Monthly Learnings Roundup (September, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Monthly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, monthly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this month.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming month. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

Bestselling Author and Investor James Altucher on Choosing Yourself and Stoic Minimalism by The Daily Stoic

One of the biggest challenges we have as human beings is managing the gray area between what we can control and what we can’t. I love James’s perspective on handling criticism or rejection for work that we produce and deeply care about.

The Ultimate Guide to Making Smart Decisions by Farnam Street

Making decisions is difficult. Multiple variables, lack of information, and the influence of emotions can all affect the decision making process. We can, however, decide to make decisions based on principles and models that, if consistently applied, can lead us to the best decision available.

Antifragile Planning: Optimizing for Optionality (Without Chasing Shiny Objects) by Taylor Pearson

This is a meaty read but well worth it. Taylor goes into details about how he uses well planned, 90-day sprints to achieve his goals.

Books that I enjoyed last month —

So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

Every young graduate and professional should read this book. It turns the “follow your passion” career advice upside down in a convincing fashion.

Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel

Written by one of the most well-respected thinkers on relationships today this book goes into how to create and maintain intimacy. I also recommend checking out Perel’s new Audible podcast series Where Should We Begin? 

Quotes that are inspiring me —

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.

— Lao-Tzu

We are caught in the trance of fear when the emotion of fear becomes the core of our identity and constricts our capacity to live fully.

— Tara Brach

Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

— Jack Canfield

Behaviour change of the month —

Shifting my internal mindset.

In September, I started to read to myself a personal commercial to shift my internal mindset. Drawing inspiration from the book, The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz, I wrote myself a motivational commercial to read everyday.

I was a little skeptical about doing this at first but as I began to make this part of my daily routine, I started to believe the words that I was saying to myself. I walked around smiling more often at people and managing fears in my life a little better. It’s almost as if neural networks in my brain were getting re-wired in new ways.

All this to be said, it takes time to change one’s mindset and reading my personal commercial has only planted the seeds that have yet to grow. I’ll be continuing on with this behaviour change goal into October and will report back with progress.

“ah-ha!” thoughts of the month —

Expertise > Passion

Is “follow your passion” good advice for your career? Author, Cal Newport, argues that the popular advice may be lead us to choosing the wrong career. Newport suggests that we should think about how to develop rare skills that people value as the key to having a fulfilling career of impact and passion.

Quarterly Focus

We’ve all got a ton on our plate. Whether it be with our relationships, career, finances, or health. It’s a lot of balls to juggle in the air. And it’s no surprise that we sometimes fall short of our goals. Instead of trying everything at once, why not try to focus on ONE area over the course of a quarter and see how much progress you can make?

It’s something I’m interested in trying out – having ONE main focus per quarter. Of course, I’ll make sure that the other areas of my life get enough attention but how much more can I get done if I focus on one area? How much more can I get done if I concentrate my resources (i.e. money, time, and energy) into one area?

Product I’m loving —

Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate

Adding this hydrolyzed collagen to my supplements has been a game changer for me. I’ve dealt for years with inflammation and pain from my osteoarthritis in my left knee but adding collagen has almost completely removed all pain from day-to-day activities. There is robust research available around the effectiveness of collagen with improving knee joint comfort including this double-blind study from 2009 from the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. With this being said, there doesn’t seem to be a long-term restorative effects of collagen on joints. So if you’re planning on adding collagen to your supplements, just be aware that this isn’t going to “fix” your knee to what it was like before.

Please make sure to check with your doctor if this is the right step for you first.

Featured image by

As always, thanks for checking out this Monthly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see all the articles that I share on a daily basis.

Five Stoic Quotes from Marcus Aurelius

The below quotes come from Book Three and Book Four of Marcus Aurelius’s MeditationsA cornerstone of the Stoic philosophy, Meditations is a book I highly recommend anyone to read to prepare for life’s inevitable challenges and adversities. If you’d like to read a quick summary of the book, you can check out my Actionable Book Summary of Meditations here.

On pursuing the highest values in life…

If, at some point in your life, you should come across anything better than justice, honesty, self-control, courage – than a mind satisfied that it has succeeded in enabling you to act rationally, and satisfied to accept what’s beyond its control – if you find anything better than that, embrace it without reservations – it must be an extraordinary thing indeed – and enjoy it to the full.

My thoughts:

Justice, honesty, self-control, and courage. Can there be anything of higher value to pursue in life?

On constantly watching your thoughts…

You need to get used to winnowing your thoughts, so that if someone says, “What are you thinking about?” you can respond at once (and truthfully) that you are thinking this or thinking that. And it would be obvious at once from your answer that your thoughts were straightforward and considerate ones.

My thoughts:

You become what you think. So make sure that you’re monitoring your thoughts just as closely as you’re monitoring your actions. Don’t overthink or worry either. Simple is better.

