John Y’s Musings from the Middle: A Final Worthy Act

jyb_musingsThere is nothing noble about how Phillip Seymour Hoffman died. Nothing courageous; nothing thoughtful; nothing exemplifying caring for those who relied on him. And there was plenty to suggest deep pain, deceit, secrecy, and recklessness—all flowing effortlessly from a piercing drug addiction.

Professionally, Hoffman left an extraordinary legacy of achievement. But in his personal life, his legacy to his children was cut brutally and inexplicably short. Yet his will, leaving direction but limited resources to his three children showed, in my opinion, that he loved his children devotedly and cared deeply and thoughtfully about their well-being.

And proved again that love is better measured in time and thoughtfulness than dollars and cents.

One can hope, ironically, that this legacy Phillip Seymour Hoffman left to his children in death, may help in some important way to protect the children he loved from meeting the same tragic end that Hoffman himself did.

Josh Bowen: Work + Rest = Success

joshAs I sit here on my 2 day vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina I have to remind myself of the importance of rest. As most know, I will push myself to limit everyday, sometimes working 7 days a week and working out 6-7 days. Rest has not been my best friend, but thankfully I have great people around me who encourage that I take a break. And that break was must needed. For the last 2 days, I haven’t done much of anything besides walk the beach, work on my tan and disconnect from everything. It is a great feeling, every once in a while. 

Not only did my mind need a breather, my muscles did as well. For the better part of 15 years, I have consistently worked out, 6-7 days a week. However, lately injuries have mounted. My biceps tendon was an issue for 2 weeks, then it was my hip. After resting the past few days, my aches have subsided. My body was telling me to take a break. And for the first time in a while, it got it. 

So here are three components of rest we must remember to take our bodies and our minds to the next level: 

1. Sleep- helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later. While lack of sleep can have dire consequences, adequate sleep provides only positive, healthful benefits. In a typical day, a person’s waking hours are consumed trying to meet the many mental and physical demands encountered at every turn, as well as replenishing vital nutrients as they are being used up during these daily activities. In the hours remaining during sleep, the body takes time out to rebuild and recharge, preparing for the day ahead. PLUS…your body only changes when you sleep, so no sleep equals no change. 7-8 hours is recommended. 

2. Relaxation- in addition to sleep, your body and your mind needs to relax. Working out hard is great but you cannot take your body to limit all the time. Taking a day off to recoup is a great idea. Listen to your body, it will tell you where to go and what to do. Yoga and meditation are great relaxation techniques to put you in a great mood and keep your body changing and results coming. 

3. Recovery- can encompasses the 2 above but I would also like to include the nutritional aspect. Adequate amount of protein, healthy fats and vegetables should be used to help recover your muscles to go again. Remember muscles don’t grow and body fat does not disappear during exercise. It is during the recovery phase that changes happen. 

We we all work hard and sometimes forget to take care of ourselves. Just remember this equation: Work + Rest= Success. 

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Diet Update

jyb_musingsDone! 

Almost…

A little over six months ago I saw a friend, Kent Oyler, and told him I had just started a diet. He asked me my weight goal and I said I didn’t have one yet and he thought that was a mistake. I agreed and then asked Kent, since he was my height and in great shape, what he weighed. He told me and I said that was my weight goal. It was 27 lbs for me to lose. 

Last night I reported to Kent that I was actually only 3 lbs away from my goal of reaching his his weight. But Kent then reported that he had actually gained 3 lbs this summer and we were now at the exact weight.

I raised me arms in exultation….feeling, for a moment, like I had achieved my goal of attaining Kent’s weight. But being honest with myself my real goal is still about 3 lbs away and I’m hanging in until I reach, well, both goals!

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Designer Jeans

10440666_10154397471030515_4011639381858913638_nNow I find out!

I finally lose enough weight to buy a pair of designer men jeans–as opposed to “Dad jeans” –and find out almost all have a button-fly instead of a zipper. I am serious! 

What is happening to the male population? C’mon guys. What self-respecting male would prefer button-fly over a zipper? And if they did, what would the reason be?

It isn’t for practical reasons or to impress women. I am pretty sure my wife couldn’t care less about my fly stylings. Is it to impress other men like women who dress for other women?

jyb_musingsWhat happened to my gender while I was overweight and in dowdy clothes?

Surely I didn’t lose all this weight just to be able to wear a svelter pair of Dad jeans, did I?

Josh Bowen: Living to Die or Dying to Live: 5 Steps to Being You

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else, is the greatest accomplishment.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson

become

Recently I was reading an article I found on Facebook called 5 Regrets of Dying,” and the first regret was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” This got me thinking about life in general and how I see people who live their lives for someone else and not for themselves.

