Stupid Human Tricks!

Stupid Human Tricks

On Episode 205 of Joe Polish’s “I Love Marketing” podcast he did an interview with myself and three other entrepreneurs on a plane ride from St. Louis, MO to Manchester, NH. This is the third in a series of stories where I will dive a little deeper into the answers I gave to the questions Joe asked. His third question to the group was, “Stupid human tricks…so what are your unique abilities? What are the things that you have learned how to do, that as you make it up and make it real, this is like your skill set that you apply and that you have developed. Talk about not only what it is but how did you actually developed it. Did you fall into this success, was it arduous, did you have to go through numerous failures? A little bit about how you got into doing what you are doing and what is it that you do that has allowed you to be successful? Are you great at selling? Writing? Public speaking? Managing teams? What is it that you consider you are pretty damn awesome at this?”

To answer this question I talked about three top rituals that came to mind that have become a way of life for me…


The first one, oddly enough, was giving — as in making donations to “win” experiences that I was somehow passionately attached to. I have been a roadie for a day for The Who, I did firefighter training for a day with the New York Fire Department Training Division on Randalls Island, and so on. These are a couple of examples where the experience itself, and a deeper appreciation, was ‘all’ I took home. However, there are other examples like “Give your child a priceless gift: reading time with actor LeVar Burton” via the National Press Club’s Ellen Masin Persina Scholarship Fund that have turned into real businesses. A donation to the Carol Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund to have lunch on the set of Stargate Atlantis changed my entire career path and led me to helping found a business which has become the amazing Bron Studios and related group of companies. My work with the XPRIZE Foundation has turned into a number of passive investment opportunities that I would have never discovered otherwise, including a significant stake in the “Space 2.0” sector. All of these examples have one thing in common — there was no upfront intent of ever getting more involved beyond the initial contact. Yet, what I have discovered completely by accident, is that the act of giving has a high chance of making connections with extremely passionate and competent people doing amazing things. Further, sometimes those amazing things and talent cross over enough with my personal interests to spark something special that grows over time. As a small seed can grow into a mighty oak tree these moments of giving have come to change my entire life. These unplanned events have become the foundation of a more subtle core philosophy as well — the things I look forward to the most when a new year starts are those hidden behind doors I cannot even name when the year begins. Listen to the universe, it is taking to you. It will not tell you what is coming but if you enable yourself to hear what it is saying your life will become magical.


Stupid human trick number two for me is the counter intuitive thought of setting my bar for success very low. This may seem like an odd way to become awesome at something but think about it this way — when you take on a seminar, a conference, read a book, have a failure, etc, you are usually overwhelmed with a mass of good ideas for possibly improving your life or business going forward.

What I do is look for the one thing that I can take home with me to my life or business and truly implement it well. Of course, this concept assumes you are constantly feeding yourself ideas for improvement from various sources — without that in place you are really rolling the dice for an all or nothing outcome for the rest of your life! The great part about looking for just one thing is that it is easy to build on. The magic is looking back, years, and years, and years later and seeing how far you have come. No, you do not need to limit yourself to literally just one good idea but do keep it to an absolute minimum ensure your odds of implementation are extremely high. Remember: Ideas are worthless, everything — and I mean everything — is hanging on execution.

Gary Vaynerchuk: Nobody Cares About Your “Billion Dollar Idea”

I am usually pretty good at picking out moments in life when a new perspective is created for me but this one is a little hazy to me. My guess would be going back all the way to 1998 when I went to my first Tony Robbins seminar. Unleash the Power Within (UPW) was an experience that lasted 50 hours and ran across 4 days. It was an overwhelming amount of life changing content — yes, he even offers life coaching as an add-on to the program just to help keep your momentum going. For me, however, the trick was taking home just a couple of key factors for my life, as it was at that time, and doing my best to push them as deep as possible. The result was that overwhelming feeling was gone and it instead turned into the excitement of true progress. One, step, at, a, time.


The last stupid human trick is something that I will quote Tony Robbins to introduce (yes, I owe that man a lot), “A life worth living is a life worth recording.” A daily journal is something I have been doing for more than 15 years — and I mean literally a daily journal. Whether it is a sentence or a number of paragraphs it’s been wonderful to be able to. Something that’s changed in me is living a life of gratitude. I am fortunate that Over the course of a year now so many things happen it is hard to place those events in perspective because I am so focused in what I am trying to do or what is happening at the moment. With the journal at hand I have looked back at the end of every year and have been able to take in how really far the journey has been. No, for those reading carefully it did not start with UPW in 1998 — a journal was not one of the top take home target for my life at that time. Further, life was filled with a lot fewer moments when I started as compared to where it is today.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. — Steve Jobs

It is great to look back on all of the good, however, if you are brutally honest with yourself a journal can also be a great ‘mirror’ for checking in with yourself when change is needed. Character development makes for a great film — use it to write the script of your life as well.

Taking the circle very tight, just to my own family… for me it’s weird — people joke that we must have been in the witness protection program because we have a box of three photos from my father’s early life. There is really not much history there. His parents came from Europe so beyond his parents there really is no family history that I am aware of. The story on my mother’s side is only marginally better. Amazingly there is a photo of my mother’s entire family posing together before some of her brothers were off to war. That’s like the crown jewels as compared to my father’s side. Now, however, the gift I can give to my children, through this daily journal and all of the wonderful ability to record everything we do today in photos or in other ways like blogging and so on, is they can see a window to a life I have never had the opportunity to see in my own parents.

During the interview Joe goes on to explain how he values recording knowledge and how people might be listening to these words 400 years from now. (I personally think that is quite a stretch though maybe some form of AI will be taking all of this in!) He also mentions that he doesn’t even know what his mother’s voice sounds like anymore referencing silent film. Now when I take one photo on a high end camera it is capturing more data than my first Macintosh, with the optional external hard drive, was able to store. Where “Moore’s law” will take the generation ahead is truly something science fiction cannot even begin to predict with any meaningful accuracy.

To summarize, I do it for myself but I know the side benefit of it is for the longer term of others. How I became able to journal everyday is the story of a slow boil the idea I probably first heard about at the same UPW seminar in 1998. It may have not been a priority then but it was somehow placed in my mind as something that made sense to do. Though it seems like a long time, looking back it was really only three short years later when it finally became that ‘one thing’ I wanted to change in my life. Ever since then I cannot imagine living a life without it.

(Originally posted on Medium)