Tools of Titans Review Part 1 Healthy

Application and Self Development

I recently wrapped up reading the first section of Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. This massive book of insights gathered by top people in all categories of life is one of the most transformational books I have read. I wanted to gather my notes and ideas and share out what I think so far and the goals I plan to accomplish.

To do this I have decided to break my takeaways down into sections. There is simply too much to gather even by going this route, but it is what I have decided to do.

This part focuses on section 1 which is all centered around health and taking care of our bodies. Enjoy

If nothing else this reminder serves as the cornerstone to all growth mindset. We must be willing to push forward and create our own path in life.

If you are able to grasp this concept then you know that you must focus only on what you can control. We cannot do anything about the hand of cards we have been dealt, but we are responsible to make the best hand possible.

The section that shared the insights with Jason Nemer really struck a chord with me. In this section I read the following statement which clicked in my brain. This statement has become my 2017 Focus of the Year.

In February I plan on doing the exercises shared by Dr. Peter Attia. I have been doing core work with my athletes, but these exercises might be a good addition to the schedule. I will do a few times a week in February to see how the results turn out.

This part of the interview with Dr. Attia really hit home with me as well. It serves as a great reminder to be the best father I can be. I have worked to do less this year to be home more. As my youngest daughter is growing up too fast and my other two children are starting to look like young adults I realize time is going by too fast. I miss them even when I am with them.

Next up was Justin Mager who had some really great insights. One of the best ideas was the following:

This is more important than you realize. When you read between the lines it makes you realize how much we judge by good or bad. So often this is why we have problems reaching goals, being happy, and more. Not everything is black and white.

Just like in school as well as in life we need to justify that there is a fundamental difference between understanding something and simply knowing its name or labeling it. These are two completely different concepts that we often confuse.

Pavel Tsatsouline

Another great part of the book. Something that I was able to relate to was the notion that as a leader we must realize that people are going to mimic our behavior. Some of it might be positive mimicry and some will do more mockery. Regardless, people are watching.

As a coach I don’t yell, scream, shout, or do any of the typical behavior often associated with being a “good” coach. Instead I stay calm and believe that I must model how I want my players to be behave both on and off the court. As Pavel states, “Calm is contagious”

The one piece that really resonated with me as a person as a whole(father, husband, educator) was the section with Laird Hamilton, Gabby Reece, and Brian MacKenzie. For some reason I pictured myself hanging out with them and in the process being the best version of myself. The elements of using social connections for health is so true and powerful. We often don’t realize how important it is to have another person keep us accountable when trying to eat healthy, exercise, and do right.

One idea that I am trying to develop further is Laird’s Man Book Club where they read a nonfiction book a month and discuss the ideas. I keep drawing up this vision of a book club that is not gender specific but the discussions would take place on long runs. I am falling in love with the notion of strengthening my mind and body at the same time.

These are two great reality checks for us to use from time to time!

I never imagined in a million years that I would feel so connected to Triple H, but his podcast episode and section in the book is my favorite of the section.

Something that I grapple with every single day when working with students and my own children is the idea of helping them determine the difference between a dream and goal. There is a difference. A dream is something you fantasize about that will probably never happen. A goal is something you set a plan for, work toward, and achieve.

When I work with teams that get nervous before a game or watch my kids become stressed before a test I often remind them the very thing that Floyd Mayweather discusses. The work is already done. There is no need to stress now. Either you are ready or you are not ready. Simple as that. Deep down you should know if you put in the necessary work. After the results you need to analyze and figure out what needs improvement, what needs to be eliminated, and what needs to delegated.


Books I ordered or placed on hold at library

House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski

Mistakes Were Made by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard Feynman

Joy On Demand by Chade-Meng Tan

Concepts I am going to experiment with in February

  1. Dr. Peter Attia exercises at home and at practice.
  2. Jane McGonigal idea of using Tetris as therapy to help sleep. I struggle sleeping.
  3. Drink Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime Tea to help with sleep
  4. Develop and further focus on my morning rituals. I know that when I wake up early and do certain things I often have good days or not so good days. I want to analyze and further develop these ideas.
    1. What are my five rituals and how many do I do each day?
    2. “The small things are the big things”
    3. Ideas to try
      1. Make my bed
      2. Meditate – I suck at it, but I need to develop this routine more. Forcing myself this meta-skill when it does not matter is most important. If I can teach myself to focus when it does not matter, then I will be able to focus when it does matter.
        1. Headspace or Calm app will be loaded up and experimented with in February.
      3. 5 Minute Journal and Bullet Journal
      4. Exercise
      5. Brain Dump

Each day I write a daily thought to my basketball team. These are thoughts and ideas that I hope roll over to their mind training for life(the biggest game of them all). As we win and lose games I cannot help but bring to light this quote.


