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116 Things I Learned On The Camino De Santiago

So I hated the Camino.

There, I said it.

I joined my family recently for a section of this pilgrim’s walk in Spain, from the city of León to Santiago de Compostela.

311km, 13 days.

As I’m not a Catholic, the history of the walk was of only passing interest to me, so it was essentially just a really long walk from A to B. I’m usually a fan of taking buses in these cases.

If you’re a reader here, you know I enjoy challenges, but I also hope to learn things from those challenges. For the first 3 days, I tried (very) hard to find enlightenment; perhaps the walk could be meditative, or a test of willpower. But it was neither of those things to me. I even resisted putting in my earphones, attempting to embrace the disconnect. But I was simply disinterested. I learned nothing (except that my feet get sore when I walk a lot).

To walk 311km is a long time. It’s about 8 hours a day. So on Day 3 I finally put my earphones in. The walk remained fruitless for me, but the music made it bearable.

Then on Day 8, in the midst of Camino misery, my music shuffle blessed me with an old podcast episode. I was about to skip it (I’d already listened to it months ago), but I decided to listen to it again. “What a great way to kill an hour!” I thought.

And it was. It was the first time I’d listened to a podcast without distractions. What a wealth of knowledge you learn just listening to smart people talk. I’d almost forgotten where I was.

At the hostel that night I downloaded as many podcast episodes as I could. I’ve bookmarked around 50 episodes over the years, but I’ve never had the time to listen to them, so I gave up trying a while ago. I’m always reading, working, or not at the laptop. When would I ever have 50 free hours, wandering around doing nothing, to listen to podcasts?

On the Camino!

So my Camino de Santiago became my Camino de Podcasts. My shows of choice were The Tim Ferriss Show, The SPI PodcastBill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast and The Joe Rogan Experience. Now instead of just walking 8 hours a day, I was walking while listening to podcasts while trying to take notes on my phone while trying to keep all my stuff dry in the rain while trying to follow the track. Camino 2.0.

Now I can already hear you all saying, I didn’t live in the moment. So I suck, I know, whatever. But I ended up learning a lot of cool stuff and a lot of stories to draw inspiration from, which I thought I’d share with you. Maybe my Camino inspiration didn’t come from the Spanish countryside, but I found it all the same. So just be happy for me.

Here are my notes – 116 interesting things I learned:

P.S. If you’re actually looking for Camino tips, check out this very thorough post by my buddy Dave.

Some notes:
-Everything shared below is from the podcasts referenced. None of the content is from me. I take no credit for any of it.
-I have not fact-checked the stories.
-These are my personal notes. They are not direct quotes unless they are in quotation marks and attributed. The rest of the notes have been paraphrased or summarised.


From The Tim Ferriss Show with Tony Robbins:

1.

Tony Robbins has a really interesting morning routine. He eats fish and salad for breakfast. Then he does something called priming. “To have a prime life you need to be in a prime state.” He jumps in a hot pool, then he jumps in a cold pool. That jolts his nervous system and changes his physiology with this body. Then he changes his physiology with his breath. There is a specific pattern of breathing that he does – 3 sets of 30.

Then he does 3 simple things:

First, 3 minutes of just being inside your body and outside your head, feeling the earth and the wind etc.

Then he feels grateful for 3 simple things, and one of them has to be very simple, like the wind on his face. Not just feeling grateful, but he lets gratitude totally fill his soul. Because when you’re grateful, there’s no anger. When you’re grateful, there’s no fear. You can’t be grateful and fearful simultaneously. You can’t be grateful and angry simultaneously. He says there is nothing sadder than an angry rich person – someone who has everything and is angry. So he spends time every morning being grateful.

Then he focuses on three things he wants to make happen that day, he calls it his “three to thrive.”

He does this process every day, even if he hasn’t had any sleep. He does not miss priming.

2.

“The quality of your life is the quality of your questions.” Ask better questions.

3.

Many high performers hit slumps because they do so well that they overshoot their vision. This is sometimes called the Astronaut Syndrome. You’ve literally been to the top of the world, looked down on the earth from space, come back and shaken the president’s hand, what now? There’s nowhere left to go. Some astronauts become alcoholics or drug abusers because of that. Everyone needs something to shoot for – a compelling future, something that will get us up early and keep us up late.

4.

Andre Agassi was the number one tennis player in the world. Then his ranking dropped to 90 something, and nothing worked. People thought his career was over. He kept working on his swing and working on his wrist and nothing worked. He wanted to quit. Brooke Shields took him to see Tony Robbins. He told him, “Go back and visualise a time when you were hitting the ball perfectly. Were you thinking about your wrist?” He said no. “Then why would you go back to thinking about your wrist now?” If you’re in a slump, you have to go back into the state and the pattern that made you successful in the first place.

5.

Swap expectation for appreciation and you have a whole new life.

6.

Timing is so invaluable. Getting the right sequence is so invaluable. You can be doing all the right things and you’re so close to victory, but your timing is a tiny bit off so you fail and give up. “Johnny bit the dog/the dog bit Johnny” – they’re exactly the same words in a different sequence, and a very different result, especially if you’re Johnny. So say for example, you call the right person but you’re one minute too late or too early. If you do the exact same thing one minute later on you would succeed. Just a tiny shift in sequence and you would succeed. Some of it’s luck. But often you just need to find that 2mm difference and victory is there.

7.

When going off gold standard, Ray Dalio (one of the world’s 100 richest men) was convinced the USD would bomb and end up worthless. Instead, the Nixon rally happened. It shook him to his core. He realised that as much as you think you know, you don’t know. In a game of lifelong focus, you always want to be asking yourself what you don’t know.

8.

The world’s most successful investors have 5 things in common.

  • They’re all obsessed with not losing money. You don’t need to make a lot of money. You just need to not lose it.
  • They risk small to earn big. Only bet a dollar if you can make five. Even if you’re wrong, on your next bet you’ll still be up four.
  • They all know they will be wrong some day. They allocate to account for that.
  • They’re lifelong learners. They’re obsessed with knowing more. Any time you think you’re the best you can be, there’s another level.
  • They’re all passionate givers. They give very passionately with their money and their time.

9.

The reality is everyone’s a financial trader. Most people just trade time for money. That’s the worst trade of your life because you can never get more time. All the best investors know that.

10.

Only a few things influence your life. Your body, your finances, your relationships. It’s not a lot of things. Learn about these things! Invest in them. Most people know a lot, but they know a lot about the wrong things.

11.

Have strong opinions weakly held. Believe in something fully, but always be prepared to have your mind changed.

12.

A belief is nothing compared to an experience. What you think you believe is nothing compared to what you have actually experienced.

13.

Dips and down periods often come from inner conflicts that are hard to solve. To get out of it you need to keep asking what’s right, what’s real and trust your gut. Also stay hydrated and rest because in a lower state of energy you will break. In a high state of energy you can handle everything that’s thrown at you. Also understand that if you overcome pain, you can use that experience to help millions of others over come the same pain. Use that as motivation.

14.

Money is either a tool used to empower your life or a weapon to be used against you. To stop it being used against you, the only solution is to educate yourself about it.

