

This is a point worth stressing. You have to figure out how to be valuable. If you give value you get value.

Below are a few thoughts on how to be valuable for the person you are interacting with.

Permission Networking – As made famous by James Altucher (I think). The idea is simple. Take two persons who you think could help each other in some way. Ask each person if they would like to be connected to the other person. If both persons say yes, write a short introduction email and then get out of the way. You don’t take a cut or a commission or ask them to buy you lunch.

Find out what the other person is worried about – All of us are worried. We worry about choosing the right education, partner and job. We worry that our boss hates us. We worry about the weather. And presentations also. Find out what the other person is worried about and try to help them not to worry so much.

Prepare – Do research on the person you are meeting with. Have they written anything lately? Have they shared something? Switched jobs? What are they excited about? Come up with ten ideas to help them in their area before the meeting.

There you have it.

These tactics won’t stop your inner dialog before a dinner party or make you more energetic. They will, however, make you a networking machine.

Lets summarize.

Summary

Networking is just a fancy word for getting to know people. And knowing the right people is essential in all areas of life.

And you don’t have to get to know 50 people at the same time, if that’s not your style.

If you feel like you don’t perform on big networking events, take control of your network. Take the battle to your home court.

Good networking activities for introverts:

  • Meals – Everyone has to eat, no more than three persons.
  • Interviews – Take the chance to ask everything you wonder about a specific industry or role.
  • Calls – Intimate and powerful. Also, if it’s nice weather you can take a walk at the same time. Win-win.

 Next step

Your next step is to do the following:

  1. Make a list of 10 people you want to reconnect/connect with.
  2. Send an email to each one of them and ask to take them out for lunch/interview them/call them.
  3. Make a list of 5 people you can connect the person to. Make a list of 10 ideas on how they can improve their business.
  4. When you meet the person: Listen, figure out what they worry about and help them not to worry.
  5. Connect them to people who can help them. Give them ideas on how they can improve their business or career.
  6. Go to a really big Trade Show and randomly talk to as many people as you can. Just kidding, don’t do that. You deserve better.

Why Quitting Social Media Is a Mistake (And What To Do Instead)

sunset

I put the ice cold beer to my lips. The glass left a wet circle on the oak table. I smiled at my mother, the deep orange sunset was reflected in her sunglasses.

Then my hand reached for my phone.

I took a picture of the sunset.

Then I opened Snapchat and took another one. Then I took one with the beer in the foreground. Delete. Then I took a selfie. Delete. Then I thought maybe a short video might do the occasion more justice. And I should probably use a geo-tag to show everyone I’m in Uruguay. I wanted my message to be clear: “This is not a just another sunset. This is a Uruguayan sunset.”

Although I was not sure if I should have my mother in the video. Maybe I would seem more interesting if I shared the sunset and beer alone. And the fact that Im in Uruguay, of course. A true adventurer.

But what if I appear lonely? Just me and a beer and a sunset. What a loser. Or will it intrigue people?

Maybe it’s kind of cool to share that I am sharing this moment with my mother. Ten years ago it would have been social suicide to share such a thing. But now I’m older. When does it become cool to hang out with your parents? Does it ever?

I decided to snap a photo of the cat sleeping by the pool.

And then, finally, I decided to stop the madness.

How Social Media Kills You

Social media seems harmless. Just a few minutes here and there. It’s not, though.

Here is why.

A) You Loose Presence

Ever found yourself zoning out while listening to a friend over coffee? Maybe they spoke about something that wasn’t very interesting.

We can’t blame our friends though, it’s hard to compete with the dopamine you get from checking your phone.

It might not seem like a big deal. Zoning out for a bit. Checking a few Instagram photos while the friend is getting to the point.

But, you can’t live a good life without being present. You can’t enjoy food without being present. You can’t smell the rain without being present. You cant have a meaningful conversation without being present.

I’ve been using my cellphone 100 times a day for long periods of time. That is not the behavior of a present person, nor of a particularly happy one.

And the habit of constantly consuming dopamine snacks has more negative effects.

B) You Can’t Do Deep Work

When do you pick up your phone?

Only when it rings or pings?

More often?

If you’re like me, you check your phone much more. I check my phone every time I’m bored. Not super bored. Like, one-second-bored.

  • I get bored when my computer is starting up.
  • I get bored while the teabag sits in the hot water.
  • I get bored when I walk from my desk to the kitchen.
  • I get bored during the second between waking up and hitting the snooze button.
  • I get bored while watching shows.
  • I get bored while reading books.
  • I get bored out of my mind trying to write this.

And I check my phone every time.

If you stimulate the brain every time you encounter something that is boring you start a habit. An addiction.

Deep Work is the name of a book by Cal Newport. Deep work can only occur from long uninterrupted periods of time.

Your brain wants a small reward to keep on going. Just a fast look at the inbox. Just a peek to see if there are any red notifications who wants my attention.

To do deep work we must learn to be bored.

C) You Fill Your Brain With Crap

Using the phone a few minutes here and there adds up.

According to an article in business Insider we spend 50 minutes a day on Facebook (Including Instagram and Messenger).

