Catchy headline, right?
Well, it’s true…and most of it happened over 6 months.
So, here’s my story on how I accidentally lost 30 pounds…maybe you or a loved one can benefit.
It started about two years ago when I was 39 — I weighed 203 pounds at my highest point. The 30 pounds came off over a 12-month period (about 20 pounds within 6 months!).
And, again, I wasn’t trying to lose weight, so this is a weird one.
What’s a weight loss story without before-and-after pictures. I picked a couple in which I’m wearing roughly the same outfit (in this case a suit).
I have bathing suit pics too, but let’s not go there!
So what happened? Well, after the weight-loss, I reverse-engineered the experience best I could.
There are 5 items that stand out.
I like acronyms so I came up with “S.E.E.D.S” to outline the five steps (which are in no particular order).
The SEEDS Approach to Weight Loss
So, SEEDS is:
S = Sleep
I watched an episode on 60 Minutes that showed the effects of weight on Sleep deprivation. One normal looking guy (my age and weight) was put in a lab and woken up periodically so that his sleep was both inconsistent and shorter than it normally was for him.
The effect: he suddenly started eating twice as much food — they showed him eating an entire pizza with multiple toppings (and he remarked that he had never before eaten more than a couple of slices).
In other words, he felt tired and food represented energy to him. Well, the food certainly provided some short-term energy for him but it also added a bunch of calories to his body.
How much sleep do you need? Seven to 8 hours of sleep is widely considered to be healthy (I sleep an average of 7 to 7 and 1/2 hours).
It’s also important to make sure that you have as calm and deep a sleep as you can. One way to do this is to make sure you don’t consume caffeine too late in the day.
A massuese was giving me a massage and mentioned that she was also a nutritionist; I had a soy latte with me when I showed up for the afternoon massage and she told me to be careful as caffeine has a 6-hour half life.
So, for example, if you have a tea or coffee at 3pm and it contains 50 miligrams of caffeine, 25 miligrams of caffeine will still be in your body at 9pm and 12.5 miligrams will be in your body at 3AM.
So that 3pm cup of coffee is the same as having a half-cup of coffee at 9pm! That will effect your deep sleep (you still may fall asleep but you’ll wake up a big more groggy cuz of the caffeine).
I now try to have my last cup of caffeinated beverage at 12noon each day.
E = Eating
I met another nutritionist (a wonderful woman named Minna Yoo) at Samovar Tea House in San Francisco and traded her some business advice (she later launched a cool company called LoveBottle).
Minna’s advice: She drew a circle on my place mat representing a giant plate, and she drew a line in the middle of it and said that that half of your plate should be vegatables; then she drew a line through one of the halves so that there were two quarters — and she said one of those quarters should be protein (any kind you want) and the other quarter should be some sort of grains.
Minna also said that most people (including me) need around 1,200 to 2,500 calories per day (depending on how active you are) and you should spread that out over 4 to 5 meals (there are exceptions to this (if you’re an active athelete, or training for a marathon or Triatholon type event, for instance, you need/burn many more calories).
She told me that if I tried to eat those proportions for every meal, I would feel healthier. I have since adopted those proportions for most of my meals. The key: make sure to keep enough veggies and protein around.
Some other eating tips I found during my weight loss:
The Next E = Exercise
I had previously exercised 4 or 5 times a week and I stepped that up to daily. Some of my approaches to keeping this up:
D = Drinking (as in less alcohol)
I cut my drinking by one-third, from an average of three drinks a day to two drinks a day.
That oesn’t sound like much but beer, wine and cocktails have about 100 to 150 calories in them so if you do the simple math of drinking one less drink per day then that will cause a decline in your calorie intake of about 5% (the average person should have about 2,500 calories per day).
Calories are similar to weight, right, so just think that one less beer or cocktail a day could help you reduce your weight by 5% (since I was 203 lbs at my peak, that could have been 10 lbs right there!)
S = Spirituality (Optional)
This last step is really an optional/bonus round…as I feel the previous four steps are key and this one is more of a multiplier!
I added a form of spirituality to my life during my weight loss period in the form of yoga.
I can’t explain any scientific reason why yoga helped me with weight loss, but my hunch is that it was the icing on the cake to my four other tips (Sleep, Eating, Exercise and Drinking). The main benefits I get are to let go of stress and “just be” as they say.
Since I take a Vinyassa Flow class in 75 degree temperature, it’s also an excellent detox (I break a sweat every time!).
While any one of the 5 SEEDS (Sleep, Eating, Exercise, Drinking and Spirtituality) will help you lose weight, I believe there’s also a compound effect (the lollapalooza effect as investor Charlie Munger calls it) that took place in me improving in all five of these categories, even if just a little.
I was very lucky that I happened to dabble in all five at the same time!
