March Newsletter

  1. Introduction
  2. Lessons I Learnt
  3. Books I Read
  4. Things I Bought


What a month we have had in March. In Adelaide, March is comically called ‘Mad March’ as we have several festivals and car races in our city. This Mad March was ‘Mad’ for much more than that.

This month we have seen COVID19 take over large parts of Europe, the US and Asia. Measures have been put in place to protect people and slow the rate of transmission. These measures have effectively left most people locked inside their houses and will no doubt have very large impacts in the months to come.

COVID-19 is not only a lethal virus, it has also caused the markets to crash. The ASX200 has dropped from approx 7000 points at the end of January to below 5000 and approaching 4500 near the end of March. Aside from the virus itself, the crash has dumped even more stress onto those with large super accounts and savings as well as heaping large pressure onto small businesses.

In this testing time, I hope all of you can try to find some positives and continue to make the world a better place. Now that people are at home more, we can spend more time with family and more time just with ourselves. I encourage you to make the most of this time and use it to bring your families closer.

Lessons I Learnt

Dopamine Control

Alex Becker - This Rewired My Brain To Be Successful (Game Changer)

I first watched this video by Alex Becker earlier this month, and saw the concept rehashed by other youtubers. This concept is that of dopamine control.

Dopamine is that chemical that your brain produces for motivation. When something feels good, dopamine will tell your body to keep doing it.

This is really good for us, but also not so good in a number of ways. For example when you use your phone, you likely get some notifications and interactions that make you feel really good. This, in turn, makes you want to use your phone even more. When you watch Netflix, you enjoy it and thus want to continue.

This principle was seen in the classic rat experiment. In this experiment the rat is provided with two levers, one for cocaine (as a massive dopamine hit) and the other as food. The rat will learn to press the cocaine levers so much that it eventually doesn’t eat and dies.

The power of your dopamine responses can literally overpower basic functions.

This is what is happening with your phone and other exciting apps or devices.

So how can we turn this around to use our dopamine for good?

The solution is to minimise the use of phones and exciting apps to the point where your actual work becomes the dopamine hit. When you get a dopamine spike from writing an article or reading a textbook, then you can do these things and find enjoyment in them.

This will make you insanely productive.

So what I have done, is to limit phone use until later in the day. That is, I don’t look at my phone until I’ve done heaps of work or absolutely necessary. Usually my phone won’t be turned on until after 3pm. This means I can get 6+ hours of work in before my dopamine gets hijacked.

I have been using a ‘burner phone’ as my device to listen to audiobooks early in the mornings. This phone has nothing on it except the audiobook players like iBooks and audible. This means I can get some benefits of phone use, without being exposed to a big stream of emails and other push notifications.

So far I’ve found great success with this and I recommend you give it a shot.

Key Takeaways

  • Use your phone and other high dopamine activities as little as possible
  • Don’t forget to eat

Creating the Shadow

Jordan Peterson - How to Develop your Shadow

Creating the Shadow is something I’ve come across from Jordan Peterson who I believe compounded on the idea from Carl Jung.

Your ‘shadow’ is essentially the dark side to your persona. It can do things you didn’t know you were capable of. Very bad things.

You see, all heroes are only heroes because they could cause massive destruction if they wished, but they don’t, so they gain the respect of people. For example, Superman could destroy most of Metropolis if he wished and yet he chooses to be good. It is his ability to be bad if he wanted to, that makes him good.

In the same way, you can cultivate your shadow. You can develop the mean and nasty part of yourself with the understanding that you must do that to defend yourself properly.

Key Takeaways

  • Don’t be afraid of dark thoughts - they are necessary
  • Become someone capable of evil (but be good)

    Books I Read

Hard Times Create Strong Men - Stefan Aarnio

This book was pretty insane. I can tell just by listening that this man is an absolute savage.

This book was about men in the world today, and how most of them are pussies. Men today can no longer stand up for what they believe in, they give up too easily and can’t take feedback.

Stefan argues this cycle of good times create weak men which create hard times which create strong men. I also believe this to be true.