Another article states that Snapchat users spend 30 minutes a day on their app.

That means that Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Messenger costs about 80 minutes a day.

Extrapolating from the rule that 90% of everything is crap: We are consuming 36 hours of crap every month.

A common objection to this is “But I only use social media in-between activities”.

That is, while waiting for the elevator, commuting and so forth.

For me, however, the problem is the total amount of garbage that I consume. I don’t want to spend more time reading click-bates on Facebook than reading good books.

I think it’s reasonable to ask ourselves how these 36 hours compare to other activities in our every day life.

How does it compare to how many hours of reading you are doing? And hours of talking to friends? Hours of playing?

How does these 36 hours contribute to getting you closer to what you want in life?

Why Not Stop All Social Media?

I’ve spent the past 815 words bashing social media like it’s the devil. The ultimate evil. So, how come I’m not advocating we all should burn our smartphones, move to the deep forest, buy typewriters and start sending letters all over the place?

A) You can’t

There are many people promoting that we all should stop using social media. No Facebook, no Snapchat no Instagram. Ever.

Google returns 188 000 000 results for the search “how stop social media”.

With that said, how many people do you know that don’t use any social media?

How many of them are under 70 years old?

Trying to quit social media is probably not a bad idea. But it’s an awful strategy.

Trying to quit is basically going to war against the tens of thousands of engineers and behavior scientists at Google, Facebook and Snapchat.

The apps, sites and even phones are carefully designed to HOOK us. And there are powerful network effects:

Even if you manage to quit you will soon have friends telling you “You have to RSVP to my event on facebook” and “I told you I was going to be late on Snapchat!”.

These companies have millions of sales people. Everyone you know work for them. Their job is to make you open that app and start consuming your feed.

Because of this, It’s not realistic nor optimal to quit social media.

B) Promotion

Even though I’m skeptical towards social media, there are quite a few people using it (I’m not holding my breath for this article to change that fact).

For example, Facebook has 1,72 BILLION active users.

The reach, combined with the relatively low costs makes social media one of the most effective channels to acquire users, readers and customers.

graf
Channels for getting readers to my blog.
graf2
Channels for getting users to a site a run.

Just starting out, the social media channels are invaluable for me.

 C) Talking to people you like

According to Global Web Index and Wersm the reason most people are on social media is to “stay in touch with friends”.

There is no easier way to check in on your friends than social media.

Social media gives a unique possibility of “light networking”. You don’t have to formulate anything. Just click “like” and you’ve been social. You’ve “kept in touch”.

While these interactions might be shallow, maybe they are better than nothing?

And maybe they can be the start of more intimate relationships?

 

How Should You Use Social Media?

So the conclusion is that social media sometimes suck and sometimes don’t.

Now, what can we do with that information?

The way to optimize social media usage must then be to minimize the parts that suck and maximize the parts that are good.

I suggest to do this in 3 steps.

A) Be Proactive (Not Reactive)

Stop mindlessly browsing feeds. Remove notifications from your phone. Take control over your time and how you use your apps. Decide who you want to have in your life and reach out to them.

B) Automate/outsource

It’s easy to  get stuck in the feed while writing to someone, sharing a post or writing an update.

There are useful tools to automatically share a blog post, for example, on all your social media channels.

Another option is to use a service like fiverr or odesk and find someone who can do this for you.

C) Uninstall, uninstall, uninstall.

Remove all of the apps that you use reactivate. I’ve uninstalled Snapchat, Facebook and LinkedIn.

I kept Messenger, Whatsapp and Instagram. Those are the ones I find easy to use on my own terms.

Conclusion

I’ve felt disgusted with the amount of time and energy I’ve spent on my phone the last year.

I want to “cultivate empty space as a way of life for the creative process“, as Joshua Waitzkin puts it.

I want to spend more time on things that are beautiful and interesting. And less time feeling bad for not climbing mountains.

And maybe next year I’ll be able to take a damn photo of a sunset. Or a beer. Or both. Or maybe just the cat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why You Can’t Afford To Do Great Work

Do you think that it’s better to do a good job than a bad job?

If you do, that’s a problem.

It’s a problem because it’s not true.

You win at school if get an A in every course. That is how the system works. You are supposed to put a lot of time into everything. Things you love and things you hate.

We are taught to “Make an effort” and “Do your best”. All the freaking time.

That’s really bad advice.

“Do your worst!” – Now that is what I call advice.

You should ask yourself “What is the worst I can do? (And still be OK)”.

The reason behind this is that most things does not matter.

There are probably a few things in your life that you care about. And a lot of things you don’t care about.

I’m convinced that the best way to live a good life is to do more of the things you like and less of the things you dislike. (Did I just blow your mind?)

I advocate erasing things that we don’t like from our lives. However, that is not always possible.

Here is a simple rule for the things you dislike in your calendar:

If you can’t delete it, make sure to suck at it. 

Still not convinced that you should start being awful?

No problem, I got three more arguments for you right here.

 

Why You Must Do Bad Work

First, let me define “Bad Work”.

Bad Work is equal to putting in the least amount of time in order to accomplish a task.