This is where I am at. I will be taking the rest of January and February to develop these ideas, attempt to live and model them, and work to being a better person. I know I won’t get to them all, but I will continue to document, record in my Bullet Journal and further experiment with the ideas and concepts to make my life and myself better.

While I develop these ideas I will begin to read the next section on Wealth. More importantly I look forward to blogging about these ideas in greater detail as I apply them to my life.

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Project Based Learning: Why?

PBL is another of the many buzzwords in education. I have been a fan of pbl since I have learned about it and I really believe many educators were doing this type of work before there was a label. As the pressure builds for teachers to perform to standardized tests while trying to balance the gut instinct of knowing what students need most pbl can help make sense of trying to accomplish both things at the same time.

As I think about how quickly the world has changed from the days of the 90’s where we were told stranger danger and to avoid cars at all costs to today where I voluntarily pay money to ride in a car with strangers via Uber I realize it is time to improve education. I see methods and hear from people all the time that just make me cringe a bit to know that the same things I did as a kid are still being done. It is not so much that these are necessarily bad, but the world has evolved. The way society operates has shifted. The way in which we do many things are not the same as 20 years ago and who knows what the next five will hold for all of us.

The economy is changing. There are more jobs than we ever imagined possible. Not all are high wage and game changers, but they are jobs nonetheless. What are we doing to prepare kids for an economy that will need people in a variety of different jobs? What are doing to help students find areas of learning that are engaging to them? I see more and more students coming to school no interested, not engaged, and not really knowing what excites them. We can get angry, punish, offer detentions, and point the finger at the kid, the family, the work ethic, etc. However, does that really solve the problem or are these methods just a quick patch to avoid the real issues – school is not an exciting place to be?

The way we have operated our schools and education were designed to help a system that is slowly going away whether we like it or not. We are shifting to a society of “Show Me!” where people are looking for employees that can do the job and are not as concerned about what hoops a person has jumped through to find out they are not equipped. Time and money are of the essence. I was just talking with someone about how they have open positions in their business and cannot fill them. They are willing to train them. They are willing to pay for their school while they work. It cannot get much better than this for someone looking to get started in employment.

The world needs more problem finders. The world needs more people who are willing to use their knowledge and skills over extended periods of time to respond the challenges of the world. This is project based learning.

How many of you reading this do some sort of freelance work whether full time, part time, or as a way to earn a bit of cash on the side? How many have shifted several jobs? The average American holds a dozen jobs in their lifetime. The world continues to build out and develop more projects and gigs. It is hard to sustain a living, but this market continues to grow. Technology and the pace of growth has changed everything. The days of our parents working one job and staying in one community are few and far between.

PBL can help. It can help students learn how to prepare for real world work by giving them real world problems. PBL provides feedback constantly which is something we can all work on dealing with and processing. Learning to work on a team and to develop our communication skills. Last, helping us figure out what are expertise areas are so we can use them to our advantage.

As schools explore PBL and PLC there is a happy medium, a common element that they both strive to have that the world knows works. The common element is group norms. Google has discovered this truth when they launched Aristotle(a study exploring over a hundred teams for a year). Even more important was developing psychologically safe environments. How important is this? How obvious does this sound? So why is it that they don’t exist in our classrooms? Why is it they don’t exist as employees? Why is it that we have surface level signs and documents that mask the real truth that norms and safe environments are not as prevalent as we like to convince ourselves. I think the key ingredient to allowing high level learning whether in the workplace, classroom, home, or other locations is making sure people feel safe to take risks and push their learning and understanding that the norms is how everyone will behave. So simple and yet often ignored.

