95: 2020 Yearly Themes


00:00:00   Well, it's that time of year. It's time for yearly themes.

00:00:04   [Ding]

00:00:05   Are you ready, Myke?

00:00:06   Oh, I'm so ready. I've been ready for about three months.

00:00:10   You've been ready for about three months with your yearly theme?

00:00:13   Mm-hmm.

00:00:14   This has become, partly against my will, an annual Cortex tradition.

00:00:22   The discussion of the themes.

00:00:24   How long have we been doing this, Myke?

00:00:25   Well, the idea of themes for a year first kind of came up in 2016, and you were bouncing

00:00:33   around the idea of what you were calling the "year of less," which was just kind of like

00:00:39   an idea that you had, a thought that you had going on around in your mind about reducing

00:00:43   your commitments over the year.

00:00:46   And then in 2017, we decided that we would actually set it up as something we would do

00:00:50   every year in January to eschew the idea of resolutions because they're trash and to

00:00:56   put our stake in the ground for yearly themes. In 2017 we both had a year of less, which

00:01:05   I actually, I was thinking about this when I was preparing and we could talk about a

00:01:08   year of less a little bit more in a bit, but I think that is a really good starting theme

00:01:13   for most people looking to do this. You think that's a good starter theme? I do because

00:01:17   I think most of the times when people feel like they need to get some more order in their

00:01:22   life it's because they have too much stuff going on.

00:01:26   So the idea of taking a year to really think about the amount of projects you're taking

00:01:30   on to maybe weigh up the projects that you're currently doing and try and weed out some

00:01:34   of the stuff that's not necessary is probably a really good starting point for adopting

00:01:40   this type of idea in your life.

00:01:42   the new year people are thinking about how they want their life to change and as a general

00:01:48   statement people are looking to add things. If you think of what people usually describe

00:01:55   as new year's resolutions it's always additive to life. Life is going to be the same except

00:02:00   more. I need to do more of this thing. I need to work harder to do to stop this thing or

00:02:07   I'm going to completely change my eating habits and I'm going to cook myself a beautiful dinner every night.

00:02:13   Like all this stuff, right? People are always thinking "more". I'm going to go to the gym more.

00:02:19   But the fundamental thing about life is it's limited.

00:02:23   And you only have so much and the removal of things is almost certainly the better place to start than the addition of things.

00:02:31   of things because the addition of things is a little bit of,

00:02:35   I am going to work harder by simply like knuckling down

00:02:39   and making myself do a thing,

00:02:41   which is why new year's resolutions almost always fail.

00:02:44   So yeah, I think you're right there that year of less

00:02:47   of simply trying to simplify a life

00:02:50   is probably a pretty good starter theme.

00:02:52   If someone's trying to survey the landscape and think,

00:02:55   what do I want to have for a yearly theme?

00:02:58   - So like yearly themes themselves,

00:02:59   They are guiding principles, they are ideas,

00:03:03   they are not actions like a resolution might be.

00:03:06   So the way that we described this in the past,

00:03:08   I think of my yearly theme as like my North Star.

00:03:12   It is the thing that I look to

00:03:14   when I'm trying to make decisions.

00:03:16   It's the thing that I look to when I feel overwhelmed

00:03:19   and try and keep that as my focusing point for the year.

00:03:22   Because for me, a yearly theme is born out

00:03:25   of a sense of frustration with my current situation.

00:03:29   So I have found something about myself that I want to change.

00:03:32   I have found something about my work that I want to change.

00:03:35   And I think, right, so next year,

00:03:37   what I can do is focus on this.

00:03:40   And so that becomes my yearly theme.

00:03:41   - Yeah, and I think back when we first started

00:03:44   talking about this, low in 2016,

00:03:47   when I wanted to do my year of less,

00:03:49   like the frustration with New Year's resolutions is twofold.

00:03:55   They are pass/fail targets on a very long time scale.

00:04:00   And so people are setting a New Year's resolution

00:04:04   and they're saying, "This time next year,

00:04:06   "X is going to be the case."

00:04:08   And I think it's terrible for a couple of reasons.

00:04:11   The pass/failness of the target,

00:04:14   it can be incredibly discouraging to people.

00:04:17   And it's also just on too long of a time scale very often

00:04:22   people to really be able to hold it in their mind that, oh, if there's an action that they're supposed

00:04:28   to do, well, does anybody really start that action on January 1st? Probably not. You think like, oh,

00:04:34   I have time, I have a year. So I think it's just like it's a poorly structured thing for actually

00:04:41   implementing human behavior change. And so, yes, you like the metaphor of a North Star. I tend to

00:04:49   to think of it more as a background process of it's specifically not a target, it's not

00:04:55   a goal that you're trying to achieve, it's something to keep in the back of your mind

00:05:01   as you're going through the various decisions in your life.

00:05:05   And you know, will this help me towards whatever the year theme is?

00:05:09   Will this help fulfill that theme?

00:05:11   Or will this work against that theme?

00:05:14   And so again, with the Year of Less One for me, as a background process, the thing I kept

00:05:19   thinking of with many decisions and with regards to a lot of work was, does this have to be

00:05:25   done by me?

00:05:27   Or is there a way that someone else can help me with this task?

00:05:31   And like just keeping that in the back of your mind is a way to direct your actions

00:05:36   slowly over time.

00:05:37   And of course, a theme itself, just the words, can be empty for some people, right?

00:05:43   Because what are you trying to achieve?

00:05:46   So I think we both do this, I definitely do this.

00:05:49   I have some ideal outcomes, some things that I want to focus on when it comes to looking

00:05:54   at my theme, but I'm very focused on not putting fail states to them.

00:05:59   Yeah, yes, yeah.

00:06:00   Right?

00:06:01   So these are a selection of things I would like to focus on, that I would love to happen

00:06:05   as part of my year of stabilization, for example.

00:06:09   But if I don't achieve them, I haven't failed.

00:06:12   And we both have done this before,

00:06:14   you've done this even more so,

00:06:16   have a year theme, ideas of that theme

00:06:19   continue through multiple years

00:06:21   because you feel like maybe you didn't do this part of it.

00:06:24   You twist it, you change it a little bit

00:06:26   to allow you to continue focusing on it.

00:06:28   But just because the year ticked over again

00:06:31   and you didn't get to where you wanted to be

00:06:32   doesn't mean you failed.

00:06:33   It just means you have to keep your focus.

00:06:35   - The other thing about it is,

00:06:36   and this is this weird thing where we've ended up

00:06:38   falling into this tradition that you like

00:06:42   of talking about it every year around this time.

00:06:45   And I think that's partly as a result

00:06:46   of what we're trying to do is,

00:06:49   I feel like we're trying to change minds here.

00:06:52   - Yes, we need to get to the people, to the cortexes

00:06:55   at the time they are considering resolutions,

00:06:58   considering another year, and say, "No, don't do that.

00:07:03   Come this way.

00:07:04   Yes, this is like, you are walking along a dangerous precipice.

00:07:08   Perhaps, perhaps instead of going down that path, which is along this sharp edge,

00:07:13   come, come along, come stroll with us along this beautiful garden path.

00:07:17   Look at these beautiful guide rails that we have along this path.

00:07:20   Yes, yeah.

00:07:21   There's no way to fail here.

00:07:23   It's a much gentler slope and we're talking about it now to try to change minds

00:07:29   and to try to capture people before they make the terrible mistake of making a New Year's resolution.

00:07:34   But the thing that is always a little bit strange for me about talking about it on an annual basis is

00:07:39   is also the--

00:07:41   I'm very against the idea of it has to last for a year, or that it has any particular set time at all.

00:07:48   And so we just end up talking about it now.

00:07:51   But, you know, I feel very strongly about

00:07:54   the themes, they come into your life,

00:07:56   and they serve their usefulness,

00:07:58   and then they dissipate when they're no longer useful.

00:08:01   And it's interesting to hear you say that you've been

00:08:05   thinking about your theme, it's been in place for three months,

00:08:08   and I'm very aware that my theme has been

00:08:10   very strongly in place since the summer,

00:08:12   and now is finally the time when I can actually talk about it.

00:08:15   Well, you know, I think that we have a history of that.

00:08:17   I think we should talk about some of our previous themes,

00:08:20   so again, we can give people more ideas when they're coming to this.

00:08:23   But one of mine was the Year of Positivity,

00:08:26   which lasted from June to June.

00:08:29   - Yes, yes. - Right?

00:08:30   Because I was finding myself,

00:08:31   'cause a big part of what I do is talking about

00:08:35   and focusing on technology, especially Apple.

00:08:38   And the year, I think this was 2016 to 2017,

00:08:42   because at that time,

00:08:44   a lot of the rhetoric around Apple products

00:08:46   was very negative,

00:08:48   and I was finding myself becoming increasingly frustrated

00:08:52   with the idea of talking negatively about the things

00:08:56   that I enjoy because it was just making me sad.

00:08:59   So I was trying to find more positivity in that stuff.

00:09:04   And that helped me enjoy the technology part of my life

00:09:07   way more, but it lasted from June to June

00:09:10   because that was just what I decided to do.

00:09:12   But I had like the year of adulting,

00:09:14   which was one that I did a couple of years ago,

00:09:17   which encapsulated getting married, moving into a house.

00:09:20   Well, after I got married, it was done.

00:09:22   So, but with that, typically for me, I will have a couple of themes for a year in those

00:09:27   situations.

00:09:28   And over the last two years, I've had multiple themes for each year.

00:09:32   Although gray, spoilers, I have one this year.

00:09:35   Well, one and a sub thing, but you'll see, you'll see, you'll see.

00:09:39   Okay, so it's already two.

00:09:41   No, it's not, you'll see.

00:09:43   You'll get it.

00:09:44   Yeah, again, they're flexible and they serve you as they wish.

00:09:48   And I also view this as, under ideal circumstances, the theme sort of fades into the background

00:09:55   because it becomes a natural part of your thinking.

00:09:59   And so the Year of Less became very much that for me, that it just became a natural part

00:10:04   of my thinking of, you know, is this work that it is critical that I do it or is it

00:10:09   work that can be helped by somebody else?

00:10:12   And then after that, I did the year of new, which the idea was I was just trying to do

00:10:20   some expansion of my life into things that I was a little bit uncomfortable with.

00:10:23   This included things like going to conferences or being more social or just trying different

00:10:29   kinds of stuff.

00:10:30   That was the year that I decided, oh, let me try to make a vlogging video on my channel.

00:10:35   Like that was part of the year of new.

00:10:37   And that just, again, became a part of my thinking process of, I'm still not like a

00:10:45   crazy guy who does all kinds of wild stuff.

00:10:47   But I do find that that just got incorporated into my thinking of, on some of the cases

00:10:53   in the margin, I'm a little bit more likely to try the different thing that I would have

00:10:58   been in the past.

00:11:00   Because I guess yearly themes, if followed, will either help establish or break habits.

00:11:05   Yes, yeah.

00:11:07   that sort of stuff can last for a long time. Oh, and also depending what you do,

00:11:10   so like in our year of years off less that we did, we both hired people. Well,

00:11:16   that will continue, right? The work that those people will do to help give you

00:11:20   more time to take away things that you don't want to focus on in the same way

00:11:24   anymore, well that is a lasting impact that that one year had, or two and a half

00:11:30   years in your case, the year of less it kept going. But yeah, that is a thing that can

00:11:35   will last longer than the year theme, which can be very valuable.

00:11:38   Yeah, so again, I just think as Myke and I go through this episode and we talk about

00:11:43   our previous year, and we talk about what we've been up to and the upcoming year of

00:11:49   themes, I just think it's important to keep in mind this loose structure. It's something

00:11:56   to have in your mind. It's a background process, or it's a guiding star. But you are not setting

00:12:04   a target. You're not setting a goal that you can fail at.

00:12:07   This is much more gentle guidance

00:12:10   in a broader area of your life.

00:12:13   Be kind to yourself.

00:12:14   Yeah, be kind to yourself.

