Self Development

#31: Play to Win with Top 20 Pro Poker Player Chris Sparks

Hosted by Josh Gonsalves
1 HR 46 MIN
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Episode Description

Josh is joined by Chris Sparks to talk about his latest Article 'Play to Win: Meta-Skills in High-Stakes Poker' where he breaks down his strategies and meta-skills that enabled him to become an elite poker player, and turns them into actionable strategies and productivity hacks that you can use to level-up your game in life and business.

About Chris Sparks

Chris Sparks is a professional poker player, recently ranked in the top 20 online cash game players in the world. Chris teaches the application of elite poker frameworks for world-class performance in business.

As the founder and CEO of The Forcing Function, Chris’s mission is to accelerate the next generation of leaders by rewiring their approach to work and personal growth.

Chris is the author of Experiment Without Limits, a comprehensive workbook for installing the habits and systems necessary for achieving world-class performance. Chris leads workshops on decision-making, systems thinking, and habit change and is the host of Lunch Hour, an online monthly speaker series.

Chris is offering is a three-month program with a select group of twelve investors and executives in meaningful companies. His clients multiply their productivity, achieve a sense of clarity, and design lives with greater freedom and purpose.

Apply at

Follow Chris on Twitter:

Forcing Function Website:

Play to Win Article:

Experiment Without Limits (peak performance workbook, free download):

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  • 01:21 - Introduction
  • 04:50 - Chris tells the story of how he became a top 20 pro poker player.
  • 12:47 - Chris tells the story of how he transitioned to creating his consulting business, The Forcing Function.
  • 14:08 - Concept: Expected Value Calculator
  • 14:46 - Chris invested in up and coming poker players who he saw had potential, so he gave them capital to level up quicker, while sharing their upside and covering their downside.
  • 15:08 - Chris did some contract work for venture capital and private equity firms.
  • 15:36 - Chris' edge in poker came from the deep statistical work that he did in his databases off the tables. It also translated really well to analytics programs like mix panel and Google analytics.
  • 16:21 - Chris talks about how he taught poker to 150 players and how that impacted his game
  • 17:57 - How Forcing Function became a full-time business
  • 18:19 - Most pro poker players tend to peak in their twenties.
  • 18:32 - Natural peaks in performance
  • 19:28 - Chris was 21 to 23 in hispoker peak. His entire life revolved around poker. He thinks it's difficult to maintain that over time.
  • 20:24 - Chris is 34 now and has been playing poker off and on now for 15 years.
  • 21:09 - Discussing Playing To Win
  • 22:05 - Chris breaks down his meta-skills into an equation.
  • 22:32 - Multiplier 1. Opportunity / Maximizing Opportunity
  • 23:20 - Multiplier 2. Strategy
  • 24.07 - Multiplier 3. Execution
  • 25:49 - Comparing Opportunities to Optionality
  • 26:11 - Book: Optionality by Richard Meadows
  • 27:01 - How to balance optionality: "pruning the decision tree"
  • 28:17 - How optionality can be helpful
  • 31:03 - OODA Loop by John Boyd
  • 21:53 - How Chris upgrades his performance constantly
  • 32:53 - Chris published a free workbook: Experiment Without Limits
  • 36:29 - How Chris thinks about decision-making
  • 36:44 - The Artists Way by Julia Cameron
  • 37:33 - Chris talks about his journaling practice as a keystone habit.
  • 39:18 - Decision Journaling for investors
  • 42:39 - Using the third person perspective to gain a more objective understanding.
  • 44:59 - Josh talks about the seemingly crazy valuations of Tesla and Bitcoin as of January 2021.
  • 45:22 - Maximizing potential upsides while capping your losses.
  • 46:07 - Chris believes that the obsession with productivity tools is a waste of brain space and switching between tools is just mental masturbation.
  • 46:44 - Optimizing notetaking for lack of friction - Chris uses analog
  • 48:29 - Progressive Summarization tool by Tiago Forte
  • 49:37 - Josh recently got an iPhone and started using Apple Notes more heavily for its frictionless input.
  • 52:18 - Book: Atomic Habits by James Clear
  • 53:03- Josh recalls finding old notes in his Apple Notes and being able to remember full TED talks by reading the short notes he took.
  • 53:44 - Recalling old notes to make them more useful.
  • 55:02 - Exploring old notes and looking at completely random things that you've saved in the past to see what comes up.
  • 56:52 - Chris would play over a thousand (1000) hands of poker per hour by playing 12 games simultaneously.
  • 58:11 - Chris's perspective on pursuing multiple things at once.
  • 1:00:04 - The upside in pursuing multiple symbiotic supportive projects to find fulfillment.
  • 1:03:04 - Producitivity hack: Create constraints on what we consciously choose to focus on.
  • 01:04:07 - Playing poker in virtual reality using the Oculus Quest and the Pokerstars VR app.
  • 01:11:56 - Book: Holographic Universe
  • 01:12:09 - Expanded perception beyond three dimensions.
  • 01:17:37 - Movie: Disney Pixar's Soul
  • 01:17:58 - Book: Finite and Infinite Games by James Carse
  • 01:18:59 - Improv Technique of "Yes And"
  • 01:22:22 - Blue Ocean Strategy
  • 01:23:16 - Concept from poker: game selection
  • 01:26:08 - What playing to win is about is: First choose to play. And if you choose to play, here are the strategies in that you are going to win because it's not worth playing if you aren't playing to win.
  • 01:26:28 - Being a professional vs. being a recreational.
  • 01:29:07 - Having epiphanies vs. continuous improvement.
  • 01:35:03 - The Path of Least Resistance - Robert Fritz
  • 01:35:08 - Having a deliberate creative process.
  • 01:35:09 - The notion of the reflection that we do is about getting our picture of reality as high fidelity as possible.
  • 01:36:05 - Goal hack: When you set a goal, write what happens next? You've achieved your biggest goal. Now what? Write that down.
  • 01:37:39 - If you imagine you achieved your goal. Do you still want it? When it's all said and done, do you actually want what your goals are?
  • 01:38:29 - Chris did a live workshop on doing an annual review with Chris Williamson from Modern Wisdom.
  • 01:40:12 - Chris: "I'm trying the best I can to run my own race, to play my single player game and not really worry as much about what others are doing."
  • 01:43:02 - Links Chris Mentioned:
  • Forcing Function Website:
  • Experiment Without Limits (peak performance workbook, free download):
  • Performance Assessment (quiz to reveal your greatest opportunity for growth):
  • Team Performance Training (Next cohort Jan 2021. Twelve executives from meaningful companies, twelve weeks, twelve team training sessions):
  • 1:1 Coaching (Hands-on executive high-performance training):
  • Lunch Hour (Monthly conversation series exploring the boundaries of performance):
  • Podcast Appearances:
  • Forcing Function Library:
  • Follow Chris on Twitter:

Chris: The most important determinant of what we will be able to achieve in this life is where we choose to play. And recognizing that if you have any level of ambition and curiosity in this wonderful world of abundance that we found ourselves in, you can achieve just about anything and that there's so many games to play.

[00:00:20] And a lot of these have three different outcomes on how fulfilled and happy we'll be. So given there are so many games to play. Being very, very careful about those games, which you choose to play. Because if you are playing, you are agreeing to those rules. Like don't play the capitalism game if you're not trying to win. If you're just going to play to play, you're not going to have a good time.

[00:00:47] And so that's, that's in essence. What playing to win is about is. First choose to play. And if you choose to play, here are the strategies in that you are going to win because it's not worth playing, in my opinion, if you aren't playing to win.

[00:01:21] Josh: Hi, I'm Josh Gonsalves and welcome to Mind Meld. This is a podcast where I have in-depth conversations with some of the brightest people in the known universe. My aim is to spark deep conversations around interesting topics to find the tools, tactics, strategies, and philosophies that we can all use in our daily and creative lives.

[00:01:42] In this episode, I'm joined by Chris Sparks. Chris is a professional poker player recently ranked in the top 20 online cash game players in the world. Chris is the author of experiment without limits the comprehensive workbook on installing the habits and systems necessary for achieving world-class performance.

[00:02:02] Chris leads workshops on decision-making, systems thinking and habit change. He's also the founder and CEO of the forcing function where Chris's mission is to accelerate the next generation of leaders by rewiring their approach to work and personal growth. Through the forcing function Chris teaches elite poker frameworks for world-class performance in business.

[00:02:24] And this is exactly what this episode is centered around. Chris and I talk in depth about his latest article that he published, titled Play to Win: Meta-Skills in High Stakes Poker, where he breaks down his strategies and meta-skills that enabled him to become an elite poker player and turn them into actionable strategies and productivity hacks that you can use to level up your game in life and business...and it absolutely blew my mind.

[00:02:49] I personally believe that life is a game that we're all playing. And Chris has the tools and strategies on how to win that game. I highly recommend reading the full article to get a deeper understanding on some of the topics we bring up in this podcast. And you can find the link to that in the description of this podcast.

[00:03:05] If you like what Chris teaches and you want to work with him personally, he's currently offering a three-month program limited to a select group of just 12 people. By working with Chris, you can expect to multiply your productivity, achieve a sense of clarity and design your life with greater freedom and purpose.

[00:03:21] So if you're interested in working with Chris, go to the link in the description of this podcast to apply to work with him. And if you like this podcast with Chris, please share it with people. You think could get some value out of this, whether that's the actionable value that I uncover with Chris, or just the entertainment value in this thought provoking conversation.

[00:03:39] And if you haven't already please subscribe to the podcast, you can get notified when I publish new episodes every Monday. I'm joined by a new guest each week to learn about how we can become better in our personal and creative lives. So join me on this mission and let's get right into it. I'm Josh Gonsalves and this is mind-meld with Chris Sparks.

[00:04:02] Chris. Thanks so much for joining me on mind-meld man. This is going to be an awesome conversation, I can already feel it. So thank you so much for taking the time to take this call.

[00:04:11] Chris: Thanks, Josh pleasure to be here. Can't wait.

[00:04:14] Josh: Yeah, it's going to be great. You know, I think I've been meeting so many great people on Twitter. I think I've said that so many times in this podcast, Twitter has been awesome. And just through the threads of people like Giovanni, who connected us, it's really cool to get in contact with people who do crazy stuff like yourself.

[00:04:27] Like, I don't think a lot of people really know...the crazy stuff that people actually do to actually, you know, function in this world. And you started off in a really, really interesting spot, which is pro poker. So I would love for you to maybe start off this conversation with your story of how you got into that and what you're doing now, because I think that will be a great backdrop into this whole conversation.

[00:04:50] Chris: Yeah. I'm happy to share and, you know, cut me off, interrupt me if, uh, you know, something, I I'll try to give the cliff notes version, but I'm happy to go deeper because it's it's quite a meandering tale. So. Going way back. I've always been very interested in games. Most notably I played an early precursor of the game StarCraft kind of a real time strategy game called ants.

[00:05:18]This was when I was 13. Um, I was the best player in the world and a very. Small player pool, right? It doesn't, it's not quite as impressive as it sounds, but it talking like the 500 people in this small subculture. I was a, it was really good there. I started playing on the Yahoo ecosystem, a little bit of chess.

