Tribe of Mentors: Samin Nosrat

From Tim Ferriss’ “Tribe of Mentors”, interview with Samin Nosrat.

On starting (and ending) projects

I’ve learned to envision the ideal end to any project before I begin it now – even the best gigs don’t last forever. Nor should they.

On writing

…over the course of those lessons he encouraged me to formalise my unique cooking philosophy into a proper curriculum, go out into the world and teach it, and turn it into a book.

Thanks for being here.

Photo by Oli Dale on Unsplash.


How to decide?

You get asked to do something. You’re not sure. Do you do, or not do?

Six questions to clear your head.

Q1: What’s the real ask here?

Beyond the words, emotions, appeals and logic – what exactly are you being asked to do? A good decision starts with a good understanding of the five W’s – what, when, where, why, who. And of course, how.

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

Rudyard Kipling, The Elephant’s Child

When you know the real ask, you can begin to rank your choices.

Q2: What’s in it for me?

Get selfish. What will you get out of it personally? Financial rewards or the simple satisfaction of a job well done? Figure out the payoff, in your terms.

Look from all angles. There’s always more than the obvious and prime benefit. Think especially of your reputation, especially in a business context.

Q3: What is the opportunity cost?

Opposite of question 2. When you choose a course of action you always cut off possibilities for your future self.

What are you giving up, and how much does it matter? Are there other things you want to do, but become no longer possible?

Think about the resources consumed, like money or time – can they be better used doing something else, or even being preserved (ie, choose “no”)? Will you have to call in favours from people you know, and will these relationships be harmed?

It’s like forming a risk/ reward equation in your head when you balance questions 2 and 3 against each other.

Q4: How can I cap the downside?

There’s risk in everything we do. Maybe the benefits won’t turn out as good as you hoped. Or the opportunity cost is higher than you planned. Or both.

The ask has likely been spun a bit, the truth stretched to make it seem bigger and brighter than it really is. To counter the bullshit, have an “escape hatch” so if things go bad, you can move on with minimal collateral damage.

This is important in business and standard in any sort of contract you have to sign in business and in life. Be certain it works for you and not the other way. The best time to negotiate is before you sign.

Q5: What would it look like if it was easy?

Every ask comes with implicit assumptions. Not all are valid. If by naming then and questioning them you can find a better/ faster/ cheaper way, you deliver as promised – and you get to tilt the risk/ reward equation your way. Worth thinking this through.

Q6: What will I learn?

We are all imperfect human beings. We may be good at some things but mostly, we suck big time.

Each time you choose to act one way and not another, think about the opportunities for self development that present themselves. Can you build expertise in an area where you’re lacking? Can you create a relationship that may have future value? Can you open doors that are closed to you?

Be heinously selfish. Change is relentless. You have to take every opportunity to keep yourself relevant. Lifelong learning is here to stay, at least for those with aspirations.

Like the cabin crew says every flight, “fit your own mask first before helping others.”

Thanks for being here.

Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash.

Footnote: This post was inspired by James Altucher’s podcast interview of Tim Ferriss upon the launch of his new book, Tribe of Mentors (it’s on my Christmas list).

GaryVee: Boise, Idaho

This from Gary Vaynerchuk’s YouTube Channel. It’s his keynote at Russell Brunson’s ClickFunnel conference and is dated 10 October 2017. Notes follow, not in order.

Watch what I’m doing

Don’t listen to what I’m saying, watch what I’m doing.

Spend 20% of your time and energy on things for the future, not on the things that work now. Be okay with experimenting and losing money.

What got you here won’t get you to the next phase.

Pay attention to who’s desparate. This is where the opportunity is. Look the other direction from conventional wisdom. Examples:

  • Snapchat, Facebook ads are underpriced compared with other channels.
  • LinkedIn wants to be the B2B Facebook.
  • Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod. All need apps to win.
  • Microsoft.

Always be testing things out. Taste everything. Develop what works, drop what doesn’t. Say “yes” a lot. Maintain velocity.

