Productivity Expert: How To Finally Stay Productive: Ali Abdaal | E93 | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Productivity Expert: How To Finally Stay Productive: Ali Abdaal | E93".


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Intro (00:00)

Ali Adal. He is a creator. He is a entrepreneur who came first at Cambridge. And he is a productivity expert. The way that I define productivity is just kind of using my time well and working on things that are meaningful to me and optimizing for happiness. I feel unproductive when I know there is something I want to do and I am not doing the thing because I'm scrolling Instagram. Procrastination is a problem with getting started. And so the key to overcoming procrastination is that little nudge at the start towards actually getting started. There are a few hacks. The one that I use all the time is the two-minute rule. Two minutes is all you need to change your life. The way I try and remind myself of this point of I am enough is thinking and really trying to internalize that the journey is more important than the destination. We do need a destination but really like am I enjoying myself day-to-day and am I kind of living the dream as it were day-to-day and not so much worrying about the goal at the end of it. Productivity, procrastination, two things that all people aspiring to success are really aspiring to get anything done, often struggle with. Today we're going to try and solve that problem. Today I'm joined by Ali Adal. He is a creator on YouTube. He's got millions and millions of subscribers. He is a entrepreneur. He's a Cambridge graduate who came first at Cambridge and he is a productivity expert. And honestly he's read more books than anyone I think I've ever met on the subject but generally about how to become the best version of yourself. This conversation isn't just about productivity and procrastination. It ends up twisting and tining through a bunch of different topics like relationships and friendships and the meaning of life and happiness but what else would you expect from this podcast? You're going to enjoy this conversation. Ali is an incredibly intelligent, intellectual, compassionate, self-aware individual and he's able to talk in a way that simplifies complex ideas for people like me and you. So without further ado, my name is Stephen Bartlett and this is the Dirova CEO. I hope nobody's listening but if you are then please keep this yourself. I really start here with all my guests because I think it's so foundational to everything that they then say thereafter.

Personal Journey And Advice On Content Creation And Productivity

Your early years (02:23)

It's getting a bit of context as to who you are, where you came from and the environment in which Ali was created. Oh interesting question. Okay so I was born in Karachi in Pakistan in 1994 so I'm 27 now and when I was two years old my mum and dad divorced and my mum moved us to Lesotho in southern Africa. It's a country most people haven't heard of. It's surrounded by South Africa like landlocked by South Africa and we were there for about five, six years growing up. At that point, you know, my mum really valued education. She was working as a doctor and she knew the educational opportunities in southern Africa in Lesotho were not great and so we made a plan to move to the UK. So we came to the UK in 2003. She started working here as a doctor and we moved around a little bit in different areas in the UK and it was really in in secondary school that I did in south and on sea Essex where I discovered kind of entrepreneurship and the internet and computers and stuff and basically all throughout school I'd be the kid getting like decent grades and everything like that but the thing like I would look forward to going home so that I could do some more coding or tinker on some websites or try and chill my services as a freelance graphic designer or something for five dollars here and there and I was making kind of, you know, a little bit of money. I lied about my age on PayPal. I pretended I was 18 when I was actually like 13 and I was getting like five, ten dollars for these small businesses here and there and thinking oh my god I'm making money on the internet. This is incredible and as I went through school, me and my friends we were all quite interested in the entrepreneurship stuff. We were all we were doing like well in school and I was like oh it would be cool to go to Oxford or Cambridge would be cool to do medicine but really my passion at the time was going home and tinkering with websites and so that was kind of the environment that I grew up in. Then when I went to university you know thankfully I got a place for medicine at Cambridge which was great, awesome experience. Just on that point there so you you were tinkering on websites and loving it that's the thing you were like running home from school to do. Yep. But then you go for medicine. What was the driving force behind you deciding not to do the tinkering on websites for a living and going and doing medicine? I mean you said that your mother was a doctor. Yeah so I think when you grow up in the sort of environment that I did whereby parents or doctors, all of my mom's friends were doctors, everyone we knew had like doctor parents. There are so few viable careers where you think you know what are my job options in life? Well it's either doctor or lawyer or engineer like it's literally just those three and you don't even realize that other jobs even exist. Not in like a way where the parents are telling you this consciously but more like just the narrative that you absorb from the people you around is that I could be a doctor or engineer or a lawyer. And so that was always in the back of my mind that oh it would be cool to be a doctor one day. And when I was around 16 I... Can I ask why? Yeah. I think because doctors seemed like a prestigious thing and I think I remember even when I was like six and seven when people used to ask me what I would want to be when I was older. I used to say either a neurosurgeon or a gastroenterologist. Not even knowing what that meant but it was just like a big word that would make me feel cool that oh yeah and then the adults that I would speak to would be like oh hello fancy. So that in and of itself yeah where does prestige exist one would assume that it exists in the mind of others. Like do you know what I mean? Like so that's what I if you had said to me I really want to save people's lives. I would really had a high desire to like save lives and to do that. Then I'd be like okay that's the voice inside but when when it's like status then it was very much status and prestige and that's the thing that I think about to this day a lot about like now that I've taken a break from medicine. You know often if I'm having conversations with my mom she'll try and talk me back into doing medicine again. Really? And one of her kind of bargaining chips on that front is oh but think about the prestige you know medicine has a certain prestige around it that being a YouTuber doesn't and that's always like oh you know it's that that side of me that's like well I want to carve my own path. I don't I don't care about status and status and prestige and then there's the other half where it's still like a kind of a narrative going through my life that I need to optimize for like this sort of old world prestige. Instead of happiness. Instead of happiness yeah. Which is bizarre isn't it? It's a completely bizarre. Yeah this is a strange like it's a cultural thing as well largely I think with I think with you know my mum dropped out of school when she was seven years old so Dr. Lawyer anything with prestige was the correct answer. Yeah. Maybe that's because and this is me just guessing out loud when you come from when you're an immigrant family one of the actual biggest predictors of happiness was financial security and being a doctor at least it was like maybe. Yeah I think that's a big part of it where with my with with our parents generation especially especially as immigrants seeing other people who are happy correlated with other people who had like a big house and like a nice cars and we're going on holidays equals financial success equals oh those people did well in their traditional career of banking or medicine or engineer or law and the narrative of like someone like you entrepreneur social media big company that it just didn't it just wasn't really a thing in our parents generation and you said they're like going on holidays that and but I think if in go back to my like the village in Nigeria where my mum's from having a good job was actually like survival it was like being able to eat it was like much more just much lower things on Maslow's hierarchy of needs it was just like being able to survive and then not having a job in an education was like pain from food no health care no education um whereas in as you say like in the western world when you grow up here yeah it means Lamborghini and holiday and stuff but so you take that you take that decision anyway different by your by an external narrative to go and become a doctor external I think there was also partly an internal narrative and I'm not sure how much of this is me just bullshitting myself but when I was 16 I decided I made a conscious decision do I want to do computer science and do the tinkering with websites thing or do I want to do medicine I think what I reasoned at the time was was two things number one medicine is six years at university computer science is only three everyone says university is great ergo six years is better than three years therefore medicine makes sense but the other thing that I thought was that it would be more interesting for my life to be a doctor who knows how to code than to be a coder who knows how to code and it was like really that decision where I realized okay why don't I do medicine keep the coding website east to kind of stuff on the side so that I can eventually do some kind of tech startup thing related to medicine and then medicine becomes a side hustle in a way before I had the terminology of the phrase side hustle and so I ended up not quite working out that way but but certainly from my first year of med school onwards I knew that I was not going to be a doctor full-time I was going to do medicine for fun and I was going to make money on the side through a tech startup or something like that and did you try tech startup a little bit so in my first year of uni second year of uni I started a company that helped other kids get into med school and then so that was like in-person courses but then eventually because me and my brother knew how to code we turned this into a software online question bank for the different med school admissions programs and so that would that was it sort of like you know subscription billing software as a service kind of product which was the closest I got to a tech startup I dabbled with a few like medical tech things I used to do freelance app design and web design for med tech startups while I was at uni but when the youtube channel started and that really started taking off I sort of realized that the thing I actually want to do is is teaching rather than coding and then something something that you talk about in the book is kind of reflecting on your life and figuring out what are your values what is the thing that you have that intrinsic motivation for and for me I always had that intrinsic motivation for business type stuff and also for teaching I used to do tutoring when I was like from the age of 13 up until now and those were the times where I felt most alive in a way where I was teaching someone else and the nice thing about being a youtuber is that it's just teaching at scale and so I think I found that thing that drives me intrinsically so now tech startup is sort of a oh backup option if youtube channel fails if I get struck off the medical register I can probably start a tech startup or or words playing I always find it a little bit weird that someone would just like go on youtube and make a video you know what I mean like that when you hear about the first time when these big youtubers started whether it's like true jordy or have spoken to here or alpha days who I