Here we go, 3 reasons why you have to teach yourself to do Bad Work.

  1. Get more time for things you want to do

There are probably things you want to accomplish. Maybe you want to start a business on the side, write a book or spend more time with your cats.

Learn the art of bad work. Bad work gives you time.

In fact, you will find yourself wondering what to do with all the time.

2) Slap your inner perfectionist (And learn to ship)

It’s always hard to share things. Perfection is paralyzing.

I want to edit these blog posts at least 10 more times before publishing.

I want to add five more features to my website before I launch it.

Whenever I start thinking I should spend a bit more time to perfect something I think about what Reid Hoffman famously said about launching a business:

“If you are not ashamed about your Beta you launch to late”

The reason is that 90% of everything is crap. But you never know which part, as sci-fi writer Theodore Sturgeon famously said.

Other people will tell you what is crap and what works.

You can’t know if you’re busy making something “perfect”.

Then suddenly 10 years have passed before you realize you work on crap.

3) Practice being uncomfortable

While writing this article I had to do a presentation. It was mandatory but completely uninteresting. I knew I would pass if I did A presentation.

Still, I found myself doing a bit too much research, working with the slides and practicing.

I’m a big believer in practicing what you preach. So I stopped my research. In fact I made the slides uglier.

slide5
Now this is one ugly slide (Why I did a presentation on pea soup in Spanish to finish my first semester in a Master in Computer Science is another story).

Then I did not practice what I was going to say. I just showed up.

It saved me at least two hours.

It’s really uncomfortable to give a presentation without being prepared. It makes me anxious, which means that it’s good for me. 

Why is it hard to do bad work?

A misconception about bad work is that it’s easier to do than good work.

This is not true either.

People always do what’s easiest, we take the path of least resistance. And a lot of people do “great work” – ALL THE TIME.

Here is why.

A) We are taught to

In average we spend about 10 years in school. This is 10 years of being told to do your best all the time.

10 years is a long time. It’s hard to unlearn something you’ve been told every week for 10 years.

B) Group Pressure

Everyone will notice that you did not put in as much work as you could have done.

Other people will give better presentations, hand in better papers and say smarter things at the meeting.

You might not get that extra pat on the shoulder from the teacher. Someone else will get a smile and a nod from the boss.

And all along, you know it could have been you – AND IT HURTS.

C) It’s A Skill

It’s not easy to do bad work.

We must practice. Bad work has two basic components:

  1. Defining the task
  2. 80/20 analysis

Instead of jumping in, invest some time into understanding the task really well. You should know EXACTLY what is expected.

Second, you perform a so called 80/20 analysis.

That is, answer the question “What 20% will yield 80% of the results?”.

For example, I know I would pass the presentation if it was 10 minutes and I made some power point slides. That’s it.

But what about my personal brand?

There is a ton of articles on how to build a “personal brand.”

Most of these articles does not recommend giving an awful presentation about pea soup in front of 30 people.

Giving a bad presentation probably has a short term negative impact on your “personal brand” (although, how do you even measure that?).

BUT, you will be able to spend more time on what you love.

Then you will be happy and successful. Then you can tell people who have a problem with your “personal brand” to fu@$ off.

Do This Now

  1. Look at your calendar
  2. Write down one thing you don’t want to do but have to do
  3. Figure out the minimum input possible.
  4. Do Bad Work
  5. Move on and spend a few extra hours with someone you like. Or watch Westworld. Or make some pea soup from scratch, whatever you want.

 

How To Turn Anxiety Into Success

Accidentally joined the daily practice of one of the top football teams on Zanzibar ⚽

A photo posted by Manne & Robin 🇸🇪 (@two_traveling_swedes) on

One of the goals was built on a small hill of sand, I tried to figure out weather or not that would be an advantage.

While I was pondering that tactical question 20 players were running laps and doing sprints in the sand. There was a coach and he had a mean look on his face and a whistle around his neck. It was 35 degrees and I was sweating bullets.

When John a few hours earlier had asked me to join him and a few of his friends to play football I had pictured something else.

I hadn’t played football in 8 years and could not remember the last time I ran more than 10 meters. I was, to say the least, quite uncomfortable.

“I’m actually feeling a bit nervous” I told John.
“Ah, don’t worry. We are the best team on Zanzibar.” John comforted me.

I was expected to join the practice. The tempo and skill was well above any level I’ve ever been close to.

John had told the coach that “A Swedish football player” was joining them.

Naturally, they had to cut someone to make room for me. Perfect.

The last hour of practice was game-time. I had managed to postpone my participation up to this point.

Unfortunately, this was no longer possible.

I walked stiffed-legged on to the field and approached John and my other team mates. Everyone looked at me. Nobody smiled, except John.

“You’re left wing” I was told.

While trying to think of excuses to avoid this potential catastrophe I identified a new problem.

Everyone had different colored shirts.

Some guys had blue Chelsea shirts, others red shirts from Liverpool and some of them had Zanzibar-shirts.

All the players in the opposing team also had different shirts.

Before the coach started the game I ran over to John and, already out of breath, asked him how I was supposed to tell the difference between the teams?