00:12:15   And I was thinking about it this morning,

00:12:18   you know, knowing that we were going to record today,

00:12:20   and I realized that this happens

00:12:22   to take advantage, I

00:12:25   think, of a process of the human

00:12:27   mind, which is

00:12:28   to...

00:12:30   like, your brain is always involved in sort of telling

00:12:33   yourself a story about your own life.

00:12:35   And there are many cases in which that can lead you astray.

00:12:39   But I think this this is one of the areas where you can use that

00:12:43   as a as a tool to your advantage.

00:12:46   And I know that in in the past years we've discussed how.

00:12:49   By having a theme.

00:12:52   You sort of view your life through this lens, and the open endedness of it

00:13:00   allows many things to be incorporated under the banner

00:13:03   that were not necessarily originally the idea

00:13:06   that you had started out with.

00:13:08   But that doesn't matter.

00:13:09   And so, you know, things like year of new

00:13:12   or year of positivity or year of less

00:13:14   or year of order or year of health

00:13:16   or whatever it is you want to choose,

00:13:19   it is a good thing that your brain can start

00:13:22   telling yourself a story

00:13:24   about how lots of things in your life

00:13:27   are related to this positive directional change.

00:13:31   So this again is why I think the fuzzy borders are a feature of this idea in the selection of a theme.

00:13:38   And don't get too wrapped up in the details about it.

00:13:41   It's just a broad umbrella over your mind to sort of guide it.

00:13:46   So shall we review our 2019 themes?

00:13:50   I know we said that year themes cannot have a fail state, but…

00:13:54   No, don't undo the work we just did!

00:13:57   No, no, I'm not undoing it.

00:13:59   I just, I think it's, I want to bring it up because it's an interesting case, right?

00:14:03   So not the previous year, but the year before this one, I had picked the year of order as my yearly theme.

00:14:10   And basically after a year of new, I felt like I needed a bit more order in my life.

00:14:16   I felt like I wanted to try to give myself a schedule.

00:14:19   And I was like, okay, we're going to have order in life.

00:14:23   And I just-- it just so happened that I picked a terrible year

00:14:27   in terms of a number of personal and professional things that occurred

00:14:30   where it's like, I had a year that there was no order that was going to be done.

00:14:33   Yeah.

00:14:34   So that year in some sense could be regarded as a epic fail.

00:14:38   But on the other hand, I still think of that as a time where

00:14:44   having that on my mind allowed a lot of damage mitigation.

00:14:49   So I was able to keep my life more ordered when I was traveling

00:14:52   and there are a number of times where I think I kept things together much better than I otherwise

00:14:58   would have had that not been the year theme. But so all of that is to say that last year then,

00:15:04   when I was picking my theme, I decided to do the Year of Order again, which I was calling the Year

00:15:10   of Reorder. This is one of the rare cases where I felt like I hadn't really thought about the year

00:15:17   theme enough, like I actually wanted to extend it for a longer period of time. And it also was

00:15:25   a case of the reason I picked the name "Reorder" is because I was thinking about how it was a real

00:15:31   transition time in my life that I think I hadn't quite realized of. I've been a self-employed

00:15:38   person for a really long time, and part of the reason that the Year of Order didn't work out

00:15:45   the way that I wanted to was I felt like, "Oh, I am trying to impose on myself the ideals and wishes

00:15:53   of a previous version of Gray whose concerns and interests I don't really care about."

00:15:59   That I need to sort of think about what are the goals that I want for myself given the situation

00:16:07   that I am in now, and to sort of not really be carrying over stuff from the previous idea

00:16:15   of like, "This Grey wants a very rigid schedule to which he sticks to the work all the time,

00:16:20   and that's like what he should be aiming for."

00:16:23   So I'm happy to report that the Year of Reorder has been a great success.

00:16:29   I'm very pleased with the way that it's gone.

00:16:31   Hooray!

00:16:32   This is good news.

00:16:33   Yeah.

00:16:34   Uh, spoiler, my theme for next year is not going to be the year of re-reorder.

00:16:40   I'm actually pretty pleased about that, honestly.

00:16:43   I'm looking for something new.

00:16:44   Were you worried that was a possibility?

00:16:45   It's like, I don't know, year of reordering, or like, year of reorder two, or order more,

00:16:52   I don't know.

00:16:53   But so, I'm just, I'm very pleased with the way that it went.

00:16:56   There are a number of areas in my life where I feel like I had specific targets for what

00:17:01   I'll call "chaos reduction".

00:17:04   So you can't control all the areas of chaos in your life, but I did spend a bunch of time

00:17:10   looking around and trying to think, you know, what are some of the things that are chaotic

00:17:16   over which I do have control and how can I work to minimize those things?

00:17:21   And so that was really good to do.

00:17:22   I feel like having that as a background process in my mind really helped on some of those

00:17:27   marginal decisions about like, okay, how can I work on this area to work on that project?

00:17:33   One of the areas that I feel like was the biggest tremendous success was it's not exactly

00:17:40   a schedule, but I did want order in my life in terms of regular exercise.

00:17:48   And this was something I was trying to achieve.

00:17:52   And I am pleased like I have never been in my life with my current exercise habits as

00:17:58   they came to be in the year of reorder.

00:18:02   Now you and I have discussed, Myke, we are not huge fans of exercise.

00:18:06   It's the worst.

00:18:07   It is the worst!

00:18:08   My opinions on exercise have not changed.

00:18:11   It is still the worst.

00:18:15   And I still do not like exercising, and I still feel disgruntled at the people who describe

00:18:21   how they're so invigorated after exercise, when really the only thing I want to do is

00:18:26   take a shower and have a nap because I'm just exhausted.

00:18:30   I can't remember when I first came across it but like if you're trying to think about

00:18:38   exercise you want to try to find something that works for you like something that you

00:18:41   actually like so I've done things like tried running and realized no I hate it this is

00:18:47   not for me I've tried various things I'm so pleased you didn't like running that would

00:18:52   have just really upset me I know that you were worried you were worried during that

00:18:55   "Frank Gray becomes a runner."

00:18:57   It's just, 'cause it's so, I can't do it,

00:19:00   and it would've annoyed me because we were so in sync

00:19:03   about hating exercise and not being good at it,

00:19:06   and then you go and become like,

00:19:07   "Oh, I'm a great runner now,"

00:19:09   and it's like, "Oh, you've betrayed me."

00:19:10   - Yeah, no, I completely understand that feeling.

00:19:12   I get it, Myke.

00:19:13   But we were so on the same page

00:19:16   that that project was doomed to failure right from the start.

00:19:18   I just had to go through it to know

00:19:20   that this was not gonna work for me.

00:19:23   So one of the things that I eventually found, which I always want to minimize it when I

00:19:28   say it, but is weightlifting.

00:19:30   It does not mean like, raw, like Hulk level weightlifting, but just, you know, moving

00:19:34   things that weigh more than books.

00:19:37   And this, this just really worked for me.

00:19:39   But I've had just a hard time in the past few years being regular with that schedule.

00:19:46   And so going into the summer for this year, I was like, okay, the year of reorder time,

00:19:52   Let's think about this.

00:19:54   What are the problems with exercise?

00:19:57   Why is it that you routinely, talking to myself here, why is it that you routinely

00:20:01   do a weightlifting routine for a while and then it stops and you don't do it for a while?

00:20:07   Like what are the actual causes of this?

00:20:10   And so I was trying to identify things and okay, so the problem again, here is

00:20:17   the traditional idea is to think like, well, I'm just going to try harder.

00:20:22   I'm going to really mean it.

00:20:24   I'm going to buckle down and like, try really hard to exercise a lot.

00:20:28   And I just fundamentally do not believe in this as a solution to human problems.

00:20:34   The just do it philosophy, like that's great for people who are naturally

00:20:38   productive, but it's not great for the rest of us, for the rest of us, you have

00:20:41   to try to like arrange your environment to make it easier.

00:20:47   You've got to trick yourself.

00:20:48   You have to trick yourself.

00:20:49   yourself. So I did a couple of things and the first one I will talk about, it strikes me as

00:20:55   so dumb I can't believe it. So Myke, where I live there are two gyms within walking distance of where

00:21:04   I am. Now the one gym that I've been a member of for years is I am going to say 200% nicer than the

00:21:14   It's a much nicer gym.

00:21:15   But you know what it also is?

00:21:18   Four minutes farther walk than the other gym.

00:21:22   And that walk is also ever so slightly uphill.

00:21:27   And I've been thinking for years, I should try to join that other gym.

00:21:33   And then I thought to myself, no, don't do that.

00:21:36   That's dumb.

00:21:36   It's basically the same distance.

00:21:38   Don't, don't do this.

00:21:39   That's just a total waste.

00:21:40   Plus it's a worse gym.

00:21:42   Plus it's a worse gym.

00:21:43   worst gym, but you know what?

00:21:45   I finally bit the bullet.

00:21:47   I was like, forget it.

00:21:48   I'm going to cancel the other gym membership.

00:21:49   I'm going to get the one that's closer.

00:21:51   That's four minutes closer and is not uphill.

00:21:53   And I cannot tell you how much of a difference this single change has made

00:21:58   in just the reduction of friction.

00:22:01   And it's like, you feel like a moron when you trick yourself in these ways.

00:22:07   And it works.

00:22:09   There's, there's some part of you, which is like, I am a human being, right?

00:22:12   I have a brain, I have a functioning pre-cortex, right?

00:22:16   Like the smartest animal on the planet, but also walking up a slight hill is enough that I'm just not going to do perhaps one of the most important things that I can do, which is to try to stay healthy.

00:22:26   Yeah.

00:22:27   Right?

00:22:28   Like it's, it's totally ridiculous, but it was a thing where I looked around at the like, let me, let me just try to solve this problem.

00:22:35   And so this has made an enormous difference.

00:22:39   And then the other thing that I was trying to solve is a flexibility problem.

00:22:44   This is gym related too?

00:22:45   Yeah. So this is gym related too.

00:22:47   Not like bending flexibility.

00:22:50   I spent some time on the balance beam.

00:22:52   No, I'm not spending any time on the balance beam.

00:22:54   Balance beam, maybe it works for you, Myke.

00:22:57   It doesn't work for me.

00:22:58   Oh, sorry.

00:22:59   But so the other main problem is most of like the weightlifting routines that

00:23:04   you're going to find are relatively strict in the sense that there's particular equipment

00:23:11   that you should be using.

00:23:12   You should be doing sort of like the same exercises at very regular intervals and changing

00:23:17   the weights a relatively precise amount.

00:23:20   And they're great if you always have access to the exact equipment that you need.

00:23:26   But this was my other big hindrance is, especially when traveling, you can't depend on having

00:23:33   equipment that you need.

00:23:34   I mean, and plus, though, like, you know, no one wants to be the person at the gym who's

00:23:38   like, waiting on the other person to finish doing their thing.

00:23:41   And you're just like, oh, I need that machine, but they're on it.

00:23:44   And like, do I have to ask them to come?

00:23:46   It's just the worst.

00:23:47   Yeah, exactly.

00:23:48   And the equipment that I would normally need is an Olympic bar.

00:23:52   And most gyms will have one, maybe two of those.

00:23:56   You know, no hotel gym will have an Olympic bar.

00:23:58   So it already means like, if I'm traveling, I need to go somewhere else.

00:24:01   And this is why, like, over the summer, any exercise routine that I might have built up

00:24:07   while living just my normal life was always destroyed over the summer.

00:24:12   And you know, you'd have some little hotel gym and I think, "I don't know what to do."

00:24:15   So I think I downloaded literally every single exercise app on the App Store.

00:24:21   [laughter]

00:24:22   [

00:24:22   Fit bond!

00:24:24   No, but look, here's what I was trying to do.

00:24:26   I was trying to solve a problem, which is...

00:24:29   Okay.

00:24:31   I was looking for like, what can I do in terms of exercise?

00:24:34   And this again, I feel like you should be with me on, Myke, because

00:24:38   we are both people who do not like exercise.

00:24:40   And so, what I don't want to do is like, I don't want to become an exercise enthusiast.

00:24:46   You know, like, I look at exercise the same way I look at brushing my teeth.