What happens is that we create classrooms where the majority of work is individual. This happens because we often work in silos and our classrooms mimic this mentality. It is safer to be alone. The trust has been broken. The culture does not allow teamwork to really grow. We wonder why kids struggle so much with teamwork while we sit in denial over how poorly we might actually be as employees. Where you find great work, great projects, and great things happening you often find great teamwork, great culture, and great norms. I see these examples and non examples happen all the time with my robotics teams, in my engineering challenges after school, coaching youth sports, being a parent of children involved in various activities. When there is a true sense of teamwork everything just feels different.

When we look at the essential elements to a high quality project one cannot argue that this is not only what is needed for learning to occur, but also exactly what employers are looking for when they hire. If you look at BIE essential project elements that covers most ideas about pbl out there you see: key knowledge, key skills, challenging problems, a high level of sustained inquiry, authentic learning, student voice and choice, reflection, critique and feedback, and a public product.

The reason that these are sometimes not covered in the classroom is because of the wrong mindset. It is not on purpose. What happens is that we(educators) begin to believe that our job is to prepare students for the next grade. How often have we said, “you need to know how to do this because in high school…….”? The goal of school is not to develop and create “students” but to develop adults that are self sufficient enough to be a positive contributing member in society. When we frame the goal as the latter, then students are no longer able to game the system as many have already done.

I am not going to lie. It is easy to blog about these ideas, but to teach them is something altogether different. It is hard. It is difficult. It is stressful. However, nothing of high quality is easy. We must ask ourselves, “Are we in this job to benefit students or ourselves?”


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Book Review: Payoff by Dan Ariely

I am back to reviewing books. After taking more than a year off from writing reviews I have realized how much I benefit myself to post my thoughts. I write notes and store them in various locations but I can never find them. My book review posts are to help me better organize my thoughts and like everything I hope you find something new to discover, read, and connect.

I am starting off 2017 with this nice short read. This book is part of the TED book series. What I liked about this book is that it helped me grapple with some things that I have struggled with mentally the last few years. The whole basis of this book is to look into motivation, what it means, and how to make it work for us. In the end what I took away from the book is that motivation works best when we simply treat people like people. Basically, treat people like we actually care about them, appreciate their hard work, and do our best to remain loyal to them.

The author shares many of his research projects, but in the end this is what I felt was the key for me.

For me personally, something that really resonated with me and for me made the read completely worthwhile was the following idea:


I instantly think of parenting. It is not always a job that provides happiness. There is no template, no recipe, no guidebook to being a great parent. What works for one, fails with the other, and sometimes you just shake you head, brush off your knees, and try again. It is tough. However, parenting provides meaning to our lives. We want to do what we can to lead and model the best way we know how. It provides meaning that is hard to put into words, but there are many moments when happiness is the feeling we experience.

This is same for teaching and coaching. They all go hand in hand.

It is really like trying to build IKEA furniture and scratching your head with the instructions. They don’t make sense so you go your own way in hopes it turns out right and when it does you feel proud.

The other idea that stood out to me is that money is not what motivates us. We continue to push this myth into the workplace and society, but really people just want to be acknowledged and appreciated for their work. It is as simple as that. If we know that many of our motivations “spring from trying to conquer a sense of helplessness and reclaim even a tiny modicum of control over our lives”, then we must realize that in order to help people move forward they need encouragement. Criticism and negativity does not work and will kill motivation quickly.

I encourage you to read the book. It is worth your time. I skimmed some parts faster than others because it did not apply to me personally, but being a short read you can gain what you need in just a few hours.

Check out this Amazon deal: Payoff by Dan Ariely 


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How To Download Facebook Live Videos to Desktop

Have you ever been on Facebook and came across a video and wanted to download it to either share with others, use in the classroom, move over into a blog post, or for any other of the hundred reasons?

There are several ways to do this, but I have found one that is simple and quite easy to do that requires minimal work and effort.