[00:05:36] Um, I'd never been that good at chess. I'm I'm decent, but I had a lot of success in the game of gin. Which is a two-player form of Rummy where you hold all 10, 10 cards in your hand, the entire game. And what's notable about gin is that it's very much a game of incomplete information and deception. And sort of like a heads up poker, you're playing against one opponent and you are rewarded by keeping the cards that your opponent needs.

[00:06:10] And so the, the meta game of gin is very much to try to get your opponent to think that you're holding different cars than you really are. That story that you tell by the cards that you discard allows you to get the cards that you need. So I, I achieved a perfect, uh, kind of the equivalent of ELO rating in gin and some of my, my gin friends I'm about 16 at the time started playing poker freerolls.

[00:06:38] So free tournaments where you're competing against like 10,000 players. And if you make it to the top 10, you get a share of a thousand dollars, which when you're 16, I couldn't even imagine how much, you know, what I would do with all that money. So I started playing these freerolls, which would go on for like 12, 16 hours on my parents dial up internet and the living room where someone called I got disconnected from the tournament.

[00:07:01] So I don't think the stakes, wherever.

[00:07:03] Josh: That dialup sound, man. That haunts my dreams.

[00:07:04] Chris: American online. Yeah. It's I don't think, uh, I don't think the stakes were ever so high or at least felt so high. Um, you know, poker becomes very, very popular. There's a massive boom, which kicks off when Chris Moneymaker wins the world series of poker since 2003, all of a sudden poker's on TV all the time, which is perfect timing. I think so much of luck is timing. And this is when I happened to start university at Ohio State and my peer group. And just, if you're you, a red blooded college, male is if you were hanging out with other guys, you were playing poker. So I started playing a bunch of poker in the campus games.

[00:07:47] And luckily with my background, I kind of had a headstart. So when some of the other players I'm playing online for real money, I say, well, these guys aren't any good. Um, I mean, I, when most of the time we play, why don't I do that? And so around all of my, you know, Ridiculously over committed college schedule.

[00:08:06]Usually by forgoing sleep, um, I would play online poker in my spare time as a way to pay off my, my college tuition. So I accepted a job with Ford after my senior year, I did this reality TV show called quad squad, which led to a job offer. And this was a very unfortunate, but in my case, ended up being a very lucky time to come out of school because there were no jobs, the job that this was 2008 auto industry collapsed. And so I was hired, but sort of in this hiring purgatory. So while I was waiting for all of that to sort out, um, for the red tape to clear for them to be able to bring me on poker went from like a 10 to 15, an hour peak pursuit to an 80 hour a week pursuit I'm sitting in Detroit, you know, I know a handful of people, no schedule, no accountability, no one, you know, I can do whatever I want. And so I rededicated myself to, I'm going to act as a professional poker player until this until the real world comes calling and, you know, thinking that is very temporary.

[00:09:10] And with all this new time and attention I got good very very quick. So before I was making money at the mid levels of poker and I quickly started ascending to the point that I was making, one of my annual salary would have been on a monthly basis. Um, so when they came calling a few months later, I said, you know, thanks, but no, thanks. I think I'm going to try this professional poker thing.

[00:09:32]Part of this was accelerated or at least I was given myself permission to do so when I accidentally won a, I entered a poker tournament by mistake, I miss clicked. And so once you're in the tournament I had to play and the first place was an all expenses paid trip to Rio to play in a poker tournament.

[00:09:53] And so this was my, this is my first trip abroad other than like Canada, Mexico stuff. So, uh, yeah, I landed, I, you know, took a cab from the airport, got to this five star hotel with, you know, the floor to ceiling windows, overlooking Copacabana. And all I saw was other pale white guys hunched over their laptops in the lobby.

[00:10:17] And my first inclination was, Oh my God. These guys are just like, look behind you. There's the most beautiful ocean and the most beautiful people right there like, what are you doing on your computer? And then it hit me, is this was so normal for these guys that it was just another day at the office.

[00:10:35] And then I made me think like, Well, maybe I don't really want to go sit in an office anymore. So I decided to give, uh, poker, um, a full-time go I, I stuck it out in Detroit until the end of my lease. And then for my 21st birthday, I gathered some of my best friends who I'd never met before. I, I just knew them by their aim and their,  their poker screen name. We all gathered, got a big suite and Vegas and at the end of a pretty debaucherous weekend, it was, well, you know, Hey, you don't want to go back to your mom's basement. I don't want to go back to Detroit in the winter. Like, let's keep this thing going. So we got a big kind of poker coworking mansion in the Hollywood Hills. Um, so the Hills of Los Angeles and in that year and a half that I was, there where just eat, slept, breathed poker. All my friends are poker, friends. Um, all my dreams are poker dreams. I mean, other than like going out. Doing the bottle service thing. All I thought about was poker.

[00:11:34]And that 18 months I went from being a pretty good player to being in the top 20 in the world. Um, and I'll kind of, kind of pause there. That's that takes us up to 2011.

[00:11:45] Josh: That's crazy. So what I really love. Well, first of all, I think there's going to be a lot of things that you brought from poker into sort of the business world. And that's where I think this conversation is going to go really well. The business creativity and life general, because I think you, you learned a lot from just being at the top.

[00:12:02] So if you're at the top of like any field, you're going to learn a lot. And I think by the time this episode comes out, your, your latest article play to win will be online. So I'll link that in description. Because I think a lot of this conversation will go around that it's like playing games and winning.

[00:12:18] So we had this conversation before about, you know, life is basically a game and there's a bunch of mini games within this large infinite game. And one of those games that you mastered was poker, but you can take those learnings. From poker into other games, such as like business. So I think that's a really interesting thing.

[00:12:35] There's many different business games that people play, but what you're doing now with the forcing function, which I think is like almost part two of your story is where things get super interesting. So I think before we get into that whole conversation, I actually want to hear how that happened. I wanna know how you went from playing professional poker, into starting your company, forcing function and taking some of these learnings and what you're doing with the company.

[00:12:58] Chris: Yeah. I, I think every time the story gets told, it feels a little bit more like an inevitability in a straight line, but you know, behind the scenes, it's always super messy. So 2011, uh, online poker gets shut down. The event we call it black Friday happens right after tax day 2011. And so I'm, I'm out of a job.

[00:13:20] And the question really surmounts is, Hey, do I leave the U S. Um, to try to keep playing and, or do I go and do other things, do I take this experience that I've gained to move on? And it would be, it would be great to say, Hey, day one, I immediately picked up and did the new thing, but, uh, I was like, well, I choose plan C.

[00:13:44] I'm gonna, I'm gonna sell all my stuff and backpack around the world. So I did that for a couple of years. Um, stayed in the hostels, traveled to. 50 countries just totally vagabonded. Um, met a lot of amazing people, had some incredible bucket list experiences. And when all the visas ran out I made this spreadsheet.

[00:14:06]I still have this, that survives to this day called the expected value calculator. I use it to make a lot of my decisions. I ranked all of the places that I wanted to live in the US and New York came to the top. So I showed up in New York with my backpack. And met up with a couple people who I knew there from Ohio state, um, convinced them to get an apartment together and try to figure out how I wanted to parlay my poker experience into this next chapter.

[00:14:37]The first, the first place that I started was the investment world. So I did a lot of investing when I was in, when I was in poker. Um, so investing in up and coming players, so recognizing who had potential and putting up capital so they can move up the limits faster and so sharing in their upside, covering their downside.

[00:14:57] And so I learned a lot about people and recognizing who is trustworthy, who is hardworking, who had high potential. And I was incredibly interested in the startup world at this time. So I did some contract work for venture capital, private equity type stuff, trying to help them source decided after about six months of that, both, I didn't have enough value add to invest myself yet within the startup world, I wanted to get some firsthand experience and you know, it wasn't quite ready to be a full-time investor yet. I wanted to get, yeah, I wanted to be a little bit more hands-on in the startup world. So I both started doing some marketing and analytics consulting.

[00:15:34] A lot of my, my edge in poker came from the deep statistical work that I did in my databases off the tables. And so that translated really well to analytics programs, uh, mixed table you know, mix panel, Google analytics, these type of stuff, setting it up for companies. They could get insights on, you know, where their customers are coming from, uh, where they're most profitable channels are and, um, ended up taking it a full-time job, leading marketing at a fashion e-commerce company for about six months. And from that I, I kinda kept conversations going with a lot of my poker friends from back in the day. Um, so just to kind of make it clear, I think the biggest contributor to my success as a poker player was teaching poker.

[00:16:21] Uh, I worked with 150 poker players. I did a thousand coaching sessions, both between investing as well as my consulting practice within poker. So I had a really broad sample size of what worked and seeing all these other players strategies and approaches to the games and incorporating them into my own. I think it was a huge factor in how I was able to rise through the limits and maintain my place at the top. And so now that I had this experience on both sides of the startup table, both understanding the investment side really well and working. Within startups, as well as my own experiences of peak performance from poker, I decided to try to turn some of the conversations I was having with my poker friends into a business... into a mission because a lot of them were people who I'd worked with back in the day as a poker coach had gone on to become entrepreneurs.

[00:17:12] These are very smart, talented, hustley types. And so just gradually our conversation had shifted more towards business models and acquisition and customer, uh, testing, all this kind of stuff. And so I said, well, this feels like this could be the next phase. Um, because this is something that I would happily do for free, but, and I think I'm uniquely well positioned.

[00:17:37] I don't think anyone has the combination of experience that I have opportunities arise at these intersections and this is something that could be incredibly valuable. So, you know, 2016, one of my friends were having tea on my patio and we have a really great conversation and he's like, that was awesome.

[00:17:57] Uh, like I would put it into practice if I was paying you, can I pay you? And he became my first client. And from there just like slowly built out via referral primarily now a forcing function is a fully fledged mission and business.

[00:18:15] Josh: That's incredible and you're right. It makes sense. Total sense. You'd go from a to B there. And I think even wrote in the article, like most poker players peak around their twenties and they don't play after. Is that still like, is that still true? Is that like a fact or is that just like most of the time or at least for professionals?

[00:18:32] Chris: I think you see this in a lot of fields, uh, sports, investing, um, I think even startups where there is a natural peak. And ability. So this could be cognitive ability. This could be physical ability to, to focus, maintain energy levels. Uh, and I think a lot of it is just lack of constraints. So a couple of constraints come to mind, particularly in poker.

[00:19:02] One is when you're really young, you just give less F's. Or you, you, you have a much higher risk tolerance. Maybe you don't have, uh, an idea of the value of a dollar yet you don't have anyone who's dependent upon you or maybe lack of significant other lack of a family, um, and lack of outside interests. Uh, I do find, um, you know, life tends to become more balanced as we get older.

[00:19:28] So I said for me, when I was 21 to 23 in my poker peak, My entire life revolved around poker. And so I think there's just, it's just very difficult to maintain that over time. And so what I commonly see in a lot of fields is this huge rise followed by a kind of dramatic fall. And why it's a bit traumatic is that everyone has a hard time admitting to themselves that they're no longer at the top. And so you see them kind of lose some of what they gained on the way down. Um, you know, people generally retire too late rather than too early. Um, I think I have retired far too early, the first time to be... to be fair, but I think I was trying to optimize for this was like, I didn't, I wanted to go out on the top and this was the question that drove playing to win.