00:24:51   This is a thing that needs to be done.

00:24:53   It's better for me if I do it.

00:24:55   If you told me I didn't have to anymore, I wouldn't.

00:24:57   If you give me a pill to take so I stop brushing my teeth every day, I'll just take the pill.

00:25:01   Yes, exactly.

00:25:02   I don't want to become like a toothpaste aficionado, this kind of thing.

00:25:06   So, I was trying to find a solution to this problem.

00:25:11   And of all of the exercise apps, I did find one.

00:25:16   And I'm mentioning it here because I want to talk about the solution that it provides.

00:25:21   So it is an app, it's called Fitbod, which I had been pushing on every single person

00:25:25   that I know about like, "You should try this exercise app."

00:25:28   But here's the key thing, and it's like, "Yes, this is what I was looking for."

00:25:33   It is an exercise app that basically asks you in various ways three questions.

00:25:38   It's like, "What exercise equipment do you have available right now?"

00:25:43   And this scales from nothing to like a full gym with everything you could possibly imagine.

00:25:50   The second question is how much time do you have available?

00:25:55   And you know, what's your confidence in your exercise skills?

00:25:59   So I could say none, none, none.

00:26:03   You'd have to have some time available, right?

00:26:05   You can say five minutes.

00:26:06   None, some, none.

00:26:07   Right.

00:26:08   But based on this, it automatically generates a little exercise routine for you.

00:26:12   it's weight based primarily, like that's what it's focused on, it's not a cardio app.

00:26:18   But the thing that also makes it incredible is it keeps track of what have you actually

00:26:24   done and auto-rotates through all of the various muscle groups to make sure that you're balancing

00:26:32   out your exercise.

00:26:34   And it's just like the flexibility of it is tremendous and it solves exactly this problem

00:26:39   that you were just saying, like if you go to the gym, even when it spits out, okay,

00:26:43   here's the five exercises that you should do. If you go to the gym and someone's on the machine

00:26:48   of what it says you should do next, you can just press this little button, which was like,

00:26:51   recommend me an alternative exercise. I don't want to wait for this guy. And it just gives you,

00:26:55   okay, do this other thing. And when you're done, it has a record of like, how easy were each of

00:27:01   these various exercises? You know, they have like machine learning magic, which then generates the

00:27:06   recommendations for next time. But it just does an incredible job of solving this problem of,

00:27:15   I have inconsistent equipment or I don't always have equipment that's available whenever I want.

00:27:20   I don't want to learn anything about exercise routines and what I should do.

00:27:25   Just tell me what to do. I don't care at all about exercising. Just tell me what to do

00:27:30   and I will do it. And so it's been a really great solution. I said last time on our State of the

00:27:35   Apps episode where we go through all the apps on all of our devices so people can find recommendations.

00:27:40   I'm not in the business of app of the year awards in the way that you are with the upgradees,

00:27:47   but if I had to give an app of the year award, I would give it to Fitbaud as by far and away

00:27:53   the app that has had the largest positive influence on my life this year.

00:27:58   It's just made exercise a million billion times easier by solving the exact problem

00:28:04   that I'm looking for.

00:28:05   That was like a very huge success for me on the Year of Order.

00:28:10   And I don't want to go too much farther on the recap, but I will say that while I wasn't

00:28:18   trying to implement a schedule in my life, exercise really is a sort of foundational

00:28:26   habit that has a lot of positive impacts on other areas.

00:28:31   And I do feel that being able to have a regular exercise routine had a lot of positive impacts

00:28:36   on my work.

00:28:39   One of the things that I really thought about a lot is the old me was very interested in

00:28:47   trying to maintain a schedule for "here are the times that you should work" and arranging

00:28:54   things this way.

00:28:56   And I think over the year of order, I really came to accept the natural flow of creative

00:29:04   production.

00:29:05   I just don't have a great metaphor for talking about it, but just thinking about that it's

00:29:11   a little bit like breathing.

00:29:13   That you have inhalation, you hold the breath and then you exhale.

00:29:18   And that this is the way that information is processed.

00:29:21   Okay, there's various phases where, even if I'm not writing on a schedule, am I doing

00:29:27   something like, it's the summertime and I'm taking in a lot of information, right?

00:29:31   I'm going to places that are related to videos.

00:29:33   I'm doing something new that might turn into a video.

00:29:37   This is the part of the process which is taking in information.

00:29:40   And it shouldn't be surprising that if I'm doing a lot of that, the amount of writing

00:29:46   per day goes down.

00:29:48   And that then when you have all of this information, there's a sort of processing and reviewing

00:29:52   phase.

00:29:53   And then there's the final phase of like the actual production of like, okay, things have

00:29:58   been processed and sorted and thought through.

00:30:00   And now it can actually be written out into a script.

00:30:04   And each project has this sort of phase over time.

00:30:07   And so I feel like I've really come to terms with this, especially now having done YouTube

00:30:12   for a long time of trying to force the work into a particular schedule.

00:30:19   I'm just going to like let this idea go and I'm going to work along with what current

00:30:24   me views as the natural creative process.

00:30:28   Mornings are high quality time and I will always protect them for high quality work.

00:30:32   But what is the nature of that work in that time?

00:30:35   Well, if I start to write and the writing isn't really working, I can move into instead

00:30:41   taking in more information with reading something on a related project.

00:30:46   And if that's not working, I can, as discussed last time, go on a focused little work walk.

00:30:52   Hold an idea in your head, think about it for 20 minutes, come back and then try again.

00:30:57   And so this is my overall review for the Year of Reorder.

00:31:02   And I just feel very happy and in a really good place after this year.

00:31:06   So I'm really pleased.

00:31:08   That's really good to hear.

00:31:10   Yeah, I'm really glad to be coming to you, not with another do-over.

00:31:16   At the beginning of the year I was really thinking about trying to figure out what are the needs

00:31:21   and what is it that the current me wants to really focus on.

00:31:24   And I just feel like keeping that in the background in my mind helped clarify a lot of things as the year went on.

00:31:30   And so, yeah, I'm gonna feel like I'm in a really good place.

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00:33:01   Now, how are you doing with your year theme, Myke?

00:33:04   So I had two themes for 2019.

00:33:07   They were kind of linked together, but there were some slight differences.

00:33:09   So I wanted to split them in half.

00:33:11   Stabilization and diversification.

00:33:14   So stabilization for me, I had a couple of different offshoots from it.

00:33:18   One of the main ones was to take away for 2019

00:33:24   my continued focus on growth for my company, for Relay FM.

00:33:30   year over year, it'd be like growth, growth, growth.

00:33:32   That was what I was focusing on.

00:33:34   And it wasn't something that we necessarily meant to do.

00:33:37   But as the company started growing, it was like, well,

00:33:40   we should keep focusing on the growth, right?

00:33:42   That seems like a good idea.

00:33:44   And it is a good idea.

00:33:45   But I felt like we needed to take some time to focus

00:33:50   on making some differences where it mattered and also stabilizing

00:33:54   some of the core parts of our business.

00:33:58   So this was putting more processes into place

00:34:01   and refining stuff to make sure that as we continue

00:34:05   to grow in the future, we were set in a good place.

00:34:09   So that was kind of where I was coming from.

00:34:11   And I feel like we, I did a great job with this this year.

00:34:15   Like the stabilization thing I feel very good about.

00:34:18   So I was working with Kerry, my sales manager,

00:34:21   and between the two of us, mostly her,

00:34:24   put a lot of really good processes in place for the year.

00:34:27   Like I'm really happy with how that's all come together and we're going to continue

00:34:30   that work into 2020, but it did what I wanted it to do.

00:34:35   I feel like we have a much better handle on our process from kind of like the perspective

00:34:41   of making sure everything is in order.

00:34:43   And I feel like that has led to just a much easier year for the both of us.

00:34:48   What happened was what I kind of thought would happen.

00:34:51   We did, the company's revenue did grow, but not as much.

00:34:54   And I'm totally happy with that.

00:34:56   that was best case scenario for me. I also, okay, one thing that I wanted to do in the

00:35:02   year of stabilization was not to get distracted by big new things. Totally failed in the summer,

00:35:07   but it was worth it. So my summer was completely distracted in part due to the fifth anniversary

00:35:16   show that we did for Relay FM and also the podcastathon. These were things that came up

00:35:21   during the year and like we should do these, we want to do these, and it completely distracted

00:35:26   my summer and I wasn't focusing on the things that I would usually focus on over that period of time

00:35:31   but I was happy to have failed at that because what we got out of those two events was worth it.

00:35:38   So I wouldn't want to change that but it was something that was not stable. They were two new

00:35:44   huge things happening at the same time which was challenging.

00:35:48   Yeah to give you credit however they were one-off events like they were unique

00:35:55   in like, you're not going to have a fifth anniversary show every year.

00:35:58   The fifth anniversary show for sure. We're not going to do that again next year.

00:36:02   Right. Is the podcast-a-thon maybe going to happen again next year?

00:36:05   I wouldn't be in a position to talk about that, but right now.

00:36:08   Of course.

00:36:08   But we have always every year tried to raise money for St. Jude.

00:36:12   So we will want to do something again next year. I don't know what it will be,

00:36:15   but I wouldn't want to say we'll never do it again.

00:36:17   Right. No commitments are being made.

00:36:19   Not right now.

00:36:20   So that was like the business side when it comes to stabilizing.

00:36:24   And I feel like I did that.

00:36:26   And so there was some personal stuff,

00:36:27   but I'll come back to that in a minute,

00:36:28   because I also have some business stuff

00:36:30   around diversification.

00:36:31   So the stabilization stuff was really,

00:36:33   from a business perspective,

00:36:34   focusing on my existing company.

00:36:37   Diversification was around me, Myke Hurley,

00:36:42   ensuring my own long-term stability

00:36:44   by looking at new business opportunities.

00:36:46   - Right.

00:36:47   - And this is where Cortex Brown came from.

00:36:49   Now we've spoken about Cortex Brown a bunch on this show,

00:36:51   we're gonna continue to,

00:36:53   But the original path that we had in mind

00:36:56   for the Cortex brand company this time last year

00:36:59   is very, very different to where we are now.

00:37:02   - Yes.

00:37:03   - Because one of the products that we were going to work on

00:37:06   was a journal called The Theme System,

00:37:08   which we're gonna talk about later on.

00:37:09   The success of The Theme System that we've had so far

00:37:13   completely moved the focus of Cortex brand

00:37:18   to the point where I haven't really been able

00:37:19   to focus on much else.

00:37:21   we started out with making some new clothing merch

00:37:25   that we wanted, right?

00:37:26   And like the subtle line.

00:37:27   It's like, oh, let's keep, and that went well,

00:37:29   so we keep focus, but I haven't been able to look

00:37:31   at any of that stuff because the theme system

00:37:33   has been needing to take all of my focus

00:37:37   that I have to give to Cortex brand

00:37:39   in trying to stabilize now that,

00:37:43   because we are not stable with that yet.

00:37:45   But that is the thing that I wanna keep working on,

00:37:48   we wanna keep working on,

00:37:50   to see if it can be a sustainable business.

00:37:51   But I consider it a huge success

00:37:54   for the year of diversification

00:37:56   because I think it's the beginning

00:37:59   of something really exciting.

00:38:01   And that was way more,

00:38:02   like the way the theme system has succeeded

00:38:05   is way more than I could have imagined

00:38:07   the diversification beginning for 2019.

00:38:11   So I was really happy with that.

00:38:12   - It's funny 'cause the diversification stabilization

00:38:14   almost sort of, they're like very different things

00:38:18   where you can have a bunch of different projects

00:38:21   that are not necessarily individually stable,

00:38:23   but that are helping with the diversification.

00:38:25   And I feel like Cortex brand right now is at that point.

00:38:29   Cortex brand is in the growth stage,

00:38:32   which doesn't make it a stable thing.

00:38:34   But yes, the existence of it is totally

00:38:37   like a success on the diversification front,

00:38:39   especially for you as an individual, Myke Hurley.