John helped me out one last time: “Just look at the faces man!”.

Then the whistle let me know that game was on.


Walking back home from the practice, I started to think of an important question. Before going to that game I was nervous. And I just thought we were going to be a few people messing around. I did not want to go, it would have been much easier to bale. The question was:

Why are we scared of things that are not dangerous?

The short answer is: You have a monkey brain.

Our brain is designed to survive. Not to be happy and enjoy giving presentations (or practicing a sport you suck at). We are hard wired to notice problems. Real ones and potential ones.

While handy when living on the Savannah, our brain creates problem for us in our urban everyday life.

It makes us sweat and feel bad before presentations, it makes us postpone making that sales call and it makes us avoid the conversation that should have been had with your partner weeks ago.

In all of these scenarios our brains job is to imagine what can go wrong and make you obsess over it.

While well intended, it’s not very helpful. In fact, it’s very unhelpful.

The good news is that we train ourselves to handle our anxious brains.

How to deal with anxiety?

“The coward and the hero feel the same thing, it’s how they act that is the difference” – Cus D’Amato, 

There are three steps to dealing with the anxiety.

1) Notice the anxiety

The first thing when we feel anxious is to notice the feeling, to step out of the feeling and observe it.

We need to watch the feeling, and ourselves in order to address it.

You can’t throw the Frisbee if you are the Frisbee, as a wise man once told me.

2) Become grateful

The second step is to decrease the immediate anxiety. You can’t be grateful and worried at the same time.

This is done by making a list. Write down five things that you are grateful for, persons in your life, items you own or the weather. I does not matter what it is. Then close your eyes and visualize the five things on your list.

Now your mind-set has started to shift from anxious to grateful.

3) See the opportunities

When you are in a grateful state of mind, think about what opportunities the challenge brings.

Last week I had to make a presentation in Spanish. My Spanish is not that good and I was nervous. I felt bad for days.

I made a list of opportunities:

  • I get to practice public speaking
  • I get to practice Spanish
  • I get to practice not caring about what other people think

After doing these 3 steps I find that anxiety is decreased every time.

Why do things that are uncomfortable?

Why not strive for a life without anxiety?

The alternative to the approach of dealing with anxiety is to avoid things that are uncomfortable.

To not make the sales call, keep postponing the big talk and bailing on the presentation.

This is a bad idea.

There are three good reasons to why we should keep putting ourselves in uncomfortable situations.

1) Greater comfort-zone

Every time you go through an uncomfortable situation you will have one more experience under the belt. Since I made the presentation in barley understandable Spanish I’m not as nervous about presentations in my mother tongue.

Another way to look at it is as an investment. You invest in increasing your comfort zone. The dividends are less anxiety down the road.

2) Meet interesting people

The best way to meet interesting people is to become interesting. An interesting person is someone who has done interesting things. There are no interesting things in the comfort zone. The interesting stuff is outside. Go get it.

3) Collect good stories

There are no good stories in the comfort zone either. I really wanted to bail out of that football practice in Paje, Zanzibar.

But I’m glad I didn’t. That practice was one of the most memorable experiences of my whole year.

Summary and Next Step

  1. All of us have a monkey brain. Your brains’ job is to figure out what can go wrong and make you obsess about it.
  2. You can handle the anxiety in three steps. 
    1. Notice the anxiety. Observe it.
    2. Make a list five things that you are grateful for
    3. Make a list of things you will improve if you follow through
  3. Why not avoid uncomfortable situations?
    1. You will increase your comfort-zone
    2. You will become interesting
    3. You will collect great stories

Use the anxiety as a compass. Go where you feel uncomfortable.

Your goal should not be to avoid anxiety.

Your goal should be to become great at dealing with these negative feelings. Your goal should be to seek out things that make you uncomfortable. You goal should be to never stop growing.

What can you do today?

Think about something that you are worrying about today. Then do these three things:

  1. Then notice the feeling of discomfort.
  2. Make a list of things in your life that make you feel grateful.
  3. Make a list of skills you get to practice if you follow through on the task.

Then go do it.

And don’t forget, if you feel confused – Just look at the faces, man.

 

How To Start A New Project And Not Risk Anything

When I was 9 years old I used to cheat when I played battleships against my grandmother.

I would put my forehead against my palm and pretend to think really hard. If you do it with a specific angle you can kind of see through your arm. I leaned sideways to see her side of the board, seemingly staring on my own wrist, and sunk her ships one by one.

She had no chance. I was ruthless. I knew I would win every time.

I had discovered The Power of Cheating.

However, when I grew older I learned that there are two problems with cheating 1) It does not always work. 2) You can get caught.

In my continuous pursuit of shortcuts to success I finally found a way to accomplish the same results without cheating.

I found the answer in a blog post by Scott Adam:

The Power Of A System.


Every project has a risk of failure.

  • Starting a business – No customers
  • Launching a podcast – No downloads
  • Starting a blog – No readers

The risk can be financial, timely or social. Or all three. Nobody wants to waste time, loose money or be embarrassed.