[00:20:20] And this whole exploration for me of, you know, I'm 34 now I've been playing poker off and on now for 15 years, I don't know anyone, and I mean, anyone who has been in the game, as long as I have outside of some of like players who primarily play live, um, where a lot of, a lot of that, that skill set is more networking rather than actual poker skill.

[00:20:47] So there, there are rare exceptions, but particularly in the online arena too, to be winning at the highest limits for as long as I have, it doesn't make sense on paper. And especially, it doesn't make sense because I don't think I'm better than players anymore. I think I'm much better than I once was, but on a relative basis, I think the game has passed me by in a few ways.

[00:21:09] And so the piece playing to win is an exploration. Of these meta skills, the things that aren't actually traditionally considered skills and improving in poker in terms of your ability to play like statistical ability, reading other players, et cetera, but how I'm able to out-compete these younger hungrier players who spend a lot more time working on their game through these meta-skills.

[00:21:34] That that's that's, that's the question that I was looking to address.

[00:21:38] Josh: I think exactly that those meta skills can be kind of brought into any domain. I dont think it needs to be just poker. I mean, you obviously talk about poker, but it really seems like you're just taking those as examples and here's how you can then use it in your own pursuit. So maybe like on a high level for people listening, who haven't read this, what are those main meta skills and how can they be used in life and business?

[00:22:03] Chris: Sure. So I think for me, it breaks down into an equation. And so I think most of, most of life is a complex system where you have emergence and these pieces in the middle are multiplicative. Where small changes emerge as much larger outcomes. And so those multipliers that I see in poker and at all, all pursuits that I've looked at are opportunities, strategy, and execution.

[00:22:32] So opportunities is how do you maximize your opportunity set? I think of this as your surface area of the opportunities that intersect with you. And so I explained some of the things that I do within poker to get into good game names and to position myself with, within those games, that that is a game in itself is to get into the game.  And so I think about this as everyone is trying to, um, you know, wait in line outside of the club instead of. You know, talking, you know, befriending the bouncer at the back door. There's lots of these back doors in life, and there's lots of these ways to really go directly at what we're trying to accomplish and maximize our opportunity. That's the first multiplier.

[00:23:20] The second is strategy. And so I think of this as the approach that you take. And so in, within poker, I really focus on understanding my opponent at a very deep level and bringing the game to things that I have a comparative advantage at. And so I think as in a career sense, this is understanding what we do really well and what is very highly valued and looking for thinking of this as a blue ocean.

[00:23:53] And they're like trying to get away from competition to things that we have no competition that we are the only one who can do what we can do for these riches exist in these niches. And you can always expand from any, from any beachhead.

[00:24:07] And then the final multiplier is execution where it doesn't matter how great your opportunities are or how great your approach is if you aren't able to execute upon that. And so this is your ability to make decisions, particularly when the world is very noisy, you're under a lot of pressure or stress. Um, your ability to perform at a high level every day to show up, to be consistent, to focus. As well as finally to get yourself back on track when you aren't performing well.

[00:24:41] So thinking about this in a poker sense, everyone talks about tilt. And I think this is a really powerful concept. Is there are times where we would be better off doing nothing because our decision-making has deteriorated so much that we're costing ourselves by continuing to play. And so this is very much the meta skill of self understanding of being aware.

[00:25:05] How are we doing in this moment? And I'm am I currently in a position to perform, am I playing my a game? And if not to step back to recover and to put ourselves back into a PR position to perform that as, uh, the, they talk about the best diet is the diet you can stick to. Right? The best strategy is the strategy that you can execute consistently well Um, so I see these three multipliers being indicative of how much someone will be able to realize their potential within the field of pursuit.

[00:25:40] Josh: Yeah, totally. And just a few notes before we, I have a really, really interesting question on that. But I think the first thing is like, I love the idea of like, it's almost like the opportunities like optionality. I'm sure like a lot of people, right? A lot of people actually hate that term right now. I've been seeing a lot of people are like, kind of against it. I'm seeing a lot of people kind of not bad talking it, but you know, just saying, huh? It's like not what you should be striving for, but what you're talking about with opportunities definitely coincides with optionality in my mind. Anyways, have you heard of the book optionality by Richard Meadows?

[00:26:14] Chris: No

[00:26:14] Josh: Oh, man. It's incredible. I think you would, you'd probably really, really enjoy it. I just started reading it. It's so good. And it's that exact same thing that you just said, which is like the best way to make decisions or make, you know, maybe set goals for the future. It's like, you're not going to really know what the future really holds.

[00:26:32] I think you also talked about that in, in your article quite a bit. So the best thing you can really do for yourself is just give yourself as much options as possible. Like the more options you have almost the better is sort of like the takeaway of the book, whether that's in, you know, finances, health, but what have you, obviously, having more options is better than having less options.

[00:26:52] But I think he also talks about almost the opposite carving away. Some of the options. And you did that with poker pretty early on. You just got rid of everything. Right. And just went down. So how do you think about balancing that balancing having optionality and then almost like pruning that decision tree and then almost like a followup to that is like, how do you think about creating those decisions and how do you, what are some tools that you use for making decisions? Cause that will play into so many different aspects.

[00:27:22] Chris: Thank you for that. And, uh, you know, bear with me because this is a incredibly nuanced, uh, thing to discuss. So, so first. Most of these dichotomies are false dichotomies. I see particularly in the startup or Twitter sphere, everyone thinks very black or white. I don't know how much of this is driven by tribal driven to the extremes, but you know, there's lots of gray in the middle. And so you, if you have, if you have this continuum of pure optionality, keep your options open, don't commit to anything and pick one thing that your guidance counselor told you to do in high school and pursue that endlessly for the rest of your life no matter how unhappy it makes you. There's obviously a lot of room there in the middle. And so I think that it's important. To explore some of these nuances. So where optionality can be very helpful is if you know the conditions which are best for you, whether that's for you to perform for your business, to grow for you, to be happy to have social interactions, which recharge you, which gives you meaning that sort of thing. Like what are those conditions, which work for you and creating as much surface area for those options to occur, right? So like you don't need to have these options open, which you're not going to pursue, but it starts with knowing what these conditions are.

[00:28:57] I think this is a very eastern approach to life. Western approach is cause, effect. I do something, something else happens where of an Eastern kind of Buddhism Zen driven approach is I am aware of the conditions that I am looking for. And I wait and I watch, and I think this other part is when you recognize those conditions are ripe, you strike you take action.

[00:29:27] You go immediately. And that's so much of this speed, this ability to act this overnight success or these years of figuring out what are those conditions that we're looking for and where people go way off the rails. And I said, I would point the finger at myself. Particularly in my full exploration phase of I'm going to just travel to every country and delay, you know, moving on with my life is there are so many good options.

[00:29:54] Like we could literally do anything. The biggest constraint we have is like getting out of bed and deciding what we want it to do. So at some point we need to commit. And when I reflect, that's always what I'm looking back on is. When did I feel happiest? When do I feel most fulfilled? When I feel most productive?

[00:30:10] How can I do more of that and being aware of these conditions? So when I recognize them, boom, I can like immediately take action upon them and agreed because the future is unknowable. A lot of success is paddling before the wave comes. We don't know when things are going to happen when investments are going to boom, as they are recently, or when there's going to be a big buying opportunity.

[00:30:39] When you know, a big crisis pandemic is going to come and, you know, moving to the internet and the virtual world gets accelerated by a decade. You can't predict that, but certainly if you know those conditions, which are going to be ripe, You can move much more quickly than others. And I think that is the key. You mentioned decision-making I come back so often to the OODA loop, the work of John Boyd, where the conclusion is the ability to reorient to changing conditions is the killer meta-skill. For making decisions in a competitive world. It is recognizing when things are changing and things are always changing. Things are always in flux.

[00:31:23] Things are always becoming... when things have changed in such a way that changes our priors on our correct approach and being able to reorient this approach to our changing conditions faster than others around us. That is a comparative advantage that continually compounds upon itself because we are out there in the arena, collecting feedback, moving faster, learning faster, continually improving so that it looks like our competition is literally standing still.

[00:31:53] And so I see this over and over again with my poker play with my work and performance with my building, my own business is that it's my ability to continually upgrade, update my hardware, to reorient to this new reality that I think allows this outsized performance. So, yeah, sorry for the big rant, but it's like, it's so nuanced.

[00:32:19] Yeah. Because everyone reduces this to black and white. Like I want to keep my options completely open, you know, sorry, not to call anyone out. It's like, Oh, I'm going to go to business school to keep my options open. And then I'm going to get a consulting uh, two years tend to keep my options open and then I'm going to work in investment bank to keep my options open.

[00:32:37] And usually there's a more direct path to going at what you want. It might be a little bit more uncomfortable. It might be a little bit high-risk, but usually you can go a little bit more direct. You have to. Commit to something, but the key, and this is encapsulated in my workbook "The Framework Experiment Without Limits" is to treat everything as an experiment for me, this is how I solve...I used to have every day as an existential crisis, I'd wake up and it's like, is this really what I want to do with my life? Like what, what am I doing? And that's just so crippling and self-defeating and you never, you never actually give an experiment time to run if you're constantly questioning. So this is super top of mind.

[00:33:20] I know you have an excellent annual review template out there. Um, I have one as well. You know, it, doesn't the questions that you asked yourself. Don't really matter. As much as that you're asking yourself the hard questions by doing this at a dedicated point, say at the end of the year, on your birthday, and then the month, it really doesn't matter. Just pick a day. It allows you to get full conviction on what you're doing. Right now you have full optionality. You can stop everything that you're doing completely change course, but pick a course. And then once you've picked a course, it allows you to sprint forward. And so this an experimental framework, I pick a time period.

[00:33:57] Could be a month, could be a quarter. It could be a year that I am going to act as if what I'm doing is the right thing to do. So, hey, where I'm living is the best place for me to be. What I'm doing with my career is the best thing for me to do, et cetera. And then one of this experimental period ends, let's say it's 90 days I give my self permission to stop question everything and completely change course. So, yeah, I think that's like the, the syntheosis of these two concepts, the Explorer, the exploit, the optionality full commitment is that your full commitment for a period, and then your full optionality for a period and you cycle off between these two extremes.

[00:34:44] Josh: Oh, I love that. So I've been trying to think of great mental models and sort of frameworks to basically put into words what you just did. So, I mean, that's why I do this podcast is this sort of my infinite game of just, Hey, there's really interesting people out here who know so much more than I do. Can we start getting new information that was just never in my sphere? So, man, I love that. And I think it's really great because I've been doing you do like daily or weekly journaling as well? I know you were talking about in the article doing journaling. Sorry, doing journaling when you've made certain decisions from playing poker, and I'm sure you do it with business.

[00:35:19] Do you have like a literal decision journal? Cause I think that's so huge for so many reasons, but I think the biggest one is also going to be in investing. I think that's where a lot in this conversation might even go because, um, you know, people always talk about. Investing like gambling, but it's not.