How did you become a Youtuber? (11:03)

think became like the biggest one of the biggest youtubers in the country like that first decision to record yourself usually in your bedroom on a shit camera talking to nobody is a little bit weird do you know what I mean it's very odd how did it start for you it's not a for me so I harbor dreams of being a youtuber since about 2009 why because I used to follow people like kurchnider and samsui who were kind of youtube cover artists they would produce covers of popular songs and those covers were amazing like they filmed them beautifully arranged beautifully and I had a few friends who were really good at singing and I fancied myself you know I was quite into maths I like the idea of playing multiple musical instruments so I thought I want to be the sort of youtuber where I can play along to songs and my friends who are actually good at singing can sing along to those songs and that's a sort of youtuber I want to be and so I sort of had a few like sort of stop-starty moments over the over those like next 10 years kind of trying and failing at this but ultimately the reason I became a youtuber was because it was content marketing for my medical school admissions business where I was helping people get into med school teaching them how to do well in these exams and no one was really creating decent content for free on the internet about those exams there was these kind of corporations creating boring corporate looking stuff um and I saw that gap in the market I was like great if I can create these sort of tutorials on youtube content marketing people will watch my tutorials free and if they like me enough they'll sign up to the course and that's why I started speaking to a camera in my bedroom it was like all right guys here are some tips for section one of the b-man you know section one is all about critical thinking the 60 minutes and 35 questions and bloody blind here's how you do it and I was so familiar with that stuff having taught it for five years um that that started to do reasonably okay early on in the days where I had like 51 subscribers 52 you know refreshing the youtube app every day to be like oh my god I've got another view um and it sort of morphed from there was there a tipping point where you thought fuck this is gonna be bigger than the thing that I intended this to support yeah that tipping point was my first video that went viral and it was a video about how to study for exams um this was one of those weird weird things that I look back on where when I started youtube it was in june of 2017 I knew that I wanted to make this video this sort of how to study for exams evidence based tips at some point further down the line it was a topic that I'd researched extensively I like people would come to me asking for help on how to study for their exams there's actually a whole body of like psychological research on this that we just don't get taught in school around what are the actually most effective ways to learn and so I knew wanted to make a video about this but I knew that I wanted that to be like my 100th video rather than my first video because I knew that I knew nothing about cameras or editing or anything and I reasoned it would take me a hundred videos of being bad at it before I could make a video that was actually good and I thought to myself to myself okay I really want to put all my everything into this 100th video so that this video can potentially go big and that's kind of what ended up happening I think it was my 81st video or something rather than my 100th but that video went viral I had like 4 000 subscribers before just sort of slowly building up and then over the next few weeks it just exploded up to like 20 000 25 000 um and I was getting all these comments from people who knew me in real life being like oh I've seen your video I didn't realize you were a youtuber and that was the tipping point which sort of started that exponential growth trajectory that kind of you talk about in the compounding chapter yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah so there's two things there the first this I'll just do them in the order in which I thought of them um okay because you mentioned compounding there what have you learned from your experience on youtube about the importance of of consistency um

The importance of consistency (14:54)

and also from what you kind of what typically happens with viral videos is just there's it's so impossibly hard to predict the outcome right so a lot of people like a lot of people on youtube will make videos called how to make a viral video and in marketing it's all like here are the secret source here are the secret principles but in reality you can only you can hat you can guess a couple of principles but the outcome is hard to predict so what have you learned about consistency but then also being able to predict the outcome yeah when I was listening to your compounding chapter I just found myself like nodding along like an absolute maniac to everything you were saying I think it applies so much to youtube uh these days I teach people how to be part-time youtubers and the thing I say is that if you make one video every week for two years then I 100 guarantee it will change your life I can't put any numbers on it I can't tell you'll have a hundred thousand subscribers or how much money you'll be making but I can 100 guarantee it will change your life at the very least in terms of the skills and the experience and the contact and the friends you're going to make through that process but you have to put that one video week and you have to do it for at least two years um can I just ask on that then on that point there what is it that would make someone do that because I mean that's like fucking clean the floor every day for two years and I promise you'll work out for you it like people don't seem to be able to do those kinds of things without some kind of intrinsic driver so I'm like I'm curious because you could say that to a million people you could broadcast that through a tonnoy and 95 plus will still fail so what is it that makes people from your your experience but also yeah from your own life makes them do the work without guarantee of outcome yeah I think again I feel like this bit of a cop out because this is stuff that you talk about uh like in enjoying the process and this is kind of the theme of the book that I'm writing around how you know it's actually quite hard to show up week after week not see any results not see the views and the subscribers going up and and stuff particularly quickly but the thing that makes it bearable the thing that makes it fun is actually just enjoying the process and shifting away from outcome oriented goals like a certain number of views a certain number of subscribers and more to words goals that are 100% within our control like I just want to make two videos a week and if I'm happy with the video then it goes out and in fact even if I'm not happy with the video it goes out anyway and everyone I know who has succeeded on youtube has had that kind of attitude at some point I just have to get that video out every Tuesday without fail it's not an option it's gonna get done and you know like you say and when we talk about compounding that that video on day one isn't gonna do anything the video on day two or day three or day 24 is not going to do anything but you find when you're on day 300 and day 600 oh actually all of this stuff has been compounding very very slowly and then the results happen really really really slowly and then all at once as soon as you just get that one video that that goes viral that is I think that's the chapter where I talk about the eighth wonder of the world yeah that's it with Warren Buffett and my dog Pablo being the imposing investor and I genuinely I think I learned that lesson when I wrote the book when I look back on my life and I thought about all the things that I compounded in my favor whether it was like my honestly it's going to be can keep it facts with you my teeth had some problems with my teeth and I thought do you know why and I probably referenced this in the book like I hadn't been brushing one of my teeth properly and it never mattered today or tomorrow the day after but there I was in that dentist chair but having my teeth fucking pulled out and then my Instagram was the same um health and fitness at the moment the same my business was the same and it just goes to show that it's not those key critical big decisions we make to drop out it's that like yeah it's that the compounding small almost irrelevant decisions yeah that people don't because I heard you started working out I did yeah and you stopped uh so I've had a personal trainer now for the last kind of eight months or so there you go amazing and you know I've been I've been going on and off with the workout thing since the age of 18 and never done it properly until I got a personal trainer where now I'm having to show up I'm paying someone 30 quid an hour to basically just be with me while I'm doing stuff and that has been the thing that's given me the most results um so I think whatever like I find in my life for things for things that I actually care about where I'm like okay I actually care about becoming a happy sexy millionaire or whatever let me try and figure out ways that will remove my own need for discipline and willpower from that equation and instead get an accountability buddy or get a coach or pay a friend 100 quid if I don't do the thing this was what my brother and I did when we were trying to motivate ourselves I was doing songwriting he was doing standup comedy like right if we don't do this every Thursday for half an hour we're going to pay each other 50 quid um things like that to remove the choice the motivation the willpower the discipline at all the more of that can be outsourced to someone else or removed completely the more I find I actually get stuff done and then I don't have to worry about it because I'm like okay this is taking care of I just show up I guess you're removing you're moving the moose it's supposed to like removing it you're moving it to another pact like near i'll refers to it is what you've described there's a financial pact where now your motivation is to not lose 50 quid it's like because that is that's a greater motivating force than you have within yourself to work out that's interesting is that sustainable no it's not okay um this is all the stuff that I'm researching for the for the book at the moment um and you and you talk about this as well like in intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and the way that I think of it when I when I think back on my life is that everything that I've done sustainably has been because of intrinsic motivation I've genuinely enjoyed the thing but you can genuinely enjoy a thing and still find it really hard to get started I think that's where the biggest procrastination comes in for all of us where it's actually just showing up to the gym that's the hard part like once you're there it's kind of easy it's writing those first ten words because once you've started writing the first ten it's kind of easier to enjoy the process of writing the rest of them and so the and so the way I think about it is to get over that like hump of procrastination that activation energy to get started at that point I will use every tool that in my arsenal to just just get me to do the thing for two minutes because I think once once you do the thing for two minutes it becomes so much easier to actually enjoy the process and and sustain it and and you're so right when it comes to procrastination like that getting started point um I've again just learnt this from podcast guests I've had me and I are like and I refer to him he he said to me one day on this podcast he was like people procrastinate usually because there's um a great deal of psychological discomfort surrounding starting the task and a lot of the time especially with a gym or even an essay that psychological discomfort is like you don't have the answers so I don't know how to use the machines at the gym or I don't actually have I don't feel competent enough to even write this essay so I'm just gonna do the fucking dishes yeah it's like I'm gonna hoover the whole house and anyone else's house that means hoovering today exactly um you you wrote you made a video about procrastination didn't you yeah yeah break