So we shy away from trying new things. We’re stuck in our cubicles. Or in the 21th century version, open-space offices. We never go from idea to product. From sketch to painting. The novel is stuck in your head, not on the pages.

This is a waste. All it takes to guarantee success for a project is to solve a simple equation (You don’t even need to know math):

Certain Wins From Project – Cost Of Project > 0

In other words, how can we stack the deck so we get a Royal Flush, no matter who deals?

The nature of the equation tells us that there are two ways of making a project successful.

  1. Maximize the wins from the project
  2. Minimize the costs of the project.

Now, let me show you how to do both.

Maximizing wins

Making sure to have positive outcomes of the project can be done in 3 steps.

  1. Define variables for the project
  2. Design A System
  3. List your wins

1) Define variables

For any given task there are things that are

  • A) Controllable
  • B) Partially Controllable
  • C) Uncontrollable.

For example, this blog has the following variables:

Things I can control

  • How much time I spend writing
  • How I sharing my writing
  • Topics of my writing

Things I can partially control 

  • Number of readers
  • Number of subscribers
  • Number of interaction (likes, comments, emails, shares)
  • If I get published on other sites
  • Amount of feedback from readers

Things I can’t control

  • What other people write about
  • Trends
  • Social media algorithms

The variables that are 100% controllable are the foundation of The System.

As you can see, the partially controllable variables are in most cases a result from the controllable variables. For example, it’s reasonable to guess that if I write a lot my writing will get better. Also, If I write a lot and approach other blogs in a smart way they are more likely to publish my work.

Look at the uncontrollable variables. Now don’t. That was the last time they took up space in your mind. Never ever worry about the things you can’t control. 

Let me repeat that. Never worry about variables you cannot control.

It’s not easy, but Meditation helps. 

 

2) Design your system

The System is the engine of the project. The System generates the success. We can set up The System in 2 easy steps.

  1. Controllable variables The System must be based on the controllable variables. In my case the controllable variables are how often I write, what I write about and how I share my writing.
  2. Define a timeline The project should be viewed as an experiment. Set a timeline for the experiment.

Thus, The System for mannelarsson.com is

Write every day, share every week. For 2 months.

The system should be simple and not too ambitious. The most important thing is to make sure you can commit to the system. I heard somewhere that “A good plan that is executed today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”. 

Another example is The Tim Ferriss Show which started as an experiment. Tim committed to record and release 6 episodes. He knew he would improve the art of asking questions and remove verbal tics (The Ummms and Eeehs). Today he has over 80 million downloads. 

3) Identify your wins

Look at the variables you can control. Then answer the question:

What positive outcomes can I guarantee from this project?

As in, what skills, network or experience can I make sure to obtain?

In my case, no matter how many visitors, likes, subscribers or comments I get on this blog, I will still have the following four wins.

A) Become a better writer

If I commit to writing every day I will become a better writer. Which can be considered a “meta skill” that can be applied to any field. This win alone is, for me, worth the “cost” of my experiment.

“If you add being a great communicator to any field, you’re instantly in the top 20%” – Tim Ferriss

B) Learning valuable and interesting things

To write blog posts I need to learn things I can share. If I commit to write consistently I’ll have to consume high quality content – Books and podcasts instead of social media. I need to train my mind to search for anecdotes and insights.

C) Changing habits

I started this blog by doing a 30 day experiment. I realized how hard it is to start a new daily habit. I managed to finish the experiment because of my “public” commitment of doing so. Accountability is key for changing habits.

D) Caring less about what other people think

My finger hovered over the touch pad for a good 20 seconds. I was going to press “post”. Then I went to the bathroom instead.

I came back and re-read the three sentences I had written on Facebook. Finally I took a deep breath, whispered “Fuck it” and clicked the button.

BOOM. I had shared my first blog post. Scared as hell about what people would think.

Just a couple of weeks later I share posts every week without thinking about it.

Yes, I know, I know – I’m such a stud.

As you can see, the wins are not “Being published on site X” or “Having X number of readers”. Process, Process, Process. Not goals.

Minimizing costs

Now you know what you can control, you know what you’re going to do and you know what (minimum) results you’ll get.

What can go wrong?

A lot, actually.

If you don’t manage the cost of the project.

I did not quit school, take a big loan and move to Paris (Or wherever you move to write a blog) to start this blog.

There are some easy techniques you can use to save a ton of time and money before jumping in to the project.

MVP

MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is a popular concept in the startup-sphere. To create an MVP, simplify your project as much as possible. Let me show you some examples:

Online business –  Say you wanted to start a site that automatically matches sellers with a real estate agent based on an advances algorithm. Then the MVP would be:

Set up a google docs where people who wants to sell their apartment can answer 10 questions. Share the link on social media. When you get your first answer, call real estate agents and say you have a customer for them. You can try it over a weekend, real estate agents work all the time.

No algorithm, no domain, no hosting, no developers.

Interview Podcast – Don’t worry about equipment, producing and A-list guests. Get on Skype with someone you already know. Use free software to record the session. Send the file to some friends.

Blog – Set up a WordPress blog and start writing. Don’t bother with finding the perfect theme, plugins and domain. You can worry about that stuff later. Or start writing on Medium.