[00:35:35] And what people think is gambling, you are not gambling. You're almost investing, um, in a certain sense and you know, doing professional work, it was not gambling in your mind and clearly how you made it work. So I kind of want to, firstly, I hear about your decision journaling and how you set that up.

[00:35:53] And then maybe yeah, getting into more than investing, because that also brings us into like risk management and so many awesome things. Cause investing, although a lot of people don't even do it themselves, I think it's a great framework that you can bring into life as well. Like I was never a huge investor I'm more of the creative type, but now I've been really thinking about that, you know, with the compounding effects and things like that. Not even just financially, but I mean, investing in, you know, in health and relationships. Your career, all these different things. So, yeah, I would just like to ask you about that.

[00:36:25] Just the decision-making and then how you manage the risk with all the stuff, you know, when it comes to poker and when it comes into business and especially if you're going to get into startup investing, like that's a huge part of it.

[00:36:35]Chris: Again, uh, there's a lot to cover there. So you speaking to creative specifically, I'm a huge proponent in The Artists Way. I discovered this back in college and the, the key things that the artists way teaches for maximizing creativity. First is what she calls morning pages. So three pages. I mean, I try to do at least one every morning, first thing, and just verbally opening... like dumping everything out of your brain, no prompts, knowing going back and reading no editing yourself, no mental cigarette breaks. Just dumping everything out of your brain. And I think of this as this externalization process is clearing my mental space, sweeping out all the cobwebs making room for good ideas to emerge throughout the day.

[00:37:32] And yeah, this, this journaling practice is the Keystone habit of my Keystone habits. Um, the other one that she talks about is a long walk. I like right after lunch, so helping with digestion, getting some sunshine getting some separation, kind of creating a second container within my Workday. It's, it's very clear to me that my best ideas. Don't come to me at my desk. They usually come to me either in the shower or while I'm going on this long walk or in those few moments before I fall asleep. So just like 30 minute walk, no stimuli, not listening to podcasts, don't have my phone on me, just kind of aimlessly wander and let, let the environment stimulate me in terms of how they can get over whatever's currently blocking me. And, and the final one that she talks about is an artist's date, which is simply once a week, go and do something by yourself. Like take yourself on a date. If you're going to enjoy something that inspires you. So in different times, maybe you go to a museum or a pet shop or a bookstore, you know, now maybe you go to the park, maybe you have some tea in your backyard, but just do something that recharges inspires you.

[00:38:48] So a huge believer in this for creatives is something that I, that I try to get a lot of my, and I think a lot of us are creatives. Even if you don't identify as one, you know, if you're a writer, you're an artist. If you're building a product, you're an artist. So it's, it's a really good thing to think about.

[00:39:02] How can you be replenishing your creative energy? So some of these principles carry over to investing as well. And I think it's something that I really recommend to my, my portfolio manager, my hedge fund clients is to have this decision journal, but I think it applies to anyone who is making decisions on a regular basis.

[00:39:24] I think knowledge workers, founders, executives, you are getting paid to make decisions. And so it really makes sense to improve your process for making decisions. And so I think about these as almost a, a bookmark where, what you do before this decision and what you do after the decision. So before the decision, I think of as a pre-mortem, which is essentially let's imagine this decision goes horribly wrong.

[00:39:50] Why could it go horribly wrong and try to predict all those things that could have occurred, right? Before, before I send this email, let's imagine that they don't reply to it or they reply and say that is the most rudest thing I've ever heard, whatever that worst case scenario is. Imagine it, and think what could have caused it.

[00:40:08] And then you can prevent that failure mode in advance. It's making these mistakes in simulation, which takes place... it's a thought experiment happens instantaneously versus needing to learn it, to pay tuition on it, which is very expensive, especially, you know, as these decisions become higher stakes. And part of this pre-mortem is capturing all of your assumptions.

[00:40:31] So think of your, your, if you're an investor and you're thinking about making an angel investment into a company, list out all the reasons that this investment could go wrong, maybe the founder is incapable of bringing on the team that he needs to, um, he's to have, or that, you know, she isn't someone that you can trust to stick with the company for the five to 10 years in order to make it a meaningful exit or maybe the market size isn't large enough to support multiple players in the space. And it's really a winner take all and they won't be able to fundraise enough. Right. There's a lot of these assumptions which need to be externalized. And so you can see, Hey, given all these ways that could fail does it still make sense to proceed? And the cool thing is because we're making stuff and many of the decisions over the course of the lifetime, each individual decision doesn't matter all that much, as much as improving this process afterwards, we have a post-mortem and we've captured in our decision journal, everything that was going on in our head, when we made the decision, what we were thinking, what were your feeling, what we are afraid of, and we can go back and see, what did we miss?

[00:41:44] Was there something we could have known. Ahead of time that would lead to a different decision or what we could have done given what we have known to have the decision go better. It's like, what did we miss? How could we have done better? But getting that information captured upfront ... It gives us a very clear picture of what we were thinking at the time of the decision.

[00:42:08] And so I like to have this bookmark before I make a, a investment before I decide, all right, I'm going to use this marketing channel over this marketing channel. And by externalizing what's going on in my brain I'm often able to catch things that I might have missed. I'm... it allows me to take this outside view or another way to think about it is I flipped from a first party perspective to a third party perspective.

[00:42:39] Right? I'm now thinking in the third person and imagining, well, Chris is about to make a really bad decision. Why is he about to make a bad decision? And it divorces... like my identity from the question it's not, Oh, I'm, I'm, I'm messing up. I'm a failure. I'm an imposter. Yeah. It's like, no, like I'm watching this, I'm reading this book and like, what's this character about to do like, no, don't answer the phone.

[00:43:02] The guys on there. Like, no, don't, don't answer the don't answer the door. It's midnight. And you're in the movie scream, right? It's like, it's like, I'm seeing it from this outside perspective and I can catch things. That if I was too close, if I overly identified with it, I might willfully overlook. So yeah, I find that this process of improving your, your process, right? I'm thinking about decisions at the meta level is really, really powerful. And as I talk about in playing to win, I do think that our life. Is a product of these decisions or what I've referred to as bets or bets is we always have something on the line that we are risking in order for a expected return, right? We put in effort, we invest money or time or energy into something, and we expect to get more out of it in another form. we expect... okay. If I, if I volunteer I'm going to invest time and effort, but I'm going to get out fulfillment or happiness or, Hey, I invest into this relationship.

[00:44:09] Um, we're expecting some sort of return. We're betting on a person around a project and that our life is a product of these bets that each result we have multiplies and compounds over time. And so it's tiny improvement to the way that we able to make these bets either that we can increase our returns a little bit, or that we can decrease what we risk a little bit. This has massive effect when you take it across the, uh, timeline of a lifetime.

[00:44:40] Josh: Oh 100%. And again, just bringing back the, the book that I was mentioning with optionality, it's like looking for these things that have very little downside and like almost unlimited upside. Right. You know, like right now in, in the investing world, It's probably not a good time, in my opinion. It's not, I'm not a financial advisor by any means.

[00:44:59] It's like people like, yeah, we should be investing in Tesla. I'm like, well, there's very little upside at this point. They're like PE ratio people know that it's like 1200. It's like, that makes no sense. There's very little upside. Why would you invest in something like that where you can come crashing down? Or like, Better example right now, Bitcoin at like $45,000.

[00:45:16] It's like, yeah, it could go up, but it's like, there's a long way down to, you know, so it's figuring out what do you still have these upsides for? And there's things that always have like unlimited upside. So is there something for you that you always look for in that same sort of sense? Do you always look to like, you know, Maybe cap the downsides and then maximize these unlimited returns. I mean, you've done that with poker in a really interesting way. And I'd love for you to explain that in the types of games that you played and how you went and sought out certain games within there. And that's the blue ocean strategy that you talked about.

[00:45:50] But one thing before we move on to there... cause it's top of mind too, for all your time journaling and stuff like that. Is there a certain tool that you use? Do you use a certain note-taking apps, something digital or is it all paper? I want to hear your process just very briefly. If you use like a certain tool or app.

[00:46:05] Chris: Uh, yeah, I, I am kind of contrarian within the productivity world and that I think that tools are a complete, uh, let's say, waste of brain space and the obsession about one tool over the other. And that there's a big mental masturbation over switching from one tool or the other either, or I'm going to optimize my setup and that the tool that is being used pales in comparison to your personal way of using it.

[00:46:41] Um, so I actually, and I, and a lot of ways I optimize for ease of use, lack of friction. And for me, the least amount of friction. Is analog. So I do a lot of things just on a pad of paper or an, a moleskin notebook. And I can just, you know, I can take a photo and digitize that. So it becomes searchable within a hypothetical second brain type thing, but I'm really optimizing for that capture. Where I've found that you know, ideas generally don't come to me at my desk, as I said before. And so if I need to be on my laptop with notion open, in order to capture an idea, I'm going to capture so much less because not only is that creating external conditions, which seem to be realized, but there are extra steps versus if I can just take out a piece of paper, which is in my pocket or sitting next to me at all times and jot it down that serves as a mental bookmark that I can come back to and expand upon. So yeah, I mean, especially with morning journaling, I really recommend free hand. Um, there's a tool, 750 words, which is, you know, three pages based off of, um, the artist's way, which people like as well, because you get some analysis, you know, like mood changing over time type of stuff. Um, but for me, I find that I can't help editing myself once I get onto a computer, it's like typing. I'm just meant I become like very, very meta about it quickly, and I just want to empty my brain. It doesn't matter, what comes out. So I really recommend. Whenever possible to start with pen and paper. And, you know, I, I love the idea that Tiago Forte has a progressive summarization and my kind of idiosyncratic interpretation of that is the more that you utilize something, the more you can optimize it.

[00:48:42] You come back to the same note over and over again, you know, format it, summarize it, et cetera. But most things that we think are important, we'll never come back to again. So make sure that your system, your tool has some use before you overly invest in it.

[00:48:58] Josh: That's that's interesting that you're optimizing for capture because I think you're right. A lot of people are optimizing for like post search or especially in the Rome world, connecting ideas, like they're optimizing for something. So that's a really interesting thing that you're optimizing for capture.

[00:49:11] I recently just switched to iPhone. I had an Android for like years. So I was like in the VR world uh, so I use the Samsung gear VR headsets. This is the only reason I had it. I want an iPhone, but I was like, I needed it for that. Finally switched. And then I just realized like the control center, you know, the thing that you pull down from the top, right, the iPhone? Anyone, listening, if you have iOS, you know what I'm talking about? Um, I, I like optimize it in the sense of like, okay I want to optimize that for capture. Like I started using just Apple notes. Like you don't need to use something fancy like notion, just built in Apple notes. You can quickly type tap on that and then start typing a note within seconds.

[00:49:46] You have an idea, boom. The voice recorder. So like you're talking about going out for walks. You just click it. Start just recording or just choose your camera, just use like selfie, like you would sending it to someone and just go and talk to it. And I've been trying to optimize things that way, whereas like maybe you don't even have to write it.

