The Next Chapter

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“Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.” – Duke Leto Atreides (Dune)

Deep inside, we fear change. We are afraid of going out of our comfort zone. Why do we feel that fear? It’s because what comes next is unknown. We can’t predict the future, therefore we cannot anticipate the chaos and turbulence that could happen in consequence. Still, it’s critical for each individual to embrace change.

Societies has evolved through time with revolutions, inventions, wars, new ideas and big changes. We aren’t where we are today because of stagnation. We are here because some people did it. They went beyond their threshold to make the human race evolve.  Without changes, we would still be in the stone age.

It’s the same for each and every one of us. We need to confront fear. We need to go beyond the comfort zone. That’s the only way to grow. Stagnation was never the answer. Make the next chapter happen, whatever it is.

Man With a Mission

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“Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” – Seneca

Alexander The Great had a mission, he wanted to conquer the world. We can attack or defend his motives, but this isn’t the goal here. The one thing we can be certain is that he had one clear purpose and he didn’t deflect from it. Only death stopped him.

In each part of our life, we have a mission: work, community, relationships, education, hobbies and the list goes on. Those missions are different from one individual to another. Some people will have only one mission, others will have more. There are no rules about that.

What are your missions? It’s important to ask the question. It’s the only way to have a clear picture. It’s the only way to know if what we do matter or not. Missions will evolve. Some will stay. Some will go. But, you need to know them.

The Soothsayer

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We love to make predictions. But, clearly we are bad at making them. Take a look at sci-fi books from half a century ago and you’ll see that most of the predictions never happened.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a man was interviewed by the Time magazine. He said this:

Everything that can be invented has been invented.

That man was Charles H. Duell the commissioner of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Shortly after the interview, he resigned from his position.

The First World War was expected to last a few months. It finally last 4 years and around 8.5 millions people died. Making it the most violent conflict in history at that time. Nobody could predict that. And nobody could predict that it would happen again 21 years later.

Nassim Nicolas Taleb explain in Black Swan that we are often mistaking a naïve observation of the past as something definitive or representative of the future.

Last year, Warren Buffet offered 1 billion dollars for correctly guessing all the game of the NCAA March Madness. The result? Not a single soul won.

Most of my and your predictions are dead wrong. You don’t believe me? Start taking notes of every guess you make. You’ll see how bad you are. We have a problem of overrating the success of our forecast.

The end isn’t near. Maybe it is. We have no fucking clue about it. It’s as simple as that.

Randomness #6: Steve Jobs, World War II, a Millionaire Living in a Van and More.

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Life & Culture

[*] The Man in The Van (ESPN) – The no.1 Jays’ prospect, Daniel Norris, lives in a fucking van. Yes you’ve read well. A millionaire living in a VW Camper. You can consider it his own way to escape to stress of the major league. He doesn’t want to change who he is because of the money or because of what society think is normal. Amazing article.

[*] The Scene of the Crime (The New Yorker) – The My Lai massacre of 1968 was a pivotal moment of the Vietnam war. Take a look at this event as reporter Seymour M. Hersh goes back after 47 years. He was the one who broke the massacre story in 1969.

[*] Undeveloped World War II Film Discovered (10 minutes @ Vimeo) – This is a video about The Rescued Film Project. They discovered and processed 31 rolls of film shot by an American World War II soldier over 70 years ago.


Growth

[*] The Library of Ernest Hemingway (Art of Manliness) – I’m always curious to hear about great people reading list. Ernest Hemingway was a huge reader. He spent many hours a day reading. He had the habits of reading 4 books at the same time. Books by Tolstoy, Dumas, Thomas Mann and Marcel Proust were among his bookshelf.

[*] 10 Things I Learn From Richard Branson (James Altucher) – We can learn a lot from people who has achieved great success. Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin, is one of them. Altucher take 10 quotes from Richard Branson and tell us how we can learn from these.

[*] 17 of our favorite Steve Jobs quotes from the new book about his life (Business Insider) – All these great quotes are from the new book Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli. The book will be release this week.


Health/Fitness

[*] You’ll Never Guess What’s Actually in Your Supplements (Exo Journal) – Interesting article about how some supplements could be misleading. Imagine buying a St-John wort bottle and that in fact is just rice. An other example? Finding plant species not listed on the label. The University of Guelph study was only about herbal products. It would be interesting to take a look at sports supplements.

[*] The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide (1hr40 @ Tim Ferriss Show) – Interview with James Fadiman (Ph.D. from Stanford) the author of the book The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide. Fadiman is seen as “America’s wisest and most respected authority on psychedelics and their use”. Jim Fadiman has been involved with psychedelic research since the 60s.