On not letting others dictate your worth…

It would be wrong for anything to stand between you and attaining goodness – as a rational being and a citizen. Anything at all: the applause of the crowd, high office, wealth, or self-indulgence. All of them might seem to be compatible with it – for a while. But suddenly they control us and sweep us away.

My thoughts:

Humility. And keeping in mind what’s most important. Achieving goodness for oneself and others.

On being transparent and open with your thoughts and actions…

Never regard something as doing you good if it makes you betray a trust, or lose your sense of shame, or makes you show hatred, suspicion, ill will, or hypocrisy, or a desire for things best done behind closed doors.

My thoughts:

A good measuring stick on whether an action you’re about to take is wrong is when you feel a sense of shame or have to do it “behind closed doors”.

On being a good man…

…And then you might see what the life of the good man is like – someone content with what nature assigns him, and satisfied with being just and kind himself.

My thoughts:

Be content with what nature assigns you. Things happen. The least you can do is be just and kind to yourself and others.

Final note: 

For those curious about which translation of Meditations to get, I highly recommend the Gregory Hays’ translation as it is translated in a way that most of us, modern readers, can easily understand. But, you can’t go wrong with any of them out there because, well, wisdom is still wisdom.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.

Actionable Book Summary: “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius

The second step: Concentrate on what you have to do. Fix your eyes on it. Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being… Then do it, without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy.

Meditations (page 102)

Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) was a Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD. He is known as the last of the Five Good Emperors and is considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers. His book, Meditations, was written as a personal guidebook to answer some of the greatest questions of life. Why are we here? How should we live our lives? How should we ensure that we do what is right?

Meditations is a popular book read by leaders in business, politics, sports, and many other fields. The lessons, even after almost 2000 years, are still applicable to the challenges that we face today. Aurelius shares his take on a wide range of topics including the importance of humility, the transient nature of human life, and how our mission as people is to help each other. Although I am an amateur when it comes to Greek and Roman philosophy, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Meditations and found the lessons highly applicable to my life.

If you haven’t already read Meditations, I would recommend putting it on your list soon. I specifically recommend the translation by Gregory Hays as it does a fantastic job making it accessible for modern readers.Continue reading the summary here.

This summary was written for the Actionable Book Club – a book club where members read a business/leadership/self-help book every month and summarize their biggest takeaways. If you’re interested in learning more about the Actionable Book Club check us out here. To see the full collection of over 900 book summaries – available for free – visit

Weekly Learnings Roundup (Mar 23, 2016)

Hey there! Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick “hit” of interesting learnings I had over the previous week.

This week’s learnings roundup includes links to an inspiring story about coding and prisoners, Stoicism and how the practical philosophy can make you a better person, and a helpful roadmap for overcoming insecurities (and we all have them). I’ve also shared some thoughts around productivity and the importance of thinking about WHY we want to be more productive along with a book recommendation for those who want to become better coaches and managers.


Favourite links from the week:

Why I’m teaching prisoners to code (TED)

Stoicism 101: A Practical Guide for Entrepreneurs (Tim Ferriss)

A Roadmap to Overcoming Insecurities (zen habits)

How a book on stoicism became wildly popular at every level of the NFL (Sports Illustrated)

Productivity tip of the week:

Ask Yourself WHY

This week’s tip is a little different. Usually I share tools and tactics on how to improve your productivity so you can squeeze the most out of your day. Which is all great. But mired in the WHAT and the HOW to do things, we lose focus of the WHY.

Why do you want to be more productive?

Is it so you can get closer to your (insert target/goal)?

Is it so you can look good in front of your peers/friends/family?

Is it so you can serve more customers?

Is it so you can spend time at the gym after work?

Is it because you’re building a bootstrapped business you believe in and you need to squeeze every second from your day?

Is it so you can spend time cooking a meal at home rather than ordering take out?

There is no right answer obviously but I think it’s important to consider whether your WHY is compelling to you. If you’re just being productive for the sake of it, there’s no meaning behind it and in the long run you’re going to lose steam. Think of yourself as a sports car with incredible horsepower (awesome!) without an intended destination (not so awesome). Even the highest amount of horsepower in the world won’t get you to your destination if you don’t even know where you want to go.

The reason why we want to be productive must be tied to our greater need to fulfill our values and our purpose in life. So the next time you look at new productivity tactic, ask yourself WHY you want to be more productive. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.

Product/service I’m loving:

Philips Wake-up light

I’ve owned this light for the last couple of years and it’s been a game-changer for my morning wake-up. Instead of waking up to a blaring alarm, the Philips Wake-up light turns on about 30-40 minutes before your wake-up time with a deep red glow (kind of like the sunrise) until it reaches full light intensity at your chosen wake-up time. From there, you can set a specific sound you’d like to be woken up to – I chose birds chirping. It’s a much more pleasant and human way to wake up. In the evenings, you can set it to simulate a sunset which is a perfect way to wind down, read a book, and prepare for bed as the light dims.