Procrastination (21:56)

that down for me what's what's in the video um so the video is called how to stop procrastinating right yeah um so the the way thing about procrastination basically procrastination is a problem with getting started um kind of this this law of inertia uh in utens first law that if something is at rest it will continue to stay at rest but if something's moving it will continue to move without needing an external force and so the key to overcoming procrastination is that little that little that little nudge at the start towards actually getting started and all of the techniques around that like in the whole like psychology researcher research around this it's just around making make it as easy as possible um so reduce all of the friction to doing it if you want to learn the guitar then have the guitar buy your sofa rather than in the wardrobe where you're never going to see it and if it's out of sight it's out of mind never going to do it there's like the external environmental friction towards doing the thing but then there's also the internal friction it's like those narratives that we tell ourselves that oh the psychological discomfort of going to the gym that i don't want to see how other people are going to see me though even even having having the wrong sort of goal like if my goal in writing the book is oh i really want to hit the new york times bestseller list then it's really really hard to bring myself to write anything because now every single word i have to write has to be a new york times best selling word whereas if the goal is to be honest i just want to write a book i'm proud of that's fun to fun to write that's actually within micro troll and it becomes so much easier to get started at doing the thing um so to overcome procrastination we need to eliminate external friction i.e the environmental stuff we need to try our best to get rid of the internal friction like the emotional side of it the mindset the perfectionism the the fear of the discomfort and then if we still need help there are a few if you hacks the one that i use all the time is the the two-minute rule which is where i will genuinely convince myself i'm only going to do it for two minutes uh and if i want i'm allowed to stop half of the two minutes because two minutes is better than nothing but like 95 percent of the time i decide to continue because two minutes is all you need to change your life yeah so that's between that that's good so yeah that's really good i and i that two-minute thing is fascinating to me because i one of the things that um i see as another psychological barrier to starting is people view it as like they view the challenges Mount Everest whereas it like they've got a i'll say it another way they view the challenges moving Mount Everest and really if they viewed it as just like moving one pebble at a time it becomes such a simple task yeah and i get this a lot when entrepreneurs ask me they say see if i want to start a business where do i start and you can hear in the question that they see it as moving Mount Everest and i'm like well today all you have to do is think of a name just think of like 50 names make a short list of names and then we'll revisit it tomorrow and then tomorrow maybe think of you know go and check if the website's available and then we'll revisit the day after yeah and when it becomes that and when it becomes sort of really small itemized one small step at a time and you're not having to get from stair zero to a thousand immediately it becomes so you know the psychological discomfort fades away it feels achievable and that your two minute rules doing a similar thing we're at saying well today only i've only got to do just just if i can open the word document it right and title and then we're done you know and so that's fascinating what about you're going to see something else there yeah i mean just just to your point there um have you come across the the blog wait but why no oh it's incredible you should definitely interview Tim Urban when you're in America oh i'm trying to write i literally yesterday went on his instagram and sent him a DM oh great yeah he's he's awesome any any podcast he's ever been on i've been like oh this is so sick uh he has a great blog post series about overcoming procrastination and the way he refers to that that that point you just made is that um there are lots of tasks that are very like vague and icky and you have to be able to un-icify a task uh and something like start a business is icky something like learn to code is icky because like what the hell does that even mean like where do you even start whereas brainstorm 10 ideas for a name and pick one of them is a very clearly defined next action step and so i get this with students all the time where people are like oh i don't have the motivation to study for my chemistry exam it's like what's on your to-do list study for my chemistry exam that's never gonna happen reach chapter one and answer questions four to five are a reasonable thing a reasonably defined next action step and so what i do is anytime i find myself procrastinating from something i think okay am i procrastinating because i actually the task is too icky i i don't know what i have to do because once i know what i have to do i can then do it for two minutes and it gets done speaking about productivity um as you guys know i'm i'm the biggest he'll consumer in the world and i have been for many many many years and i always get asked what my favorite he'll products are and i have them here in front of me the first product that i fell in love with with he'll because it's nutritionally complete it tastes amazing i have no time in my life but i also want don't want my diet to be compromised when my life gets really really busy as it always has um ended up being um is this very flavor ready to drink he'll that was where that that was where my journey with he'll began the next product that i fell in love with at he'll was the banana flavor ready to drink for me it just tastes better than the berry i already think the berry tastes amazing funnily from speaking to he'll a lot of people's favorite flavor is the chocolate flavor um i've never taken a huge liking to the chocolate flavor but to be honest i don't really eat much chocolate in any facet of my life um or drink it at all and now the product which i have every single day without fail and probably because i'm in that phase where i'm working out every day without exception and i want to make sure that my gains from working out whether it's becoming more lean or becoming more strong are captured is the protein um he'll which has just come out and as you can see if anyone thinks i'm bullshitting about how much i like he'll this tub is basically empty so he'll if you're listening please can i have a top up i'll buy it don't worry um but honestly and i say this with full honesty 100% honesty um i genuinely didn't like protein powders before maybe i'm lazy not the type of guy that likes to mix things and this is my favorite flavor protein ever the salted caramel heel which i talk about all the time they also have a ton of other flavors they're all actually on top of my fridge there but i'm starting with this one i basically finished it and then i'll work my way through the others and give you a little bit of review on those i it's such as i always say in this podcast it's such an honor to be able to talk about a product that you use many times a day i had the heel ready to drink this morning i'll have this after my workout which is after this podcast and in terms of productivity opt and operating at your best then that is what heel is all about you know people talk about how they'll put on their to-do list clean house and it'll sit on a to-do list and clean hat that's a big thing and it'll and that'll sit on your to-do list for like i don't know two weeks whatever but if you do if you time block and write in your this is what i do on the weekends because so monday to friday

Maintaining productivity - Gratitude shift (28:31)

my schedule is ran by the the meetings and things i have to do so i'm a slave to the calendar satin sunday come around i wake up i'm like okay i'm like what the fuck how does this thing work yeah i'm like it's empty i've got loads of things i know i could be doing right now but nothing no one telling me what to do in a in a life of mine where i'm told what to do every five minutes so i time block on the weekends which means clean house would become at 11 till 12 i clean the kitchen because then it's like time sensitive and like task specific yeah and that's that's been an absolute game changer for me and i also think in the ear of working from home yeah where you know people are sat at home they have a tasks they have to go oh it's like it's like we always have a question it's almost like we prep for this because like this is literally like the the three part structure of my book which i've been like i just having in my head for the last last few weeks perfect where like step one is how do we beat the procrastination how do we get started with doing the thing and part two of the book is how do we sustain how do we actually keep on going doing the thing and uh there's just uh so in in in terms of mindset the thing that i found that actually moves the needle is focusing on trying to make it fun and i really i really like that word fun like i think there's something about the word fun that is so like childish but also fully speaks to like fun basically means in intrinsic motivation like something is sufficiently enjoyable that you do it for its own sake rather than for the fact that you've got a sponsor helping you or you've got a deadline or things like that um there's one there's one story in particular that i i i i often come back to and that's like sometime last year i was i was working at the hospital it was pandemic season etc etc and i'd gotten to the end of like a 13 hour long shift i was just about to go home uh and the nurse said to me oh alie can you put a cannula in this patient her like ivy line is tissueed and she needs fluids overnight and my heart kind of sank i was like oh no like if if the nurse wasn't able to put the cannula in that means there's a patient with difficult veins it means it's going to be hard to put this in and i sort of had this mindset of like all right then fine and sort of grudgingly took out the cannula and got all the equipment in a tray and i like as i was doing this i there was a patient in the bay next door where they were just like talking to a family member or something and saying oh you know that this hospital has been amazing everyone is so nice and what a pleasure it is you know freaking love the NHS kind of vibes and i realized that in that moment i was not being like a good model internally for what i want the NHS to be and what i want a good doctor to be and there's something that Seth Godin who uh who have been following for a while says which is that it's the difference between have to and get to and so i was considering as like oh i have to put in this cannula and i remembered that blog post i read from self-godin where he said instead of thinking of have to think of it as get to i realized oh i get to put in this cannula i get to make a difference in this patient's lives and life and give her fluids overnight so that she's not going to dehydrate because of her morning sickness and just that mindset shift immediately made me feel so much better about it and i was like oh i get to do this who cares if i've been working for 13 hours this is fun this is privileged this is cool and i put it in and we had a nice chat and i felt really great about it afterwards and now like that and so that's one of the mindset things that i just always come back to if i'm finding myself not enjoying something and therefore my focus goes i get distracted i procrastinate instead of thinking i have to do this i think i get to do this it's like a gratitude shift yeah yeah it's like your chapter three or what i was talking about gratitude and we so quickly fall out of gratitude when we become so easily yeah when we become like used to the privilege of our life used to the privilege of our jobs of our relationships of our kids of our dog we we think well you know we and because of and the stoke people talk about this i think i'll probably talk about this in the book as well because these are just like clearly the only idea they have they're more in there um how they used to do that like hedonistic adaptation um exercises to literally take the things out of their life that they really value just to remind themselves of what they had and it kind of seems like you know gratitude is a very important thing have you have you got like a defined gratitude practice that you do like gratitude journaling or that kind of stuff so i the gratitude journaling thing um takes place in the notes of my phone where sometimes i feel the need to remind myself of what i'm really really grateful for i think i do have a a bias towards feeling grateful all the time i really just get overwhelmed sometimes with like i'll have like a little flash you probably get this when you think what the fuck is this yeah like you know like what the especially now that i'm on track and stand and that was a real vision of mine so when i was like 12 years old i'm like oh my this is and i said this in my show the other day i said um said on stage in the drive of seo live i said that um i said to the audience i said like i think everybody in this room is living a life that you once dreamed of living but you don't you're not even happy about it because present you well yeah present you has told you that future you will be even happier when you get to somewhere else but like this is it this was the fucking dream and look at you living it look at you as your you know doctors and lawyers and you've got the job but that brand always wants to work for this is it um and i have to do that to myself sometimes because yeah it um because if not you'll never get there if your happiness is always as i say in the book if it always lives somewhere in the future behind some goal or it's the attainment of some task or whatever it always will be there and that was certainly the case for me and from what i read about you where um you were talking about like outcomes and not being to attach the outcomes sounds like it might have been similar yeah yeah very much so um i i have to remind myself on a daily basis as well um to kind of be be be grateful for for all of the things um sometimes like if i if i'm in the habit of doing like a morning journal i'll like write down a list of three things and it's often simple things like you know this cup of coffee in my hand or Angus or like my housemate and just like you know this nice chat that we had and i think like like for me if i if i don't remind myself i i always just think in kind of hustle mode of like all right cool on to the next thing on to the next thing on to the next thing um but like it was it was pretty cool yesterday like we we went on a tour of jimmy shark hq up north and i was just thinking that i can't believe this is this is my job like i get to do this for work this is absolutely sick and even now being here like this is sitting here talking to you is what i get to do for work and if like i don't know 18 year old me would uh imagine being in this position now i'd just been like oh my god this is this is the dream have you come across a guy called Brandon Sanderson no uh he's an author he writes he's my favorite author uh he does his incredible like fantasy novels a stormlight archive huge huge uh series in it there's like a phrase that i always come back to around this point there's this like um order of knights they're called the knights radiant and they have like their like charter their ideals and their first ideal is life before death strength before weakness journey before destination and it's that final bit of journey before destination that i remind myself of on a basically daily basis where it's it's kind of like mighty sorrows to think of it's the climb it's not about how fast i get there ain't about what's waiting on the other side it's the climb and the way i try and i try and remind myself of this point of i am enough is thinking and and really trying to internalize that the journey is more important than the destination and i think we do need a destination like you know the fact that i want to i don't know write this book or whatever like that's that's a destination but now that i've got that destination of like cool this is the direction i want to go at that point in a dream world i would just forget about that and now that i'm on the journey i would enjoy the journey on its own merit because you know as you know once you if you set a goal you hit the goal it's like well happiness started the the joy from that lasts about five seconds and then it feels like nothing even like sometimes it doesn't feel like anything at all even even for those five seconds um and so what i've been realizing a lot recently is that yes we're i don't know expanding the team and moving to an office in london and like hiring people and bloody blah blah blah but really like am i enjoying myself day to day and am i kind of living the dream as it were day to day and not and not so much worrying about the goal at the end of it one thing that you that you talk about as well um is i think it was neither chapter chapter nineteen or twenty it was around this thing of you can yeah ambition versus insecurity is this thing that you think you want to do is it coming from within or is it coming from outside of you and you talk about values like living in alignment with your values do you have any like

