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April 2022

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With more than 60 combined years of elite rock climbing experience, Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell have scaled some of the largest—and most extreme—walls in the world. Now the stars of Free Solo and The Dawn Wall teamed up to share their tried-and-true techniques for tackling any wall. From the fundamentals of footwork and body and hand positioning to mental exercises and advanced holds and movements, you’ll learn how to take on new challenges and push yourself further on and off the wall.

Four-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion and world record holder Chrissie Wellington OBE chronicles her rise in the triathlon world and the roller coaster of long distance endurance running. Chrissie holds the world record for Ironman distance (8hrs, 18 mins) and she is the only triathlete, male or female, to have won the World Championship less than a year after turning professional.

The Ironman Triathlon.

Every October, the World Championships of the sport are held in Kona on the Island of Hawaii. An ironman is the longest distance of triathlon – a 2.4-mile swim, 112 miles on the bike, and then you run a marathon.

“In an ironman, even the world’s best face a challenge just to finish.”

That is why I never employ an expert in full bloom. If ever I wanted to kill opposition by unfair means I would endow the opposition with experts. They would have so much good advice that I could be sure they would do little work. – Henry Ford

We live in a world of more talk and little substance, a world of life coaches who don’t have their life figured out like anyone is supposed to have it figured out, a world of chefs who cannot cook, motivational speakers who are not motivated, of bloggers without a blog. Everyone is an Expert or Guru in the social media world with the promise of instant results and changes. But the reality of life is that nothing great happens by chance, it takes hard work and consistency to achieve anything worthwhile.

“First people will tell you that you are wrong. Then they will tell you that you are right, but what you’re doing really isn’t important. Finally, they will admit that you are right and that what you are doing is very important; but after all, they knew it all the time. – Jonas Salk, Developer of the Polio Vaccine

An expert is someone with the special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject. Experts have been at the epicenter of most of our modern civilization and they have also been at the center of unachieved dreams as a result of their lack of discernment. History is filled with stories of so-called experts that made discouraging statements about nascent ideas and innovation. You have got to protect your ideas and dreams from these so-called experts. They come in different forms such as Parents, Friends, Mentors, Colleagues, Acquaintances, Teachers, and even frenemies. Some of them are well-meaning but you need to beware of the experts, they might be wrong.

An expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less until finally, he knows everything about nothing. – Nicholas Butler, American Philosopher.

Your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages. 

Former First Lady Michelle Obama delivered her final commencement speech as the First Lady of the United States of America to the City College of New York (CCNY) graduating students. Michelle’s speech was very inspiring and full of insights. She had some of the graduates chanting “Four more years”.

Michelle Obama’s 2016 City College of New York Commencement Speech Transcript:

Indra Nooyi had just been named the president of PepsiCo with a seat on the board of directors. She was filled with excitement about her accomplishment. In her autobiography, My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future, she recalls a statement made by her mother on the night of her promotion. The story contains lots of insightss such as work-life balance and staying humble among others.

She writes:

Roger and Bob Morrison would serve on the board as vice-chairmen. Steve and Roger also decided together that I would be named president of PepsiCo and join the board. I was in my office late on Friday, December 1, when Steve called me from Dallas to share the news.

I was over the moon. This was major. President of PepsiCo. The board of directors. Wow!

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle— when the sun comes up, you’d better be running. – Roger Bannister

In Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, Christopher McDougall writes extensively about the art of running, Tarahumara Indians, superathletes, and the rollercoaster of being a runner.

Running seemed to be the fitness version of drunk driving: you could get away with it for a while, you might even have some fun, but catastrophe was waiting right around the corner

An expert is someone with the special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject. It is often said that it takes 10 years to become an overnight success. It takes a lot of time to develop expertise in a particular subject matter (10,000 hours). A lot of great ideas and dreams have been killed by so-called experts that come in different shapes and forms such as parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, scientists, mentors and doubting thomases. As Will Smith told his son in the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness:

You got a dream. You got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves… they want to tell you, you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.