I can be accused, justifiably so, for being a workaholic and someone who is passionate and borderline obsessed with his work and craft. But I will say for all that I sacrifice; personal time, vacations, time with friends and family, I do my work, not because I have to but because I want too. I lead this life the way I want. Everything is my choice. Some people will love me and some won’t. That is the nature of life.

So putting fitness aside, I thought I would write about life in general. And pose the question to everyone; “Are you living to die or dying to live?” Here are five steps to separate yourself from everyone else and be who you are suppose to be:

1. Radical Self-Responsibility

We have become people who always point the finger at others. As to say it is always someone else’s fault or problem why we are where we are. At the end of the day, the responsibility falls on our shoulders. If you didn’t workout today, that is your fault. Manage your time better. In order to get out of the usual and become someone of distinct characteristics, we must take full responsibility for everything.

2. Stop Caring What People Think

Right or wrong we all care what people think of us…to a degree. I care what my family thinks of me. However, I do not let them sway me one bit. Some people will love you, others will not, stop caring what those who only want the worst for you, think. “Wolves do not fret over the onions of sheep.” Are you a wolf or a sheep? You pick?

3. Stop Being So Superficial

At the end of the day, we will all die and the way we looked or the things we had will not matter. What will matter most is the impact we had on the people we leave behind. Treat your body right but don’t obsess. Have nice things but realize they are only just that, things.

4. State Your Opinion

This is a difficult one. In today’s landscape, having an opinion can be looked at as a hindrance more than a benefit. However, I was always taught to stand up for your beliefs and to give your opinion if asked. To this day I do not shy from stating my opinion no matter how unpopular it is.

5. Realize Life Will be Over Soon

To quote a phrase, “I’m not here for a long time, I’m here for a good time.” None of us are here for a long time. We are given a certain amount of time on this earth and we must make the most of it. If you want to try something, go try it. You want to start your own business, go start it. Fear absolutely nothing and careless what anyone has to say about it. Leave a legacy someone could be proud of. It will make a vast difference in the world, trust me.

We were all meant to be extra-ordinary in our lives. But you can’t do this from your desk or your couch at home. You must get off your ass and change your mindset on being you, the real you. Show people who you are. It will make a world of difference.

 

Matt Ranen: Time for CEOs to Choose Sides?

Matt RanenIf you are the CEO of a major American or European based multinational you have a difficult question on your plate right now. Are you going to the St. Petersburg Forum in late May this year? If it were Switzerland and this were the World Economic Forum annual meeting, the decision would pretty much make itself (unless you are just bored of Davos). But this is Vladimir Putin’s show, the Russians’ answer to what they see as the ‘Western-centrism’ of the World Economic Forum.

You’ve probably gone to St. Petersburg the last few years without much worry. Like Davos, it’s a good place to network, share perspectives, and talk informally with government officials. At St. Petersburg it’s often been about alternative perspectives, a map of the world that puts a big resource-centric ‘emerging’ economy right at its center rather than (as seen from Davos) at its periphery. That’s a useful intellectual and strategic exercise… and St. Petersburg is a great backdrop for it.

But this year is different. This week is the one year anniversary of the Edward Snowden story breaking. Then there was Crimea. And now, Eastern Ukraine. In the background looms Syria. If it were only one of these four things where Putin had stuck his fingers in Washington’s eye, people would be talking about St. Petersburg as a useful opportunity for another chance at a ‘reset’. But not this time, not with all four on the table.

In the last two weeks, top executives from companies like Alcoa, Goldman Sachs, Pepsi, and ConocoPhilips have taken phone calls from the White House asking them not to attend St. Petersburg this year. Nobody is telling them they cannot go — and it’s not illegal under current US sanctions. But is it worth saying no right now to people as close to the President as Valerie Jarrett or John Podesta or possibly John Kerry, for the sake of a few days in Russia? Is it worth a photo-op handshake between you and Mr. Putin that shows up on the front page of the New York Times?

Hard question. Russia is not a place that you just write off. It’s a large emerging market and an energy superpower. It’s a place where lots of money is being made and can be made so long as you are in the good graces of the Kremlin. Mr. Putin will surely take attendance at the meeting. Does anyone doubt the inevitability of subtle (or not so subtle) retaliation against the no-shows? Even more frustrating, how will it feel to cede the playing field to other companies who do go — including companies from some of our allies, like Germany, that are less severe in their judgements of Putin?

We’re not giving big bold advice here about whether anyone in particular should go or not go to St. Petersburg. The general point is simply to recognize that this type of decision, with these kinds of stakes and higher, is set to become a much more common dilemma for global corporations going forward than it has been for the last decade or more.

The global business environment has always been embedded within a global political environment, that used to go by the phrase ‘geopolitics’. Every decade or so, a pundit arises to proclaim that the interconnection between the two is over and that economy will henceforth dominate politics on the global stage. This pundit usually ignores history (an expensive error) and imagines that he or she is the first person to ever make this argument.