[*] How Tea Works (55 minutes @ Stuff You Should Know) – An interesting podcast on the origin of tea and how it works. Tea is the second most popular drink on the planet after water. They explain the different categories of tea and the process for each of them.


Motivation

[*] THE HIMALAYAS FROM 20 000 FEET  (3 minutes @ Vimeo) Short video filmed from a helicopter with a crew flying from Kathmandu at 4,600 ft. up to 24,000 ft. on supplemental oxygen. The images are simply breathtaking. I highly suggest you watch it.

[*] Kron Gracie Highlight Reel (6 minutes @ YouTube) – Kron Gracie is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and a member of the famous Gracie family. He is the youngest son of Rickson Gracie. If you remember, I’ve talked about the Gracie in Against the Grain. It’s a short video of his best highlights.

[*] MMA: When Taunting Goes Wrong (4 minutes @ YouTube) – I hate people who are taunting and disrespecting the opponent. It’s always a satisfaction when taunting goes wrong. Including Anderson Silva getting knockout by Chris Weidman.


Entertainment

[*] Birdman (movie) – It is the winner of the 2015 Academy Awards for the best motion picture. Mikael Keaton is in the role of a washed-up actor, who once played an iconic superhero. We follow him in the days leading up to the opening of his Broadway play. The movie his filmed in one long sequence.

[*] The Imitation Game (movie) – What a great movie! This is the story of Alan Turing, who helped break Germany’s Enigma code during World War II. Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Great performance by Benedict Cumberbatch.

[*] Tracing the History of Pinball from Illegal Gambling Game to American Obsession (14 minutes @ Vice) – Did you know that between 1940 and 1970, pinball was banned in some of US biggest cities? Learn about the game past and future in that interesting video from Vice.

[*] The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (Book) – A little book I’ve started few days ago. It’s a classic business book by Al Ries and Jack Trout that was published more than 20 years ago. Marketing has its laws just like nature. We should violate them at our own risks.

[*] The Making of NHL 94 (Blake J. Harris) – A great article by the author of Console Wars. NHL 94 is classic game from my childhood. It’s interesting to see the history behind that game.  I had a great laugh when I read about the confrontation between the producer Michael Brook and the hockey player Ken Baumgartner.


The Wasteland

[*] Bourbon cocktail: Wild Child (Daily Shot) – Here is a good idea for a cocktail with Bourbon. You’ll need lemon juice, maple syrup and Aperol. Enjoy your drink!

[*] 12 IMAGES THAT SHOW THE GRIT AND BEAUTY OF MYANMAR (Matador Network) – Last month I’ve talked about wanting to go to east Asia. Take a look at these pictures of Myanmar. You’ll want to buy your plane ticket in the next hour.

[*] THE WORLD’S BEST WHISKIES 2015 (Cool Material) – The best single malt of the world in 2015 is from…Taiwan. Get ready to hear about whiskies you didn’t know at all.

We Are Blind: Our Non-Stop Ignorance

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“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.” – George Bernard Shaw

I’ve talked recently about the idea that a little knowledge can be dangerous. Knowledge is a fragile thing. We can be 100% certain about something, but in truth being totally wrong. Take a look in the past and you’ll see many obvious examples of what I’m saying.

We thought that the earth was flat and we were wrong. Medical history has a great record of how many stupid beliefs we had. Bloodletting was used as a treatment for almost 3000 years. Why did it persist for so long? Because of the social, economic and intellectual pressures.

The medical field isn’t the exception. We most likely believe in the wrong for many aspects of life. It’s hard to make society change an idea. In the 1980s, saturated fat was seen as bad for the health. The idea is still around today even if we have evidence of the opposite.

The problem isn’t just about what we know and don’t change. It is also about what we totally ignore. We might be doing things that could lead to irreversible damage by our ignorance. You should be aware of that blindness and remember that a Sword of Damocles might be above your head as you read those lines.

Against the Grain: How the UFC Used a Bad Image to Achieve Triumph

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So long as men praise you, you can only be sure that you are not yet on your own true path but on someone else’s.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

I don’t have to make an introduction about the UFC. Most people nowadays know about that brand. Today, the UFC would be worth around 3.5 billion $ (or more) making it among the most lucrative sport franchise in the world. They host fights all around the world including Japan, China, Australia, Brazil and United Kingdom. They have major TV deals around the world, most importantly a deal with Fox in the United States. UFC is now mainstream. Whatever we can say about the actual star power problem and the performance drug crisis, UFC is getting bigger year after year. They own the majority of the “mix martial art” market around the world.

