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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2 Essential Books To Read on Learning

I have not blogged about books in a very long time. It is weird how one goes through phases in their learning journey. It was not that long ago when I blogged about books I read on an almost daily basis.

Recently, I have read two books that I believe are really important to help educators and schools revisit some key ideas about learning as well as pushing the thinking forward.

First and foremost I have not forgotten that most teachers barely have any time to read anymore and if they do it is for pleasure and getting away from the grind of teaching. These two books are short reads, easy to process, and neither one really has to be read from front to back. You pick a topic and explore.

The first one is Lessons for LifePractice Learning by Ginger Lewman. I recently had her on my podcast. This book focuses and centers around project based learning, but in essence it is all about how to be practical and moving education and learning to the real world, right now. The ideas in the book don’t require a monumental shift. Your admin won’t go crazy and you won’t lose your job. However, what you will do is begin to change your classroom where kids are excited to learn even more than they are now.

I recently read her latest book and after reading the book, scribbling mass notes in the margins, and being reminded about the key things we must be doing in schools I want to make sure more people know about this book.


I won’t go into great detail about the book as I really think you should read it yourself. She even mentioned on the podcast that it was written to be processed small doses.

Here a list of my favorite ideas from the book

  1. A one full school day project that is started and finished in one day. I want to do this so bad that I almost wet myself thinking about it.
  2. The importance of soft and hard deadlines
  3. The topic of assessment and when to do it and whether it is always the best method
  4. The importance of the launch of a project and what are you going to do with the students who are not impressed?
  5. How to group students?
  6. The power of a midpoint regrouping of the project
  7. Wow’s, How’s, and Bow’s – my favorite idea of the whole book

If you are just experimenting with project based learning or if you feel as if your projects have grown stagnant then I would highly encourage you to read this book.

My second required reading suggestion is STEAM Makers by Jacie Maslyk. I believe I have more words highlighted in green than non highlighted. This book really helped me to frame what I needed to think about when it comes to makerspaces and STEM. It helped me grapple with some of the practical ideas that are hard for teachers to put into place with all the expectations on their plates.


What I love about this book is how she acknowledges the accountability and pressures of teachers, but helps to push them forward by not using it as an excuse to do nothing. We know the world is changing along with the job market. It is time we push more and more to do the things we know in our hearts are best for kids.

Some of the key ideas that really stood out to me

  1. The importance of leadership from administration. If we want change makers in our students and teachers, then we need leaders who are willing to support this. If you have an admin that is not supportive, then I recommend sending them this book or Innovator’s Mindset as a Christmas present
  2. Role of Facilitator – this idea is not new but exploring how to shift our teaching practice to make sure we are actually doing so.
  3. All the practical examples of how schools are actually doing all of this. It is great to scan and check the resources to see that not only is she talking about it, but people are actually doing it. I have already implemented like three ideas and will continue to add more.
  4. Failure – don’t cringe. The way she addresses failure is spot on.
  5. The scale up process about how a school started small and continued to build. These stories are important.

Both books have so much more to offer, but you have to read them. I encourage you track these books down and give them a try. If you read them and want to chat let me know. I love talking books. Heck, we could chat as a podcast.

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What To Do When It’s Your Turn by Seth Godin

I have yet to read anything by Seth Godin that I don’t love. His most recent book, What To Do When It’s Your Turn, is nothing short but amazing.

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As much I believe that reading is essential to growing as a human being, I also believe in the power of sharing and connecting what we are learning.

I am trying something new. I want to share this book with you. All you have to do is reach out to me letting me know you are interested.

Once we connect here is what will happen.

1. I will mail you the book and the Muji notebook. All I ask is that you cover shipping costs which will be quite minimal.

2. Read the book, highlight, write your ideas in the book and the notebook, and share with instructions provided.

3. When finished reading either send the book to the next person or back to me to get ready for the next reader.

4. If the book was of any value all I ask is that you donate what you like(it can be zero if you wish) to my Pencils of Promise campaign to build a school.

In the end a lot of people will benefit from YOU trying to enhance your learning and thinking. It is a win win for everyone.

Check out the video for more information. I am looking forward to sending this book off to the first person.

