5 Life Lessons From Brazilian Jiu Jiutsu

I find it fascinating how lessons and principles transfer between completely unrelated fields. The connections are not always apparent, we must search for them.

I recently started training BJJ (Brazilian jiu-jitsu) which is a grappling based martial art with a super steep learning curve.

So, I thought I’d share a few lessons/principles I’ve learned from getting my ass kicked from people a third my size for two months.

1) High Percentage Submissions  🎯
In BJJ  techniques are often  referred to as “high percentage” or “low percentage”. A high percentage technique works often. A low percentage technique usually does not work. It MIGHT work, but almost never does.

It’s important not to overestimate low percentage techniques. The best players in the world rely on a handful of high percentage techniques.

What are your high percentage techniques?

2) Position Before Submission 🌈(Emoji game is strong)
In BJJ you get points from achieving a superior position or from submitting your opponent (meaning they give up by tapping you). It’s common to get to excited and try to force a submission without having the proper position for it. I’m actually not sure how common it is but I’ve been choked out a ton from doing it.

I find this to be true in sales as well. Whenever I’ve done my research, learned the customer’s needs and presented the solution – closing the deal is easy. Position before submission.

3) Leverage Your Unique Strengths 💪
BJJ is a very complex sport. Techniques are different for everyone depending on your body type, flexibility and strength. Some techniques does not make sense if you’re lanky. You need to learn how to leverage your unique set of capabilities.

It’s been a good reminder for me. Figure out what you are great at and do that. What comes natural to you? What’s something that you find easy but other people find hard? Go do that.
4) Tap Fast and Tap Often 👏
“Tapping” means to tap your training partner (or the mat) to signal that you give up. The Ego does not like to tap. You can’t have a big ego and train BJJ. It’s too painful. It’s quite painful even with a relatively small ego.

To be successful in BJJ (and in life I suppose) you need to be consistent over a long period of time. If you don’t tap often you will get injured. If you’re injured you don’t train. If you don’t train you’re not consistent.

I guess the transferable principle is to not let your ego get in the way. If your project is not working, don’t be too proud to quit.

5) Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable 🚀
Since starting BJJ I often find myself under a sweaty 200+ pound guy with his knee on my belly trying to choke me. This is not a super comfortable scenario for me. Most positions in bjj are uncomfortable. That is sort of the point.

To train BJJ you need to develop resistance to the positions that are uncomfortable. The key lesson is to learn how to separate uncomfortable from dangerous. This applies to everything. Uncomfortable is great.

Uncomfortable situations are great.

3 Great Books to Start 2018

It’s been a while. I hope you’ve had a great weekend and a great start on 2018.

The past few months I’ve worked a ton on business development and sales, experimenting with pricing strategies (increased the price on one of our products with 100% without a decrease in conversion) and closing deals with enterprise customers. I revisited The Ultimate Sales Machine, which I recommend if you want some old school sales tactics (you can find my summary here).

Anyhow, I wanted share a few books with you that I’ve read recently.

Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre
This is a weird one. The best kind of weird. I have zero experience and zero interest in “impro” and theatre but I could not stop reading this great book. Keith Johnstone is the founding father of improvised theatre and shares practical lessons from teaching and performing. The book is packed with advice that’s applicable in all areas of life. For example, do you know how to demonstrate authority with a small change in your body language?

Just stop moving you head when you speak. Try it.

The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life — Master Any Skill or Challenge by Learning to Love the Process
I’ve been thinking a great deal about process vs. results lately. Every job post describe their ideal candidate as “results-driven”. I’m starting think that being results-driven is not that great. This book explores what it means to love the process. To love practicing. Might be a good counter to all the mandatory “How to set goal”-articles in early January.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you keep putting in 12 hours days and still feel stuck? Then you are probably not doing deep work. I’ll be writing a summary of this book soon so keep an eye out.

I truly hope you will have a great 2018. Go and get some.

How to Get Un-Stuck

books
Photo: Jonathan Simcoe

When I was 16 i didn’t go to football practice for a week. I don’t remember why exactly. Maybe I had homework, maybe I was lazy. Maybe I though “It’s just ONE week. It’s no big deal”.

The next week I knew the coaches were going to ask why I missed practice. So I skipped the second week too.

Fast forward 6 months.