Here are some great quotes on expertise:

  • An expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less until finally, he knows everything about nothing. – Nicholas Butler, American Philosopher
  • First people will tell you that you are wrong. Then they will tell you that you are right, but what you’re doing really isn’t important. Finally, they will admit that you are right and that what you are doing is very important; but after all, they knew it all the time. – Jonas Salk, the developer of the polio vaccine.
  • The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence. – Charles Bukowski
  • That is why I never employ an expert in full bloom. If ever I wanted to kill opposition by unfair means I would endow the opposition with experts. They would have so much good advice that I could be sure they would do little work. – Henry Ford, My Life, and Work
  • In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few. – Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice
  • Nothing is more confusing than people who give good advice but set a bad example. – Norman Vincent Peale

Don’t let your boy’s schooling interfere with his education.– Mark Twain

  • Experts tend to be confident that they have all the answers and, because of this trait, they can kill new ideas. But when you are trying to break new ground, you have no interest in getting stuck in engineering conventions or intellectual mud. – James Dyson, A Life by James Dyson
  • Definitely consider the expertise of those who provide counsel, but evaluate those opinions against things that may be beyond the expert’s vision—like your long-term goals. -Ken Segall, Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success
  • True intuitive expertise is learned from prolonged experience with good feedback on mistakes. – Daniel Kahneman
  • For the beginner, novelty is anything that hasn’t been encountered before. For the expert, novelty is nuance. – Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.
  • An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field. – Niels Bohr

Uncle said I’ll never sell a million records, I sold a million records like a million times – Jay-z, Crown (Magna Carta Album)

  • Too many leaders are like bad travel agents. They send people places they have never been. Instead, they should be more like tour guides, taking people places they have gone and sharing the wisdom of their own experiences.- John Maxwell, The 21 Irrefutable laws of leadership
  • The average person suffers from three delusions: (1) that he is a good driver, (2) that he has a good sense of humor, and (3) that he is a good listener. – Steven Sample,The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership
  • Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience. – Denis Waitley
  • An expert is a man who tells you a simple thing in a confused way in such a fashion as to make you think the confusion is your own fault. – William Castle
  • I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. – Bruce Lee,



All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

documentary film or documentary is a non-fictional motion-picture intended to “document reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction, education or maintaining a historical record.

Goal: Watch 50 Documentaries by December 31st, 2022
Strategy: Watch 1-2 Documentaries per week
Source: Netflix, Apple TV, HBOMax, Wondrium, Hoopla Digital

Goal Set Date: April 23rd, 2022
Goal Deadline: December 31st, 2022

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Indian-American business executive Indra Nooyi was named PepsiCo CEO in 2006 making her the first woman of color and immigrant to run a Fortune 50 company. In My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future, Indra chronicles her journey from growing up in India, going to America to school, lessons she learned on her way to leading a fortune 500 company, the challenge of being a woman leader in corporate America, managing work-life balance and leading with the heart.

Indra is one of my favorite business leaders, she seems sincere, authentic, and vulnerable.

To sour with the eagles, you don’t flock with the chickens. The eagle is a special kind of bird, it flies at high altitudes where no other birds try to fly. If you do what you have always done, you would get the same results. To get a different result, you have to change your approach. As theoretical physicist Albert Einstein once quipped “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Our natural state as a human is homeostasis (sameness/certainty). Homeostasis is from the Greek word “Homeo (similar/same) and Stasis (standing still). It is our tendency of staying the same. It is a process we use to maintain stability and survival.

Good fences make good neighbors. – Robert Frost

Focusing too much on what others have to say about you will lead you down a path to defeat before you’ve even had a chance to act. You can either entertain their skepticism or remove the chains from your creativity by allowing yourself to rise to the occasion

In his very insightful book, 12 Notes: On Life and Creativity, 80-time Grammy nominee and 8-time Grammy award winner Quincy Jones share a great anecdote about being underestimated, believing in yourself, and ignoring the naysayers. Quincy Jones had earlier pitched Micheal Jackson on producing his solo albums but the record executives at epic records were not enthusiastic about Quincy producing the records.

The executives said:

No way. Quincy’s too jazzy. He’s only done The Brothers Johnson. He’s a jazz arranger and composer.

But in spite of the doubters, naysayers, and the non-cooperation, the collaboration between Quincy Jones and Micheal Jackson led to the following:

  • Off the Wall, sold tens of millions of copies. It became the biggest-selling Black record in history. It also became the first album to generate four American Top 10 hits.
  •  Thriller Album is the bestselling album of all time. Thriller became Jackson’s first number one album on the US Billboard Top LPs & Tapes chart, where it spent a record 37 non-consecutive weeks at number one, from February 26, 1983, to April 14, 1984.
  • Bad Album – Bad debuted at number one on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart, selling over 2.25 million copies in its first week in the US, and stayed atop for six consecutive weeks. It also reached number one in 24 other countries, including the UK, where it sold 500,000 copies in its first five days and became the country’s best-selling album of 1987.

Quincy writes:

There are numerous instances in which I’ve found power in being underestimated, but one of the most ironic memories is from when I began working with Michael Jackson as the producer of his top three albums, Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad. Music history might look a bit different if I allowed negative opinions to stand in the way of what I knew I was capable of. But as I said, prematurely boasting only sets you up to look like a fool, so I’ll let you decide what you want to take from the following anecdote.