It usually doesn’t take long for the pundit to be proven painfully wrong. This time around it’s Putin’s turn to put reality up front. It’s not that the Kremlin ignores or doesn’t get the interests of global capitalism. Rather, the Kremlin competes in that game by doing everything it can to limit American freedom of action in the world and moving determinedly to increase Russian influence by wielding political and military power, not market power, because that’s what Russia has.

Russian geopolitical strategy in one phrase, is to put more sand in the gears — increase the friction — at any place and any time where life can be made more difficult for Barack Obama and US-based multinationals. This isn’t stupid, retrograde, anachronistic, or self-defeating. It’s basic strategy, blocking and tackling in a geopolitical sense.

Why? Because friction differentially benefits the less efficient, less global, and less powerful players in the game. It differentially hurts the players at the technological and economic horizons. And thus on a relative basis, it’s good for Russia.

There’s going to be more of it coming in the next few years. And not only from Russia, since the logic applies to many other emerging market governments and multinationals as well. As a result, CEOs of American based global companies are very quickly going to find themselves in a real bind.

No one wants to have to ‘choose sides’ in an argument like this, but the argument is not going to go away. This is going to require very thoughtful and subtle corporate diplomacy. The single most important question a CEO can ask right now is this: what do I need from governments, going forward, to limit the friction that my business will encounter at geopolitical flash-points? A little foresight and advanced planning may help.

Josh Bowen: Surviving the Grocery Store

joshWe are almost half way through the year and I would like to do a short exercise with everyone.

Ask yourself these three questions:

What have you accomplished in the last 6 months?

What are your current challenges and obstacles?

What are you going to complete in the next 90 days?

It is always a great idea to reflect on the last 3-6 months; what went right and what went wrong. Not only from a fitness perspective but also from a life perspective. This is an important exercise for us all, myself included. If you would like to share your list with me, I would be more than happy to listen.

As we approach the back half of the year, I look forward to what we are going to do together and separately. It will be a fun ride.

Onto the topic at hand, the grocery store. For many people the grocery store can be a confusing place, full of many aisles, misleading food labels and foods that may or may not appear good for us. I admit it, in my early days I was confused by the grocery store. Too much stimuli can be confusing.

To keep things simple I have included a link to a grocery store list/guideline for you to take with you.

Remember it is important to work off of a list, if it is not on the list, you do not buy it. It is that simple.  The list gives you the following navigate the supermarket like a pro; • shop as efficiently as possible; • reduce temptations and distractions; and • ensure you get all kinds of healthy foods!

A few notes: The shopping lists are to give you ideas. You don’t have to buy everything on the list! I suggest you start with a few of your favorites from each group.

For example: • 3 veggies: spinach, carrots, broccoli • 3 fruits: blueberries, oranges, grapes • 3 proteins: extra-lean ground beef, salmon, lentils • 3 fats: coconut, avocado, almonds • 2 grains: oatmeal, wild rice

Not to spoil your excitement, I will let you click on the link and see for yourself!

Josh Bowen: Is it Really About Fitness? 5 Reasons Why its Not

joshThe title of the blog may seem confusing and even appalling to most. It may lead you to question my sanity after 11 years as a personal trainer. “How does he not know what his job is?” Just hold on for a minute. For years I have had this approach when it came to clients, focus on more than fitness and nutrition.

See I believe fitness is a vehicle that we use to improve people. People HATE exercise, for the most part. For one reason or another most people disdain the process of trying to get into shape. They have goals but most of the time those goals are deeper than fitness. They impact every aspect of their lives. So, if it deeper than fitness why do we not concentrate on more than fitness? This approach may actually help you jump start your fitness and go on a quest to better yourself.

In my mind exercise/fitness and good nutrition affect every aspect of my life. Therefore, not only do I affect the physical part of me and they way I look but I also affect several other aspects of my life; relationships, better sleep, energy, confidence etc. So if you knew that working out would help boost your confidence and help you have the courage to ask a pretty girl on a date or make a great speech in front of the CEO of you company, would you be more aped to do it? Of course you would. Here are 5 of the most impacted areas of our lives that fitness increases more than anything else.

1.  Confidence

jbtransform

The picture on the left is from my high school graduation in 2000 and the picture on the right is from last year. On the left I weigh an astounding 140lbs on the right 200lbs. Forget the numbers and the obvious physical difference, the number one benefit that fitness has provided me is confidence. Without it, I would not have been able to speak in front of hundreds of people, write a book, go on a bootcamp tour for 14 days across the US or be a personal trainer. Physically I am different but the most effect has been in my confidence.

So many of my clients will list confidence as their number one benefit from working with a trainer and starting an exercise program. The proof is in the pudding.

