Media (Books, Podcasts, Etc.), Other
In this post, you'll learn about the 7 traits Danny Meyer looks for when he is hiring. I share this not to improve your interview or hiring skills but because of how these traits which make people "exceptional" are mostly related to a focus on self-improvement. I'm also sharing for the simple fact that I found this topic interesting so I thought others might as well.
I'll be honest - when I saw the title of Danny Meyer's podcast episode on The Tim Ferriss Show and for the first few minutes of listening, I wasn't sure if it would be worth the time. The title is #665 - Danny Meyer, Founder of Shake Shack - How to Win, The Art of The Graceful "No," Overcoming Setbacks, The 6 Traits of Exceptional People, The 4 Quadrants of Performance, Lessons from Hospitality Excellence, and More. It's almost a "too good to be true" title and starting off without knowing Danny Meyer, I was a bit skeptical to start, thinking he was just a CEO who thinks he knows all and sells his advice to self-help junkies. To my surprise and gladly so, I was mistaken.
Danny is certainly experienced - he is the founder of Shake Shack as well as the founder and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, a restaurant group currently operating a dozen different restaurants in New York City. From listening to this episode, you learn that Danny really cares about slow growth while putting his employees first and having a strong focus on hospitality. He states that the hospitality business is "a virtuous cycle where one input leads to something even better. So if you want to have really happy customers, they shouldn't be the input. You should have really happy employees, which I think leads to a greater chance you're going to have really happy customers" and then states how this in the end leads to happy investors.
His perspective makes the whole episode worth listening to but in this short post, I want to share the part the stuck out most to me and that is Danny's 7 traits that he looks for in his employees that makes them extraordinary. And they are:
1. Kind Eyes
This was glossed over in the podcast with not much added context but I think it comes with more than just the eyes. Someone's overall energy (whether they are friendly, fun, etc.) comes through their appearance and so, especially in the business of hospitality where first impressions are very important, you can see why he would look for this.
Most workplaces would agree, that they don't want to hire someone who is a know-it-all. Confidence is one thing but you need to be willing to learn first. Danny's big question he asks himself when interviewing is if the individual sees themselves as a finished product or if they are going to take opportunities to learn and improve.
In interviews, Danny scales the empathy of future employees by asking the question:
On a scale from 1-10, tell me how lucky you are.
An employee in hospitality should likely answer this question by going into how much they care about how they make others feel through their work. This is another trait that would be key to the restaurant business especially but in any business, it's good to be aware of how others are affected by things on an emotional level. Despite how much of a business operates on work, logic, and rationality, people by nature are emotional beings and this will always play a large factor.
4. Work Ethic
The questions I have gotten in interviews that relate to this are ones that prompt you to explain a project where you had to go above and beyond and the outcome of doing so.
Work ethic I'm sure is a difficult one to see in an interview conversation but it is an obvious essential. If you aren't willing to work hard to deliver a good product, why would someone want to hire you?
Danny's question for this in interviews is:
What is the single biggest misconception people have about you?
There are many things that could be asked to test self-awareness - really any question on personality or asking about areas they've noticed they needed to improve on but this is certainly a more creative question than that typical, "What is your biggest weakness," question that nobody likes (especially if they're interviewing for a job they have no experience in).
From my little time as a manger, I can't speak with too much authority but I believe being able to reflect so that you can know where you can improve and how others see you in your role is really what seems to make a good employee a great one in the long run.
This is another trait which Danny has a specific question for:
What is something that happened to you before the age of 12 that has changed your life forever?
This question is a clever one for integrity/trust but it forces a deep, authentic answer because it is likely unexpected and would be something personal they're willing to share with others. I would think this trait is probably one of the toughest to gauge in an interview because (for me, at least) it can take a while to know to know how much you can trust someone, even after working with them for a while. But it is certainly essential.