Figuring out your values (37:27)

how how do you figure out what your values are it's a really interesting it's a really interesting um thing um i think i think one of the best indicators of what your values are are from how you feel that's maybe the most um fundamental human stimuli we have which is how something makes us feel um it's like tangent and i was talking to someone about this yesterday in the world we live in and as the social media connected from birth generation we don't understand what our actual true intrinsic values are very easily because even if and then this is kind of a controversial topic but who cares even charity we all think we're charitable human beings we're not and if you've only got to look back at human history to understand that our morals are highly influenced by what society's doing at the time because if you go back 150 years i would have been a slave potentially right my family certainly would have in africa like they would have had a hyper transfer being slaves and at the time my slave master was not a bad person he was a good person you know morally sound you know and and and now obviously that's viewed as being an awful thing and it's the same within like the lgbtqqqqq community that you know at one time um that was just everyone knew that believed that being in a same sex relationship was a terrible thing an evil thing in some religious writings now we all accept it to be how can our morals of society has changed the force that's telling us what's right and wrong what's good and bad what's valued and what you know has changed that's the only change that's happened so i do believe deeply that a lot of our values um and avoidably come from our willingness to survive by taking up the values of the communities we live in however when it comes to your personal values however they've been shaped usually from your parents or early experiences i just go on based on how things make me feel and that seems to be the only indication i have of what's what's true for me and what's not if i if i'm alone and i watch a video of a baby um suffering or crying and it makes me sad when no one's around yeah and i'm not having to tweet about my feelings to the world then i would assume that that is you know you said about learning and sorry teaching you've got enjoyment from that you've always got i would assume that's one of your sort of professional values or something you value professionally yeah i've been on a whole like a quest across the internet of the last few months to try and answer this question of how do you figure out what your values are um there's this like program with a life coach that i even did which is like just just finishing up where um one of the exercises was to like go back to your childhood and think about kind of on a scale of kind of minus 10 to plus 10 uh minus being really bad and plus being really good like what were the most salient experiences of your childhood i was like okay this sounds like bs but all right let me engage with this process and then i made this list of all these things that these salient memories from childhood like you know that time when my brother new game to my pokemon blue and i lost my 146 pokemon and that how that felt and that time went whatever um and the facilitator was like okay let's try and tease out like what this might tell you about some of your values i was kind of surprised that a lot of the stuff that came out of that if i think about is this a core value that i live by slash i want to live by the answer was yes uh and i was surprised by how much of those experiences where when i was under 10 years old shaped maybe the values that i've got right now and so when i think about my values it's things like i think primarily for me right now it's like freedom and autonomy which is why i think i've got this whole drive to be financially independent of work medicine part-time rather than full-time to have the in control of my own schedule things like togetherness and kind of working with other people has always been a really fun thing for me whether i was in school or university studying with friends it's just always more fun than studying on my own and that wasn't true for everyone but it was certainly true for me um teaching on that list kind of helping other people in a way but like i've got i've got friends for example who who who run charities and they genuinely feel in their hearts if there is suffering in the world yeah and i don't genuinely feel in my heart when they're suffering in the world um but i know intellectually that i should care about this thing and so i will act in a way that makes me care about the thing and like donate 10% of my money to charity every year and all this all this stuff but i won't actually feel it um but when i think about how i feel it's like teaching other people rather than saving saving lives is the impact that i care about having and when i realized this i was like oh okay this explains why i actually don't really care that much about medicine like i i prefer teaching medical students than actually practicing as a doctor and realizing that teaching is more of a value for me than saving lives for example i was like okay cool this this makes sense i can now get on board with that and not feel bad about it the other point is that i've never cared about really i've really never cared about finding out what my values are because and this is probably goes back to how i answered that question because the stimuli that i have to decide all of these things is like um how does it make me feel and i think if you have a good quitting framework then you will quickly move in the direction of your values um much faster than others will quitting framework yeah like if you have a good a good uh like quitting framework oh yeah you're very good at quitting then you're actually you're so if you're good at conducting experiments and then quitting like just a it's like rapid ab testing right and you can i think i think the answer really to finding out who you are and what your values are and getting your place to a life that you really love is try something i always say to young people increase the amount of experiments you're doing in quit faster so you go and get a job you're like okay um i hate this this bottle is a dick because we didn't have any freedom here or autonomy i hate that part i love the fashion part but i just hate this environment because of this this and this quit go and find a job where you have the bit you liked and some new sort of uh factors and then you go okay well i love that bit i actually loved being a manager here i'm going to keep the fashion piece i love the autonomy of being able to work from home whatever did it quit move on the next job you know and i think that's what i've done in my life is i never knew what my values were but i went in the direction of um i start out in call centers knew i loved building things big and entrepreneur in sales moved in that direction quit the call center jobs did about 15 of them start my own business parts of business i really don't like don't want to do those parts don't do them i still don't do them yep and i'm like this is the part within this bit within business that i love doing within this industry and i never was intentional about that there was no plan it was this rapid increase the experiments you're doing and quit as fast as you possibly can um and then you end up i think in a life that you are but quitting is easier said than done i have to say it would be remiss if i didn't say all of this is underpinned by huge confidence in self and the fact when i do quit i don't need a plan and that off i'll be fine a lot of people don't have that part so they hold themselves in a miserable situation because it's a certain one yeah you know i like uh it's like when i when i read that bit of the book the the quitting framework i was sort of retrospectively applying decisions i've made to quit to that that thing of like suck and hard i was like oh okay this actually makes a lot of sense um there was one decision that my mom still haunts me about uh oh which was about about a year ago i decided that you know what i want to take my medical career seriously and i want to move to america to do medicine i had a few friends who were there it seemed like an adventure and it seemed cool but to move to america from the uk to do medicine you have to take this like ridiculously hard exam called the usmle and it's basically like relearning all of medical school but at like you know a ridiculous level of detail more so than we have in the uk and so i started off preparing for this and i realized that this is actually really hard and the thing that i reasoned in my mind was i could do this it's but the reward is really not worth it like you get to the end of it i'd spoken to some doctors living working in america and we're like yeah you make 400k year and you're working a lot and you're going through this four years of grueling residency program and in my mind it was like okay it's it's hard and the outcome is not worth it yes therefore i'm just going to quit that's the worst place to be in life doing hard struggling for nothing yeah but then when i have conversations with my mom it's like oh well you quit because you're a quitter like the fact that you found it hard me like you only quit because it was hard it's like no i didn't only quit because it was hard i also i also crucially quit because it was like the the reward is not going to be worth it but i i didn't quite have the terminology to express that until i read it in your book yeah well i didn't either and it was again it that's why i have to specify that that's not the framework i've made my decisions through for my whole life in hindsight what i'm a very logical sort of first principle thinker and that's why i'm able to arrive at peace when i make these massive life decisions because it's like oh logically there was no alternative there was no alternative i'm not going to do something that's hard and not worth it but what kind of insanity is that i am someone that will do something that's hard and worth it i'm not and i'm not someone that's going to quit every time something sucks i am someone that's going to try and change it if it's worth it and if i think it's possible to change i mean my white you know my girlfriend have an argument and i go this sucks and fucking walk out the door that's not who i am i will try and fight for something if it's worth it and if i believe it's changeable and so logically i think that framework is robust i think it's solid you talk a lot about time management managing one's time you made a lot of videos about the topic what it would have been some of the other sort of tips or tricks that you've adopted that have helped you manage your time better we talked about time blocking and um breaking your vague to-do list tasks down into specific ones is there anything else that comes to mind yeah there's one um i've i've read a bunch of books around productivity and stuff uh this one called make time by these champs called jake and john uh and there's a tip in there which i genuinely use every day uh it's just it's called the daily highlight where it's just similar to gary kettles thing of the one thing like what is the one thing you want to do today and then it's like i define that in the morning okay what's the one thing i want to do today record this podcast with you what's the one thing i want to do tomorrow finish sample chapter for the book proposal and then i'll stick a slot in the calendar for it and then the thing will get done and on days where i actually do the daily highlight thing i have about a 50% success rate with actually thinking about it in the morning i always just get more done and i feel at the end of the day oh i've made progress because i've done that one thing that was most important on the days where i don't i find that like oh i've got these 18 things to do on my to-do list uh comic book got this m i message coming from this person who wants to enter an intro to that person where has when when i know what that one thing is i'm like okay cool all i have to do is just get that one thing done today and sometimes think that if i did this more often if for 365 days i actually just did the one thing that's the most important each day i'd be making so much progress i'd be having so much fun and then i think to myself why don't i actually just do this every day um but that's that's one of my main ones that's life as well and you when you talked about the tipping point in your career where you blew up you're talking about made you made that video about how to study and i guess the premise of that video was teaching people how to learn better yep you've read a lot of books as it relates to learning outside of studying just more generally what tools have you adopted because you're some you even you know you've read my book and you remember all everything it seems what trips and tips and tricks have you learned about how to learn better yeah um so essentially the main one is that we learn by testing ourselves rather than by consuming more stuff