Art and science

Art is the product side of the business, creating and doing. Science (mathematics) is the business part of the business. Both are necessary.

The last nine years have been great for business. Sooner or later this will end. Be prepared.

Most people are average, or close to average. Need to be better than average, get there while things are good.

Recognise consumer behaviour. Example – people value time and convenience more now than they did. Even people without money will pay for extra time and convenience.

The future of audio

The next trend. Fight looming between Apple, Google, Amazon. All need apps to gain market share.

In a few years it will be audio everything. Nowhere near too late to start a podcast. Podcasts respect peoples’ time because they can be doing other things while listening. Not possible with reading or video. Key point.


Biggest benefit – you get to decide what you want to do today.

Crowded markets

Best to be first. Examples:

  • Malibu Beach real estate. Those who got in early made a lot of money. But then it wasn’t Malibu. They took a risk and won.
  • Google keywords. When it started words were a few cents only. Now, unaffordable.

Basic supply and demand. If you can’t be first, be the best. You are your own niche, no-one else as good as you, so you own that niche.

If there’s too much supply the only choice is to be better. Example – today’s best athletes would dominate yesterday’s best athletes. Because they have to be better and they practice as much as they need to be better.

Consider other income streams.


Don’t spend time predicting, always be tasting what’s there and testing to see if it works for you.

Time is valuable. Use your intuition to decide what to do and what to ignore. Use it every day and you will get better at it. Some you get right, some you get wrong. Be open to experiments and spending money.

Winning and losing

Everyone likes to be right. But no-one remembers the losses, as long as you eventually win. One out of seven is better than no wins out of no attempts.

Comes down to 6 people or less. Extended family, a few friends. Their opinion is what matters. On that basis, you win. Don’t think about the others.


Three lessons to give to your kids:

  • Be kind to everyone.
  • Don’t use their parents’ wealth or power to influence anyone.
  • Ignore political correctness. Play to win. There are no such things as “participation prizes”.

Virtual reality

Coming, but not yet. It will be a thing when normal people start to use it as something other than a novelty.

There are plenty of other things to do that have a better return on investment.

Don’t get caught up in the buzz. Go against conventional wisdom.

Strength and weakness

Empathise with haters. If they hate they are not in a good place. Use gratitude, and be grateful you’re not them.

Focus on your strengths and get others to cover your weaknesses.

Everyone has weaknesses. There are things we will never be good at. Accept this. We only spend time on correcting our weaknesses because we give credence to other peoples’ opinions. Put these to one side.

The macro thesis

Know your why. Business is not always the end game but it could be the vehicle you use to achieve something that’s important to you. Personal wealth. Philanthropy. Legacy. Could be many things, not just money.

Measure progress against this thing, not EBITDA.

Think of the most macro thesis you can come up with, and then execute for that.

Thanks for being here.

Header image: Jarin Bontrager on Unsplash.

More words about mastery

I know this is from author Stewart Emery. I can’t find the book it’s from – I heard it first in some Keith Cunningham training then Googled it.


Mastery in our careers (and in our lives!) requires that we constantly produce results beyond and out of the ordinary. Mastery is a product of consistently going beyond our limits. For most people, it starts with technical excellence in a chosen field and a commitment to that excellence. If you’re willing to commit yourself to excellence, to surround yourself with things that represent this excellence, your life will change.

It’s remarkable how much mediocrity we live with, surrounding ourselves with daily reminders that average is somehow acceptable. In fact, our world suffers from terminal normality. Take a moment to assess all the things around you that promote your being “average.” These are the things that prevent you from going beyond the limits that you’ve arbitrarily set for yourself.

The first step to mastery is the removal of everything in your environment that represents mediocrity, and one way to attain that objective is to surround yourself with people who ask more of you than you would ordinarily give of yourself. Didn’t your parents and some of your best teachers and coaches do exactly that?