15.

“What you know doesn’t mean shit. It’s what you do consistently that matters.”

-Tony Robbins

16.

“In every industry there are top players and the common trait is hunger. They just always have to know more. Their energy is driven by this insatiable hunger to always know more.”

Tony Robbins

17.

“There was this guy, one of the top facial surgeons in the world. The Sultan of Brunei flew this guy over for $2 million to do two of his family’s faces. Anyone in Hollywood who had the money, this was the guy, the best on earth, because he had mathematically figured out how to trigger beauty. He had 150 pictures of the most beautiful women in the world, the same for men, and he showed that he makes no more than 7 changes ever, and no change is larger than 2mm. I saw an 84 year old woman look like she was in her fifties and gorgeous. For example, he knows that the measurement of the pupil of a woman’s eye, if you measure that, and if you measure the distance from below the nose to the top of a woman’s lip; this is only for women, if the measurement is smaller than the pupil, men will be driven and sexually attracted to that face. If it’s the same size as the pupil, there’s some attraction. If it’s just 2mm more, she has an average face. If it’s more than 2mm more, her face is what he calls butt ass ugly, that was a technical term he used. So he just makes this little change and it creates that puckered feeling that men don’t even know why, it’s instinctive, it’s just a triggering device, it’s instinctual. So he knows the 7 changes, and he knows the 2mm. And this is just like in golf, 2mm is the difference between shanking way over here and hitting the green. So that’s the whole thing – victory is near, but you just need to know the sequence.”

-Tony Robbins


From The Bill Burr Monday Morning Podcast:

18.

In football place kickers are supposed to hold the ball with the laces out. That’s where the phrase “Laces out” comes from. [Bren: I had no idea].

19.

“To learn shit in life, you gotta have the mindset of “I’m probably going to fuck this up the first time, but that’s alright. Then I’ll get a little better.” Like when I made pasta, even just running it through the pasta maker, I already found like three fucking things I’m not going to do the next time.”

-Bill Burr

20.

“When a girl wants a relationship, she comes over to your apartment and she starts leaving shit there, because it gives her an excuse to come back. That’s fucking nuts right? Like they’re thinking that far ahead. All you’re doing is sitting there like “Bah, look at those tits, baaah” and they’re sitting there plotting. It’s like you’re a head coach with no game plan, and she’s across the field like Bill Walsh calling the first 25 plays of the game! So here’s a quick Patrice story. Patrice was seeing this woman and she started leaving shit around his house, so I brought it up with him, I was like “Yeah I dated this woman, she left all this shit here, I was like what the fuck? I only see her like every two weeks, so for two weeks I’m looking at the brush she left here, and the shampoo over there, it’s annoying me.” So Patrice just goes, “Throw it out” and I’m like, “I can’t throw out her brush.” And he goes, “I would.” And he told me a story, there was a woman he was messing around with and she left these toiletries and a little bag of makeup in his bathroom, and he fucking threw it out. And then she came back like a week and a half later, and she goes in the bathroom and she’s like “Hey, what did you do with my stuff?” And he just plays dumb and he goes, “What stuff?” And she’s like, “I left shampoo here, a little makeup bag,” and he goes “Oh that was yours? Yeah I threw it out.” And she was literally beside herself, but actually on some level respected him for realising what she was doing.”

-Bill Burr


From The Tim Ferriss Show with Jamie Foxx:

21.

“Right here on this floor, I’m pointing to the carpet, a young man by the name of Ed Sheeran slept on this carpet for six weeks. He came over from London. He’d heard about a live show I do in LA. I see this kid with this red hair and I’m like, “Really? You wanna do my live show?” Because my live show is mostly black, and it’s like really music people, really hardcore music people. I’ve had Miranda Lambert one night, I’ve had Stevie Wonder on stage, I’ve had Babyface on stage, so this is the real shit we’re talking about. So I’m like, “I don’t care about the London and the accent, but you gotta really come with it.” And he’s like “I think I’ll be okay.” So I take him to my live night, 800 people there, and people are playing, black folks sweating, singing, these people would tear American Idol up, and not all these people have necessarily made it yet. And then Ed Sheeran gets up with a ukulele. Walks out onto the stage, and the brother next to me goes, “Yo Foxx, who the fuck is this dude right here with the red hair and a fucking ukulele?” And I say, “Man his name is Ed Sheeran let’s see what he does.” Within 12 minutes he got a standing ovation. From that crowd. And I said “Bro, you’re on your way.”

-Jamie Foxx

22.

“When I was a kid my grandmother made sure that I took piano lessons. That’s tough for a little boy in Texas playing Fur Elise and Mozart. We’re talking Terrell, Texas. For a little boy playing at that time, kids didn’t understand, they were always saying “Yo, why you doing that?” and I’m like “My Grandma want me to do it.” So sometimes I would be belligerent and say, “Why you want me to do this?” She says, “The reason I want you to learn classical piano is because I want you to be able to go across the tracks and play your music.” The tracks in a southern city separates the city. One side is black, the other side is white. So in our city the south side was where all the black folks live. The north side was where the white folks lives. So she said, “I want you to be able to go on the white side of town and play classical music.” So I was taught how to play classical piano, and I literally would go on the other side of the tracks and start playing wine and cheese parties and so on. But my grandmother was able to see the future. And she goes, “When I say across the tracks I don’t just mean in Terrell and those people over there, I mean the metaphoric. I mean across the tracks like everywhere in the world. Music connects you to the whole world.””

-Jamie Foxx

23.

“I remember meeting Ray Charles, walking down to his studio, and I said “Mr Charles, I’m just trying to do the best I can to do your movie, your biopic,” and he says, “If you can play the blues man, shit, you can do anything.” And I say, “What you mean?” He says, “Well can you play the blues, that’s what I’m asking!” And I say “Yeah, I guess so.” So we sit down and all of the hard work that my grandmother put in, all of the days that my grandfather drove me to piano lessons, here I am sitting with a legend, and I was playing the blues with Ray Charles. And as we’re playing he moved into some intricate stuff, and I was like ooh shit I gotta catch up! And I hit a wrong note. And he stopped, because his ears are very sensitive. “Now why the hell would you do that? Why you hit the note like that, that’s the wrong note man, shit!” I say, “I’m sorry Mr Charles, I just…” He says, “Let me tell you something buddy. The notes are right underneath your fingers baby. You just gotta take the time to play the right notes. That’s life.” So that was a lesson. You got across the tracks, now you got Ray Charles explaining to you; now that you’re across the tracks, what notes are you going to play?”

-Jamie Foxx

24.

There’s this book called Without Sanctuary. It’s a book where a guy went around the south during slavery and documented lynchings. He would take photos and make postcards. Right now we think about lynching and go uggh, but back then it was common place in America, it was a party. People would get their food, some drinks, pack a picnic and they’d go down and watch the lynching. And so you’d have people sending postcards saying “Hey here’s the lynching of Nig*** Charlie, I hope you like it, hope all is well, how are the kids, bla bla bla…”

25.

