#38 - Conversation with Dr. Jeff Tyus

1) Getting to Know Students

During the conversation I had with Dr. Tyus, he emphasized the importance of getting to know students. 

It’s one thing to call on students when they raise their hand in the classroom, and another thing when you actively seek to start a dialogue with them and try to gain better context around who they are and what they’re interested in. 

As a student of Dr. Tyus’, I can remember him actively trying to involve students in multiple ways, he even went so far as to invite a whole class over to his home for a field trip out to a restaurant. Those types of professors are far and few in between. 

This is unfortunate because this is this type of environment that students should seek in the workforce. It’s nice to work for an organization that places emphasis on relationships and working together collaboratively, and professors will never realize who a student is to the best of their ability if they’re waiting back and only hearing from them when the time comes for them to raise their hands. 

Dr.Tyus mentioned the relationship approach might by other professors deemed “too close” but how close is close enough? 

Are you close enough when sending out a job opportunity in an email blast? Or are you close enough when you can send a one-off personal email to a student who you know is well-suited and would benefit from a job position someone in your network is looking to fill? 

It’s best for everyone involved to have a better understanding of each other because it opens up a lot more opportunities for students and educators alike in the long run. 

2) Individuals vs. The Collective

One of the things employers are looking for when hiring students out of college is how well they perform in a group setting. 

A critical aspects of any collaboration is communication, and that’s why there's an emphasis on group communication in college programs. 

Dr. Tyus pointed out during our episode was that he'd seen cultural differences in group communications over the course of his career. 

Some cultures emphasize collectivism as opposed to our general preference towards individualism here in the US. 

The collectivism idea is one where the primary driver of success is that the group will be recognized rather than one single individual. 

In the land of “anyone can be famous” type of culture, it’s more of a challenge to take our individualistic orientation and make it work efficiently in a group setting. 

But groups are scalable because it combines perspectives, skill sets, and creativity in a more efficient manner. In short, two heads are better than one. 

An excellent approach to incentivize a collective strategy is to shift the mindset from scarcity to one of contribution. 

The mindset of scarcity is one of supply and demand; when you have less of something, that thing increases in value. This is the idea that the less there is out there, what is available will be more valued. This ultimately leads to a race to the bottom. 

However, the mindset of contribution is one where the race to the top has no ceiling. The potential opportunities are endless because you have more resources to tap into. Adding your piece to the bigger picture enables you and your team to work with a much broader canvas. 

We are living in a time where scarcity is not so much the focal point, but the opportunity for abundance is. With that in mind, working together encourages more growth than working alone does. 

#37 - Conversation with Nick Hartman

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1) We don’t know, and that’s Okay

Nick and I have very “deep” conversations that touch on broad and far-reaching topics. 

From discussions on consciousness to the purpose of life, our conversations are not the ones you’ll hear at the bar on Thursday nights. 

We understand that isn’t normal, but we also don’t care. 

The subjects we touch on have such extensive implications that they seem too big or too complicated to find the correct answers. 

We don’t position ourselves as people who know it all, nor do we believe that we will ever know everything but developing a better understanding and the pursuit of truth is what interests us the most. 

When I started this podcast, I had the intention of creating it for people who “overthink things” or have heard “why does it matter?” when it comes to the most critical ideas our society and we as individuals face. 

It is about conversations, a dialogue to exchange experiences and information in hopes that we might walk away a little bit better because of them. 

I can say that I walked away better from many of the conversations  I’ve had with Nick, and even if we don’t know it all, at least we’re willing to consider it all. 

2) Ideas

When I talked to Nick about his creative approach to problem-solving, he spoke about how he would meet with his teammates and just start throwing any and all ideas out on the table. 

He talked about how most of these ideas weren’t good ones but conveyed the importance of being willing to present ideas that may have a chance of being built off of. 

The more ideas you have, the more likely you are to find one that’s half decent enough to approach a problem. And just by engaging a problem is a foot in the right direction because it gives you the ability to try and revise along the way. 

James Altucher talks about writing in this way, in that he looks as writing in a similar way of sculpting. The sculptor cannot create a sculpture if there isn’t a stone available to sculpt. 

Same goes for other things we work on. If there’s nothing there, to begin with, how can we begin at all? How can we start to repair that relationship if the relationship doesn’t exist? How can we continue to build that business if the business doesn’t exist? How can we develop better skills in a specific area if we don’t even try working on the skillset at all?

This is pretty simple stuff, but it can all be tied back to the ability to present garbage ideas and go from there. 

3) Push

In this episode, Nick and I talk about pushing through the discomfort. We did a Yoga class last month which was a prime example of pushing through situations that we’d rather not be in but find ourselves in regardless. 

Physical exercise is such an excellent conduit for placing ourselves in challenging situations that force us to go through difficulties and make us realize what we’re capable of on the other side. 