By the late ’60s, I was getting completely burned out from doing movie scores. I had done thirty-five of them and had both hits and flops. Most composers do one or two a year, but I never did fewer than that. I once did eight! I was moving at an unsustainable pace. I remember often sleeping only three hours a day and running cold water over my wrists to stay awake.

I also had three more kids after Jolie at this point, including Rachel, Tina, and Quincy Jones III, so there weren’t many hours to work with in the day. Simultaneously, film scorers (especially Black film scorers) were at the bottom of the Hollywood food chain, and easily replaceable. It felt as though my value in the industry was constantly hanging by a thread. At the drop of a dime, I could be cut loose. Most important, I wanted to get away from the rigidity of having to write music to pictures.

I longed to get back into the record business and wanted to make albums under my own name, produce for other artists, and facilitate a more free-flowing creative process. I didn’t want to think about any deadlines. I simply wanted to create what gave me goosebumps. In 1969, I signed a deal with Creed Taylor’s Impulse! Records, which was distributed by A&M, and did a good number of albums through the ’70s, including Walking in Space, one of the first jazz-fusion records, Gula Matari, Body Heat, a whole host of projects with The Brothers Johnson, and many more. Toward the end of the ’70s, I was recruited back to film after Sidney Lumet asked me to be the music producer and supervisor for his new movie, The Wiz. I didn’t want to do it, but since Sidney helped me get my first scoring assignment, on The Pawnbroker back in 1964, I couldn’t say no.

Micheal Jackson

I had previously met Michael Jackson when he was only twelve years old, but The Wiz brought us together for our first official collaboration, since he was cast in the role of Scarecrow. When we began rehearsals, Michael was getting ready to do his own album on Epic Records and he asked me to help him find a producer. My plate was pretty full trying to get pre-production for The Wiz going, so I couldn’t even think about it at the time. But over the course of our rehearsals, I came to see that, on top of his otherworldly talents, Michael had a work ethic like I’d never seen before. No matter what, he was always prepared. He ensured that every dance step, line, and lyric was perfected to a T, and even memorized the lines of his co-stars.

In one scene, he was instructed to pull little pieces of paper out of his straw chest. They were filled with proverbs from famous philosophers and he kept mispronouncing Socrates. After three days of mispronouncing his name as “Sow-cray-tees,” and receiving no correction, I pulled him aside during a break and whispered, “Michael, before it becomes a habit, I think you should know that the name is pronounced ‘Sock-ra-tees.’” With the utmost humility, he said, “Really?”

Without even taking a second to think about it, I replied with, “I’d like to take a shot at producing your new record.” His ability to take critique, on top of his work ethic and talent, indicated that he was exactly the kind of artist I would want to work with. He agreed.

No way. Quincy’s too jazzy. He’s only done The Brothers Johnson. He’s a jazz arranger and composer.

Later, when Michael approached his label, Epic Records, about having me produce the album, his A&R reps told him, “No way. Quincy’s too jazzy. He’s only done The Brothers Johnson. He’s a jazz arranger and composer.” It was the same type of response that I’d heard repeatedly over the years. They didn’t know about the extent of my musical background, and they told Michael that Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff should do it. He eventually marched back to Epic with his managers, Freddy DeMann and Ron Weisner, and demanded that I produce his record.

Prove them Wrong

Much to his label’s dismay, they agreed, but didn’t expect much from me. And although they agreed, there wasn’t a whole lot of cooperation. At that point it didn’t matter though, because the ball was left in my court. I knew that I could either meet their low expectations or exceed them. In addition to their doubts about the level of my competency, many also wondered if Michael could make it as a solo artist in his adult years without the support of his brothers.

 I knew that I could either meet their low expectations or exceed them. In addition to their doubts about the level of my competency, many also wondered if Michael could make it as a solo artist in his adult years without the support of his brothers.

I had of course known about his Jackson 5 days, but I was interested in helping him break out of that former persona he was locked into. I wanted to push him beyond just dance music and see how far he could stretch his musicality. I had recently seen him at the Oscars singing “Ben,” a song about a rat (for the film, Ben), which I knew wasn’t going to cut it.

More than anything, I wanted to help him with his artistic development and get him to dig deeper, with no limitations on how far he could go musically. He had all the talent and drive. He did his homework. He just needed some guidance. I tested his creativity from every angle and applied everything I’d learned over the years to help him with his artistic growth, like dropping keys a minor third to give him flexibility and a more mature range in his upper and lower registers. I played around with tempo changes. I wanted to make a pop album that blended elements of R&B, disco rhythms, top-of-the-line arrangements, and, of course, his vocals.