I’ve quit playing football. It wasn’t a well informed and conscious decision. It just kind of happened. When I missed two weeks of practices it was harder to go the third week. And so it went. More and more guilt, increasing inertia. It seems like friction builds up over time.

And now it happened to my writing. I fell out of the habit. For a few days, then weeks and before I knew it – Months!

It got to the point where I felt sick every time I thought about my blog.

The scary thing is that I love to write. I loved to play football too. But the psychological power of guilt was greater.

While the experience suck, I find the irrationality fascinating. If I feel bad because I dont write, the logical thing would be to start writing – Not to write less (How stupid is that?).

Action is the medicine.

It’s like that saying “Sales cures all” in business. I think for all creative endeavors Action Cures All. 

This is how I finally got out of my funk:

1) Baby steps
I set a super small goal for myself. My goal was to write this email. When I had figured out the smallest possible goal to get to action I moved to the second step.
 
2) Schedule
I scheduled it. On Sunday July 23 10:00-11:00 I will write and send an email to my readers.
 
3) Get over yourself
I keep reminding myself that nobody cares about me. For me it’s a big deal to send this email. I’ve built up the tension in my own little head. My self talk sound something like this: “I haven’t written anything in so long. This has to be AMAZING”.

But it does not have to be amazing. Consistent is better than perfect. Consistency is controllable.

Next week I’ll show up to football practice. Ten years later, no excuses. Because really, who cares?

6 Things I Learned From Warren Buffett

Buffett
Warren, Warren you teach me so much about life, and stocks also. Below are 6 lessons I learned from the documentary Becoming Warren Buffet. 

Consistency

Warren Buffet reads financial statements everyday. He’s been doing it for over 60 years. Every day. That adds up. He doesn’t take a day off every now and then. He’s not procrastinating his reading. He gets it done.
What do you do EVERY day?

Passion

Warren tap-dances to work every morning. He can’t wait to get started. Does this mean we should follow our passion?
Not if you believe Cal Newport. In his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You he argues for another route to the same destination. With mastery comes passion. If you become really great at something, you’ll love to do it.

You don’t have to start a yoga center if yoga is your favourite hobby. You could practice programming and after a few years have the same passion for that, according to Cal.

So, if you don’t have a passion to follow — Pick something and start a deliberate practice. Then you’ll be tap-dancing to work too.

Focus

Bill is one of Warrens best friends. Bill is also successful. He built Microsoft and started a big foundation.

Once they were both asked to write down one single word to describe why they are successful. They both wrote “Focus”. Then they showed each other their answers.

And laughed.

Then warren started reading financial statements again.
Focus and consistency goes hand in hand. If you want to accomplish a lot of things, don’t do them all at the same time.

Do one thing for one month, or one year. Don’t be a donkey, stuck between the food and water — Dying from both thirst and hunger.

Quiet

When Warren works he closes the door to his office. It’s quiet in there. He sits there, by himself, reading and thinking. He reads for 5-6 hours every day. And thinks about investments. He’s not checking his email every 30 minutes. He’s not updating Snapchat. He’s not in meetings all day.

Warren reduces noise. So he can focus.

Reputation

Having ethics in business is important. Warren does not want to trick people. He wants to buy great companies at fair prices. And hold them forever. He said in the documentary that “A reputation takes 20 years to build and 5 minutes to destroy”.

He made an investment in a bank called Salomon Brothers. Soon after the transaction the bank was in big trouble. They had 150 billion dollars in debt, more than any other business in America at the time. And they lost their right to trade obligations, which apparently is a big deal for a bank.

Warren took the seat as chairman and pleaded to the authorities that they should give them the right to trade obligations again.

Warren gave his word that he would make sure everything would be done ethically from now on. He had a great reputation. They trusted him and he saved the bank.

Minimalism

Warren is worth $100 Billion.

He has 15 butlers, takes a drone-taxi to work and eat a $280 Fugu (Puffer fish) for breakfast.

At least thats what I thought before I saw the documentary.

Actually he lives in a house he bought 50 years ago. He drives himself to work. And he get his breakfast at McDonalds every morning.

His company Berkshire Hathaway has a market cap of $430B — And has 25 employees. They have no HR-department, no PR-department.

Warren has optimised his life to do what he loves. He’s famous for being calm when others are panicking over the market.