 

Summary and next step

1) Think about a project you’ve wanted to start for ages.

  • Side business
  • Launch a podcast
  • Start blogging
  • Try a new marketing channel for your business
  • Launch a new product

2) List your controllable variables. What can you control 100%?

3) Make a system. For example “Write every day, share every week. For 2 months.”

4) Define certain wins. What positive outcomes are you positive will come from the project?

5) Simplify your project. Make a MVP and start today.

Next time you start something, go through this list.

Then let me know how it went at hello@mannelarsson.com.

Why You Need To Become A Hunter

apes

 

10 000 years ago we got fooled, badly. By wheat.

 

It tricked us to take care of it. It tricked us to protect it from animals, to water it and just for the hell of it – cover it in feces.

 

Wheat made us its servants. All along we though it was the other way around.

 

Then it spread. It spread fast. If Forbes where to run a story on the three most successful grains in history, wheat would be on the cover. One week it’s Elon Musk. The next: Wheat.

 

We went from spending our days taking walks and picking flowers to carrying buckets of water and stool under the scourging sun. We went from being hunters and gatherers to farmers. We had a new Lord.

 

We did anything to please the Lord. We worked HARD, we suffered and we died young. But we owned more stuff. More bread, more land, more houses. And enough wheat to bathe in it, Scrooge style.

 

However, we did not have more food per capita, but as a species. Homo sapiens owned more stuff.

 

But who cares? It was THOUSANDS of years ago. Today homo sapiens is much smarter. Many of us are lucky enough to not have to spend our best years carrying buckets of shit.

 

Instead we sit sloughed over laptops eight hours a day. Then we go home and fight with our spouses because we’re stressed about email. What a life.

 

So, how can we break free from the power of wheat? What can we do today that our wheat-loving brothers and sisters could not?

 

I’ll tell you.

We must become hunters.

That’s right. We must once again become hunters.

A hunter is free. A hunter is present, studying the task that lays before her. Then she executes. She goes out and gets what she needs. Not what she happen to crave for the moment. A hunter does not want anything she does not need. 

How to become a hunter

We posses the tools to once again become hunters. To control our own fate. Stop being slaves of grain.

 

1) Delete your wishlist
Think about all the stuff you want. A bigger apartment. New sneakers. A slightly flatter and curved TV. New iPhone.

 

Write down the things on a piece of paper. Then boil the paper and eat it like porridge. You don’t need it. It’s just wheat.

 

2) Stop being an idiot
I’ve spent the majority of my years being an idiot. Nowadays I try to do be less stupid every day.
Let me define stupidity:

 

  • It’s stupid to apply for jobs that make you miserable.
  • It’s stupid to work so hard you burn out.
  • It’s stupid to spend your free time mindlessly scrolling social media.
  • It’s stupid to think “If I only had X everything would be great.”
  • It’s stupid to not exercise. Hunters must be in shape.
  • It’s stupid to waste time wishing for other peoples blessings.
  • It’s stupid to drink so much you don’t remember anything.
  • Its stupid to lie.
  • It’s stupid to take friends for granted.
  • It’s stupid to not practice being grateful.
  • It’s stupid to complain.
  • It’s stupid to not love yourself.
  • It’s stupid to be angry.
  • It’s stupid not to meditate.
3) Find your pray
A hunter needs a pray. And you must hunt it down, smart and ruthlessly.

 

Your pray are the things you want to do but don’t.

 

Your pray can be to start a business. Your pray can be to finish the book that you have been “working on” for five years. Your pray can be to make a painting.

 

If you need help finding your pray, answer the question “What did I love to do as a child?”.

 

When you know what your pray is. Spend as much time as you can doing that.

Next step

I’m not saying don’t be ambitious. I’m not saying that competition and success are bad things. I’m not saying you should not try to make money.
What I’m saying is: Figure out what things you are doing because you think you have to. Then stop doing them and start doing things you like.
It’s stupid wasting your brief time on this planet as a slave of wheat. Stop spending your days carrying shit and go hunt something.

If you want to read more about wheat and humans I recommend the book Sapiens.

15 Unexpected Results From Daily Practice

I was half naked on the cold plastic floor, shivering.

Lonely, scared and more sick than I’ve ever been in my life I thought to myself “At least I have a roof. And a toilet.”

I was very grateful for the toilet.

But it’s hard to be grateful. We’re not programmed for that sort of behavior.

If you are a grateful caveman you walk around with a stupid smile on your face instead of killing mammoths. Then a tiger eats you and you die. (Please don’t email me and tell me that cavemen, mammoths and tigers never co-existed)

All of us are stupid cavemen and cave-women. That is why we must practice being grateful.

And that is what I’ve been doing the past 30 days, along with some other things. If you want to know exactly what I’ve been doing, read my previous post.