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Coffeechug Book Consumption Week #3

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Blue Gold by Elizabeth Stewart

A book that deals with some very heavy global issues of: child labor, cultural conflict, human trafficking, the price of technology, sweat shops, and digital responsibility. This book weaves the stories of three girls from three different continents and their lives which are all dependent on cell phones or more importantly a substance(coltan) used to make cell phones. What humans have done to either exploit or deny the real issues at hand are exposed in this book. I became quite intrigued to know more about all three situations and to educate myself on what is really going on in the world. The way in which the author addresses these heavy topics in a storyline that keeps a reader engaged is quite a feat. This book is one that would lead to some really fantastic book club discussions. I could not help but a project based learning unit around this book with a driving question of “Is the human price of technology worth the perks?”


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Girls Standing on Lawns

Simple, yet powerful book. A collection of art and photographs from the Museum of Modern Art. Pages are minimal with one image/artwork and few words. These images represent an arrange of emotions and time periods. I read through this twice thinking about the images of my own life. The images where I was mad for my parents taking pictures of us. The times I refused to smile. The times I was full of smiles. Time evolves. The world moves on. We change as the world changes. More importantly, do we recognize small glimpses of our life that shed light on more stories from own personal journey? This is what the book inspired me to think about as I studied the images of these women.

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The Art of Start

Who doesn’t love Guy Kawasaki? I read this book with the idea of taking the business ideas and applying to the education world. This was not as easy as I had hoped. A lot of great content with many exercises and questions to process. I took away some key ideas that apply to anyone, anywhere. Mostly, have a plan, but don’t wait for a perfect plan to get started. You don’t have to wait until you are big and massive to get organized. Do this right away. Find the right people. Get Started. Most importantly, be clear and concise and eliminate all fluff and things not needed. Stay on track, chart your progress and make changes as you see fit to reach your goals.

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 10.42.29 AMThe Book of Five Rings: Graphic Novel

I love reading ancient texts of martial arts, warriors, and the like because I find in their articulately crafted words such great wisdom about life in general. When it all comes down to it life is about that balance and realizing that everything comes full circle. Reading this book I was reminded that we must not focus all efforts into only one thing and to clear the mind of anything that could cause confusion. The illustrations were excellent to help shape the story. Perhaps things can be said best by text from the latter part of the book.

In emptiness exists Good but no evil
Wisdom is existence
Principle is existence
The Way is existence
The mind is emptiness
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Perhaps the time of year where I focused on giving Thanks was not an ideal time to read the book. Michael Davison takes a look at all the things wrong with America and how we are ruining ourselves. Many of the ideas are nothing new if you watch the news or follow politics of any nature. As I read the book I could not help but either nod my head in agreement or disagree which is the goal of any book. I could not help but think that this is probably true no matter the time period as I don’t think we are ever really happy with government and politics.
The author does provide solutions. A key component for me when reading or discussion is that if one complains, then one must come up with solutions. I understand his solutions, but at the end of the read I think he realized along with any reader that solutions are next to impossible. There are just too many things at stake, too many fingers in the pot, and to really shift things just does not seem plausible. I found the reading engaging considering it is a book on politics which is not my cup of tea. More importantly, this book is one that would lead to high octane discussions if you wanted to risk friendships to discuss politics. As an educator it would be interesting to read this book and break down ideas and solutions with a classroom.
In the end I am thankful to live in a country where we can openly talk about these topics and that is what makes America great even if we don’t agree with every policy.
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Coffeechug Reads Frugal Isn’t Cheap

In Frugal Isn’t Cheap, Clare Levison serves up practical financial advice with a side of southern charm. Filled with real-life stories, it will challenge you to change the way you think about money.

Her message is deceptively simple and clear: it’s cool to be smart about your money; it’s stylish to be sensible rather than overindulgent; financial stability is more glamorous than extravagance. But cut up the credit cards? No way. Levison prefers to promote responsibility rather than abstinence. She takes a realistic approach to personal finance that we can all live with, including:

  • How to find and nurture your frugal side
  • Why you don’t need to cut up your credit cards
  • The simple formula for financial success
  • The Savings Challenge, 20%
  • The best ways to make large purchases

Coffeechug Thoughts(buy the book on my Book Table Page)

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A great read! This book was quite helpful. I have been reading several books on helping to improve finances and debt. After reading books by Dave Ramsey this book was good to compare. I found the simplicity of the tips in this book more manageable than ideas by Dave Ramsey although very similar to the overall ideas. The key is to be honest with yourself and make practical decisions. I don’t agree with everything, but using the tips in this book makes life better on track. I really like the Have To and I’d Rather columns for the budget.

Short and simple and helpful which is what you want when trying to make changes in your life. Change is not easy, but gaining some common sense tips can help the journey.