We don’t control our own narratives. The media controls it. When you hear the names Bieber, Chris Brown, Jennifer Aniston, you already have an image in your mind, and it’s not from the person, it’s from the media. And the media needs to be salacious or it doesn’t get reported, because no one will read it and it won’t make any money.

26.

If you have writer’s block, write about what makes you angry.

27.

If Jamie Foxx could give advice to his 30 year old self it would be to prepare for things to move fast. 40 is going to come very fast. So start preparing for the future. And the advice he would give to his 40 year old self would be “Stay young in your body, but grow up in your mind.”

28.

If Jamie Foxx could put a billboard anywhere, it would say “Ball out. Have a great time. Go to church. Love somebody. Teach somebody. Get angry a little bit. Have as much fun as you can.”

29.

To teach 9th graders, Jamie would teach them to:

-Interact with people. It’s tough to see young people always on their phones. Interact with real people.

-Interact with people from all over the world. Because you become narrow when you’re just all about “my block.” And just being about your block in today’s world is going to hurt us. We don’t understand how something in the Middle East affects us in North Dakota. Get the education of people all around the world. Know your history, know why we’re here.

-Hustle. Your hustle muscle is the most important thing. When you hustle and go get it, that alleviates your problems. When you don’t hustle or leave it to chance, and you didn’t give it your all, you start to worry about things. If you hustle, it’ll take up a lot of your time, so you won’t even have time to worry. You put that hard work in, and that takes 70% of your worry away because you gave it your all.

-Reflect. Sit still for a minute. When you’re working, working, working, that will strain you. So you got to be able to decompress and chill. Whatever it is that you chill with – your home, your friends. Take time out. If it’s out of your hands it’s out of your hands. You’ll get a better crack at it tomorrow.


From the Joe Rogan Experience with Eddie Huang (author of Fresh Off The Boat):

30.

Lifting weights affects your fine motor skills, which you use for things like pool, drawing, basketball. Because your muscles get sore and it affects that soft touch judgment.

31.

When you lift weights don’t go to failure. The body isn’t meant to go failure. Save it for the next rep. More is not better. And generally all things in the world follow the same principles. For example in cooking, more is not better. In music, more is not better. You need negative space. Things need room to breathe.

32.

Everything in moderation, including moderation. If someone says get shots, fuck yeah, let’s do it. Just don’t do it all the time.

33.

Social media doesn’t really register. Like 10,000 followers, a million followers. It doesn’t register. 10,000 people following you is a lot of people. That’s a college campus.

34.

They legalised weed in Colorado and now real estate is up 19%. Colorado is charging 39% taxes on weed and made more money this year on weed than on alcohol. It’s changing the economy over there.

35.

Ted Cruz wanted to pass a law that would put you in jail for owning dildos.

36.

If you earn more than $34,000 a year you are in the top 1% of the world.

37.

“If we’ve got Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders as the only hopes to be commander-in-chief of the greatest army the world has ever known, for fuck’s sure we are doing something wrong. We’re 100% doing it wrong. These are not the great scholars and great intellectuals we need to help run this world. There’s no one amongst them that has a brilliant philosophy. When you looking at Bernie and Hillary, and Bernie as much as I love him and as much as I love some of his ideas, you see that guy and Hillary and they’re bickering back and forth during these debates, that’s so unbecoming of someone whose supposed to be president, especially some dude that’s in his sixties and some lady that covers everything except the very top of her neck, its bizarre. Like you’re supposed to be further along in this crazy journey than us if you want to be the president, you should be so far ahead that you have some lessons you can impart upon the rest of us, you have some ideas about how we can improve our policies, you have some ideas on what laws we can establish that could probably better protect us against greed and evil corporations and from people that are raping the world of all it’s natural resources.”

-Joe Rogan

38.

“The really smart people have other ways to control and rule the planet. I don’t think the president is actually the most powerful person. Like Michael Bloomberg – why would Bloomberg run? He can already call shots from where he’s at, he has more money than fucking anybody…I think the people who really have power are looking at the president thinking, ha, he’s a puppet.”

-Eddie Huang

39.

“People are saying that when you raise minimum wage it’s going to fuck up businesses. But you know where we also heard that argument before? Slavery. People were like, you take away slaves and all these businesses are going to fail. Well guess what, you can’t just have someone work for you all day and not pay them shit.”

-Joe Rogan

40.

“Guys who can’t fuck hot girls are always mad at them. They can’t fuck them, they’re mad at them. And girls who see hot girls, wish they could be those hot girls, so they’re mad at them too. Hot girls take more heat than anybody on the planet.”

  • Joe Rogan

41.

“For all the boys out there listening, and girls too if you’re lesbians; if you go to a girl’s page and it’s all this stuff about love and what true love is and when you find the one you’ll know; fucking run. Run from that person. Because that person is probably never happy and they just sit around posting memes about what true love is on the internet. And they’re going to make you go to brunch. Those people like brunch. And you’re an asshole if you gotta pay someone to make eggs. If you want eggs on the weekend, just fucking make eggs. You can’t make eggs?”

-Joe Rogan/Eddie Huang

42.

“The thing with a lot of these chefs that win these awards – Food & Wine Best New Chef, Michelin, James Beard – a lot of the times it’s because they can speak English, they can communicate with the writers and the writers can write a story about them. They’re not winning because it’s the best food. There’s a bit of a thing with food – the literati, the intelligence, the blogs, the magazines, they’re always electing people they can tell a story about and speak English; it’s not about the food. I think the people of ethnic cultures get upset when there’s somebody else that didn’t live the life, didn’t grow up with it and isn’t the best at it, representing it. If there’s somebody from the outside, he better be the fucking best, otherwise get somebody who lived this life and knows all the history and culture and identity attached to this food and let them speak for their own food. It’s not the fault of these white chefs that journalists want to give them these awards. If someone wants to give them award, I don’t expect them to throw it on the fucking ground. The problem is the media and the people giving these awards saying, “This is the best chef, this is the best Mexican food”, it’s really obnoxious to the people of that culture. They’re picking a guy they can communicate with easily, makes their job easy, and can tell a story that’s easily disseminated amongst the masses. If you’re going to go to a source, why don’t you just go to the source? Andy Ricker is a good friend of mine, and when people talk about Thai food in America they go to him, and he’s a white guy from Portland! But to Andy’s credit, he puts the names of the Thai people that taught him things on his menu. As much as he can, he pushes the credit, and he pushes people towards the Thai people he learned from, so they can get it from the source. But these journalists are fucking lazy. They don’t care. They don’t go talk to those people – it’s harder. It’s easier to just call a guy who speaks English and can communicate with you.”

-Eddie Huang


From The Tim Ferriss Show with BJ Miller (triple amputee, doctor):

43.

People are always searching for meaning. But what about meaninglessness? Or purposelessness? Just smelling a cookie. Watching a ball game. No meaning at all. Just doing things that feel good.

44.

“We are here to fart around and don’t let anyone tell you anything different.” – Kurt Vonnegut

45.

Ambition can be a bad word. There is a lot of bad behaviour done in the name of ambition.

46.

There’s a documentary called Grizzly Man which is supposed to be pretty amazing.