00:38:43   That's one of the things where when you're self-employed,

00:38:45   You have to keep an eye on that kind of stuff and you always have to be aware of this because

00:38:53   the income situation for a self-employed individual is always more unstable than it's going to

00:38:57   be for someone who is an employee.

00:39:00   It is a good thing to think about.

00:39:02   I have all my eggs in one basket.

00:39:05   And now I have another basket that's got an egg in it.

00:39:08   One egg.

00:39:09   Not all of them.

00:39:10   Right?

00:39:11   And so, but that basket is attached to the other basket.

00:39:15   This metaphor is getting very complex at this point.

00:39:17   - No, no, but it is, you have two baskets,

00:39:20   but you're also the only person who's carrying them

00:39:23   at the same time, I guess.

00:39:25   So if you stumble, it's still a real disaster.

00:39:28   So yeah, there's like, looking towards the future,

00:39:31   there may be ways in which you want to change that,

00:39:32   but things have to start.

00:39:33   - To have separate baskets with different people

00:39:36   carrying the baskets. - Separate baskets,

00:39:37   different people. - And there's varying eggs

00:39:39   in those baskets. - More eggs, yes.

00:39:41   - We'll get there.

00:39:42   - Look, baskets and eggs, that's the bottom line.

00:39:45   - I'm not sure where it is.

00:39:46   But there were personal things

00:39:47   to both stabilization and diversification.

00:39:49   So still keeping on the diversification line,

00:39:53   using Instagram more and Twitter less, Big Tech,

00:39:56   like I have statistics that show that, right,

00:39:59   in my screen time, screen crimes information.

00:40:02   It's all, it shows me, I can see it.

00:40:05   I wanted to look for an office space outside of the home.

00:40:07   I have been looking, cannot find anything.

00:40:10   Please let me know when you wanna build that building.

00:40:12   - Oh man, I didn't mention this,

00:40:14   as part of my own year of reorder, but yeah. One of the other things I identified was that

00:40:20   my office space outside of the house was not working for me for a bunch of reasons that

00:40:24   don't matter. I am in the same boat as you of like, "Okay, I know what I'm looking for.

00:40:29   Let me just find that office and tumbleweeds blow across the desert." Yeah, it's shockingly

00:40:36   hard to find usable office space outside of the home, so my sympathy is with you.

00:40:41   What I have learned is if we want to start a shop, it's very easy. I can buy shops up

00:40:46   and down this town, but I can't rent an office space. It's wild. Also for stabilization,

00:40:55   I wanted to approach my health. I've had some complex health-related stuff this year, which

00:41:03   is nothing too serious but has not allowed me to focus on everything that I wanted to.

00:41:09   I wanted to get fitter, but that has not been something that I've been able to achieve in

00:41:14   the way that I wanted. But I've lost a bunch of weight. I've lost 22 pounds this year,

00:41:20   which is 10 kilograms.

00:41:21   Phew, that is a lot to lose.

00:41:23   And I, for maybe the first time in 10 years, feel good when I look in a mirror. And that

00:41:29   is a massive thing for me and it's changed a bunch of stuff for my life, which is actually

00:41:35   enabling my 2020 theme.

00:41:37   There is a bunch of stuff in my 2020 theme

00:41:40   that I would not be able to focus on,

00:41:41   I would not want to focus on,

00:41:43   if the health stuff wasn't better.

00:41:45   So now I'm at a point which I'm happy with to stabilize on,

00:41:50   so it's like 85 kilograms is my goal right now,

00:41:54   and I'm staying around that.

00:41:56   I don't know how many pounds that is.

00:41:58   Let me use Google.

00:42:00   It's 187 pounds.

00:42:02   I feel happy with that weight.

00:42:04   I feel like I could lose a little more,

00:42:06   and that might be something that I do next year,

00:42:08   but I don't consider it as important anymore.

00:42:11   Like for me now, it's like in 2020,

00:42:13   I wanna exercise more, right?

00:42:15   That's just something I wanna do anyway,

00:42:17   'cause I have to, 'cause I wanted to do it in 2019.

00:42:19   - Oh, Myke, have you heard the good news about Fitbot?

00:42:22   - About Fitbot, yeah, I downloaded it

00:42:24   while you were talking about it.

00:42:25   I'll take a look.

00:42:26   And I'm thinking now that doing the exercise

00:42:29   will also change some of my body weight stuff,

00:42:33   and then I can reassess where I wanna be.

00:42:35   But right now, I feel good, I'm feeling really good.

00:42:38   And talking about fitness, losing a bunch of weight

00:42:42   will inherently make you feel better, which it does.

00:42:44   But I know I need to do more fitness in general.

00:42:48   But I'm very happy with finally stabilizing my weight,

00:42:52   which had been slowly getting more and more out of control

00:42:56   over the last six or seven years.

00:42:59   and now I feel like I understand what I need to do

00:43:04   for my body to keep in shape like that.

00:43:08   And I was like, for years I've been so jealous of people

00:43:11   I look at them and be like, how do you stay at your weight?

00:43:14   You've gotta learn what your body does

00:43:16   and I've learned what my body does for food now

00:43:17   so I know how to kind of keep it in check.

00:43:20   - Do you wanna share any of those details

00:43:22   or do you wanna keep that to yourself?

00:43:24   - Oh, for me, okay, so what I did was,

00:43:26   I mean, the way that I lost the weight

00:43:28   was I cut carbs and sugar out of my life in a serious way.

00:43:32   Like, didn't go crazy with it,

00:43:35   I didn't follow the keto lifestyle,

00:43:38   and I allowed myself cheat days and stuff like that

00:43:40   because I didn't wanna lose my sanity, which I would,

00:43:43   and basically just by eating significantly less carbs

00:43:47   and sugar, I lost the weight.

00:43:50   And at this point, I now just vary,

00:43:53   so some days I'll be like really good,

00:43:56   some days I won't be so good,

00:43:57   and then I see kind of what a day can do to my weight,

00:44:00   but then I also know how long I need to be better behaved

00:44:04   with my eating to get rid of that weight that I lost

00:44:06   'cause I ate a pizza.

00:44:08   So now I'm able to fluctuate and feel good about that

00:44:11   'cause I know how to maintain,

00:44:14   but it took a lot of work over like 10 or 11 months

00:44:18   of like cutting the carbs, cutting the sugar,

00:44:20   going through the withdrawal, which was really tough,

00:44:24   but you just gotta go through it.

00:44:26   Some people react to it worse than others.

00:44:28   I reacted to it pretty badly.

00:44:30   And now I'm at a place where I can vary it a lot more

00:44:38   and it takes a lot of,

00:44:39   like you gotta think about your diet,

00:44:40   gotta think about what you're cooking.

00:44:42   It's hard work, but I got there.

00:44:46   - Yeah, cutting any amount of carbohydrates

00:44:48   is not something that your body wants to do

00:44:50   the first time you try to do it.

00:44:51   - No, it was so surprising.

00:44:53   It is really a shocking experience.

00:44:56   I think it makes quite apparent a sort of fight that you're having with your body of

00:45:01   like your body wants this one thing and your brain wants this other thing and you can really

00:45:06   feel that the body has an edge on that fight at the start for sure.

00:45:11   And like talking about the weight stuff, I know that sounds incredibly New Year's resolution-y,

00:45:16   but I had no goal.

00:45:18   I was just like, "I'm gonna try this.

00:45:21   And if it works, it works.

00:45:22   If it doesn't, it doesn't."

00:45:23   But I didn't set myself something I had to achieve.

00:45:28   And for me as well, it was just like,

00:45:33   stabilize your health,

00:45:34   and then that turned out being losing weight.

00:45:37   - Yeah, and that's why we've said,

00:45:39   as a sample year theme for people several times,

00:45:43   year of health is a totally reasonable theme.

00:45:46   And the lack of a specific target is part of that,

00:45:49   because maybe you wanna start out with weight loss,

00:45:52   but that's not really working for you.

00:45:54   And so you just switch to exercise

00:45:56   and you find, "Oh, exercise works better for me."

00:45:59   And then maybe that helps you in other areas.

00:46:01   Or, you know, like I said before,

00:46:03   perhaps over time you realize like the focus is all wrong.

00:46:06   It's like, "Oh, the year of health

00:46:07   actually shouldn't be focused on physical health.

00:46:09   It should be focused on mental health.

00:46:11   Like this is the more foundational problem

00:46:12   that I need to focus on."

00:46:14   So, yeah, it's not target dependent.

00:46:18   But that doesn't mean that you can't celebrate

00:46:20   having stabilized your weight.

00:46:22   your weight because that kind of human behavior change is very difficult.

00:46:27   So you really should feel great about that because it is such a hard thing to

00:46:31   do. And you, you do need to do like,

00:46:34   you've done a lot of experimenting and figuring out and trying to see how,

00:46:38   how this works for you in your exact situation.

00:46:42   And it's a world filled with contradictory information because everybody is also

00:46:46   different. So yeah, it's just a,

00:46:48   it's a very hard place to implement long-term behavior change.

00:46:52   But you should feel great about that.

00:46:53   - I'm very proud of myself.

00:46:55   - And you look pretty good, Myke.

00:46:56   - Thank you.

00:46:56   I haven't been so proud of myself

00:46:58   over something I've done in a while.

00:47:00   Because it felt like I got to a point

00:47:02   where it was impossible.

00:47:04   Because I tried so many things

00:47:06   and none of them were working.

00:47:08   But then I just found the thing that worked for me.

00:47:10   But it was really hard

00:47:12   and I didn't want to do it a lot of the time.

00:47:14   (laughing)

00:47:16   - Yeah. - But I got there.

00:47:20   (chime)

00:47:21   Alright, is it time? 2020 theme time?

00:47:24   Okay. 2020 theme time.

00:47:26   I want to know the name first.

00:47:28   Don't just jump in there.

00:47:29   Alright.

00:47:30   You gotta tell a tale with your themes.

00:47:32   We have fuzzy borders.

00:47:34   One thing blends into another.

00:47:37   So let's sit back and let's rewind

00:47:41   and think about summertime gray.

00:47:44   During the summers, I'm often in America.

00:47:47   Covered in pockets.

00:47:49   Yes, I do have pockets because I'm traveling and you want more things, obviously.

00:47:53   Like a reasonable person would.

00:47:55   Yep.

00:47:55   Yep.

00:47:55   Yep.

00:47:56   Hand sanitizer, aspirin, all sorts of things you want to keep in your pockets.

00:48:00   That little camera you want to have on you all the time.

00:48:02   Little camera, uh, earplugs from loud situations.

00:48:06   Anyway, there's many things, so many pockets.

00:48:09   The things I won't tell Myke about on the podcast cause it makes him nervous, but

00:48:13   whatever, like there's just stuff.

00:48:14   You carry stuff with you.

00:48:14   What are you talking about?

00:48:15   And don't worry.

00:48:16   Oh God.

00:48:17   Wait, what are you doing?

00:48:19   Now I'm more concerned, I think.

00:48:21   So Grey's out on the road in very isolated areas out in the desert.

00:48:28   As can now be described, part of what I was up to.

00:48:31   Going to Indian reservations.

00:48:33   Spending a lot of time alone thinking about stuff.

00:48:37   You know, sometimes you feel like I have picked a year theme.

00:48:43   But sometimes the year theme picks you.

00:48:48   you. And this is very much a year where the year theme picked me. So, at one point in

00:48:58   this summer, driving across I-80 West, across the great Salt Lake Desert, and it just arrives,

00:49:09   this is the Year of Clarity.

00:49:13   - Whoa.

00:49:13   In a previous episode, the phrase psychedelics was mentioned

00:49:20   and as you described, like being in a desert somewhere

00:49:24   and you finally get clarity.

00:49:26   Were you foraging at all in those deserts or you're all good?

00:49:29   - No, no, no, I'm all good.

00:49:31   Here's the problem, Myke.

00:49:32   Like I am psychedelically curious

00:49:35   but actually a very boring and risk averse person.

00:49:38   So no, there was no ayahuasca involved in this situation.

00:49:42   But spending long periods of time on your own, you end up just thinking about a bunch of stuff.