So, that’s how I accidentally lost 30 pounds! I’m still at around 172 pounds and feelin’ great!
I’m willing to bet you that half of Warren Buffet’s success is due his effective communication (most of his other half is his sustained focus (i.e. his singular focus on creating wealth over 60 years!).
If you don’t believe me, you should read his annual reports or watch video of him on CNBC and YouTube.
I wonder if one of the reasons I like Warren’s Plain English style is that we’re the same personality type (ISTJ).
Some people, including me, refer to his communication style as “Plain English.”
Here are seven tips for using the plain english style of writing used by Warren Buffett, Mark Twain and others:
Focus on the first-person plural (we, us, our/ours) and second person singular (you and yours). The purpose is it’s more direct, more conversational and avoids the he/she dilemma.
(Before/Poor) — “This article will enlighten readers and contribute to people’s success versus.”
(After/Better)– “I will enlighten you in this article and contribute to your success.”
Steer clear of verbs such as “to be” and “to have.” They are weak!
Take the following sentence for example:
(Before/Poor) — “We will make a distribution of cash to every person in the company if our business is ever sold.”
(After/Better) — “We will distribute cash to everyone in our company if we are sold”
Hint: nouns that usually end in “ion” can be replaced with a more powerful verb (in that case, “Will distribute” replaced “will make a distribution”).
Use “unable” instead of “not able” and “exclude” instead of “not include,” etc. — This is shorter and more clear.
Try to use active (as opposed to passive) voice and go in order of Subject, Verb and Object. For example:
(Before/Poor) — “The product is bought by the customer”
(After/Better) — “The customer buys the product.”
Try to avoid words that don’t add much value such as “in order to” (use “to”) and “Despite the fact that” (use “Although”).
Why? Readers understand sentences in the active voice more quickly and easily because it follows how we think and process information
When communicating, you should know your audience…that’s basic, but if you’re communicating to a number of people try to write with a certain person in mind.
For example, in this article I try to envision writing to Lakshmi, a department head of a medium-sized business I know.
When I’m writing about something technical, I write with my Mom in mind.
#7: Avoid Contract Language
Steer clear of “Contract-type” language with definitions — this is the opposite of Plain English.
The best book on the subject of Plain English is How to write, speak and think more effectively by Rudolf Flesch.
And then there are Warren Buffett’s famous annual reports.
Plain English, Please!
A number of people ask me how I obtained a large network of contacts (I have 3,000 names in my iPhone).
Strangely, I’ve never thought of myself as a schmoozer…I’m actually fairly introverted.
But I’ve been very lucky. A few things were in my favor:
So, the 3,000 names isn’t that impressive — it really just came from 20 years times of storing an average of 100+ contacts per year.
That’s just 1 new contact I made (and stored) every 3 days. I’m sure you could do that (unless you’re a monk at a convent in which case you’re probably in the wrong place right now!).
But there is one secret I was reminded of a few years ago that I wished I had implemented earlier on in my career!
It’s only briefly mentioned on page 37 of the soft-cover version of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.
In a word: “Connectors.”
Here’s an exercise I’d like you to do (should take 15 minutes and be fun):
Here’s a snippet from my list:
Now, you’ll start to notice that just a few people — in my case Chad, Ted, Erin and Dave — are responsible for connecting me to most my friends.
Gladwell calls these people “Connectors.”
I’m a Connector too, though not as good as my Connectors.
So, if you want to to expand your network, here are a few lessons:
I was inspired enough by this exercise to take Chad & Ted out for a yummy steak dinner at Gene & Georgetti’s in Chicago where I presented each of them with a personalized gift. It was of minimal value compared to the value they have given me through their Connections.
Thanks, Mr. Gladwell and thank you, Connectors!
What do you know about Connectors and Networking? Please comment below.
The Daily Huddle has arguably been one of the greatest productivity and efficiency boosters I’ve personally experienced.
Since I started using it, I’ve run into numerous industry leaders (such as the Ritz Carlton and Johnson & Johnson) who benefit from the Daily Huddle.
Duhh, why didn’t I begin this 20 years ago!
I first read about the concept of the Daily Huddle in Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, which may be the best how-to book for small businesses that I’ve read. Its author Verne Harnish was inspired by the habits of business tycoon John D. Rockefeller and translates those for you to apply to business today.
I know, I sound pretty excited about this stuff — that’s cuz I am!
So, what is the Daily Huddle? Well, for starters, I use the term “Daily Huddle” because I like the ring of it — you may have heard it called names like Daily Scrum, Daily Pulse, Daily Agile, Daily Lineup (Ritz Carlton) or Daily StandUp. The concept is what counts.
Let me outline the basics first:
The agenda is the same every day. I recommend you first test out the Rockefeller Habits’ suggested agenda. That’s what I did and we didn’t need to change a thing.