Cool things that happened the last 30 days:

  • I increased my happiness from 4.1 – 4.8 on the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire
  • I increased my dead lift with 15kg
  • I increased my bench press with 5kg
  • I published my first 4 blog posts
  • I shared my posts in a group on facebook (Was scared but did it anyway)
  • I shared posts on linkedIn (Was scared but did it anyway)
  • I took the first step to starting on my first book
  • I wrote down 300 ideas
  • Three people have contacted me and told me they like my blog
  • My french room-mate said “Manne, you look so HAPPY!!” when I randomly met her walking down the street.
  • I had dinner at an amazing secret restaurant
  • I took the first step to launching a new IT-product
  • Got my first email-subscribers that I don’t know personally (yet)
  • I’ve come up with new ways to make money on an old business idea
  • I’ve scored at least three complementary hotel nights in Buenos Aires

These are just the tangible things. I also feel happier. I feel more energetic. I feel more creative. I feel more confident.

Below I go into some details about the three biggest improvements.

Happiness

happiness
This is a picture of my happiness. The x-axis is supposed to be 1-30 but I hate Excel and she hates me.

 

Like I said, I do feel happier. I feel more at peace. I don’t dwell in the past or obsess about the future as much.

The index I’ve used is not perfect. Every step of my “scientific” method can be criticized. The graph does not prove anything. Happiness is hard to define etc.

But the daily practice seem to make me a better person. All I can say is that it worked for me and that it might, or  not, work for you.

Ideas

I’ve been writing down 10 ideas every day for 30 days. I’ve been giving birth to 300 idea babies. It hurt and they mostly came out weird and ugly. But I love those little bastards.

Four idea-lists I made

  • 10 things I learned from Ramit Sethi
  • 10 scenes for a hidden-camera show
  • 10 ideas to improve the SEO of a site I’m building
  • 10 thirty-day challenges I can do

If you want to see any of the lists, shoot me an email at hello@mannelarsson.com and I’ll send it to you.

Writing down ideas creates energy for the brain. My brain is becoming an idea machine.

And if I find myself in an elevator with a TV-producer I can now pitch a hidden camera show.

James says that it takes 6 months to become an idea machine. I’m excited to see the effects of doing this for more than 30 days

Meditation

It’s hard to meditate. I don’t follow my breath. Instead I think about weird things. But then I come back to the present and don’t judge myself. Just like Tara tells me to.

And then I become happy.

Sometimes I did meditations for 2 minutes. Sometimes for 25. Sometimes I walked down the street and observed my thoughts.

Closing thoughts

I have a saying:

“Anything that makes me grateful while throwing my guts up stays in my life.”

Feel free to Tweet that.

I will continue with my daily practice. I can already see positive changes in my life. I’m excited to what will happen if I continue to do it every day for six months. And then a year.

If you want to follow my journey, sign up below and I’ll show you what happens when you do something every day for year.

 

 

How to go from good to great in 10 minutes

Do what you are great at. Become the best in the world at something.
That advice makes sense and I hate it.

 

What if you’re not great at anything?

I have friends who knew they wanted to become doctors when they were five years old. Other friends started coding when they where nine. One friend was always best in the soccer team and now plays professionally.

I don’t have an amazing talent.

I was not best at selling cookies for the football team. I did not win talent shows. I was comfortably average. Most people are. That’s the way it works. Ask any statistician. A few of us are great and some are awful. We are trapped inside the Bell Curve.

 

rsz_bell

Breaking out of the Bell Curve

I know I’ll never be one of the best programmers in the world. But I learned how to build a website by myself. I know I’ll never be a famous guitarist. But I know a few songs and solos. I won’t write the best book ever written, but I’m quite sure that I can write a book.

 

Does this mean that I’m doomed to forever trample water in the pool mediocrity? Or rather, in several different pools of mediocrity?

 

Maybe. But I don’t think so.

 

The reason I don’t think so is because smart people told me otherwise in a podcast.

“If you are okay at one thing, and okay at another thing. You are probably one of the best in the world at the combination of those two things.” – James Altucher
Maybe it is possible and even smart to invent things to be great at. You can do so in two easy steps. First, make list of ten things you are good at. Then randomly mix 2-3 of the things to make new categories.
Like this:

Step 1: Things I’m good at

  • changing habits
  • writing
  • coding
  • copy writing
  • coming up with ideas
  • communication
  • marketing
  • math
  • drawing
  • listening

Step 2: Things I could be great at

writing + changing habits
I’m good at starting new habits and dropping old ones. Most people are not. It’s hard to change habits. And I like writing. I could probably become great at writing about habits I’m testing and changing. I don’t think a lot of other people want to or can do it.
 
Coding + Communication
I know a bit of web development. And I’ve got quite a bit of experience in sales, marketing and communication. I might be great at being a solo entrepreneur.

 

Listening + Marketing + Coming up with ideas
Maybe I can become top 5% in the world in interviewing people in a podcast about ideas. Who knows.

Next steps

If you feel stuck and need inspiration, make a list of ten things you are good at. Then mix them in different combinations. Maybe you’ll find your new passion, project or business. Either way you’ll have a list of things you are good at. That’s not too bad. You could show it to someone you like. Maybe they’ll like you more.
 
 

30 day experiment: Daily practice

Today my happiness is 4,06, and in 30 days I expect it to by higher.