It all began with Ultimate Fighting Championship 1 in 1993. It was the idea of Rorion Gracie (a jiu jitsu expert from Brazil) and Arthur Davie. It was launched with the backing of SEG. They thought about making a tournament where experts from different martial arts disciplines would face each other. A discipline would be crown the best at the end of the event. The tournament featured experts in kickboxing, karate, wrestling, boxing, sumo and jiu-jitsu. The first event was a success. People were asking for a second tournament. It was a surprise. It was supposed to be a one shot thing. They didn’t even know they were about to create a sport.

It was different from today. There were no weight classes (not before UFC 12). Fighters could wear clothing traditional to their discipline. No time limit. No judges. No gloves. Almost no rules. The referee was only present to stop the fight after a knockout or a submission. The UFC had to choose states that didn’t have athletic commissions to avoid regulation. Their was an aura of clandestinity to those fights. SEG used that to its advantage. They promoted the fight as brutal and “no holds barred”. Using the shocking aspect of violence helped being talked about. Talk good, talk bad, but talk about it. You can guess what happened next.

Critics started to emerge from everywhere to attack the UFC. One of them was United States Senator John McCain. He claimed that the UFC was a kind of “human cockfighting”. He asked states governors and cities to forbid UFC to held fights. It worked and UFC started to have a lot of opposition. It was banned in 36 states. It was harder and harder to organize events. Cable companies started to refuse the broadcasting of the pay-per-views.  At that point, UFC needed to get into an adaptation mode. They milk the cow as much as they could. They surf on the popularity of the brutality aspect. But changes were necessary to reach a broader audience. In 2001, UFC was bought by a group led by Frank and Lorenzo Ferttita (which will become Zuffa). Lorenzo Ferttita said later that he knew UFC wasn’t worth that much in itself, but he was after the image.

“What you don’t understand is I’m getting the most valuable thing that I could possibly have, which is those three letters: UFC. That is what’s going to make this thing work. Everybody knows that brand, whether they like it or they don’t like it, they react to it.” – Lorenzo Ferttita

From that point, the sport evolved to what it is today. A deal was done with the Nevada Athletic Commission, which gives the UFC the chance to held fight in Las Vegas. It crossed the line to become mainstream. Today, it’s still a brutal sport, but the changes of rules make it much more legitimate. As you can see, UFC own a big part of its success because they didn’t follow the trends. They didn’t care that people would talk bad about it. You can see examples of brands that go against the grain today, one of them being Tesla. We can see that Elon Musk is trying to make shift in the automobile industry. Uber is another brand that is making a lot of noise recently. They want to change the current model of personal transportation service. It’s a total war with the cab business. Like the UFC, they both want to bring something new to the table. By wanting to bring changes, they fuel the army of dissidents. On the other side, the more they talk about them, the bigger the become. Being the bad guy isn’t always a bad thing in itself.

Learning From Losers: Why They Matter As Much as Winners

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I went to a seminar a while ago on the invitation of a friend. A guy was speaking about winning in life (and other bullshit self-help stuff). He said that he never lost at anything, that he was first everywhere he went. Okay good, a seminar by a narcissist, things could be worse. At one point that charlatan said that we should never read about losers, that they don’t matter. That was too much, I felt anger rising in me. I had to calm down. I completely disagree and here is why.

It’s like saying that we shouldn’t learn about Napoleon I because he lost in a crushing defeat at Waterloo. Same goes for the Tsar Nicolas II in Russia that was the victim of the October Revolution. Anyone remember Spartacus? The gladiator started a civil war before being defeated by Crassus and his Roman legion.

What about people who learn from defeat. I’ve talked about GSP bouncing from his worst defeat into victory. We can think of Donald Trump who has filed for corporate bankruptcy four times and went back on his feet each time. I could go on and give you 100 more examples.

I think we should never look down at people who have tried, who have risk it all. We should avoid the tendency to see things in black or white. Reality is more complex than that. Don’t look down at the defeated. They could give your most valuable life teaching.

Steal Like an Artist (Book #5)

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What is it about.

In Steal Like an Artist, you will learn that it’s okay to steal ideas. Nobody in history were original. All great musicians, writers, inventors has taken influences from someone else. Shakespeare inspired a great deal of modern authors. He himself took most of his influence from the Greek historian and essayist Plutarch. Do you know where Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin took his influence for the Red Wedding in A Storm of Swords? From Middle Age Scottish history (The Black Dinner). You don’t have to be a genius to create something. You just have to be yourself and be inspired by the world around you.