Here are some other things I’ve noticed from my experience with the Daily Huddle.
And please read Mastering the Rockefeller Habits — it’s chock full of other valuable habits and ideas for businesses to grow.
You should comment below about your experience with the Daily Huddle — I really want to hear your opinion!
I used to consider “Sales” a bad word; until I got good at it!
In this case if you’re not comfortable with the idea of “selling’ you can replace “Sales” with “persuading” or “problem solving” — now let’s help you sell!
Neil Rackham wrote a terrific book called SPIN Selling in 1996. What I like about it is that it provides you a framework for selling better based on the results and experience of thousands of salespeople and their supervisors.
Most important tip: The more questions you ask, the more effective you will be.
So, what is SPIN Selling?
SPIN is an acronym that stands for Situation, Problem, Implication and Need and the book recommends that you ask questions about all four of those.
Below are some SPIN Selling questions to ask (let’s pretend you are selling vacuum cleaners):
So, when trying to persuade or problem-solve or sell, try asking lots of questions first and focus on your buyer and what will lead to their big payoff!
SPIN Selling is a must-read for any business-person; it explains SPIN selling techniques and backs it up with detailed research. Rackham later came out with the SPIN Selling Fieldbook which is also an excellent read.
I recommend you buy SPIN Selling first and then if you have people on your team who you want to share the concept with, then buy them a copy of the slightly less expensive Fieldbook.
Do you have any thoughts on the SPIN Selling technique or the topic of sales in general — if so, please make a comment below.
I used to have poor credit.
And if you’re like me, you’ve had to fund some or all of your business on credit. When I ran Mojam.com, I had to use cash withdrawls off of five credit cards just to meet payroll for a month or two!
Unfortunately, I was a dumb kid back then and didn’t pay back the loans fast enough (causing poor credit!).
So, below are some learnings from restoring my credit.
First off, this article focuses on how to maximize your opportunity to get personally-guaranteed credit…so it’s useful if you A) Run a small business where you have to personally gurantee your credit cards or B) Want to improve your credit outside of business (e.g. for mortgage or automobile loans).
Ok, first off, how do you measure your credit? — Currently, one matters more than all others: Your FICO score. FICO stands for Fair Isaac Corporation, a credit-scoring business that works with the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and Transunion) monitoring people’s credit.
FICO scores range between 300 and 850 (the higher being better) with a score of:
FICO doesn’t make you loans but they provide the report card — the FICO Score — for others who do.
So, you might ask: How do I fix my credit?
Well, it’s based on a secret algorithm that changes all the time (sort of like Coke’s recipe or Google’s algorithm).
This article is sort of like reverse-engineering FICO.
I asked Scott Jones, a credit repair expert I worked with at CreditLine, to talk about the key ingredients of FICO’s secret recipe and how important each ingredient is (the % in parentheses). Here’s what he said:
Your Payment History (35% of score)
Basically, paying on time helps lift your score, while paying late, liens and bankruptcy will lower it.
The Amount You Owe (30%)
Keep your balance low to zero. Lenders don’t like to see you using up all your credit on your credit cards (i.e. letting the balance get high) so if you can keep it low (or, better yet, pay it down to zero), you’ll get some points for that.
The Length of Your Credit History (15%)
The longer you have a credit card the more points you get on your FICO score. Even if you use a credit card just sparingly (like me with my Mervyn’s Card), you get some good FICO points for just having it for a long time.
New Credit Inquiries (10%)
This one is interesting: When you apply for a loan (including getting a credit card), the company providing you with credit (i.e. Visa or Mastercard or AMEX or a department store or mortgage company or Auto Dealership) makes what is called a “New Credit Inquiry” with the credit agencies to see what your credit looks like. Each new inquiry can LOWER your FICO score (my guess is by 10 to 30 points) for a short amount of time (about three months); so, be careful not to take out a few credit cards at one time.
Get the Right Types of Credit (10%)
Different credit is measured differently. Below is one credit expert’s prioritization of which types of credit in order of importance (first being most important).
Here are some other tips & final notes:
If you’re like me and you made a bunch of mistakes already, you can repair your credit but it takes time. A Couple of Options:
Do it Yourself — You can get free online credit reports from all three agencies at CreditReport.com and you should! Go to Check out the details of each (they will list each one of your credit cards or loans) and if you can find an incorrect piece of info or an inconsistency among the three agencies (one of them reports that you were late on paying your AMEX card and the other two do not), then write a “letter of correction/deletion” to try to fix your credit report.
That doesn’t harm you and typically can turn into them correcting/removing the item in a way that positively impacts your credit
Use a Credit Repair Service — I used a service called CreditLine and I ended up increasing my score from 616 to 778 within two and one-half years; an average of about 15 points every three months.