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The Truth

Don't Fight Your Body or Mind

  1. Don’t copy others – Don’t try be someone else. In order to prevent copying others you must understand who you are. Don’t fight yourself. If you are not a morning person, then don’t force yourself. If you are a night owl, then embrace being up at night. Listen to your body and plan your success and details of your day accordingly.
  2. Study Your Pain – When you push yourself you reach new levels of tolerance and pain. This is what you must study. Not where you are comfortable. Pain is your compass for you to gauge where your potential is. Most people underestimate themselves. They don’t give enough credit to how strong and creative they actually are.
  3. Repeat what you enjoy doing, modify what you don’t. – Pretty simple logically. You cannot just stop everything cold turkey. You need to experience life and be happy, but you have to look at what is not working and fix it. One idea to is to think about what is it that you wish you could stop doing and plan to do the exact opposite.
  4. Turn bad days into good days – You will mess up and you will fall short of your goals. Don’t give up. Never give up. You have to adjust. It is all about your reaction to the situation. These tests of failure test your passion to the goal of reaching your target. If you want it bad enough you will find a way.
  5. Develop a vision of yourself. Who do you want to be? First, create a vision of that ideal version of you. Second, grab some inspiration. Find some idols, mark you channels of motivation online, read your books. Build up your library. Third, get to work. Move into action and start to get things done. Fourth, finish. You are now the marker of your success. You have one mission and this is to complete your challenge you have designed for yourself.
  6. Don’t get stuck on URGENT. Move onward to IMPORTANT. Every moment in our lives we could justify something that is urgent and needs to get done NOW! We must realize that most of the time these items are fake impersonation of important. Rather, they just clutter our lives with appearing to be busy. The problem is that because of all these urgent matters at hand we never get to important and fail to reach our goals. Essentially, don’t fool yourself by bragging how busy you are. That is a joke of a method to displaying how important you are. Instead, stop doing for just doing. Pick the right stuff. Do the right items on your list. Focus on what is essential. Apply the Derek Sivers Hell Yes method.
  7. Set Limits on Yourself. This does not mean reducing your goals. In order to achieve your dreams you have to set limits. You are not able to do everything. You are not some cyborg robot that can work 24/7. You are human. Turn things down. Say no. Close the small doors and wait for that opportunity. I cannot tell you what the process is to make these decisions(see #1), but focusing on no more than 3 items tends to be a great place to start.
  8. Schedule time for yourself. You need your own space. Schedule it on your calendar. Your calendar is more than scheduling other people’s time. Schedule your own. Treat yourself right. If you don’t take care of yourself, then you cannot take of others.
  9. To Do List – people love checking off boxes, but many times we can easily remove 90% of what is on our list. They are not essential. They are meaningless tasks. Instead try the why to do. Why are you doing these things? If you cannot give a purposeful reason give it the old scratch off and move on. Trust me it will always be there later if you feel it is indeed of importance. Don’t get distracted with being busy for the sake of being busy. Getting things done is not essential. Getting things done for you is important.

Remember, the most powerful thing you can wear is confidence.

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Smart Home AND Smart Classrooms

I have been experimenting with both Google Home and Amazon Echo for a while now. I love them. My kids each have a Dot and I think that this is just the start to smarter homes and more productive lives.

I was thinking the other day about Smart Homes and more importantly Smart Classrooms……

Are we creating a learning environment that challenges students in the correct way? If every classroom was equipped with a Google Home or Amazon Echo for students and teachers to use during class, during tests, and basically at any point in the learning, then are the challenges we are working to solve challenging enough?

My 5 year old daughter will hammer these devices with questions of curiosity. Do we entice the same curiosity in our classrooms where we can allow machines to do the low level work so we can dig deeper into thought, problem solving, and learning?

I challenge you to take out a test or assessment and ask one of these devices the questions you are posing. If they can answer, then what will you change? If they cannot answer them, then how will you take this opportunity to push to new levels of exciting learning?

Let us make sure we are not simply giving answers, but giving great problems to solve. Enough of the tech police, banning the use of cell phones, computers, and whatever tool is the choice at the moment and instead develop situations that these tools are simply tools to push to new levels of thought. Perhaps our fear of tech lies more in the idea that we fear our work is not good enough as opposed to tech actually being bad.

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January Bullet Journal Walkthrough

Video Notes

This is my walkthrough to the setup of my 2017 bullet journal to help me stay focused and productive in 2017. My goal is to take all I have learned from doing this last year to streamlining the system to make it work for me.

Moleskine Two-Go Notebook Medium Ruled by Moleskine for $19.32

AmazaPens Fineliner Coloring Pens Premium by AmazaPens

Crazy Aaron’s – Super Magnetic Tidal Wave by Crazy Aaron’s for $16.50

Patterned Washi Tape Set by Fun Express for $8.49

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