The key tips I like

1. Coupons for only things you use. Don’t buy because coupons are good deals if you don’t use the product. For us it is just about actually using coupons.

2. I love this quote “Instead of spending time accumulating more, spend your time taking good care of hate things you already have.”

3. Budget your expenses into two columns “Have To” and “I’d Rather” columns to see how you are spending your money and make necessary changes.

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Coffeechug Reads Letters to a Young Poet

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 7.35.33 AMBook Overview

Rilke’s timeless letters about poetry, sensitive observation, and the complicated workings of the human heart.

Born in 1875, the great German lyric poet Rainer Maria Rilke published his first collection of poems in 1898 and went on to become renowned for his delicate depiction of the workings of the human heart. Drawn by some sympathetic note in his poems, young people often wrote to Rilke with their problems and hopes. From 1903 to 1908 Rilke wrote a series of remarkable responses to a young, would-be poet on poetry and on surviving as a sensitive observer in a harsh world. Those letters, still a fresh source of inspiration and insight, are accompanied here by a chronicle of Rilke’s life that shows what he was experiencing in his own relationship to life and work when he wrote them.

Coffeechug Thoughts

A short, but very powerful read. I read this book as it was suggested on a podcast I listened to. I have been searching for books that I connect with to motivate myself to become a better person and lead a better life. This book was wonderful to read in one sitting and really process the ideas. I was amazed by the insight shared in the letters.

Here are some of my favorite passages

“For what would aloneness be, you ask yourself, if id id no possess greatness. There exists only one aloneness, and it is great, and it is not easy to bear.” I love this quote and is something I have been focusing on as I do my digital detox to find myself in moments of quiet.

When a truly great and unique spirit speaks, the lesser ones must be silent. Franz Kappus

I end with this quote because the voice of this book is greater than mine so I had to be quiet and listen. This book is worth your time to read and reflect. I have spent much time in reflection based on passages of this book.


If you are interested in this book you can check out the link to this book and others that I recommend on my Book Table page. I will only post ones that I think are worth your time.

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The World is a Makerspace, Not a Classroom

We carry inside us the wonders we seek outside us.

 — Rumi

I have wanted to write about this idea for a few weeks, but just was not sure how to properly format the thoughts and still not sure I am going to do it justice. Here is my feeble attempt before I lose all my thoughts.

I love making. I am an avid tinkerer and have the typical coffee juiced brain where I have a million projects going on and typically don’t finish half of them. I love to create and my brain is always going. I am not sure what would happen if my brain actually slowed down. I have massive LEGO sets and pieces that we build at home and at school(see school challenge), I love Arduino, Sphero, and lately 3D printing.

Naturally, I am working on developing a makerspace in my room. I feel like we need a space like this since the days of industrial tech are no more in our schools. It does not replace the class, but it is something more than desk in rows reading textbooks.

As I have worked to develop this culture of making in our school I realize that not only do I have a long way to go, but I keep missing the students I want. I want more girls involved, I want the athletic kids, I want the kids that don’t believe in themselves.

And then I realized my whole though process is wrong. My mindset was skewed.

Let me try to explain. This summer like every summer Amanda(my wife) has a list of home improvements. We did not get to half of them, but we did get our bedroom done and moved and changed things throughout the house. One thing that she is amazing at doing is drawing inspiration from her hours on Pinterest and converting the ideas into our home. She can see a bit of an idea here and another idea there and see a wall in our house and transform it. It is a gift. I cannot do it. I see what is in the room and cannot see differently.


She has done three little projects that hit me like a ton of bricks this summer. She does not give herself any credit and really does not think it is a big deal. She is actually not too happy that I took pictures. I always tell her she needs her own board on Pinterest so she can inspire others.


Here is the key idea: She is a maker. She has taken ideas which is basically the MIT Remix concept and instead of just thinking about it and pinning it on her page, she moved to action. This is the pivotal step. Moving to ACTION and not just THINKING about it. She goes to work. She takes this and that, paints this, moves this, transforms this, and in the end we have this whole new display and decoration. It really is great.


As I was watching this unfold I came across a great post by Rafranz Davis – where she talks about makerspaces and how we don’t need this defined makerspace to make. We make all the time.

Watching my wife work I realized that we are indeed all makers. Just because it does not include a soldering iron and robotics does not mean it is not “maker”. It is sad that we have to celebrate makerspaces to draw attention to the lost art of being a kid and instilling that spirit to continue to play and tinker to see what happens.