[00:50:01] All you want to do is capture that thought. So I was thinking even starting maybe a morning, like vlog, where it's literally just talking to a camera, but I think the idea is like also the act of writing too. There's something special about it than just talking about it. And especially on paper, it's a lot harder to edit yourself, especially if you're using pen, right?Like you

[00:50:20] Scratch But you're right with the computer, like hit backspace, control, command a get it all deleted all. And you're like that. Wasn't good. It's like, no, just keep it. It doesn't really matter. So

[00:50:31] Chris: I'd love to, I'd love to unpack that a little bit. If you don't

[00:50:33] Josh: yeah, yeah, yeah. Go for it. Go for it.

[00:50:34] I think there's

[00:50:35] Chris: a really a couple of principles that you illustrated very, very well. So first, uh, Our values, what we, you know, what we value what we believe in our attitudes towards things in a broad sense are shaped by what we do.

[00:50:53] And so if we can get ourselves to do things, we can become the person who values and believes in doing those things. And so if you're thinking on a long enough time scale, everything comes down to make what you want to want to do, easier to do find anything you can to reduce friction towards it.  So what you're talking about is if I want to capture more of ideas towards audio, it's worth a little bit in that to reduce all friction towards that, you can make it really, really easy to do, you'll do it more often. You'll value doing it more often. You'll think of more audio ideas and you'll create a positive feedback loop that continually reinforces on itself. The opposite end of that is if you see things that are adding friction to what you want to do, or just distracting you other options, we were talking about optionality before, where it can make sense to cut other branches off the tree. We add constraints to accessing those other options in order to make it more likely. That we reinforce that option that we want. So I think that that example you gave is a really powerful demonstration of how we shape our behavior over time by making the things we want to do easier to do and making everything else harder to do.

[00:52:13] Josh: Totally, 100% and that's, you know, I think that it's a big principle that, you know, I read Atomic habits. I think it's a pretty popular book by now. And James Clear puts all that such great perspective. And just so like...he crystallizes the idea so well in that book, I absolutely love it. And this exactly what you said, just make the things you want to do easier and the shit you don't want to do a lot harder, you know?

[00:52:36] It's a row, your Oreos man, just don't have them in the house at all. You know, if you don't want to eat horrible. So yeah, this is awesome. Uh, I mean, yeah, the note taking, I think everyone has their own ways of doing things, but you're right. It's all about capturing it. And I think sometimes we're calling it like funny enough, I was going through my old, like I mentioned, I didn't have an iPhone for years, so I finally opened up Apple notes and I was kind of like trying to delete or archive old notes.

[00:52:59] So it's just clear, you know, to clear it up, start a whole new pallette. Let's go clear. And then I saw like a random note. It's just a Ted talk. I'm like, what the fuck is this? And I go into it and it was just a bunch of notes that I wrote on like, Four or five Ted Talks. I was like, Holy shit. I didn't even remember like writing this, but as I was reading, it came back and I was like, I do remember everything.

[00:53:17] And then just from those little pieces of notes, I just remembered the whole Ted Talk. Somehow. I'm like, Oh shit. I know exactly what they're talking about. So I think there is value, obviously in recalling. So with you writing in books, how often do you go and like pick up an old notebook and start reading it, or like you said, you digitize it sometimes. So once you digitize it, how often do you find yourself going back to it and using that knowledge and how much of it is actually useful information in the future or for like present to you?

[00:53:44] Chris: Yeah, I think the more frequent you access something, the more it makes sense to optimize for it. So certain notes, I find myself going back to an inordinate amount of time. So I try to regularly invest and make the, making those notes more useful. And I think there's something there that you highlighted, which is there is a strong value in randomization that so much of.

[00:54:14] Having a intellectual breakthrough is context where ...if you're thinking about it like my favorite book might be my favorite book because I was in the correct context for those lessons to land. And just as no man crosses the same river twice, rereading an old note, we can have completely different takeaways and may make different intellectual bridges between idea islands based on our current context. Whatever problems are top of mind for us. And so when I go back to old notes, I try to create this randomization and that, you know, I, sometimes I have an idea of what notes are going to be useful, obviously, anything around habits, my first step is going to be to search for habits and see what comes up.

[00:55:02] But there's also some value in just exploring. And I think, you know, Hey, thinking about explore exploit again, right? You should never be more than 80% on either way. So at least like 20% of the time, I want to be looking at completely random things that I've saved and seeing what that brings up for me.

[00:55:19] And interestingly enough, because these opportunities arise to the intercessions. That's how I'm often able to draw these connections. Or add metaphors to my tool belt by identifying. Wow. That makes sense. I hadn't realized that these two concepts were connected in this way because I hadn't made that connection before. So there's that necessity of just trying a random puzzle piece and seeing if it fits.

[00:55:48] Josh: That's cool. I really like that. And if you're familiar with Malcolm Gladwell, he's obviously a great author. He talks about writing as a, as a jigsaw puzzle, right? It's like, sometimes you want the pieces to fit, but sometimes you don't want it to fit. Sometimes you want it to just be an open-ended question that you have, then go answer yourself.

[00:56:04] So I love that analogy so much. Perfect connection. Um, yeah, no, this is awesome. And I do want to switch lanes here for the last little while getting back into games and sort of, you know, making that connection between, you know, life and games, because I think there's still a lot here. I've got quite a bit of notes that I wanted to bring up.

[00:56:23] Um, so  I mean, the biggest one that we also talked about before with selecting the right game. So we're talking about all these strategies and tools and in gaming and there's games in life. There's. Uh, we talked about it. There's unlimited games. Like you can literally sit and play poker for a hundred hours a day, you know?

[00:56:40] Well, not a day, but a hundred hours a week or whatever that wouldn't make any sense, unless we're like in a different dimension, but you know, it's like, well, actually, technically I do want to bring this up because you technically did. Cause you were playing what? 12 games simultaneously 12 to 15 games simultaneously. And what like a hundred hands an hour or something like that?

[00:57:00] Chris: A Thousand.

[00:57:00] Josh: Like 1200 hands an hour or some crazy shit? Like when you compounded that you basically did live like a hundred hours in a day, because in reality, if you were to go to a casino, you can only play what, like 25 hands an hour or something like that.

[00:57:13] If I can remember this, this correctly. So technically I wasn't wrong there, man. You were technically living like a million different lives all at once. So I, first of all, how the fuck do you do that? How did you like... how were you able to play multiple games at once? Cause that's also a big part of this podcast.

[00:57:30] I asked almost every single guest, can you do multiple things? Can you do more than just one business, one more than one? You know, venture more than one thing is that even worthwhile doing, and you kind of qanswered that by just doing it all at once. Although it was all focused on poker. So first of all, I just wanna know how the fuck do you do that? Because that just seems like God liked to play that many games at once. And then how do you think about playing multiple games? Like, is that even possible? There's a lot to unpack there and I said, don't worry take your time

[00:58:00] Chris: there's so much,

[00:58:01] Josh: Sometimes i'll just bring up multiple things that just come up to mind. This is MindMeld man. Many things

[00:58:07] Chris: Yeah. Before I get into poker specifically, uh, my general perspective on doing multiple things is that, Hey, there's upside there's downside. The downside is multitasking is a complete myth and there's always some dead weight loss. And so, Hey, if you're splitting yourself between three or more projects, let's say it's three. You think you're splitting your attention 33%, but really it's 20%. And just 40% of your attention is just like, you know, fart in the wind like gone. And so something to keep in mind is something I talk about often with clients, uh, is more wood behind fewer arrows that one of the most annoying things that I do with my clients is that I force them to just write out all of their projects and then draw a line through half of them.

[00:58:57] It's like, you cannot start any new projects until one of these projects is completed. Put something down before you pick something else up. There's so many things we could be doing, but it often makes most sense to go and serial before parallel, get mastery in one thing, and then move on to the next, put one, have a project that's shipped, or at least is like out for feedback before you pick something else up.

[00:59:21] Because so many of the returns to be harvested are in that final 20%. And so it's sticking it out before we switch to the next shiny thing. And I am totally feeling this pain right now because I am split like a horse. You know, you have like the medieval torture of the horses riding off in four separate directions.

[00:59:44] That's how I feel a lot of times split between, you know, a forcing function in my consulting business, my professional poker playing and being an investor where the mindset and the approach and the schedule to all of these is so counter that it often feels like I'm trying to keep these balls in the air, but one is always falling down to the ground.

[01:00:02] And it's just part of the challenge. But the upside is that if you have these multiple symbiotic supportive projects happening if one falls off, right, another part of your portfolio captures that, or you don't need to find meaning in the same place that you earn a living, or you don't need to pursue happiness in the same place that you, um, you pursue fulfillment.

[01:00:29] So having these different pursuits, they can capture different parts of our needs. Um, so in that way, it's really important to diversify ourselves in that way and particularly diversify our identity. Um, now to poker specifically, So, um, what Josh was talking about is yes, in a live casino game, as you might see in a movie, it is...and from my perspective, mind-numbingly slow where you get about 20 to 25 hands per hour, depending on how good the dealer is. And... and so you are very limited in how much you can make, because you just, aren't seeing that many hands. Um, it's just hours and hours of boredom, punctuated by, you know, seconds of terror when you finally do get a hand and, you know, before, you know, you're doubled up or you bust. Um, so. The big advantage of playing online is the ability to play multiple games, which are going much faster. So currently, um, you know, since I've come back out of retirement, the last few years, I play an average of 12 games at a time.

[01:01:35] Each game gets about 60 to a hundred hands per hour, depending upon the table. And so that means that I'm generally playing 800 to a thousand hands. Per hour. If you do some quick math, you can see that's about 50 times as many hands per hour. And thus I can make 50 times less per hand and still do just as well as I would in a casino.

[01:01:58] And how the heck am I able to do that? Because people who've watched me play before. If you remember the scene from minority report, it just looks like total chaos, but I would abstract this by referring you to consciousness, which is that most of conscious processing is actually the discarding of information because we can only pay attention to very little at a time.

[01:02:24] And so why it's so overwhelmed coming from someone who doesn't have the mental models that I do, cause they don't know what to pay attention to. And so it's not that I'm actually tracking every single hand that's happening at the same time. I'm, I'm aware of the same amount of things on an absolute level as anyone else.

[01:02:41] But I know exactly what to pay attention to because I have so much experience to draw upon and to realize that so much of what happened was happening is completely irrelevant to the decision that I'm trying to make. So that at a high level is how we function. In a world, which is increasingly noisy and dynamic and complex, right.

[01:03:04] Coming back to, we know what conditions that we're looking for, or we're aware of how we're able to perform the best we know who we're trying to get in contact with, or build a relationship with. And so the key. Is to create constraints around all the other noise that the world is throwing at us, not letting the algorithm, determining what we pay attention to, but taking that responsibility upon ourselves, that the wealth of information at our fingertips is not a.. Is not a bug, but a feature. It's an opportunity because we have access to more, but with more power comes more responsibility. We have to be able to choose consciously what we pay attention to. And so that is the biggest thing that I really try to instill in my clients is just relentless focus on what matters and relentlessly, stripping away everything else.