Documentaries/books I’m enjoying:

The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stainer

I’ve really been enjoying this new book from MBS. It’s jam packed with useful information around how to ask better questions. In fact, it gives you 7 essential questions to ask in almost any coaching conversation. Sometimes the best thing you can do as a coach, manager, friend, or family member is to ask a question and listen to the answer. This book shows you the ropes on how to do just that. Check it out.

A quote that’s inspiring me:

“Never underestimate the ability of a small group of dedicated people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Meade

As always, thank you to those that liked, re-tweeted, or commented on my Tweets. See you on next week’s round up!

Weekly Learnings Roundup (Mar 13, 2016)

Hey there! Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a “hit” of interesting learnings from the past week.

This week, we explore articles around the benefits of checking email first thing the morning, how sensory deprivation tanks (i.e. “float tanks”) can help with stress, and how the Millennial generation can get their earnings back on track. Lots of other great articles too around employee engagement – which seemed to be a hot topic this week.

Notable links from the week:

Actually, You Should Check Email First Thing in the Morning (Harvard Business Review)

The stupid, avoidable mistakes that make good employees leave (Quartz)

Eliminate Stress With Sensory Deprivation (Bulletproof Executive)

How to 10X Your Results, One Tiny Tweak at a Time (Tim Ferriss)

Can Millennials Undo What the Recession Did to Their Earnings? (The Atlantic)

The Culture Within: How Employee Engagement Impacts Customer Experience (1to1 Media)

Are sterile goals preventing viral employee engagement in your business? (SmartCompany)

Productivity tip of the week:

The Pomodoro Technique

I wrote about the Pomodoro Technique in a previous post but I think it’s worth revisiting it because it’s such a useful technique. The premise is simple: work for 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break. Repeat until you reach your 3rd or 4th pomodoro and take a 15-minute break. It’s a useful technique because it gives you the space to focus on a task for a certain time period with a guaranteed break at the end. It also lowers the hurdle for you to begin a certain task because you don’t necessarily need to finish the entire task – just do 25 minutes and stop.

Personally, I’m a fan of a 15-minute pomodoro compared to 25 minutes. It lowers the starting hurdle even lower to overcome the initial procrastination. It’s also surprising how much you can get done in 15 minutes and allows you to see how much work you can actually get done in such a short amount of time. I currently use the Pomodoro Technique during my morning routine – 15 minutes for reading a book, 15 minutes for checking personal emails, 15 minutes for working on my blog, etc. – which helps to prevent things from getting carried away.

For more information about the Pomodoro Technique, check out this post on Lifehacker. There are also a ton of pomodoro apps available on Android and iPhone so getting started is really easy.

Product/service I’m loving:

Amazon Subscribe & Save

I’m all about reducing the amount of time that I spend doing errands and increasing the time I have available to doing things that I enjoy doing. Part of making this strategy happen is by using a service like Amazon Subscribe & Save. Instead of having to go to the store to pickup toilet paper, laundry detergent, paper towels, etc. Subscribe & Save allows you to order the items that you need and have them delivered to your door without any additional cost for shipping. In addition to that, you get 15% off for everything in your order (as long as you order 5 items per month) which can add up to significant savings.

Aside from the the cost, though, to me it’s the amount of time and mental energy you save from using a service like this. The less time you have to worry about picking up a 12-pack of toilet paper, the better it is for you. They’ve also got a pretty wide selection of items you can choose from including pantry items, baby care items, and even vitamins and other nutritional supplements.

Documentaries/books I’m enjoying:

The Tao of Seneca: Practical Letters from a Stoic Master, Volume 1

Over the last 6 months, I’ve heard a lot about Stoic philosophy and how entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley to executives and players/executives from the New England Patriots in the NFL apply it to achieve a grounded, high-performance mindset. Tim Ferriss is a big proponent of Stoic maxims which further piqued my interest in it. Recently, he released an audiobook which compiles the hundreds of letters Seneca wrote that helped clarify many aspects of the Stoic philosophy.

For me, The Tao of Seneca: Practical Letters from a Stoic Master, has been a fantastic introduction to the world of Stoicism. The letters are fairly easy to understand and the lessons are incredibly powerful. I find myself thinking how I can apply the lessons from the letters constantly as I listen through it. I highly recommend it if you’re at all curious about the Stoic philosophy or about living better and truer to who you are.

A quote that’s inspiring me:

“Ponder for a long time whether you shall admit a given person to your friendship; but when you have decided to admit him, welcome him with all your heart and soul. Speak as boldly with him as with yourself.” – Seneca

As always, thank you to those that liked, re-tweeted, or commented on my Tweets. See you on next week’s round up!