I draw inspiration from my wife because I could probably do more ACTION. Her home is her makerspace. It is great. It is amazing and beautiful.

In education we need to take off the lens in which we view our students, our classrooms, and schools. I think we get pigeoned holed into a tunnel vision where we miss out on the amazing things that students are doing. They are making a difference. They are learning outside of the school day even if they did not turn in your worksheet. They are volunteering and helping others even if they push their friends in play. Sometimes we must remove the veteran mindset and try to see things again as if it is the first time. When we do that we will see that the world is a makerspace and we can all make amazing things. I have changed my view of makers and I hope you do too.

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Need Guidance and Feedback on Next Big Project in Education

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 7.39.20 AMI have decided to post my idea to the masses in hopes of gathering a few final insights before launching. I am stuck on a few items and need some help. I have been working through a new project idea and I need some feedback……honest feedback. Feel free to hammer it, tear it up, and let me know what you think. Tell me what you like. Tell me what sucks. I want this to work and I know it still needs some work.

Below is a link to a project that has started last year with our school and village in Africa. I am ready to crank things up a notch and move to a more massive scale and challenge not only myself, but teachers and students.

I realize I have to start small which is why we will focus on our friends in Africa(read our whole journey here , but I have a vision of more schools, more connections, and powerful projects.

If you have time please check it out and give me your honest feedback.

I am hoping to get the site launched next week and begin. I have started to post books on eBay to get the ball rolling, but it is time to go all in before school starts and this gets left behind.


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Coffeechug Reads and Does Not Read the Following

I am decluttering my life inside and out. This means that this website is undergoing change. I have eliminated a few things already(blog post coming) and one of the key things is my weekly newsletter in which I share the books I read.

The reason is that the amount of work to create this each week is not worth the time. It takes too long, causes me stress, and additionally very little people were reading the newsletter. The reason I believe is that it is just one more click and we all hate having to click more than once or twice.

I am not going to repost all the prior book reviews the last two weeks. I don’t want to drown my site with a ton of book reviews.

Instead I will just share my video reviews that I was creating. I am not sure if I will continue to make these because not many have been watching. Perhaps the newsletter for these were not ideal. I am testing to see how things go by posting them directly to the site and compare.

Here are all four videos

Find all books referenced here

As I continue to make changes in terms of streamlining this site and offering what people want please let me know what you think. I am making these decisions based on data on the site and my personal insights, but would love to provide the services that people want.

Let me know.

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Coffeechug Begins Digital Detox Retreat and #gratefulnight

photoI have been doing different things this summer to mix it up a bit. I have refrained from a lot of Twitter Chats, education book reading, research, etc. I have tried to go a different route this summer and remove myself from education and my job to give myself a breather. It has not been easy. I have found myself lost and at times in a void. I have thoroughly enjoyed spending a ton of time with my kids and family, but I don’t always feel productive. I have faith that this little experiment will pan out well for me in the long run and especially heading back to school in a few weeks.

Starting tomorrow morning around 6 am I begin my most challenging experiment yet. I am attempting a week long Digital Detox.

Here are my rules I have imposed upon myself

1. No Twitter

2. No Instagram

3. No Facebook

4. No FourSquare

5. No Social Media, online readings of blogs, or contact with others electronically besides text and phone messages to family and friends.

6. No Email

I am going to allow myself to use my computer and phone to

1. Take pictures

2. Shoot video

3. Write my ebook

4. Write up daily reflections and journal writing.

My goal here is to work on being even more in the moment. In the NOW!

I will be on short vacation and I think this sets things up to really help me.

By unplugging I am hoping to learn to better communicate with myself. I want to see the world in a different way and remember what it is like to not worry about what others are saying and posting online.

This will be my toughest challenge, but perhaps the most rewarding.

So, wish me luck. If you have tips or ideas let me have them as I have until tomorrow morning to check in.

If you reach out to me and I don’t respond understand I am not being rude, I am just detoxing my habits a bit. I will return in about a week.

Yes, I will be writing in my the journal the voyage so I hope to have a good blog post for you when I return.

Off to be in the moment!

Here are some articles I read to prepare


One more thing. I have a challenge I will be crafting and publishing when I return. It is the #gratefulnight project. While I am away from the internet start taking time each night to reflect on what you are grateful for. When I return I hope to launch a new project that will inspire and help others remember the important things in life. I will be writing down three things I am grateful for each day and when I return all the links, rules, and guidelines will be shared. Get in the habit of ending each night in a grateful mindset and be ready to share with others when I return.

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