00:49:47   Like your brain is processing over various things.

00:49:49   And so, yeah, it's a bit of a, like...

00:49:53   I am aware that this is perhaps one of the least actionable themes that I've had so far.

00:50:04   It is much more just like a very strong feeling that I have about

00:50:10   Where am I currently and how do I want to focus my time and attention?

00:50:16   I often use this phrase on the podcast and just in like talking to people in real life that

00:50:22   one of the projects of a human life is that you should be working to build a life that you want

00:50:28   to live. And you know that's a very broad statement but I think it's a good way to think about stuff.

00:50:36   I feel like the year of clarity for me, which 100% started during this summer and I have been living

00:50:44   since then, has a real mental clarity on the various projects in my life. Like, what are these

00:50:52   projects for? What do I want to do? What do I not want to do? And how are the things that I'm working

00:50:59   on improving my life or are they being like the platonic ideals of themselves?

00:51:04   So this is a strange year theme for me because I feel like in the past we've announced the

00:51:12   themes and talked about what's going on whereas now I feel like I'm very much in the middle of

00:51:17   a thing. So this is both here's what the theme is but also what I've been up to.

00:51:21   On a very small scale one of the things I've done is like going through my OmniFocus and looking at

00:51:28   at all of the various projects that I have.

00:51:30   And I've closed down a bunch of those projects

00:51:33   where you just look at things and go, "Am I ever going to do this?"

00:51:36   It's like, no, this isn't going to happen.

00:51:38   You just build up projects over time

00:51:40   and you think, "Let me just get rid of this."

00:51:42   I want my OmniFocus to be clear and purposeful.

00:51:45   Don't build up a bunch of projects that you're never going to do.

00:51:48   I know I have even just things like,

00:51:51   "How many books am I actively reading?"

00:51:54   So I look at my Kindle and I think,

00:51:56   Am I ever going to finish that book?

00:51:58   Let's get real, I'm not going to finish that book.

00:52:00   And so, you know, just remove from downloads, go away.

00:52:04   And that is on the small scale a kind of clarity.

00:52:09   Am I reading this book or am I not reading this book?

00:52:12   Let's make a decision about it. Don't let it linger around in this in-between world.

00:52:17   Is this a project that I'm ever going to finish or is this not a project that I'm ever going to finish?

00:52:22   Don't let it linger around in this in-between world.

00:52:25   So that's just the very small scale of things.

00:52:29   But it goes all the way up to the biggest scale things.

00:52:34   And of all of the projects in my life, the biggest and the most important ones and the

00:52:39   ones that, if anything, have an impact that have the largest impact is making the YouTube

00:52:44   videos.

00:52:45   You know, this is the center of what I do and it reaches the widest audience of anything

00:52:50   that I do.

00:52:51   And so a huge change for me was, and this sort of came out of the year of reorder and

00:52:59   transitioned into this year of clarity, is thinking about how do the videos work?

00:53:05   What is the purpose of these and how should this work going forward?

00:53:09   A huge change that I made this year that was 100% the direct result of Year of Clarity

00:53:18   was changing the way that the business model for the videos work. So I switched to a method where

00:53:26   my videos are now funded by Patreon, and the Patreon switched from an individual thing

00:53:33   to a monthly support project. And let me tell you, boy was that a nervous day when I made that

00:53:41   change. This again is one of those moments as like an independent creator person, like that is

00:53:47   a nerve-wracking time, you never know how it's gonna go. I felt like hugely relieved and hugely

00:53:53   grateful that the overwhelming response was just incredibly positive from the audience.

00:54:01   I think that happened because I was trying to think a lot about the interaction between

00:54:10   the creator and the audience and how that changes over time. Another way to put this is like aligned

00:54:16   incentives. So I was thinking a lot about the video production over the past few years and

00:54:23   realizing that I had slowly started to work myself into a position where things were just unclear.

00:54:30   I'd had a bunch of projects that were becoming bigger and over a longer scope in time. So this

00:54:37   is things like the Billup video and this is things like the Roadtrip video. Now, here's the thing.

00:54:44   advertisers want deadlines and it's totally reasonable if someone is going to advertise

00:54:51   on your video like there's an embedded sponsorship they would like to know

00:54:55   roughly when that's going to happen because they may have things they need to promote there's

00:55:01   spending budgets they're trying to coordinate advertising across a bunch of different media

00:55:06   or maybe different channels like it's totally reasonable for advertisers to want to know

00:55:10   "Hey, if we give you money to mention our product, could you tell us like plus or minus 30 days

00:55:18   when that's going to happen?" And that is a thing that's totally reasonable for very many YouTube

00:55:23   channels, but partly because of a change in focus on some of the things that I was working on,

00:55:30   that was becoming just increasingly untenable for me to be able to actually deliver on any kind of

00:55:35   And it's also the thing that for some people, deadlines really work.

00:55:40   They're really motivating and knowing yourself is such an important skill.

00:55:44   That's harder than I think people think it is, but some people were great under

00:55:47   deadlines and I know that I do not, I find deadlines to be anti-productive.

00:55:53   So I, what I was trying to do is have advertiser deadlines that were way far

00:56:00   in the future with the idea that like, well, I can't possibly miss a deadline.

00:56:04   That's six months.

00:56:04   It's six months from now, right?

00:56:07   But it totally had the reverse effect of,

00:56:10   "Oh, I kind of want to work on every video in the world except that video."

00:56:13   And it was just like, I hated it.

00:56:15   It made me really unhappy.

00:56:17   And particularly with the scope of some videos,

00:56:20   it was just totally impossible to try to do.

00:56:24   But it also fallen into this problem of,

00:56:27   since my Patreon was per video,

00:56:32   And in retrospect, I just didn't catch this soon enough,

00:56:35   but I'd been increasingly thinking about this concept of

00:56:38   "What is a real video?"

00:56:40   So it's like, "Okay, well I'm not going to have this video be advertiser-sponsored,

00:56:46   I'll just have it be Patreon-supported."

00:56:49   But because I would manually press the button for "Does this count as a real video?"

00:56:56   I found myself increasingly thinking about

00:56:59   "Well, is this a real video?"

00:57:01   Or is this not a real video?

00:57:02   Your audience weren't thinking that.

00:57:04   Only you were thinking that.

00:57:05   Because everyone just wants a video.

00:57:07   I don't care what it is.

00:57:08   This again, I completely agree.

00:57:10   And it's one of the things that was...

00:57:12   I came to sort of realize over time,

00:57:16   and my own audience reaffirmed this when I made the change.

00:57:20   That this idea that I had gotten into my head

00:57:24   about what counts as a real video,

00:57:26   the actual Patreon supporters,

00:57:28   this distinction is not relevant.

00:57:31   They're like, "We would like you to make videos."

00:57:33   If you deem it worthy of going on your main channel,

00:57:36   people will happily support it with the Patreon.

00:57:39   Yeah.

00:57:40   And so this ended up becoming a thing that creatively was a problem.

00:57:45   And so I'll give a good example.

00:57:47   So...

00:57:47   Oftentimes it's not even clear what a video is.

00:57:53   And the canonical example of this is the Christopher Billup,

00:57:56   the Race Around Staten Island video that I made,

00:57:58   where that originally started out as, "Oh, this will just be a footnote to the Statue of Liberty video,"

00:58:04   and then it ballooned into a ridiculous-sized project.

00:58:08   In the best possible way, a monstrosity.

00:58:11   Yeah, I think that's one of the better videos that I've made.

00:58:14   Like, I'm really happy with the way that came out.

00:58:18   But the way it is, a year after I started it, I had no ability to know at the beginning

00:58:24   what is this going to be.

00:58:26   And there are many times where I almost abandoned that project

00:58:31   because it existed for long periods of time in this undefined area

00:58:36   where it's like, "What is this going to be?

00:58:39   Why have I spent six months on this?

00:58:40   I don't even know what this is.

00:58:43   Is this a mystery that will have a great ending?"

00:58:45   Like, I have no idea what this thing is.

00:58:46   Why am I even spending time on it?

00:58:48   Now, of course, a year later when it's done,

00:58:50   I think it's a pretty great video and I love it.

00:58:52   So here's where the clarity comes in.

00:58:55   I shouldn't be thinking about, "Is this a real video?"

00:58:59   I, as the creator on the channel, should be thinking about what is interesting to me to make.

00:59:06   And that is a compass that I feel is relatively clear in my brain.

00:59:11   And the whole reason that I stuck with the Billup thing for a year is because

00:59:15   the compass in my brain kept pointing back to this as like, "This thing is interesting.

00:59:20   Human interest can't be explained. It just exists."

00:59:23   but I've learned to trust this instinct of like, just follow what is interesting.

00:59:28   And so I realized, like I have to change the business model

00:59:33   to align that with the ability to pursue that which I think is interesting.

00:59:39   I'm so grateful to all of the Patreon supporters and I cannot express

00:59:44   how much of a mental increase in clarity and change this has been

00:59:50   for what I was worried about was going to be like a tremendous deal and actually just brought a lot

00:59:57   of really positive support and great messages from people and increased my ability to like work on

01:00:03   the things that I think are interesting. And the way I think about it now is anybody who's thinking

01:00:09   about having a creative career, you are the person who's making things. You're at the center of a

01:00:14   series of circles and you have some sense about what it is that you want to work on

01:00:22   and hopefully you can find an audience that appreciates the stuff that you make.

01:00:27   You will have around you a core group of people who are really interested in what it is that

01:00:35   you're doing.

01:00:36   There's an idea of the thousand true fans.

01:00:38   Mm-hmm.

01:00:39   Familiar with that concept.

01:00:40   Yeah, that's Kevin Kelly's essay from probably quite a long time ago now.

01:00:44   It would be a very long time ago now, yeah.

01:00:46   Yeah, it's this idea that if you make something that not just that people like, but that some

01:00:51   people really like, you can make a living at it.

01:00:56   And it's slightly terrifying to me, but I'm realizing like, okay, I've almost been doing

01:01:00   this like a decade now.

01:01:02   I'm pretty sure that the gray core audience understands the kinds of things that I make

01:01:09   and really likes them.

01:01:10   Andor shares enough of the taste that you have that even as you move to different things,

01:01:18   they have sensibilities close enough to yours that they will adapt happily.

01:01:22   Yeah, so a creator doesn't stay the same over the time.

01:01:26   But they shouldn't.

01:01:27   Yeah, and the audience members don't stay the same over the time.

01:01:30   Like this, I think is a sort of fallacy that you see a lot of people like, oh, you know,

01:01:34   ex creator change.

01:01:35   It's like, well, even if they don't change, you change.

01:01:37   You just get older, like you're a different person.

01:01:38   go back to making gaming videos.

01:01:40   [Laughter]

01:01:41   Yeah, that's a good example.

01:01:43   But there is a core of like, I've always tried to make these videos that I really like.

01:01:49   And I think they have particular characteristics to them, which include things like high rewatchability

01:01:55   and the way things are explained, like a really intense focus on the simplicity, like to not

01:02:02   explain everything, but to try to figure out like, what is the core parts of whatever that

01:02:06   being discussed matter. And over time, you find an audience of people who like the things that you do.

01:02:13   And so I just like, okay, I'm really going to double down on aligning the incentives between

01:02:21   that group and myself. I'm very happy about it because it makes it obvious about how I should

01:02:27   focus on things. And I always really like aligned incentives in that way. And it's immediately

01:02:33   born fruit. So it just says like another example, I was working on a video project, which was

01:02:39   supposed to be the original video for November. And then there was a little there was a little

01:02:44   throwaway part of it, which I thought, oh, that's interesting. Like, let me focus on this for a

01:02:48   little bit, which ended up being the video about Mercury being the most closest planet.

01:02:54   And that is another perfect example of without this focus, I would have regarded the Mercury

01:03:02   as "Oh, that's mildly interesting, but that's not a real video.

01:03:05   That's too short and that's too quick to be a real video."

01:03:09   And I would never have continued to further investigate it.

01:03:14   I would never have reached out to the physicist.