Another step on the path to mastery is the removal of resentment toward the masters. Develop compassion for yourself so that you can be in the presence of a master and grow from the experience. Rather than comparing yourself to (and resenting) people who have mastery, remain open and receptive. Let the experience be like the planting of a seed within you that, with nourishment, will grow into your own individual mastery.

You see, we’re all ordinary. But rather than condemning himself for his ‘ordinariness,’ a master will embrace that ordinariness as a foundation for building the extraordinary. Rather than relying on his ordinariness as an excuse for inactivity, he’ll use it instead as a vehicle for correcting himself. It’s necessary to be able to correct yourself without invalidating or condemning yourself ­­ to use the results of the correction process to improve upon other aspects of your life. Correction is essential to power and mastery.

Stewart Emery

Thanks for being here.

Story archetype #1: Example

First up a big ‘thank you’ to and MakeItUltra for the likes on my earlier post, only minutes after it went live on a blog that had seen no action for six months. Appreciated, guys!

A few minutes ago I got this marketing email from Frank Kern, and it’s a great example of the ‘overcoming the monster’ archetype. Frank is a marketing legend and even if you never buy anything from him, his email sequences are entertaining and educational.


I’ve copied the story component of his email below. The email is much longer but I didn’t copy the salesy bit.

Frank’s email (abridged)


I sent it to you on New Year’s day but I don’t think you got it.

Admittedly off topic …but very important (especially considering it’s a New Year.)

I was listening to a presentation by pastor Rick Warren one day and he cited a verse that said, “THE BATTLE FOR YOUR LIFE IS IN YOUR MIND.”

That struck me as very profound …and ultimately true.

Think about this:

  1. Your mind creates your thoughts.
  2. Your thoughts govern your beliefs.
  3. Your beliefs guide your actions.
  4. Your actions create your LIFE.

So with that in mind, the verse is right.

The battle for your life is in your mind.

If your mind is “weirded out”, your life suffers.

May I ask you something?

Do you ever get overwhelmed?

Do you ever get “frozen” by all the “what ifs” and find yourself kind of paralyzed by uncertainty?

Do you ever walk around feeling stressed out and you don’t even know why?

PERSONALLY, I DO. (Or at least I used to.)

Yeah – I know I’m supposed to be a “big shot” or whatever but that’s just marketing.

I’m just like you. My life has its ups and downs like anyone else’s.

And I used to get freaked out, stressed out, and overwhelmed just like the next guy.


I’ve found some techniques and general “best practices” to FIGHT THE WEIRDNESS and …well…WIN.

I’ll give you an example.

In 2011 I went through a pretty heavy divorce after eleven years of marriage.

I was guilt-ridden and absolutely certain I was ruining my two daughter’s lives by doing this.

(I was wrong, thank God. Everything ended up working out perfectly.)

When that happened, I literally gave away everything I had.

Money, house, cars, you name it. Gone.

In 2012 I remarried and had a son. (As you can imagine, the tabloid-like gossip from family and friends was delightful.)

Oh yeah, two months before my son was born -my wife, Natalia, got sick and ended up in a COMA.

They didn’t expect my boy to make it. (He did, and he’s a BOSS.)

Between 2011 and 2015 I moved EIGHT TIMES in an effort to find the perfect home for my family.

In 2013 my mentor and greatest hero, my Grandfather, died.

In 2014 my youngest daughter, Katya was born.

In 2015, my father died from complications due to alcoholism.

While his body was being cremated, I was on stage presenting to a group of 100 people who paid $25,000 to be in the room.

(No pressure, right? Man…)

So the past few years have been a little …”Interesting” to say the least.

But why am I telling you this?


Each year better than the next.

Despite divorce, re-marriage, coma, two new kids, death of my heroes, and moving eight times, I literally made more money than I’d ever made in my life.

Every single year, three years in a row.

Look. To say I was under pressure would be an understatement.



I got the “mind game” worked out, that’s how.

And this week, I’m teaching a LIVE class where I’ll show you exactly how I did this.