What tips and tricks do you have for people to learn better (49:20)

like we like in which is a bit counterintuitive like when it comes to if we if we think about like studying and then we can kind of broaden it out like if it comes to studying we think that to to learn more stuff i need to get more information into my brain but what what all the evidence says is that no to learn more stuff you actually just need to read it once and then you have to try your best to get it out of your brain and that feels hard and it feels tough and it feels like oh i'm nitty i don't know enough but that that like desirable difficulty is what allegedly creates the neuronal connections in our brain to make us actually learn something um and so it's similar to working out like progressive overload when it's heavy and when it feels hard is when your muscles are actually growing because you've got the stimulus for growth equally when it comes to learning anything when it feels hard is when there is a stimulus for the neurons to grow or words to that effect and so when it comes to studying if anyone is sort of listening to this has exams coming up and they are worried about their grades the the answer is that they're just not testing themselves enough the more you test yourself the better grades you'll get and this therefore applies also to every other thing that we're trying to learn so you know if i'm learning i was learning how to play you've got a friend in me on the guitar the other day and if i'm just playing through the first two verses of it that i know already i'm not learning anything but as soon as i try doing the thing that feels hard at that point it's like it the harder it feels the more i'm learning and then and then we sleep and then the connections get certified um so it's that that's kind of the main concept basically test yourself more whatever that thing is and the second big one in the research is spaced repetition that anything we learn whether it's a fact for an exam or a song on the guitar our memory for it will exponentially decay over time and the way to make it go into a long-term memory whatever the skill is is to interrupt the forgetting curve at spaced intervals so maybe you would you would practice the song on day one you'd practice it again on day two then on day five then on day 25 then on day 105 and as the intervals lengthen that is the sort of thing that gets this how to play the song or this fact about medicine or whatever into a long-term memory and most things around learning can basically be summed up by those two things active recall i.e. test yourself and spaced repetition i.e. space it out over time interesting people are really fascinated by productivity aren't they they are yeah i think i heard you say about like when you put the word productivity in your content it seems to perform better yeah i i often think about this like so so to me productivity i think i think to a lot of people productivity just means efficiency and creating economic output the way that i define productivity is just kind of using my time well and working on things that are meaningful to me and optimizing for happiness and so to me this conversation is productive hanging out with friends is productive i was playing PlayStation last night for a couple of hours that to me was productive because i was like intentionally doing it because i wanted to take a break from writing um it's when i feel it's i i feel unproductive when i know there is something i want to do and i am not doing the thing because i'm scrolling instagram that to me is unproductive you're not being intentional with your time exactly yeah but i think on the internet these days people use productive as economic output and the whole like oh i want

The definition of productivity (51:49)

to be more productive it's uh i think partly it's a virtue signaling thing to some degree as well yeah yeah partly it's a it's a virtue virtue signaling thing i think i think partly it's also like a self-flagellating thing in a way whereby i i often see comments on my videos where it's like productive day in my life which i'm kind of doing tongue in cheek just because it's funny where people are like oh my god i watch these videos just to make myself feel bad and i'm like oh wow okay uh a this is a this is mostly a joke like i hope you realize this but but but also it's like that that's kind of sad that that comment has got so many uploads where oh i feel so i feel like such a waste man when i watch one of ollie bells videos and i think there is that like perverse sense of people getting pleasure out of the story they're telling themselves that they are non-productive or that they are a chronic procrastinator and to see someone who doesn't who is on the surface seemingly so productive makes you kind of feel bad about yourself um i wonder if it's similar to like if i look at my instagram explore page about a year ago it used to be bikini models these days are the dudes with six pack abs and i look at that and there is a part of me that gets pleasure out of like flagellating myself and they're like why why don't i look like that yet and i wonder to what extent that's like a thing in the world of productivity that is fascinating because i mean that would be driven by the antithesis of that that's going to be driven by a culture where productivity and i'm getting so much done so i'm going to be successful and rich and millionaire and this is i'm in stealth mode building this massive business and i've been up all night look at me it's 4 a.m and i'm still working yep that's driving one end of the spectrum which is making productivity and being productive and aspiration for this generation and on the other end that's i mean that's why again the desire to be productive is so high and your videos do so well on that topic and then you have the the counter movement as you always do where it's like i'm such a procrastinator and then all the memes which bang just as hard because there's been this desire created in culture to be you know super productive or even as it relates to like weight and fitness like everyone wants to look so good and then the memes of people sat there with a pot noodle in their belly like resting like with their like running shoes on we'll also bang just as hard yeah but yeah it's just a very relevant thing on culture which is quite quite strange that the incessant desire to be productive i think there's actually there is a rising counterculture which is about being okay with not being productive yeah no exactly i'm having to pepper in a pepper that into my videos a lot more these days because i kind of thought it was it was so obvious that it doesn't need to be stated that obviously you know don't be don't be don't seek economic output and productivity at the expense of other things that are more important like health and relationships but clearly that's not a thing that is obvious and so i'm now having to caveat a lot of my productivity advice with like a look guys let's just define productivity as you know meaning and fulfillment and stuff rather than pure economic output and it's okay to be intentional and say i don't want to do anything today if that was your intention i want to just do fuck all like and i think that's um that's the nuance that's required in all of that pssst speaking of productivity one more company i wanted to tell you about i mean if there was a company that's predicated on increasing your productivity it is where you can outsource some of the tasks in your life that you do not want to do professionally whether it's designing a website making a thumbnail um editing a video anything you can get it done on cost effectively and sometimes if we're talking about increasing productivity using someone who's on another time zone which means work is still happening when you are asleep which extends the bandwidth of the amount of hours you have towards your goals and this month we are using fiverr to redesign the thumbnails on our second youtube channel a graphic designer we found there and i always use it whenever i have professional tasks that i need handling that is fiverr with two Rs dot com slash CEO you talked about relationships at the start of this podcast you said you said you you i think you alluded to the fact that you hadn't had much luck there when we were talking about knowing you're enough yeah what's going on yeah this is a real problem um so there's a few like narratives that i've bought into um subconsciously one of those narratives is that i am like a weedy nerd kid this the kid that i was when i was 12 years old and getting slightly put in school and getting grades and stuff but