[01:04:07] Josh: Wow. Okay. Yeah, there's, there's a lot to unpack there. That makes, first of all, it makes total sense. And one, one place that my mind kind of went to there. I think we talked about it before. I was mentioning that, um, on the Oculus headsets, there's now VR poker. So you're talking about doing online poker and people would probably think that's the same thing, right?

[01:04:24] You're doing online poker. It's in VR, so online, but I think. From what I know, I haven't really played much of it from what I have tried. It does seem that it's more, um, like the  analog version that you described very mind numbingly boring. Like if you're going to go play with your friends just on one table, right.

[01:04:40] Instead of having like multiple windows open, you're kind of embodied in, on this virtual table and it feels more like that real thing. So I think it kind of brought something else up too, which is like in VR, like people kind of think like, Oh, VR and AR is just going to be like this world with all these mind numbing, I guess, distractions, as you, as you also kind of say, they're sort of distractions, it's only going to be amplified, but it's like, well maybe in VR, you know, you're gonna have the, the all of the upsides of this virtual world of you and I having this conversation, but we'd being like almost in VR instead of watching, you know, watching a zoom screen. And then as I look over here, I have a bunch of windows open there's I see the recording, I see my notes. There's all these like distractions, but it's almost like as if we were to have this conversation in VR.

[01:05:29] I would have less distractions unless you pull up those windows in like a virtual window, you can strip them away and it feels like we're there together. So I don't know. It's just kind of brought me, brought this up and I know you're not like a huge proponent of VR by any means, but I know that you are obviously, you know, a professional gamer and you think about games a lot.

[01:05:48] And VR's biggest feature right now is games. And there's a lot of like things going on right now in society where people are talking about VR. So I sort of want to weave this into the, to the conversation cause I'm super interested into it. Obviously I run a VR company, so I like to get these little insights on how you might view VR.

[01:06:05] I mean, it's not like a huge, you know, it's not like the next smartphone right now. Not like everyone has it. It's obviously getting a little bit more popular, but it hasn't been the big hit that everyone thought it would be. I think part of that is a lot of people are actually scared of it. I honestly think there's a lot of fear, you know, just based on the culture sphere right now, all of this media that's out.

[01:06:25] So I just want to hear your thoughts about that in VR, especially with VR poker, if you're even interested, but it seems like you wouldn't be interested in that, given that you're usually playing 12 games at a time.

[01:06:36] Chris: Yeah. I mean, I lean on your background as a technologist in the area because a lot of my mental models around VR, I mean, I have, I have played a little bit with the Oculus and, and others. And I thought it was an incredibly insightful and, uh, and enriching experience is it feels to me like, A little bit kind of how we've seen with machine learning and that it goes through these hype cycles where there's a lot of over promising and under delivering, because it is just incredibly complex in terms of edge cases to create a completely immersive experience and just because our society is so narrative driven, we automatically collapse upon these dystopian scenarios of, you know, plugging into the matrix type thing. And, you know, you have a bunch of Wally's running around, completely divorced from their corporal body, and it's obvious that there's going to be some gray area in there and that some fields are going to lead the way, you know, I think, I think medicine what's happening with VR is going to be incredibly powerful, especially as we've seen ability to go to a hospital is, you know, can be a source of friction is not always necessary. Business travel. I mean, just just a year ago, the idea of traveling halfway across the world to shake somebody's hand was a normal thing.

[01:08:06] Obviously some of that's going to come back because, hey, you are really, this relationship is so important to me that I'm going to do this thing that's incredibly dumb and inconvenient. Just to show you how important you are to me, some of that still going to go on. But I think some of that is also going to go virtual because even if you can't capture a hundred percent of that experience, certainly we can start to approach it.

[01:08:34] You know, some sort of asymptote of all right. Maybe now we're like, I don't know. I wonder, want your opinion to be it's like 60 or 70% of that experience being live. Can we bring in other senses, can we have, you know, zero latency? Can we, can we put ourselves in environments where we're forgetting that we're in the environment and remove the kind of like, Oh, I'm busy, I have a headache type of stuff. There's just a lot that we stillhave to learn about translating physics to bits. Um, so I'm, I look at, I look at those who for better or worse are shaping our digital and physical future. And, you know, I think, I think Facebook, Google in particular, and I imagine a lot and, you know, in China, which is, Government subsidized.

[01:09:26] They clearly believe that VR is the future. I think this year has certainly accelerated timelines, at least in terms of adoption and willingness to try virtual quite a bit. And I'm certainly excited about the possibilities of exploring this new dimension. But, um, I, I said, I, I don't think it will ever become a full replacement  for reality, I think, you know, if anything, this, this year has taught us that being, being face-to-face with someone being able to have that, the sensation of touch having some just randomness. In the environment that can't be programmed in. You know, I don't know how much of this translates and stopped my rant I'm just thinking totally all out here. I mean, I love, love, love the book, snow crash, which it appears that much of VR sort of has been sculpted after this vision, the Neal Stephenson had just like, uh, Richard Fineman wrote out a paper of, Hey, I think quantum computers are possible, even if we can't build the materials yet, having that vision created that vision.

[01:10:39] And that, that technology eventually catches up. I do wonder how much of our lives will go virtual. Um, you know, I said when I was first started with poker, I think my life's a little bit more balanced now. It was completely normal for all of my best friends to just be screen names or avatars to me that didn't feel at all strange.

[01:11:03] Um, And, you know, now there's a little bit more emphasis on identity, but also you see on Twitter with, you know, pseudo anonymous accounts, people who maybe are tied to firms, can't speak freely. This gives them a medium. I do think that more of the way that we gain status that we have, meaning is moving towards this second life, this, this virtual world.

[01:11:28]And it's the question of, you know, what fidelity that, that technology reaches. It's clear if you extrapolated out far enough, there's nothing within the laws of physics that say it can't be a, at least an approximation that, that map for the territory.

[01:11:43] Josh: A hundred percent and you brought this up in the article and I want to bring this up now. You also just talked about that sort of the latency. It's like, there's a lot of evidence that kind of says that we're already in a virtual world, you know, holographic universe... not, not literally like simulation theory, but I mean like the way that it three dimensions are actually projected into our actual like consciousness and, you know, I think you even talked about it.

[01:12:09] There's, there's more than what we can just perceive obviously. Right? Whether that's

[01:12:13] Chris: The world is not three-dimensional.

[01:12:15] Josh: No, it's not, this is just what we can perceive and it'd be probably fucked up if you could. I mean, I don't know. I also like to ask guests this, have you ever done any kind of psychedelics or anything that has like, or anything that's like made you experience the other-ness or that other extra dimensions?

[01:12:31] Chris: I've had a small taste outside of our normal doors of perception, for sure. And I think it can be a very valuable experience to kind of receive that direct download of how little we know and actually perceive as you know, we, we perceive life in three dimensions within a very, very narrow band of light in terms of wavelengths and to just see how deep the rabbit hole goes. I think can be a very humbling. And in many cases, a sort of red pill moment that shakes us out of whatever small, but feeling, you know, huge challenge that we're facing. I think it's very healthy to be confronted with a, this doesn't really, really matter all that much kind of, kind of moment.

[01:13:29] Josh: Totally. And it makes it, cause I want to bring this, you know, weave this into this sort of game of life or it's like, you know, a lot of people are kind of still stuck in that three dimension. Like this is just life. I just go to school, graduate, get a job, have kids get a mortgage. Yeah. I don't know, go to Florida and then die.

[01:13:48] Like, I don't know. There's like more to life, you know, in, in that sense. And we, you know,

[01:13:51] Chris: Hey, no, no, no judgment, no judgment. It's but asking the question of, you know, what do I value? What am I optimizing for? And we've been talking a lot about decisions. And I think super key is that we don't realize that we can decide. We just automatically re up, we have this recurring billing on our defaults and we forgot that we put our credit card down.

[01:14:18] We just keep doing the same thing because we don't realize that we can change. So I said, you know, we're talking about annual review and the importance of completely stepping back and saying, do I want to keep doing this? Is there anything else that I might want to be doing? Instead and Hey, say I try the best I can.

[01:14:39] I don't think everyone should be an entrepreneur. Although I do think the jobs are heading towards extinction. I don't think everyone should go and travel, although it can be incredibly valuable to see different cultures from a ground level and realize that thecultural programming  that the  US given you does not have the right answer for everything.

[01:14:58] Right. It's like I have my opinions, but what I think is. Most important is to decide for yourself what you value and you know, every psychology experiment you go in there and you think you're doing one thing it's like, okay. I think that I am shocking this person in the other room to help them try to learn... well no. We're actually trying to figure out just how powerful authority can be after the whole  extravaganza that was uh world war II. Just the same way we think when we're making a decision, we're weighing one option versus the, but really we're coming to terms with what we most value. And if we can decide that and it shifts over time, so really, really tapping into that thing, you decide what we most value. Those decisions become pretty obvious.

[01:15:55] Josh: Yeah, I love that. It's like not locking yourself in, you know, bringing back, bringing that back to optionality. It's just giving yourself the option. I was saying you have to have all options, but just give yourself as many options. Like you don't have to like lock in. Okay. This is it forever. It's like you said, do an annual review, do a quarterly review.

[01:16:12] Like, are these the things I want to be doing? Did I have fun doing this today? Did I enjoy it. Was it at least lucrative. You know, these questions that we can always ask ourselves. Then you just give yourself, I love how you said to give yourself a timeframe, whether it's 90 days, whether that's a year, just do it in that time and just go all in for it.

[01:16:30] Just do it. Like don't have assets just a hundred percent and then you can go back and ask. And if the answer is a yes, obviously just keep going for it. So I love that. And you know, I think it helps me understand myself a lot too. So I think anyone listening to this will get a lot out of that. And I guess like a few of the questions I had too, before we move on.

[01:16:52] Okay. This, yeah. So we talked about the review, but now we're talking about now I want to get into sort of. Rituals and sort of habits almost. You talk about your pregame routine. And I think that is super, super key in anything. I did a pregame routine just to do this podcast and like, I don't know, there's some things I want to hear your opinions too.

[01:17:20] Do you think. Like I don't, I think everything's a game almost, but this what we're doing, having a conversation, we've talked about this before, the finite versus infinite game. I don't know if I see it as a game. What are your perceptions of it? When you have a conversation with someone like this, or you're like jamming, you're doing jazz.

[01:17:37] So I don't know if you've seen Disney Pixar soul, but know, just jazzing, like, you know, there's sort of the off the beaten path, not doing a certain thing. You know, you're not playing, um, a finite or an infinite game. You're just jazzing. You're just kind of being, so I want to hear your thoughts on that too before we get into like routines and habits.

[01:17:55] Chris: Yeah. So the, so the book that we're referencing here is James Carse's, Finite and Infinite Games. Incredibly influential on both of us and the notion that he has, his finite games are really serious. You're conforming to a set of rules that everyone's agreed to, whether they remember that they agreed to or not.

[01:18:17] And it's like all holds barred type games and that most of the time we are playing these finite games without realizing it. And the ideal notion of an infinite game is that the only goal of an infinite game is to keep the game going and that infinite games by their nature are playful. You don't play within the rules, you play with the rules.

