3 Things To Improve On Daily To Become The Ultimate Version of Yourself

TL;DR: Work on improving yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally everyday so that you can achieve greatness.

Every day I strive to be the best version of myself. How do I do that you might ask? I work on three aspect of my life that I can control. I look to these aspects and try to improve on them daily, even if it’s only by a few basis points. Thanks to the power of compound interest, these actions will compound and show a huge improvement by the end of the year. What are the three aspects of my life that I improve on daily? My mental, physical, and emotional state.

Improving my mental state

I work on improving my mental state in a few ways, but mostly in an intellectual fashion. I [try to] set aside 30 minutes a day to read an actual book. Books are a powerful medium because they are immensely focused on a specific topic and provide a wide depth of knowledge that blogs just can’t cover. Most people don’t do this because they “read blogs” or Twitter or consume all of their information through Wikipedia. This is such terrible practice because there is no depth to these blog posts, articles, and tweets. There is no real creativity, and most of the time it’s such bullshit, feel-good, ADD blogs like BuzzFeed. While reading a blog, you can easily feed your ADD and hit up twitter after a few seconds… the average attention span in 2013 was 8 seconds according to Static Brain. On that note, people mostly just read headlines and think they’re experts… but I digress.

Besides reading, I challenge myself with new tasks that push me out of my mental comfort zone. In the past few years, it has been to dive into the deep end of web development. This was a topic I never had any formal background in (I was in finance for 6+ years), and it was indeed a challenge. But guess what? I learned how to program, and I can now build any web app I can think of. Fuck outsourcing to India and fuck asking someone to build out your ideas.

Writing a book was also a challenging task, but I ended up writing two before the age of 26! Did I mention that I got kicked out of my first high school for bad grades? I did not let that deter me and set off to prove myself wrong. I originally was able to complete such a feat by writing 500 words per day. When it was time for the second book to be written, I had enough confidence to complete it that I pushed myself to write 1,000 words a day. Guess what? I did it! At the end of the day, as long as you mentally believe you can do something, you will be able to accomplish it if you apply discipline. Doing something uncomfortable builds mental toughness, and everything is mental.

Improving physically

This one is straightforward—lift weights and eat steaks. Working out and eating clean isn’t just for being healthy or looking your best (well most of it is ;)). Working out and improving yourself also helps build your confidence. This confidence translates into other parts of your life—business & personal. It’ll give you the confidence to complete tasks that you previously didn’t think you were able to do because, just like working out, they are gradual improvements. Anyways, eating clean and working out will give you more energy throughout the day, and it also helps you think clearly. Working out isn’t just for physical endurance, but to mentally challenge your body to push yourself. It is also a good place to clear your head.

Improving emotionally…. Or learning to control your emotions

Not everyone can remain stoic through tough situations, but it is a good practice to start applying such principles. Responding with emotion always puts you in a position of weakness and can easily deter you from achieving your desires. If you take a step back, think through your emotional judgment, and try to think of a logical RESPONSE, then you will be put in a position of strength. Remaining stoic through a situation where emotions are high will always put you in a position of power. This will translate into inner peace, since you will have achieved the outcome that you wanted. Start each day by reading a few quotes on Stoicism and apply the quote/principle. I have listed a few quotes I start my day with at the bottom of this post. Feel free to use them.

Along with controlling your emotions, comes controlling your expectations. The sad reality is that people typically disappoint. People are inherently selfish, and there is nothing that we can do change that. All we can do is change how we respond to people in general. Remember, at the end of the day, the only things you can really control in life are the thoughts you think, the things you visualize, and the actions you take (h/t Marcus Aurelius). Take action by managing your expectations when it comes to people. As long as you keep a positive outlook on things you can control, then everything will be OK.

In conclusion, strive to continue improving daily. Imagine improving yourself just 1% a week… that translates into a 67.7% compounded improvement over the next year! Do you know what type of return that is given compound interest over your lifetime? With that type of discipline and growth, you will be able to accomplish anything and everything you have ever dreamed of. You will accomplish every goal you set to hit. It works for me, and it will work for you. So remember, if you believe in yourself and strive to make small improvements daily, you WILL achieve greatness.

Quotes:

Accept whatever comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more aptly fit your needs.

~Marcus Aurelius

How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything which happens in life.

~Marcus Aurelius

 Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them

~Epictetus

 So other people hurt me? That’s their problem. Their character and actions are not mine. What is done to me is ordained by nature and what I do by my own.

~Marcus Aurelius

Today I escaped from anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions—not outside.

~Marcus Aurelius

 When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own—not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me.

~Marcus Aurelius

How I piggybacked (Growth Hacked*) My Growth Hacking Book

growth hacking
TL;DR: Piggybacked on the sales of Ryan Holiday’s growth hacking book by publishing it before him

I recently launched a book called “Growth Hacking — A How To Guide On Becoming A Growth Hacker” (http://amzn.to/15KNKCM) and it hit #21 on the top 100 marketing books on Kindle (#1 on free Kindle books during the KDP run). Am I a famous author? No. Did I do much marketing for it? Not at all. So how did I get it on the top 100 marketing books on Amazon? Well, besides luck, I used a sort of quantitative approach to get sales… with minimal effort.