Email continues…


  • It’s long. The pasted text is 557 words!
  • The pastor reference is a proof point. If he’s listening to a presentation by a pastor we can assume he’s in church, and therefore a Good Trustworthy Person.
  • He relates himself to the reader, “Do you ever get overwhelmed? … Personally, I do”. This is ‘getting to yes’. If a GTP can feel like that then so can I!
  • Follows straight on to say he’s past that problem. We can assume he’s now going to tell us how.

This is where his story starts. I don’t think I’d have the balls to share this level of detail but there you go, he does. Again, he confirms he’s past the problems and actually doing better than ever.


The components I see are:

  • Setting the context, then
  • Telling the story, then
  • Going for the sale.

What a great model! But then, Frank is a master at this stuff.

Thanks for being here.

Seven basic story plots

From Christopher Booker’s book “Seven Basic Plots” – his premise is that seven archetypal themes recur in every kind of storytelling.

Relevant for blog posts that start with a story. Pick one of these and run with it. Read Alex Linberger in this post. This is where I heard it first.


Following text lifted from this post and wikipedia.

#1 – Overcoming the monster

This type of story goes back through Beowulf to David and Goliath and surely a lot further than that. It’s the classic underdog story.

The protagonist sets out to defeat an antagonistic force (often evil) which threatens the protagonist and/ or protagonist’s homeland.

Ad examples include Apple’s attack on Big Brother in “1984” and American Express’s attempt to dent the dominance of Black Friday with Small Business Saturday.

#2 – Rebirth

A story of renewal. It’s a Wonderful Life is a prime example from the movies.

During the course of the story, an important event forces the main character to change his or her ways, often making him or her a better person.

Brands telling stories of renewal include Gatorade, whose “Replay” campaign gave aging members of high-school sports teams a chance to recapture their youth through rematches against old foes; and Prudential, which is presenting retirement as the beginning of a new chapter, not the end of an old one.

#3 – Quest

A mission from point A to point B. The Lord of the Rings is the classic example. So is Harry Potter.

The protagonist and some companions set out to acquire an important object or to get to a location, facing many obstacles and temptations along the way.

IBM and Lexus are among the marketers who are on self-professed quests—making a smarter planet and relentlessly pursuing perfection, respectively.

#4 – Journey and return

A story about transformation through travel and homecoming. The Wizard of Oz and Where the Wild Things Are are both journey-and-return stories.

The protagonist goes to a strange land and, after overcoming the threats it poses to him or her, returns with experience.

Corona is one of the brands that also encourages a trip, urging you to “Find your beach” and return refreshed. And Expedia has built its whole new campaign around the idea of changing one’s perception through journey and return.

#5 – Rags to riches

In literature: Charles Dickens and Cinderella. In the movies: Trading Places.

The poor protagonist acquires things such as power, wealth, and a mate, before losing it all and gaining it back upon growing as a person.

In ads: Chrysler, which is rising from the ashes of Detroit; and Johnny Walker, whose entire brand history is about a simple Scottish farmboy’s rise to global prominence.

#6 – Tragedy

From the Greeks through Shakespeare, these are stories of the dark side of humanity and the futile nature of human experience.

The protagonist is a hero with one major character flaw or great mistake which is ultimately their undoing. Their unfortunate end evokes pity at their folly and the fall of a fundamentally ‘good’ character.

Advertising has little use for such stories except in “public service announcements” work, where shock tactics and depressing tales can get people to care about an issue. Smoking, domestic violence, speeding – these ads come to mind here.

#7 – Comedy

Light and humorous character with a happy or cheerful ending; a dramatic work in which the central motif is the triumph over adverse circumstance, resulting in a successful or happy conclusion. Booker makes sure to stress that comedy is more than humor. It refers to a pattern where the conflict becomes more and more confusing, but is at last made plain in a single clarifying event. Most romances fall into this category.

The flipside of tragedy, and the last of the great storytelling tropes, it’s perhaps the hardest to do well but is hugely popular in both popular art and advertising—with Old Spice and Geico among the brand leaders in the space.

Thanks for being here.