When the body tells you that it doesn’t want to do another rep, another mile, another second in a particular position, these situations bring you to a mental place where you get to witness what types of decisions you make. 

Do you decide to distract yourself? To make excuses? To make rationalizations? We all truly know what’s good for us and what’s not, but how many times have we talked ourselves out of something all in the name of being comfortable and instant gratification? 

I know I have. Too many times than I’d like to admit. But we're graciously given repeated opportunities to challenge ourselves day in and day out, all the way from the living room, to the grocery store, to the gym. 

It comes down to having the awareness to realize when you’re mind is tempting you to take the shortcut and become undisciplined. It’s in these moments when you get to realize what you’re capable of when you decide to push back, push through, and do more so that you can become more. 

4) What’s Happening Now

As a musician, Nick has become accustomed to performing in front of strangers. This can be a scary thing to do. 

What are they going to think of me? Are they going to like my work? Am I prepared enough? Am I good enough? Are all questions that can flood the brain when on the stand. This is why Nick has been pushing me to do an open mic comedy set so that I can grapple with these challenges. 

We’ve had numerous conversations about performing, and he always talks about the power of leaving expectations out of it, and just going up to perform and be in that moment while you do so. 

Nick talks about how when you pull away from what’s happening now, you can’t be yourself entirely, and because of that, you can’t fully display your talents to the best of your ability. 

If you’re not a musician, a comedian, or any other type of performer, you can still apply this to your day-to-day lives in that when you pull away from what’s going on right in front of you; you’re not entirely invested in the present moment. 

You can’t be fully in the conversation if you’re thinking about what’s coming next. You can’t be fully enjoying that movie if you’re thinking about what happened before you started watching it. You can’t be fully yourself while on a hike or simply sitting at home scrolling through your phone to find something that passes the time. 

It’s one of the most challenging things to do, but when you can bring yourself to what’s happening right now and fully be there, you can also fully be yourself. 

5) Things Take Time to Develop

“People miss out on relationships because they keep their conversations safe.” - Nick Hartman

Nick and I have abnormal conversations that most people would rather not discuss. Things like how we’re floating on a rock in outer space, or life and death, or the pursuit of the “good life.” These are things that are broad, complex, and even complicated on multiple levels in which most people in our society feel they don’t have time to deal with. 

I want to talk about complicated and complex topics more often than not, but it’s just not sustainable in day-to-day conversations, nor should it be. 

I think these topics deserve compassion and understanding so that way the conversations lead to growth rather than ego stroking. 

It takes time to develop relationships, and in time you can hold more significant conversations with the people you’ve developed significant relationships with. 

This is obvious in the sense that you’re more willing to share in-depth details of your life with your mother than you are with the guy at the gas station down the street. However, long-term thinking of developing significant relationships goes out the window when you pass judgment on another person or group of people who aren’t into talking about the same things you are. 

If they’re not down to discuss interplanetary motion with you, then you shouldn’t hold that against them as much as you should become curious as to why they aren’t interested in and learning more about what they are interested in. 

When you don’t start a conversation at all because they’re not what you’re into is limiting, whereas being open and trying to gain context of the other person is beneficial to both you and them. 

#36 - Conversation with Dom Polito

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1) Yoga

I remember the smirk on people’s faces when I told them I was getting into Yoga about five years ago. I once suggested it to a friend to help with his back issues and was laughed at. “What’s funny?” I asked him. “Yoga is for girls,” was his answer. 

The thing about Yoga is that the practice teaches you to be calm and therefore, you don’t see a lot of yogi’s grabbing people by the shoulders and screaming “Who cares if people think Yoga is for girls. If it works, then it works!” 

I spent ten years playing sports from Elementary school through Highschool, and I always avoided stretching. It was hard, tedious, and that’s the point. 

That’s the inevitable point that yoga practice brings us all to. It’s difficult. And in those strenuous positions, you get to connect with the only thing that can make things better: yourself. 

The first five yoga sessions I took was challenging because I would hold my breath under challenging poses. That’s the opposite of what you’re supposed to do. 

You’ll notice that in any Yoga session, the instructor will emphasize the breath. I once heard a saying that meditation is breath and stillness while yoga is breath and movement. 

As you move, you follow along with the breath and allow the breath to bring you to a place that’s present. That place may be a limb that you’re stretching, or it may be a thought or an emotion that’s running through your mind. 

Either way, it’s tension and the strain is brought to the forefront when you’re moving your body while following your breath. 

Yoga places you in positions that you could go avoided for the rest of your life. It manipulates the spine in a way that increases flexibility and durability by strengthening the muscles that surround it. 

Yoga forces you to breathe into the tight spots of a position and forces you to sit with what is rather than wander into a place where you'd rather be. 

Yoga reaches parts of your body that you forgot about because they’ve gone neglected by non-movement for years at a time. 

 During my first Yoga session, the instructor told us that it was a “judgment-free” zone. 