It started with the keyword, “growth hacking”. I recently came across the Google Trends data for the term and saw that it was hitting an all-time high. This gained my interest because when I searched for any books on the subject, I came up with nil. So when there is a growing interest in something and no all-in-one resource for the subject, it created a market for a book. Along with some cross referencing with Amazon listings and Google Keyword, this gave me the idea to write a book on Growth hacking- a subject I have experience/domain knowledge in.

What I also noticed was that Ryan Holiday was coming out with a book titled “Growth Hacker Marketing” in September (2013), so I was on a strict deadline in order to be first to market (Should help long term) and possibly piggyback on sales of a best-selling author. Yes, I didn’t see Ryan Holiday’s book as competition but opportunity. Why? The Amazon description showed that Ryan’s book was only about ~60 pages, this gave me the opportunity to provide a longer and more comprehensive book for readers that wanted more. This was also an opportunity because we would be the only Amazon books under the keyword “Growth hacking” and anyone searching for Ryan’s book would come across mine via the nature of the keyword.

Once the content of the book was completed, so our next step was design. Most Kindle eBooks that I have some across have terrible cover design and I am sure this effects the conversions. You can’t skimp on design! Why would you spend all this time writing a book, and then get a shitty cover design? People will judge the quality of your book by the quality of the cover design. The saying “Don’t judge a book for its cover” is very well alive, so I planned on having a kick-ass cover that was easily readable via a thumbnail. I splurged on the cover design and after a few revisions I ended up being very happy with the result, I am confident this helped our bottom line.

Once we finished the book, we launched it using the KDP program that Kindle offers. This helped rocket the book to #1 of all (free) Kindle books for 3-5 days. This enabled us to get ranked on Hacker News and Reddit /r/ startups. Once the promotion was over, they were still ranking well on these sites… helping us generate sales. The original seeding to social networks gave us the initial traction that we needed, helping us with our long term sales.

From the launch of the book, Growth Hacking — A How To Guide On Becoming A Growth Hacker (http://amzn.to/15EWnhS), we learned a few lessons. eBooks really are dominating the publishing industry, so focus on developing a great eBook experience. We did so by providing links inside the eBook to resources we gathered. Just to note, a soft cover edition of the book was created, but that has only been about ~10% of sales.

We also learned that it does take some luck, how would we have done if Ryan Holiday didn’t come out with his book? Would we have pursued writing it on such a short deadline? What if we didn’t piggyback on Growth Hacker Marketing? Did we steal some of his traction by piggybacking? Probably.


EDIT: Ryan Holiday wrote a great response, I encourage you check it out.

For what it’s worth, I believe Ryan and I have two different goals when it comes to publishing. From what I have gathered, he writes books that he aims to become best sellers and does an immense amount of research before writing them (correct me if I am wrong). I, on the other hand, am looking to build a large and diverse portfolio of books to generate passive income.

I originally published this on Medium.

How I “hacked” Kayak and booked a cheaper flight

Canada, eh?

Let me start this out by saying I didn’t “hack” something in the black hat Hackers way, but by finding a market inefficiency and leveraging it to my advantage. It must be the day trader in me. No harm was done to any computers or systems in the making of this post.

TL;DR: I booked a flight through Kayak using a VPN and saved ~$100.

Long version: I was looking for flights to New Orleans when I realized that the flight price I checked yesterday was ~$100 cheaper. I started to think why the price went up so much in one day and tried checking the flight again using only Google Incognito but there was no price budge. Maybe my VPN had something to do with it? The night before I was using a VPN (I use BTGuard btw) and Kayak thought I was from Toronto, Canada. I guess if you are not from the departure city then flights are cheaper?

So what did I do?

So I had originally went to Kayak today and checked flights from Miami to New Orleans (Mardi Gras, w00t!). This was done without a VPN but using Google’s Incognito feature. Take a look at how much the flights were:

kayak_us

Flights to New Orleans from Miami (Non-VPN)

Also, check out where my IP was saying that I was from:

us_ip

This is my “real” IP, no VPN

I thought this was strange since the night before I had checked flights and they were ~$100 cheaper. I realized I was logged into my VPN and thought it might have to do with that (BTW, I use the VPN to mask my internet traffic… sorry NSA). So what did I do? Tried checking again while being logged into my VPN!

This is me being logged into my VPN:

VPN FTW!

VPN FTW!

And here is where my IP is saying that I am from:

Canada, eh?

Canada, eh?

So I tried Kayak again, while being “shown” as being from Canada and this is what I got:

Check out the Canadian flag at the top right

Check out the Canadian flag at the top right

That is about a ~$70+ price difference (I don’t think that included taxes)! Also, when I had checked earlier, that $345 flight wasn’t there… so it was a +$100 difference. When I went to book my flight my checkout total was in EUROS! The thing is, it wasn’t 380 euros, but 207 euros!  That converts to about $280 USD.

Euros wuddup

Euros wuddup

Moral of the story? Try booking your flights through a VPN, maybe you’ll save a few bucks….. even if you pay in euros.

PS: I checked my online bank statement and I paid $281.60 total!

PSS: The flight is now over $400 on a non-VPN via Kayak + Google Incognito.

Discuss on Hacker News