7. Love to Win
This trait was added during the episode of The Tim Ferriss Podcast mentioned above and he stated this is the only thing missing from his other 6 which are tried-and-true in his business. He describes how their are 3 types of winners:
The 3rd type seems to be the winners that he's looking for because he states:
“…I know that I want to be the best and I can’t do it by myself so I’ve got to stock my team with people who look at every day as an opportunity – not for perfection because I think perfection is stupid, it’s impossible, it’s a recipe for unhappiness – but I do look for people who look at every day as an opportunity to honor whatever they did yesterday and figure out how to do it a little bit better today, that’s the journey of success.”
I personally would say the 7th trait didn't need to be added because it is a culmination of the others. No matter what your career is, most of these traits are ones that are beneficial for all of us to work on. #2, 4, 5, and 6 are traits I can see all workplaces having in their top 10, the others I see as best in the hospitality business - they're still beneficial for all but may not make the top 10. Those same traits (#2, 4, 5, and 6) all relate to self-improvement since working on them benefits us, no matter who you are.
As Danny says, "I don't want know-it-alls, I want learn-it alls." Don't ever lost curiosity or stop learning. Curiosity is also the trait that Walter Isaacson seems to arrive at most when comparing the exceptional people he has written about (Steve Jobs, Leondardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, etc.).
In order to make real progress, you have to work hard and stay disciplined. It's very easy for us to fall back to things that are comforting but it's important we stay focused. This is why work ethic is key.
Self-awareness is all about reflection and so is self-improvement. We need to take the time to take note of where we can use improvement before doing the work. Most people just don't take the time to reflect; I can't blame them because most people are overwhelmed by career and/or family matters.
And integrity/trust you build by keeping your promises and being there for the support of others, even when they don't know it. Great things can't be accomplished alone, they require a team, so if you want to work with people you can trust, you have to able to show that they can trust you as well.
That's why I wanted to share these traits here - not for hiring purposes but so we can focus on what traits are most valuable in our own lives and reflect on what we can do to be better.
Thank you for reading! I'd love to hear if you have any comments; drop them below. If you're not already subscribed but would like to be, head over to the Contact Page, provide your email, and you'll receive updates from me when new posts are up and news on other projects I'm working on!
I realize it has been a bit since I've posted last -- I've been working on a much bigger writing project and making pretty good progress (hint, hint).
This weeks' post is a quick one but I hope you find it valuable. Through my research, I always hear recommendations of other books, websites, etc. to check out and there are a couple websites I feel everyone should know...
One of the keys to living healthy is eating fresh foods. By buying our food locally, we are not only benefitting our health but our community as well. LocalHarvest.org is a fantastic resource for finding local farms, CSAs, farmers markets, and stands near you and seeing what they offer if you live anywhere in the United States. I live in a relatively remote area but it's amazing how many local resources there are around me that I would have never known about without this website.
Whether you're looking for fresh eggs, meat, vegetables, honey, meat, maple syrup, you name it - you should be able to find a local resource if not multiple options through this site. If you are looking for a farm/CSA to get food from regularly, many farms provide information on when you can tour their land so you really know where the food is coming from and how the animals there are treated.
I highly suggest checking it out. You'd be doing your community service by supporting local farmers and yourself a service by getting fresh, organic foods. You can also easily find grass-fed beef, pasture-raised pork, free range chicken and eggs, and other high quality foods through this resource.
Thank you, Ben Greenfield, for showing me this website. I believe I first discovered it in his book, Beyond Training.
Another key to having good health is obviously water. According to Shawn Stevenson, here are the best sources of water in order:
FindASpring.com is a resource that can be used all around the world (especially in North America or Europe) to find a natural spring near you. I just discovered this resource recently - I've used it near where I live and when I've traveled but have not a had a spring near me yet. But when I do, I will report back.
Thank you, Shawn Stevenson, for letting me know about this website and I look forward to using it.
Check out those resources and let me know what you think in the comments. If you end up using one of them to get fresh food or water, definitely share your experience!