47.

Hospitals are not equipped to deal with death. It’s sterile, full of machinery, and the dead body needs to be removed quickly because someone else needs the room. For the clinician, the family, the nurses, grief cannot happen. There’s no space. The grief is actually suppressed in a way. In (some) hospices, they make room for death, so in death people can grieve, and are encouraged and given time to remember the beauty of life.


From The Tim Ferriss Show with Josh Waitzkin (child chess prodigy):

48.

When you hold your breath, it’s CO2 build up that makes you want to breathe, not oxygen deprivation.

49.

People tend to over-steer and over-calibrate a lot. If you have a life changing experience, don’t take too big a lesson from it, and don’t take too small a lesson from it. Just take the right lessons from it.

50.

We can intuitively feel things way before we are consciously aware of them. The investor can sense danger or opportunity before it happens. The hunter can sense the bear or the shark, then he looks for it. The chess player can sense danger or opportunity. You sense it, then you look for it. But to sense it you have to have stilled your waters internally. Then u can sense it and start calculating a game plan before it happens.

51.

Dreaming Yourself Awake is supposed to be a good book about lucid dreaming.


From The Tim Ferriss Show with Kevin Costner:

52.

Kevin Costner tells his kids every day that they’re special, but he ends that sentence with, “That doesn’t mean you’re better.”

53.

Kevin Costner would have people working in his yard and will stay there all day working with them, and the workers will say, “Is he going to stay here all day? I thought he’s a movie star?” And he stays all day. This is how he shows his kids he’s not too good to work with anyone.

54.

When it comes to writing, if you feel like you’re walking down the street naked incredibly nervous about what you’re about to say, you might just be getting it right.

55.

Coney Island was the most popular place on the planet at the turn of the century. Bigger than Paris, bigger than Chicago, because all the inventors were going there. They were allowed to do things. This guy who said “Hey, I think I know how to keep babies alive with incubation,” and they just ran him out of town. Coney Island said, “Come do it here.” And it was the most popular exhibit, you could walk in and see these babies that were kept alive. Edison, all these guys, were hanging around Coney Island. It was the place to be in the world. The documentary to watch is Coney Island, narrated by David McCullough.

56.

“I’m in accounting class, and it’s not happening for me. I know I’m not supposed to be there. I know I’m going to be at the wrong end when the test happens, because I don’t like it, but because of my conservative background – you graduate high school, you go to college and you get a college degree and you get a job. So what do I do? I turn off to the teacher and I open up this little student newspaper, and I’m winging through the newspaper and on the back of it is a play, an audition, for a thing named Rumplestiltskin and I just thought, “I’d like to try that.” So I closed the newspaper, I listened to the teacher drone on, I saw the latest pop quiz and I was last, but what I knew at that moment was I was going to that audition the next day. I was excited about the next day. It’d been a long time in my college life since I’d been excited about the next day.

And I drove down and was almost killed, literally, I was going down the 55 freeway in Orange County, and in that time the freeway hadn’t been finished completely, so there were stop lights on the freeway, and as I’m going down there my accelerator broke and went to the floor on this old Datsun pickup, and all of a sudden I saw the brake lights up ahead and my speedometer’s going from 60 to 70 to 80 and it’s not slowing, and I’m probably going to hit those people at 90 miles an hour and kill them, kill myself, and I don’t know why the engine was designed this way but the floor just pulled it, shoooosh, straight down to the bottom. So I threw the clutch in and it did engage, and I was able to turn the key off and coasted to a stop, pulled over into the emergency lane, didn’t kill anybody. I jumped out of that fucking car, hopped over that fence and hitch hiked to my audition. Because I wasn’t going to miss it. I left it on the freeway. Because I had some place I wanted to be. I had a place where something was going to happen.

Of course nothing did, I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t have enough skill. I didn’t really know about Rumplestiltskin, I didn’t really know my fairy tales, I figured there was a prince, I’ll just go out for the prince maybe. And I didn’t get it. But my imagination started to burn about the possibilities…
I suddenly started to become the student that I wasn’t in college. I went to UCLA and took two classes in film financing and film budgeting – I had already read the book, the entire book. I was interested. I was interested in my own life the way I used to be interested in it when I was a kid…I started to fall in love with something. I somehow figured out if I didn’t make myself happy, I’d never be happy. If I didn’t pursue what was whispering to me, I’d absolutely be a failure, I’d absolutely be an unhappy person. When I could articulate that, that I didn’t care anymore what anybody thought about what I did except me, all the weight of the world came off my shoulders, and everything became possible.”

-Kevin Costner

57.

“I didn’t tell a lot of people that I acted because nobody likes to be around a pining actor. But what happened was all of a sudden when I started to emerge, Big Chill moved to Fandango moved to American Flyers moved to Silverado, suddenly it seemed like it was happening very fast. And then when I decided I would direct which was about two pictures later, people thought wow he’s moving really, really fast. What they didn’t know was that I had been dreaming of this moment for 6 to 7 years before that. Then when it was starting to happen – I had already been planning for these things. So what was fast for other people wasn’t fast for me.”

-Kevin Costner

58.

“I was the one person in my group that started to emerge and things started to go well for me. So I started trying to drag my friends along with me and get them interviews and so on, and Michael Blake was one of those. So I got Michael 8 or 9 interviews, and every one of them went south, I’d get a phone call saying Michael insulted us, he told us we didn’t know what we were doing, so those calls were getting difficult for me because I was trying to help him.

Then somewhere down the line he really crossed the line with me and said some things and next thing I know I had my hands on him and had him up against the wall…I thought really our relationship was over then, because I’d put my hands on him, but Michael three weeks later says to me, like a typical writer, “I don’t have any place to live”, so I said “Okay, come live at our house.” And every night he’d be like “I’m writing something, you wanna hear it?” and I’d say no, and every night it was like, “Can I read you something?” and I’m like no, because I was sick of him. And now I’m having to look at him have cereal in my house every morning and every night, and I got one spare bedroom and my wife is even beginning to wonder about him. She’s saying, “Look he’s downstairs reading to our kids in his underwear!” And my kids are five years old they can’t understand the story he’s reading. So I just told her Michael’s fine, don’t worry, and she said “Well I’m not so fine with it after two months.” So I say Mike, you’re going to have to go.

So Mike goes and spends some time at another one of our friend’s, and after 3 weeks he’s done and he gives me this manuscript and says, “I hope you read it.” But I just didn’t want anything to do with him for a while, he bugged me so much. So he split, he went down to Arizona and worked at a Chinese restaurant washing dishes at night and killing raccoons during the day at this ranch. And he would call me up and say “Did you read my thing?” and I’d say “No…” and this went on for about three weeks. Then I get a letter and it says, “I’m cold” so I send him sleeping bags and a stove and some stuff. And he goes “Did you read my thing?” and I say no.
One night, I pick it up. About four months later, five months later. I start reading and I read it all that night. It was Dances With Wolves. And I was really proud of him. I was really, really proud of him. I called him up and said, “I’m going to make this into a movie. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, because I don’t have the money, but I’m gonna do it, and you’re going to write the screenplay.” We made that movie about two years later, and Mike won the Oscar.”