Relationships - Being true to yourself (56:49)

like not really have anything anything uh not being valuable as a human being beyond the fact that i was generating a stars in exams that's like one side of it there's another side but i'd love to hear your take on what's the other side the other side is um if we're if we're keeping it realized like i think it's around masculinity and what it means to be a man and if one if one were to hypothetically read wiki how articles on how to get girls or even the vast literature on the topic um there is a big thing of women are attracted to men like you know people who are so so someone who is a man someone who leads someone who's like alpha those sorts of those those sorts of things and i think my kind of default way of being is very not that and like my idea fun is singing Disney songs and playing board games until two o'clock in the morning with a pizza takeaway rather than something that are more like macho alpha type person person would be and so on the one hand there's that thing of just be yourself uh of be authentic self etc etc and a girl will like that for he who are and on the other side it's the the thing of you will objectively get more success with women in inverted commas if you sort of are more of that alpha type personality here's the problem you have please on the on the that particular point before we move on because i'd love to hear what you're going on to say but um you it sounded like you were saying do i be myself and dance around listening to Disney um even though it might return a lower quantity of smoking heart potential partners or the alternative to that is do i be masculine um guy and like act outside of self to generate more smoking heart partners the issue you have is you just got to zoom out and you got to think about the outcome of both approaches and how sustainable both approaches are all you can be is yourself for a long period of time okay and if you want long long-term results that's the only option you have of course you can act as something you're not and pretend you don't like Disney and not listen play board games and stuff and you might meet the wrong person for a short amount of time because and it will be a short amount of time because that relationship will capitulate the minute they find out who you actually are and this is there's you know um yeah this is this is always for me the answer is you have to be yourself you have no choice in that you do have a choice in being able to kill some of those confidence issues which might be self sabotaging at key points in the relationship where it turns into insecurity and results in jealousy and we know if you're coming into relationship thinking why the fuck is this person with me yeah the chance of you exhibiting jealous behavior and controlling behavior and manipulative behavior and insecure behavior and where are you why haven't you hear why haven't you just actually back fast enough and is is high and for me that will put undue pressure on something that might have worked otherwise so go ahead and work on the the confidence issues yeah but never ever dare change who you are like the things you intrinsic do not change those do not try and act outside of those because that is that will lead to really short-term results and you don't actually want to be with anyone for 50 years that doesn't want to dance and listen to Disney movies with you you don't actually want to society's telling you want smoking art but you don't actually want that you're you won't return joy on that you'll look you'll return status from walking in with a smoking hot model that has no brain but you won't return joy in the long term and that is the goal that's the North Star does that make sense it does yeah um on the note of being yourself the thing that uh the the thing that I feel I feel I feel a contradiction is that on the one side there's there's kind of be yourself and on the other side there's like choose yourself and what I what I worry about is what if this person who I am I either kind of nice guy who like like enjoys dis Disney and board games and stuff that's a result of accidental experiences that I haven't really chosen for myself and should I instead be thinking okay who's the sort of person I want to be although having having said that I don't want to be anyone who doesn't sing along Disney songs because they're just great um yeah and you sing along to Disney songs not because you're now being forced because you enjoy it yeah it's just genuinely fun it makes you feel good love it yeah it's okay yeah so that's that's part of the answer to a lot of things we've discussed before which is going in the direction of the things that make you feel good don't suppress things that make you feel good because then you'll feel shit so if that makes you feel good that is in as far as I'm concerned you've explored and exploited as you say yeah and you've and you've and you found something you enjoy and don't sacrifice that for what for a pretty woman to be stood next to you that's not in that that trust me will not be enjoyment that'll be status that'll be extrinsic approval right which is very different from internal fulfillment so I would never disregard those things however you can as I've done over the last year and a half stage you know what when I look at my values and who I I actually want to be internally my health this is what I've done is so foundational to everything and I really managed to almost like hypnotize myself somehow into knowing that me being in good shape and me being someone that goes to gym every day and prioritizes that my health is my first foundation is in line with my happiness the change in my life the thing that's put me in the best shape of my life ever was before as I said this podcast me working out was all about women the minute it became not about women it stuck because because yeah for so many reasons I mean I enjoyed the process and I removed wanting six pack and I basically don't have any gym goals now whatsoever my goal is to go every day it stuck it became intrinsic it was for me and now I go every single day and the minute we finish this conversation my PT is waiting for me and I was went yesterday the day before I'll go the day tomorrow every day okay I don't care I'm not doing it for anyone else so it sticks interesting that's why your relationship will fail if you're with someone that you you're with for external reasons wait stick okay yeah this makes a lot of sense content content

How to make create content (01:03:40)

yeah you make a lot of content and you've must have come to learn a lot about humans and psychology from all these videos you make you tinker around with the titles and the thumbnails and and you've become such a big youtuber you've got millions of subscribers from a very iterative process of I guess really understanding what humans will respond to and what they want what their desires are what would you give me as advice for how to make if I'm a listener a really great content that people will care about it's a broad question but there you go I think it's about hooking them in with the promise of something simple and quick and then and and if you stop at that point that is I think where I kind of as sort of course scammers and marketing gurus and stuff where maybe 20 years ago it's hooking them in with a simple and quick promise but then delivering on the nuance of it that I think people are caring about more than ever now and so like one thing that we've iterated with over time is you know often the success of a video will depend on how clickbait the title is and there's no getting around that we've never found that a title that's less clickbait does better I did a video called how writing online changed my life it absolutely bombed just changed the title how writing online made me millionaire suddenly absolutely exploded people love that like oh this is a quick solution this is a quick path to this this this goal that I want hence your title of happy sexy millionaire but we've also found that on videos where I think oh let's let's dumb the message down let's just kind of do a quick five-point listicle without any examples because people just want the dopamine hit of advice that sounds reasonable but they can't action those videos haven't done as well like people click on them but then they don't stay watching and the videos we found that do the best is you make a promise at the start and then you deliver on the nuance throughout the whole thing and actually people at least in my doing so I suspect in yours and anyone listening actually do want depth and nuance not just a sort of surface level two minute long thing that you would have seen on YouTube circa 2005 I think you did a pretty great job of that as yeah yeah I'm learning I'm can you know continue to learn YouTube's a bit of a new medium for me so it was good it's good to get that um that perspective you you also um you're very in in sort of self-aware and honest I you wrote something about um why you're failing which is I think you wrote a piece which was detailing why you think you're failing in life I think I have this issue where I often feel like what I'm currently doing is not good enough because you know we're leaving money on the table or because our team is inexperienced or because I suck at being

Why I feel like I'm failing in life (01:06:22)

a manager or I suck at being a leader and although I'm learning to improve in in all those things I sometimes feel that oh but it's it's it's it's not fast enough I think that's where the comparison stuff comes in because when my peer group was kind of just my friends in medical school and I was doing the YouTube stuff and then I was kind of the only one in the in the in the pack doing the thing and so it was like oh anything goes like I'm not comparing myself to anyone now that I am sort of a bigger name on YouTube the sorts of people I compare myself to now are kind of other youtubers of millions of subscribers the population for comparison changes and I find that the more I compare the less good I feel about the stuff that I've done and so to get around that I try to just A not compare at all and B also think journey before destination all the all of the mindset stuff but it's easier said than done and I still feel internally like right now we're not using money in the company like efficiently enough we're not hiring fast enough we're not doing this fast enough we're not doing that fast enough do you think you'll never get to a point where that stops hmm because I tell you what yeah what what's been like to you well I mean no I was just gonna say let's just I mean one way to look at it is Ali five years ago when you first started if you'd shown him a picture of you now yep what would he have said that's pretty cool I mean like if you'd gone if when you made this cut first couple videos you'd gone you're going to have two million subscribers on YouTube you're gonna have hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram I would have had a stroke you would have had a fucking stroke there's no way there's no fucking way that's me yeah and here you are this is what I was leading to earlier it's like past version of yourself told you'd be happy when you got here but you're not because like you're not fully satisfied because there's a future version of yourself that's saying you'll be happy when you get here and it just never stops it never stops like it seems it seems like at least on the outside that you've done a good job of kind of I mean obviously you're like politically successful but like being okay with that level of success and not trying to get to the next level for whatever that looks like I think so I think so more than a lot of people I speak to I think it's I mean there's still elements in me that like I can do more and I can I can I can take on bigger challenges in my life yep but I'm definitely definitely now detached from thinking it will have any impact on the things that matter it won't make me happier won't make me more fulfilled won't make me anything at all yeah I'll be doing it probably for either the wrong reasons yep like just more money therefore I can get private jets instead of a business class or because this is not the wrong reason but just for the challenge of it yep all but all thirdly because I want to solve a problem in the world as opposed to believing that it will make it will make me it'll kill my impostor syndrome or it'll make me feel more you know enough I definitely know that I'm enough okay I definitely know that much and I know that nothing's going to change that positive or negative yeah that's good that's good place yeah because I said it in the book to my soul um how how do you think about money it's a question that you often ask ask me guys that I really want to ask you because yeah obviously you are rich and but there are there are more levels of rich beyond what you currently are so like I always will be and as you meet people as as I've met people who are kind of levels of rich above me where then then I start thinking oh