This is an unusual post - normally I cover specific topics on nutrition, fitness, or inspiration to help others on their self-improvement journeys. If this is the first post you read, I encourage you to look at one of my other recent posts:
If you enjoyed it enough to subscribe so that you get notified of new posts or news about the blog, head over to my Contact Page! Thank you for reading!
Guest Post - Written by April Shwe-Paul
I'm April Shwe-Paul, a Success Mindset & Purpose Coach from Auckland, New Zealand. I help ambitious people find clarity on what true success looks like and help them in achieving their goals. My YouTube Channel is all about self-development, where I share knowledge and expertise specifically in the area of mindset so that I can improve the quality of your life.
We are currently in uncertain times and the next few years will certainly bring more challenges and curveballs our way. While we can't control what happens in the world and external forces that affect us, we have control over how we react to it.
Here is a brief summary of my top 7 tips on how to manage stress given in the video above...
Getting out of your head and into your body is a great way to manage your state in stressful situations. Walking, hiking or getting out in nature will have a profound and positive impact on your mental state.
Meditation allows you to be more present and live in the moment instead of worrying about future scenarios. This trains your brain to be more patient, learn to stay in the present, and to focus on what you can control.
Meditation also help you be more relaxed. So the more stressed out you are, the longer you should meditate.
3. Perspective Change
Having a perspective change is really helpful to look at situations more objectively. I always think about the big picture when I encounter a stressful situation and ask myself questions that help me snap out of the downward spiral.
For instance, I'll ask myself questions like: “If you were given a month left to live, is this really that big of a problem in your life?” Questions like this help bring perspective and center my thoughts on what is really important.
Do a brain dump into your journal to help you manage stressful situations. Getting your thoughts on paper can help you realize how irrational some of your thoughts are. More importantly, journaling gives you an opportunity to address some of those issues. Once you’re able to prioritize your problems to resolve, you can create a step-by-step action plan to address them.
5. Take Care of Your Well-being
Look after your overall well-being. It's easy to neglect our health when we feel stressed but in order to overcome obstacles in our lives, we must be in a good state to tackle them. Having a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and drinking enough water are all keys to taking care of yourself.
6. Hugs & Talking to Friends
There's scientific proof that hugs help you manage stress. Oxytocin is produced when you hug someone. Oxytocin is a hormone that has been shown to reduce blood pressure and it also counters norepinephrine (the stress hormone). So embracing someone can boost both your mental and physical health.
On top of all that, talking to someone you trust who has an outside perspective can help you have a better perspective on your situation.
7. Focus on What You Can Control
Don't just focus on the outcome. Make sure to also focus on what you can control in the moment. Look at things as a learning experience rather than looking at it from an outcome perspective.
Asking yourself questions focused on empowering solutions can help with this. For instance, ask questions like:
I decided to reach out to April because I found her content valuable and thought you would as well! April provides great information in creative ways through her Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube Channel.
Follow her content if you enjoyed this post and let her know your thoughts in the comments below!
About, Other, Personal
As you may know, I recently announced my upcoming book which should be complete by the start of next year. The purpose of this post is to give you an idea of what exactly the book is about and how it will be formatted. This book is a series of biographies that includes all of the experts that I've researched as well as all of the tips and tricks that I discovered while doing my research. The list of experts involved, a quick description of their backgrounds, and the amount of research done on each of them can be seen in my About Twelve Paths Page. All are involved in health and fitness in some fashion, whether they are nutritionists, physical therapists, or strength and conditioning coaches. Each biography is between 10-15 pages long, describing the following:
The purpose of the book is to take everything I've learned from these individuals over the past couple years of deep research and spell it all out to help you learn how you can improve your health and fitness and possibly find experts that you would like to follow as well.
Below, I will share with you the current version of the "From the Author" introduction of the book...
If you have any comments or questions, please comment below. I'd really appreciate any input you might have. I have all of the biographies written and am currently working on the final editing, formatting, etc.
If you have not already, please help me in deciding a title of my book by clicking this link.