-Kevin Costner


From The Tim Ferriss Show with Mike Shinoda (from Linkin Park):

59.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

60.

A music magazine does not interview you because they love music. They interview you because they need fresh content to bring in ad dollars.

61.

Don’t benchmark what you do against your peers or competition. Compare it to something that is completely unrelated. If you’re a musician, there’s no reason you can’t learn something or get ideas from people who make cars or apps or cooking.

62.

Mike Shinoda’s favourite book is Zen & The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance.

63.

“When we take an album it takes around 9 months from start to finish. In contrast, when we were making this most recent album, next door to us was a world-renowned pop singer’s session. And this person showed up on Day 1, and they were there for about 15 minutes. On Day 2 they showed up for less than 15 minutes. And on Day 3 they neglected to show up at all, and the song was actually done. And I was talking to their people like, “How is this even possible?” I don’t even know if I’d be able to call myself an artist if I was the one just showing up for 25 minutes and a song was done.”

-Mike Shinoda

64.

“We got turned down by every label, indie and major, but eventually we worked our way into Warner Bros. The guys who signed us were kinda new, and they started to get nervous, they were like, “You guys need a gimmick. We want to dress Joe in a lab coat and a cowboy hat, and Chester you should kick a shoe off at every show.” It was stupid! Stupid record company stuff that sounds like stuff out of a movie, but it was absolutely true and these were real suggestions! Like if you went back and said something today they’d be like “Oh no I was totally joking.” I assure you they were not joking. We were sitting in the room and they were literally ready to buy Joe a lab coat, and put beakers in front of his turntables. So we got to this point making the album and we were halfway there and they tried to run away with the whole thing and change everything. They wanted to kick me out of the band, they’re talking to Chester telling him he’s the star, and he’s like “But this is Mike’s band, I’ve only been in the band for a few months.” So we all talked as a band and basically stood up to these guys. We said you can shelf us, which effectively meant we’d be in record label limbo for the rest of our career – we’d never put out a record. Or, they can just accept that this is who we are and let us make the album we want to make.”

-Mike Shinoda


From The Tim Ferriss Show with Luis von Ahn (founder of Duolingo):

65.

When your kids do something good, instead of saying “Good job, you’re really smart” say “Good job, you worked really hard on that.” The former makes them think they can do things without hard work, the latter acknowledges the value of hard work. Luis’ parents did this and he credits this for his strong work ethic.

66.

Around the year 2000, this guy called Udi Manber, he was some big shot at Yahoo, went to Carnegie Mellon University to talk about ten problems Yahoo didn’t know how to solve. Luis was a student at the time. Back then one of Yahoo’s problems was people creating bots to sign up for millions of free email accounts, and the people at Yahoo didn’t know how to stop this. So Luis came up with a test to see if the person was a human: it was just some distorted characters the entity had to read. And it turned out humans could read them quite well and computers couldn’t. He developed it and showed it to Udi Manber and it was up on Yahoo two weeks later, which meant it must have been a crazy big problem, because it’s a miracle for a big corporation to implement something that quickly. From then on every other website started using it. Five years later, Luis did a quick calculation to see how many people were using Capchas, by then every website was using it, and the number he came up with was 200 million. So every day 200 million people typed in a Capcha, and it takes around 10 seconds to do it, so that was 500,000 hours a day humanity was wasting going into writing Capchas. So he came up with this new version of Capcha called Recapcha, where every time people typed in a Capcha, they were also helping to digitize books. For example, Google is digitizing all the world’s books. How it worked was people would send a physical book to India and somebody in India takes a digital photograph of every page of the book. The problem was, the computer needed to be able to decipher every word, and the computer can’t do that very well. So he took the words computers couldn’t read and got people to read them as they typed in Capchas. So when you’re typing Capchas on the internet, you’re actually helping to digitize all the world’s books.

67.

If you are an employee of a university, or you’re a student and you’re funded by the university, like a PhD student funded by a grant, the university can take ownership of your intellectual property. They also have a licensing agreement in case you want to form a company, and the university will own a fraction of your company. This is actually what happened with Google; it was developed inside Stanford.

68.

Zero To One is Luis von Ahn’s favourite book.

69.

There are 1.2 billion people in the world learning a foreign language. Of that, 800 million satisfy 3 properties: The language they are learning is English, they’re learning it to get a job or a better job, and they’re from a low socioeconomic background. In other words, they are learning English to escape poverty. However, most ways of learning English are very expensive, for example, Rosetta Stone is between $500 – $1,000. In a poor country that’s 2-4 months salary. Language schools are even more expensive. Then, if you do manage to learn English, you need a certificate that says, “Yes, I can speak English” before anyone will give you a job or or a work visa or let you into a university. To apply for a work visa in the UK, you need this English certificate. If you want to enrol in a US university, you need this English certificate. To get a job at a multinational in a non-English speaking country, you need this English certificate. So to do that you need to do this test, which usually costs around $250-$300, this is a huge market; about 15 billion a year is spent on these tests that certify English levels. And the test is not normally held in places where people from low socioeconomic backgrounds live – you need to go to a testing centre which are only in the big cities, which means you need to travel. And this kind of travel isn’t the same as in America, where you get on a bus for 30 minutes. It’s hundreds of dollars and sometimes one or two days on a bus, sometimes to a different country. So even after you’ve learned English, you need to spend $250, a month’s salary, on a test, and you need to take a few days off work to spend even more money to travel to some big city for it. That is what someone in a developing country goes through to learn English. This was the whole idea behind Duolingo. So people could learn English completely free, then go to the Duolingo testing centre and do the test over webcam for $20 and get a certificate. It’s democratizing education.

70.

In Tokyo, there is a super famous sushi restaurant from this guy Jiro, from the documentary Jiro Dreams Of Sushi. But most people don’t know his son also has a restaurant in Roppongi Hills, which is the mirror image of Jiro’s, because one of them is right handed and one of them is left handed.

71.

In one of the first Duolingo branding meetings, one of the co-founders, this guy called Severin said, “I don’t know anything about design, so I don’t really care what you decide; I will just say that I hate the colour green.” So everyone thought it would be hilarious if they made the logo green. That’s why the Duolingo logo is green, it’s literally a practical joke on the co-founder.

72.

Rock climbing is very good for your posture. It requires you to do the opposite of what you do when seated at a desk or a computer. It causes you to look up and arch you thoracic spine, and use your legs.

73.

Tim Ferriss’ favourite podcast is Hardcore History.

74.

There are many tech magnates and icons, people whose name everybody would know, who cite Genghis Khan & The Making Of The Modern World as one of their favourite books.

75.

When you hear of an acquisition price, let’s say a company gets acquired for 100 million bucks by Facebook or Google or something. Usually the acquisition has two components; one is an upfront payment, and the second is a stay bonus. Basically you get the stay bonus over time if you stick around for a while. It makes sense for companies to do this because when they acquire another company they don’t want everybody to split. So it forces people, especially the founders to stick around – after a year you get this much, after two years you this much etc. The stay bonus is often less than 50% of the acquisition price, but not a lot less.

