December 13, 2019

Book notes from Game changers or what I learned about what leaders, innovators and mavericks do to win at life from Dave Asprey

I was at Chapters a few weeks ago looking for a book for a co-worker and as I was looking through the shelves, saw this book on the shelf. The Chapters was a smaller store so there weren’t multiple copies of each book – really just one or two copies of books on the shelves but this one stood out because of the name (what’s a game changer? it’s something that completely changes the game for someone playing it so that they have an advantage) and because of the author (Dave Asprey is the author of the bulletproof diet and popularized bulletproof coffee).

I’ll be completely honest, I started off thinking about how great of an idea bulletproof coffee was but when I talked to one friend in medical school, she told me that consuming that amount of fat was not going to be good for anyone. I stopped putting butter into my tea, I unsubscribed from Dave’s podcast and he was off my radar for a while.

But the book and it’s premise caught my attention and since I do not discriminate against any book, I picked up a used copy and was really glad that I did (though again, to be fair, I don’t think I’ve ever not liked a book that I picked up).

Here is what I learned from the book:

Focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses

This was a very good reminder. I remember in informal conversations at the firm, I was talking with others on someone that had recently been let go from the company. I don’t know the real reason but there were some people that disagreed with the firing – the reason was because that person’s strengths were in specific areas and if they focused on those areas, they would be a strong consultant. However, they were being let go because their weaknesses in other areas was pulling others behind.

If we all focus on our ‘weaknesses’ at a company, would we not be molded into an organization full of individuals with the same general strengths? Isn’t there a place at a company for people to focus on their specific strengths whether it is writing, development, sales, etc.?

Improve your intelligence through an N-back app

I had never heard of this n-back app though I have played the game in other contexts. The game / app is simple – squares light up on a 3 x 3 board and at the same time, there is a voice that is saying letters. If you set the n-back to have a value of 2 (i.e., 2 -back), that means that any time the letter repeats (from two letters back) or if the square lights up (that is the same as two squares back), then you press either sound or light. As you can probably imagine if you haven’t played the game before, this requires intense concentration and as you play the game, you can notice your improvements and correlated improvements in focus and intelligence.

Miracles happen in the morning

Dave had a chat with Hal Elrod who is the author of the Miracle Morning. Hal found that if you do this morning practice every day, miracles start to happen in your life. He also found that doing this practice any other time did not achieve the same results.

While I can’t say that I do all of these things every day, I do try to exercise, stretch (and meditate) and do a bit of reading. I still have yet to incorporate journaling / writing or affirmations but will aim to incorporate these as I improve.

This takeaway helped provide me with the motivation to wake up early (but also to sleep early or else I won’t get enough sleep).

Long term aerobic training is not beneficial

This is something fascinating that I did not know previously – it turns out that strength training is the best kind of training for brain health and overall performance. Long-distance aerobic exercise causes cortisol levels (stress hormone) to increase, causing inflammation and aging.

Again, the takeaway for me here is to do very light aerobic exercise (the coaches recommend even just a 20 minute light walk) with some intense all-out training (say a sprint once or twice a week) and peppered with resistance training.

Eat like your grandma

What does it mean to eat like your grandma?

*Eat small meals throughout the day
*Eat sufficient amounts of protein (but don’t go on a high-protein diet)
*Eat all of your vegetables
*Tablespoon of fish oil

The biggest lesson I learned here was the fact that vegetable oil isn’t good for you. I have no idea without further research whether this is true or not but certainly an interesting takeaway – apparently compared to butter, vegetable oil is incredibly inflammatory.

Less is more

Dave shares the story of his interview with James Altucher (one of my favourite authors) and how James for a few years was living with only two bags of his possessions in air bnbs. One day, he told some of his assistants to go to the various places that he owned and to get rid of everything – either sell it, donate it, trash it or keep it for themselves. He was surprised to learn that there were 100 bags of ‘stuff’ that he had and by throwing it all away, he realized how much his stuff was ‘owning’ him rather than him owning that stuff.

Here’s an action for you to try – a 30 day challenge. On the first day, get rid of one item that you don’t need in your home. On the second day, get rid of two items. And so on and so forth. Bet a friend a meal or a dollar amount and the first person that can’t get rid of that many items on that day loses. By the end of the month, you will have gotten rid of 400+ items! And your life will feel much calmer and more organized as a result.


Hey what about you? What hacks, tips or strategies do you use to change the game completely for yourself? Exercise in the morning? Drugs for brain performance? Journaling? Let me know in the comments.

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