01:03:17   I would never have done any of that because my thought would be like,

01:03:20   "Oh, it's not going to be enough for an actual video."

01:03:24   And I don't think there's anybody in the world who was like,

01:03:26   "I would prefer it if you hadn't have published that video."

01:03:28   Like, that's a perfect, short, fun video.

01:03:31   And then even within that one,

01:03:34   there's the same idea of,

01:03:37   "Oh, this idea is actually quite relatively recent."

01:03:39   And it's a really good example of

01:03:43   how important it is to be able to ask a correct question.

01:03:47   That how you phrase a question

01:03:50   is a really important skill that's often overlooked.

01:03:53   And now, does that idea make sense

01:03:55   to make as a fully animated video?

01:03:58   No, not really, but I think it's interesting

01:04:00   and there's an appropriate format which is the much more casual

01:04:05   I'm gonna walk around, I have some bullet points of things that I want to talk about and sort of

01:04:10   film some stuff and edit it together and just make a little

01:04:14   clearly more casual video

01:04:16   but that still expresses this idea.

01:04:19   And why? Because I as the person who owns the channel am judging that this is interesting.

01:04:25   It might not be interesting to everyone in the world

01:04:27   but I think a sizable portion of the grey core audience is interested in this sort of thing.

01:04:34   It is this ability to follow the compass in this way.

01:04:39   And it's the same thing again with, you know, I made the video about the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact,

01:04:46   and that's a sort of classic grey video in the sense that it's talking about voting.

01:04:51   But then along with it is the spreadsheet.

01:04:54   It's like, oh, I think here's an example where some of the background research is sort of interesting

01:04:59   and it didn't really make it into the main video and I can

01:05:01   sort of show a little bit of the process.

01:05:04   Like it doesn't always work out that way that there is something interesting to talk about the process,

01:05:08   but here is a case where it is.

01:05:10   Like you said before,

01:05:13   does anyone care whether or not that spreadsheet video is a "real video"?

01:05:19   No, nobody cares.

01:05:20   Like this distinction is meaningless to most people.

01:05:24   And it really just has been a tremendously important

01:05:28   turning point, I feel like, in my career

01:05:31   of aligning incentives,

01:05:34   thinking about this relationship of

01:05:37   people have followed my channel for a long time.

01:05:39   They know what to expect

01:05:42   and it is totally optional for them

01:05:44   to choose to support that.

01:05:46   But I think that I can align my incentives

01:05:49   and count on that part of the audience to support the videos.

01:05:52   And it's enabled me to focus on the things that I think are interesting for the video production process

01:05:59   and simply not have to worry about any other part of it.

01:06:02   Not have to worry, "Oh, is this too small to be interesting? I don't have to care about that anymore."

01:06:08   Or, you know, on the other side, like with the Indians project,

01:06:12   "Is this project too big and is going to take way too long and can't possibly make any sense to focus on?"

01:06:18   I don't have to worry about that anymore.

01:06:19   I can instead sort of stay focused on this idea.

01:06:23   So I wanted to mention all of that

01:06:25   because it is such a big deal for me professionally,

01:06:29   this concept of clarity.

01:06:31   But it is a thing that I'm continuing to have

01:06:34   as the year theme because I'm finding myself

01:06:37   applying it to all sorts of areas in my life of,

01:06:42   I want things to be obvious in what their purpose is.

01:06:47   You know, I want the decisions to make clear sense.

01:06:51   I want to remove ambiguity in situations.

01:06:54   Yeah.

01:06:55   So we'll talk about it again in a year, but this is where I

01:06:58   currently am with my year theme.

01:07:01   Can you give me any examples of things that you want to achieve in 2020 that

01:07:09   aren't currently going on that align to Clarity?

01:07:15   Well, here, here I have the problem of, I don't like to talk about projects that are in development.

01:07:22   I don't like, I don't like to talk about things that are in process until they're done.

01:07:28   So there are things that I'm in particular that I'm thinking about, but I don't want to discuss them now because that's just not the way I work.

01:07:38   Yeah, I will just reiterate that this is a much less actionable theme than other themes.

01:07:45   So it's much harder to say something like,

01:07:47   "Oh, I want to be more healthy at the end of the year than I am at the beginning of the year."

01:07:51   There isn't such directionality, but I can say that for me, this is a fuzzy theme

01:07:59   that is also very sharp in my feelings of it and is really focusing my thoughts on a lot of

01:08:07   the areas of time and attention of how I'm spending my mental efforts.

01:08:10   Right.

01:08:10   Like, actually, I have a really dumb little one.

01:08:13   Anything is good.

01:08:14   A tiny area where I've noticed that this is, you know, the way that the themes grow and they sort

01:08:19   of affect your thinking is I'm increasingly finding myself thinking, "Am I watching this

01:08:24   thing on TV or am I not watching this thing on TV?" Right? Like, I find myself increasingly

01:08:30   annoyed by the habit of, like, having something on that you're sort of half paying attention to,

01:08:36   And I feel like watch it or don't like sit down and watch the thing or don't watch the thing,

01:08:43   but don't do this thing where you're sort of half watching it. Like that's a place where I like,

01:08:47   I find the clarity like infecting my thoughts and I think it's in a really good way.

01:08:52   Okay, I feel like this is going to be a theme that we will keep touching on throughout the year

01:08:58   as you can say like, okay, so here's this thing that I've done that I can now tell you about.

01:09:03   This is what the clarity aspect of it was.

01:09:05   Yeah, that's what's going to be the situation.

01:09:07   But let's not minimize the thing that you have done, which is the thing that, I mean,

01:09:12   you started a while ago, but obviously is like a big part of carrying on into 2020,

01:09:18   is the Patreon thing. That is a huge deal. You changed a business model. It's pretty big.

01:09:22   Yeah, it's very terrifying. I also think that there's a way in which people can directly see

01:09:30   some of that stuff in the videos. So it's just been interesting. Like, I've seen more comments

01:09:35   in the past two or three videos where people say like, "I just, I really like this one."

01:09:39   And people have just left more generic thank you comments of like, "Hey, thanks for making your

01:09:46   videos. I've been watching them for years and, you know, I've really gotten a lot out of them

01:09:51   and I really appreciate them." That's part of this feeling that I have of, there's a big difference

01:09:55   between being a creator who is just starting out and a creator who has what is now a reasonably

01:10:04   long-term relationship with some portion of the audience who've been following the work for a long

01:10:10   time. Like I know I feel that way about other creators who I've followed and you're just like,

01:10:16   "Oh, I've been following your work for a really long time." And like you just you have a sort of

01:10:20   different relationship if you feel like you're a core member of that audience. So yeah, this was me

01:10:27   just trying to think about how do I make this better for everyone. A little word of warning

01:10:33   for creative professionals, which I think is just a thing to be aware of.

01:10:38   More so when you're starting out, but you do have to worry a little bit about making

01:10:43   things FOR the audience.

01:10:46   And you know, when I'm being careful with my words, and I'm thinking about how to express

01:10:51   ideas, is why I often use phrases like "I make something, and I hope the audience likes

01:10:58   it."

01:10:59   It's a very different phrase from saying like, I'm making something for the audience, you

01:11:06   have to keep this distinction.

01:11:09   I think that's much harder to do when you're starting out.

01:11:13   But when you're a more established creator, like you, you just have a clearer sense.

01:11:18   But it can be a danger where a creator can be sort of captured by the audience of like,

01:11:23   you're continuing to try to make things explicitly for a particular group of people.

01:11:31   And that's also part of what I mean by the clarity of this is I am focusing on what I

01:11:39   think is interesting.

01:11:40   I've learned over time that my compass is very well tuned in this direction and there

01:11:47   is an audience who appreciates this kind of thing.

01:11:51   And I'm making the kind of things that I like to watch and there's a, like I've found enough

01:11:55   of an audience that really enjoys those things.

01:11:59   I love stuff that can be watched multiple times and you feel like you get more out of

01:12:03   it.

01:12:04   So I spend a lot of time engineering the videos to be that way.

01:12:09   I like videos that when you watch them they can bring along like the fun context of that

01:12:16   which has come before.

01:12:18   And so I also make those kind of videos.

01:12:21   I'm in a really interesting place and I feel like I'm very happy and satisfied right now

01:12:29   on a personal and professional level.

01:12:31   Like I think that the 2019 year theme led perfectly into the 2020 year theme, which

01:12:40   helped motivate me to make a really important business decision that has affected the work

01:12:46   in a really positive way and I'm incredibly lucky to have an audience that supports me

01:12:52   working on the things that I think are interesting.

01:12:56   This is a year where I really feel like I'm so happy about the themes and I'm so theme

01:13:03   positive.

01:13:04   When this works out it can work out really great as a background process to keep in your

01:13:09   mind.

01:13:10   This episode is also brought to you by Hover, one of Cortex's longest running sponsors

01:13:15   and one of my very favorite companies because I have ideas, we all have ideas and when you

01:13:21   have an idea you've got to get a web presence for it. When you have a web presence for it

01:13:24   you've got to start with a great domain name. When you have that next big idea, where do

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01:14:02   and get it set up the way that you want and they also have monthly sales on popular top

01:14:05   level domains as well so it's super easy to see why Hover is the popular choice for people

01:14:10   starting businesses. I had a great idea a couple of weeks ago, some cortexes may have

01:14:15   noticed this. Gray was making a little joke and he said ask cortex.com instead of cortexmerch.com

01:14:21   which are now both domain names that I bought from hover and now when you go to ask cortex.com

01:14:26   it preopens a webpage on twitter with a little hashtag prefilled so you can send out an ask

01:14:30   cortex tweet. This was super easy for me to set up with hover. I registered the domain

01:14:34   name and I set it forward to a twitter URL, all done. Super easy, now I have that domain

01:14:39   I love how easy it is for me to go from having an idea to having it ready with Hover's

01:14:44   super simple system. It's so easy, it's intuitive which is the way I like things to

01:14:49   work straight out of the box. I know you're going to appreciate Hover too because I bet

01:14:53   that you as a cortexan have similar sensibilities.

01:14:57   Buy your domain and start using it today by going to hover.com/cortex and get a 10% discount

01:15:02   on all new purchases. That is hover.com/cortex. Make a name for yourself with Hover. Our thanks

01:15:08   to hover for their support of this show and all of Relay FM.

01:15:11   So now Myke, what is your theme for 2020?

01:15:15   I'm gonna do a little story like you.

01:15:17   Please do!

01:15:18   It's only a short one.

01:15:19   A few months ago, I found myself at a dinner.

01:15:23   Okay.

01:15:24   And it was with some colleagues of mine, but a wider audience of people that I didn't know.

01:15:29   Okay.

01:15:30   But they were all important people in their own fields.

01:15:33   And as I was sitting around this table at a nice restaurant in London, I was

01:15:38   realizing some of the conversation going to places that I knew nothing about.

01:15:45   So it might be different parts of culture, different conversations around food and

01:15:50   wine, right? Like these individuals were ordering wine for the table and I had no

01:15:55   I just know I know nothing about wine. And so I started thinking about this.

01:16:02   I started thinking about where I am in my life now, personally and professionally, and

01:16:08   decided that my yearly theme for 2020 would be the year of refinement.

01:16:14   So it comes in a bunch of places.

01:16:17   One of the key areas is wanting to better myself in ways that are important to me.

01:16:22   One of them is trying to get a more base understanding

01:16:27   for food, culture, that kind of stuff.

01:16:32   Because I find myself more and more in situations

01:16:37   where I don't want to be the clueless guy.

01:16:40   I wanna have a base idea for some stuff.

01:16:46   So like wine is a very clear example.

01:16:49   I have no interest in wine.

01:16:50   I don't care about wine.

01:16:51   I don't really drink alcohol very much at all, honestly.

01:16:56   It tends to only be when I'm at nice restaurants.

01:16:59   But I wanna have an idea for what I'm looking for

01:17:01   in a way that I now understand coffee a little bit more

01:17:04   'cause that's something that I care about.