 

Entrepreneur and best-selling author James Altucher wrote an article about how to be the luckiest guy in the world. First, I recommend you go read it. It’s way better than this post.

James tells us that, to be happy and successful, you have to practice four disciplines on a daily basis:

  •  Physical
  • Emotional
  • Mental
  • Spiritual
James practice those things every day. When he do get those things right he starts million-dollar businesses, writes books and launches podcasts. That’s what I want to do as well. So I’ll shamelessly copy him.

 

For the next thirty days I will have a daily practice and report the results. I want to see if this can make me a better human. Now, lets get in to the nitty gritty.
 

 

What is my daily practice?

I will follow James practice but modify it a bit. I have at least one exercise for each area of improvement.
 
Physical – I will engage in some kind of workout every day. If I’m sick/hungover I’ll do a lighter workout or stretching. The majority of the workouts will be weightlifting or kick-boxing. I will also follow a high-protein diet.

 

  • Light or heavy work out every day.
  • High protein diet.
Emotional – This is the one I find hardest to systematize. Most of the exercises consists of reactions to other peoples behavior. It is also by far the scariest one. But I will do my best. Lets break it down.

 

  • Be honest – I will not lie. Not even white lies to avoid uncomfortable situations. As long as I’m not mean to other people.
  • Remove energy drainers – I will not spend time whith people who are draining my energy.
  • Not make explanations. This might be a weird one. For example, if someone asks me if I want to have dinner I would reply “Sorry, can’t tonight.”. Instead of “Sorry, have to work.”.
 
Mental – This is a new one to me. I’m excited to try it out. It will be interesting to write down bad ideas to practice not to censure oneself. I heard somewhere that the key to great ideas are bad ideas. The ratio is constant, more bad ideas => more great ideas.

 

  • Write down at least 10 ideas every day.
 
Spiritual – I’ve done meditation on and off for the last year. And I’ve also done exercises to be more grateful. This is a big one. You can’t be happy if you’re not grateful. And you can’t be grateful if you don’t practice it. Atleast I can’t.
 
  • Meditation – I will meditate for minimum 10 minutes every day.
  • Being Thankful – I will write down three things I’m thankful for every day and visualize them.
  • looking forward – I will write down three things I’m looking forward to every morning. (Inspired by The Five Minute Journal)
 

Schedule

I will do my daily practice first thing in the day. Some days I might change it around but this is what my standard morning would look like.

 

7 wake up + breakfast
8 work out + shower
9.30 Meditate
9.40 Write three things I’m grateful for and visualize them.
9.50 Write three things I’m looking forward to and visualize them.
10.00 Write down at least 10 ideas.
 

Measuring

Who doesn’t like a good before-and-after-photo? I want to be able to track the results.

 

  • Happiness is a complicated concept. Trying to define the term is better suited for another blog post or book. I’ll use The Oxford Happiness Questionaire to measure my happiness before and after the 30 days. And as a complement I will journal about the experience. Happiness 28/8 2016: 4,06
 
  • Ideas – I will write down all the ideas and a note on how i felt doing it. I don’t think the point is to improve the quality of the ideas, but rather becoming better at generating ideas.
  • Physical – I will log all my workouts and performance.
 

Tools

I’ll use some software to keep track of everything. You can use all the tools for free, except maybe the gym.

 

Evernote – For writing journals and notes.
Habits – Easy way to track habits
Calm – Meditation timer
Tarabrach.com – guided meditations
Gym – For working out.
FitNotes – For tracking workouts.
 

Closing thoughts

If you want to copy this and try it out I recommend adding one of the habits at a time. I do most of these things on a weekly or daily basis already. So for me it’s an incremental increase. I would suggest starting with a daily meditation practice. Five or ten minutes a day. Do it for ten days.

 

I will be posting about my progress during these 30 days and summarize everything when I’m done.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Why I try to do things well

I did not know that I was average. Not until my best friend just told me.

 

We were on the phone, talking for hours. We used to do that often. Sometimes we could be quiet for minutes without it being weird at all. Maybe we watched a clip on youtube. Then we started talking about a mutual friend.

 

“How’s Michael?”. I asked.
“He’s fine. Studying at an average school, getting average grades. Pretty much like you I guess.”

 

That sentence stuck with me for years. I always felt like I deserved better results than I got. I knew that if I applied myself I could accomplish great things. Ironically, that became an excuse for not doing my best. I would tell myself “I could probably get the highest grade in this course”. And then I did not. I did OK. I did more than OK sometimes. But rarely did I do my best.

 

I had to face reality. After that phone call I became obsessed with doing my best.

 

I think that working towards realizing your potential is essential if you want to live a good life. “Realize your potential” sounds a bit cheesy. It’s not very clear. This is what I mean when I say realize your potential:

 

  • Get accepted to your dream education
  • Get your dream job
  • Write a book
  • Start a business
  • Learn Spanish
  • Learn to play guitar
  • Learn to dance salsa

 

If I could give my 16-year old self some advice. 
You can’t use your potential for anything except getting better. What you can do does not matter. No one cares. Work hard and smart. Don’t be scared of doing your best. Then you will become confident, happy and tall.