[01:18:44] And so I think that's what makes. A really good conversation is that sense of play. And I just can't help. But think of my experience, performing improv with this notion of "yes, and" where your conversation or improvisation partner says something that's so unexpected or off the wall that our natural human tendency, when we get uncomfortable is to deny that reality and try to bring it back to where we feel comfortable rather than thinking about keeping this like inflated beach ball in the air by saying yes, and. Yes, the sky is green and it does tend to have some shades of blue. If you look at it closely, but Hey, what we actually think is blue doesn't actually exist.

[01:19:32] It's just a freak of a, the way that you perceive light. And you can take some, anything that someone says and turn that into a game, a sense of play, a sense of exploration that, when it comes to a lot of these discussions, there really are no absolutes. And I think it's this. This approach that I try to have as far as, Hey, my vision, who do I want to be as a person is I want to be someone who's playful who makes others feel comfortable, who is interested, rather than trying to be interesting that everyone has this hidden superpower and that, Hey, can you help them discover or rediscover their own unique greatness?

[01:20:19] And that's just so fun. And when the conversation becomes too serious. There's too much sub-text. It really weighs things down and, and in a sense it holds back the possibilities. So, yeah, so, so such a wonderful metaphor for life, because what if we can make the things that we want to accomplish with our life, the things that we have to do, whether it's dusting or washing dishes or writing an article or a newsletter, or going on a podcast, what if it can make it a little bit more fun and playful increased our subjective experience a little bit more, not only are you going to enjoy and do more of those, but I suspect that they might even go a little bit better.

[01:21:06] Josh: Totally. I love that, man. Yeah, that's exactly it. I mean, that's how I view life as well. It's like, you know, just playful cause like some people just think of life as these miniature games and they're just thinking, K life is just making a lot of money and doing well, it worked okay, but that's like one little aspect of like all possibilities.

[01:21:22] Right? So maybe we can end off on this of like almost flipping the script because. The article that we were referencing that you wrote play to a win is the opposite of that. It's saying, okay, well, because obviously poker is this finite game within this infinite worlds. I love how you view all of life.

[01:21:39] But then when, if within that, if you are playing a finite game, you want to play to win. It makes total sense. Like with poker, you want to make money. Like you talked about that in the article. It's like your goal is to make money. So you found the blue oceans of like, I want you to describe it. Cause I think it's really interesting of how you figured out to find the right people to play.

[01:21:58] It's like, you're not going to play other professionals. No, I'm going to play against people worse than me because I want to win. So when I was reading is almost it's it almost seemed like, like a Hunter mindset. I don't know. Does that kind of make sense to you? That does that, is that kind of sum it up?

[01:22:12] It seems like a Hunter Mindset. So maybe, yeah. I'd love to just hear your views on the opposite side of this, the playing to win mentality. which is the opposite of what we were just talking about

[01:22:22]Chris: so the blue ocean strategy is that rather than doing what everyone else is doing, you try to find your own unique niche where you don't need to compete because all competitions become a race to the bottom and  mimesis is such a powerful phenomenon that we tend to want, what others around us want.

[01:22:45] So that's why it's important to ask these questions of what do we really want because otherwise we ended up just copying and playing the same finite games as everyone else with diminishing returns. And so in poker and in life, I'm always trying to find the places where there isn't competition, where I have unique insight or unique experience or a unique ecosystem, and that I can explore rather than continually exploiting.

[01:23:15] And the concept here from poker is game selection. And so if you think about this in a casino sense, you have all of these tables that you could play at, right? In a physical casino, you can only play one game. And so the most important decision you make as far as how much money you're going to make in that poker session is which table you choose to sit down at.

[01:23:39] And so that becomes a very, very early learning in poker is being able to recognize good games. And the meta skill is how do you get into those good games? It's like, everyone wants to invest in Facebook, in its early stages, but very few people have access. To invest in Facebook. So how do you get access?

[01:24:01] And the other layer above that is how do you anticipate when this great game is going to be started? And can you be in the seat before the game starts? And so you don't have to fight others in that game of musical chairs. And so it's a lot of this is kind of predicting the future extrapolating on what's happening and say, If I take this to his logical conclusion, where are things going to go?

[01:24:28] And how can I position myself to benefit from this, this scenario? Because yeah, I think that we are obsessed with competition and this has been a huge lesson for me in poker. This comes from tao te ching, is that we, the biggest winners do not compete. You know, you collaborate with other players in order to better each other, to help each other, find each other's weaknesses to identify good games.

[01:24:57] And if you treat everyone as a comp, as a competitor, everything becomes a competition. And so, you know, the, the grades come up together. I'm always trying to, to turn something into a collaboration. Rather than a competition. And so as we think about our own careers, our own investments, it's thinking about our own game selection and is that is the most important determinant of what we will be able to achieve in this life is where we choose to play.

[01:25:26] And recognizing that if you have. Any level of ambition and curiosity in this wonderful world of abundance that we found ourselves in, you can achieve just about anything because, and that there's so many games to play. And a lot of these have very different outcomes on how fulfilled and happy we'll be.

[01:25:44] So given there are so many games to play. Being very, very careful about those games, which you choose to play. Because if you are playing, you are agreeing to those rules. Like don't play the capitalism game. If you're not trying to win, if you're just going to play to play, you're not going to have a good time.

[01:26:06] And so that's, that's in essence, what that, what playing to win is about is. First choose to play. And if you choose to play, here are the strategies in that you are going to win because it's not worth playing. In my opinion, if you aren't playing to win.

[01:26:25] Josh: I love that so much. It's like you, you brought it up so much to have the professional versus the recreational, and there's nothing wrong with being a recreational, right? Like if you're a rec... I'm Canadian. So I'm gonna say rec hockey player, right. If you're like in a house league, Tournament. Like, that's great, you're playing for fun, but if you're going to have someone who comes in and just smashes everyone, they're playing to win, you could tell if someone who maybe played rep hockey and it seems like that's what you did, right?

[01:26:51] Chris: I'm a recreational in so many areas of my life, because first I think that there's so much to be learned from any pursuit. So I want to experience as much as I can and have as many adventures as I can to try to translate and transmute that experience into lessons. So I'm a complete amateur tennis player and I'm a complete amateur drummer and complete amateur writer and I'm not trying to be the best at these things. I do them because I enjoy it. Um, and they, they helped me grow. And so I think that that's a very good distinction that you make is like, it's okay to be a recreational, to be an amateur. But like, if you are trying to be a professional, you need to act as a professional. It's a very, very different approach. Cause the professionals are playing a completely different game. That's the key is like in say in poker, like I am not playing the same game. Like, it is very, very different. It's the same at the top levels of any pursuit investing, sports, entrepreneurship. And so if you want to get to the top levels, you need to be willing to play that higher level game.

[01:28:03] Josh: Totally. And I honestly think that's the perfect way to end this off. Cause like that just sums up everything. It's absolutely perfect.

[01:28:10] Chris, I have a few questions for you though, because sort of like end notes before we head off here. My first question for you honestly, is. You have this great growth mindset and I think, you know, you know, it too, especially being in sort of like the consulting world and helping people grow you, you also bring it into poker and you bring it to games in life. So I really want to know, did you ever have like an, like an awakening moment? Like, did you ever have a moment where you like again, the proverbial getting unplugged from the matrix. Did you ever have that? And a lot of people actually say no. So if not, like, was there certain things that you did or some influences that kind of got you to the mindset you have now?

[01:28:52] Chris: I said it's, it's this narrative bias to think that all these changes collapse upon a single moment. When I think in reality, I'm trying to create these, these mini red pills on a consistent basis. So there. They're smaller. There are less Epiphanes, but I said, I, I think I'm much more interested in continuous improvement and continuously shocking my system and testing these beliefs rather than dependent upon these singular moments.

[01:29:22]That being said, I do have a few of what I refer to as inflection points where I think the, my trajectory completely shifted. I think, you know, the first one was I was very headed down this path, this corporate path. Um, I think I was a little bit diluted societaly that, you know, Status was something to go after.

[01:29:46] I wanted to be on the cover, of fortune or Forbes. And I thought my best way to do that was to become a fortune 500 CMO and, and a huge red pill moment was I was interning at nationwide. Um, I really wanted to make television commercials. And so I got to help  Nationwide make their Superbowl commercial with a MC hammer. It's a pretty fun one. Um, and through that experience, I got to meet the CMO of nationwide and it was someone who I found incredibly admirable, but I realized I didn't envy him. It's like, I really, he really respected what he was doing. And I'm like, wow, that is really impressive. But I didn't want to be him.

[01:30:28] I didn't want to be sitting in that executive suite, having meetings all day, you know, looking at numbers on a spreadsheet. And I realized, Oh, that's not what I want with my life. And I've had this happen a few times with, Hey Ford. I can't work there anymore. Or black Friday. Oh, I can't play poker in the US anymore.

[01:30:47] Where I'm sort of. I'm sort of pushed off the plank. You know, the pirate is, is stuck his sword in my back and I'm thrown into the cold frosty water. And the ice shocks my system as like, Oh, that's not what I thought it would be at all. Maybe what I thought was wrong. And, you know, sometimes we really need that shock to the system to uncover some of this old code, these old beliefs that we've optimized around and say, well, if that was, it was wrong, what else is wrong? Maybe I need to, to change my internal compass towards what I actually want versus what I think I want. And if we're thinking about leverage points in a system, the greatest leverage point is changing the paradigms by which we orient our systems. And so, Hey, this paradigm, the first one I said of it is very important to be someone who accomplishes big things professionally and gets recognition from these publications, right? Forbes 30, under, over 30 or 30, under 30, whatever it is, this is a really important thing to go after.

[01:32:00] And like, Oh, once that paradigm has collapsed. That. Oh, it's okay. To run my own race, to, to live a balanced life, to see my family and the people that I love more often not run myself in the ground. Well, that changes everything that changes what I value, what I pursue, what I, how I, how I have my schedule, um, who I see, who I prioritize, um, that, that one paradigm shift completely transforms everything. So those are the moments that I go back to as wow. Like my complete trajectory shifted because what I thought I wanted. You know, once I had achieved it, I didn't want anymore. I'll show you. I'll say I'll share one more because I think it's important to kind of, you know, give the contrast is when I was in this full exploited or sorry, full, you know, let's say like college, like I want to be a fortune 500 CMO that really annoying ambitious kid or a suit to class like that was full exploited.

[01:33:02] Like I had this really North star of, I want to be a corporate superstar and completely fell off that wagon when I. You know, I, Hey mom, I'm going to become a professional poker player. Forget that, forget that, you know, college experience that you, you helped me help me do. All right, I'm going to go travel the world and I'm going to like totally bum around in these hostels, you know, stay, stay in a room with 30 strangers and there was this moment in Thailand.