01:17:06   And so now, when I go into a coffee shop,

01:17:09   I can look at the coffees they have on the wall,

01:17:12   can see the tasting notes, right?

01:17:14   So like, it tastes like this, tastes like this.

01:17:17   And I know which one I'm gonna like now

01:17:19   because just from a very simple level,

01:17:21   I understand that I prefer coffees

01:17:24   that have more chocolatey notes than fruity notes.

01:17:27   It's not very complex,

01:17:28   it didn't take me very long to work that out,

01:17:30   but it was just something that I focused on,

01:17:32   tried some stuff, did some reading, and worked that out.

01:17:35   So now, when given a menu,

01:17:37   I have a better understanding of what I wanna look at.

01:17:40   So when it comes to stuff like wine,

01:17:42   I want to understand that a little bit more,

01:17:44   'cause I have literally no idea.

01:17:46   So I don't even know much of the difference

01:17:50   between red wine and white wine.

01:17:52   Like I just, I don't know.

01:17:54   Like people say this is dry and sweet.

01:17:56   I don't know what that means.

01:17:57   So I've just never cared.

01:17:59   But I want to learn a little bit, right?

01:18:02   And what I have found,

01:18:03   'cause I assume it's probably pretty similar to coffee,

01:18:05   it doesn't take a lot to get a very base level

01:18:09   of understanding for what you want to achieve in that area.

01:18:13   This is also extending itself into other areas

01:18:16   my life a big one of them is something that I can now so I mentioned like

01:18:20   something that I'm able to focus on more now is fashion. It used to be a very big

01:18:25   thing in my life I really cared about the clothes that I wore and wanted to

01:18:29   look good because it made me feel good but I wasn't able to feel good for a

01:18:33   long time because I wasn't confident. Now I have my self-confidence back I'm

01:18:38   focusing on what I wear more and it's making me happy because it was something

01:18:43   I cared about. I don't think it's something everyone should care about. I

01:18:46   don't think it's something everybody needs to care about. But it was a part of

01:18:50   my life for a long time, but I lost it. But now I found it again and it's making

01:18:55   me happy. And then there's the other part of it of being more open to different

01:19:00   types of experiences. Being a little more adventurous. Taking more risks. Doing

01:19:08   things that I might not have done in the past.

01:19:11   I feel like I am at a point in my life now

01:19:15   where I want to be a little bit more open to those things

01:19:17   before anything else in my life happens

01:19:20   that might shut me off from them.

01:19:22   And so I'm taking this opportunity now

01:19:24   when the year of refinement to allow myself

01:19:28   to try some stuff out.

01:19:31   So that's where I am for personally,

01:19:33   but there's a lot more here.

01:19:35   Oh, one other thing that goes into the personal area

01:19:37   actually, hobbies. So I spoke about this on the show recently because it's been

01:19:41   going on in my mind for a while. I want to have interests that are just my

01:19:45   interests that work isn't attached to and I'm still working on that. I'm not

01:19:53   sure yet of other things like I mentioned photography as one like that

01:19:57   is something that I've really enjoyed. Like taking photos on my smartphone

01:20:01   understanding how to edit them in a way that I like working on that like that is

01:20:06   fun little hobby but I still wanted to be able to have more. I want to have interests that are my

01:20:11   interests that I don't also make into jobbies. I just want some hobbies. And that comes in

01:20:20   refining who I am as a person more into making myself a more well-rounded individual. That's

01:20:29   what I want to be and I feel like that layers into refinement. But there's also

01:20:35   professional aspects to this as well as personal. So again I want to, this is

01:20:43   borrowing a little bit from the year of less but not fully. I want to take the

01:20:48   focus off of some areas in my life to be able to put more focus onto newer

01:20:54   projects again. So Cortex brand is one of them and I have another project that I'm

01:21:01   working on right now that I'm very excited about and I want to make sure

01:21:04   that I'm able to refine other things in my life to allow me to focus on that. But

01:21:12   both of these projects, Cortex brand and new project, which should be something

01:21:20   people know about within the next couple of months, they are also in service

01:21:24   of refining who I am and how I am seen professionally.

01:21:29   So how I am seen to the world, I want to refine.

01:21:37   One of those is, right, one of the guys in charge

01:21:40   of a company that makes these products,

01:21:42   like the theme system, I want that to become part of who I am

01:21:46   and then this other podcast-related project

01:21:49   that I'm working on is in a slightly different area

01:21:52   than what I currently cover,

01:21:54   which I want to change people's perception a little bit

01:21:58   about the type of person that I am with this project.

01:22:01   So that is the year of refinement.

01:22:06   - That's interesting on multiple levels.

01:22:08   I really like that one.

01:22:09   - I will say I'm a little self-conscious of this one

01:22:13   in a few reasons.

01:22:16   - Okay.

01:22:17   - But I wanna share it with the cortexes, right?

01:22:20   Because there is this idea of like, "Ugh, food and wine."

01:22:24   - Yeah, there's an idea of what a refined individual is,

01:22:29   which is sort of a douchebag.

01:22:31   - Right, and that's what I really wanna try and avoid that,

01:22:36   but I don't know if I can.

01:22:38   But there is just this situation,

01:22:40   I just keep finding myself in these places

01:22:43   where I feel like I need to be quiet

01:22:48   because I'm worried about the things I don't know about.

01:22:51   And I don't want to keep finding myself in those situations.

01:22:55   Because I, and I genuinely have an interest

01:22:57   in wanting to learn a little bit more about this stuff.

01:23:00   And like, it's like with coffee,

01:23:02   I don't spend hundreds of pounds on coffee.

01:23:06   In the same way that I don't want to spend

01:23:08   hundreds of pounds on wine,

01:23:10   but I wanna have an idea of this stuff.

01:23:13   I wanna know about it.

01:23:14   I want to know how to choose something because right now I don't know how to

01:23:20   choose any of these things.

01:23:22   So it's just something that I want to be able to focus a little bit more

01:23:28   closely on for when I find myself in a situation where I need to know something.

01:23:34   I can understand the concerns about the word and I can understand why you feel

01:23:38   a little bit self-conscious about it because there is a way in which an

01:23:43   uncharitable listener would say something like, Ooh, Myke wants to be a fancy man.

01:23:46   Look how fancy that Myke is.

01:23:47   Well, Myke's always wanted to be a fancy man.

01:23:49   I mean, there's no denying that part, I suppose.

01:23:53   Yes.

01:23:53   But the next part of that sentence was going to be, and you already

01:23:57   lean into that a little bit, right?

01:23:58   So like, I understand the sensitivity over this, but this also is where language is

01:24:05   but a limited tool to communicate ideas.

01:24:08   And an important part of thinking about the themes is like, what does

01:24:13   the word mean to you? The word I always use for this is resonate. Like what word resonates

01:24:18   with you? It doesn't really matter what the dictionary definition is, but like what word

01:24:23   triggers something in your mind that provokes a positive reaction?

01:24:27   Yeah, because I had all of these thoughts and they all added on the one word. I was

01:24:32   able to bring everything together, right? Of like taking some more focus off, putting

01:24:37   it into other places, wanting to learn some more things about the world and who I am as

01:24:43   a person.

01:24:44   I was like, "Oh, all of these are ideas of refining."

01:24:48   Yeah, I like the refining because it does hit on specific things of, you know, there

01:24:54   are some situations where you might feel like you want to know something.

01:24:58   And it also, like you said, professionally has that other meaning of not a huge change,

01:25:03   but a slight adjustment of like, here's some areas where there are adjustments that you

01:25:07   want to be made. Yeah, I think that's a really interesting one. It's funny because you mentioned

01:25:14   the thing with the hobbies because you mentioned other things with my own year theme like, oh,

01:25:20   what other examples can you think of? And one of the things with Year of Clarity for me is

01:25:25   recognizing that everything is work. There's almost nothing that I do in terms of media consumption or

01:25:32   reading books or taking walks or how I spend my like almost all of it is work with very narrow exceptions and

01:25:39   just

01:25:41   Totally giving up the idea that I will ever have any kind of hobby. It's like no, this is all just this is all just work

01:25:47   You're always working in in some way and that's totally fine when you think about work in this way. So it's like I

01:25:54   That doesn't work for everyone. It has worked for me for a long time

01:26:00   Yeah, but now I just want to have a few other things

01:26:05   Yeah, like you want to carve out a space in your life

01:26:08   that is

01:26:10   Separate from all of this and I will be extraordinarily curious to know how that goes

01:26:16   Because so much of your work is talking about things in your life. I do think you are in a particularly

01:26:24   difficult situation in the same way that I am of not having that creep expand, in the very least of

01:26:32   when you take a painting that it doesn't come into the shows in some way. It's almost impossible for

01:26:37   it not to. There is a line that I have drawn. Okay. I do not mind these things coming up,

01:26:44   but the idea of creating properties around them is the line. So I have no problem talking about

01:26:52   the fact that I am taking photos on my iPhone, editing them in Fisko and uploading them to

01:26:57   Instagram. I have no problem doing an episode of a show talking about that. I do not want to create

01:27:04   a mobile photography podcast. I have no problem in talking about the fact that I like watches,

01:27:12   wearing real watches more than my Apple Watch, and that I have an interest in that and I like

01:27:17   browsing Instagram and looking at pictures of watches and planning out

01:27:20   purchases that I might make in a few years time but I'm not starting a

01:27:25   watch podcast. That's the line that I'm drawing and so that

01:27:31   that's kind of where I am with it but I want to have some more active things

01:27:37   than those because the photography just happens when it happens, watches

01:27:41   is just whenever I browse Instagram but it's not like carving out time to

01:27:46   do a thing. I have an idea of a thing but I'm gonna keep it to myself for now. I'll

01:27:51   probably will cut that out actually.

01:27:53   No no leave it leave it in because you like you have to be mysterious too sometimes.

01:27:57   Do I?

01:27:58   I always feel bad about making references to future projects and like I know that can

01:28:02   be frustrating sometimes but like I have to draw those lines of what am I willing to talk

01:28:07   about when.

01:28:08   Okay I'll throw you a bone on that one.

01:28:09   Yeah you have to you have to leave that in just to help me out so I'm not always the

01:28:13   mysterious guy.

01:28:14   Okay, you can be mysterious guy and I'll be fancy boy and then that's how we're known.

01:28:18   I'm curious, do you have any specific ideas about how to pursue a sort of general increase in

01:28:27   knowledge like with the wine or with other things where you feel like you want to know more about a

01:28:33   topic? Classes. Hmm, okay. So in mentioning this to my wife, Idina was mentioned that like she's

01:28:40   found a thing and she wants to buy it for me for a present. She told me about

01:28:43   this one because it requires scheduling but she just found like introduction to

01:28:47   wine class. So you just go and it's like a tasting but they also teach you

01:28:51   what you're learning about. It's like that's just like and then I can get the

01:28:56   base level that I need and can go from there and I think that will that will

01:29:00   give me the confidence to at least say something because that's all it is

01:29:04   really you know when somebody says to me you want to get wine and I'm like okay

01:29:10   and then they instinctively know based on the food that I'm eating what color wine to get.

01:29:14   I'm like, I don't know. I want to know that, right? Or I want to know like, do you want,

01:29:21   as I mentioned before, like sweet or dry? Sweet sounds nice, I guess? Like, I don't know. I just

01:29:28   want to be able to have an idea of answering those questions and that's kind of the route

01:29:33   that I want to follow, you know? Yeah, or I don't know if this is on your mind but there's a way to

01:29:39   I think of this sometimes as it doesn't take a lot of knowledge to be able to ask a knowledgeable

01:29:47   question in this situation.

01:29:48   Exactly.

01:29:49   Exactly.

01:29:50   Because again, so going back to coffee, right?

01:29:53   Once I learned what I needed, I can ask someone if they don't have it written down, like,

01:29:59   what are the tasting notes, I hate that phrase, but I don't know what else to say, of this

01:30:03   coffee and this one?

01:30:05   And they'll tell me, but I want that one then.

01:30:08   Or I can say, "Oh, I tend to prefer chocolatey flavors.

01:30:11   What would you recommend?"