2. Relationships

As a continuation from confidence, I find that increased relationships with others is a direct reflection from being fit. Often times clients will meet new people and friendships are born or their existing relationships improve because of heightened self confidence.

3. Diligence

A direct reflection of being fit is increasing one’s diligence and determination. Get tasks completed because they have more energy or confidence is common place.

4. Clarity

The hormonal effect of exercise is documented but what you often forget is the increased ability to think clearer. This aspect comes in handy in todays fast moving world. I always have told people I never make decisions until I have worked out that day. Working out will give me the extra time and mental clearness to think about making a decision.

5. Self Esteem

Confidence and self esteem are different. Self esteem is how you view yourself and how you feel about it. Fitness supplies the increased self esteem that one feels like they can conquer anything. Feeling better about the way you look is the best feeling in the world.

All in all, I do not concentrate on fitness. I concentrate on the effects of fitness and how it effects and impacts our lives. Anyone who has started an exercise program an continued with it can tell you that there are more than just five aspects that help better their lives. Focus on the effects working will give you, instead of thinking about whether you can do it or not.

 

Will Meyerhofer: What You Never Hear

Will MeyerhoferHere’s what you never hear anyone say at a Biglaw firm – followed by a discussion of why you never hear anyone say it.

Here we go…

Let’s work on this together. It’ll be more fun.

People write me all the time, complaining I’m too down on Biglaw. Nothing new there, but one guy, recently, expanded on the topic, adding that he works at a firm where everyone, so far as he knows, is happy – enjoying a rewarding career in a supportive, non-exploitative environment.

Perhaps you can see this coming: It turns out this guy owns the firm – and specializes in oral arguments before federal appellate courts. Prior to becoming managing partner, he attended top Ivy League schools.

By way of a reply, I opined:  “Your experience might be considered atypical.”

In reality, his experience should be considered ridiculously atypical. Redonkulouslyatypical. Yet this presumably brilliant legal mind couldn’t manage to grasp that reality from where he was standing – at the top of the heap.

This man claims, without irony, that every lawyer at his firm is happy. But, that little voice in the back of your head begins to counter, before you’re even aware of having the thought: it’s your firm.

They work for you. Of course they act happy, just as the maid cleaning your hotel room – the one without a green card, with a family to feed, smiles and acts delighted to see you when you pop in to grab your extra iPad mini and she’s on her knees scrubbing the shower.

Presumably, someone else, some possibly unhappy little person at this guy’s law firm, is doing the work he would rather not think about – the work that has to be done. Maybe it’s a junior he’s never met. And I’d bet good money that other guy’s doing it all by himself, probably late at night or on a weekend.

Read the rest of…
Will Meyerhofer: What You Never Hear

Josh Bowen: 6 Rules to Success…As Told By The Champ

The hardest thing to do in life is to be yourself when everything around you wants you to be someone else. I struggle with the status quo. I struggle with being like other people. I have to be me. Like it or not. Arnold was a polarizing figure. A bodybuilder, with perhaps the best physique ever, turned mega movie star, turned Governor of California turned back to move star. He defines success, perhaps when success shouldn’t have been attained. A guy with a lisp from Austria, new to the United States takes the world by storm.

Because of the following 6 rules that we can all live by…

arnie

1. Trust yourself

At the end of the day we can only rely on ourselves. No one can care about our success or failure more than us. We must trust ourselves and go with our gut feelings. Continue to strive for personal greatness and always remember nothing is fatal or final.
2. Break the rules

To hell with the rules. Your not suppose to do this or do that. Screw them. We don’t need them. We set the rules. We are the measuring sticks by which all are judged and we didn’t get there by playing it easy and playing by the rules. Break them and break them often.


3. Never be afraid to fail

You will fail. I will fail. However, we must not be afraid to fail because where there is failure there is success. The only way to succeed is to fail. If you have never failed you have never tried. Push the envelope of what you think is possible. You will learn a lot about what it takes to succeed.


4. Don’t listen to the naysayers

Nothing is impossible. With a strategic game plan and a hellacious work ethic, anything is possible. Don’t listen to people who say you can’t do it. They are only feeding your drive to do it. Haters will hate, do not listen to them. Follow your heart an your gut.


5. Work your butt off

Hard work is a given. Nothing will be given to you. You want it bad enough you will go get it. Work your ass off every day with your goals in mind. When you take off remember there is someone out there working towards what you want. Keep pushing and never let up.


6. Give back

Pay it forward. Give back to what has given to you. When you succeed teach others your ways. Mentor young minds to stimulate greatness in them. Leave a legacy no one can match. Be the measuring stick.

 

All things are possible through fitness. The above list, if followed, will produce success in any field or endeavor. This is short, simple and easily applied. Go toward your greatness.

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