I don’t think he could be so calm if he was flying around in drone-taxis. Then he would be scared to loose the drone-taxi. Now he’s just calm. And worth $100 billion.

2016: Lessons Learned, Apps Used and Much More

Things I’ve created

Things I’ve learned

  • Web programming – From Zero knowledge to launching my own site.
  • Spanish – From very basic (10 years since I studied) to completing a semester abroad in Buenos Aires with great grades. I took four classes, all in Spanish.
  • Scuba diving – Took a PADI Open Water Diver licence (18 meters depth) on Zanzibar.

Countries I’ve visited

  • Mexico (2 weeks) – Vacation
  • Tanzania + Zanzibar (2 months) – Studies/Vacation
  • Argentina (5 months) – Studies/vacation
  • Uruguay (4 days) – Vacation
  • Brazil (1 day) – Vacation

 

Books I’ve read

Non-fiction

The Brain Audit: Why Customers Buy (And Why They Don’t)
Sean D’Souza

The Choose Yourself Guide To Wealth
James Altucher

Choose Yourself!
James Altucher

Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It
Kamal Ravikant

The Magic of Thinking Big
David J Schwartz

Stumbling on Happiness
Daniel Gilbert

The Art Of Learning (Audio)

Extreme Ownership (Audio)

A Guide to the Good Life (Audio)

The Obstacle Is the Way (Audio)

The Power of Habit (Audio)

The 22 Immuntable Laws of Marketing (Audio)

Vagabonding (Audio)

Zero To One (Audio)

The Sell (Audio)

Fiction

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastards, Book 1)
Scott Lynch

Cat’s Cradle
Kurt Vonnegut

The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 2)
Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle Book 1)
Patrick Rothfuss

Podcasts I’ve listened to

  • The Tim Ferriss Podcast
  • The James Altucher Show
  • Ask Altucher
  • The Three Month Vacation
  • The Filip And Fredrik Podcast
  • Startup

Three Biggest Accomplishments

  • Getting published on thoughtcatalog.com.
  • Starting writing and sharing my work on this blog.
  • Completing one semester of studies 100% in Spanish in Buenos Aires (With a preparation of three weeks of self-studies).

Most Used Apps

  • Evernote – For taking notes, journaling and writing.
  • Spotify – Music.
  • Audible – Audio books.
  • Podcast Addict – Podcasts.
  • AnkiDroid – Memorising words in Spanish and Swahili with spaced repititions.
  • WhatsApp – communication.
  • FitNotes – For logging workouts.
  • Messenger – communication.
  • Calm – Meditation (Just using the timer and calming sounds)
  • SpanishDict (looking up words while offline)
  • Clear Focus – For efficient work.

Random Highlights

Email reply from my hero, Derek Sivers.

Cycling between vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina.

Flying through the streets of downtown Dar Es Salaam in a Dala Dala (small buss) while the driver was cranking up P.O.P – Mambo Vipi.

Celebrating Bob Marley’s birthday on a beach bar on Zanzibar.

Staying in separate two-floor, ocean view, beach houses with my friend on Zanzibar (for $25 a night).

Celebrating a traditional Swedish midsummer.

Surviving an encounter with 3 lionesses at 3 AM on the Serengeti while taking a leak.

Listening to The Life of Pablo by Kanye West while working on a thesis in Entrepreneurship and Computer Science in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

Acting as a “game show host” in front of 35 people in Spanish.

Email reply from my hero, Ryan Holiday.

Going to an underground club in Dar Es Salaam, where the owner became obsessed in convincing me that he actually was the owner and proceeded to treat us the best night out of the year.

Doing weekly homework with kids from the poor neighborhood Villa 1-11-14 in Buenos Aires.

Swimming in a lake in the mountains outside the City of Cordoba in central Argentina.

Eating a kidney (not sure but probably from a pig or a cow).

Eating goat soup for lunch during two weeks without knowing it was goat soup.

Learning about 20 different greetings in Swahili.

Being pointed to and called “Pure Muzungu!” (Pure white person) and “Muzungu!” (white person) by hundreds of people on a market in Dar Es Salaam. My Tanzanian friend Ben later explained that “pure muzungu” was a good thing. “Yes, it’s good. You are very white. A PURE muzungu.”

Having the best tacos of my life in Tulum, Mexico.