76.

If you’re following a lower carb, lower starch diet, sprinkle a little salt into your water when you drink it. When you reduce your carb intake you tend to pee a lot because the water goes straight through you. A bit of sodium helps with retention.

77.

“A lot of people say education is the thing that can bring equality to the different social classes. I always thought the opposite – that education actually brought inequality. Because what happens is the people who have money can buy the best education in the world, and because of that they remain having a lot of money. And the people that don’t have money barely learn how to read and write, and therefore remain without money.”

-Luis von Ahn


The Tim Ferriss Show with Neil Strauss (Author of The Game):

78.

Writer’s block doesn’t exist. It’s basically impotence or performance anxiety. If you sit there and you think “This has to be the ultimate book ever written and my whole self-esteem rests on this,” the bigger the block will get. It’s all performance anxiety. When you put pressure on yourself to write the greatest book ever that’s when you start to get writer’s block.

79.

Whatever you do, just write to the end. The first draft is just for you, nobody else is going to see it. Just finish it. Now within that mess, you have your book. You just need to carve it and shape it, but it’s there.

80.

You don’t know what the first sentence of your book will be until you know what the last sentence will be.

81.

If you want everyone to be your fan, nobody is going to be your fan. If nobody will have a negative response, then nobody is going to have a positive response either.

82.

When you’re doing something creative and you’re in a productive state, and someone interrupts you, it takes 20 minutes to get back to that state of mind. Even if you’re interrupted for just 2 seconds, it’ll take you 20 minutes to get back to where you were where everything makes sense again. So if you’re interrupted 3 times, that’s an hour of your day wasted. If you want to do something creative, work in a place where nobody can interrupt you.

83.

As soon as something becomes challenging you want to do something else. It’s in our nature as mammals. We just want to conserve our energy.

84.

If you get interviewed, don’t go on to plug or sell yourself. Just go on to represent yourself. Be the most awesome version of yourself. When someone goes on some interview and is constantly going “Visit my website, it’s www….” it makes you not even want to go to their stupid website. So don’t mention your books or your blog or anything. Just represent yourself. If your name is on the interview, people will find you.

85.

The biggest mistake you can make is to accept the norms of your time. By not accepting norms is where you innovate with technology, with books etc. So not accepting norms is the secret to really big steps and changing the world.

86.

Ayn Rand has the theory of the white tennis shoes. Basically writers will do anything they can to avoid writing. If there are white tennis shoes in your vicinity, and there is the tiniest blemish on them, a writer will rationalise cleaning those shoes before writing.

87.

Two of Neil Strauss’ favourite books are The Painted Bird and Life Is Elsewhere.

88.

“A lot of people feel like they should read self help books because that’s knowledge, we don’t want to waste any time, we want to be efficient, but people learn through metaphor; that’s how the first stories were told, that’s what the Bible is, metaphor and storytelling are how the brain actually learns information. When you just get it as data, that’s good for computers, that’s not good for human learning. So I really encourage people to read great works of fiction and literature because I’ve learned more about life from fiction.”

-Neil Strauss

89.

“Whenever you are receiving criticism or feedback about yourself, use the Catcher’s Mitt philosophy. When someone gives you feedback you catch it in your catcher’s mitt. Then you look at it and one of three things are possible; if it’s true, you put it in your head. If it’s not true you throw it away. If it’s a maybe, you keep it in the mitt and you show it to a bunch of other people, ask people what they think of it. But say you get a piece of feedback, and you say nah, I don’t think that’s true. Then your wife says it, and you’re still like nah I still don’t think it’s true, and you throw it away. And then you get it from one or two other people, so you don’t throw it away, you look it. That’s when you get the real truth. It’s the piece of feedback you reject that keeps coming back to you, you re-evaluate it and you might get an epiphany that really changes you. That’s where growth is.”

-Neil Strauss


The Tim Ferriss Show with Arnold Schwarzenegger:

90.

Ivan Reitman told Arnold Schwarzzenegger he thought he could do well in a comedy, so they agreed to do a film together. And they came up with the idea for Twins (the working title was ‘The Experiment’), and they approached Danny DeVito to do the film with them. They all sat in a restaurant and wrote up a deal on a napkin; they were going to make the movie for free, no salaries, and instead they would receive a big back-end. Ivan took this deal to the studio – he took it to Tom Pollock who was running Universal Studios, and he said “This is great we can make this movie for $16.5 million if you don’t take salaries. And we’ll give you a big back-end; we’ll give you 37% to split between the three of you.” Arnold made more money on that movie than any other movie he’s ever made. And after the movie Tom Pollock said, “All I can tell you is this is what you guys did to me” and he bent over and pulled his pockets out and said, “You fucked me and cleaned me out. I’ll never make a deal like that again.” Every day over Christmas the movie made $3 or $4 million. Worldwide it made $260 million+, and cost around $18 million to make.

91.

“By the time I came to America and started competing over here, it was very clear when I said to someone, “Let me ask you something, do you have any knee injuries or something like that?” Then they would look at me and say, “No, why? No. I have no knee injury at all. No, my knees feel great. Why are you asking?” I said, “Well because your thighs look a little slimmer to me. I thought maybe you can’t squat or maybe there’s some problem with leg extension.” He says, “Really?” And then I saw them all for two hours in the gym always going in front of the mirror and checking out their thighs. People are vulnerable about those things. Naturally now when you have a competition, you use all this. And so you ask people were they sick for a while, they look a little leaner, or did you take any salty foods lately and they say, “Why?” and I say, “Because it looks like you have water retention and it looks like you’re not as ripped as you looked a week or so ago.” It throws people off in an unbelievable way. They walk away like this didn’t bother them at all, but then you can see, as they walk around the pump up room, and when you warm up for the competition, you can see them kind of thinking to themselves, going to the mirror and checking it out secretly and all that stuff. I always felt that sports are not just a physical thing. As a matter of fact, I felt that the mentality and the mental strength in sports and the psychology in sports is much more important than the physical thing because, in reality, when I watch a Mr. Olympia competition or Mr. Universe competition, they all look pretty much the same, the top five guys. But what makes one emerge is the way he acts. If he acts like a winner, if he seems smiling, having a great time on stage and such. So I felt one should use the psychology; one should use everything.”

-Arnold Schwarzenegger

92.

You look too big, you’re too monstrous, too muscular, you will never get in the movies.” That’s what producers said in the beginning in Hollywood. That’s also what agents said and managers. “I doubt you’re going to be successful because today’s idols, I mean this is not the 70’s Arnold. Today’s idols are Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Woody Allen, all little guys. Those are the sex symbols. Those are the hot stars. Look at you. You weigh 250 pounds or something like that. That time is over.” But I felt very strongly and had a very clear vision that the time would come that someone would appreciate that, and sure enough, when people saw me on talk shows, they got inspired. I did Stay Hungry and Pumping Iron the documentary, the Streets of San Francisco, and worked with Ann-Margret and Kirk Douglas in The Villain and then all of a sudden I got the contract for Conan the Barbarian. Bang, there we were with a $20M movie which today would be the equivalent of a $200M movie. So my whole plan worked and I was so right. Even John Milius said after the movie that if we wouldn’t have had Schwarzenegger, we would have had to build one because of the body. When I did Terminator, Jim Cameron said if we wouldn’t have had Schwarzenegger, then we couldn’t have done the movie because only he sounded like a machine. It was so believable that he actually played a machine. Here was the greatest compliment; that the very things that the agents and the managers and the studio executives said would be a total obstacle became an asset and my career started taking off.”