01:30:12   When before, I'd be like, "I wouldn't know what to say.

01:30:15   I would have no idea what to say."

01:30:17   Just be like, "I'll have that one, I guess."

01:30:20   But you just learn.

01:30:22   You say the base piece of information to be able to ask an intelligent or informed question.

01:30:29   That's where I want to get to.

01:30:30   And I've gotten there with a lot of food stuff as well over the last few years.

01:30:33   Yeah, I feel like over the past couple of years, they've been the years of palate expansion

01:30:39   for Myke, for sure.

01:30:40   Definitely.

01:30:41   I've noticed that big change in you.

01:30:43   And so like, you know, if I will pull back the curtains a little bit in the hopes that

01:30:47   it minimizes the taunting, I have had a very complicated relationship with food growing

01:30:53   up.

01:30:54   And like for health issues and stuff like that, I had to have a very focused and strict

01:31:00   diet and couldn't vary from it very much.

01:31:04   And as I've grown up, I've found ways to manage that

01:31:07   and plus the effects have changed, luckily.

01:31:11   So it has allowed me to be more confident with trying food

01:31:15   because at a certain point, it became like a mental block

01:31:19   more than a physical block, like a health-related block.

01:31:22   It was mental because I'd been taught the things

01:31:25   that I could and couldn't eat.

01:31:27   So the idea of trying this or trying that,

01:31:30   having any spice, for example, in my food,

01:31:33   it's like you just can't do that.

01:31:34   But now I can, now I can eat Indian food,

01:31:36   which is like, up until last year,

01:31:40   I'd never eaten Indian food, 'cause I couldn't.

01:31:43   But now I can, right?

01:31:44   So like being able to explore just what I can eat more

01:31:49   has been like a big thing for me over the last few years.

01:31:52   And now I'm at like, I wanna get over

01:31:54   the finish line with it.

01:31:56   And like this is like one of the last things

01:31:58   that I have to do.

01:32:00   And when I talk about being adventurous, that is also with food.

01:32:03   We've been talking about sushi a lot on this show recently, right?

01:32:06   And like, so now like the final part is like fish sushi.

01:32:11   Yes.

01:32:11   Sushi, the scariest of foods.

01:32:13   Yeah, it really is for someone like me.

01:32:16   It's the most beautiful and also the most intimidating.

01:32:19   Right?

01:32:19   It's like, you don't really like fish, do you?

01:32:21   No.

01:32:21   Well, how about a bunch of raw ones?

01:32:23   I don't, I can't, no.

01:32:25   How about the pure essence of fish?

01:32:28   Would you enjoy that?

01:32:29   So these are the ideas of the refining of myself. It's like it is taking away the last

01:32:36   areas of this and so then I can walk into any restaurant and be comfortable and being able to

01:32:45   do that is something I never thought I would be able to do. Like having days of anxiety and nerves

01:32:52   about going to a restaurant picked by a friend because I wasn't sure about the menu. Like this

01:32:57   This was a thing that I lived in for a long time,

01:33:01   like until very recently.

01:33:03   And now I'm like starting to get to a point

01:33:05   where my understanding of food is allowing me

01:33:10   to be much more confident that I can go to any restaurant

01:33:14   and find something on a menu.

01:33:15   And like coming to get to that point

01:33:19   has made such a massive impact on my life

01:33:23   when it comes to traveling as well.

01:33:25   I was hesitant to travel to some places because if I couldn't, like for example, if they couldn't

01:33:30   put the menu in English, like I was worried that like what am I going to order?

01:33:35   And so being able to get to that point has really helped me.

01:33:38   So I want to be able to take those last few areas away.

01:33:42   And it's like being adventurous and being able to order.

01:33:48   And that's so that's what I want to get to this year because I've gotten real close now.

01:33:51   And I just want to finish that off.

01:33:53   I really like that theme.

01:33:54   I really liked that one a lot for two reasons.

01:33:57   It gets, it gets a good example of a different sort of theme than

01:34:01   people might normally think of.

01:34:04   And I like that it's, it's specific.

01:34:08   Like it's, it's, you know, you're, you're trying to achieve some things.

01:34:13   Again, there, there isn't a fail state, but it's just more comfortable, more

01:34:19   knowledgeable in different situations.

01:34:23   I really liked that one.

01:34:24   That's a very interesting one for the year.

01:34:25   - Yeah, so I got a lot of personal this year,

01:34:27   but there is some professional, and I will,

01:34:31   after the project launches that I'm working on,

01:34:35   I will be able to talk more about

01:34:36   how it relates back to this theme.

01:34:38   I mentioned I have one other little thing.

01:34:42   - Oh, that's right, that's right.

01:34:43   There's two things.

01:34:44   - This is not a theme for me.

01:34:46   - Oh, okay.

01:34:47   - Mega Office 3.0.

01:34:49   - Oh, okay.

01:34:51   The theme is, everything has its place.

01:34:55   Ah, alright.

01:34:56   This office is out of control, and it needs to be organized.

01:35:01   And the goal of the office organization, which will happen at some point this year,

01:35:05   is everything has a place, and it must have a place, and if it doesn't have a place,

01:35:10   you need to create one.

01:35:10   That's good, that's good, I like that, yeah.

01:35:13   And I won't tease you at all, I agree.

01:35:15   That's not really a theme, but that's much more of a like, "I need to get this done this year."

01:35:19   Yeah, but I figured the only way I could do it is by giving it a cool phrase and the phrase is

01:35:24   "everything has its place" that's the theme of the office. Hey look, I'm a fan of project names,

01:35:29   you know me, like giving the things you want to do fun names that is part of the way of tricking

01:35:34   your brain, you know. I'm not cleaning my office, this is Mega Office 3.0, right? You gotta fool

01:35:41   yourself in that way, it's good, I like that. Okay, cortexins, you know what's coming now.

01:35:48   We have been talking for many hours about our themes. Where do you put those themes?

01:35:55   Where do you put them, Gray?

01:35:56   Where are you going to keep track of this sort of thing?

01:35:58   Where are you going to every single day relate back to your theme?

01:36:02   Will you take that time in your day to sit down, reflect on your theme?

01:36:07   Is there something that people who have been professionally thinking about themes for years

01:36:13   have made for you? Well, guess what? There is.

01:36:16   There is. The Theme System Journal. The Theme System Journal. There it is. So, when you

01:36:23   are listening to this show, if you are listening to it on the perfect day, which is December

01:36:28   31st, The Theme System Journal is back in stock at CortexMerch.com. CortexMerch.com.

01:36:40   We ordered more than last time? Right. I still don't know how long they're going to stick

01:36:45   around for. We're back to the exact same point again that we were last time. They're either

01:36:50   going to be in stock for two days or two months. Nobody knows.

01:36:54   Yeah. If this happens to be your first episode of Cortex, the creation of this journal has

01:37:01   been a very long saga that Myke and I have spent trying to get this thing made as a place

01:37:11   want to have a way to track your themes and to daily remind yourself what it is

01:37:16   that you're trying to do.

01:37:18   Like we've been trying to make this journal for a long time and there have

01:37:22   been highs and there have been lows.

01:37:24   And one of the things that we've been unable to figure out is order sizes,

01:37:29   like how many to buy for how many we can sell without also risking going bankrupt.

01:37:34   This has been an epic journey that the past us would have thought by

01:37:40   have thought by this point in time would be long settled and stable but it is it

01:37:46   is still not. It is far from. It is very far from settled at this point. And if

01:37:52   this is new to you we have a website it's thethemesystem.com that explains

01:37:56   the journal. It's split into three sections. You have the section where you

01:37:59   write down your yearly themes and you outline what you would like to achieve

01:38:03   from them. Then you have daily journaling pages where you can create your own

01:38:08   things that you want to be thinking about every day and you can sit and write them out

01:38:12   and then you have your daily themes where I do this, many people do this, it's kind

01:38:16   of like a habit tracking thing. Here are a bunch of ideas, a bunch of questions, a bunch

01:38:21   of elements that I want to make sure that every single day I am moving ahead a little

01:38:27   bit. In the coming weeks I want to think about, and I haven't been able to really wrap my

01:38:31   head around this, but what are going to be my daily themes for 2020? Will the year of

01:38:35   refinement refine them probably but I don't know yet so I'm gonna be thinking

01:38:39   about that in future episodes but if you want some detail you want to see some

01:38:43   images and when I look see what it looks like go to the theme system calm and

01:38:47   there's a bunch of information there then if you want to buy them there are

01:38:50   links there but you can go to cortex merch calm and you can buy them here's

01:38:54   the thing if these sell out we still don't know when they'll be back in stock

01:38:57   again but we're working on it yeah so if you are listening to this in the far

01:39:04   future. At that point, we will hopefully have stabilized the business and we will have a

01:39:11   journal that you can buy at any time. However, if you are listening to this episode close

01:39:18   to the point of publication, it is extraordinarily likely that we might sell out of these yet

01:39:24   again and be right back to where we started and just have to order more. So if you know

01:39:30   for sure that you want one and you are listening near the date of publication.

01:39:34   You should not be waiting.

01:39:35   Yeah, I would be quick about it, right? That's my suggestion. We're trying to make this more

01:39:41   regular, that is the ultimate goal. We don't want to have these moments of, "Oh, there's

01:39:45   some journals, run!" You know, grab them quick. Like, that's not the ideal situation. But

01:39:50   it's fair warning to say that at time of publication, that may still be the situation.

01:39:55   One thing, I'm about to finish my first theme journal.

01:39:59   I have a couple more weeks left because of the way we've designed our journal, you can

01:40:04   work in it as much as you want.

01:40:06   We decided we were not going to pre-print dates because people work differently.

01:40:10   I only use the theme system journal on days where I am working.

01:40:15   So the weekends I do not do it, if I'm traveling I do not do it.

01:40:18   So I started mine when we got the first stock in in June.

01:40:21   So I go through one about every six months is what I've learned.

01:40:25   I'm just about to finish my first one.

01:40:27   Fun fact, I have a hundred sitting here.

01:40:29   This is a story for another time, which we will get to.

01:40:31   So I have my pick of journals to go through.

01:40:35   Right.

01:40:35   Yeah.

01:40:36   Myke personally doesn't have a shortage of journals to pick, but Myke has the

01:40:40   opposite.

01:40:41   It's too many, but again, that is a story for another time.

01:40:45   Yeah.

01:40:45   Cortexmerch.com.

01:40:47   Go check out the theme journal.

01:40:49   If you have come up with a yearly theme and want to share it with us, or if you

01:40:54   have been working on a yearly theme for the last year and want to tell us how you've been

01:40:58   doing, we want to know about that. So you can tweet at the show @CortexPodcast, use

01:41:04   the hashtag #AskCortex, it's just a great way to collect them up so I'll definitely

01:41:08   see them, or comment in the Reddit thread, either on the Cortex subreddit or in the entry

01:41:13   for this episode on Grey's subreddit. I want to know, that was a wonderful thing last year

01:41:17   where people were sharing. I want to know what you've been working on and what you're

01:41:20   working towards.

01:41:21   - Yeah, I really enjoy seeing the different themes

01:41:26   that people have and their explanations

01:41:27   and what it means to them.

01:41:29   I really, really enjoy that in the subreddit.

01:41:34   So yeah, I would say if there's something

01:41:38   that you wanna work on,

01:41:39   I think that's a good place to just leave a comment.

01:41:42   I think it's also nice to just have a little record of it.

01:41:46   And I would be doubly curious for anybody

01:41:50   who has commented last year, if they wanted to have a follow-up about how that has worked

01:41:57   out for them, I'd like to see that.

01:42:00   I just find it very interesting to see the different ways that people interpret this

01:42:06   semi-freeform way of trying to make your life better in various ways.

01:42:11   So, yeah, I'd love to see the themes for this year and I'd really love to see follow-up

01:42:15   from previous year if that's something that you as a listener wish to share.

01:42:20   So happy new year everybody. Happy new theme.

01:42:23   Yes.

01:42:24   If you're doing that.

01:42:25   Happy new year, Cortexians. Happy new theme.