If you know others who would be interested in this book or blog, share the post on. You can also subscribe to my blog by going to my Contact Page and entering your email address. I do not spam subscribers but simply let them know when new posts are up or if there is big news related to the blog.
Thank you for reading!
Sleep seems to be a reoccurring theme that almost all of the modern health experts I've researched make sure to cover in their books. Science has shown how sleep has a strong influence in both your mind and body's daily functions. In my Recommended Books' tab, you can find a great book on this topic - Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson. Sleep, food, and exercise are enormous factors on your hormones, which in turn dramatically affect your health.
"You likely need to prioritize sleep more than our overachieving, productivity-obsessed culture would have you believe." - Ben Greenfield's Beyond Training p. 224
"Research shows that even a single night of poor sleep can interfere with your performance in the gym, and two nights is enough to ruin it. Multiple studies have also clearly demonstrated that athletes who get enough sleep perform the best." - Michael Matthews' Bigger Leaner Stronger p. 108
For the past month or so, I have been recording my sleep cycles as much as possible with my Apple Watch. Below is a slideshow showing the data from the app I use, Pillow. I'll take a look at 10 days that were least interrupted and seemed to follow a typical pattern.
One important thing to note is how the Apple Watch creates this data - by taking your heart rate throughout the night. My typical heart range during sleep, according to the watch, ranges from 45-90bpm. Low heart rates are categorized as "Deep Sleep", higher heart rates are categorized as "Light Sleep" and "REM" is usually in between, and I'm assuming the watch assumes I am in REM based on the amount of time I have been asleep and when my heart rate is in a particular range.
Here is a part of Shawn Stevenson's book Sleep Smarter that describes your sleep cycles and gives tips on how to use this information to your advantage:
Here are some the takeaways I got from looking at this data:
Shawn's Sleep Hack
Something that I did not know before reading this book is what Shawn describes on the pages I posted above - the fact that you can feel groggy when you wake up, even if it is after a long period of sleep based on what cycle you wake up in. Waking up when you are at a low heart rate/deep sleep will make you feel like crap, while waking up during a closer to normal heart rate/light sleep is prime time.
I have used this hack before of setting my alarm clock for 6 hours on the dot and this really worked for me! I tested it multiple times and felt great waking up. I know not every sleep cycle is the same, they range from 60-90 minutes, but this is definitely one hack I like to use. Because sleep cycles are inconsistent, a better idea is using an app that wakes you up in your lightest sleep state during the wake up time-frame you establish. I have not tried this and am not sure if I will because I don't plan on sleeping with my watch on every night.
Conclusion/Other Sleep Tips and Tools
To be honest, I don't feel like I got too much valuable information from looking at this app besides that I like seeing how much deep sleep I get each night. But overall, the information is not consistent enough for me to get much else. I was hoping to establish cycles so I would know specific times I am in light sleep, REM, and deep sleep but this information will not help me gauge that.
From what I have heard, the Apple Watch is not very accurate when it comes to detecting heart rate but it is the only tool I have. Tech experts usually suggest either a chest strap like Polar's heart rate monitor or a Garmin watch.
The only thing that usually keeps me from falling asleep within minutes of hitting the pillow is heat. Something I've been doing recently is a cold bath that lasts for about 15 minutes, about 30 minutes before I head to bed. Body temperature is a huge factor related to sleep and heart rate. I have heard of several other benefits of cold thermogenesis but this is the most noticeable one for me so far - even if my room is warm, my body is nice and cool and I can get to sleep fast.
I just want to share a really cool study done by UConn in 2015.
If you don't want to geek out like me and actually look at the data and the results, I'll give a summary..
This study was named the FASTER study (Fat Adapted Substrate use in Trained Elite Runners) and was conducted by Jeff Volek, a physician who has a clinically proven method of reversing type 2 diabetes using the ketogenic diet alone (no medications or surgery).