-Arnold Schwarzenegger

93.

“I felt that when I grew up, even though we were very poor, I had someone there 24 hours a day for me to improve, to learn, to do sports, and to get attention and to get the love and to get the discipline. It was a tough upbringing, but it was a combination of great discipline and also love. I felt like that having someone there with you 24 hours a day from the time in the morning that you get up to the time in the morning that you go to school, there were the teachers there, there were the coaches there, there was the school principal and all of them. And then you go home and there was your mother there helping you with your homework and then in the evening your dad comes home and takes you to the soccer field and does sports with you. I traveled through all 50 states and visited one school after the next and always at 3:00 I saw half of the kids wandering around and the other half were getting picked up, and I said “what happens with those kids out there?” And I felt bad for the kids who don’t get an equal shot because the only way you can be successful is if you really get this kind of attention and don’t float around on the streets. Then you get involved with gangs and with drugs, with violence and, like I said, teenage pregnancy and juvenile crimes. You end up in jail and it doesn’t serve anybody and it costs the community a lot of money. 70% of the kids come from homes where both of the parents are working and they do not have time for the kids in the afternoon. Who is helping these kids with homework? Who is helping these kids with tutoring and with sports programs and adult supervision and giving the kid the love that the kid needs and the confidence building that the kid needs?”

-Arnold Schwarzenegger

94.

When Arnold was asked who he thinks of when he hears the word “success”:

“Mikhail Gorbachev, someone that grows up under Communism and then when he’s on the top realizes that the system doesn’t work and then dismantles it. I mean think about the chutzpah it takes to do that. Also Cincinnatus. He was a Roman Emperor in the Roman Empire. Cincinnati, the city, by the way, is named after him because he was a big idol of George Washington. The reason why he is a great example of success is because he was asked reluctantly to step into power and become the Emperor because Rome was about to get annihilated by all the wars and battles. He was a farmer. Powerful guy. He went and took on the challenge, took over Rome, took over the army and won the war. After they won the war, he felt he’s done his mission and was asked to go and be the Emperor and he gave the ring back and went back to farming. He didn’t only do this once, he did it twice. They went back later to him once again. When they tried to overthrow the empire from within, they asked him back and he came back, he cleaned up the mess through great, great leadership, which he had. He had tremendous leadership quality in bringing people together. And again he gave the ring back and went back to farming. As we all know, it’s very addictive to be powerful. It’s very hard to let that go. So imagine someone like that to let go of being the Emperor. It’s a whole different thing. So that’s very admirable. When I think about success, he’s always somebody I would think to put in that category.”

-Arnold Schwarzenegger


From The Joe Rogan Experience with Lance Armstrong:

95.

Cortisone in cycling is banned. But in the NFL a guy gets hurt, goes into the changing room at halftime, commentators are like “He took a cortisone shot, he’s gonna play!” and he rushes 100 yard and he’s a hero.

96.

EPO thickens your blood, increasing your red blood cell count. There was no test of EPO, no science for it, so they just screened if your blood was too thick (over 50% hematocrit). And if it was over, you couldn’t race. So people didn’t stop using it, they just juiced up to 50%.

97.

“Any time anybody goes through anything, people either lean in or lean out. Some people lean out, meaning they run away, and you’re surprised by that. You’re like, “What the fuck, that guy was at every champagne party we threw in Paris, now I haven’t heard from in 3 years.” But then there are the ones who lean in, and most of those people don’t surprise you, but then there are others that lean in and you’re like, “Wow, I didn’t know you had my back like that.” So you get surprised on both sides. And at the end of it all, you look around and you’re like, these are the people that are going to ride anything out with me, which is kind of cool, it’s refreshing to know. If you’re loading up a bus with all your most loyal friends, I fucking know who is on that bus now.”

-Lance Armstrong

98.

“On the tour you have the yellow jersey, it’s the guy who wins, you have the polka dot jersey who is technically the best climber, and you have the green jersey who is technically the best sprinter. Those 7 years, the green jersey was won by Zabel who admitted to having doped all 7 of those years, the polka dot jersey was won by Virenque from France who admitted to having doped all those years. Those all stand. Everything is still there. But the yellow jersey has been erased. Second place, third place, all those places are still there, the years prior to me when somebody had admitted or was caught. All still there.”

-Lance Armstrong

99.

“Greatness and madness are next door neighbours and they borrow each other’s sugar. There is no way you can get that good at something without almost losing you’re fucking mind. You can’t be a regular guy and get there.”

-Joe Rogan


From The Tim Ferriss Show with Rolf Potts (author of Vagabonding):

100.

There is an idea that things in excess become their opposite. Rolf has a friend that has around 10 homes around the US. Of course, he’s only at one home, or none of the homes, at any one time. But he has about 5-10 staff at each home. So he now feels like instead of them working for him, he’s the one who works for them. Because it’s almost like they own the homes, because they live in them, and he’s just continually working to pay for these homes everyone else is living in. Money that provides you with freedom actually takes away your freedom after a certain point of excess.

101.

Money is a tool for letting you live a time-rich and experience-rich life. Don’t let money itself be a metric for your success.

102.

Many young travellers know nothing but the constant connectivity of travel. They go travelling for 6 weeks and know where they’re going to sleep every single night. It’s the serendipity of travel that’s at risk. You can stumble into a bad experience as easily as you can stumble into a good experience. But it is those unplanned, unexpected good experiences that change us, to the very core of our being. If you cant unplug, you risk robbing yourself of those experiences. Unplugging is very important.

103.

The principles of Vagabonding apply to life in non-travel ways. The internet allows us to be experts about everything. But actually the beginner’s mind is one of the most emotionally daunting and exciting parts of travel, where you don’t try to be an expert. Allow yourself to be a child again. When you go to a new city, you’re as dumb as a five year old. You can hardly read, it’s dangerous to cross the street. This is actually a gift of travel – it allows you to have the vulnerability to be very young, but also the excitement of being very young. But it’s not exclusive to travel – you can apply this to all aspects of your life.

104.

Ongoing success can be as meaningless as the ongoing lack of success. There’s a point where you achieve your goals and then it’s like, now what? This is the American way of thinking, where achievement is thought of as linear. The eastern way is more circular, where achievement and then appreciating the achievement tie into each other. There comes a time where appreciating the achievement is as important as the achievement itself.

105.

“It is so tortured to write well. One beautiful, smooth-reading, logical, inspirational paragraph of prose is the process of a day of labor and self loathing.” [Bren: Amen]. Just because someone has a beautiful quiet place to write, don’t think they are laughing in glee with a glass of wine writing brilliant prose. It doesn’t get easier. The goal of writing is simply to make that tortured process be fruitful.