I’m so glad that she mentioned this because if it hadn’t been for that comment, I would have thought the whole room was judging me due to my stiffness and coordination. 

Every time I found myself in an awkward position, I would just remind myself that nobody is judging me. I would just bring myself back to my breath and focus on myself, right there at that moment. 

Obviously, this has benefits off the mat as well. When difficult times present themselves to you, how do you react? Do you feel as if everyone else is out to get you? Or do you turn inward and breath through the tension? 

2) Being Better at Being Human

Dom mentioned that as a human, he wants to get better at being one. That can mean a lot of different things, but narrow down on being stronger both mentally and physically. 

Dom has been an inspiration to me, in that he’s always learning new information that's challenging and difficult to grasp. Along with his growing intellect, he’s been optimizing himself physically as well. 

We need more of that. We need more smart and strong dudes (or gals). Why not? If you can be well rounded and sharp in all areas of being a human, why wouldn’t you pursue it? 

When you think of success, that term has many definitions. But can one honestly be successful if they have a lot of money, but compromised physically? Can one truly be successful if they have “one-punch” knockout power but not a clue how to add value to a business? 

We all have our strengths and the ability to specialize in select areas, but overcompensating in one area over another is never a good thing. 

It’s like the movies playing out in real life where the jock doesn’t study, and the nerd doesn’t exercise. That used to be the stigma but has now shifted in the other direction. If you’re honestly a brilliant mind, it’s inevitable that you’ll realize how vital exercise is. If you're in great physical condition and genuinely looking to grow, you’ll also understand how important it is to push yourself mentally. 

The mind and body are aspects that create one unit; the human being. So to optimize yourself as a human being, you must focus on improving both aspects. 

3) Control

Control feels good because it also feels comfortable. When you deal with things like fear and anxiety, you can almost always trace its roots back to control, or lack thereof. 

Dom mentioned how control over his physical body is a representation of how that control can translate into life. 
If something happens, he can physically move out of the way, or push/carry someone out of the way if need be. 

Dom also talked about the importance of understanding when you don't have control over a situation, you always can control how you respond. 

That’s where our control lives. It doesn’t happen by the situation itself or the things in our external world, control lives within us and how we take the next steps moving forward. 

This understanding frees the mind to allocate energy and resources towards efficiently responding instead of reacting negatively to anything difficult that comes your way. 

The issue isn’t the issue itself but how you respond to it is. 

4) Falsifiable Arguments

One of the topics Dom wanted to touch on was the subject of Falsifiable arguments. These are undeniable and indisputable arguments that only grow stronger with any evidence that supports their claim. 

Dom has decided to no longer engage in falsifiable arguments, and I’m right behind him. In fact, I’m to the point of not arguing in any shape, form, or fashion because it’s pointless. 

A debate should be a discussion, not a competition. So many times in my life I’ve found myself arguing over something that I wanted to be right, rather than working with another person or group towards a better understanding of the truth. 

When we want to be right more than we want to find what is right, we allow the ego to take precedence over truth. 

The bible talks about how the truth will set you free, and Buddhism talks about the true self. Both of these ideas are admirable because it leads to a better understanding of oneself. Having a better understanding of oneself means that our perception of reality is closely aligned with external reality and once aligned, we're placed in a better position to navigate the world accurately. 

The truth is essential because it allows us to know where we stand. If we let our pride get in the way of seeking the truth, it's a big deal because it leaves us with a lot less than if you genuinely cared about finding what's real.  

5) Technology

Dom and I have spent hours discussing technology and the potential for mass technological disruption. His view is a little more gloomy than mine, but at the same time, he carries much more confidence heading into the future. 

I think one of the most significant differences in views we hold is that technology will adapt faster to the point where the technology can be a substitute for organic matter. 

Take for instance the idea of sugar, refined grains, and processed foods. Our bodies are organic, and they didn’t evolve to have as much of the types of ingredients mentioned above. 

Dom believes that in time technology will allow us to surpass the organic demands of our bodies (whole foods with earth grown nutrients) and give us the ability to live optimally off of “food” that isn’t real food. 

If humans are around long enough, this may be inevitable, and I’m not the one to usually say this, but I don’t think that this will happen in our lifetime. 

I’m too uninformed to have an educated guess at these developments, and I must admit that there’s a little piece of me that’s holding on to the idea that human biology will remain dictated by evolution. 

But if a man who comes from nature produces something else, doesn’t that by default make the product natural? We often separate ourselves and the things we make by calling them man-made vs. natural, but at some level, they fall under the same scope of existence in our universe. 

What’s the difference between your house and a birdhouse? A lot when you look at the sophistication and technicalities. But both your home and the birdhouse are at some level built from materials that came from the environment accessible to each and all of those materials can trace their origin back to nature. 

The point is that yes technology may be adapting faster, but its adaptation will never supersede nature because technology itself is at some level nature.