I used their premium service and it was worth every penny. It helped me get bettter terms on my car loan and gives me piece of mind about getting a loan for a anything else in the future. They also provided me with phone-based credit counseling.
Either way, make sure you’re in tune with your FICO score, apply what tips you can and good luck with your credit restoration.
Question for you: Do you know how credit works outside the U.S.? If you do, please comment below with any tips you have — thanks!
The smartest move I’ve made in years was when I began waking up early (around 5:45am now).
So, here’s how you can wake up early:
1) Get Control of Your Alarm Clock
You’ll need to use an alarm clock at first (though you won’t need it two weeks from now!).
What time should you pick? Be gentle with yourself at first — start with just a half-hour earlier than you’re currently waking up.
I recommend you set your alarm to an unusually exact time (I picked 6:07am because I was born in 1967)…it’s been proven that you will be more responsive to unusual times (rather than on-the-hour or half-hour times (e.g. 6:00am or 6:30am) (see The Daily Huddle about starting meetings at odd times).
And try to pick something soothing to wake up to (soft music or a soft voice is fine). If you’re really new-agey then use one of those alarm clocks that has ocean sounds (they also have alarm clock lamps that slowly add light!).
When the alarm goes off, wake up (don’t hit the snooze button!). Trust me: just get your butt out of bed.
Do something affirmative when you wake up. For instance, when I wake up, I put each foot on the floor and say “Thank” (left foot) “You” (right foot) — that starts me off on a positive note.
I promise you that within 5 minutes of waking up you will not feel like going back to bed.
2) Make Your First Activity Warm and Passionate
You should want to wake up earlier to do something you love…so make sure you do!
The first thing I do when I wake up is to have a hot cup of water with fresh lemon juice squeezed into it and some organic honey!
Next, I have a routine for my first activity. I start with my “Hour of Power;” that consists of me sitting in a comfortable chair on the East side of my apartment (where the sun is rising) and writing down a few creative things that I’d like to do for the next hour.
Then I do them! Sometimes it’s reading a book, other times it’s playing guitar and sometimes it’s writing (like this article).
I then go work out for an hour (basketball or yoga).
Whatever you do, don’t start your day with reactive tasks such as reading emails or paying the bills. Go with proactive/creative stuff.
3) Beware Caffeine’s Six-Hour Half-Life
If you consume caffeine (I do), you’re going to need to consume your last sip a bit earlier (I recommend 1pm at the latest).
The reason is that caffeine has what’s called a 6-hour half-life, meaning that if you have a cup of coffee (average of 50 milligrams of caffeine) at 3pm, then you will still have 25 milligrams of coffee at 9pm — it’s the equivalent of you drinking a half-cup of coffee at 9pm at night!
Some of you might say: “I drink caffeine late in the day and still get my eight hours of shut-eye.” I believe you. But your 8 hours probably isn’t very restful sleep…you may wake up groggy (that’s because you didn’t get enough deep sleep).
For those of you hooked on caffeine, just start to wean yourself off of the afternoon habit by switching to decaf (still has some caffeine) or a white tea (has a little caffeine in it) or an herbal tea (no caffeine).
I drink one cup of a black or green tea at about 9:30am and then I have decaffeinated latte (fancy, I know) at about 12noon.
With less caffeine in you at night, you’ll sleep more restfully, and it will be easier for you to wake up early every day!
4) When to Go To Sleep: Have a Book You Love
As you get into this process of waking up early, you’ll begin to naturally get tired earlier at night. This may take about a week.
But what time should you go to sleep? Steve Pavlina recommends simply going to sleep when you’re tired in his terrific How to Become an Early Riser article.
What I do is get into bed 8 to 8 ½ hours before my desired wake up time (e.g. around 9:30pm to wake up at 5:45pm).
I then start reading a book until I’m sleepy.
It’s important to pick a book you love so that you’ll look forward to going to bed! I fall asleep within 30 minutes (that’s how I get my 7 1/2 to 8 hours sleep). .
5) Commit to a Week
Practice your new waking up early for at least seven days…by that time, you will start getting used to it.
You’ll naturally wake up earlier (you won’t even need an alarm clock within about three weeks) and fall asleep earlier too.
You’ll love waking up earlier so much that you’ll test out waking up earlier and earlier until you find the ideal time.
As the saying goes, the early bird really does get the worm.
While I’m a big fan of being an early riser, please remember about the importance of sleep as a form of renewal (see my article on How To Recharge Yourself).
After first writing my How To Be An Early Riser article, I began jotting down examples of other early risers — especially famous early risers.
I thought I’d share those with you:
It can cost you 13-times a person’s annual salary if you hire the wrong person, according to Brad Smart.
A dozen of my colleagues and I were lucky enough to spend two days with Brad in Chicago in October 2005 when we took his Topgrading training program (which I also recommend).
The 13X cost of a mishire was a stunner! …