[01:33:27] So with black Friday, there was, and there's so much context here. The black Friday all of the money in my poker account had been seized half of my net worth. And so three years later, I assumed that I had like half of my net worth was just gone to the wind. All of the money arrives in as a lump sum into my banking account and I happened to be living. In a little bungalow in a  uh, Thailand, $20 a day. And I did, the quick calculation is, Oh, with that money that hit my bank account today. I could live on this beach for the rest of my life. And I'm 18 months into a trip by now. And it's like, Oh, I could do this for the rest of my life. And at first I thought I was winning the game, like, Oh, I'm like seeing the world, I'm doing all these bucket list activities. It's like, now that I could do it, it's like, Oh, That's not what I want. That doesn't sound like a great life. And that's what I booked my ticket home, but it took that moment of realization is like, Oh, I can do this to oh, well, do I really want to do this? And it's like, it was that another shock to the system that I was forced to reconcile that my actions and my beliefs were no longer in alignment. And one of those needed to shift.

[01:34:37] Josh: Wow. Wow. What a story, man. That's that's insane and super awesome. It makes total sense. Like sometimes you just want to know if you can do something not so much you want to do. It's like, I want to see if I can do it right. I mean,

[01:34:49] Chris: Yeah. It's so. So as part of the, this is a new part of my annual review that I want to incorporate into my template that I've just has just really been blowing my mind recently. So this originates from the path of least resistance Robert Fritz, where he was a creative himself and something that he discovered is all these people who had incredibly deliberate creative processes. Like how, if they were a musician playing with an orchestra or an artist doing large-scale works on a consistent basis. They weren't applying these processes of creativity to their lives out... to lives outside of that creative pursuit, that what works for us in one area can usually be transferred to other areas.

[01:35:38] And he has this notion of the reflection that we do is getting our picture of reality as high fidelity as possible. What's going on right now. And then we create this vision of. Where are we going to be and talking about it as that's already occurring. And so the whole notion of a goal is we put this North star out there, but we don't actually think about like achieving it.

[01:36:05] And so, you know, my, my meditation teacher likes to say is like, okay, let's imagine even sitting together in this cave for 30 years and poof you achieve enlightent, what next? Right for everyone is just like this crazy North star that we're never going to head. And that's, that's a nice calming, like blanket is like, Hey, I'm moving towards this thing, but we don't actually think about what happens.

[01:36:30] Like we're did this dog chasing the car? What happens if we catch the car? What do we, what do we do? And so having this vision, it's like, okay, let's imagine like, We've achieved everything we wanted this year, I'm talking like, okay, it's December 31st, 2021. Here's all the things that I did. Does that sound good?

[01:36:48] Do I want to have done all of those things? Like does it, does it, is it worth it? And it's, that's, that's the important thing is like, if I could give you this goal right now, like, let's say Josh, um, I'm sorry, I'm projecting you. Didn't tell me this. Let's say Josh, then your goal is to become a top 20 podcast in the world this year.

[01:37:05] And I'm like, Hey, here, here you go, Josh. And you're now a top 20 podcasts. Will you take it from me? I was like, is this is, this is everything that he thought it would be. And it's for the first time when you realize that you could have it. You start to wonder, it's like, Oh, is that what I want to do?  Do I want to  pursue that?  Um, and asking yourself that question. And so having this, this vision of where things are and where you want things to be generates, this creative tension, which has to be reconciled either you have to change what you want or change what you're doing, but either way that tension has to be resolved.

[01:37:39] And I said, it all starts with us asking this question of what do we want. And imagining that we already have it and saying, do we still want it? And then that was kind of the commonality of those narratives is I was just going after things, thinking I would never achieve them, that it was just reassurance to have something to go after, rather than thinking about what I actually wanted to go after.

[01:38:00] Josh: Man that is super powerful and I'll be completely honest. That's not something I've ever thought about. I'm guaranteeing 99% of people listening to this did not even think about it. So I'm adding that to my annual review. And in fact, we're recording about six days into the new year, I'm going to do it. I'm honestly going to, I'm going to do that because it hadn't occurred to me.

[01:38:18] I'm going to add that into my, my sort of like plan for the year. I'm going to, I'm going to add that in like all these goals. Sure. You can set goals, but what happens when you achieve it? Do you even want to? You meant that is incredible. And I'm looking forward to doing the live stream with you and who else is joining? Uh, uh, is it another Chris?

[01:38:35] Chris: Chris Williamson from Modern Wisdom.

[01:38:38] Josh: Yes. Okay. I'm looking forward to that, man. I can't wait to see, I'm going to definitely rip a couple of pages from your book there and add them into my view and just kind of append them and add them on now. So Chris, this was awesome, man. Um, so many fucking great mental models and tips and tricks that just like, man, I'm going to go listen back on this whole episode and just be mind blown all over again.

[01:38:58] I love going through and writing notes on these. So man, my last question for you so much shit going on, you even said you're doing so many things right now. What are you most looking forward to? What are you most excited about coming up in this new year? Maybe it's post COVID world. Hopefully.

[01:39:16] Chris: Yeah. So it's interesting as I go through this process, uh, I'm trying to strip away things. And I'm finding that I'm pretty happy with everything that's there. So I don't know. This might sound a little bit corny, but top of mind is just enjoying it more. I think I have a tendency to, to have a big win in my life and just immediately move on to the next thing instead of taking more time to enjoy and appreciate and be grateful for what I have.

[01:39:50] And so that, that's something that I'm really looking to build into my practice and into my mindset is just to appreciate more. And that's the thing that I'm looking forward to because Hey, if things just continued on the same path that we're on, that would be phenomenal. And I, I really don't feel pressure to do more.

[01:40:12] I'm trying the best I can to run my own race, to play my single player game and not really worry as much about what others are doing. I don't need to. Pursue every opportunity. I have really been missing travel this year. I mean, it's, it's been cool. I've been doing these, these mini lives where we get an Airbnb for three months and try, try out a new city and, you know, just try to try to experiment with, um, you know, how shifting environment shifts what we naturally gravitate towards, I was full exploit mode in, uh, Brooklyn for five years. And so this has been kind of a cool forcing function to try on new environments and see which takes. I'm really crossing my fingers, that Japan reopens borders. Um, my, my plan and hope is to be living in Japan for a few months.

[01:41:03] This year is something I'm really looking forward to and probably the big event. Uh, I got engaged. Um, in October. And so, yeah, we're gonna, we're gonna tie the knot at some point to be determined in 2021. And so, yeah, I, I was so surprised by. How big the milestone was like, for me, it was just like an item on my to-do list.

[01:41:26] It was something to be checked off. And I put a lot of effort into planning out that moment and, and executing that plan. Um, but what really surprised me was how excited people were to share in it and that it was a really big milestone to be celebrated. And so, yeah, that, that, that's, that's super top of mind for me right now is appreciation, celebration, gratitude, improving my subjective experience because I'm confident in what I'm doing. And I just want to really enjoy that journey a little bit more.

[01:41:57] Josh: That's awesome. I think we can all take a little bit about, a little bit off that page too, man. I think like, Especially after COVID we all got a crazy big paradigm shift just as a nation as well. I'm also in Canada. So also, you know, just globally, everything impacted everyone. So I think we can all take some time to just appreciate where we're at and I think do exactly he didn't have that forcing function of, you know, Figuring out what we want to do now.

[01:42:21] I think we all had that time to reflect over the last year. We're all forced to be inside. So there's a lot to do a lot to be thankful for. If you're healthy, if your family is healthy, there's so much to be grateful for. And I'm grateful for you to, for coming on the podcast, man, honestly, this was a fantastic conversation.

[01:42:36] It was an absolute honor to talk to you, man.

[01:42:38] Chris: Oh, it was totally a pleasure. You're an excellent conversation partner, super playful. I love the themes. I love what you're doing and yeah. Total, total honors to explore with you.

[01:42:49] Josh: Awesome. Thanks so much, Chris. We'll definitely have to do this again. I'm also exploring doing, you know, group chats doing more like a round table type of thing. So hopefully we can do that maybe later on this year, maybe you'll do it from Japan.

[01:43:02] Chris: Yeah, I'd love that. If I could just get on my soapbox for one moment, as far as you know, Hey, next steps. Anyone who's enjoyed this conversation wants to explore further. Um, you know, we're at a direct you to, um, because. Yeah, I would love for this to become the beginning of another conversation.

[01:43:19] If something that we said today resonated, you know, we covered a lot of ground. There's just, this is just the tip of the iceberg. So it'd be, it'd be cool to go deeper if you're inclined. I think based on when this episode's coming out, I'll be about to announce the second cohort of team performance training.

[01:43:35] So at forcing function where I do executive performance training, I'm generally only able to work with about a dozen. Uh, founders executives, investors at a time, and this is my first attempt to scale my offering a little bit. And so for the second time we had the first one in September and it was a huge success.

[01:43:53]12 executives will be joining me. I'm going to teach you everything that I know. About how to be maximally, productive and perform at your highest level. And there's gonna be lots of opportunities to immediately apply what we're talking about to your life, to your business, to your career. This is not a, it's not a big course where you watch the video and then think about it.

[01:44:14] This is like immediate action. And so it's just something that appeals to you, would highly recommend you filling out an application. Um, you can do that at Uh, those, those open up January 26th, the, uh, the team performance training kicks off in February. We have a workbook, so Hey, everything that I do with my one-on-one coaching clients, I've completely open-sourced.

[01:44:40]I'm totally an open book. You can download that a hundred page workbook, which has step-by-step instructions, how to implement these habits and systems in your own life. That workbook is called experiment without limits, and you can find it at Um, we have an annual review template that's up there

[01:45:00]All of the reading. Resources things that I referenced in this conversation could be found in our library, hosted in notion. I know you like that, Josh. And finally, if you want to have some insight on where your biggest opportunity is in the new year, um, because sometimes it's very easy to get overwhelmed with hey, there are all these things I can improve. Where do I take action. We have a free quiz that you can take, or we'll give you personalized feedback. And what we think your biggest opportunity is, you can take that at

[01:45:37] Josh: That's awesome. Thanks so much, Chris. I'll put those links in the description of this podcast as well so if anyone wants the direct link, they can go right there. Guys. There's like a wealth I've been on the website. There's just a wealth of knowledge and resources on there. Like you can fucking 10X just by going through this free stuff, honestly, download the workbook. That was awesome, Chris, those are so awesome. And finally, where can people find you online personally, if they want to chat with you?

[01:46:00] Chris: Yeah, I would say twitter is probably the easiest way to get ahold of me. You can send me a DM on there. Um, my handle across all the social media is @sparksremarks

[01:46:12] Josh: Well, thanks so much, Chris. This was awesome. And I can't wait to do it again.

[01:46:15] Chris: True pleasure. Thank you so much, Josh.

Thanks for coming this far! if you're reading this, it is no accident. The universe brought you to this corner of the internet for a reason, and you're on the right track. I already know that you're an amazing person and I can't wait to connect with you!

— Josh

Episode Transcript

Josh Gonsalves
Mind Meld Podcast Host

Hi, I'm Josh Gonsalves, the host and producer of Mind Meld. I'm also a Canadian Academy Award-nominated director and Co-founder of Contraverse, an immersive media company. I'm a multi-media experience designer living and working in Toronto, operating at the intersection of design and exponential technologies to develop solutions that change the world for the better.

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