Why you should read it.

Most people don’t believe they can be creative. They think they have to be 100% original. Once you will read this book, you will understand a bunch of things about the creative process that you didn’t know before. It’s a game changer. It opened my eyes and it might open yours. The book is filled with great quotes from Kurt Vonnegut to Steve Jobs. You will surely be inspired by what you’ll find in it.


The Bottom line.

It’s a great book. The design is beautiful. It’s a fast and easy read. You could get through it in one evening. You will find a bunch of ideas and tools to apply for your inner creativity. I think it’s a great investment for your mind. On top of that, it’s a cheap book. Stay away from it if your name is Leonard Cohen or Irvine Welsh. In other word, if you are already creating a lot of stuff in your life, you won’t get much from that book.

Overall: 8.5/10
Fun Factor: 8/10


Austin Kleon is also the author of Show Your Work and Newspaper Blackout. If you want to know more about him, I suggest you listen to the interview he gave at Unmistakable Creative.

Randomness: Jamie Oliver, Psychedelics, Fight Club 2 and More

Life & Culture

[*] Foundation: Kevin Rose interview Jamie Oliver (YouTube/59 minutes) – Great interview with chef Jamie Oliver about the passion cooking and how technology can positively impact our food system. 

[*] Extraordinary Vintage Photos Capture NASA’s First Space Explorations (Esquire) – A bunch of crazy pictures taken in space and on the moon.

[*] Will Smith on Kids, His Career, Ferguson, and Failure (Esquire) – Will Smith is now 46 years old, didn’t know he was that old. Good interview by Esquire. Will talk about Basketball, fitness, his new movie Focus and a bunch of other stuff.


Growth

[*] Tim Ferriss Interviews Arnold Schwarzenegger (Podcast/67 minutes) – Tim Ferriss interview the one and only Arnold. They touch different subjects like confidence, having a vision, life obstacles and meditation. Mr. Schwarzenegger also talk about his childhood, his move from Austria to United States and his movie career. Really interesting.

[*] 33 Ways To Be An Insanely Productive, Happy Balanced Person (Ryan Holiday at Thought Catalog) – Learn great productivity advises like inbox zero, ignoring false emergencies and learning to say ”no”. Once again, another great blog post by Ryan Holiday.

[*] Unmistakable Creative – This is a really interesting podcast. The host meet creative entrepreneurs from different backgrounds like writers, cartoonists, psychologists and much more. As I write these lines, I saw that the last interview was with Seth Godin. Most interviews last more or less an hour.


Health/Fitness

[*] The Trip Treatment (The New Yorker) – Amazing article by Micheal Pollan the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food. It’s an exploration of the current research about psychedelics and health. Get ready for a long read, but it’s worth it.

[*] MAGIC MUSHROOMS AND THE HEALING TRIP (Video @ The New Yorker/6 minutes) – While we are here, we could go on with the theme of psychedelics. Follow Eddie Marritz’s experience in this short video. He was a participant in one of N.Y.U.’s Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety research studies.

[*] 7 SURPRISING WAYS TO BOOST YOUR MEMORY – (Fast Company) – I’m 100% confident that writing something help to remember. As for the other six ways to boost memory, I think you should take it with a grain of salt.


Motivation

[*] Top 100 Inspirational Quotes (Forbes) – You like quotes? Here are a hundred of them by sports legends, famous writers, musicians and historical figures. Here is one by Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

[*] GoPro: Vebjørn Enersen Goes Big in Norway (YouTube/2 minutes) – That is a scary ski jump in the back country of Norway by Vebjørn Enersen. You will get fear of height just by watching it.

[*] Risk Takers: Extreme Kayaking (National Geographic Live/11 minutes) – Extreme kayaker Trip Jennings almost died during his source-to-sea first descent of the Pandi River in Papua New Guinea. In this video, he talk about why we take risks, facing death and having a passion.


Entertainment

[*] Fight Club 2 (Rolling Stone) – If you didn’t know about it yet, Chuck Palahniuk will release a sequel to Fight Club. It will be released in May 2015 as a 10-issue comic book series. Fight Club 2 picks up 10 years after the events of the first book. We will find the anonymous narrator married to Marla Singer and struggling to be a good father to his nine-year-old son. And, expect Tyler Durden to comeback. I can’t wait to get my hands on Fight Club 2.