They took 20 of America's top-performing ultra-marathoners (for instance, Ironman triathletes that are in the top 10%) between 21-45 years old, 10 were "high-carb" athletes who ate 59% carbs, 14% protein, and 25% fat while 10 were "low-carb" athletes who ate 10% carbs, 19% protein, and 70% fats. This study was well-controlled, well-monitored, and definitely very invasive with blood removed, fat removed, and even some muscle clipped and removed for testing. What makes this study unique is that all of the low-carb athletes were on this low-carb diet for an average of 20 months (ranging from 9 months to 36 months) so, in theory, they were fat-adapted. This study really shows what it means to be "fat-adapted" - you won't see these results in high-carb athletes who decide to try low-carb for a day, or even a couple months.
The most significant result of this study is the amount of fat oxidation (or fat-burning) that was done by fat-adapted athletes versus the high-carb athletes.
"The average contribution of fat during exercise in the LC (low-carb) and HC (high-carb) groups were 88% and 56% respectively." Even two hours after the workout, the low-carb athletes showed high levels of fat-burning. They also showed higher levels of ketones (obviously), glycerol, fatty acids, and triglycerides during activity. Lastly, they found no significant differences in glycogen use during exercise or glycogen creation during recovery.
Bottom line, this study really shows how athletes have the "ability to utilize a stable, abundant source of fuel in the form of beat-hydroxybutyrate" by becoming fat-adapted. So it shoots down the idea that you NEED carbs to perform at your peak level. Rather than destroying your body with pizza and coca-cola, you can stay healthy with eggs, a nice fatty steak, and coconut oil being your fuel and be breaking personal records.
So, since I started my point system workout plan and nutrition plan, I think this is the longest break I've had. I decided to take a 3-day break after Saturday. I didn't have any more of an intense workout than usual but after the workout, I was also outside - longboarding, running, jumping, (a little bit of drinking), etc. and ended up super sore on Sunday. Even my neck, I had a strange sore feeling in my neck and almost started to think something was seriously wrong until it finally a noticeable amount of the sore feeling went away around noon today. I may have been overworking myself in my workouts so it was about time I took a break. I plan on starting to schedule 3-day breaks from workouts every 8 weeks, where my only workout will be some stretching and self-massages with balls and rollers to make sure I'm not overtraining. This is also something advised by Ben Greenfield in his book Beyond Training - I'm finding a lot of helpful advice from this book, the amount of knowledge he has from researching other experts and from his own clients is wild.
I also ended this break with a 22hr fast followed by a bunch of sushi - the only thing I eat that has rice and I'll have once every couple weeks. My blood-glucose level at the end of this fast was 72 mg/dL, which is the highest it has been at the end of a fast. My past 2 readings after fasting 21.5 and 22hrs before were 68 mg/dL and 70 mg/dL, respectively. My heart rate during this period was the same as usual, minus the 130-145bpm spikes during workouts.
Another new thing that I added is a green superfood blend. Specifically, this is Amazing Grass's Organic Supergreens Blend and 1 tbsp = a 2 cup mixture of wheat grass, kale, moringa, and spirulina. I plan on having 1 tbsp a day. I have at least 1 salad each day, which would be about half a bag of greens you would get from the grocery store and this added dose each day should bring me to 1 full bag of leafy greens each day. This advice I'm taking mainly from Dr. Steven Gundry - a former world renown heart surgeon turned dietician, but Ben Greenfield and Shawn Stevenson also regularly advise using blends like this.
Soon, I'm going to have to adjust/add to my supplements list. Peter Attia and Ben Greenfield highly advise creatine for almost everyone (at least 5g/day). Ben and Shawn Stevenson also suggest topical magnesium because mostly everyone is deficient and this helps with bone density. Another great tool for increasing bone density would be a rebounder, a small trampoline to bounce on, so I may get this rather than starting to take magnesium. Before I start spending more money on supplements and/or equipment, I feel I should structure my workout schedule...
It's been tough not to do any workouts the past few days but I'm pumped to wake up tomorrow, squat and swing some kettlebells and do some push ups before work.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.