Money (01:09:58)

maybe it will be nice to be able to afford to fly first class everywhere that would be pretty cool yeah I think I wonder if that would increase my quality of life and I know there's those you know diminishing returns for money and stuff sure you know first class versus I wonder oh yeah how do you think about that I mean so I want to have enough money in my life that I don't have to do anything that costs time that I don't need to spend okay on things that I don't get away from doing so like I basically want to have so like an airport is a great example this is why I think I want a private jet because when I go to the airport you could spend three hours just checking in and getting onto the onto the plane and that's three hours that I'd much rather doing something I enjoy doing with my life um and as I talk about chapter 19 of happy 60 million there time is what we have I refer to these 500 000 chips we have and we get to you know that's because that's how many free hours the average human being gets in their life I would like to have more of those chips deployable against things that I really enjoy doing and creating memories with people I love not standing in an airport key for three hours so if money is going to solve that problem for me then money does matter it's not going to make me exponentially happier like the queue isn't making me miserable it's not going to be the needle but yeah but I'd like to make more memories in my life with with with my niece and my dog you know yeah and with my partner so that is my fuel money at this stage okay um convenience less time wasted yeah that's literally it that's literally it it offers me nothing else okay yeah well what do you think of money I think convenience is a big thing for me like I also have that thing of money is useful insofar as it helps me buy back my time which I can then use to deploy against things that I care about but then as I kind of get exposed to more like rich people and see like the lives that they're living and like you know this idea of thinking about moving to London where like I've been living in my flat that me and my brother have a mortgage for in Cambridge for the last three years with a lodger and therefore it's returning 16% a year because I'm not paying rent like that and moving to London where it's like I actually can't afford to buy a place in London like I could afford to rent a place in London but it's like I could rent for a thousand a month or two thousand or three or four you know this place is about eight thousand a month they're pretty good I wonder what it would be you know can I afford to spend eight thousand a month on a place that's slightly nicer that's a little bit more central what am I optimizing for if I forget a place in King's Cross it's easier for friends to come visit therefore I can make more memories therefore increase happiness that way um and the money thing just sort of I feel like those those numbers keep on going up because you know then you could be like well having a yacht would be pretty cool because then I can invite friends on board and then we can do like jet skiing and stuff having a private jet would be really cool because then I can like fly wherever I want and save my three hours of time and take my friends out on a trip having enough money that I'd be able to fly friends over to visit me would be sick for my personal happiness and I don't know I feel like the more I think about this the more I start to invent justifications for trying to make more money yeah for the sake of happiness and fulfillment and stuff beyond the 75,000 a year that the studies will tell us leads to diminishing returns I think the key thing there and what I've what I said in my answer is that I don't think it'll make me happier because I'm already I think at I don't think missing the airport queue will actually make me happier yep I don't think it will because unfortunately fortunately I'm at a point where I don't think I could be happier okay yeah like I could definitely have less than less annoyances in my life yeah but fundamentally I don't think I could be happier than this or more fulfilled or like comfortable than this so me killing the queue by getting a jet is is removing an annoyance and increasing the the yeah how intentional I am with my time extra two chips that you're not gonna move the needle okay it's not going to move the needle like you know and if this place was where we are now which is my home I live upstairs if it was two times bigger would I be happier no no I wouldn't be no okay but you know I'll probably get a place two times bigger yeah because I don't know then I can have bigger parties yeah I mean that was more people will be a more and more enjoyable memory at some point but I don't I this is the key thing as I had to at some point in my life realize like not buy into the bullshit justification or I live my life running running in that direction constantly and I say all the things I'm like it's not gonna make me happier yeah and if I still want it then I think then I'm then it's okay for me to buy yeah yeah I kind of have have some of the things so often I will like buy something you know I bought one of those 6000 pound pro display XDRs with the 1000 pound stand that apple cell the other day just because no one knows what that is it's like a ridiculously expensive monitor the apple cell for like professionals and I really didn't need it but I was like it would be kind of cool to have on my desk and I knew there was zero weight was gonna make me any happier I was like oh it's just it's just kind of cool and my housemate was like oh your your monitor's arrived how do you feel I was like like just even even contemplating how I feel as a result of the fact this monitor arrived just kind of a bit baffling to me because obviously it doesn't make any difference to my data the happiness it was just something kind of cool that I could buy the business expense and I thought no why not I think when I was younger I used to look forward to purchases more like you know order to play station game when we're tracking the delivery waiting for it to arrive and I was just like it's just it's just kind of things and and the way I often describe it to people is it would probably maybe sound the bit arrogant but it's like I feel like my happiness is a 10 out of 10 right now and I really can't imagine that changing but it's still kind of cool to spend money on the things that I want to spend money on yeah if it's like tech or camera gear or something yeah something like care about yeah I completely agree now and I actually don't think I'm a very flashy person right now I don't own a car at this exact moment I don't have like designer watches or anything and typically if I make a purchase it's based in utility but it's really nice yeah and that's kind of what you're describing with your monitor yeah so like I travel a lot so a suitcase or get a really nice one yeah but I don't need a Rolex because let's be fucking honest no one uses it to tell the time anymore so that would be purely about signaling and status yeah I don't really buy designer clothes at all I don't really think I have any design clothes clothes I don't really think I may have a nice pair of boots or something yeah but typically it's like I mean this is like a top man t-shirt I'm wearing from me so these are top man jeans fits pretty well yeah it's like utility and fit and might seem to matter more than insecurity different purchases and there's this one mental model that I think of which is that if if you were the only person in the world would you still buy the thing yeah and I think when it comes to like new alpha products yes I would because yeah like I can do I can do my work better on a nicer MacBook or on a nicer screen but yeah certainly I probably wouldn't get an Apple watch if I was the only person on earth because I think the utility of that is more signaling and more about like this is a sort of identity I want to portray to other people and then it is about the fact that having an Apple watch for me given that I'm not into running is actually useful you've read a lot of books mental models about mental models in various other things what are some of the key principles or key sort of mental models that have had the biggest

Influential Mental Models

The key mental models that have had the biggest impact on your life (01:17:40)

impact on your life oh um there's so many I can imagine that it's quite hard to yeah I think one of the main ones is is this thing about the the money diminishing returns curve about like beyond about 50 to 70k depending on what study you look at money doesn't buy more happiness I often have to remind myself of that when I get into this cycle of the pursuit of more stuff um one of the things I won't really call it mental model but one of the things I can come back to is oh I think you talk about in the book as well five regrets of the dying oh yeah um and I had had those written on the top of my to-do list on my daily to-do list template um that's that that's a good one the other one is what is that for anybody that doesn't know oh yeah so there there was this like palliative care nurse or someone who brony sorry brony where that's the one she messaged me on instagram oh no wait when I don't know what time I didn't tag her instagram so she's like oh yeah thank you so much for the post-kidget that but yeah brony where she's amazing brony yeah so she wrote a book called the regrets of the dying or the top regrets of the dying where she interviewed like hundreds of people who were on the deathbed asking them what are your regrets um and some of the really common ones were I wish I'd lived a life true to myself rather than what others expected of me I wish I'd worked less hard I wish I'd spend more time with more time with friends and family um can you remember what the other ones are you're like I do you know what I only focus on the first one yeah because she was like she said this was the most common regret of the dying was I wish I'd lived a life true to myself and not what others expected of me yeah following your intrinsic motivation rather than status prestige external exactly yeah it sounds like the other ones are all actually just yeah in the box shoots of that yeah yeah and people as they're about to die must have this amazing retrospective clarity over there what they did and didn't do right what didn't didn't matter it didn't matter that that girl in playground said my hair was shit or this comment on instagram and that retrospective clarity because I say this in the book as well this is about the I talk about how I don't think anybody believes they're going to die yep and those people know they're going to die yeah so they have that like it's all all the bullshit just fades away and they go I just want one more day with my son yeah but also it's it's it's not quite the same as the whole live every day as if it were you as if it were your last like there's that that balance there how do you how do you think about that balance yeah I mean so that's actually like fundamentally bad advice because if I were to live today like it was my last I would probably be doing self-destructive things yeah like they're going to be self-destructive financially yeah yeah like financially I'd be playing all my money like yeah so um well something like that but the merit in that that I see is um is living like life itself will come to an end at some point um which for me means being very conscious about the use of your time I guess and what you're deciding to do if you if to wear your last you'd be able to cut through the bullshit that doesn't matter and so let's say if this life were your last live every life like it was your last would be a better thing than you didn't know yeah you'd really focus on what matters you know you've talked about such a diverse range of topics on your youtube channel and really about like help you know helping people as you know as the teacher you are become better at what they're trying to achieve you talked about productivity mindset um finance and all of these things what what are the what are the things that you see in young people today that you think um they most need to solve and understand about let's say about mindset in order to get to that point where they are living a fulfilled life what are some of the you know and I say this to you because I know how many how many how many books you've read thinking specifically here about like young people and you're you're seeing them in the comments section you're seeing the problems that they're trying to solve in their

Mindset Guidance For Young People

What do young people need to know about mindset to live a fulfilled life (01:21:12)