[*] Nightcrawler (movie for rent) – Oscar nominated film with Jake Gyllenhaal. It’s the story of Lou Bloom, a more or less crazy guy, that start working as a Los Angeles crime journalist. The movie explore the idea of the dehumanization of the victims of crimes in media for the sake of good tv ratings. What is shown on the internet and TV today would have been unthinkable 50 years ago. Is violence becoming too casual?

[*] Fury (movie for rent) – Good entertaining movie with Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf. It is the story of a Sherman tank and his five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines, in the heart of nazi Germany. The film isn’t a true story, but it’s based on a collection of true stories from veterans. It’s violent and sometime disturbing.

[*] Better Call Saul (TV show @ AMC) – New TV show from the creators of Breaking Bad. It also in the same universe as Breaking Bad. The first season is a prequel. We follow criminal lawyer, Saul Goodman, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


The Wasteland

[*] 57 Best Cooking Tips of All Time (Epicurious) – 57 tips to make you a better cook now. I’ve read it and I’m still bad. Seriously, I’ve learned a bunch of stuff I didn’t know.

[*] 100 trips everyone should take in their lifetime (Business Insider) – I love to travel. I was nostalgic of my last trip at number 13 (Dubrovnik). But, it gave me some ideas for my next trip. I would love to go Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.

[*] Classic New Orleans Brandy Milk Punch (Boulder Locavore) – If you didn’t have the chance to go to Mardi Gras like me, here is a nice cocktail to try at home.

A Little Knowledge is Dangerous

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“Nothing is so firmly believed as that which we least know.” – Michel de Montaigne

Human being tend to overestimate his own knowledge. He will often make small mistakes because of that. Nothing to worry. From time to time a huge and fatal mistake can happen. We see a lot of examples in our daily lives of people doing errors because of pure ignorance. Right off the bat, I can think about one of my brother’s co-worker. My brother was starting weightlifting few months ago. He did a great job and increased his squat to 200 pounds ass to grass after few months of work. The co-worker started to claim that he could do the same thing without any training. This guy doesn’t even do sports. He went to Crossfit once and that’s about it. He doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about, yet he did ONE single Crossfit training. That’s a lot of knowledge. I can already see him attempting that squat and hurting himself badly.

You want another example? A friend of a friend was good boxer. I cannot deny it, he had a lot of skills. Fast, good punch and strong. He decided to make the transition to MMA. His first fight was knockout in 30 seconds. He went into his second fight thinking that he would totally destroy his opponent. For the sake of the show, he went for a fast takedown. Unfortunately for him, his opponent was great in Brazilian Ju-Jitsu. I think you can guess what happened next. That was the end of his MMA career. Was it a problem of little information about is adversary? Maybe. Was it a problem of little knowledge of Mix Martial Art? Probably. Any proper MMA fighter will avoid the ground against someone with good skills in BJJ. He should have kept the fight on his feet where he had the most skills. He paid the price for his little knowledge.

Let’s head to personal finance. I see many people who start investment like they are seasoned Wall Street traders. You can see they know nothing we they talk about “playing”. That’s why they will lose thousands of dollars doing bad moves. You need proper skills and knowledge in the field. Thinking that you will make thousands of dollars when you start trading, is like thinking you will hit a home run the first time you play a baseball game. It’s possible, but in most case you’ll be strike out. I’ve stumbled on a surprising news a week ago. You know Jack Johnson? He’s a hockey player for the Columbus Blue Jackets. The guy earned 17 million dollars in is his career. Well…he filled for bankrupt last month. Bad investments and decisions lead to his downfall That is really crazy.

History is full of mistakes done by ignorance and we repeat the pattern. It’s like we never learn. In Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb write about medical harm in history. A lot of time, more harm was done by doing something than doing nothing. We see mistakes of not accepting new discovery because we think we already know everything. The first patient treated effectively with penicillin was during the 1880s, the second one during 1940s. It’s not different today. It’s most likely probable that some people are currently treated the wrong way.

Two wars you can remember were started with little knowledge. In Vietnam, United States had no clue what would happen there. They didn’t know that the communists would resist that much. Added to that, they didn’t have a good knowledge of the field, clearly not as much as the communists. More than 58 000 americans died over their. In Irak it was a bit different. United States won fast in 2003. But, they didn’t know that an asymmetric war would last for years. Knowing that before hand, maybe they could have prepare for it or simply avoid that war altogether.

The less we know something, the more we think we know it. The more we know something, the less we think we know it. Isn’t that a paradox?

Listening to: Lana Del Rey – Born to Die