He goes on the say that the US is currently in a big state of decline and it wouldn’t be surprising to him if it crashed and burned in the next 50 years. I also agree with him.

Reading this book, Stefan became a bit of an inspiration to me. To do hard things, become a strong man and take control of your life. I was amazed when he says that he undertook 18 day fasts in a secluded area where he wrote this entire book plus more. This is something I hadn’t considered before, and one day I will try it (maybe not for that long though).

Key Takeaways

  • Find ways to be a strong man is today’s world
  • Watch for ways that the Western World is falling

The Dip - Seth Godin

This book is about that time when you are learning something that becomes hard, and you aren’t sure if you should continue. These things that are required to take your career and life to the next level, but are really difficult. This is called ‘The Dip’.

Seth says that the dip can be really hard to get through, but is well worth it. In some cases the dip can be very difficult which is why Seth goes on to say that when picking projects you should only begin those things that you can become the best in the world at. Seth goes on to share essentially the 8020 rule, where people at the top get exponentially more than those in the middle.

Key takeaways

  • Hard things all have a dip - something you must get over
  • Only do things you can be the best in the world at

The Winner Effect - Ian Robertson

The winner effect is one of those books that has such a cool idea but is executed somewhat poorly. I really would’ve got more out of the book if I didn’t get bored of it through the middle and end.

The winner effect is all about winning and how that impacts you. In sports, typically the home team wins. Robertson argues that this is because they have the home crowd, which raises their testosterone more than the opponents.

People who are winning are more likely to win again. In boxing, the term ‘Tomato Can’ is given to a fighter that is sent into the ring to give his opponent an easy win. This easy win will cause the better fighter to gain some momentum and make his next win more likely. This was seen with Mike Tyson, who had a run of losses and was set up against a Tomato Can. This easy win then sent Typson on to winning his next few fights.

The same thing applies in social situations. When you can’t seem to get a word into a conversation and you feel more nervous than usual, it’s likely that your winner effect is down. To combat this, you should seek to get involved in small easy ways, which will boost your winner effect and allow you to be more involved later.

Key Takeaways

  • Winners keep winning - create winning situations in your life
  • Keep testosterone high to increase chances of winning

The Magic Of Thinking Big - David Schwarz

“Got a good idea? Then do something about it.” - D Schwarz

This book is all about believing in yourself and what you are capable of. When people offer you opportunities, it is easy to say no and continue your normal way of life. What you need to realise is that there are opportunities all around you, and when you get offered something, to take it with both hands. Believe in what you can do, and good things will follow. I see a lot of parallels in this book with ‘Mindset’ - Carol Dweck and ‘Think and Grow Rich’ - Napoleon Hill. Believing you can do something is always the first step to actually getting it.

Key Takeaways

  • Believe in yourself
  • Take opportunities when they are presented

    Never Eat Alone - Keith Ferrazi

This book is all about connections. How to make them and how to use them to get what you want, without being sleazy. Keith is a master networker, and has had instances of networking through his entire life. ‘It’s not what you know but who you know’ is a massive theme throughout this book, it is clear through Keiths life that many opportunities are not available to people simply because they don’t have the right connections. Therefore, making and sustaining these connections is extremely important if you’d like to get what you want.

Key Takeaways

  • Stay in touch with as many people as possible
  • Make sure to periodically check in with those people you know but don’t see often
  • Create container events to meet more people
  • Work and personal life doesn’t need to be seperated

    Things I Bought

Focus Mate

I recently bought the ‘turbo’ version of FocusMate. This is a website that allows you to work with others through a video call. This premium version allows you to book unlimited time slots.

This site has been a game-changer for me. Since COVID19 has me working at home rather than university, having someone to work with is amazing.

The best part about the call is that at the beginning of each chat, you each outline what it is you aim to get done in the next 50 minutes. You then do what you need to do, and at the end you come back together to review what you got done.

Even thinking about what you would like to do is something that gets easily lost, and has allowed me to get so much more work done than had I been doing it myself with no help.

Highly recommended.