life I think the main one that I see is a mindset that work has to be suffering and that like working hard is like a bad thing and that what it looks like if you're if you're striving for something is that it looks like pain um this is very much the mindset I had going into medical school where I was like oh I'm now a first-year medical student at Cambridge University this is this is supposed to be hard you know let's get all my big textbooks out it's like spend ages in the library you know pulling all nighters thinking it's a badge of honor because this is what work looks like and it looks hard and in my from my second year onwards where I realized hang on like you know the thing Tim Ferris often says like what would this look like if it were easy I think if more young people accepted that work doesn't have to be suffering it can actually be easy and fun and you can have it all provided you find ways to make it fun and optimize for the things that are enjoyable that will solve a lot of kind of problems when it comes to the things people often ask me about which is motivation procrastination burnout and and all that jazz I think another kind of underrated tip which the toxic productivity people would would crucify me for is that I think everyone kind of like if you want to if you want to live a life when you're on terms then you do have to solve the money problem because we all need to make money we all need to have that like in in board games we call it you call it as an economic engine well like if you if you want to win in a board game you always have to figure out are you going to sell sheep are you going to get wood or you're going to get older you're going to get hay like what is your economic engine going to be and I think the sooner a the sooner that can be ticked as a box or the more aligned the economic engine can be with the thing you actually find fun the more you can do that thing of living life on your terms because what I never want to be in the position of is where you know that thing of well I just got to work the nine to five so I so I can enjoy the five to nine because that's like 80,000 hours of our lives 80,000 chips out of the 500 that we're squandering away just to survive and obviously there's it's it's that's so much easier said than done and a large amount of being able to take that money box being able to build a economic engine is based on kind of privilege and where you've grown up in circumstances and all that stuff but I guess kind of from from where you're sitting you never had that sort of privilege growing up and you kind of succeeded despite it and yeah it's just that that thing of accepting I think a lot of a lot of young people especially like the Gen Z the Gen Z folks these days are in that mindset of I care about impact I don't care about money I think it's very hard to live a full-life if you're not like if if you think in that way because then it's like oh no I'm not going to talk about money it's weird people talk about money on the internet etc etc so those would be kind of two things that I would love to implant into young people's brains yeah that's a really interesting one I do there's this were absolutely grounds well over the last couple of years of I think millennials are guilty of it too just all of them want to change the world and they don't really have a plan or have a specific route to changing the world or having an impact but they just want to lead with that which sounds to me a lot like virtue signaling because I think the people that end up changing the world are very specific about what they're going to do and it's very passion driven it's very like specific passion driven so they'll say you know someone that does actually want to change the world won't actually start with the end in mind they'll start with I want to study medicine so I can understand cancer and they'll change the world not the Gen Z that says I want to change the world or I want to have a big impact and you go what do you want to impact yeah yeah they go let's step there the world how do you ask me two other questions I want to have then that so for me whenever I see that my DMs or when a kid comes up to me when I've been speaking on stage or something goes I want to be a public speaker I go what do you want to talk about it's like go in have go and live a life worth talking about like go and have an experience go like go through some shit and then you're the consequences you're a public speaker I had no intention of being a public speaker there's a consequence of having some creating a life where I had some shit to talk about you know and I think younger generations have that the wrong way around they're so obsessed about oh wouldn't it be great to create an impact but have you come across effective altruism no I just see yeah yeah so it's like this movement this community that talks about how doing good in the world and like having an impact is actually like scientifically measurable and can be done in evidence-based kind of ways and so they you know there's a few like charities and programs tied to that one of them is Give Well and they do an evidence-based analysis of the charities in the world to figure out what is the most bang for your buck what's the highest ROI on money donated in terms of lives saved or are some other outcome measures and you find that it's some pretty robed charities that that come up top on top here for example the Against Malaria Foundation on average it costs somewhere between two thousand and three thousand pounds to buy enough malaria nets to statistically be able to literally save a life and that's like a lot cheaper than most people would think and if someone were to say to you now you know Steve you can donate three grand and you literally save a life you'd be like oh great and three and so the idea behind effective altruism is that given that like like you can actually measure the impact of charities and what was going with this is that you can therefore measure the impact of a career and relate it kind of to money if you need to so they've done an analysis of what being a doctor is like and in the western developed world a doctor will save around seven lives throughout the course of their entire career and this is not taking into account the fact that if I wasn't a doctor the next the next person would have gotten into medical school and been a doctor in my place because in the UK we have more people applying to medicine there are places if you are the only doctor in I don't know Subs how in Africa or in a country or something and then you stop being a doctor that obviously has a big impact but most of the people listening to this are not in that position and so the way that I think of impact is in terms of like counterfactual impact i.e. what is my impact compared to if I didn't if I didn't exist if I wasn't doing my thing and I often will see comments on videos from people being like oh you're a you're a sellout for leaving medicine in the middle of a pandemic to like I don't know make youtube videos something something ps like that and like yeah I can see why that's the narrative that you're telling yourself but actually I'm not special as a doctor like I have no unique value to add as a doctor to you as fresh out of med school anyone basically who has gone through medical training in the UK because it's pretty good medical training could do as good a job if not better then I kind of being a doctor but where I have counterfactual impact where I am kind of unique in the impact I'm providing is in the fact that I have a youtube channel that teaches people and inspires people's stuff and if the kind of the dms and stuff or anything to go by you know people be like oh my god I got into medical school because of your videos I was from this background where no one ever applied to medicine no one thought about going to oxbridge and I got there you know in part thanks to your videos thank you so much and I feel like the impact I can have on the world by creating content on the internet and speaking to a camera in my bedroom is arguably greater than the impact I would have kind of just being a doctor not that there's anything wrong with just being a doctor of course did you hear that mum are you listening at least that's what I try and tell myself you'd say that to her we'll just we'll we'll we'll snip it that yeah snip at that I'll finish the video yeah I'll just say yeah so mam have you seen this I just stumbled across this no but I completely get that and I think um I think yeah I think and it's funny because me being selfish in my life has been the thing that's allowed me to help more way more people developing my own thinking my own skills my ability to do this stuff has been the able to create a platform in which I can help more and I spoke to a monk or I think it was a monk about this when I got to us this world famous monk he was doing this massive talk in New York my one question was and my selfish for having spent the last five years of my life growing wealth and developing myself and my skills um should I have run off to Africa and started trying to you know save one life at time and his response to me was that you can't pour out that for others that which you don't have yourself so he likened it to a bottle and said you have to fill the bottle in and to be able to pour out into other people's glasses so by filling your bottle as long as you are being you're doing good with your full bottle then that's an incredibly noble thing to be doing and yeah there's something that um Naval Robicon says as well which is that if you want to have an impact then you want to get rich and you want to get famous as well because the people who are rich and famous just have more impact than people who are not because you can just deploy more capital and social capital towards the things that you care about to make more of an impact so optimizing for wealth and fame when you're young and while building skills while having fun um I think you know there there are worse things. Chamath talks about that as well Chamath Papadilla yeah so the name Papadilla he was he on stage says that wealth allows you to impose your opinion and viewpoint on the world so he says who would you rather having all the money some like rich Russian oligarch who has 75 yachts or me who has a desire to um you know like Elon like take us make us multi-planetary and and solve the carbon problem and so with resources you can impose your world view of good or bad I guess on the world and that is impact maybe we're just trying to make excuses for wanting to be really fucking to justify it. Yeah exactly no but to be fair even this podcast like this podcast was very expensive it's very expensive to run the equipment's very expensive and this has been enabled the people were reaching out they're listening to this it's been purely enabled by by the five years of selfishness in me building a business for myself I do this as I said I don't even know if we make a profit I'm not really looked to be honest from this podcast necessarily but um I do it because of the huge enjoyment it gives me and the impact that we see in the comment section and the messages we get and that make that is such a selfish thing for me it makes me feel really good. Have you come across a book called The Elephant in the Brain? No. Oh this is like a whole it's like really well written it's like all of all of the studies around what drives human behavior and the main thesis of the book is that uh we're all ultimately selfish a lot of the stuff we do is for signaling but there is like a PR secretary in our heads that convinces even us that our motives for doing something are not selfish and they're in fact altruistic yeah um and there's a quote from apparently from JP Morgan which is that a man always has two reasons for doing something a good reason and the real reason and so whenever people ask me why do you do youtube it's always that right do I want to say it's because I enjoy helping people and like making content that inspires or the real reason which is because it you know social status prestige money etc I like being recognized in the streets it's kind of cool I mean I think it's a bit of both but and that's fine that's the truth yeah yeah and and it's the truth for everyone there'll be someone's at home thinking no no one I give five pounds to a homeless person I'm purely doing it because I want to give the money I'm sure you want to but the reason why is because it might make you feel good right or because it might make you look good and if you think I'm wrong all you've got to do is go back in history whereas once upon a time your family members with very similar genetics to you might have been whipping black people like and you and you wouldn't have thought that was a morally bad thing to do society is heavily controlling what we think is good right noble virtuous and as soon as we can admit that I think we can actually create a better world that is a vacant of this like virtue signaling what's the right hashtag to use what am I meant to say who am I meant to be for others I think it's a form of liberation to admit that yourself yeah yeah I think that's really good um there's a there's a phrase that a blogger friend of mine uses called servant headonism which is that you like by serving others uh and and optimizing for serving others at when you're making decisions in your life you're in fact kind of making yourself more hedonic more more happy and that is actually a reasonable and as long as you can admit that to yourself there's that's a pre-reasonable way of living life listen thank you for your time allie thank you it's been very long yeah very lots of fun and you're such a diverse character and that's really what I wanted to speak to because you have such a wealth of knowledge across multiple sectors and industries and topics and themes and I find that um and that comes from your curiosity I can tell you're deeply curious I can tell you know um and therefore you this is again also why I think you've done so well in as a content creator who's an educator and a teacher because you are your curiosity has sent you in search of answering complex questions that a lot of people don't actually have the time or the the skill to know how to answer and then your ability to break those conclusions down in ways that people understand that aren't alienating that aren't two big words for me timothy in my bedroom that doesn't didn't go to Cambridge is a real skill and it's also testament to the fact that you actually understand the things you're talking about because being able to simplify as we know simplify complex ideas is that is the best evidence that someone understands this ideas so thank you that's that's very kind of you to say um and it would incredibly gracious to have me on you're by kind of a big impact on me the mental models and their decision making the the chip stuff with time genuinely has changed decisions that I made in my life um so thank you for that if anyone's listening to this who hasn't read the book would recommend all your book in particular which is narrated by you yes yeah yeah you got a book coming soon haven't you uh two years from now so two years from now yeah i'll reach out to you to promote that closer to the time we'll have you back on when you're ready yeah thank you so much i appreciate you thank you

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