106.

Kurt Vonnegut says there are two types of writers – swoopers and bashers. Swoopers zoom through the first draft, finish the whole thing, then spend eternities working on draft two and draft 32 and draft 67 until they get it right. Bashers go sentence by sentence. By the time page one is done, the first paragraph has been rewritten 20 times. Women tend to be swoopers and men tend to be bashers. (Bren: I’m a swooper!).

107.

If you go into a coffee shop while travelling and see a bunch of old guys sitting there, they see each other every day. When they see you, it’s the most exciting thing that’s happened to them all week. Their wives have stopped listening to them, their children have stopped listening to them, so they can take you under their wing, and the things you can learn from those guys is amazing.

108.

A flaneur is someone who goes out in search of experience. It’s a French term. It was invented to be done in your hometown so you start seeing it again, because in your hometown you become so used to everything that you stop seeing things. But you can do it while you’re travelling too. People always say that everything’s been done, but its not true. Even in Paris where everything’s been done before, if you just walk for ten minutes out of the most popular areas you will see something that is unique to itself. Just embrace the way of the flaneur and be open to new experiences.

109.

Paris is like that house that’s been wallpapered so much that the only thing holding it up is the wallpaper. Everyone’s written about Paris, so you have to find a way that is against expectations, the only way to do that is to wander and find your own side of it. Some people have taken their skateboards and found a side of Paris other travellers have never seen.

110.

In life we talk a lot about optimizing things for efficiency. But if you’re on the beach in Thailand, do you want to optimise that for efficiency? If you are about to eat an Italian meal in Italy, do you want to optimise that for efficiency? Of course not, you want to savour every bit of it. That Italian meal can be a metaphor for so much of travel.

111.

Re travel: “The fears I had were is this going to be expensive? Is this going to be dangerous? Am I going to come back and be compromised professionally? And those sort of turned into the opposite – it was a lot safer than I expected, it was a lot cheaper than I expected, and I came back and for twenty years I’ve been integrating travel with a professional life that continues to diversify.”

Rolf Potts

112.

“I was talking to a fellow, he was putting together an event, it was going to be twenty or thirty people, a number of billionaires in attendance, and it’s a week long retreat of sorts. And he said to me, “Of course the billionaires can’t take a week off, so they’re only going to be there for 24-36 hours.” And I thought about that – the billionaires can’t take a week off? What the hell is the point of having their billion dollars?”

-Tim Ferriss

113.

“We live in a society where you have to be insane to turn down 50 million dollars. People were questioning Dave Chappelle’s mental health! But Dave Chappelle is a fit, happy guy, living on a farm in Ohio, hanging out with his friends. It feels like he is a guy who figured out what would make him happy, and 50 million dollars and being locked into a show wasn’t it. Similarly, John Hughes is a beloved guy. He was beloved for his teen movies. But there came a time where he didn’t want to be beholden to The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles anymore. He’s a family man, and a guy who was passionate about his creativity. And I think he chose being happy, in a city that he loved, with family members that he loved, over making The Breakfast Club 3 and another 10 million dollars. The public perception is “Oh these guys have disappeared.” They haven’t disappeared, they just realised they had the structure in place to live the lives they wanted to live, and have quietly been doing that.”

-Rolf Potts

114.

“I have a quote from the ancient Sanskrit scriptures, which is the “The king only has a half a bed and the food on his plate for all the grain in his fields. Does he own the rest?” Even the kings, and they knew this 3,000 years ago – even kings only eat one meal at a time, they only sleep in one bed at a time. At the end of the day, the substance of your life is through experience. Your material wealth and your money is there to actualise your experience; to enhance your life meaning. I have nothing against material success but really know where the line is – the point at which the success you’ve achieved is getting in the way of actualising a good and meaningful and option-filled life.”

-Rolf Potts

115.

“Not only are people travelling in Mexico, Colombia, Egypt and Israel and other parts of the world you think might be dangerous, you realise there are family bloggers out there travelling with five kids to these places, or with a diabetes problem, or with physical handicaps, or with money they’ve made on a job that has a fraction of what most people earn; people who simply decided to become wealthy in time regardless of the fact they work as park rangers or exotic dancers or maintenance men. Media exists in a man bites dog world; they’re going to talk about explosions and revolutions and bad things about the world. There’s that famous phrase; war is God’s way of teaching Americans geography. Because Americans are so insular, our international understanding is pegged to major world events that don’t really represent day-to-day life in the towns around the world. So if you look past the panic-driven man bites dog media and realise that Mexico is actually a giant country and the drug violence is very isolated and there are ways to travel in a very safe way and inexpensive way, then suddenly Mexico becomes a very amazing place to travel.”

-Rolf Potts

116.

“Recent research shows that having a vacation that is actually a vacation is important for your creative mind. A cessation of obsessing on your creative life will allow your brain to work in ways that will make you more creative. If you go to the Andes for a week and you’re constantly attached to your smartphone it could actually be less advantageous to your creative career than if you just let go. Because your brain is working the same as it was back home, and the gift of travel is that your brain works in a new way. Even when you rest that obsessive part of your brain, it’s still working in its own way. When you reactivate it after unplugging, it will gift you with new ideas that it wouldn’t have come up with had you not rested it.”

-Rolf Potts


An appropriate quote to finish on, no?

If you’re still here, I’m impressed. Thanks for reading all 13,000 words of this ramble. I hope you learned something!

Buen camino,

Bren

116 Things I Learned On The Camino De Santiago

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8 thoughts on “116 Things I Learned On The Camino De Santiago

  1. Some really insightful observations, Bren. Thanks for sharing them! We sometimes tend to get lost on our own personal El Camino and it just becomes “a really long walk from A to B”, instead of the adventure it better be. Buen camino!

  2. wow that IS long! but i must say from the extent of the different perspectives that you have gathered (not including the ones you did not write) this is a happy accident/discovery while walking. Sincerely, thank you for summing up some of them for those of us who have not yet found that extra 50 hours! (someday) Cheers!

  3. Holy crap, what a post! What a great read, 13k words (!?) and lots of incredible stuff on here. Thanks for the mention of the podcast Hardcore History. My new fav 🙂 And I hope your long trek was as insightful as your words written here buddy.

    1. Can’t believe you read it all! Hah. Yeah I’ve been meaning to listen to that too, I actually tried downloading it while on the trek but internet was too shit.

  4. We did the Camino four years ago. It was the start of our Nomad life…what was the demarcation line between old and new. We began our walk in Paris and it took us 4 months to get to Santiago. It was one of the best things we ever did. And we put no limitations on what we expected. We just wanted to have the time to re-fresh, to think, to breathe. I listened to audiobooks on my ipod, my husband did the same. Other times we chatted we people who were also walking. For the first two months, we saw no other pilgrims and we liked it like that. It gave us a chance to get into our own mindset. The end of the Camino has a lot of people pouring in, I really struggled with that section as they were loud and disrespectful of others. And then I told myself there was a lesson to learn from that too. The Camino is what you make of it. And from what you posted above, you had an excellent Camino. Buen Camino

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