The Dream Team

 I gathered what I called my “Killer Q Posse,” which consisted of Rod Temperton, one of the best songwriters to have ever lived on this planet; Bruce Swedien, the engineer of all engineers; Greg Phillinganes, a virtuosic keyboardist; Jerry Hey, a monster trumpeter and arranger; Louis Johnson, the youngest of The Brothers Johnson; John “J. R.” Robinson, a fellow Berklee alum and the drummer for Rufus; Paulinho Da Costa from Brazil on percussion; and many other great musical talents. Although it was impossible to predict the record’s chances of success, we collectively poured 110 percent into every track and nuance of the album.

 In an attempt to steer Michael toward songs with more depth and emotion than he had ever sung before, I got Stevie Wonder’s “I Can’t Help It,” Paul McCartney’s “Girlfriend,” Tom Bahler’s “She’s Out of My Life” (a track that I was initially going to give to Frank Sinatra!), Rod Temperton’s “Rock With You,” and, of course, “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough.”

Off the Wall Album

Michael did most of his vocals live, with no overdubs. The resulting record, Off the Wall, sold tens of millions of copies. It became the biggest-selling Black record in history. How’s that for being too “jazzy”? Ironically, Epic was about to do a round of layoffs, but Off the Wall saved the jobs of many of the doubters who previously claimed that “Quincy is the wrong guy.” It also became the first album to generate four American Top 10 hits.

Due to the success of Off the Wall, Michael and I went on to record Thriller (which is, as of this writing, still the bestselling album of all time) and Bad.

Lesson Learned from the Experience

The entire experience reinforced the fact that people are always going to have opinions about your qualifications. What really matters is what you do with them. Focusing too much on what others have to say about you will lead you down a path to defeat before you’ve even had a chance to act. You can either entertain their skepticism or remove the chains from your creativity by allowing yourself to rise to the occasion.

I still have to remind myself of this lesson because my being underestimated didn’t stop after Off the Wall, or Thriller, or Bad. In fact, the more ears that heard those albums, the more opinions I had coming at me.

But now, instead of being underestimated for my capabilities, I’m underestimated for my age. People often ask me when I’m going to retire, but my only response is, “I’m just starting. Retired? You take the ‘re’ off of that and it’s ‘tired.’ I’m not tired yet.” If you never leave, you never have to make a comeback, and that’s exactly what I plan on doing. There’s nothing wrong with retiring, especially after you’ve put in decades of hard work, but it’s just not for me. I’m not interested in letting my age dictate my competency.

All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

If you live to be 80, you’ll have had about 4,000 weeks

In Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, British journalist Oliver Burkema highlights some great insights about the brevity of life. Burkema notes “If you live to be 80, you’ll have had about 4,000 weeks. But that’s no reason for despair. Confronting our radical finitude – and how little control we really have – is the key to a fulfilling and meaningfully productive life.”

He writes about the finitude of our existence, brevity of life,

American record producer, Quincy Jones shares 12 strategies and insights that have helped him navigate the roller coaster of life and creativity. Quincy’s career spans 70 years in the entertainment industry with 80 Grammy Award nominations and 28 Grammy Awards won.

Quincy’s former teacher in Paris, Nadia Boulanger used to tell him: “Quincy, there are only twelve notes. Until God gives us thirteen, I want you to know what everybody did with those twelve.” Bach, Beethoven, Bo Diddley, everybody . . . it’s the same twelve notes. Isn’t it amazing? That’s all we have, and it’s up to each of us to create our own unique sound through a combination of rhythm, harmony, and melody.”

In 12 Notes: On Life and Creativity, Quincy breaks down his principles, approach to life, and philosophies, along with standout stories from his journey in twelve chapters called “notes”.

The 12 Notes are:

Recycle your pain, if you can see it you can be it, go to know, establish your guideposts, always be prepared for a great opportunity, sharpen your left brain, avoid paralysis from analysis, understand the power of being underestimated, do what’s never been done before, value relationships, and most important, recognize the beauty and inherent value of life.

Here are some great quotable quotes from 12 Notes: On Life and Creativity by Quincy Jones 

Mariah was born on March 27 in Huntington, Long Island, New York as the child of an interracial couple. (Interracial marriage was illegal in some American states until 1967, years after her parents married.) Her mother, Patricia Hickey, was an Irish American opera singer and vocal coach, and her Afro-Venezuelan father, Alfred Roy Carey, was an aeronautical engineer. The Hickey family disapproved of Patricia and Alfred’s relationship, which caused a painful, lasting strain on the marriage.

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